Fans For Fair Play
Challenging Bruce Ratner’s Brooklyn Atlantic Yards project

Monday, October 25, 2004

It's BROOKLYN, Bruce, not Boston 

Bruce Ratner is stupid man...Forest City Ratner is a stupid corporation...the people who create, design and distribute their lie-filled propaganda known as "mailers" are stupid p.r. hacks.

We've known for a long time that this triumverate has been a greasy amalgam of mean-spiritedness, lack of ethics, viciousness, condescension, disingenuousnous, racism, manipulation and flat-out greed. It's also clear that they're so full of hubris that they shoot first and leave the thinking for later.

But man oh man, have Ratner, FCR and their p.r. people topped themselves with their latest move.

If you live in Brooklyn, you may have seen it in your mailbox...the new glossy flyer from Forest City Ratner touting their intended-for-Brooklyn, 17-building, one-arena, no-firm-jobs and few-affordable-apartments commercial complex.

The last one they sent out, months ago, told Brooklynites that FCR intends to build a new Garden of Eden in Brooklyn. Happlily, Adam and Eve never had to contend with their houses being torn down for Chuck E. Cheeses and thousands of extra cars' worth of exhaust fumes to breathe.

That mailer likely broke federal and state laws regarding contests and prizes. It contained a coupon that could be redeemed for a prize. The prize? Free tickets to an upcoming New Jersey Nets game. Just what Brooklynites want, to schelp across the Hudson to see a miserably-depleted NBA team in a mostly-empty arena. Some prize.

By offering a "gift" that required the submission of a coupon, the flyer should have carried the usual small-print contest rules that are printed whenever a prize is offered. It didn't.

Oops...add this to the growing mountain of legal problems Bruce Ratner is facing over this project.

Adding "unethical" to "illegal," Ratner's spokespeople have been claiming that 11,000 Brookynites have signed a petition in favor of the arena project. But that's a lie. What FCR is claiming are "petition signatures" are actually the returned free-prize coupons. Those are not "endorsements." They're people availing themselves of free trinkets. Nothing more.

Now, there's a new flyer that's arrived in Brooklynites' mailboxes.

And this one really, really shows what a dumb, pompous operation they're running over there at 1 MetroTech.

Nestled in amidst the flashy-yet-soothing colors, lies and misinformation, and die-cut cover page in the shape of a question mark is the one, single, solitary photo of a living person. Of course, it's an African American man -- the current target of Ratner's misinformation campaign.

Ratner's flyer's Black man is smiling. He seems to understand that Bruce Ratner cares about The Black People. He might be a construction worker. Or maybe a bike messenger. By the goggles perched atop his head, he might have just competed in a hard-fought Paintball contest.

But what's that cap he's wearing?

NO! It can't be! It is!!!

It's a Boston Red Sox cap!

Bruce Ratner and his company have sent a flyer touting their love for Brooklyn to hundreds of thousands of Brooklynites, many of them Mets and Yankees fans, with a picture of a guy wearing a Boston Red Sox cap.

That's how much Ratner knows about Brooklyn, how much he cares and is involved in our borough's life's blood. His people, as utterly clueless as Bruce himself, chose what's clearly a stock photo of a guy with a "B" on his cap.

"Oh, that "B" can stand for Brooklyn!" they likely chirpped.

Bruce Ratner doesn't know the difference between Boston and Brooklyn.

To repeat: Bruce Ratner doesn't know the difference between Boston and Brooklyn.

It's a cap that the Red Sox wore during just one season in the '90s. It was so unpopular with the Red Sox players at the time that they refused to continue wearing it in games.

Imagine how unpopular it is with Yankees and Mets fans living in Brooklyn who see it on the new Forest City Ratner mailers that desperately try to convey this message: "Bruce Ratner LOVES Brooklyn!"

It sounds like a small thing -- just a stock photo on a mailer filled with obfuscations and exaggerations. But it underscores just how uncaring Bruce Ratner is about Brooklyn, and how little regard he has for our history.

Or put another way, how stupid and gullible he thinks we are.

* * * * * * * *

A couple of days ago, Forest City Ratner spokesperson and former Knick and Net star Bernard King was taken into custody on his third violence-again-women charge. The latest incident saw King allegedly repeatedly throw his wife to the floor of their Battery Park City hotel room. By the end of the day, as sadly often happens in these matters, King's wife had decided not to press charges. But that didn't remove the bruises and abrasions from her face.

It's a sad incident. If King's wife was indeed attacked, King should be prosecuted. If not -- if it was, as King told the press, a "misunderstanding," then we hope he and his wife can get past it and repair their lives together.

However, the incident does beg the question: is Forest City Ratner so desperate to build their arena and 17 buildings that they'd hire a Brooklyn icon to shill for them even though the icon lives full time in Atlanta, Georgia and has repeatedly been picked up for attacking women?

You'd like to think FCR could do better. But it's clear they can't. Or don't feel they need to.

* * * * * * * *

It's autumn and the things are heating up. The NBA season starts soon, the first of the Ratner Era. It sounds like the newest NBA owner is getting used to the Meadowlands, before even a single regular season game. Asked by his partner in construction, The New York Times, what he would do if the people of Brooklyn prevent him from moving to Prospect Heights, he said "I think it would be in a situation, we'd probably re-work the Meadowlands or re-do the arena somehow. I'm not as negative on the Meadowlands as some think."

The pressure's getting to Ratner -- for the first time, he's leaving open the very real possibility that he won't get the Brooklyn deal done. Or rather, that the communities he's bent on destorying will keep him from getting it done.

Of course, it could be a misdirect play. Maybe Ratner wants people buy the line that he's a reasonable guy. Or simply unflappable, that the intensifying anger with his policies just doesn't bother him that much. "Brooklyn, Nassau, Meadowlands, Newark...it's all good..."

But it's not working.

Like everything that dribbles out of Ratner's mouth, this sounds false, canned, wrong. And most of all, wholly lacking any credibility.

The next time you see Ratner actually set foot publicly in Brooklyn -- and such sightings happen about as often as the Loch Ness Monster and Bigfoot -- ask him if he knows the difference between Boston and Brooklyn.

You'll likely stump the man.

Not that he cares.

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