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June 22, 2010

My Times op-ed: "A Russian Billionaire, the Nets and Sweetheart Deals"

Atlantic Yards Report

Norman Oder on Norman Oder.

Balancing (?) a one-source portrait of Bruce Ratner, today's New York Times Sports section offers a piece by me labeled "essay" (initially "analysis") that I'd simply call an "op-ed," headlined A Russian Billionaire, the Nets and Sweetheart Deals.

OK, take a read. The conclusion:

But the arena process should have been fair, and [Prokhorov] should have paid full freight. Surely he can afford it.

Someone might've called foul

I posted an FAQ below, but first I'd like to amplify the piece slightly by restoring one line that was cut from the edit I saw three weeks ago:

All was forgotten as flashbulbs popped for Prokhorov, as was the notion that had a man worth nearly $18 billion put his hand out for subsidies, someone might have called foul.

Would it have been possible for Mayor Mike Bloomberg and Governor David Paterson to justify helping Prokhorov's cash flow, as they did with Ratner last September?


Why write the piece?

I was astonished how much the sports press buffed Prokhorov, as if his purchase could be disassociated from the Atlantic Yards controversy and the public subsidies involved.

Why'd they accept the piece?

I can only speculate. But there's been overwhelmingly positive publicity about Prokhorov. And there's a very friendly article about Bruce Ratner today. So there's a hint of balance.

Where was the photo taken?

On the north side of Dean Street east of Sixth Avenue; in the background are two houses subject to eminent domain, but that "taking" has been shifted to a later phase.

Lots more FAQs via the link.


NoLandGrab: Since Oder submitted his piece several weeks ago, we can only speculate that The Times assigned Araton to interview Ratner to "balance" Oder's facts.

Related coverage...

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, Norman Oder on Prokhorov, Ratner and Atlantic Yards in the NY Times

Norman Oder, who began his Atlantic Yards reporting as a critic of the NY Times faulty coverage of the controvrsial project, has an oped in today's NY Times sports section. Kudos to the paper for holding back ego and publishing one of its chief critic's columns. But shame on the paper for waiting until the Atlantic Yards horse was so far out of the barn.

Oder offers a synopsis of the Atlantic Yards rip-off, honing in on the public subsidies and government support benefitting one of the richest men in the world, Mikhail Prokhorov, and the fawning press gaggles that followed every little joke and cute remark by the oligarch during his whirlwind April visit to New York.

The question remains: would the Mayor and various governors have propelled Atlantic Yards forwards with all of its public favors if it were a project driven by and owned by Russia's wealthiest man? We doubt it, but that is what has occurred, in the end.

Brownstoner, Oder Does The Times

After years of (rightly) criticizing The New York Times for its failure to bring a critical eye and adequate resources to its coverage of the Atlantic Yards project, Norman Oder, publisher of the Atlantic Yards Report, got his own essay (that's what The Times calls it; he calls it an Op-Ed) in the paper of record. A central point of the essay, and the one that he parses further in a follow-up post on his blog, is that public officials might have thought harder about handing out hundreds of millions of dollars in subsidies if they'd known that someone with unlimited financial resources--in this case Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov--would end up being the beneficiary.

Battle of Brooklyn via Kickstarter, Norman Oder article in the Times

Norman Oder has an op-ed (according to the Times it's an essay) in today's Times.

In film news- We are finally digging into the final sections of footage- the ground breaking. Yesterday we viewed a long assembly of the footage and it was very powerful.

On July 9th- we will be part of a kickstarter film fest- in conjunction with our very good friends at rooftop films. At that event we will likely show the end of the film- we'll certainly send out an update as it comes closer.

Posted by eric at June 22, 2010 10:58 AM