Following an animated showing at the recent Senate hearing regarding Atlantic Yards, one of the project’s most ardent supporters continued to lambast opponents.
In an interview with this paper, Rev. Herbert Daughtry, a 50−year veteran of the neighborhood, and leader of the House of the Lord Church on Atlantic Avenue, also chastised some local officials for backing opponents.
“I think they [Sen. Velmanette Montgomery and City Council member Letitia James] have been captured by a tiny minority that are bent on destroying the project,” said Daughtry, a signatory of the community benefits agreement (CBA) with Atlantic Yards developer Forest City Ratner (FCR).
“To try to delay and stop the project is insensitive, cruel and smacks of hypocrisy. These are desperate times. People need the services that could be provided by the project,” he added.
Daughtry noted that the Downtown Brooklyn Neighborhood Alliance, the organization he represents in the CBA, calls for a state−of−the−art health facility in an area with one of the highest infant mortality rates in the city.
It also calls for an intergenerational complex that would combine a senior center with a youth and day care center, he said.
Daughtry said the arena remains a major component in the CBA in that it calls for community access to games, players, and community events.
Daughtry said the hypocrisy stems from project opponents doing little or nothing to stop any of the other developments in Downtown Brooklyn, many of which have not used union labor, include minimal affordable housing and have never met with the community.
When questioned about how Atlantic Yard blogger Norman Oder, who many media outlets utilize for information without checking his facts, continually writes how CBA signatories have taken money from FCR, Daughtry said his CBA strategy comes from working directly with Martin Luther King.
“Was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. a sell−out? If he was a sell−out, then I’m a sell out,” said Daughtry, explaining how he headed King’s Operation Breadbasket initiative in New York City.
The purpose of Operation Breadbasket was to go primarily to corporate America and to tell them they needed to be responsive to the community and to work with them so it would be mutually beneficial, he said.
Daughtry said that, to the best of his recollection, Oder has never contacted him for his side of the Atlantic Yards story.
“I’ve been doing this kind of work in Downtown Brooklyn for 50 years. I’ve protested, marched and have gone to jail to gain from both the private sector and the government for the people in the most need,” he said.
Daughtry’s comments came after George Sweeting, deputy director of the city’s Independent Budget Office, admitted last week that the two−page testimony he submitted at the Senate hearing would be “generous to call a study.”
The testimony indicated that the IBO’s 2005 study, which found the project would be a net plus of $25 million to taxpayers, would now be a net loss.
Sweeting said he did not speak to FCR regarding the new figures, and the written testimony relied on “reported” figures,