Yards foes: Let’s set the records straight

The Brooklyn Paper
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To the editor,

Letter writer Thomasina Millet of Crown Heights recently wrote that “it’s a little ironic that the [Brooklyn Museum] protest was staged by Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn since the group no more represents the greater non-white, non-brownstone Brooklyn community than Ratner does. When does DDDB get an award of its own for defending the property rights of million-dollar homeowners? That takes guts for a bunch of progressive Democrats” (“Mixed message,” Letters, April 26).

Millet is furthering an insidious myth. Those who have already been displaced by the threat of eminent domain, and those who remain steadfast in their homes, include rent-stabilized tenants, homeowners, business owners and commercial property owners. This courageous group includes African-Americans, whites, Latinos, and people of South Asian and Middle Eastern descent.

Last we checked, these were all Americans deserving the right to defend what they view as an abuse of their constitutional rights, and an improper seizure of their homes and businesses. DDDB’s support of these tenants and owners is resolute, and absolute.

As for whom DDDB represents. first, and foremost, we represent those Brooklynites and New Yorkers who oppose Forest City Ratner’s Atlantic Yards boondoggle and instead support responsible, democratic development.

And we’re a large group. We have the financial support of more than 4,000 members of the community, with a median donation of just $50. We are one of 26 community groups aligned on a major lawsuit challenging the project’s approval.

Over more than four years of daily grassroots organizing, we’ve learned that opposition to Ratner’s proposal (as well as the meager support that exists, for that matter) cuts across racial, ethnic, neighborhood and class lines, a fact that has been evidenced again and again.

Daniel Goldstein, Prospect Heights

The writer is spokesman for Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn.

• • •

To the editor,

How stupid of Bruce Ratner to replace “Miss Brooklyn” with a building called “Building number 1,” especially since it looks like number two. That building literally looks like robot poop! (“The new ‘Miss Brooklyn,’” online update, May 5).

Hey Frank Gehry, stop dumping on Brooklyn!

Also, one thing that was interesting about Saturday’s rally against Atlantic Yards: There was a counter-protest by some union guys. Imagine: this was the first time I can remember that a “save-our-homes” rally has been protested against.

How sad that Ratner has driven neighbor against neighbor. If he would only release the information about the project that you and others have been asking for, then people could judge Atlantic Yards by the facts, not by the multi-million-dollar hype this greedy fool has laid on thick.

Here’s an idea: Give the unions work, give the people affordable housing — just get Ratner out of the way so the community can make something that maximizes benefits for all, not just for some billionaire who thinks about earning his billions before everybody else’s needs.

Steve de Sève, Brooklyn Heights

• • •

To the editor,

Your recent story about the city’s use of taxpayer dollars to underwrite Bruce Ratner’s land purchases (“Tax dollars paid for this mess,” May 3) was insightful. In too many cases, projects have been heavily subsidized by taxpayers, commonly known as corporate welfare. Between direct government funding, low interest loans and long term tax exemptions, the bill to taxpayers may be greater than the benefits.

There also is a relationship between pay-to-play campaign contributions from developers to elected officials looking for favorable legislation, permits and subsidies. Don’t forget the conflict of interest for senior staff from city or state regulatory and permitting agencies.

Too many leave at the end of any mayoral or governor’s administration to become consultants to the same developers they previously oversaw (yes, I’m talking about you, former Deputy Mayor Dan Doctoroff).

Too many mega-developers try to purchase the support of local community groups by making so-called voluntary donations. They also make promises for capital improvements, which don’t always appear.

If these projects such as Atlantic Yards are so worthwhile, why can’t major developers such as Bruce Ratner use their own funds or obtain loans from banks rather than pick the pockets of taxpayers? Real business people who believe in capitalism build their companies on their own.

How sad that they continue looking for shortcuts in the form of huge subsidies and favors from elected officials.

Larry Penner, Great Neck, L.I.

Green church blues

To the editor,

It’s appalling to see the United Methodist Church authorizing the exhumation of past members who were buried on their grounds (“Tales from the crypts at Green Church,” April 26).

How hard up for cash can any church be that they disrespect the dead? What’s next, Disney buying Green-Wood Cemetery and turning it into an amusement park?

Thomas Prendergast, Windsor Terrace


To the editor,

After reading your article about a pending Microsoft store (“Apple of their eye; Microsoft ‘banks’ on Brooklyn for first store,” May 3), I was thinking, “How silly.” But then I saw a story in your competitor, the Onion, entitled, “Thousands wait overnight at Microsoft stores for second generation Zune.”

Clearly, your story was true!

Jeff Graber, Gowanus

The writer is owner of the Mac Support Store in Park Slope.

Updated 4:01 pm, November 10, 2010
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