Kept in the Dark: Poor Reporting on New York City's Recovery Zone Bond Deals

Mar 01, 2011
  • Description

In June 2009, the "Recover NYC" program was unveiled to help select projects that applied for Recovery Zone Facility Bonds (RZFB), a bond program authorized as part of the Recovery Act. While the program seemed to have good intentions, the vague requirements related to job quality, how the projects were to assist unemployed or underemployed New Yorkers, and how the projects would help the city's sustainability efforts, made it difficult to measure the program's success. Indeed, the objectives were so vague that merely allocating the bonds became a benchmark of success by economic development officials. This report details RZFB projects and is a real-life example of how projects receiving discretionary subsidies make their way through the public -- and not so public -- application process. Accountability begins with transparency, an area that is lacking in the RZFB program. We conclude that economic development officials need to make the process of allocating subsidies more accessible to New Yorkers, to encourage more public participation in future projects, and to hold these projects accountable for creating good jobs.