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June 27, 2008

Congressman offers unskeptical endorsement of Zimbalist's dubious AY study

Atlantic Yards Report

Issa-AYR.jpg

In Congress last year, Andrew Zimbalist's dubious study of Atlantic Yards for Forest City Ratner got a mindless endorsement from the ranking minority member of the Subcommittee on Domestic Policy of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform of the House of Representatives, even though an expert witness warned that accepting studies that were not peer-reviewed was akin to federal drug regulators embracing reports created by the drug companies themselves.
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[L]ater in the hearing, some non-peer-reviewed research, albeit with an academic gloss, was promoted by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), the ranking minority member. He declared (see p. 123):

Mr. Chairman, I would also like to put into the record an economist's study from the Robert A. Woods professor of economics at Smith College in Massachusetts. It is from May 1, 2004, and it specifically deals with Atlantic Yards, estimating that the total of $2.93 billion over 30 years or a net present value of $1.08 billion would be the advantage for that operation. Although it may not be the one that is going to carry the day, it certainly seems that independent bodies such as university economist very much believe that there can be a net economic benefit, and I ask that be placed in the record.

Except that Zimbalist was a consultant "retained" by the developer, not an "independent body," his study was deeply flawed, and it was never peer-reviewed (nor the subject of journalistic scrutiny).

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NoLandGrab: When a report by a paid consultant makes it into the record at a congressional hearing, we'd say Atlantic Yards developer Bruce Ratner got his money's worth.

Posted by lumi at June 27, 2008 4:51 AM