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January 1, 2007

Happy Bruce Year, 2007

HappyBruceYear.jpgIn 2007, look out for the serious court battles to move forward. This season's line-up features: * Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn's federal eminent domain suit, which proposes to use details and guidance from the Kelo decision to rein in eminent domain abuse, * a tenants' lawsuit attempting to enforce subsidized-housing regulations to stop Ratner from using eminent domain to condemn their leases, and * coming soon to a court near you, a case built on several procedural problems with the lightning-fast environmental review process and gaping holes in the Environmental Impact Statement.

The federal suit also calls for a moratorium on demolitions of Ratner-owned properties (which are technically being condemned by NY State) until the eminent domain case is decided. Look for Bruce Ratner to demolish any buildings he possibly can, even while the courts mull over the legality of taking private property for the benefit of a well-connected private developer with only incidental public benefit. The fear is that even if Ratner loses the eminent domain battle, he'll advance the project as far as possible, making sure all that's left are a few properties sticking up like polyps on an urban wasteland.

In 2007, also keep an eye out for Atlantic Yards Report's Norman Oder to continue his quest to find out just how much the Atlantic Yards project is actually going to cost taxpayers, and how much Bruce Ratner stands to make for his effort. His FOIL (Freedom of Information Law) requests have been foiled, and foiled again. But he knows the truth is out there and hasn't given up yet.

One open question for the new year is whether the third-stream organizations that signed on to BrooklynSpeaks.net will have any luck trying to convince Governor Eliot Spitzer to inject some urban-planning sanity into the project. They're still hopeful, and are encouraging residents to send in those mailers that mostly arrived after final PACB approval was granted.

On the other hand, Spitzer could have made the Atlantic Yards project (which he supports) a posterchild for public authorities reform, had he wanted to. By not asking Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver to postpone final approval, the new Governor exhibited a reluctance to answer any of the hard questions still surrounding the project. It's hard to see what leverage the community has over Spitzer, except his own conscience.

Posted by lumi at January 1, 2007 12:07 PM