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June 27, 2009

Deciphering Words of a (Campaigning) Bloomberg on Atlantic Yards: “Enough Already” Means, “Bruce, We Have Another $180 Million Plus To Give You!'

Noticing New York

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg publicly states that there will be no more public subsidies for the proposed Atlantic Yards project, and then pushes through more goodies for blight-inducing developer Bruce Ratner via the MTA.

It says a lot about the unpopularity of Atlantic Yards that, even though Bloomberg has a seeming lock on a third term as mayor (given his extraordinary ability to spend on his campaign, mobilizing perhaps a half billion toward that end), Bloomberg still deems it politically prudent to disguise and downplay his support for Atlantic Yards.

Ergo, the mayor has basically been dishonest. Case in point? We offer to decipher Mr. Bloomberg’s words. Just weeks ago Bloomberg told the press it was time to turn off the spigot and that no additional public funds should be poured into Forest City Ratner’s Atlantic Yards. What did Bloomberg really mean? He meant that he was about to ram through a deal to give his friend Bruce Ratner more than another $180 million out of the public till.

On Wednesday, May 20th the mayor reportedly “dashed Ratner’s hopes for more” money than the “$230 million for infrastructure and land-acquisition costs” the city is putting up for the project. (See: May 21, 2009, Bloomy to Bruce: Enough already, by Mike McLaughlin, The Brooklyn Paper.) This is actually, a typical understatement of the acknowledged cost to the public of the proposed Atlantic Yards. Its true total cost needs to be calculated in terms of billions.


That was May 20th. On May 29th it was revealed that a deal was in the works to give millions more, what turns out to be more than $180 million more, to Ratner. That day at hearings on the Atlantic Yards held by State Senator Bill Perkins it was disclosed that there was a deal proposed for substantial additional giveaways to Ratner. Seth Pinsky, president of the New York City Economic Development Corporation (who works for Bloomberg) participated in presenting the parameters of the package of handouts to Ratner and it was announced then that the MTA’s board would be addressing the handouts at its June 24, 2009 meeting. Indeed, that meeting where the MTA, in fact, did approve the handouts occurred this past Wednesday, just as then disclosed.

Consistent with what was indicated on May 29th, the MTA at that Wednesday meeting approved the more than $180 million in giveaways for Ratner (without any corresponding givebacks, quid pro quos or return obligations from Ratner. In fact, the MTA went so far as to relieve Ratner of obligations to build anything other than the arena and extended to Ratner a low-cost, very long-term option on developing the rest of- the bulk of- the site. That is a blight-inducing (not blight-preventing) decision on the MTA’s part.


Posted by steve at June 27, 2009 7:27 AM