Ratner hires rival’s chief

The Brooklyn Paper
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Touche, Tish!

The chief of staff to one of the highest-profile opponents to the Atlantic Yards project has quit her job to work for her former boss’s biggest foe — Bruce Ratner.

It is unclear what Janella Meeks, former chief of staff to City Councilwoman Letitia James (D-Prospect Heights) will be doing for Ratner, but the still-unpublicized revolving-door move certainly had insiders buzzing.

“Oooh, this is too good,” cooed one supporter of Atlantic Yards — and an opponent of James’s. “How does it look for Tish James to lose her chief of staff to Bruce Ratner?”

Sources say that James and Meeks —sister of pro-Atlantic Yards Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Queens) — disagreed on Ratner’s plan to build a basketball arena and 17 skyscrapers within James’s district. Before going to work for James, Meeks was an aide to arena cheerleader Assemblyman Roger Green (D-Prospect Heights).

“Janella felt very alone in Tish’s office,” said a colleague in city government.

But James said Meeks quit simply because she moved to New Jersey — a jump across state lines that made it illegal for her to remain on the city payroll.

“Obviously she needed a change,” James told The Brooklyn Papers. “She was looking for an opportunity, and Forest City offered it.

“I guess she needed additional income and she took advantage of a deal I couldn’t provide her with,” James added.

News of Meeks’ defection first appeared on The Brooklyn Papers’ website Monday. Neither Meeks, nor Forest City Ratner, returned phone calls.

Updated 4:00 pm, November 10, 2010
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