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June 29, 2007

Who dunnit?

chalkoutline.gifThere are three theories about who is responsible for the Ratner clause, which created a special loophole for the sole benefit of Forest City and its Atlantic Yards development plan in the State's 421-a reform bill.

The prevailing wisdom during the past week was that it was State Assemblyman Vito Lopez's fault. Lopez is the Chairman of the Assembly's Housing Committee, which drafted the bill, is a project supporter, and has received campaign contributions from Bruce Ratner's brother and sister-in-law.

The NY Observer reports:

What the apparent contradictions in the bill represent are a series of horse trades that Mr. Lopez, a loping giant of a man who carries power like a running back headed to the end zone, brokered with fellow legislators.

Todays' NY Times advances a separate theory, which fingers the State Senate and the head of the Real Estate Board of NY (REBNY):

But many advocates, city officials and even some Senate Republicans are saying that Steven Spinola, president of the Real Estate Board of New York, betrayed the city’s effort. By all accounts, Mr. Spinola, the leading industry lobbyist, played a major role in negotiating the compromises and the tax deals for Atlantic Yards and other developments that led to Senate approval.

There's a third theory that starts with Lopez and leads to Sheldon Silver's office. This week's Brooklyn Paper explains:

Lopez’s motivations for slipping in the Ratner-favoring clause are unclear. One source said that the Brooklyn Democratic Party boss might have done it as a favor to Assembly Speaker Shelly Silver. “Silver and [Forest City Ratner lobbyist] Bruce Bender are old friends,” said the source.

The exception is so outrageous that no one seems to have the guts to stand up and take credit.

Taxpayers are sadly used to Albany backroom dealing, only the difference here is that no one seems to know in which backroom the deal was struck.

Posted by lumi at June 29, 2007 12:43 PM