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September 13, 2006

Ratner beats grassroots amateurs on his home court. Next stop, a more "civil court."

BossBruce.gifAtlantic Yards critics took their best shot and were beaten by Bruce Ratner at his own game. Where Ratner flexed his political muscle, the results were dramatic.

In the State Senate's 18th District race betwen Velmanette Montgomery and Tracy Boyland, Ratner Exec VP Bruce Bender led the fundraising effort for a campaign that stuffed voters' mailboxes with campaign litter that ironically proclaimed the need for reform in Albany. Meanwhile, Boyland's eight-week-old campaign never filed mandatory financial reports. Boyland's campaign even got off on the wrong foot by employing dirty tricks, when campaign workers claimed that Montgomery was an "old white woman."

Boyland received 35% of the vote. The campaign and result is probably meant to be a serious shot across the bow, intended to send a chill down the spines (or spinelessness) of other more sensible politicians who might share their constituents' concerns about Bruce Ratner's project, and who may be thinking of taking a stronger stance.

On the other hand, Montgomery won a 30-point victory while hardly lifting a finger.

In the 57th Assembly District, Ratner Community Benefits Agreement signatory ACORN got out the vote and rolled over Bill Batson in a stunning defeat, in which 64% of the votes went to Hakeem Jeffries.

On the bright side, vocal opposition to Atlantic Yards forced Jeffries to address a couple of the main criticisms of the project in his most recent campaign lit: "no eminent domain abuse," "no skyscraper city," and "no backroom deals." On the other hand, the NY Daily News endorsed Jeffries because of his pro-Atlantic Yards stance. What the real Jeffries will do remains to be seen.

That same vocal opposition was frustrated by 11th District US Congressional candidate David Yassky's wonkish centrist position, in which the candidate constantly tried to articulate that he wasn't exactly for Atlantic Yards since certain concerns have not yet been addressed. This probably cost him the election, as Chris Owens was able to pick up votes in the brownstone base of Yassky's City Council district. Yassky was edged out by Yvette Clarke by a mere 2,376 votes.

So where does that leave Atlantic Yards critics and residents near Bruce Ratner's proposed 16-high-rise-and-arena traffic-congesting asthma-producing tax-payer-financed boondoggle for a Cleveland real-estate dynasty?

There's still the litigation over the faulty Environmental Impact Statement and specious eminent domain claim, which means, as everyone has been saying all along, that this will be decided by the courts — that's civil court, not a basketball court.

Posted by lumi at September 13, 2006 8:50 AM