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December 7, 2007

Coney Island Intrigue

Kinetic Carnival blogger Omar Robau has been keeping an eye on State Senator Carl Kruger and his "politics of inclusion," which bears a striking resemblance to Bruce Ratner's neatly signed, sealed and delivered "community support."

BUILDLogo.gif As NoLandGrab readers will recall, Kruger, with B.U.I.L.D. President James Caldwell at his side, effectively scuttled a November 19th "Community Information Session" on the Mayor's Coney Island redevelopment plan.

Kinetic Carnival, All the Developer's Men

At last year's hearings on the Atlantic Yard project Kruger served the same function as BUILD, using his voice as a representative of Brooklyn community's to try to paint Ratner's project as a vehicle for helping Brooklyn residents. "We're not talking about the Nets Arena. We're not talking about Forest City Ratner," said Kruger, "We're talking about Brooklyn, we're talking about communities, we're talking about Brooklyn first." In reality, however, it was not the abstract ideas of 'Brooklyn' and 'community' that Kruger was advocating, but the actual construction of the neighborhood destroying Nets Arena by Forest City Ratner.

The Nov. 19th 'Community Information Session' on the redevelopment of Coney Island was in many ways identical to the hearing on the Atlantic Yards Development project. We have the same politician and the same sham 'community group' trying to portray the plans of millionaire developers as being in the best interest of the very neighborhoods which their development plans seek to destroy.

Robau's not so sure that Kruger really finds the City's version of Coney Island redevelopment so objectionable — rather, he suspects, Kruger is shilling for Thor Equities' Joe Sitt, as he explains in this follow-up post.

Kruger-KC.jpg Kinetic Carnival, Kruger Paid For Coney Protest With Own Campaign Funds

It is unclear why Kruger remained quiet about this for so long. His silence only served to raise speculation that the protest may have been funded- directly or indirectly- by Thor Equities.

The Daily News got to the bottom of the funding question yesterday. Turns out it was Kruger himself who paid to bus in 400 "protesters," and outfit them in hats and other paraphernalia — all courtesy of his bountiful campaign warchest:

NY Daily News, State Sen. Carl Kruger paid for protest to target hearing on Coney project

"I paid for it all out of my campaign fund," said Kruger, whose move forced city officials to cancel the jam-packed meeting at Coney Island Hospital.

"I bought the hats, made the signs, printed the leaflets and paid for the buses. I financed the entire thing.

Kruger's largesse, however, may have violated campaign-finance laws. Oops!

It was unclear whether Kruger's expenditures violated state Board of Election laws, but a spokesman said the matter had not been investigated nor had a complaint been filed.

If a complaint were filed, "Sen. Kruger would need to explain how this expenditure is related to a political campaign or the holding of a public office," said state Board of Elections spokesman Bob Brehm.

Confused? So are we. But Bob Guskind at Gowanus Lounge may have it figured out.

BUILDBruceCarlMike.jpg The Gowanus Lounge, If Bruce Ratner Has Supported BUILD, Which Opposes the Mayor on Coney Island....

There is a strong sense that multiple threads trace back from this "opposition" to developer Joe Sitt and Thor Equities who may not quite be on board with the Bloomberg-Doctoroff vision of a Sitt-Free Coney Island amusement district. This school of thought believes that all Mr. Sitt needs to do is stall and hold up the process through the next Mayoral election and, then, plant the seeds for a mayor more in turn with the Thor Vision.

Is a political debt being paid to the Southern Brooklyn politician that has anointed himself as the chief opponent of the Bloomberg plan? Does BUILD's lineage mean that a major Brooklyn developer, whose plan depends on deep public subsidies, is roiling the waters for City Hall in another part of the borough? It is all likely to become much, much more interesting.

Most interesting of all, perhaps, is the Senator's vociferous opposition to "back-door eminent domain," since he hasn't exhibited any qualms about Bruce Ratner's wrecking ball coming through the front door. And as Gowanus Lounge reports, Atlantic Yards critics aren't the only ones questioning Kruger's Libertarian conversion.

The Gowanus Lounge, Coney Island People Sending Emails to Sen. Kruger

For example, Coney Island USA's David Gratt:

But I am especially disappointed because while I was in the Bronx, fighting to keep the Yankees out of Macombs Dam Park (another potential example of “backdoor eminent domain”) your office was unfortunately silent. Why is this issue important to you now, when it was not before?

NoLandGrab: Why, indeed?

Posted by lumi at December 7, 2007 5:09 PM