Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Public and city support for a Canal Side CBA in Buffalo; developer and state resistance to negotiations

Despite broad coalition and city council support, the private developer and public sector partner of Buffalo's Canal Side project are still refusing to negotiate a CBA. This probably shouldn't come of much surprise. The project's anchor tenant, Bass Pro, is a well-know subsidy-chaser (or, as some would call it, a tax-dodger) and poverty-wage job supplier. And the quasi-public Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation (ECHDC) is a subsidiary of the New York Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC), which has used its power to override local laws and its authority to use eminent domain to facilitate the Columbia University expansion and the Atlantic Yards project. Although both of those projects have CBAs, they also face significant public opposition, and ESDC's involvement has been crucial to overcome that opposition.

This week, reporter James Heaney put up a blog post on Canal Side and its CBA issues. He discusses some of the issues relating to the lack of public bidding, conflicts of interest, and the lack of a democratic process. His conclusion: ECHCD and the project's private partners might want to pursue CBA negotiations, if only to avoid protests opposing "the use of more than $150 million in public funds to create mostly low-wage, part-time jobs. Which is one of several ways reasonable people can view the project."

Previous posts on Canal Side also by Mr. Heaney can be found here, here, and here.