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February 27, 2008

Blame It on Eminent Domain! Ratner Pays D'Amato

The NY Observer
By Eliot Brown


If you want to know how Atlantic Yards's Bruce Ratner became one of the most powerful developers in New York, check out Eliot Brown's exposé on Forest City Ratner's lobbying activities:

Forest City Ratner paid former U.S. Senator Al D’Amato’s lobbying firm $400,000 in 2006 and 2007 to lobby federal legislators regarding eminent domain and other issues important to the developer of the $4 billion Atlantic Yards project in downtown Brooklyn.

Forest City paid Mr. D’Amato, who left the Senate in 1998 after his defeat by Charles Schumer, about $200,000 in 2007 through the lobbying firm he founded, Park Strategies, according to federal lobbying records. Mr. D’Amato, who made headlines for getting paid $500,000 to make a phone call in 1999 to clear the way for a $230 million deal, listed “states use of eminent domain” as the subject of his efforts on behalf of Forest City, among other issues.

Park Strategies was also paid about $200,000 in 2006, then listing as its targets specific pieces of legislation that would have restricted the use of eminent domain, a key ingredient in the successful development of Atlantic Yards. Most of the potentially restrictive eminent domain legislation came as part of a backlash to the Kelo v. City of New London Supreme Court decision in 2005 upholding a government’s right to seize private property for private development.

The payments to Mr. D’Amato’s firm continued for a year following the state’s approval of Atlantic Yards. Forest City, in fact, continues to spend relatively heavily on lobbying, both in Washington and in New York, records show.

But wait, there's more.

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn commented:

Bruce Ratner craves the freedom that eminent domain allows him so badly that he paid Al D'Amoto $400,000 to try his darndest to liberate muncipalities and states from any potential restrictions the federal government might have tried to place on their ability to seize private property for whatever use they deem appropriate. That's a pretty special interest.

NoLandGrab: BTW, rumors have it that the NY Times was thinking about working on the same story, but they're still busy covering last week's snow storm, or something like that.

Posted by lumi at February 27, 2008 6:37 AM