Wednesday, December 20, 2006

And So, It All Comes Down to the Third Man (Again)

So, later today we will know whether Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has voted to approve Atlantic Yards in his role as a member of the Public Authorities Control Board or whether he has delayed the vote, effectively kicking the decision into the Spitzer Administration. There were conflicting indications all day yesterday, with an early report that Mr. Silver would postpone the vote until 2007 and later reports that he was still mulling his options. At day's end, Mr. Silver was still said to have "questions" about the project, but there was a possibility that the man who killed the West Side Stadium and delayed Moynihan Station might give a thumbs up to Atlantic Yards. In fact, this morning's Post is reporting that Silver will probably vote "yes." He told the Post that as long as the project is on the agenda on its own, he'll probably support it: "If [Pataki] puts it on the PACB agenda as an individual item, not one item that is contained in a big package of pork and everything, it's a good bet that I would support it." All of which would indicate that yesterday was a grand exercise in political theater.

In an odd way, this opera is a fitting conclusion to an approval process that has--depending on one's point of view--violated basic principles of community participation, open government and public information. Even if you support Atlantic Yards, you might hope that a delay in the decision would produce full public disclosure of the true costs and benefits of the project, including information about how much the developer will make in profits.

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