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

Thursday, September 14, 2006

How Good is a Man's Word? 

The elections are over. A mixed bag. Batson and Owens, strong, qualified grassroots hopes for the future were steamrolled by machine politics and Ratner money. Montgomery survived, and Adams got elected to Congress. Barron lost, but as firebrands go, he's no quitter and will be back. Diamondstone carried Brooklyn but lost lower Manhattan in his bizarrely-bordered district.

Hakeem Jeffries won by convincing voters he's both for and against Ratner's Atlantic Yards project. He's now ethically bound to advise Sheldon Silver to vote against Atlantic Yards when it comes before the PACB this fall. The PACB, remember, is the three-person committee that stopped the Jets' West Side Stadium last year. Silver has always said he takes serious counsel from the assemblymember in whose district a project would be built.

That advisor is now Hakeem Jeffries. The same Jeffries who claimed during the campaign to be against eminent domain for Ratner's arena, the huge skyscrapers, and the lack of democratic process. Those first two prohibitions would stop or radically alter Ratner's project. The last is the reason Ratner is expected to lose when all this shifts to the courtroom later this year.

Is Hakeem Jeffries a principled man of his word, or a cynical two-timer talking yang for votes? The next few months will tell. We hope he's more principled than a Jeffries election worker we stood next to at P.S. 316 (Classon and Sterling, in Crown Heights). Decked out in a Team Jeffries tee shirt, he bellowed "You know why I support Hakeem Jeffries? 'Coz he pays better than any other candidate today!" (Batson and Owens, to name two, had all-volunteer election-day workers.)

Oh, and 89% of the votes in the Batson-Jeffries-Freddie Hamilton race were against the Atlantic Yards project. Batson, of course, is adamantly opposed. Jeffries, according to his public pronouncements and campaign lit, thinks it should be drastically scaled back and free of eminent domain. Only Hamilton supports AY -- well, why not, she's a signatory to the fake and unenforceable "community benfits agreement."

Hakeem Jeffries, you're in the harsh light now. Are you true to your word? Are you better than the average politician, who promises the moon and then charges you to look at a moon rock?

Or did you employ the same tacticts as Bruce Ratner? Tell the people what they want to hear, equivocate when they demand details, and then ignore them altogether.

We hope and trust it's the former.

Then again, there's nothing easier to break in Brooklyn today than the trust of the people.

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