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

Tuesday, November 02, 2004


You have, to this point, been utterly battered by the election.

Or rather, the Election.

Today's the day you can throw off all sorts of shackles. Those of the last four years on a national level, restraints tightened daily out of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Or those going back the last two-and-a-half years, when the miserable, never-ending campaign began.

Well, kids, it ends today. And not an epoch too soon.

It's inconceivable you're undecided about the presidential race. But some of the local candidates here in New York, that's a different story.

Fans For Fair Play is gonna make a few suggestions, based on candidates' stands on Bruce Ratner's Brooklyn Atlantic Yards project. Endorsements, even. Though it's hard to call a sentiment such as "hey, go screw yourself" an endorsement, exactly. It's definitely a suggestion.

Let's start with that particular suggestion. It's directed at incumbent Senator Chuck Schumer. Schumer has wholeheartedly supported Ratner's boondoggle. He won't listen to, or even meet with, groups opposed to the project, even though every New York State resident is part of his constituency. Especially those who live in Brooklyn.

In fact, he's actively antagonistic toward anti-arena people. Aggressively so. He even yelled at me on a Brooklyn street corner for five minutes this summer, believing anyone who offers counter proposals is just a "naysayer" intent on keeping Brooklyn in a semi-serf state. Schumer likes the word "naysayer" like President Bush's embrace of "evildoer."

The following is from the Gotham Gazette. They say it better than we can:

Charles Schumer is seeking his second term as a US Senator. Many hoped he would turn around the office from the back-door deal making of former Senator Alphonse D'Amato. That didn't happen. Being little more than a publicity hound, Schumer is wanting to run for Governor in 2006 tired of being second-fiddle to Hillary. Given his record, we shudder at that thought.

But Schumer has done a lot of damage. Being the quintessential Democratic party hack, Schumer used money mostly contributed by developers and bankers and convened his "Group of 35" -- i.e. 35 developers -- to create a report calling for the bulldozing of much of the West Side of Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn for office towers. As is now coming out in the papers, his report simply did not tell the truth when it suggested the need for 60 million square feet of new office towers whether or not neighborhoods and tenants might be in the way.

In a recent debate, Schumer would not answer the question on the West Side stadium and instead mumbled that the No. 7 subway extension must be built. This is part of the Hudson Yards plan that would cost New York City taxpayers over $4 billion.

Childish, defensive and purile, Schumer should be voted against. Trouble is, there's no viable alternative on the ballot today. Best you can do is vote in the other races and not vote for Schumer. Schumer will win in a landslide, but since politicans like Chuck care more about numbers than people, they'll pour over today's results and see that the senator didn't get as many votes as he'd hoped. He'll know why.

In two other races for the New York State Legislature, we urge:

1) That you write in Susan Metz in the race for 57th Assembly. She's running against Roger Green, a Ratner supporter who, not coincidentally, was thrown out of the state assembly earlier this year on corruption charges. The New York Election Board tossed Metz off the ballot on a technicality. She should be on the ballot. Here's why campaign is crucial, according to her website:

The write-in campaign for Susan Metz in the 57th Assembly District has become a referendum on Ratnerville. We are targeting two sectors of the district to demonstrate that voters in Prospect Heights and Fort Greene do not want an arena and 17 high-rise buildings of up to 50 stories constructed between our historic residential neighborhoods.

And we do not want Roger Green to return to the State Assembly. He supports Forest City Ratner Corporation's plan because he assumes it is a done deal, and he will not struggle. He began negotiating with the millionaire developer even before the plan was revealed to the public in the NYTimes last December.

Another candidate up for re-election who's taken a brave stand against Ratner -- which means standing against Mayor Bloomberg and Governnor Pataki -- is long-time Brooklyn Congressperson Major Owens. Owens' service to the people of Brooklyn is well-known. He needs to be returned to office to help us stave off Ratner's disastrous project. Major's been around for a long time. He knows what it takes to create a project that benefits Brooklyn, as well as the mistakes that can -- and have -- had a ruinious effect on our borough. Congressperson Owens' expertise is necessary at this juncture of the no-arena struggle.

Finally, and most dear to us at FFFP, we urge you to vote for Rebecca White in the State Senate District 17 race. Rebecca has supported FFFP, Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn and the coalition of other groups opposed to Ratner's project. Plus, she was a confidant of Joe Strummer and understands the link between culture and politics better than anyone else running for office in America this year. Sending White to Albany will strengthen our legislative clout, in addtion to really shaking up the way things are done in New York's Legislature, which was ranked dead-last in a survey of the nation's fifty state governments released earlier this year.

Next year, there'll be lots more races involving politicians who have -- or have not -- taken a stand on this issue, an issue that will affect all New Yorkers, from Coney Island all the way to Buffalo. Borough President Marty Markowitz and everyone in the New York City Council will be contesting their seats.

But for now, these are three candidates we urge you to vote for, and one we hope you'll never vote for again.
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