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September 14, 2009

The NoLandGrab Primary Slate

The polls are open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. tomorrow. If you don't know your polling location, click here.

NoLandGrab offers the following candidate endorsements for your consideration.

For Mayor

Tony Avella has been a staunch opponent of Atlantic Yards and eminent domain abuse. From Prospect Heights to Willets Point to Columbia, he has stood shoulder-to-shoulder with property owners and residents and against publicly subsidized, land-grabbing boondoggles.

His democratic opponent, City Comptroller Bill Thompson, says he's a "late supporter" of Atlantic Yards, has collected tons of developer money, and has done nothing — remember, he's the city's CFO — to investigate or even evaluate the hundreds of millions of dollars the city is throwing at project developer Bruce Ratner.

The choice is clear: Tony Avella will pull the plug on the city's support for Atlantic Yards on his first day in office.

For Public Advocate

This is another race in which the choice is crystal-clear. Norman Siegel has made a career of fighting for just causes, and has been a fierce critic of eminent domain abuse. He represented DDDB in the early days of the fight against Atlantic Yards, and is the attorney for Nick Sprayregen, the Manhattanville business owner fighting the Columbia University land grab. Siegel has been New York City's de facto public advocate for years — he deserves to have his name on the office officially.

For Comptroller

None of the four candidates for Comptroller has expressed clear opposition to Atlantic Yards. Melinda Katz has taken more developer money than any candidate in the city. David Weprin says he's against eminent domain for private projects, but has voted in favor of such projects in the City Council. David Yassky has been for and against Atlantic Yards on numerous occasions; he's more in the anti camp now, but it's too little, too late. John Liu perhaps shows the most promise on land-use issues, and he's drawn the support of some prominent Atlantic Yards opponents, but his failure to stake out a concrete position on the project keeps us on the sidelines in the Comptroller's race.

For City Council, 33rd District

All seven candidates in this race have at least claimed some degree of opposition to Atlantic Yards, but two stand apart from the rest. Ken Baer and Ken Diamondstone were early, vocal opponents of the project; Baer led the Sierra Club's Atlantic Chapter when it signed on as a plaintiff to the lawsuit challenging the Atlantic Yards environmental review, and Diamondstone had to fight to keep his Community Board seat after speaking out early and often against the project.

While some critics of Atlantic Yards have spent time trying to handicap the race in the 33rd in order to cast a defensive vote (trying to prevent the election of machine candidate Steve Levin), we're more interested in who should win rather than playing the complicated game of who can win. With that in mind, we endorse the Kens, Baer and Diamondstone.

For City Council, 35th District

Incumbent Letitia James is running for re-election. 'Nuff said. The staunchest, most outspoken opponent of Atlantic Yards holding elective office, she is highly deserving of another term. It's hardly worth mentioning that her chief opponent, Delia Hunley-Adossa, is a signatory of the Atlantic Yards Community Benefits Agreement, heads an organization that has received hundreds of thousands of dollars from Forest City Ratner, and is an unquestioned proxy for Bruce Ratner. Brooklyn needs Tish James in City Hall.

For City Council, 36th District

There are a host of candidates challenging Atlantic Yards-supporting incumbent Councilmember Al Vann (who voted to overturn term limits), but nearly all of them support the project, too. Except one: Mark Winston Griffith. He's been a community activist for two decades, and currently serves as Executive Director of the Drum Major Institute, in which position he has repeatedly criticized Atlantic Yards and developer Forest City Ratner. Mark Winston Griffith is the obvious choice in the 36th.

For City Council, 39th District

Four of the five candidates in the 39th District race have been at a minimum deeply critical of the Atlantic Yards project, but only one has earned the widespread support of the most dedicated opponents of Bruce Ratner's boondoggle. Josh Skaller, who as president of the Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats led the organization to join the lawsuit challenging the Atlantic Yards EIS, has been unwavering in his opposition to the project, and he pledged from the start of his campaign to take no money from developers — a position that some of his opponents were later forced to adopt. We have no doubt that, if elected, Josh Skaller will be a feisty, principled Tish James-like independent in the City Council, and we endorse him wholeheartedly.

Posted by eric at September 14, 2009 4:34 PM