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May 19, 2012

"Everybody Knows": Leonard Cohen, the Barclays Center and remembering how "the fight was fixed"

Atlantic Yards Report

Legendary singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen's coming to the Barclays Center on December 20, sure to attract a large if not sold-out house.

After all, he's a legend. As the promo describes it, Cohen's "a master songwriter, musician and poet whose stunning body of original work" cites "W.B Yeats, Irving Layton and Walt Whitman as literary influences."

But the Cohen lyric most appropriate for Brooklyn's glistening but tainted new arena is this, from the song "Everybody Knows": "Everybody knows the fight was fixed: the poor stay poor and the rich get rich."

...

On 9/17/09, as I reported, the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) re-approved Atlantic Yards on developer Forest City Ratner's preferred terms, allowing--in ways we didn't fully learn until later--a 25-year project buildout, deferred payments for land needed via eminent domain, and payments for the developer's "soft costs" previously not permitted.

Michael D.D. White, lawyer, urban planner, and writer of the Noticing New York blog, testified (full text) with gravity and anger, warning that the arena had been calculated, by the New York City Independent Budget Office, to be a net loss for the city.

"ESDC’s phantom arrangements involving no designs, leave ESDC with absolutely no negotiating leverage to insist on benefit or counteract Forest City Ratner’s future blackmailing of the public for subsidy," White warned. "You shower Forest City Ratner now with additional multimillion dollar benefits such as excusing it from its railyard obligations, and we can expect that you will similarly shower more benefits upon them in the future, again without quid pro quo. What you are doing is destructive of neighborhoods, the city, our public finances, destructive of government and destructive of the basic fabric of trust required for a civilized society."

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Posted by steve at May 19, 2012 8:49 AM