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April 25, 2009

Atlantic Yards Report Saturday Quartet of Exactitude

Norman Oder publishes four blog entries for a Saturday morning. One entry looks at construction labor costs, another at politics and two deal with media issues. And what have you, dear reader, done today?

In Council races, CBID endorses Skaller for 39th, Simon for 33rd

On Thursday, Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats voted to endorse Josh Skaller for City Council (39th District) and Jo Anne Simon for City Council (33rd District) in the upcoming Democratic primary.

The endorsement of Skaller was unsurprising, given that he previously was CBID president. But Simon, according to rivals like Ken Diamondstone, did not have the strongest reform credentials among the seven candidates.

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I wasn't there for either the public or private segments of the discussion (I'm not a member), but I suspect the endorsement of Simon was in part a strategic move. Like most of the candidates, she's certainly qualified.

She's also a woman, and thus has the strongest chance among the "brownstone" candidates to beat Stephen Levin of Greenpoint, who's county leader Vito Lopez's chief of staff and seen as the machine candidate.

Skaller sides with Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn on Atlantic Yards; Simon has been critical of the project but has been associated with the milder position of BrooklynSpeaks. Several CBID leaders are well to the "left" of BrooklynSpeaks, but, obviously, the Atlantic Yards issue wasn't dispositive.

Construction unions agree to some concessions, but reduction wouldn't cut arena price tag in half

Crain's reports:
After six months of discussions, building contractors and unions have reached an agreement to slice labor costs. The problem is that developers estimate the deal will only save them no more than 15%—far less than the 25% they had sought when negotiations began.

Labor makes for roughly half the costs of the project, and Crain's suggests that these cuts--work rule changes more than wage/benefit concessions--might not be enough to get projects moving.

Also, Crain's notes that construction costs across the city have fallen from 5% to 15% since last summer.

None of that suggests that the Atlantic Yards arena price tag could be cut nearly in half, as developer Forest City Ratner apparently hopes.

Sign of consolidation? Brooklyn Paper begins to publish work by Courier-Life staffers

Another hint of the creeping consolidation of the once-rival weekly newspapers has emerged.

On the Brooklyn Paper's web site yesterday, an article was attributed to Thomas Tracy/Community Newspaper Group. Tracy works for the Courier-Life chain, and a longer version of that article appears in this week's Courier-Life.

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I sent Brooklyn Paper editor Gersh Kuntzman a link to the first article and asked if there was a new policy about the two papers sharing staff or content.

His response didn't mention a policy: "Tom Tracy is one of the best community reporters in Brooklyn. His sources are wide and whose knowledge is deep, so we are privileged to be able to run his stories, where appropriate, in our newspaper."

I have no reason to question Tracy's sources or knowledge, but Kuntzman's explanation was a bit overboard for an article about the theft of "the multi-colored snowboard bench that’s been greeting shoppers outside the 4 Play Brooklyn clothing boutique on Seventh Avenue for eight years."

It seems like the two publications were sharing a neighborhood story.

If and when they get to sharing more substantive coverage, then things will get more interesting.

Second attempt to row the Atlantic fails, but that gets much less ink

Two months ago, I criticized the local press for paying attention to the second attempt by Victor Mooney to row the Atlantic while ignoring bigger stories of civic concern.

Now Mooney's second attempt has been aborted, due to a failure of water purifiers; that news gets a brief in the Brooklyn Eagle and the Courier-Life chain.

The New York Times, which ran a story in February, hasn't told us about the demise of the Goree Challenge II. Well, the Times hasn't covered Forest City Ratner's bailout of ACORN, either.

Posted by steve at April 25, 2009 7:25 AM