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Links roundup—extended edition (with horse racing and Paul McCartney)

November 17, 2011

Our crumbling infrastructure.

Infrastructure

  • “Of the state’s $250 billion in infrastructure needs over the next 20 years, the bulk is for deficient bridges and crumbling roads that can be seen in plain view by the taxpayers who fund them. But $75 billion in New York is needed for an often forgotten piece of infrastructure: the thousands of aging, complex sewer and drinking water systems that serve 18 million New Yorkers.” [Ithaca Journal]
  • And what are the biggest threats facing our water infrastructure? Dams in disrepair, hydraulic fracturing, oil pipelines, mountaintop removal, and natural disasters, to name a few. [Infrastructurist]
  • Raiders of the Lost ARC: Christie, Cuomo and the Collapse of American Infrastructure [NY Observer]
  • The U.S. Supreme Court granted review in an Indiana case involving allegedly discriminatory sewer tax assessments. [Municipal Minute]

Economic Development

  • The New Jersey Economic Development Authority is offering $173,000 in tax breaks to try to lure a sausage maker—and its 60 jobs—away from its current location in the Bronx. [NY Daily News]
  • A report commissioned by the Saratoga County IDA found that although horse racing revenues have shrunk, they’re still a key driver of economic development in the region. The report, which cost $38,000, was a follow-up of a study done in 2006. [Business Review]
  • In other horse racing news, New York’s five off-track betting corporations have filed a lawsuit against the state Racing and Wagering Board to stop paying subsidies to harness tracks to protect their traditional nighttime horse racing revenues against simulcast competition.  The OTBs are public authorities and were created in the 1970s to channel money from illegal gambling operations to the government. [Courthouse News Service]
  • Sullivan County has nearly $2 billion of tax-exempt property, much of it due to IDA-granted business subsidies. [Times Herald Record]
  • The Greene County IDA is providing loans and funding for a proposed indoor water park in New Baltimore, but the owners of an existing outdoor water park say these subsidies are “patently unfair.” [Greene Co. Daily Mail]
  • New York’s ten regional economic development councils, which are competing for $200 million in state aid, released their five-year strategic plans this week. [NYMuniBlog] [NYT]
  • The proposal submitted by the Western New York economic development council bucked the trend: “The committee… put forward a set of requests for stunningly atypical investments based on a stunningly realistic assessment of where the five counties of Western New York are and where they’ve been going unless we change.” [ArtVoice]

ESDC

  • Peter Davidson, executive director of the Empire State Development Corporation, is leaving his post to join the Port Authority. [Atlantic Yards Report]
  • “ESDC is belatedly coming into compliance with the law but… it does not look as though there is enthusiasm for a spirit of encouraging whistleblowing at ESD or at its coadministered sister agency, the Job Development Authority.” [Noticing NY]

MTA

  • Supervisors and workers at one of the MTA’s Signal Construction Units have manipulated the payroll system and abused overtime rules, according to a forensic audit released by the state comptroller earlier this month. [OSC Press Release] [OSC Report] [2nd Ave. Sagas]
  • Although the MTA has traditionally performed repair and maintenance work on the weekends, the authority announced a new plan to experiment with shutting down subway lines during consecutive weekday overnight hours. The authority says that the change will minimize rider inconvenience, maintain worker safety, and reduce the overall time needed for major repair work. [MTA Press Release] [NYT] [Gothamist]
  • Instead of attending the last MTA Bus Committee meeting, board member Nancy Shevell went to Abu Dhabi with her husband, Sir Paul McCartney. [NY Post]
  • One of the first things the new MTA chairman, Joe Lhota, will have to deal with will be renegotiating the authority’s contract with the Transport Workers Union. [Gothamist]
  • Meanwhile, Lhota’s first official action as the MTA’s executive director was to issue a joint statement with the Transport Workers Union asking New York prosecutors to seek the maximum penalties against defendants accused of assaulting MTA employees. [NY Daily News]
  • And at his first board meeting, Lhota explained that “I do think the good that the MTA does, and all of its operating agencies, sometimes fails to get above the horizon. Do I think it has a public-relations problem? I think it needs to focus on the good that it does and how important the MTA is to the economy of the region, because it is critical.” [2nd Ave. Sagas]

Etc.

  • Inside a Thruway Authority equipment auction. [TU]
  • How much should the government subsidize renewable and clean energy projects? [Infrastructurist]
  • Chicago Transit is getting $646 million in city and state funding to upgrade its busiest transit line. [SmartPlanet]
  • Will Detroit privatize its public bus system and lighting department? [MLive]
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