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July 16, 2009

It came from the Atlantic Yards Report

Three more from the "Mad Overkiller":

Brodsky: "it seems... provable" that MTA did not fulfill fiduciary duty with Atlantic Yards deal (but he won't look further)

Assemblyman Richard Brodsky, who in early June criticized the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's (MTA) expected acceptance of a lowered initial cash offer for the Vanderbilt Yard from Forest City Ratner as a violation of its fiduciary duty but then remained quiet as the deal proceeded, has returned to his criticism, saying "it seems to me provable" that the MTA did not fulfill that duty with Atlantic Yards and two other deals.

However, he indicated that the Committee on Corporations, Authorities and Commissions, which he chairs and which has looked closely at the Yankee Stadium deal, would not look into the Atlantic Yards deal. (As noted below, I think there's room for an inquiry.)

NoLandGrab: Brodsky could get a whole lot more maverick-y by doing a little more poking into Atlantic Yards, and we bet he'd find enough dirt to render himself impervious to payback from Assembly Speaker Shelly Silver, an ally of Bruce Ratner, supporter of Atlantic Yards and Albany powerbroker non-pareil.

No renderings or site plan for Atlantic Yards (until September?), but the ESDC suggests a reoriented arena is just a "minor change"

When the board of the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) met June 23 to "adopt"--the first state of the approval process--the 2009 Modified General Project Plan (MGPP) for Atlantic Yards, it was notable that there were no renderings of the project, given that the boardroom was chock full of renderings when the project was first passed in December 2006.
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Even more disconcertingly, there's no new Site Plan for the project--yet, and thus no opportunity to discuss whether a reoriented arena could lead to other changes, such as rescinding the planned closure of Fifth Avenue.
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As I wrote last month, the Municipal Art Society (MAS), in its testimony on the project (graphic at right), suggested that, with a north-south re-orientation of the arena, Fifth Avenue could be kept open. Shouldn't that be part of the discussion?

Why talky Public Advocate candidate Bill de Blasio became quiet about Atlantic Yards (and will rival Siegel press the issue?)

Overdeveloper got your tongue?

Any reporter or blogger on Bill de Blasio's mailing list gets a daily stream of announcements and statements, in which the Council Member and Public Advocate candidate weighs in on local and citywide issues--but not Atlantic Yards.

Today, in fact, he plans to attend a press conference in the Bronx, along with Council Member Annabel Palma and Assemblymember Marcos Crespo, to demand that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) "guarantee riders a basic level of service and accountability."

And he plans to announce an endorsement from the Rev. Al Sharpton, an Atlantic Yards supporter and longtime ally of the Rev. Herbert Daughtry, a signatory of the AY CBA (and noted heckler).

AY criticism recedes

When it came to crossing some of his union supporters (and, for that matter, Sharpton) by questioning the MTA's willingness to cut a sweetheart deal with Forest City Ratner, however, de Blasio and the "independent leadership" he promises was nowhere to be found.
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From CBID questionnaires, positions on AY

The candidates [for Public Advocate] were asked about Atlantic Yards by the Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats, which has endorsed Siegel. Candidates filled out lengthy questionnaires (here and here) on numerous issues.

Siegel on AY:
The use of eminent domain in the Atlantic Yards project is unconstitutional, illegal, and absolutely inappropriate. I have always opposed it, dating back to 2004 and 2005 when I was counsel to Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn. Unfortunately, this attitude towards development is not an isolated incident, but has been a troubling pattern of the Bloomberg administration – which I know firsthand as I am also counsel to Tuck It Away Storage in their fight against the use of eminent domain in Columbia University’s expansion plan.

Here's a City Limits profile on Siegel.

de Blasio on AY:
I became a supporter of the project because of the groundbreaking affordable housing program, jobs and other community benefits, and felt it to be an appropriate use of eminent domain. I have said publicly that no further public subsidies should be granted or demolitions allowed until there is evidence that the Community Benefits Agreement will be adhered to. It is also essential that surrounding neighborhoods have a larger, ongoing role in the project.

That's what he told City Limits, too. Note that, when the MTA expanded subsidies to Forest City Ratner, de Blasio was silent.

Green on AY:
Being out of office, I had no public role or say on the Atlantic Yards development. My views now are that the City and Borough economy obviously need smart growth, which must include a good chunk of any residential housing in Atlantic Yards be affordable. Eminent domain turns on the extent of the public purpose, which I haven’t yet examined in this case. Obviously, given what’s happened to the City in general and that project in particular, the economics and scale of Atlantic Yards now needs to be reexamined if not reimagined.

Here's a City Limits profile on Green, whose brother is a real estate mogul.

Gioia on AY:
My position today is the same as it was in 2005 – I am opposed to the use of eminent domain for purely economic reasons. I did not vote in favor of the Columbia University project for similar reasons. If you respect property rights, you have to respect property rights for the little guy as well as for the big shots.

Here's a City Limits profile on Gioia.

Posted by eric at July 16, 2009 11:08 AM