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March 1, 2012

Times finally publishes article on Ridge Hill trial, lets flack DePlasco defend Forest City against unidentified "critics," downplays developer's dubious behavior

Atlantic Yards Report

So, after three days of testimony from Forest City Ratner officials, and a one-day grace period, the New York Times today finally publishes an article about the Ridge Hill project and Yonkers corruption, Window Into Developer’s Relentless Quest to Get a Yonkers Project Approved.

It's a serviceable, but way too truncated summary of the drama in the federal case against consultant Zehy Jereis and ex-City Council Member Sandy Annabi, which I've covered at length on this blog.

Because several days of testimony are compressed into one article--rather than publishing daily articles, even online--key details are lost. But it's just enough for the Times to be able to defend itself against charges it had ignored the project.

Leaning Ratner's way

But the ending does lean Ratner's way:

A Forest City spokesman, Joseph DePlasco, said on Wednesday that critics had focused unfairly on the developer’s role. “This is really about a company trying with great difficulty to navigate the byzantine maze of politics in Yonkers,” he said.

Well, no critics are mentioned in the article, so the Times let DePlasco leave the impression that the developer's facing a phantom.

Lame ending ignores developer's dubiousness

The article closes:

As for [ex-Forest City executive] Mr. [Bruce] Bender, he testified that he had always been hopeful that the developer would prevail in its lobbying effort.

“In my experience in over 30 years of government,” he said, “when it comes to politics, there is nothing impossible.”

That's a completely lame conclusion.

The central mystery of Ridge Hill, still extant, is why Forest City, the main beneficiary of Annabi's vote change, emerges unscathed.

The developer was not charged with wrongdoing, but it clearly behaved dubiously--details omitted from the Times coverage.

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Posted by eric at March 1, 2012 10:31 AM