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Ratner’s false choice

The Brooklyn Paper
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On Thursday in front of Borough Hall, Bruce Ratner sponsored a rally to celebrate “Brooklyn’s renaissance” and “the progress of Atlantic Yards.”

As if they are the same thing.

Hundreds of union members showed up at this “Brooklyn Day!” rally to pledge support for a stalled project that has actually not played any part in Brooklyn’s revival. Just the opposite is true: Ratner’s wholesale demolitions have blighted parts of the thriving Prospect Heights neighborhood.

Those at the rally — many of whom were bussed in — said they support Ratner because of the jobs that his project will create. But it’s hard to take such tributes to Ratner seriously given that Ratner paid for the stage on Thursday — and that union workers are required to attend such mass rallies under their organizati­ons’ rules, a union boss told us this week.

As such, this rally is not a spontaneous show of democracy, American-style. It’s democracy as they practice it in North Korea, where lackeys are paid to show up and sing paeans to the Great Leader on command.

The irony, of course, is that if the very elected officials who continue to sing from Ratner’s choir book — we’re talking about enablers like Borough President Markowitz and the croneyists at the Empire State Development Corporation — had not rubber stamped Ratner’s overly large, impossible-to-finance mini-city, those hard-working union men and women might now be building a rationally scaled, multi-developer project that everyone could admire.

Instead, Ratner’s forces continue to advance a false choice that unless he builds his Xanadu, nothing will get built on the state-owned Vanderbilt Rail Yards.

But that has always been a fallacy created to project Ratner as a civic do-gooder, regardless of the fact that taxpayers are underwriting all the supposed public benefits of his project, such as the promise of publicly subsidized below-market-rate rentals, the publicly subsidized return of major league sports to Brooklyn, the publicly subsidized improvements to local infrastructure and the publicly subsidized open space.

Now, as at the beginning of this excruciating process four-and-a-half years ago, there remains no organized opposition to development at the Vanderbilt yards. Indeed, the principal group opposing Ratner’s vision is called Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn.

There are alternatives to Bruce Ratner’s Atlantic Yards project — which is having trouble getting financing because of its many flaws. The time has come for Ratner, his paid union allies and flacks like Markowitz to abandon this failed project and work with those who seek sane, viable, broadly supported development for this valuable publicly owned site.

Updated 4:01 pm, November 10, 2010
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Reasonable discourse

al pankin from downtown says:
that's a good line, thriving neighborhood, when was that? seventy five years ago? (everyone complained about the smells from the bakery) the area is a derlict decrepit place. bring back the dodgers...
June 6, 2008, 7:03 am
Joe from Prospect Heights says:
It is funny how the Brooklyn Paper endorses other large, not widely accepted developer plans by the local community, specifically, Coney Island. The double standard and hypocrisy at it's best.
June 6, 2008, 8:44 am
Tupac Deepak from Clinton Hill says:
Prospect Heights is most definitely thriving...aside from the parts owned by Ratner, which remain derelict and decrepit.

Joe: It's hypocrisy to oppose one development project without opposing all development, ever?
June 6, 2008, 11:29 am
Joe from PH says:
It is hypocrisy when Coney Island has a thriving amusement park that has history and nostalgia. So why does the Brooklyn Paper endorse the developers plans for Coney Island which seeks to alter the zoning of in order to enact their plans. Similar circumstances as AY.
June 6, 2008, 11:48 am
Alan from Downtown says:
Brilliant editorial. Right on target!
June 6, 2008, 1:45 pm
brilly from downtown says:
you want hypocrisy? here's a boatload:

http://www.dddb.net/php/latestnews_Linked.php?id=1483
June 6, 2008, 1:57 pm
Gersh Kuntzman (Brooklyn Paper) says:
Joe makes a good point — that The Brooklyn Paper HAS endorsed other developers' projects. But we have done so on a development-by-development project. Atlantic Yards is very different from other developments. Unlike Atlantic Yards, Joe Sitt's Coney Island plan would have to go through the city's public-review process. Atlantic Yards did NOT.

That's pretty much a benchmark for us.

Thanks for reading and commenting.

GERSH KUNTZMAN
Editor
The Brooklyn Paper
June 6, 2008, 4:03 pm
lolo from brooklyn heights says:
has joe been to coney lately. THRIVING? i don't think so. but condos DO sell for 1 million dollars just blocks from Ratner's hole — a hole that would be filled by now if it Ratner wasn't sitting on it for the last 20 years waiting for the taxpayers to pay his way.
June 6, 2008, 4:24 pm
Joe from PH says:
Lolo,

Go to Coney Island this weekend. You are going tell me it is not thriving. Go a few blocks east of Coney Island to Brighton Beach and you have million dollar condo's.

Re: Gersh's response: you are correct. However, all these johnny come lately politicians (except for Letia James) are now opposing AY when they should have stood up from the very beginning.
June 6, 2008, 4:44 pm
lolo from brooklyn heights says:
the "thriving" coney, however, is not the central amusement district, which was fading for years before the coming of sitt. so support for sitt's mixed use plan is logical — keep some amusement, but go where the market has gone: upscale housing.
June 6, 2008, 6:32 pm
Charles from PS, Bklyn says:
It is inappropriate for government officials to allow a single private developer to use the Brooklyn Day celebration for his own political and economic benefit. Once again, we see how the government in New York is facilitating and aiding developers by use of public funds, energy, and now, public celebrations, to enhance a single developer's benefit.

If they wanted to use the celebration to bring attention to all developers in Brooklyn, both large and small, that would have been a valid public purpose. But to use the Brooklyn Day celebration to promote a single, private developer, is outrageous, and probably breaks several ethical canons of governmental independence. The citizens of New York City should be concerned that their government is using the public trust bestowed by them to facilitate a private developer, who seems to be incapable of even starting any development without the public picking up the tab.

To be clear, the Atlantic Yard development is a public funded, windfall profit giveaway to one developer. Period.
June 6, 2008, 7:52 pm
Charles from PS, Bklyn says:
The United States Constitution, as interpreted by the Supreme Court in Kelo v. New London (2005) has stated the following:

“A purely private taking could not withstand the scrutiny of the public use requirement; it would serve no legitimate purpose of government and would thus be void” … "Nor would the City be allowed to take property under the mere pretext of a public purpose, when its actual purpose was to bestow a private benefit."

This development is a purely private taking, as a pretext of a public purpose, to bestow a private benefit on one developer. I pray to the Supreme Court, please hear us, and bring this developer, and these public officials, before your honorable chamber to answer why the Atlantic Yard development, the public process, the continued use of government resources, and even Brooklyn Day Celebrations, is now only for the wealthy few and politically connected?
June 6, 2008, 7:53 pm
Charles from PS, Bklyn says:
It is inappropriate for government officials to allow a single private developer to use the Brooklyn Day celebration for his own political and economic benefit. Once again, we see how the government in New York is facilitating and aiding developers by use of public funds, energy, and now, public celebrations, to enhance a single developer's benefit.

If they wanted to use the celebration to bring attention to all developers in Brooklyn, both large and small, that would have been a valid public purpose. But to use the Brooklyn Day celebration to promote a single, private developer, is outrageous, and probably breaks several ethical canons of governmental independence. The citizens of New York City should be concerned that their government is using the public trust bestowed by them to facilitate a private developer, who seems to be incapable of even starting any development without the public picking up the tab.
June 6, 2008, 7:54 pm
Joe from PH says:
Charles,.

I hope you pray that the liberal justices vote with the conservatives on the Supreme Court. But, then again, one of your own will do you in as your liberal brethren will not rule on the matter as the constitution outlays but as they feel the ruling should be. See, liberal judges do not base their ruling on the law that has been set forth. They rule by how they feel the law should be interpreted.
June 6, 2008, 11:11 pm
PJ from Williamsburg says:
I can't wait for the arena to be built. There has been anything good at the Atlantic Yards for over 30 years. I think most of Brooklyn welcomes the change.
June 6, 2008, 11:16 pm
audrey from Fort Greene says:
Truer words were never spoken. Let's put this mastodon to rest and get on with building something that makes sense for Brooklyn.
June 7, 2008, 12:43 am
audrey from Fort Greene says:
I was referring to Gersh's editorial, not the post immediately before mine. ( Hope you don't mind my using your first name.)
June 7, 2008, 12:50 am
Norman Oder says:
Here's some coverage of the rally:
http://atlanticyardsreport.blogspot.com/2008/06/fun-day-at-fcrs-brooklyn-day-rally-dj.html
June 7, 2008, 6:52 am
Lydia from Red Hook says:
Mastodon = large shaggy extinct mammal: a large extinct mammal that resembled an elephant, with shaggy hair and two sets of tusks. That what is there right now at Atlantic & 5th. What do you suggest this site should be used for? Hey,don't take another 30 years to make a suggestion.
June 7, 2008, 9:08 am

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