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September 19, 2011

"They're in violation": the not-yet-said words (by Bill de Blasio, Bertha Lewis, Al Sharpton) about Forest City Ratner's obligation, under the Community Benefits Agreement, to hire an Independent Compliance Monitor

Atlantic Yards Report

We've seen some candor about developer Forest City Ratner's obligations to the state--but what about to the Community Benefits Agreement?

A remarkable thing happened at the end of the 6/28/11 community meeting in Prospect Heights over traffic and parking issues faced by those living near the east end of the Atlantic Yards site.

Empire State Development (ESD) planner Rachel Shatz was challenged, cordially, to opine on the contradiction between Forest City Ratner's responsibility to "maintain an on-site construction coordinator" and the fact that the community liaison is present once a week.

"They're in violation," she said, in a episode of candor that seemed to provoke momentary consternation from her colleague Arana Hankin, Director, Atlantic Yards Project.

The next day, Forest City committed to ensuring that a staffer would be present during working hours, while an ESD spokeswoman walked the issue back, asserting that the developer had not been in violation, given that the contractual responsibility did not delineate the number of hours required.
...

Shatz, at least, answered candidly.

By contrast, none of the signatories of the Atlantic Yards Community Benefits Agreement (CBA), nor figures who backed the CBA, have publicly challenged the developer on its failure to hire an Independent Compliance Monitor.
...

Who could speak up? de Blasio

In September 2009, then-Council Member Bill de Blasio, then running for Public Advocate, was asked about Atlantic Yards by talk show host Brian Lehrer.

"I have said from the beginning I believe in the affordable housing, the hiring of local residents and living wage levels," de Blasio said. "I think the company involved has to prove that they will keep to the original interpretation or we should pull the plug."

He didn't quite understand his talking points, as I noted. However, if de Blasio, who issues p.r. statements daily about any number of issues--on September 16, he commented about Palestinian statehood--had any consistency, he'd comment on the failure to hire an Independent Compliance Monitor.

My queries about that issue to his spokespeople went unanswered. When I asked him in July about the CBA, he replied vaguely.

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Posted by eric at September 19, 2011 11:25 AM