January 17, 2010
AYR Sunday: Condemn Case Delay, Freddy's Rally, Letter to the Times, Senate Video
Atlantic Yards Report
Updated 11 am January 17.
The Atlantic Yards condemnation case, which was supposed to go to court on January 29, has now been postponed to March 17,
with a change in judges from Abraham Gerges to Bert Bunyan.
Updated: Gerges was assumed to have been the judge, but a look at the record shows that he was never formally assigned.
Why? It's unclear, but one lawyer speculated that it may be because Gerges is ultimately stepping down and wanted to avoid presiding over a case that lingered--at least in the compensation phase--past his term.
I have a query in to the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC).
Only after the March 17 hearing would the ESDC be able to take title to properties within the Atlantic Yards footprint. Usually there's little wiggle room to challenge a condemnation petition, but the lawyer for footprint property owner Daniel Goldstein (and perhaps others) said, "We will challenge the petition. It is defective in many respects."
Will streets close?
One pending question is whether streets planned for closure on or about February 1 will be closed as announced. It seems less likely.
Presumably that timing was tied to the (expected) transfer of title, given that the streets were among the properties to be condemned.
Well, I'm out of town but I got some reports back on the event yesterday at Freddy's Bar & Backroom, where Council Member Letitia James organized a protest against the city's decision to close a privately-run homeless shelter in the AY footprint. (Here's pre-protest coverage in the Daily News.)
James, as shown in the video below (via Found in Brooklyn), denounced "the destruction by a corrupt developer who believes he can pay off elected officials." (Well, Forest City Ratner gives campaign contributions to elected officials; as for payoffs, the evidence in the Ridge Hill case doesn't yet support that, though it's certainly suspicious.)
James said she'd spoken to Robert Hess, the commissioner of the Department of Homeless Services (DHS), who told her that one-third of the 88 families in the Pacific Dean residence were placed in permanent housing and the rest were "shuttled" to another shelter.
She said Hess told her DHS now plans to up a shelter on Tillary Street in Downtown Brooklyn. "I asked why, he just said, 'Have a good day.'"
Why would they close a shelter down the block, to build a parking lot for the arena, she asked.
This is a letter sent to the New York Times.
I write to request a correction and/or Editor's Note regarding the Times's 1/7/10 coverage of indictments in Yonkers, headlined (online) Ex-Official in Yonkers Faces Charges of Corruption.
In three instances, the article contained lapses that add up to a more positive portrayal of developer Forest City Ratner than merited by the facts.
Click through to this blog entry to see how coverage of the scandal in Yonkers by the Times is less than clear. Questions remain regarding:
- Whether Forest City is a target of an investigation by the U.S. Attorney's office.
- Whether the developer was bilked, as implied by the Times, or the people of Yonkers.
- The lack of disclosure of the Times' business relationship with Forest City.
These 10 video segments are from the 1/5/10 state Senate oversight hearing on eminent domain called by Senator Bill Perkins. The segments are:
- ESDC General Counsel Anita Laremont on the standards for Blight Studies
- ESDC General Counsel Anita Laremont is asked if consultant AKRF always finds blight
- ESDC General Counsel Anita Laremont is asked if AKRF worked for Forest City Ratner, as well
- Attorney Norman Siegel, who won an appellate court victory challenging eminent domain for the Columbia University expansion
- David Smith, Siegel's co-counsel in the Columbia case
- Condemnation Attorney Michael Rikon
- Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn spokesman Daniel Goldstein
- Christina Walsh of the Institute for Justice
- Michael White of Noticing New York
- Christabel Gough of the Society for the Architecture of the City
Posted by steve at January 17, 2010 9:48 AM