Challenging Bruce Ratner’s Brooklyn Atlantic Yards project
Wednesday, June 08, 2005
This was gonna be a posting titled FFFP ANSWERS YOUR QUESTIONS.See the Archives for more...
We were gonna do one of those pieces newspapers run where a reporter makes up questions likely to be asked by readers, then, in a folksy and seemingly helpful tone, answer the questions that were just made up.
Hey, we can be as folksy and seemingly helpful as the next newssource.
The questions were going to tackle Bruce Ratner's latest lies about his monstrous, disastrous 20-skyscraper compound in Brooklyn.
But by the time you read this, the New York Times' June 9th edition will have hit the stands with the same resounding thud a big pile of horse manure makes.
I had a journalism professor once who maintained that The New York Times generally was the most journalistically-unsound paper of all the ones where people are paid to work.
This piece, written by newsroom hacks Jim Rutenberg and Michael Brick, proves that point.
FFFP presents their uniquely bizarre reportage -- also known as blowing Ratner's horn -- in an easy-to-read format we like to call First The Times Lies, Then We Issue Corrections On Their Behalf. The corrections, otherwise known as "the actual facts," are in italics.
June 9, 2005
Unlike Stadium, Brooklyn Arena Is Still a Go
By JIM RUTENBERG and MICHAEL BRICK, The New York Times
As Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's plan for a Far West Side stadium was going down to defeat this spring, another major plan for a sports arena was quietly coming to fruition in Brooklyn.
There's no deal between Ratner and the MTA for half the acres he needs to build...there are still plenty of holdouts in the compound's footprint -- residents, owners, small businesses and large corporations -- who haven't agreed to sell Ratner the land he needs...Forest City Ratner hasn't lined up the financing yet...there will be court cases out the wazoo...the Environmental Impact Statements will prove that everything from traffic to ecological concerns are valid...and housing and job claims made by Ratner are far in excess of what he can actually provide the local communities in his rifle hairs.
Like the ill-fated football stadium plan for the Jets, the Brooklyn basketball arena, planned for the Nets by its team owner, the developer Bruce Ratner, would be subsidized by hundreds of millions in taxpayer dollars and include ambitious redevelopment projects in the surrounding area. It would also be an imposing presence near neighborhoods known for their political activism. And the arena, though strongly backed by the mayor, would most likely require approval of the same obscure state group, the Public Authorities Control Board, which voted to kill the West Side stadium proposal on Monday.
Yet, in a reflection of the relatively smooth sailing the Brooklyn project has enjoyed,
Ratner, Borough President Markowitz, Mayor Bloomberg and Governor Pataki, expected to have the first shovel in the ground in January of 2004. A year-and-a-half later, community and political opposition has kept that from happening. Ratner has been forced to use racial divisiveness, payouts, sweetheart deals and millions of public relations dollars to try and make it happen. Some smooth sailing...
one of two men on that board who scuttled the West Side plan this week, Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno, indicated yesterday that he would support the new arena for the Nets, who would move to Brooklyn from New Jersey. The other, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, said yesterday that he would be far less likely to stand in its way, since it would not hurt business in his Lower Manhattan district.
Of course it will hurt his district. The same concerns Silver had about commercial tenants fleeing lower Manhattan for the West Side will be realized here -- Brooklyn is being sold as the new, hip and cheap place for Wall Street firms to set up shop. The Ratner compound at the Atlantic Yards, the Downtown Brooklyn redevelopment plan, and the Fourth Avenue rezoning would bring 24 million square feet of office space to the parts of Brooklyn just over the river from Sheldon's district. He was brave and right to vote against the Jets stadium, but Silver's listening to the wrong people and formulating bad policy if he thinks Ratner won't draw businesses away from lower Manhattan.
As for Bruno, the anti-Ratner group Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, with other community groups, sent a large group of residents up to Albany on May 31 to meet with elected officials on the state level. Not extravagantly-paid lobbyists that Ratner employs, but local concerned citizens who took the day off from work to make the trip north. Joe Bruno in no way said he was supporting Ratner, but rather was still looking the deal over.
While the Brooklyn plan still has hurdles, its progress so far is providing an object lesson in how to navigate big projects through the often treacherous and choppy waters of New York state and city politics. In the Brooklyn project, backers have aggressively courted the local community since the project's inception, trying to placate those who could be its most aggressive foes. Perhaps most important, they have reached out to Mr. Silver.
There's no doubt Ratner's reached out. He's building a big office building in Silver's district, four floors of which Ranter -- because he really cares about the city's little whippersnappers -- is turning into a school. It's the kind of school that earns big p.r. points with sharply investigative media outlets like, say, The New York Times, but that community activists fear will pit schoolkids against the overflowing traffic the tower will flood the area with.
See, that's how Ratner does it -- he buys people off, as we'll see below...and the Times has failed, due to incompetence or intent, to detect this trend, even though it's right in front of their eyes.
As for "aggresively court[ing] the local community," Ratner's only cozied up to groups he's offered contracts to (ACORN, BUILD) or festooned with promises he has no intention of keeping...because in many cases, as with jobs, they're not his to keep.
A vast coalition of fifty community groups stands opposed to Ratner's skyscrapers. He has yet to reach out to a single one...more than 18 months after he announced the deal.
"They worked more cooperatively and openly with elected officials and community leaders," said City Council Speaker Gifford Miller, a mayoral candidate who supports the Brooklyn plan and had become an ardent critic of the West Side stadium plan. "Rather than just saying, look, here it is, now we're going to bring everything we can to bear on you to agree," Mr. Miller said, "I think there was more of a give and take."
With no due respect, Mr. Miller (forever to be known as Fourth of Four Giff), FCR has failed to work cooperatively with anyone except those in his employ or otherwise supportive of the plan. There was no -- repeat NO -- give-and-take with the community. The only change to Ratner's colossus is the addition of three MORE towers. That's it...that's the big give-and-take. In spite of Ratner calling it a "50/50" housing plan, only 18% will be affordable to people at the median income level of the surrounding neighborhoods -- that's lower than the standard 80/20 plans most realtors receive public subsidies for.
Let's look at this for a second. Miller refused to support the West Side Stadium, even though it claimed to offer 12,500 apartments, 15,000 construction jobs, nearly 5,000 permanent jobs, would cost over a billion in public money, threw taxpayer dollars at a sports facility that would never pay for itself and was part of a bidding process on an MTA rail yard designed for a single, favored bidder (The Jets).
Claiming Ratner's project is a different kettle of fish, he's supporting the Ratner skyscraper compound which claims to offer between 4,500 and 7,800 apartments (the numbers keep changing), 15,000 construction jobs, 7,800 permanent jobs, throws taxpayer dollars at a sports facility that will never pay for itself and is part of a bidding process on an MTA rail yard designed for a single, favored bidder (Bruce Ratner).
In short, Miller's out of his fence-sitting mind. There's nothing remotely different enough between the two plans to make someone vociferously criticize one and endorse the other. If the West Side plan was bad, so is Ratner's in Brooklyn. We should all challenge Miller and every other person who criticized the Jets Stadium but inexpicably (or to be harsher, hypocritically) supports the Nets' project.
In the post-mortems of the failed West Side stadium plan, critics asserted this week that the Jets and the city's point man on the project, Deputy Mayor Daniel L. Doctoroff, had erred by first trying to sidestep state legislators, then building a coalition of supporters too late - most notably failing to court Mr. Silver early enough to win his backing and allay his concerns that the West Side redevelopment plan would hurt efforts to revive Lower Manhattan.
Ratner has completely side-stepped every legislator he can. He asked Pataki and Bloomberg to shunt his project into state oversight, avoiding the city's far more stringent and democratic process. The New York City Council has been pushed aside, and bears some of the blame for abdicating their oversight. Ratner has received a steady stream of comforting rubber stamps from Pataki's pet board, the Empire State Development Corporation -- one of two state agencies renting office space in Ratner's disastrous money-hemorrhaging Atlantic Center Mall, a lease agreement Ratner needed from Pataki to help stop the mall's bleeding.
What Ratner has proven is that you don't NEED the community when the governor hands over the state's approval process and says "do what you want with it, laddie." He's only come on strong to Silver since it became clear that Silver was gonna be no pushover for the Jets stadium -- which was earlier in the process than most of the public and many elected officials realized.
Mr. Bloomberg's aides asserted that Mr. Silver was going to vote against the plan no matter when they began courting him. And even stadium opponents credited the Jets with ultimately building a broad coalition that included both the Rev. Al Sharpton and former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani. But that coalition did not come together until quite recently, long after a key opponent, Cablevision, had begun running advertisements against the West Side stadium.
In contrast, the company building the Brooklyn arena and a large adjoining residential complex, Forest City Ratner - which is also the development partner of The New York Times for its new headquarters in Midtown - took early pains to keep similar opposition from building. As soon as it set about devising its plan in early 2002, it brought aboard a seasoned team of lobbyists who immediately went to work building support among political leaders, especially Mr. Silver.
THIS IS AN ALL-CAPS ALERT -- FOR A YEAR-AND-A-HALF THE NEW YORK TIMES HAS RARELY WRITTEN ABOUT RATNER'S SCHEME IN BROOKLYN. WHEN THEY HAVE, THEY RARELY MENTION THAT THEY ARE A BUSINESS PARTNER WITH RATNER ON A MASSIVELY LUCRATIVE SKYSCRAPER IN TIMES SQUARE, A PROJECT THAT RATNER HAS BLED THE BROWNFIELDS ENIVORNMENTAL CLEANUP INITIATIVE FOR MILLIONS OF DOLLARS AND ONLY PAID 40 CENTS ON THE DOLLAR FOR PROPERTIES HE AND THE TIMES ACQUIRED THROUGH EMINENT DOMAIN CONDEMNATION.
You don't assemble a "seasoned team of lobbyists" unless you have something very, very unsavory to sell. The tired standard response about needing lobbyists to counter a few cranks in every neighborhood is sad. One developer's crank is a targetted community's concerned citizen. Speaking out is called "democracy" -- people fighting for what they believe against moneyed interests that can buy the attention of officials like Sheldon Silver, who is seasoned enough to know the difference between the two.
The developers went public with their plan in December 2003. In announcing the plan, Mr. Ratner described a $2.5 billion project designed by Frank Gehry atop the Atlantic Terminal railway hub.
Opposition to Mr. Ratner's plan emerged quickly, with preservationists and neighborhood groups forming organizations including the Prospect Heights Action Coalition and Develop Don't Destroy. They called rallies, they covered brownstone Brooklyn with fliers and they drafted alternate development plans, arguing the Ratner plan would flood the neighborhood with traffic and overwhelm a low-density area.
Groups in Prospect Heights, Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Crown Heights, Park Slope, Boerum Hill, Greenwood Heights, Carroll Gardens, and Downtown Brooklyn covered ALL these neighborhoods, not just "brownstone Brooklyn" -- code word for "white Brooklyn," the exact sort of racial divisiveness that Ratner has played like a fiddle, and sadly, the Times has bought into. (It echoes Borough President Markowitz's racial demographic labels of "suburban Brooklyn" (white 'hoods) and the rest of Brooklyn, presumbaly "urban Brooklyn," made up of neighborhoods predominatly people of color.)
These "opposition" is community groups, religious leaders (including all but one of the area's Black clergy), parents, sports fans, and elected officials -- including the area's councilperson, state senator and congressperson -- all three African-American.
This coalition, of which Fans For Fair Play is a proud member, has for a year-and-a-half spoken out on the dozens of problems inherent in Ratner's scheme:
* sweetheart political deals conducted behind closed doors;
* massive public funding for a private development;
* lies about truly affordable housing and real job numbers;
* choking traffic, upwards of 100,000 additional vehicular trips a day;
* inadequate mass transit;
* the exacerbation of asthma in one of NYC's most asthma-overwhelmed hotspots;
* lies to unions, women- and minority-owned construction firms about job training and actual jobs available to all three;
* eminent-domain abuse, i.e. the taking of people's property for a private development (an issue awaiting a U.S. Supreme Court decision in the Kelo v. City of New London case);
* gag-orders slapped by Ratner on anyone who sells their property to him;
* the inppropriate scale of Ratner's project, including skyscrapers that will tower above the Williamsburg Bank Buildling;
* Ratner's racist casting of Fort Greene as a neighborhood full of gang members (reported unashamedly in the Times last year);
* the lack of any planning and funding for massive city infrastructure to accomodate Ratner's skyscrapers (schools, firehouses, cops, sewaged, sanitation);
* 99-year, $1 leases of city land under Ratner's arena;
* the insensitive use of time, money and energy to accomdate Ratner while Bloomberg, who claims to be the city's "education mayor," ignores the many derelict schools in all of the five boroughs;
* the shifting of jobs from Manhattan to Brooklyn (yes, this coalition has been saying it all along);
* the automatic dismissal of different plans for the Atlantic/Vanderbilt rail yards, including the UNITY plan (conceived of in a day-long charette composed of across-the board community representatives and residents) that would provide more jobs, the same housing density, and a fair plan for the poorer families to actually receive affordable apartments;
* the refusal of Forest City Ratner to conduct honest, actual community outreach, and their use of dismissive, selective tactics since day one.
But the Ratner group was courting a different constituency. Bruce Bender and James P. Stuckey, executive vice presidents of the development company, studied the opposition, sending assistants to take notes at public meetings or doing it themselves.
See, the anti-Ratner coalition has conducted its events openly. Ratner's moles could come and go as they please. Ratner, on the other hand, has used city money via "public hearings" to present their power-point presentations at City Hall. The hearings have been slanted to FCR's benefit, geared to the media and backed with "arena supporters" -- all-expenses paid human props (transportation, t-shirts and lunch provided by FCR). If you could get past the screaming union members who often showed because they were told to, these events were "open," but offered little hope of a fair exhange of ideas so that New York's citizens could make up their minds about Ratner's scheme.
FCR maintains that they have held "countless" meetings with the community. That's a huge exaggeration. Again, the few meetings they've had with "the community" have been with the seven or eight community groups -- many holdling freshly-minted contracts with FCR -- behind closed doors.
And by the way, meeting with local co-op owners to tell them to a) accept FCR's offer, even if you don't wish to leave your home, or b) have it condemened at a lesser price through eminent domain laws can not, under any circumstances, be called "meeting with the community."
Mr. Bender has decades of experience as a City Council aide, notably as chief of staff to the former speaker, Peter F. Vallone. Mr. Stuckey is a former president of the Public Development Corporation and a longtime adviser to Mr. Giuliani. They also hired Joe DePlasco of Dan Klores Communications, a former top aide to Mark Green, to handle public relations.
This is wealthy power brokers enlisting the aid of those with contacts to other wealthy power brokers. Again, the kind of thing you only do if you have something unsavory to flog. It's not surprising that the New York Times would find nothing wrong with this standard rich-and-powerful s.o.p.
Using jealousy as a wedge, the developers enlisted the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, a group that has fought for low-cost housing. They also courted groups like Brooklyn United for Innovative Local Development, an employment advocacy group formed by James E. Caldwell, the president of the 77th Precinct Community Council, with promises of community involvement in the planning and a sizable share of the jobs.
Exactly. ACORN has done good work on a national level, but in Brooklyn, it was ACORN's Bertha Lewis who only a few short years ago was protesting against Ratner's lack of responsiveness to the Black community, saying he was just like all the other developers in their distaste for engaging with Brooklyn's Black population. Now she loves the man, planting big icky kisses on his lips at the announcement of the supposed "50/50" housing plan which, as described above, prices 4 of every 5 apartments out of the reach of Lewis' constituents.
It's amazing how ACORN's contract to serve as the processing agent for housing in the hoped-for Ratner skyscrapers will shut a long-time community-activist's mouth for good. ACORN, so anxious to start earning Ratner's dollars, has been remarkably silent about hundreds of local residents who Ratner is forcing from their homes whether they want to leave or not. ACORN has also remained silent on Magic Johnson's Canyon-Johnson Company's recent purchase of the Williamsburgh Bank Building and Johnson's plans to turn the entire thing into luxury market-rate apartments.
BUILD has a similar money deal from Ratner to process job applications for whatever jobs might someday materialize, and they've been remarkably silent on the loss of hundreds of local jobs, the fact that there are no anchor tenants offering jobs in the Atlantic Yards compound, and that Ratner himself reduced the number of "permanent" jobs from 10,000 to 7,800 in order convert office buildings into more lucrative luxury apartment buildings.
And what, pray tell, does the Times mean by "using jealousy as a wedge"? The wedge has been Ratner's insensitive and crass division of Brooklyn's Black communities, stringing barbed wire between those who support him and those opposing him. It's an utter disgrace for a man who calls himself a progressive developer, and for his brother, Center for Constitutional Rights honcho Michael Ratner, an investor in the project.
They drafted an agreement covering minority contracting, job training and community use of the arena, negotiating with the Rev. Dr. Herbert Daughtry, an influential pastor of the House of the Lord Pentecostal Church, and Mr. Caldwell.
Daughtry, who loves Brooklyn so much he lives in New Jersey, calls it a "community benefits agreement," but only seven or eight small groups -- all in Ratner's pocket finacially or ideologically -- have been negotiating this agreement.
This CBA means nothing -- it's legally non-binding and provides no penalties if Ratner fails to meet the document's flimsy criteria. CBA's can be useful, but at the core, they're kind of ridiculous. This one is Ratner's way of saying "I can't be trusted. Make me sign a document saying I'll do things that anyone with a moral conscience would do anyway, then try to hold me to it -- but don't make it legally binding, of course." Mssrs. Daughtry and Caldwell, the later of whom told a city council hearing last month that Ratner was an angel sent down by God, are more than happy to hold Ratner to a standard so low that it must be Boss Tweed, not God, smiling down from the heavens above.
Slowly, they carved a base of support in downtown Brooklyn, which seemed more inclined to oppose the project, and those allies began doing much of the work for them.
"Acorn knocked on doors in East New York, Bed-Stuy, Brownsville to find out what they knew about the project," said Bertha Lewis, the executive director of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now. "The opposition seemed to be sucking up the press."
ACORN might indeed be doing that, but they're sure not telling folks who answer those doors the whole story. "The opposition," by which she must mean the coalition of nearly 50 community groups -- Black, white, Latino, poor, wealthy, middle-class, blue-collar, white collar -- has been "sucking up the press" to such a degree that all four major dailies' editorial boards are for Ratner's project (they're wrong). Not to mention the great and positive pieces the opposition is enjoying, like this very excellent, fair and balanced piece of reportage by the Old Gray Lady herself.
The opposition remained publicly united. But the Ratner group, working closely with Mr. Bloomberg's housing aides, worked out a crucial agreement to undercut concerns that the project would drive out poorer long-term residents. Last month, in a boisterous rally at Brooklyn Borough Hall, Mayor Bloomberg, Mr. Ratner and Ms. Lewis announced an agreement to build thousands of units of low-cost housing.
We're sure the AP Stylebook doesn't define "boisterous" as a few dozen paid-for supporters clapping as Bertah Lewis locks lips with Ratner and Bloomberg. Maybe the boisteriousness was the rush for the bathrooms.
The crucial agreement, once again, was the incorrectly-labeled "50/50" housing agreement. Once again, crunching Ratner's own numbers says that a miserly 18 percent of Ratner's apartments will be affordable by people making the median income in the immediate neighborhoods. We keep repeating this because the Times keeps repeating Ratner's lies on this crucial topic.
Furthermore, the few low-income apartments Ratner does deign to provide are publicly subsidized. There's nothing wrong with publicly-subsidized low-income apartments...FFFP supports the idea. But when Ratner vastaly overstates the actual number just to curry political and community favor for a private development that will end up costing taxpayers (state taxpayers too, Mr. Joe Bruno) $1.5 billion, that's unethical and just plain vicious.
The agreement was a milestone, and the moment was indicative of the differences between the Brooklyn plan and the West Side effort.
It wasn't a milestone, except in its duplicitous, prevaricating nature.
"It's when Ratner agreed to the housing that opportunity turned to support in low-income and working-class parts of the area," said Dan Cantor, executive director of the Working Families Party, which derives its support largely from housing and labor groups and has its headquarters in Brooklyn.
But Mr. Cantor added: "In Manhattan, community opposition stayed that way because the benefits were too abstract and the downsides were too concrete. In a way, Ratner was a better politician than Doctoroff and the mayor."
These days, master politicians are defined by the standards set by Karl Rove, George Bush and company. It's true that Ratner has worked this better than Doctoroff and Bloomberg...but only because his lies have been more subtle, his outreach limited to those who already supported him, his public appearances in Brooklyn at staged events with stacked audiences, and his willingness to create and exploit Brooklyn's racial, class and internacine divisions.
Clearly, that is politicking at its best in 2005.
Side note: the Times' ace investigative skills don't tell you that the Working Families Party and ACORN's Bertha Lewis are tightly intertwined. Cantor's quotes are presented by the Times as objective appraisals. But that's like saying the American Petroleum Institute's analysis of George Bush's energy policies is neutral and objective. Cantor seriously overstates reception in low-income and working-class areas to Ratner's skyscrapers. In reality, some people in these two communities support Ratner, some know nothing about the project, and many others are fighting against him very, very hard.
The Times failed to get opposing quotes here -- as they did in all but the very last paragraph below.
City officials pointed out, however, that Mr. Bloomberg and Mr. Doctoroff have been deeply involved in Mr. Ratner's project from its inception and are pleased with its progress.
Others noted important differences between the West Side stadium and the Brooklyn arena. For example, the Brooklyn arena would require a $200 million public investment as opposed to the $600 million investment the West Side plan was calling for.
We said it before, and we'll say it again -- all the major factors in both projects are virtually identical.
Both of the dollar figures above were straight-up infrastructural public funding. Economic analyses of each project have estimaged the actual cost to taxpayers at between $1 billion and $1.5 billion -- and that's in today's dollars. The cost would rise sharply as time goes on.
The additional public outlay would be in the form of subsidies; tax breaks; PILOTs and the ever possible TIF financing schemes that allow developers to shift tax revenue away from the city's coffers and into paying off loans unwillingly contributed by taxpayers; sweetheart land deals with the MTA (the Jets were awarded land appraised at over $900 million for a scant $200 million, and Ratner can expect the same bargain deal, in the process costing straphangers hundreds of millions); virtually-free city land for Ratner's arena; the loss of local revenue when people are displaced by the arena and the much wider secondary displacements as rents skyrocket in neighboring communities; new schools, firehouses, sewage and sanitation services that Ratner's project will force the city to expand budgets to pay...and on and on and on.
Manhattan also has an especially practiced antidevelopment movement on its West Side and is already home to Madison Square Garden and countless world-renown cultural institutions. Brooklyn, still smarting from the loss of the Dodgers nearly 50 years ago, is generally more welcoming to projects that could help put it on the national map.
Screw you, Times. Brooklyn is no longer "still smarting" from the Dodgers' move to Los Angeles. Quite honestly, a sadly large number of people who rue the Dodgers' departure themselves left in the city's great white flight of the '50s and '60s. They pine for yesteryear but do not talk for the Brooklyn of today.
A huge number of Brooklynites weren't born or are too young to remember Ebbets Field, the Sym-phony, Jackie and Pee-Wee and Duke. Many others have moved on, happily rooting for the Mets or Yankees. In addition, Brooklyn is full of immigrant communities whose sporting interests concern Jose Reyes, Sammy Sosa, Hideki Matsui, and national soccer and cricket teams from around the world.
And, oh yeah, hard to believe as it is, Brooklynites have life issues that supercede sports.
People who think that Brooklyn still hasn't gotten over the Dodgers' departure (itself a shameless land-grab battle between a team owner and local politicos waged in two great cities a continent apart) show utter disregard for the folks living in Brooklyn today. The Times, trumpeting this shallow, sepia sentiment, is buying Marty Markowitz's tepid, nostalgia-drenched vision of Brooklyn -- an outlook that does for today's Brooklyn what Amos'n'Andy did for Black communities of the past.
Few Brooklynites pine for "projects that could help put [Brooklyn] on the national map." More succinctly, we could care less. We want good schools, uniformed services, subways that get us to around town on-time and in one piece, neighborhoods that grow the way they always have -- one newcomer at a time. Most of us either moved to or have stayed in Brooklyn because of what it is, not what a billionaire mayor from Boston and and billionaire developer from Cleveland who live a block apart on the Manhattan's Upper East Side despotically think it should be.
Bruce Ratner said at the outset of this project "Brooklyn needs a Manhattan skyline." This moneyed interloper's perspective, as he bludgeons Brooklyn with ugly buildings that provide no improvements to the local communities, speaks volumes about his crass exploitation of our borough.
Brooklyn politicians like Markowitz, Chuck Schumer, Jim Brennan, Bill DeBlassio and David Yassky all support Ratner's craven thirst to monopolize our wordly small town, and it's shocking until you hear them talk. Then, the platitudes and blind faith in Ratner's lies and exaggerations demonstrate how little they truly care about Brooklyn.
But opponents say all of this ignores this crucial advantage that Forest City Ratner had over the Jets: It did not have to face an opponent such as Cablevision, the owner of Madison Square Garden, which has money to wage such a battle. Cablevision was less threatened by competition in the form of a competing site in Brooklyn than it was by one a few blocks away in Manhattan.
"There is a lot of community opposition," said Councilman Charles Barron, of East New York. "But I don't have enough money to put television ads on."
Hundreds of people marched through the heat on July 7th, across the Brooklyn Bridge, and rallied at City Hall. Tens of thousands have signed petitions, lobbied their elected officials, spoken out and contributed pennies and dollars to help fight Ratner's multi-million dollar p.r. machine. Millions in the city are learning what a bad deal Ratner's compound is, and how much of their tax dollars will go to fund it while providing precious few jobs and affordable apartments that local residents despearately need.
To reduce all of this opposition to a single quote from Councilperson Charles Barron, one of New York's politicians brave enough to take a principaled stand by confronting Ratner and the politicos he leads around by the nose, is standard procedure for the Times. They've been doing everything they can to marginalize the massive opposition to Bruce Ratner's skyscrapers.
Here's the deal: whatever Bruce Ratner, his henchpeople, and doting political allies say, we can counter with the facts -- many of them Ratner's own numbers.
If you have a question, or want to know what Ratner's on about, or if you think, like sad little Gifford Miller, that the West Side Stadium and Ratner's arena-and-skycrapers are somehow different, send us your question. We'll give you the info that the New York Times won't. Write us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Here's the starting point right here, right now. Ratner's Panzer attack on Brooklyn is NOT A DONE DEAL.
Repeat...NOT A DONE DEAL.