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March 12, 2012

Uninformed sycophancy: Charlie Rose interviews Bruce Ratner about "Atlantic City Yards" (sic), betrays zero recognition of controversy

Atlantic Yards Report

Charlie Rose's first-ever interview with real estate developer Bruce Ratner, conducted 3/9/12, was spectacularly uninformed sycophancy, as Rose asked virtually no hard questions, and seemed completely unaware that Ratner's Atlantic Yards project had generated sufficient controversy to spur a documentary film and play.
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A "civic" developer

Noting that "we do lots of architects on this program," such as Ratner's friend Frank Gehry, Rose noted that few developers appear.

"Tell me how you see developers, and what do you think of the role of developers," Rose asked. "Why should we admire them and why should we not so very much admire them?"

"That's a very, very good question," replied Ratner, almost purring. "First of all, the way I think about myself as a developer is as a civic developer. We do a lot of civic projects. Every project that we do has to have some civic component. It can be architecture. It can be economic development, or it can be something like the arena, where we're providing entertainment, where it's in some sense a public building."

Ratner's been using the word civic a lot, but it's a weasel world. It means "of a city," but it does not necessarily denote the public interest. Ratner seems to be saying that, as long as he's building in the city, he's somehow helping the city. The reality is a bit more complicated, having to do with things like public subsidies, tax breaks, and eminent domain.

Click through for more of Norman Oder's dissection of the interview.

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NoLandGrab: Perhaps by "civic developer," Ratner means "one who develops real estate projects that are heavily subsidized with city (and state and federal) money." In that case, indeed, he's as "civic" a developer as you're ever going to find.

Posted by eric at March 12, 2012 11:23 PM