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November 30, 2004

The Nets had to win sometime

The Nets improved their record to 3-11 tonight with a 99-86 win over Charlotte.


Posted by lumi at 9:00 PM

Brooklyn Community Boards 2, 6 and 8 Host Pep Rally for Forest City Ratner
Community Members are Left Out in the Cold While FCR Supporters Get VIP Treatment

DDDb Press Release:

While community members who were hungry for information cooled their heels on the sidewalk last night—many were ultimately turned away from the “informational” meeting held by Community Boards 2, 6 and 8—groups that support Forest City Ratner’s proposal were ushered to a special entrance at the front of the block-long line.

“Clearly, there are two classes of citizens these days,” said Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn (DDDB) spokesperson Daniel Goldstein. “Those who support Bruce Ratner’s proposal, and the rest of us.”

Those community members who were able to get into NYC College of Technology’s Klitgord Auditorium were treated to a 45-minute presentation by Forest City Ratner (FCR) Executive Vice President Jim Stuckey. Stuckey, a former President of New York City’s Economic Development Corporation, showed gleaming sketches of FCR’s proposed 17-skyscraper-and-arena complex, and spoke at length about the community benefits FCR says it will deliver. “How can they make these promises,” asked DDDB’s Goldstein, “when they won’t even reveal how this project is going to be funded? Stuckey’s presentation offered no new facts, just a lot of unsubstantiated claims.”

The audience—heavily packed with construction union members who were given vouchers for their participation— was surprisingly reserved in its expression of approval, cheering most loudly for FCR’s claims that 1500 construction jobs per year will be created. But one group of public housing residents in the audience disrupted the meeting around that point, shouting, “Who’s going to get these jobs?” and demanding that Darnell Canada be heard.  Canada’s relationship with FCR dates back to the building of MetroTech, another Ratner project, when Canada organized residents of Brooklyn’s Farragut, Ingersoll and Whitman Houses to apply for MetroTech construction jobs that FCR promised to the community, but did not deliver.

“Stuckey claims that Bruce Ratner has never broken a promise,” said Goldstein, “but he obviously doesn’t read the newspapers. Just this month, FCR reneged on its deal with Pace University—and that’s only the latest in a long line of promises that are worth the paper they’re not written on.”

Note to Editors:  Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn supports the community-driven UNITY plan for developing the MTA/LIRR site in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn. The plan, which features truly affordable housing and promotes local small businesses as well as union jobs, will be presented at a community meeting next week.

WHAT: UNITY plan for MTA/LIRR site

WHO: Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn and the Atlantic Yards Development Workshop

WHEN: Monday, December 6th at 7:00pm

WHERE: Seventh Day Adventist Church, 88 Hanson Place, Brooklyn (enter on South Portland)

To view the Ratner Proposal, visit: www.bball.net

To view the community’s UNITY plan, visit: www.dddb.net/public/UNITY.pdf

DEVELOP DON’T DESTROY BROOKLYN leads a broad-based community coalition fighting for development that will unite our communities instead of dividing and destroying them.

Posted by lumi at 1:39 PM

A stadium battle grows in Brooklyn

Metro: The headline is misleading. Though the it mentions a "battle" the article is about how neighbors of the arena feel like there is little hope of fighting off the arena, and ends with a Jim Stuckey "housing, jobs and hope" quote.


Posted by lumi at 12:47 PM

Complaints take shine off Gehry's L.A. concert hall

CBC Arts News: Report on complaints by LA motorists and neighbors of Walt Disney Concert Hall in LA who are getting baked and blinded by reflective panels.

...temperatures on sidewalks adjacent to the concert hall reached higher than 58 C (136F).

Forest City Ratner touts the merits of having the internationally-renowned world-class architect, Frank Gehry, on board to design the Atlantic Yards complex. Before we are blinded by the light, have a look at what Gehry hath wrought on Los Angeles.


Posted by lumi at 11:23 AM

ESDC Letter to Community Board 6

The Community Board 2, 6, & 8 Informational Meeting unfortunately was another "dog and pony" show put on by Forest City Ratner (FCR). Though some lay the blame on the doorstep of the CBs for continually giving face time to FCR Exec. VP Jim Stuckey, much of the blame for this meeting should also be pinned on City and State agencies who refuse to show up in public to outline their roles and responsibilities in Ratner's development proposal.

The MTA and NYC Department of City Planning were absent and the ESDC only sent a letter from their Senior Vice President -- Legal and General Council, Anita E. Laremont. CB6 District Manager Craig Hammerman read the letter for the benefit of those who attended.

Read letter

Posted by lumi at 10:58 AM

Meet the New Nets, Same as the Old Nets

The New York Times:

The Nets cannot get much worse.


Posted by lumi at 7:09 AM

November 29, 2004

CB 2, 6 & 8 Co-Sponsor Informational Meeting

"At this meeting proposed plans will be presented by Forest City Ratner Company and their representatives. Other representatives for the New York State Empire State Development Corporation, the Metropolitan Transit Authority and the Department of City Planning have been invited to attend to explain to the public the various procedures involved in the sale and use of air rights, use of eminent domain to acquire properties, the development of an environmental impact statement and the City's uniform land use review procedure. Following the presentation(s) there will be an opportunity for questions (to be submitted in writing) and answers."

DATE: November 29, 2004

TIME: 6:30 - 9:30 pm

PLACE: NYC College of Technology Klitgord Auditorium 300 Jay Street (between Tillary/Johnson Streets)

Additional Notes: "This meeting is an Informational Meeting. It is not a Public Hearing."

To ensure that we can conduct a productive meeting that allows our audience the fullest opportunity to learn firsthand about this proposal, we will be insisting on the following:

  1. Audience members must be courteous to all speakers;
  2. Signage or other visual obstructions are not permitted in the auditorium;
  3. Questions will be submitted on index cards (provided at sign-in);
  4. The moderator reserves the right to edit questions for clarity;
  5. The program will end by 9:30 pm.

Posted by lumi at 7:48 AM

Owner neglecting Nets, say critics

The New York Daily News:

Developer Bruce Ratner did not pay to keep top-shelf talent like Kenyon Martin and Kerry Kittles on the NBA squad he owns, but he spent big bucks this year to push his real estate projects, critics charged.

Forest City Ratner companies paid five lobbyist firms a total of $200,000 for the first six months of this year, according to a document from the New York state online lobbyist registration system. One firm, Geto & Demilly, spent an additional $31,000 in printing expenses.

"This is just another example of how Ratner bought the [New Jersey Nets] to grease the skids for the [arena] project, not to be a successful basketball team owner," said Scott Turner of Fans for Fair Play, an anti-arena group.

Forest City Ratner VP Bruce Bender and lobbying firm Geto & Demilly claim that there was nothing out of the ordinary. For an interesting peek at what lobbyist consider to be ordinary see "NYPIRG: Big Apple's Big Spenders," November 28.

Detractors point to a connection between money spent on lobbying Community Boards and the Community Board leadership's involvement in talks with the developer. CB6 District Manager denies any effect of lobbying attempts.

Lately, even NJ Nets Center has been criticizing Ratner for putting his real estate investment before his sports team investment.


Posted by lumi at 7:32 AM

November 28, 2004

Trail Blazers won't allow Nets to get out of their slump

The Ratner-owned NJ Nets are now 2-11 after losing 83-71 to Portland.

"The losing streak is New Jersey's longest since the Nets lost nine in a row from Nov. 22-Dec. 6, 2000. New Jersey finished 26-56 that season.

"New Jersey's 2-11 start is its worst since going 2-15 to start the 1999-2000 season."


Posted by lumi at 10:25 PM

Park Slope Courier: "Paper Nabs Ratner's Name"

DISCLAIMER: Though the following article is damn funny, we didn't make it up.

by Erik Engquist

Web surfers looking for Forest City Ratner's home page at http://www.forestcityratner.com get a surprising result: a Brooklyn Papers site featuring articles critical of the company and its controversial Nets arena project.

Brooklyn Papers publisher Ed Weintrob -- finding the url (sic) unclaimed -- rented if for a year beginning August 5, and set it up to automatically forward visitors to a brooklynpapers.com page with articles such as "Earth to Bruce: Facts show he owns less land" and "Members: Ratner owns community boards."

We called for an explanation.

"It's clearly a newspaper Web site. We're not masquerading as a Forest City Web site," Wintrob explained. "I think it's a fairly above-board and honest thing."

He added, "If you go to the site, you see all of our stories -- pro, negative, and neutral."

We found negative and neutral, but not much in the way of pro-Ratner stories (unless you consider "Land grab goes to court" to be complimentary).

Well, there was a mostly positive article by reporter Deborah Kolben about the July 25 opening of Target in Ratner's Atlantic Terminal mall. Kolben left the Brooklyn Papers shortly thereafter. No, we're not suggesting anything.

Weintrob said people who type forestcityratner.com into a browser are seeking information about the company, and his newspaper's Web site provides it.

But Forest City Ratner spokesman Joe DePlasco saw another motive.

My guess is that they know people are more likely to get honest information by going to Forest City Ratner than to Brooklyn Papers and they are trying to kidnap them along the way. As everyone knows, Mr. Weintrob is completely opposed to this project, which is fine, but it would still be nice of him to let his reporters provide accurate and objective information. But hey, it's his newspaper and he wants to impose his view upon his people."

Weintrob has written columns against Ratner's project but said forestcityratner.com links "to our coverage of what Forest City is doing in Brooklyn. They're news stories. I wouldn't call it an advocacy site for anything."

Posted by lumi at 9:28 PM

Queens Residents Use Black Friday To Protest Development Plan

NY1: Yup, you read it right, NY1 reported on "Queens Residents" protesting on Black Friday in Brooklyn.

*DDDb and the Downtown Brooklyn Leadership Coalition worked hard on the boycott. Obviously it takes a lot to get your message across in the biggest media market in the world.8


Posted by lumi at 11:03 AM

Eminent domain foes argue land seizure being abused to help private companies. Advocates say action needed to improve blighted areas, add jobs.

The Toledo Blade: Really good article covering eminent domain abuse nationwide. The Toledo, OH case of small business owner Ken Blankenship has been featured in NoLandGrab before, highlighting his tenacity, courage and faith that a person's property should not be taken by the government to be given to a private company.


Posted by lumi at 9:38 AM

Mourning: Nets lacking in talent

Bergen Record:

Alonzo Mourning's frankness about the Nets has bothered some in the organization. But he may have delivered his most painfully honest assessment of all following Friday's loss at Seattle. 'We can't rely on our talent because to tell you the truth we're not that talented across the board,' Mourning said. 'We have to do it with effort.'"

article (download pdf)

Posted by lumi at 9:24 AM

NYPIRG: Big Apple's Big Spenders

NYPIRG report released in 2000 about NYC's top lobbying groups:

Money talks. Thanks to a savy Prospect Heights resident for digging this up.

read NYPIRG's online report

Posted by lumi at 8:48 AM

NoLandGrab Exclusive:
Brooklyn Musicians Seek Community Benefits Agreement with Ratner

A group of Brooklyn musicians have broken away from the coalition of local activists who oppose Bruce Ratner's proposal, in order to independently negotiate a Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) that addresses the needs of freelance musicians who live in Brooklyn or somewhere else, NoLandGrab has learned.

Whitney Benjamin (aka Whitney Been-Jamin'), a Prospect Heights resident and charter member of Brooklyn Underemployed Musicians Making Employment Real (BUMMER), has admitted that he has been participating in closed-door negotiations with FCR Exec. VP Jim Stuckey. Been-Jamin' gives the following reason for his break with arena opponents: "Develop Don't Destroy and their supporters were, like, really bumming me out. When I heard Stuckey say that FCR's door was open, I called him up. You know, he is not really the anti-christ -- he actually cares."

(click the link below to read the Draft CBA)


The following is a draft Community Benefits Agreement submitted for review to Forest City Ratner, Inc. concerning the Brooklyn Atlantic Yards proposal. The purpose of this agreement is to provide increased employment opportunities and insure the quality of life for Brooklyn-based Musicians, and those in the surrounding area. Any similarity to Local 802 policy is coincidental and should be taken with a grain of salt.


    A. All half time events at Nets games shall include no less than 12 “live” (actual breathing) musicians, wardrobe shall be provided as well as a fully catered hot meal.

    B. Any use of synthesizers or digital samplers to enhance musical arrangements or provide "musical environment" shall be offset with double scale payments to the synthesist performer as well as the instrumentalists replaced.

    C. Any musician used to play multiple instruments (i.e., singers playing tambourines, trombone players playing bass drum) will also be paid double scale.

    D. Vocalists will be paid according to Screen Actors Guild (SAG) contract, and any visual appearances on TV (accidental or intentional) by either vocalists or musicians will be subject to SAG royalties and re-use fees. Fans in attendance who sing may also have the option of joining SAG for possible royalties, though the $2,000.00 initial-membership fee may be a prohibiting factor.

    E. Additionally, musicians will be entitled to first rights for concession jobs on a nightly basis if there are any vacancies not filled by regular employees of the arena, and if they are not deemed a safety hazard in the performance of these duties.


    A. Any public courtyard or convening areas that are part of the arena, or the surrounding 17 building megaplex shall include stages, lighting and amplification for up to 12 actual breathing musicians.

    B. As well as direct payments and royalties to performers (outlined in paragraph #1) there will also be a fully catered, hot meal provided to performers at each gig.

    C. The above-mentioned performances, staffing, and facilities will be paid for privately by the Forest City Ratner Board of Trustees. An initial budget plan of $10,000,000.00 will be outlined in a separate document.

    D. In addition to pre-planned performances, there shall be designated "Street Performer Areas" demarcated by a painted white circle approximately 12 feet in diameter placed every other street corner. These areas will be available and active between the times of 12:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. daily.


    A. There shall be a fund set up by Forest City Ratner in conjunction with Local 802 which stipulates that 5% of proceeds from every Net's game will go to a Musician's Health Insurance Fund (MHIF).

    B. MHIF will be used to cover the costs of the new Musicians Comprehensive Health Care Plan (The Plan). The plan will be "total coverage" including all major and minor medical needs, full dental, and drug prescription coverage as well as coverage for psychological counseling and alternative healing methods.

    C. To qualify for the The Plan, a musician must meet at least two of the following criteria:

    • Own or have access to a musical instrument.
    • Use said instrument as primary source of income or unemployment.
    • Live in Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx, Manhattan (including Harlem and Washington Heights), or within a 50 mile radius of Brooklyn Atlantic Yards.
    • Perform live, in the studio, or the shower at least 3 times/year. This also includes karaoke appearances.
    • Belong to the Park Slope Food Co-op.

    D. In the event that proceeds from Net's games fail to cover The Plan's costs from lack of attendance caused by an abysmally performing team, inability of fans to reach the arena due to horribly ensnarled traffic or the fact the Brooklyn Atlantic Yards proposal is scuttled and the thing never gets built in the first place, The Forest City Ratner Board of Trustees will personally cover all remaining costs.

    E. We recognize this is a new and brave proposal and therefore recommend a trial Health Care Plan period of 200 years.

    F. Finally, due to possible conflict of interest, no member of the Forest City Ratner Board or Marty Markowitz will be eligible for The Plan.


    A. If, over our dead bodies, this monstrosity is actually completed, 95% of available housing in the 17 high-rise buildings will be made available to musicians (see definition in chapter 3, paragraph C.) at a fixed cost of $300.00/month.

    As per chapter 3, paragraph F, certain restrictions apply.

Submitted for you approval by Whitney Benjamin (Local 802 and Co-op member) dated Friday, November 26th, 2004.

Posted by lumi at 7:55 AM

November 27, 2004

Ratner puts the "ugg" in 2-10 Nets


With a 2-10 record, Ratner has put the "ugg" in the Nets.

Result: all-star forward, Kenyon Martin now plays for the N-u-g-g-E-T-S.


*This message is brought to you by R.A.T.N.E.R.
(Rally Against Terrible Non-Ethical Redevelopment).

Posted by lumi at 7:00 PM

The Times' Sweetheart Deal: The paper gets huge subsidy, then sells old headquarters building for a huge profit

The Village Voice

"The New York Times Company's sale this month of its 43rd Street headquarters at least doubled the profit its executives predicted when they prodded city and state officials for tens of millions of dollars in tax breaks to build a new office tower, records show."

The total cost to taxpayers for the new Times headquarters will be unknown until the cost of the "state condemnation of land on behalf of the Times," has been finalized:

"The deal calls for the Times to get $26.1 million in tax breaks, but the real price for the public depends on the additional cost for the land. Under the deal, the Times and Forest City will buy the property, but get money back from the city for any costs above $85.6 million. They'll do that by deducting the money from payments that substitute for property taxes."

City and State officials from agencies who negotiated the deal with the Times said that the terms would not be revised in light of the jackpot received for the old headquaters:

"Janel Patterson, spokeswoman for the city Economic Development Corp., noted that the city rejected Forest City Ratner's effort to reopen the deal to get low-cost Liberty Bonds financing. 'We stand by the original deal we reached with the company and the developer of its new building, Forest City Ratner,' she said. 'A deal is a deal.'"


Ok, "a deal is a deal." However, maybe The New York Times Company will consider using its windfall by adding NYC and New York State to their "Neediest Cases" campaign during these budget-busting belt-tightening developer-susidizing times.

Posted by lumi at 6:19 PM

DUELING DEVELOPERS: Boymelgreen’s plans put Ratner’s ’Yards’ in peril

The Brooklyn Papers:

The developer of the Newswalk building, Leviev Boymelgreen, and Pacific St. property owner, Henry Weinstein, have partnered on a plan to build market-rate housing with in the proposed footprint of Ratner's arena office-housing tower complex. This could throw a "monkey wrench" in Ratner's hopes to have the State use eminent domain to condemn private property he plans to build upon.

Quotes from Pacific Street property owner, Herny Weinstein:

“I’ve lived here 30 years, and I don’t take kindly to people kicking me off my property.”

“The area’s doing very well without a stadium,” criticizing Ratner’s linkage of needed housing to a privately owned arena in order to seize property, “I don’t know why that stadium has anything to do with building houses.”

“We’re certainly not going to go away quietly, that’s for sure. We’re going to spend any amount of money to keep my property.”


Background: The issue of eminent domain became more complicated two weeks ago when Forest City Ratner (FCR) VP Jim Stuckey declared during Markowitz's Closed-Door Meeting: Part II, that the case pending in the US Supreme Court of Kelo v. New London does not apply to FCR's Atlantic Yards proposal because Ratner and NY State will seek to have the private property they seek declared as "blighted."

This a break from FCR's past strategy where the use of eminent domain would be in the public interest since any redevelopment would increase the tax base. Even Marty Markowitz admitted last month that the Supreme Court case "would make or break the plan."

This is also a break from Ratner's assurances that he would attempt to minimize the use of eminent domain by buying out the property owners* and asking architect Frank Gehry to redesign the site plan to save existing buildings**.

*5/8/2004, "Coalition cracking"
**4/3/2004, "Ratner, Gehry looking to scale back plans"

Posted by lumi at 8:44 AM

Charge CB6 chair Armer with Ratner conflict

"A group of anti-Atlantic Yards community activists have filed a complaint with the city’s Conflicts of Interest Board charging that Community Board 6 chairman Jerry Armer’s job with the Metrotech Business Improvement District conflicts with his role as leader of the board in discussing [Ratner's proposal]."

As these complaints are investigated, the fact remains that Forest City Ratner VP Jim Stuckey has had unlimited oppportunities at CB committee and general board meetings to make the case for the Ratner plan. Whereas opponents have had no opportunity to present alternative development plans or principles at CB meetings, including the Monday, November 29, CB 2, 6 & 8 Co-Sponsored Public Informational Meeting.


Posted by lumi at 8:30 AM

New look, same result as Net skid hits 8

"The Nets' skid hit eight games last night with a 92-79 defeat to the high-powered SuperSonics at Key Arena.

"The Nets (2-10) haven't won in 17 days and now head to Portland, where tomorrow they will play the last team they beat. This is the Nets' longest losing streak since a nine-game stretch in the 2000-2001 season."


Posted by lumi at 8:27 AM

November 26, 2004



In case you still shop at Ratner's Atlantic Terminal and Atlantic Center malls, don't forget that today is the Downtown Brooklyn Leadership Coalition's Black Friday boycott.

Pass the word along that Ratner owns both of these malls and now he wants to own another 24 acres of property next to his two malls. Ratner has never been about jobs and affordable housing for area residents, so why should we believe him now?

Posted by lumi at 8:55 AM

Kittles is all broken up Former Net laments dismantling of team

The big Ratner story these days is the chorus of laments by current and former players of the championship team that was dismantled this summer.

Kerry Kittles, a Net from 1996-2004 and second all-time leading scorer, watched as the Nets continued their downward slide against his new team, the LA Clippers, to fall to 2-9.


Posted by lumi at 8:51 AM

Screecher Seats for 2-9 Nets!!


The Nets stink so bad that stars from opposing teams are the big draw these days. This ad is running in the Daily News. At $15, Ratner can hardly be making money on this promotion, but will it really keep woeful fans coming back?

Posted by lumi at 8:44 AM

Nets: Thompson feels for Zo

Georgetown coach John Thompson, Alonzo Mourning's former coach, cites his former player's honesty, integrity and work ethic as being characteristic of the one guy who Ratner hasn't managed to muzzle.


Posted by lumi at 8:35 AM

November 24, 2004

Mourning: Nets can't muzzle me
Rips into Ratner after team asks for silence

New York Daily News:

"Tired of his constant complaining, the Nets have asked Alonzo Mourning to quit criticizing owner Bruce Ratner and team management."

"The relationship between Mourning and the Nets continues to deteriorate. Mourning revealed that Ratner spoke to the team on Monday for the first time since purchasing the franchise for $300 million this past summer. And the meeting only confirmed what Mourning thought all along - that Ratner is all about business and not about winning.

Alonzo Mourning:

"I asked him, 'Other than your investment in this team for financial purposes - obviously getting a significant return - what's the reason why you bought the team?'" Mourning said. "And you ask anybody in here, he said, 'To move it to Brooklyn.' I mean, I didn't hear, 'to win a championship.'"

"I just shook my head."


Unlike the luxury homeowners Ratner is buying out in the footprint of the arena, Mourning isn't forced into silence by a gag order. What give credence to Mourning's complaints is that he isn't a spoiled millionaire ballplayer. Mourning has been an elegant spokesperson for the players and the game. He could be the Nets biggest draw of the season as he comes back from a kidney transplant surgery and manages to keep up with league leaders in scoring and rebounds. However Mourning feels so strongly about what Ratner motives and what he has done to the team, that he is spending the good will he has built up with the public on telling the truth.

Posted by lumi at 8:09 AM

Zoning duo are part of city Olympic team

Conflict of Interest on the West Side:
"Two of the 10 city planning commissioners who voted for the city's West Side rezoning plan Monday sit on boards for NYC 2012, which needed passage of the plan to help its effort to secure the Olympics. "Irwin Cantor, a planning commissioner and founder of a prominent engineering firm, is a member of the NYC 2012 facilities committee, and Kenneth Knuckles, the vice chair of the commission, is on the overall board."

Conflict of interest in Brooklyn:
"In August, it was reported that Planning Commissioner Dolly Williams was an investor in developer Bruce Ratner's $2.5-billion Nets arena project in Downtown Brooklyn. She had sat in on Planning Commission meetings on the proposal."
[emphasis added]


Posted by lumi at 7:37 AM

November 23, 2004

The Gulliver gambit

New York Daily News Columnist, Errol Lewis: Mr. Lewis criticizes the Downtown Leadership Coalition for their tactics against Ratner and predicts that the one-day boycott will flop.


Posted by lumi at 9:00 AM

Nets (2-7) face K-Mart for the first time since trade

Though Kenyon Martin misses his old teamates, he doesn't hold a grudge against Nets GM Rod Thorn. Martin had his leftover teammates over for a pre-Thanksgving meal, the day before the much anticipated game where the Denver forward will be starting against the Ratner-era Nets.

The New York Times
Martin Says His Trade Isn't the Fault of Thorn

Rocky Mountian News
Nets are no longer swamping teams: Amid departures and lame-duck status, fewer fans buy tickets

The Bergen Record
K-Mart remains a Net at heart

"Martin blames Nets' principal owner Bruce Ratner - and a group of investors who are no longer on board - for breaking up the Nets. This decision has had a trickle-down effect. Martin's departure has led to Kidd and Mourning wanting out of New Jersey. The Nets' bad play has led to Martin chants at Continental Arena."

Posted by lumi at 8:20 AM

November 22, 2004

Bloomberg, Dolan clashing over stadium

NY Newsday

"Whatever the outcome of the Jets stadium fight, [Harvard University sports law professor Rick] Horrow and other sports business consultants predict the next battleground will be downtown Brooklyn, where developer Bruce Ratner, the principal owner of the New Jersey Nets, is building a $435-million arena as a centerpiece of a $2.5-billion office, shopping and residential development that is backed by Bloomberg.

Dolan lobbied NBA owners against the sale of the Nets to Ratner. He likely will try to sway owners who must eventually approve the transfer of the franchise to Brooklyn and also oppose Ratner's project. 'That'll be the second fight,' said Horrow, 'because it will impact the Garden more than the West Side stadium.'"


With all due respect to the Harvard Professor, the NBA's approval of transfer of the NJ Nets to Brooklyn is a pro forma vote by the owners. The NBA is chomping at the bit to get the Nets out of the Meadowlands.

NEWS BLOOPER: Newsday characterizes the Bloomberg-Dolan battle as being over the "plans to build a Westside Stadium"" but states that Ratner ""is building a $435-million arena." WAKE UP NEWSDAY! The stadium's approval process is further along than the arena's. Just because the Newsday editorial board approves of the arena, doesn't make it so."

UPDATE: This article is no longer available on Newsday.com, full article after the jump

Bloomberg, Dolan clashing over stadium


November 21, 2004, 6:36 PM EST

Early last year, Michael Bloomberg shared bagels with James Dolan at the mayor's East Side townhouse, helped him settle a standoff with the YES Network, thanked the Cablevision chief executive for obtaining Madison Square Garden tickets and lauded his father for helping attract the Republican National Convention.

"He didn't have any inherent resentment against the Dolans," a City Hall source close to Bloomberg said. "The relationship was perfectly cordial."

This year, associates of Bloomberg and Dolan are shaking their heads in wonderment at how vitriolic that relationship has turned -- "hardball" has replaced "let's play ball."

Instead of trading compliments and courtesies, the two wealthy and powerful men have very publicly traded insults and invective, as an 8-month-old feud over plans to build a West Side stadium for the New York Jets continues to escalate. Although New York City mayors are no stranger to intense public battles, whether they be with union leaders, legislators, community activists or the press, the War of the West Side stands out as a remarkably emotional and intense clash between a mayor and a chief executive.

"I've never seen a public-private dispute over a sports facility more clouded by personal attacks, vitriol and emotion," said Rick Horrow, who teaches sports law at Harvard University Law School and has consulted on more than 100 similar projects across the country.

Calling Cablevision a "disgrace" and saying it put forth "outrageous" lies, Bloomberg has accused the Dolans of selfishly putting their interests above those of the public. He even urged that they should spend more on the struggling Knicks rather than on the anti-stadium ad campaign and that they should voluntarily forgo the tax breaks for Madison Square Garden, which Cablevision owns.

Dolan, for his part, has accused Bloomberg of "trying to hide a flawed and financially risky plan," by taking "cheap shots" at the company. Cablevision-backed ads have said the mayor is proposing to waste $600 million in tax money on a football stadium while cutting city services by $900 million.

"We've had feuds between mayors and chief executives, but we've never had one this public, using media in the way it has been used, both paid and free -- and the creation of a grassroots organization whose sole purpose is to derail the mayor's plan," said Hank Sheinkopf, a longtime Democratic political consultant. "It is absolutely a personal battle between two very strong-willed people, both of whom are rich and both of whom have their own variety of power."

Different styles, backgrounds

Associates of the two combatants say the feud has been fueled not only by the immensity of the issues involved and the sky-high stakes but also by their distinct styles, personalities and backgrounds. Some associates say that in the end, the public battling could cost the city the 2012 Summer Olympics and the expansion of the Javits Convention Center.

Bloomberg, who prides himself on bluntness but has had to struggle to boost his ratings in public opinion polls, is a self-made billionaire-turned politician who created an enormously successful financial information company from scratch.

He faces a re-election battle next year that makes him vulnerable to political attacks and he sees the $1.4-billion stadium project and the Olympics it might help attract as an economic boon and potentially key component of his legacy.

But for Cablevision, a West Side stadium with a retractable roof would put an end to the company's exclusive hold over the biggest indoor venues in Manhattan, which in addition to the Garden include Radio City Music Hall -- prompting Dolan to declare to Bloomberg in March, "You're killing me."

In Dolan, Bloomberg has found an especially appealing target, one who has been criticized for years by cable TV customers, Knicks and Rangers fans and Wall Street analysts.

"The mayor is not a pin cushion and feels the need and obligation to respond and get the facts out as he knows them to be," said former Mayor Ed Koch, who backs the stadium.

Associates of Dolan, however, say it was Bloomberg who first took the dispute public and they accuse the mayor of preferring to personalize the fight by demonizing Dolan rather than debating the issues or facing public sentiment.

Bloomberg associates say that if it weren't for Dolan, who maintains that the ad campaign Cablevision backs is largely a grassroots effort supported by civic groups, it would be smooth sailing for the project. And they say Dolan and his intransigence especially rub Bloomberg the wrong way.

"The mayor has a lot of respect for civic-minded people who are good corporate citizens, and Jimmy Dolan is the exact opposite," said City Hall spokesman Ed Skyler.

In contrast to Bloomberg, Dolan, whose style is often abrasive and pugnacious, gained his riches and his corporate titles at the metropolitan area's biggest cable company largely through his father, Cablevision chairman Charles Dolan. And as a cable company with exclusive franchises, Cablevision is often criticized as being a monopoly.

Leo Hindery Jr., the YES Network chairman and campaign finance manager for likely mayoral candidate Fred Ferrer, opposes the stadium but said the approach the Dolans have taken could backfire.

"It's gratifying, on the one hand, that Cablevision agrees with my conclusion, but from first-hand experience, I sadly know that their conviction is borne out of self-serving corporate interests rather than the interests of the women and men of the five boroughs of New York," Hindery said. "There are a hundred ways and a thousand people who would have fought this fight, and the Dolans could have just given some money. But to put yourself out there as the leader just once again shows the impolitics of the family."

Forces behind, against project

Dolan and Cablevision "set themselves up as a lightning rod," said Bob Gutkowski, chairman of Criterion Sports and Entertainment and a former Madison Square Garden president. "So the mayor's kicking sand in their faces."

According to a source who has consulted with players on both sides of the controversy, Dolan rejected suggestions that he tone down the battle and said the civic coalition called the New York Association for Better Choices, which Cablevision is funding, would not have known how to wage the anti-stadium campaign without the company's help.

"You've got to play hardball with these guys," Dolan said of the pro-stadium forces, according to the source. "They are not interested in compromising."

The anti-stadium forces say they appreciate Cablevision's backing. "MSG has played an important role in giving voice to the stadium opposition and our community in raising awareness of the serious flaws in the mayor's plan," said Anna Levin, a member of the New York Association for Better Choices and the Hell's Kitchen/Hudson Yards Alliance, a coalition against the project.

Associates of Dolan say that if his father, who is a tough and stubborn negotiator but takes a much more gentlemanly approach to negotiations, were leading the effort, it would not be as confrontational, even though Charles Dolan clearly has not vetoed his son's tactics.

"Chuck would meet with Bloomberg and they would hassle over it but it would be low key," the source who has consulted with both sides said. "He was never one to be confrontational."

Some backers of the stadium plan have tried to persuade the forces on the mayor's side, who include Deputy Mayor Dan Doctoroff and Jay Kriegel, chief executive of New York's Olympics bid, NYC2012, to soften their approach and propose a backup site for the stadium, possibly in Queens, sources said.

But the Jets, who are contributing $800 million to the plan, have not been willing to consider another site, and leaders of the Olympics bid don't believe they could win if the stadium were in Queens, a source close to the mayor said. "If Jimmy gets his way, we don't get the Olympics," the source said.

Even if Jets owner Woody Johnson III tried to defuse Dolan by offering to replace the state and city's $600 million by himself, the opposition wouldn't disappear and the bitterness between Dolan and Bloomberg would linger, said Rob Tilliss, the chief executive of Inner Circle Sports, the Stamford, Conn., firm that underwrote the plan for the San Francisco Giants' $330-million Pacific Bell Park, which was privately financed after residents voted down public financing. "I don't think it's that simple here, given all the other issues," Tilliss said.

Public opinion

Even though New York City voters overwhelmingly want the 2012 Olympics, they disagree, by 47 percent to 39 percent, with the claim that the Olympics bid depends on the West Side stadium, according to a recent Quinnipiac University poll. And they don't want a West Side stadium, by 55 percent to 39 percent.

Even Bloomberg backers acknowledge Cablevision has had some success in swaying public opinion and possibly the State Legislature.

Cablevision and Madison Square Garden have spent more than $8 million in corporate money on ads and lobbying on the issue.They lined up a heavyweight roster of lobbyists and consultants including former Sen. Alfonse D'Amato and Arthur J. Finkelstein, a former pollster for Gov. George Pataki. Stadium supporters have spent more than $3 million. Jets lobbyists include former Pataki spokesman Michael McKeon and Ken Sunshine, a former staffer of state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.

To move the stadium project ahead, the State Legislature must pass legislation to expand the Javits Center, a prospect that is uncertain. Also, the Public Authorities Control Board, which is controlled by the governor, Silver and Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno, must approve the sale of air rights to the Jets.

Whatever the outcome of the Jets stadium fight, Horrow and other sports business consultants predict the next battleground will be downtown Brooklyn, where developer Bruce Ratner, the principal owner of the New Jersey Nets, is building a $435-million arena as a centerpiece of a $2.5-billion office, shopping and residential development that is backed by Bloomberg.

Dolan lobbied NBA owners against the sale of the Nets to Ratner. He likely will try to sway owners who must eventually approve the transfer of the franchise to Brooklyn and also oppose Ratner's project. "That'll be the second fight," said Horrow, "because it will impact the Garden more than the West Side stadium."

Posted by lumi at 10:38 AM

Not all fun & games: Olympic bid has dubious ring

The Daily News: The Olympic bid "book prepared by NYC2012, the city's Olympic bid committee, fails to deliver when it comes to the most controversial questions surrounding New York's grab for the Olympic rings: Who will pay for the Games? What are the hidden costs? Why are the proposed West Side Stadium and Brooklyn Arena so crucial?"

Bruce Ratner and Mayor Bloomberg have added the proposed arena in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn to the NYC2012 bid in hopes of using Olympics to generate local excitement for controversial project."


Posted by lumi at 10:35 AM

Not all fun & games: Olympic bid has dubious ring

The Daily News: The Olympic bid "book prepared by NYC2012, the city's Olympic bid committee, fails to deliver when it comes to the most controversial questions surrounding New York's grab for the Olympic rings: Who will pay for the Games? What are the hidden costs? Why are the proposed West Side Stadium and Brooklyn Arena so crucial?"

Bruce Ratner and Mayor Bloomberg have added the proposed arena in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn to the NYC2012 bid in hopes of using Olympics to generate local excitement for controversial project.


Posted by lumi at 8:17 AM

Bloomberg, Dolan clashing over stadium

Newsday: "Whatever the outcome of the Jets stadium fight, [Harvard University sports law professor Rick] Horrow and other sports business consultants predict the next battleground will be downtown Brooklyn, where developer Bruce Ratner, the principal owner of the New Jersey Nets, is building a $435-million arena as a centerpiece of a $2.5-billion office, shopping and residential development that is backed by Bloomberg.

"Dolan lobbied NBA owners against the sale of the Nets to Ratner. He likely will try to sway owners who must eventually approve the transfer of the franchise to Brooklyn and also oppose Ratner's project. 'That'll be the second fight,' said Horrow, 'because it will impact the Garden more than the West Side stadium.'"

With all due respect to the Harvard Professor, the NBA's approval of transfer of the NJ Nets to Brooklyn is a pro forma vote by the owners. The NBA is chomping at the bit to get the Nets out of the Meadowlands.

NEWS BLOOPER: Newsday characterizes the Bloomberg-Dolan battle as being over the "plans to build a Westside Stadium" and says that Ratner "is building a $435-million arena." WAKE UP NEWSDAY! The stadium approval process is further along than the arena's. Just because the Newsday editorial board approves of the arena, doesn't make it so.


Posted by lumi at 8:16 AM

November 21, 2004

Mike Lupica: Shooting from the Lip

New York Daily News:

From the NYC2012 Olympic Bid Book:

"At a time when the city is rebuilding and re-imagining the possibilities for the future, the prospect of hosting the Olympic Games has united New Yorkers in defining a shared vision for the city's longterm development."

Mike Lupica:

"This is known as a lie. And a cynical attempt to somehow link the events of 9/11 to a sports event that would be staged 11 years later."

Readers, keep in mind that Ratner's arena is the proposed gymnastics venue and that the Mayor Bloombery and Deputy Mayor Doctoroff may have sunk NYC's chances of holding the Olympics by courting controversy on two fronts.


Posted by lumi at 1:20 PM


The New York Post:

Even the Wizards coach Eddie Jordan thought that the Nets might be able to pull off a win: "We're giving up a lot of points and they don't score a lot of points. Maybe we're what can cure their illness."

NY Post: "Then again, maybe not."


Posted by lumi at 1:12 PM

Nets Aren't Making Gains

Washington Post:

“To many New Jersey fans and NBA observers, the Nets are on the brink of revisiting their woeful past, a time when the club routinely missed the playoffs and blindly groped for answers -- such as when it forked over millions to hire wiz-kid college coach John Calipari, who went 72-112 before being fired after just two years.

“Ratner and Rod Thorn, the Nets' general manager, have appealed to the public for patience. They say that the new management is committed to winning.

“Dubbed ‘bottom-line Bruce’ by New York media, Ratner has dismissed skeptics who say that trading Martin is a sign he intends to slash the club's payroll, effectively mothballing the franchise, until he can move it out of Continental Airlines Arena in East Rutherford, N.J., and into a proposed 19,000-seat facility in Brooklyn.”


Posted by lumi at 1:09 PM

Post Opinion, Books: Eroding Liberty

NY Post book review of "LEVIATHAN: THE GROWTH OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT AND THE EROSION OF LIBERTY" by Clink Bolick, Hoover Institution Press, 208 pages, $15

“In Atlantic City, Bolick's organization represented an elderly homeowner and a pair of tiny businesses whose property had been targeted for condemnation to make way for a parking lot for Donald Trump's casino.

“As The New York Times later reported, Trump lost and "the little guys won." But as Bolick elsewhere notes, the Times itself has been the beneficiary of a classic land grab by New York state, which condemned a block of Midtown properties for the newspaper's new headquarters. In fact, says Bolick, New York "is among the most flagrant abusers of eminent domain power."


Posted by lumi at 1:05 PM

November 20, 2004

Members: Ratner owns CBs

The Brooklyn Papers:

"Members of the community boards that encompass developer Bruce Ratner’s planned Atlantic Yards complex condemned their respective chairpersons Wednesday. They charged that, wittingly or not, the board chairs have allowed the developer to co-opt the boards without having reviewed his plans."

CB8 Member Bill Baston sounded off:

“[Community boards] were designed for the very purpose of a big development like this,” Batson said, “but yet we’re being asked to take more time to consider changing a street name than we are to consider changing the skyline of our borough.”

He charged that CB8 has been “propagandized” by Ratner while dissenters have been shut out.

“There are a lot of people who have come to our boards to talk to us about the project, but there’s nobody who’s concerned about that project who’s been invited in,” Batson said.


Posted by lumi at 9:44 AM

TROPHY TOWER: Williamsburgh’s close to a deal

The word is that the Williamsburg Savings Bank building is about to be sold to the Dermot Company who will convert it into luxury housing. There have been rumors for months that Ratner was interested in buying the building, but there are no indications that the Dermot Company is acting on behalf of Forest City Ratner.


Posted by lumi at 9:36 AM

TASTY ‘TURKEY’ BANNED ON METROTECH CAMPUS: Outside advertisers, menus off limits at Ratner complex.

The Brooklyn Papers: Ratner touts Metrotech as a an expample of how Forest City Ratner's projects contribute to the enconomic revitalization of the community. But with restrictions on soliciting business by outside food vendors, Aricka Westbrooks, whose "quirky fried turkey business on Myrtle Avenue" named Jive Turkey, is left out in the cold after several attempts to advertise to Metrotech tenants.

The article sheds light on Ratner's track record of issues that have arisen witht his Atlantic Yards project from public access to open space to economic development in the community.

Ratner touts his support of women- and minority-owned businesses, but Westbrook's frustrating tale is all too familiar to small business owners in the neighborhood.


Posted by lumi at 9:10 AM

Brooklyn has stadium issues of its own to deal with

Metro: Coverage of the Councilwoman Letita James's press conference with Community Board Members who are frustrated with Forest City Ratner's (FCR) hurried attempts to drat a Community Benefits Agreement.

FCR vice-president Bruce Bender has raised the rhetoric by attacking James directly, calling her a "one-note gadfly."

Hmm... she must be doing something right. Unfortunately FCR's PR campaign comes straight from Karl Rove's playbook. During the past month FCR has worked hard to try to divide the community along several lines: new arrivals and old timers, rich and poor and whites and minorities. Now they have moved on to character attacks.


Posted by lumi at 8:34 AM

Property rights and wrongs: Some say law lets government intimidate landowners

The Press Enterprise:

"Critics say there's an inherent conflict in a partnership between a governmental agency and a private developer, as in Burnett's case.

"'That's why condemning property for a private developer totally corrupts the political process,' said Bert Gall, an attorney for the Institute for Justice.

"And some Inland residents and business owners finding themselves confronted by eminent domain say local officials use the power not as a last resort but as a tool to force unwilling property owners to sell their property for the benefit of private developers."


Posted by lumi at 7:48 AM

November 19, 2004

Sports officials, under new governor, to review Meadowlands plans


"New Jersey's new acting governor has given state sports officials more leeway than his predecessor did when negotiating with professional teams to keep them from fleeing the state."

"New Jersey Sports & Exposition Authority Chairman, Carl “Goldberg said Codey asked him to strike a more conciliatory tone with the teams, and that he did just that in a recent 'productive conversation" with the Nets owner, developer Bruce Ratner, about extending the Nets' lease beyond the 2006-07 season if a Brooklyn arena is not built in time."

Remember, Ratner “isn’t as negative on the Meadowlands as some may think.” (Brooklyn Papers, October 30)


Posted by lumi at 1:15 PM


The New York Post: "A controversial proposal for an NBA arena in Brooklyn incited a revolt by community board members against their leaders yesterday, amid claims the honchos are stifling opponents of developer Bruce Ratner's plan.

"Several community board members from the affected neighborhoods joined a protest at City Hall yesterday to criticize their chairpersons."


Posted by lumi at 8:59 AM

DDDb Press Release: "Ratner 'Community Benefits Agreement' (CBA) is DOA And Brooklyn Community Board Chairs Helped Kill It"

DDDb, pols, Community Board Members and Good Jobs New York Project Director, Bettina Damiani, spoke out against the lack of community participation in Ratner's CBA and how the process of drafting an agreement before details of the plan have been released has short circuited the process.

DDDb spokesperson, Dan Goldstein also brought up conflict of interest claims against CB6 Chariperson Jerry Armer who is also a full-time paid staff member of the Metrotech BID, "to which Ratner is a contributor."

press release

Posted by lumi at 8:28 AM

Gramercy Capital Corp. Announces Financing of Atlantic Yards Project

BusinessWire, Press Release:

"Gramercy Capital Corp. today announced it has originated a $40.5 million mortgage loan to two entities sponsored by Forest City Ratner Companies (FCRC). The loan permits FCRC to acquire various residential and commercial buildings in Brooklyn, New York. The bridge loan from Gramercy will be repaid prior to development of the arena. The City and State of New York have each publicly announced their support for the development plan. [emphasis added] Andrew Silberfein, Executive Vice President and Director of Finance for FCRC, stated, "Gramercy Capital Corp. became involved in this project in the earliest stages of the development and understood our business plan and vision in a way that traditional lenders could not."

It looks like Ratner has been forced to seek a "bridge loan" for the purchase of properties in the footprint from a non-traditional lender. On the heels of the Pace debacle and difficulty with raising money for the purchase of the NJ Nets, this release will add fuel to the rumors that Ratner has money problems.

The statement that the City and State have "publicly announced their support" is just plain wrong, since they haven't.

press release

Posted by lumi at 8:07 AM

November 18, 2004

Right of 'eminent domain' challenged: Weighing the benefits of economic development

Harvard Gazette:

"The case [of Kelo v. New London] has attracted much attention because it is the first time such a case has come before the U.S. Supreme Court in 50 years and because it represents an opportunity to re-examine what many regard as a growing trend by state and municipal authorities to abuse the right of eminent domain."


Posted by lumi at 1:06 PM

November 17, 2004

Nets vow to make turnaround

The Daily News: "The Nets are last in the league in scoring. They are second to last in field-goal percentage and assists. And they lead the league in turnovers."


Posted by lumi at 8:41 AM

Nets can't hold off Mavs

New York Newsday: "The Nets (2-4) are off to their worst start in six seasons after a 94-78 loss to the Dallas Mavericks in front of 12,975 at Continental Airlines Arena."


Posted by lumi at 8:39 AM

Pro-Stadium Activists Call For End To Cablevision Tax Breaks

The latest salvo in the West Side Stadium fight came from Mayor Bloomberg and the Hudson Yards coalition when they called for an end to tax breaks for Madison Square Garden, owned by Cablevision, the most outspoken opponent of the Stadium project and the hundreds of millions of public dollars it entails.

Joining the Mayor is Brooklyn Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz, who along with Queens Assemblymany Jose Peralta, plan to introduce legislation ending tax breaks for Cablevision.

Cymbrowitz would serve his constituents better if he took a stand against taxpayer financing of corporate greed across the board, instead of being used in a political battle that's not even in his own borough. Maybe if Ratner or Johnson wanted to build an arena or stadium in his backyard of Sheepshead Bay, he'd feel differently.


Posted by lumi at 7:46 AM

November 16, 2004

Area Businesses Fight Eminent Domain

New York Sun: Those who live or own businesses in the footprint of Ratner's proposed arena and 17-tower complex are not the only ones in New York City preparing for a civil rights battle over eminent domain abuse.

Columbia University is planning to expand its campus and may rely upon the New York City Economic Development Corporation to condem properties that they were unable to purchase directly.

Columbia's Journalism School students have covered this issue in the Daily Spectator. Wonder if the Law School is discussing the constitutionality of condeming private land for a private corporation.


Posted by lumi at 9:12 PM

Public Meeting Community Boards 2, 6 & 8

CB 2, 6, & 8 are holding a public meeting on Atlantic Yard. The Boards have been calling for a public meeting for the past several months and have chosen to go ahead with or without the participation of the MTA and Empire State Development Corporation. Accoring to the Chairperson's report for all three Boards the up-and-coming meeting is being held in response to receiving "a lot more questions than comments" when the leadership of the Boards asked their members for input in a Community Benefits Agreement with Forest City Ratner.

More info on participants and the meeting format of the meeting to come.

Date: Monday, November 29
Time: 6:30PM
Location: New York City College of Technology, Klitgord Auditorium
300 Jay St. (between Tillary & Johnson Streets)

Posted by lumi at 8:25 AM

NYC 2012 makes their bid official

Sports Business News: Lost in the furor over the NYC2012 Olympic bid and the West Side Stadium proposal is that fact that, "New York's updated proposal calls for that sport to be moved to the Nets' planned arena in Brooklyn, with Olympic basketball now set for the Garden."

Save the dates: Feb. 21-24, International Olympic Committee site-evaluation team visits New York City.

For the best perspective on the NYC2012 Olympic bid controversy, go to http://www.newyorkgames.org

Posted by lumi at 8:06 AM

Nets trounced by Rockets

Newark Star-Ledger: Houston 80, Nets 69

"Perhaps there is an upside about a move to Brooklyn: If or when the Nets leave town, they'll probably have new rims to shoot at. Because the ones at Continental Airlines Arena aren't exactly what you'd call user-friendly."

Oh no, the NJ Nets lackluster play is inspiring NIMBY reactions across the region!


Posted by lumi at 8:03 AM

November 15, 2004


The New York Post: "The Williamsburg Bank Building, whose gold-topped clock tower crowns the borough's skyline, is in contract to be sold to the Dermot Co., sources said.

"The 512-foot, 34-story structure is likely to undergo an expensive conversion into more than 180 residential units. They are expected to go on the market in 2006."

There are those who object to Ratner's plan because it includes a 58-story high-rise tower which would dwarf the Williamsburg Savings Bank building and would become the new tallest building in Brooklyn. Nostalgia aside, nobody likes the idea of having the two tallest buildings in Brooklyn a block away from each other. Though scale has been much discussed, density is another concern.


Posted by lumi at 10:47 PM


Party Marty?

November 15, 2004 -- Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz is a heavy drinker who would often use his official vehicle for personal chores — lights, sirens and all, one of his former drivers charges.

Mario Nicholas, upset that Markowitz allegedly left him out in the cold after an on-the-job injury, is telling these eye-popping stories about his ex-boss:

Asked to comment, Markowitz's office issued a three-sentence response:

"Mario Nicholas is a disgruntled former employee. It is sad he would resort to the lowest kind of unfounded personal attacks. However, on a personal level, the borough president is sorry for his family misfortune and only wishes him well."

Nicholas concedes he's disgruntled — but for good reason. On June 16, 2003, Nicholas says he stepped into a pothole in the parking lot of the Brooklyn South Task Force on Coney Island Avenue, where the BP parked his cars.

His left knee twisted and "popped," he recalled, leading to surgery for torn ligaments and painful "tingling" whenever he sits for extended periods.

Nicholas' doctor, Richard Obedian, diagnosed him as "totally disabled."

A doctor retained by the city, Mark Pitman, said on July 22, 2004, that "he is unable to return to work as a driver at the present time."

Nicholas, 48, officially lost his $42,000 job on June 23, 2004, two months shy of his 20th year with the city.

He said a Markowitz aide told him, "If you can't come back as a driver for the borough president, we don't want you back."

Posted by lumi at 6:10 PM

Feed the Billionaire, Starve the Students

The New York Times Op-Ed Columnist Bob Herbert makes the connection that politicians, team owners and developers fail to grasp, that having gym class in the school lobby because of lack of funds while feeding billionaire developers and team owners hundreds-of-millions of dollars in subsidies is immoral.

"The neglect of New York City's schools goes far beyond the lack of gymnasiums, athletic fields and playgrounds. Classrooms are overcrowded and there is a dangerous shortage of qualified teachers. Bathrooms in some schools aren't even equipped with toilet paper or hand towels. Parents and teachers are often forced to buy the most basic supplies.

"You might think the powers that be would address those sorts of things before catering to the wish lists of greedy, grasping billionaires.

"You might think that. But if you did, you'd be wrong."


Posted by lumi at 9:12 AM

November 14, 2004

Games People Play

The New York Times: Opinion: Sport-facility expert/economist, Andrew Zimbalist, explores "hidden public costs" of the West Side Stadium project: * construction of structures in the model but not in the plan, * tax-incremental-financing-type debt repayment (now called "pilot"), and * Olympic conversion costs.

NoLandGrab readers may remember that Zimbalist was payed by Ratner to do an analysis of the basketball arena and 17-tower project in Prospect Heights. Using numbers provided Ratner and other "public information" Zimbalist determined that the Atlantic Yards project would be a net gain for taxpayers. Which leads citizens wondering, from where did he get this "public information" and just when will the ACTUAL COST to the taxpayer be revealed?


Zimbalist Report

Kim-Peebles Report examines Zimbalist's assumptions and conclusions

Posted by lumi at 8:52 AM

Boycott Plan Will Hit Ratner’s Retail Jewel

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle: Coverage of the Downtown Brooklyn Leadership Coalition's (DBLC) annoucement of the boycott of Ratner's malls on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, also the busiest shopping day of the year.

Members of the DBLC cited a litany of concerns, including: * Ratners refusal to continue to meet with them, * doubts that the MTA will demand top dollar for the site (despite plans for fare hikes), * backroom dealmaking between the developer and NY State, * and favoritism towards upper-income residents in the Newswalk building.


Posted by lumi at 8:15 AM

November 13, 2004

How Not To Lose Your Land — Investor's Business Daily, 11/13/04

Investor's Business Daily:
By Doug Tsuruoka

You've probably heard the horror stories: Home and business owners are forced to sell their property because a government — either federal, state or local — wants to use that site for something else.

Ed Hathcock is a property owner who fought the law. Unlike the guy in the famous song, Hathcock won.

Under a law called eminent domain, a government has the right to take private property for public use. The Fifth Amendment of the Constitution also holds that "just compensation" be made in such cases.

Attorney Alan Ackerman says anywhere from 20,000 to 30,000 eminent domain cases surface every year in the U.S.

Ackerman is managing partner of Troy, Mich.-based law firm Ackerman & Ackerman. His office handles about 250 eminent domain cases a year.

Hathcock, one of Ackerman's clients, owns Gem Products, a cabinet-making business in Romulus, Mich. Hathcock was among business owners in the area who refused the county government's compensation offer because they said it sharply undervalued their companies.

When they refused, the government invoked eminent domain.

Hathcock and the others filed suit in 2001 against the county's move. The case wound its way through the courts for three years, until the business owners won in July.

Not all eminent domain cases involve small businesses. Some involve bigger firms that must move because of roads or other projects.

The issue pops up often these days as local governments use eminent domain powers to kick-start area economies.

Shopping, Police, Whatever

In principle, says Ackerman, there's nothing wrong with governments doing that.

But, he says, governments often blur the line between public and private use. Taking land to build a new shopping development that will benefit a town is sometimes viewed on a par with building a new police station, he says.

Ackerman contends that's an abuse. But he says businesses now have more ability to protect their rights in such cases.

For example, in Hathcock's case, the Michigan Supreme Court reversed a 1981 decision about the government's right to take property under eminent domain.

The decision let Detroit clear a residential area known as Poletown so General Motors (GM) could build a plant.

The city, suffering high unemployment and a depleted treasury at the time, argued that the economic benefits of the plant — increased jobs and tax receipts — were a proper "public use" of the property.

Until this year, that Michigan case had been used to justify similar government actions in eminent domain cases in states across the U.S.

But in its July ruling, the state Supreme Court ruled that it's unconstitutional under Michigan law for the government to seize property for economic development projects.

Ackerman says the reversal sets another legal precedent that can be cited to affect eminent domain cases in other states.

Hathcock, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology graduate whose business is in a town 20 miles west of Detroit, employs 12 workers.

His case arose because Wayne County had been buying up business properties to make room for a runway extension at a regional airport.

Ackerman says the county compelled purchase of 500 acres from local owners citing "noise mitigation," or the need to remove people who are in unhealthy earshot of the runway.

The county bought another 500 acres from owners willing to sell.

The county then decided to use some of the land not for a runway extension, but for an office park. The project was financed by a private developer.

The offices were slated for construction on 100 acres of land owned by Hathcock and eight others.

When they refused to sell, the government invoked eminent domain.

The legal victory for Hathcock and others means the county can't force business owners to move if the property is earmarked for commercial use.

The county can't appeal the decision to the U.S. courts because federal eminent domain rights weren't involved.

Ackerman says the Michigan court's decision deters government from fostering development through a common eminent domain option. This is where property is condemned due to blight or an environmental cause, but then turned over to a private developer.

"The government can still take property for blight clearance and environmental condemnations. But you're not going to have a Wal-Mart coming into a city (using this legal reason)," Ackerman said.

Five Simple Rules

"The decision drew a line in the sand," Hathcock said. "It said municipal, county and state organizations don't have the right to separate people from their property just because they say they have a better use for (the property)."

Ackerman says small business owners should remember a few basic rules when dealing with eminent domain cases — especially if they've received a written notice or heard a rumor that their property may be taken in such an action: Do not discuss any issue pertaining to the value of your property with anyone without first consulting a lawyer. This could affect the compensation you get under eminent domain. Don't attempt to value your property without the advice of a competent real estate appraiser. Get a lawyer's advice before retaining an appraiser. Don't attempt to get building permits, variances, zone changes, subdivision approvals, curb cuts or reductions in tax assessments without consulting your lawyer. These permits may affect how your property is valued or rated in an eminent domain proceeding. Don't permit anyone to conduct tests, such as explorations for hazardous waste or checking wells for water supply, unless your lawyer gets written agreement that all test results will be supplied to you. The results of such tests may bolster the government's case to condemn your property on environmental grounds. Don't supply copies of leases, expense records, profit and loss statements or similar documents to the government or its representatives without referring such requests to your lawyers. These records can affect how your property is valued in an eminent domain case.

Though many business owners don't like shelling out legal fees, sometimes it's in their best interest, says Hathcock.

"Consulting a lawyer like Ackerman was fundamental to the success of this case," he said.

Investor's Business Daily: www.investors.com

Posted by lumi at 12:35 PM

How Not to Lose Your Land

Investor's Business Daily —Great article that not only covers details about the Poletown-reversing case of Hathcock vs. Wayne, but also has five simple tips on what to do when you received a written notice or heard a rumor that your property may be taken by eminent domain.


Posted by lumi at 9:03 AM

Official Announcement of CB 2, 6 & 8 Public Meeting

The public notice of the "Informational Meeting" to hear a presentation of the proposed Atlantic Yards Development Project plans by the developer Forest City Ratner companies. State agencies have been invited to attend to explain the sale and use of air rights, use of eminent domain, development of an environmental impact statemnet and the City's Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP).


Posted by lumi at 8:48 AM

Develop Don't Destroy Written Response to CB's Public Meeting Notice

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn (DDDb) has sent a written request for the community-based Atlantic Yards Development Workshop Proposal (AYDWS) to be presented at the CB's public Informational Meeting.

Other issues that DDDb would like to see addressed in the public meeting are: * primary and secondary displacement, * height and scale, * character of the community, * traffic and transportation, * other environmental issues, and * public subsidies


Posted by lumi at 7:54 AM

'God Squad' calls for mall boycott

The Brooklyn Papers: "The Downtown Brooklyn Leadership Coalition (DBLC), commonly referred to as the 'God Squad,' is planning a community boycott of the new shopping center on Friday, Nov. 26, the day after Thanksgiving. The day is commonly referred to in retail circles as 'Black Friday.'"


Posted by lumi at 12:23 AM

Daughtry wants Nets chapel

The Brooklyn Papers: The Rev. Herbert Daughtry, former leader of the Downtown Leadership Coalition who is now negotiating with Atlantic Yards developer Bruce Ratner, hopes to get a house of worship built into the arena complex. Though he thinks that the chapel should be non-denominational, there are questions as to whether or not public financing can be applied towards this purpose.


Posted by lumi at 12:19 AM

November 12, 2004

Boycotting the Bruce: DBLC hopes shoppers quit Ratner's malls cold turkey, at least for the busiest shopping day

The Brooklyn Downtown Star: The Downtown Brooklyn Leadership Coalition, comprised of local clergy and politicians are calling for a boycott of Ratner's Atlantic Center and Atlantic Terminal Malls on the busiest shopping day of the year, Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving.


Posted by lumi at 10:13 PM

Consulting Firm Tackles Atlantic Yards Issue

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle columnist, Dennis Holt, features the release of fifteen suggestions submitted to the Department of Transporation by Community Consulting Services (CCS), a Brooklyn-based traffic and transporation consulting firm.

CCS, headed by Brian Ketchum and Carolyn Konheim, is trying to influence the scope of the traffic studies in relation to Altantic Yards, since the effects will be felt miles away from the site.


Posted by lumi at 8:35 AM

November 11, 2004

Boycotting the Bruce: DBLC hopes shoppers quit Ratner's malls cold turkey, at least for the busiest shopping day

The Downtown Brooklyn Leadership Coalition, comprised of local clergy and politicians are calling for a boycott of Ratner's Atlantic Center and Atlantic Terminal Malls on the busiest shopping day of the year, Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving.


Posted by lumi at 10:13 PM

City Council's Miller Wants to See Bloomberg Olympics Deal for 2012

"City Council Speaker Gifford Miller is charging that the cityís Olympic bid committee may be acting beyond its authority by potentially putting taxpayers on the hook for billions of dollars should New York be awarded the 2012 Summer Games.

"The challenge comes in the wake of unsuccessful efforts by City Council member Letitia James of Brooklyn to obtain a copy of the agreement the city is making with the International Olympics Committee to enter the final round of bidding to host the Games in 2012."


Posted by lumi at 7:13 PM

Ratner Exec, Councilwoman Face Off on Arena ProjectAlso, Community Board Chair Slams 'Shameless Distortions'

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle's report of the contentious CB2 General Board meeting on Nov 10.

One point misreported in this story was that the CB meeting at the end of the month is billed as a "Informational Meeting" not a "public hearing."


Posted by lumi at 9:54 AM

The Ratner Watch

Brooklyn Daily Eagle editorial writer, Henry Krogius, sketches out the battle lines in the controversy over Ratner's arena proposal.

Though he thinks that the Atlantic Railyards is a logical place to put the arena, he has deep concerns about the "outmoded" "superblock" style of urban planning that characterize the rest of the project.

"The Ratner people have yet to publish an update of the sketch plan issued last December. Unless there is considerable revision of what was shown then, the project should be held up."

The Ratner Watch by Henrik Krogius (Krogius@brooklyneagle.net), published online 11-11-2004

Since the euphoria that marked last December’s announcement that Bruce Ratner would bring the Nets basketball team to a new arena built in conjunction with offices and housing at the Atlantic Yards site — all to be designed by the world-renowned Frank Gehry — a steady drumbeat of opposition to the project has been sounded. Some of those who would be uprooted by it have mobilized an insistent campaign, and a free-circulation newspaper outfit known for a generally contrarian editorial approach has made the issue central to the very identity of its publications. A poll conducted by a group affiliated with Pratt Institute has also come up with the unsurprising finding that most of those who currently live or have businesses in the area in or near the project fear its impact. On the other side, the Ratner people have won support among would-be construction workers and others seeing employment opportunities, and a community benefits agreement has been promised.

The view in this corner has been that, if a major sports venue is to be created in Brooklyn, the unbuilt-upon railroad yard and the under-built adjacent area — all served by a remarkable confluence of public transportation lines — make Atlantic Yards the obvious choice for such development. This is a part of Brooklyn that cannot indefinitely remain in its state of low development.

Even the group that calls itself Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn recognizes that change must come, and it has proposed an alternative plan that has points of merit, the only problem being the group’s hopeless insistence that the arena not be a part of it. In the half century since Walter O’Malley’s frustrated (by Robert Moses) attempt to build a new Dodger stadium at this hub, it has been awaiting use as a public focal point for Brooklyn — and, with a culture district now growing around the nearby BAM, the arena is a logical choice for the site.

What worries us are the signs that Forest City Ratner appears still to be clinging to an outmoded model for urban planning and design, with superblocks that eliminate existing streets and are built upon according to the “skyscraper in a park” principle. The experience of the last several decades has been that the ostensible park segments of such development never become effectively regarded as parks, while the loss of streets and shops result in an urban barrenness. The Ratner people have yet to publish an update of the sketch plan issued last December. Unless there is considerable revision of what was shown then, the project should be held up.

© Brooklyn Daily Eagle 2004

Posted by lumi at 7:52 AM

November 10, 2004

Community Boards 2, 6 & 8 to Hold Public Meetings

The text of Chairperson's report for Community Boards 2, 6, & 8 calls for a public meeting on Atlantic Yard. This is in response to receiving "a lot more questions than comments" when the leadership of the Boards asked their members for input in a Community Benefits Agreement with Forest City Ratner.

The public meeting will be held on Monday, November 29 at the New York City College of Technology's Klitgord Auditorium at 300 Jay St. (btwn Tillary and Johnson St.)

Read report.

Posted by lumi at 6:28 PM