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June 6, 2009

Marisa Lago, CEO of the ESDC, Quits

The Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) is the state entity in charge of the proposed Atlantic Yards project. How will the loss of the head of the ESDC effect the project? It's too soon to tell, but here's an account of the resignation from The Observer and commentary from the Atlantic Yards Report.

The Observer, Marisa Lago, Paterson’s Development Chief, Quits

Marisa Lago, the state’s top economic development official since August 2008, is resigning from her post, according to multiple people informed of the decision, adding to a growing number of top aides to leave the Paterson administration.

As CEO of the Empire State Development Corporation, her departure adds to the turmoil at an agency that has seen its fair share in recent years. The agency, which oversees incentive programs statewide and large-scale development projects in New York City, has been rocked by infighting, both between Ms. Lago and ESDC chairman Bob Wilmers, and among top Spitzer administration officials as well. (Much more on the disorder at ESDC in an article I wrote a few weeks back).

According to multiple people who have talked with Ms. Lago directly, she has expressed unhappiness in the position, perhaps in part because she did not have as strong a connection with the governor or his top aides as did previous officials in that post.

Atlantic Yards Report, Observer: internal ESDC turmoil leads to resignation of CEO Lago; AYR: did testimony gnaw at her conscience?

The New York Observer reports that Empire State Development Corporation CEO Marisa Lago has resigned after little more than nine months in her post.

She was appointed last August, along with Upstate ESDC President Dennis Mullen. No Downstate President has been appointed, and the tensions between Lago and Chairman Bob Wilmers were the subject of an Observer report last month.


There's no evidence that Lago's performance on Atlantic Yards led to her resignation, but her deceptive testimony at last Friday's state Senate oversight hearing (video excerpt here) could not have impressed her superiors. And perhaps it gnawed a bit at her conscience.

What does this mean for Atlantic Yards? Unclear, but maybe it's good to have volunteer help, given the role of Susan Rahm, who has a murky role, perhaps as project manager. Someone will have to be in charge of the ESDC on June 24 when the authority is expected to adopt a revision of the Modified General Project Plan for AY.

When the project was approved, Charles Gargano ran the ESDC. The Spitzer Administration brought in Patrick Foye. When Foye left, Avi Schick was acting head. Lago came next. (DDDB has a list of more Atlantic Yards players who've moved on.)

Posted by steve at June 6, 2009 7:29 AM