While at the Centre City Development Corp.’s office this morning, I put four questions to the agency’s spokesman about the public records that CCDC hasn’t promptly produced.
We’ve been waiting seven weeks for documents that could go a long way to determining whether the agency legitimately deserved the extra decades of life the state Legislature gave it through a late-night law passed in the fall.
But at this point, we don’t know who has what we want. Though taxpayers spent $162,000 for CCDC’s legal, environmental and redevelopment consultants to study whether downtown is blighted or not, the agency hasn’t released publicly much of the work, including vital records only the agency can get its hands on. It remains unclear, though, whether CCDC has even seen that vital work, or if it’s still held by agency consultants.
Derek Danziger, CCDC’s spokesman, told me the agency was still talking with its primary consultant, Keyser Marston Associates, about getting the records and didn’t know what the status was. CCDC Vice President Jeff Graham was in contact with the consultant “within the last day or two,” Danziger said.
“We’re in discussions with [Keyser Marston],” Danziger said. “It could be as soon as tomorrow, it could be the next day when we provide it.”
We’ve received similar answers from CCDC for weeks now: We’re talking with Keyser Marston and we’ll tell you when we’re ready.
This delay is part of a pattern. CCDC also fought us for weeks before releasing an unfinished draft of the larger blight study. The study concluded downtown remained blighted, but had placeholder language in many of the places where the proof was supposed to be later inserted. We’re seeking any proof to justify the estimated billions in future downtown property tax revenues CCDC now will receive through the legislation.
I left Danziger with four questions that he said he’ll try to answer by the end of the day.
• Who has the information in question: CCDC, Keyser Marston or someone else?
• Why hasn’t CCDC told us when the records will be ready as required by state law?
• Did 3D Visions, a consultant working with Keyser Marston, literally walk around examining downtown properties when it surveyed for blight? The condition of properties is a critical part of proving blight and I’m trying to understand the details of the survey. CCDC paid for 3D Visions’ consultants to eat in restaurants around the city in September. 3D Visions completed its survey that month, and Graham has told me the company was reviewing its data for accuracy when CCDC stopped the blight study.
• Has CCDC or Keyser Marston altered any of the data in question since the blight study was cancelled or since we requested the records? We can’t understand why, for example, if the 3D Visions survey was completed in September we aren’t able to see it, or why CCDC hasn’t been able to find it for nearly two months.