Friday, December 21, 2012

NYC Economic Development Corporation Demands Secrecy Pacts With Public Officials And Their Staff

Is the New York City Economic Development Corporation violating sunshine laws ?

In her holiday newsletter, Assemblymember Deborah J. Glick reveals that the New York City Economic Development Corporation asked her office to leave the Civic Center Taskforce, because the Hon. Assemblymember and her staff refused to sign "secrecy pacts."

The New York City Economic Development Corporation is now coercing confidentiality agreements from any public official, who takes part in some of its meetings, hearings, or discussions.

This includes the staff of public officials.

When the Hon. Assemblymember and her office declined to sign a confidentiality agreement with the EDC, the EDC asked that the office of the Hon. Assemblymember leave the ECD's Civic Center Taskforce !

The EDC puts on the pretense that it is a transparent quasi-government institution, which uses public resources to push economic plans that are creating major deals for giant corporate interests. The EDC takes credit for helping to keep JetBlue's headquarters in New York City. But if this institution is going to be using taxpayer money for its corporate deals, what is it doing ring-fencing information away from the public about the public's business ?

Here is a link ( to the ECD's "public documents" page. No where on this link does any information appear that the EDC demands confidentiality agreements from public officials.

How can we have a transparent government that is accessible to its citizens, if the government is demanding that public officials enter into "secrecy pacts" that deny voters and taxpayers information about our government's business ?

Were confidentiality agreements the tool used by those with vested financial interests in the billion-dollar luxury condo conversion deal for St. Vincent's to silence our politicians and their official staff ? We may never know.

Here is the portion of Assemblymember Glick's holiday newsletter, which addresses the EDC's demands for secrecy pacts :

That Which Must Not Be Mentioned

In a shocking and anti-democratic move, New York City's Economic Development Corporation has required anyone participating in the Civic Center Taskforce, as well as the Seward Park Taskforce, to sign a confidentiality agreement that essentially serves as a gag order. Because I believe in open government and transparency, I along with my staff refused to sign this agreement, and my office was asked to leave a Civic Center Taskforce Meeting we were participating in and denied the ability to participate in any future meetings.

I understand the importance of having local representation, such as members of the Community Board, in the room and why some Taskforce members felt compelled to sign the agreement. However, presenting members with the option of maintaining complete secrecy or being denied a place at the table is on its face coercive and outrageous. There may have been some who thought it was no problem, and the fact that after ten years under the Bloomberg administration these types of secrecy pacts are viewed as standard operating procedure is perhaps even more disturbing.

My office will not be party to community taskforces that do not allow for conversation with the community, and we are hopeful that the City will resume its work as a democracy in the near future.

Read also : Editorial: City Must Bring Transparency Back to Seward Park development site (SPURA)

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