Challenging Bruce Ratner’s Brooklyn Atlantic Yards project
Monday, June 21, 2004
Bruce Ratner doens't even own the New Jersey Nets yet, but he's already acting the worst way an owner can.
Vindictive, cheap and totally removed from fans hopes, needs and wishes.
We wrote a couple weeks ago that Ratner's forcing Jersey fans to pay double-figure percentage ticket hikes...this for a lame-duck team.
Now comes word that Ratner wants to slash the Nets payroll. The first casualty of could be fan-favorite Kenyon Martin, who's a free agent this summer.
Worse, rumors are rife that Ratner will force team General Manager Rod Thorn to trade draft picks for money. Trading players or draft picks is usually a sign that a team is on financial thin ice.
The most notorious player-for-money transaction was the Boston Red Sox's sale of Babe Ruth to the Yankees in 1920. Boston's then-owner, Harry Frazee, was a theatrical agent who used the money to finance his latest Broadway production.
Ratner, we know, is doing the same thing with the Nets -- using the team and arena as sexy leverage to gain approval for his 17-building office/retail/residential complex.
Sports fans come in somewhere just under sewer rats in Forest City Ratner's People We Care About pecking order.
So do local Brooklynites desperate for affordable housing. In this week's issue of the Brooklyn Paper, FCR's Bruce Bender bragged that 1 out of every 4 apartments would be set aside for poor people.
One out of every four?! That means 3 out of every 4 will be market value. That's a shamefully small percentage...not to mention a figure that no major politician (major meaning mayors, borough presidents, governors and senators) are forcing Ratner to guarantee.
These are the folks we're dealing with here -- folks who think a scant 25% low-income housing is the appropriate number for Brooklyn. They really think that. And they're not at all embarrassed at the paucity of that number.
For sports fans, Bruce Ratner's already making the Knicks and Rangers' chief James Dolan look like a genius. For apartment-desperate Brooklynites, Ratner's already making Robert Moses look compassionate.
And his doing it with our tax dollars.
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Let the NBA know how you feel. The vote to finalize or reject Bruce Ratner's purchase of the New Jersey Nets could be as early as Wednesday, and defintiely before June 30. Write to Commissioner David Stern (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Deputy Commissioner Russ Granik (email@example.com), or call them at (212) 407-8000.
If you need help with talking points, go to our Action page.
Time is of the essence.
...indeed.See the Archives for more...
On Saturday, three-thousand Brooklynites turned out to dance, hear music, support local merchants, and listen to a wide-range of politicians, community activists and local residents speak out against Bruce Ratner's Nets arena/17-building colossus planned -- but not yet set -- for Prospect Heights.
The block-party/rally was staged by Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn and other groups in the large coalition fighting Ratner's plans. There were DJs, a congressperson, a state assemblyperson, two City Councilpeople, an urban developer, a hip-hop artist, folks who've lived on the block for generations, a legendary '70s London punk band now based in Brooklyn, activists from similar struggles throughout the city, and the afore-mentioned local merchants selling roti, crafts, Caribbean drink concoctions, and most anything you could think to buy from Brooklyn's mom'and'pop business owners. (However, meals of the Chucky Cheese variety were in short supply.)
Everyone of the 3,000 who showed up did so under their own power.
Unlike those who attended Forest City Ratner's rally two days prior at Brooklyn Borough Hall. Some were given free transportation paid for by FCR, most were given free tee shirts paid for by FCR, and all could avail themselves to free lunch and drinks paid for by FCR.
Borough President Marty Markowitz was personally invited on Thursday to attend the block party we threw on Saturday. "Uh, I don't think I'd be very welcomed" was his disdainful reply.
There you have it. The Borough President feeling safe and happy at an event paid for by a real-estate developer who's from Ohio and lives on Manhattan's Upper East Side, but fearing an event staged by Brooklynites, attended by Brooklynites of their own accord, with music by today's Brooklynites (and not the Young Rascals' Felix Cavaliere, a legend but certainly not the sound of today's Brooklyn).
At Borough Hall on Thursday, pro-arena advocates bussed in for the event harrassed and threatened anti-arena advocates. At the Saturday block party there wasn't one incident like that.
Just a three-times-as-large event where people mixed their anger and passion with good vibes, great beats and a perfect summer day in Brooklyn.
Whose side would you rather be on?
And whose event, then, eminated from the heart of Brooklyn, powered by Brooklynites' real hopes and dreams?