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Bloomberg Administration Accused Of Trying To Rig Wage Study
New York Daily News
Erin Einhorn

June 8, 2010
View the Original Article

A host of city officials today accused the Bloomberg administration of trying to rig the results of a living wage study, Erin Einhorn reports from our City Hall Bureau:

As the board of the Bloomberg-controlled Industrial Development Agency prepared to authorize $1 mllion study on how the city would be affected by requiring recipients of city subsidies to pay more than minimum wage, nine City Councilmembers and Comptroller John Liu were ready with condemnations.

“An independent, impartial study on wage requirements for publicly-subsidized economic development could be helpful to all parties involved,” said Liu, who cast one of three “no” votes against authorizing the study.

“The consultant contract proposal before us today, however, fails to ensure the delivery of an objective product. My office had offered specific recommendations to improve the study, to no avail. It is unfortunate that the [the city] is intent on squandering a million dollars on this charade of a study.”

Liu said he wants more detail on how consultants will be chosen by the Economic Development Corp, a review period where critics can comment on its findings and a panel of nationally recognized economists to monitor the work.

The two other no votes came from Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr.

Bloomberg appoints most of the members of the board. The measure passed 8 to 3.

The wage study comes in the wake of the defeat last year of a shopping complex at the Kingsbridge Armory in the Bronx that went down over the developer’s refusal to require future tenants to pay all employees more than minimum wage.

The City Council is also considering a bill that would require all development projects receiving public subsidies to guarantee future employees at least $10 an hour - nearly $3 more than minimum wage.

The Bloomberg administration has testified against such proposals in the past, leading to skepticism from bill supporters that the study could be manipulated.

“The administration has essentially said we’re opposed to this,” said City Councilman Brad Lander, one of nine council members who penned a letter objecting to the study’s methods. “It raises concerns about whether the study will be genuinely objective and independent.”

Economic Development Corp. spokesman David Lombino said many of the checks demanded by critics are already part of the process.

“We’re undertaking the most comprehensive study on the effect of living wage that has ever been undertaken anywhere in the country and we have a balanced group of external stakeholders in place that will have an opportunity to shape and contribute to it.,” he said.

“Our methodology will be public, and if individuals disagree with the results they will, of course, have an opportunity to voice their concerns.”