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December 16, 2009

MTA Approves Severe Service Cuts
Court Rules MTA-Ratner Sweetheart Deal Lawful

(Deal Left At Least $80 Million on the Table)

NEW YORK, NY — On the same day that the MTA Board approved severe service cuts—including Access-A-Ride and discounts for school kids—a New York State Supreme Court ruled against petitioners who challenged the MTA's sweetheart deal for the Vanderbilt Rail Yards with developer Bruce Ratner.

This past summer the now "unexpectedly" cash-strapped MTA left $80 million on the table when it "negotiated" a new deal with Ratner for the 8-acre yards. Instead of paying $100 million as he had agreed in 2005, Ratner would now, after Board approval, pay only $20 million.

The lawsuit (Montgomery et al. v. MTA et al.) brought by State Senator Velmanette Montgomery, Assemblyman Jim Brennan, Councilmember Letitia James, the Straphanger's Campaign and Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, charged that the MTA violated the Public Authorities Accountability Act of 2005 when it did not test the market for competition for the Yards or issue an independent appraisal for the piece of valuable central Brooklyn real estate.

The MTA's deal also clearly violates the letter and the spirit of the new Public Authorities Reform bill signed last week by Governor Paterson. As The Times reported, "…authorities will no longer be allowed to sell real estate for below-market value, as the Metropolitan Transportation Authority did when it sold rights to build over railyards in Brooklyn to the developers of the Atlantic Yards project."

Just last week New York City announced that it has 29 developers interested in "redeveloping" the 62-acre Willets Point, Queens district it wants to take by eminent domain. Yet the MTA claimed that it was impossible to find any interested developers, besides Ratner, for the 8-acre site in the heart of Brooklyn. Not one.

"The MTA has no shame—while giving a sweetheart deal to billionaire developers, leaving at least $80 million on the table and widening its budget gap, its Board gives a big lump of coal to school kids, disabled New Yorkers and all transit riders. It's disgusting," said DDDB's spokesman Daniel Goldstein. "It's just one more plaque for the Atlantic Yards hall of shame, in the no-bid wing. MTA gives it away, Ratner wins and the public loses. For what? A money-losing arena in the middle of a fiscal crisis. We'd like to hear Governor Paterson, Mayor Bloomberg and Speaker Quinn justify this. While the Court has ruled, these leaders can do the right thing by New Yorkers, and collect the full $100 million Ratner reneged on."

The petitioners will review the decision and decide whether or no to appeal the Court's ruling.

The ruling is at: http://dddb.net/MTAsuit.


Posted by eric at December 16, 2009 4:03 PM