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October 6, 2005

DDDB Press Release: The Crain's Insider Says Ratner Opponents Wield Political Power

Leading Ratner Opponents, Letitia James and Norman Siegel Thump Ratner Supporters in Districts Impacted by the Developer's 18 Skyscraper and Arena Plan

BROOKLYN, NY-- Civil rights attorney Norman Siegel didn't win his primary against incumbent public advocate Betsy Gotbaum, but the candidate known as "the people's advocate" did win three Assembly districts in the citywide race. Mr. Siegel, vocal and high profile opponent of the Forest City Ratner plan to build 18 skyscrapers and an arena in Prospect Heights and Park Slope, Brooklyn, won the 57th and 52nd Assembly districts. The proposed Ratner development would be located in both of those districts. They were two of the three districts Mr. Siegel won. Some of these results were published in The Crain's Insider today (www.dddb.net/crains/crains.gif).

"Norman Siegel won in the districts and neighborhoods that would be most impacted by the Ratner project. It is clear that his strong opposition to the Ratner proposal garnered him the support to put him over the top in the neighborhoods of Prospect Heights, Park Slope, Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Crown Heights, Downtown Brooklyn, Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens and Boerum Hill," Develop Don't Destroy spokesman Daniel Goldstein said. "Large majorities in these communities are opposed to the Ratner plan, and they have shown that their opposition must be respected by any candidate seeking their vote for Citywide or district office."

A leading issue in the public advocate campaign was overdevelopment throughout the City and the abuse of eminent domain, particularly for Ratner's Atlantic Yards project. During two debates Mr. Siegel challenged Ms. Gotbaum's support of the Ratner plan and her false claims that the developer would not have the State use eminent domain. (More on Ms. Gotbaum's eminent domain flip flop can be found in the current issue of The Brooklyn Rail at: www.brooklynrail.org/LOCAL/hackworld.html)

Councilwoman Letitia James, who represents the 35th City Council district where the Ratner proposal is located, handily defeated her primary opponent and Ratner ally, Eric Blackwell, 85% - 15%. Mr. Blackwell is a supporter of the Ratner proposal and was a co-founder of Brooklyn United for Innovative Local Development (BUILD) which was exposed as an "astroturf" organization funded by Forest City Ratner just last week (see: 'Snake in the Grassroots' in the Daily News). Councilwoman James has been the leading political opponent of the Ratner proposal, standing staunchly against the project throughout her first term. The Ratner plan has been, by far, the big issue in her district for the past two years. The Councilwoman has claimed her victory as a referendum against the Ratner plan.

Goldstein concluded, "The organized and individual opposition to the Ratner proposal--which straddles neighborhoods, race and economic class--can claim political power when we look at these electoral results. The opposition claims victory on these political referenda on Ratner's plans. The two mayoral candidates seeking votes in Brooklyn would be wise to take note of this."

Posted by lumi at October 6, 2005 6:15 PM