Sometimes, you just shake your head and wonder.
This is in this morning's New York Post
. It speaks for itself.
TOUT OF BOUNDS
New York Post - New York, NY, USA
By PATRICK GALLAHUE.
Developer Bruce Ratner isn't just buying up property for his proposed Nets arena in Brooklyn -- he's shopping for cheerleaders.
According to the contract obtained by The Post, people who sell their apartments at 636 Pacific St. in order to make way for the arena must agree to publicly shill for his $2.5 billion plan and "testify in favor of the project at hearings" if requested.
The building's board must even designate two homeowners to speak to the press in favor of the plan.
"The whole thing is extremely offensive and upsetting," said Norman Siegel, a lawyer for Develop Don't Destroy, a neighborhood group founded to oppose the arena. "At a minimum, it is inconsistent and antithetical to the principles and values of freedom of expression."
Those who sign the deal will even have their vocabulary limited to saying only that they were "treated fairly, honorably and decently" by Ratner and that they were "happy with the result," according to the contract.
The document also requires sellers to withdraw from joining, assisting, funding or participating in any group founded to oppose Ratner's Frank Gehry-designed arena project.
"It's one thing for people to agree to sell their property," Siegel said. "It's another thing when these conditions are placed upon them."
The contract adds that sellers within the building should use their "best efforts" to "cause non-selling unit owners to enter into contracts with purchaser [Ratner]."
They're also supposed to keep the company updated on their progress with the unwilling homeowners on a weekly basis.
A spokesman for Forest City Ratner Cos. would not say how many people have already signed the agreement. But estimates suggested that no more than two of the 31 units in the building were holding out.
"We do not talk about discussions with individual property owners or agreements signed by them," said Forest City Ratner spokesman Barry Baum.
But many of the placards and posters -- hung in protest outside 636 Pacific St. -- have already come down.
Ratner has battled local activists who protested the threat of condemnation of their houses via eminent domain, since he bought the NBA team last year and disclosed that homes would have to be razed.
But earlier this year, Ratner began shying away from condemnation and said he would seek buyouts. Some homeowners are reportedly being offered as much as $1 million.
Ratner struck similar deals when building the Downtown Brooklyn commercial complex Metrotech in the 1990s. Many took handsome payouts but are barred from speaking publicly about their dealings with him.