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April 15, 2009

The latest cloud over Finance Commissioner Stark: a romance with the (former) assistant in the middle of the Yankee Stadium controversy

Atlantic Yards Report has it all... sex, power, money!

Though the latest City Hall controversy reads like a steamy soap opera, Norman Oder explains how it runs straight through the scandal over the Yankee Stadium land valuation, which was likely jiggered to maximize the amount of tax-free bonds available for the construction of the project.

What does this have to do with Atlantic Yards? The city plans on issuing the same tax-free bonds for the Nets arena, but with the Yankees-City Hall financial scandal blowing steam, will watchdogs put a damper on free lunch for Bruce Ratner?

City Finance Commissioner Martha Stark is under a cloud again, this time for having a romantic relationship with a former assistant commissioner. Mayor Mike Bloomberg, formerly a staunch defender of Stark, says the city is looking into whether the relationship began while Dara Ottley-Brown was employed by Stark.

However, as I note below, no one is yet looking into the potential connection to an even more questionable episode: Ottley-Brown served as the Department of Finance's (DOF) point person in ensuring that the land under the new Yankee Stadium would be assessed--re-assessed, it turned out--at a figure sufficient to generate the foregone taxes to be repaid by PILOTs (payments in lieu of taxes).

And the DOF faces similar challenges in ensuring that the assessments of the Atlantic Yards arena site are sufficient to generate PILOTs sought by the developer.

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Posted by lumi at April 15, 2009 5:34 AM