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July 26, 2005

Sharpton Backs Ratner’s Plan for Altantic Yards

Park Slope Courier
by Stephen Witt

However, Sharpton said the support is not so much for developer Forest City Ratner Companies (FCRC) as it for the those community activists and groups who signed onto the recent Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) with FCRC.

“Anybody who says I came here tonight to support Ratner is a liar. I came here tonight to support Rev. Daughtry, [Assemblymember] Roger Green, [ACORN President] Bertha Lewis and those who signed the Community Benefits Agreement,” he added.

Sharpton Backs Ratner’s Plan for Altantic Yards by Stephen Witt

Rev. Al Sharpton came back to his native borough last week to show support for the controversial proposed Atlantic Yards project that would see affordable housing, jobs and NBA basketball.

However, Sharpton said the support is not so much for developer Forest City Ratner Companies (FCRC) as it for the those community activists and groups who signed onto the recent Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) with FCRC.

“I’ve never supported Rater before, but I always said there much be a community benefits agreement in place,” Sharpton told a packed audience in the sweltering Duryea Presbyterian Church, 362 Sterling Place.

“Anybody who says I came here tonight to support Ratner is a liar. I came here tonight to support Rev. Daughtry, [Assemblymember] Roger Green, [ACORN President] Bertha Lewis and those who signed the Community Benefits Agreement,” he added.

Sharpton noted that a CBA is just a start and all the parties who signed it must live up to it.

Sharpton also had strong words for those African-American groups and elected officials who oppose the plan.

“It’s one thing to agree to disagree, it’s another thing to slander and disrespect those that made it possible for you to open your mouth in the first place,” he said.

“Let’s be straight up about this. If you don’t like some of the players, say that “You got personality differences,” say that “You think you should have been at the table,” and “your ego is bruised,” say that, but don’t walk around the community where half our men are sitting on stoops and can’t get jobs, and you stand in the way of them getting jobs,” Sharpton added.

Sharpton said he did back FCRC over the Extell Development Company big for the Atlantic Avenue rail yards, because Extell has partner before with the Carlyle Group.

Sharpton noted the Carlyle Group’s connections to the Bush and Bin Laden families, and that they have always opposed the black leadership in the civil rights movement.

Sharpton did express concerns about the threat of eminent domain in the FCRC project, but said there has never been such a hue and cry when predominately black areas are threatened with eminent domain.

The MTA will accept one of two bids and that bid should be the Ratner bid,” said Sharpton.

Joining Sharpton at the church rally were, among others, New York City comptroller William Thompson, State Sen. Carl Andrews and National Urban League President Marc Morial.

Morial, who is also the former mayor of New Orleans, said the CBA marks the beginning of a new movement for economic rights.

“It [the CBA] says we will be for it if it is for us,” said Morial, adding he hopes other cities in the nation take note of what is happening in Brooklyn.

Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn Spokesperson Deniel Goldstein said via phone and email that Sharpton doesn’t believe in a competitive bidding process and believes that only Bruce Ratner and this project will create jobs for black men.

“These are outrageous things to say. Extell is not standing in the way of jobs. Their project would create the same jobs. And they are willing to negotiate a CBA just like Ratner has, though theirs would go through ULURP and therefore be a stronger document,” said Goldstein.

Goldstein added that race and class have nothing to do with the issue and there are plenty of people of color who don’t support the project.

Among those who oppose it are the five black ministers, who together with two white ministers, make up the Downtown Brooklyn Leadership Coalition [DBLC] said Goldstein.

Rev. Dennis Dillon, chair of the DBLC and pastor of the Brooklyn Christian Center, 1061 Atlantic Ave., said those who signed the CBA were co-opted into doing so and that Sharpton is betraying the community.

Jobs should be developed through indigenous development such as franchises and dealerships, Dillon said.

But Thompson, who many think will be a strong candidate for mayor in four years, said he studied the proposed project, and spoke with the people who worked on the CBA, before fully endorsing it.

“This [Sharpton rally] reinforced my opinion that this project is good for Brooklyn and New York City in so many ways,” said Thompson.

“I don’t know that this is about race and class. I think this is about opportunity. Opportunity for for jobs and real business development. Opportunity for training. Opportunity for housing for people who wouldn’t have housing. So this isn’t about race and class, this is about access to opportunity for people who haven’t had it before in many ways.”

Posted by lumi at July 26, 2005 11:57 AM