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September 14, 2005

MTA to transit riders: It's deja screw all over again!

The MTA Board has done it again. As in the ill-fated Hudson Yards, MTA board members executed the bidding of their political sponsors, conducted a sham RFP process in full public view and overwhelmingly picked the lowball bidder to redevelop MTA railyard property.

In the same year as the MTA raised fares on subway, train and bus riders (the region's working class), they handed over very valuable real estate to the politically well-connected Bruce Ratner for a song.

DDDb makes a good point in their press release where they explain one difference between the Hudson Yards scam and today's approval:

The MTA's action for the Vanderbilt Yards is in stark contrast to the procedure used for the West Side Yards/Jets Stadium project. There, the MTA's review and acceptance of proposals came after the SEQRA review was completed, not before. In that case MTA arguably had the benefit of the environmental impact statement to guide its decision making. Here the decision-making came first and the environmental review will come later.

Summary of MTA inaction: * May 19, 2005, MTA publishes public notice of RFP for Vanderbilt Yards in NY Times real estate section and a real estate trade. Proposals due in six weeks. * July 6, proposals are due. Extell Corporation hands in last-minute surprise bid that does not include the use of EMINENT DOMAIN. * July 22, MTA unveils competing bids (without Ratner financial projections). The Extell bid is $100 Million over Ratner's. Ratner quickly points to promised infrastructure improvements to boost their low-ball bid. * July 26, MTA Board votes to "negotiate" exclusively with Ratner. * September 7, press reports that Ratner has doubled his initial bid. * September 14, in a special meeting held by MTA, board members agree to accept Ratner Redux (the NEW lowball bid).

Posted by lumi at September 14, 2005 8:18 PM