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December 17, 2007

"Not the crime but the cover-up": Why the arena security issue is (sort of) like Watergate

Atlantic Yards Report

Norman Oder explains that it's hard to believe the Empire State Development Corporation and Atlantic Yards developer Forest City Ratner's security assurances, when they are acting so cagey. But what could the State's quasi governmental corporation and the mega developer be hiding, and so what?

One of the cliches that emerged from the Watergate investigation was "it´s not the crime, it´s the cover-up," a reference to how a third-rate burglary unraveled the presidential administration.

That's a useful, though inexact, way to look at the still-simmering issue of Atlantic Yards arena security. No, there's no crime. But there was something of a cover-up, and the city and state agencies overseeing the issue, as well as Forest City Ratner, have not been sufficiently forthcoming.

That's not to say that the belatedly released information that the Atlantic Yards arena would be (in part) as close to the street as the new Prudential Center in Newark will unravel the project. Or that Forest City Ratner is not taking security seriously. The city has vouched for FCR's preparations, but it's unclear whether the state has done much review.

However, the pattern of behavior by the latter three entities doesn´t inspire much confidence. Rather than answer the basic question--how far would the arena be from the street?--the developer and state stonewalled for weeks.

And that unwillingness to come clean means that, whatever the further explanations, more scrutiny is needed.

According to Oder, a recent statement by the ESDC suggests four possible scenarios:

  • street closures are on the table, despite denials
  • the Brooklyn arena, despite the presence of copious glass, is designed to a greater level of security than the Newark arena
  • the Brooklyn arena is being redesigned
  • New York officials genuinely believe Newark overreacted but are too diplomatic to say so.

Any of these scenarios deserves greater scrutiny from the outside, even if some of the details may not be subject to public disclosure,

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Posted by lumi at December 17, 2007 5:32 AM