Saturday, October 22, 2016

So, Barclays Center gets a new VP for Community Relations (but where are those schedules?)

Some changes appear to be afoot at the Barclays Center front office, perhaps related to arena management's new responsibilities.

Roland Guevara, via LinkedIn
There's a new position, VP, Community Relations, held by Roland Guevara, who, according to his LinkedIn profile, took the job in July after working as Director of Public Affairs at Nickolodeon. His position has not been publicly announced, as far as I can tell.

Nor has he been introduced to community stakeholders at arena-related events like the Quality of Life or Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation meetings.

Guevara oversees three staffers, including Terence Kelly, Senior Manager, Community Affairs, who's served as the sole listed person in the Community Affairs office since the arena opened in 2012, as noted in the April 2006 version of the Barclays Center front office list.

Barclays may have a bigger presence in Community Affairs, but it doesn't seem oriented to the nearest neighbors. For example, a few months ago, the arena apparently stopped circulating a monthly calendar of events, with expected attendance. (Or: it stopped sending them to me and and people who might share it with me.) And the arena doesn't always send its own representatives to public meetings.

Internal reorg?

That said, there may be some internal reorganization. Michael Wisniewski, now listed as Manager, Community Relations for the Barclays Center (according to the arena web site), on his LinkedIn profile says he's been Community Relations Manager for the Brooklyn Nets since October 2013 and previously was Community Relations Coordinator for the Nets.

Similarly, Courtney Lapsley, now listed as Coordinator, Community Relations for the Barclays Center (according to the arena web site), on her LinkedIn profile says she's been Coordinator, Community Relations for the Brooklyn Nets since July 2016, and was previously since December 2014 a Community Relations Assistant for the Nets.

This may relate to the arena's larger budget and responsibilities, as it takes in revenue from the New York Islanders and guarantees a payment in turn to the team. But it also may mean stretching the budget to have staffers previously working only for the Nets to also work for the arena.

Barclays also has gone from a listed two-person Communications Department to a three-person one.

Barclays Center Front Office, October 2016 (screenshot)

Barclays Center Front Office, April 2016 (screenshot)

Friday, October 21, 2016

GAO report: more evidence that EB-5 immigrant investor program helps wealthy areas (+developers), not public interest

As summarized in the Wall Street Journal, Immigrant Investor Program for Poor Neighborhoods Benefits Rich Ones More, Study Shows. Indeed, the federal Government Accountability Office (GAO) has confirmed--more or less--what seems glaring from more than five years of evidence about gerrymandering zones of "high unemployment" for the EB-5 immigrant investor program.

The "Bed-Stuy Boomerang," Atlantic Yards site in blue;
graphic by Abby Weissman
In reporting by me and the New York Times in 2011, it was clear that EB-5 zones of high unemployment--where the minimum investment is $500,000 rather than the statutory $1 million--were being gerrymandered to ensure that the average unemployment was high enough to qualify.

For example, New York State agreed to add census tracts in Bedford-Stuyvesant to the Atlantic Yards site in Prospect Heights to create a zone of high unemployment, saving the project developers tens of millions of dollars in each of three separate capital raises, totaling some $577 million.

Since then, the Wall Street Journal's Eliot Brown has reported on some glaringly gerrymandered maps, all supporting luxury projects that rely on cheap financing. And also see Trump-Branded Project Developer in Austin Seeks to Tap Immigrant Visa Program.

(The immigrant investors eschew high interest because they instead want the green cards. The public is supposed to benefit from job creation, but investments likely instead fuel profit. I think the program is riddled with dishonesty.)

Yes, the program's defenders say that the projects still draw workers from a larger area, which is true, but there's no proof they draw them from the zones of high unemployment. In 2011, a federal official acknowledged that it seemed the spirit of the law wasn't being respected. Nothing has changed since then.

The GAO report

The GAO report, Immigrant Investor Program: Proposed Project Investments in Targeted Employment Areas, does not make recommendations. However, while looking at a relatively small sample, from the fourth quarter of FY 2015, it determined that 99% of those using EB-5 went in a Targeted Employment Area (TEA).

Within that category, nearly all high unemployment TEAs, and only 3% rural areas, which also qualify as TEAs. Some in Congress want to reform the law to ensure that more investments go to rural areas (though that doesn't necessarily resolve the question of whether the public benefits).

States calculate TEAs, often at the behest of project sponsors, to help them get cheap money. So 90 percent of those investing in a high unemployment TEA, based the TEA on the average unemployment rate for a combination of census areas, the report notes.

Notably, the locations where the projects themselves were located did not have high unemployment. As shown in the table below, 77% percent of the projects were in areas with unemployment rates of 6% of lower.

Finally, who benefits? Some 74 percent of petitioners chose real estate, including mixed use projects, hotels and resorts, commercial, and residential developments; the remaining 28 percent invested or planned to invest in infrastructure projects, such as railways and highways, or transportation, restaurants, medical, and education facilities (percentages do not sum to 100 due to rounding).

Those kinds of projects often create temporary construction jobs, which passes federal muster, and lower the cost to builders. Whether they create permanent jobs is another question.

ESPN's Ultimate Standings not kind to Nets, Islanders, but Knicks, Rangers even worse

Well, neither the Brooklyn Nets nor New York Islanders are doing well in ESPN's Ultimate Standings, which ranks sports franchises on multiple issues, but they're at least better than their counterparts at Madison Square Garden.

Brooklyn Nets
Overall: 110
Title track: 114
Ownership: 107
Coaching: 89
Players: 117
Fan relations: 102
Affordability: 70
Stadium experience: 81
Bang for the buck: 110
Change from last year: +1
ESPN says the "Nets are preaching progress this season -- not wins," and credits the team for lowering ticket prices. "Fans aren't too hard on the team's stadium experience, at 81st overall," says ESPN, which is faint praise among 122 teams, given the new arena, and the bang for the buck is low, because the team is has lousy players.

NetsDaily finds brighter news, citing Ben Detrick, writing for The Ringer, who likens the Nets to Brooklyn’s “expansion team" and the young players as a "penny stock" who might do well:
The 2016–17 Brooklyn Nets are the expansion team they never took the time to be four years ago. Your New Brooklyn Nets are bad, likable, and hopeful. Expectations, bloated salaries, and empty promises from Russian oligarchs are gone.
New York Knicks
Overall: 114
Title track: 101
Ownership: 105
Coaching: 100
Players: 111
Fan relations: 105
Affordability: 118
Stadium experience: 83
Bang for the buck: 117
Change from last year: +7
ESPN notes that the Knicks still sell out, even when they're bad, thus lousy bang for the buck, but have improved coaching and slightly in players.
New York IslandersOverall: 84
Title track: 61
Ownership: 110
Coaching: 108
Players: 63
Fan relations: 62
Affordability: 99
Stadium experience: 118
Bang for the buck: 19
Change from last year: -11
The New York Islanders have a solid team, and prices were "almost $13 below the league average," ESPN notes, hence a "13-point jump in Bang for the Buck," but attendance was 28th in the league and there were obstructed views (though, it should be noted, the arena has tried to improve fan experience this year in other ways).

New York Rangers
Overall: 92
Title track: 44
Ownership: 76
Coaching: 68
Players: 77
Fan relations: 61
Affordability: 120
Stadium experience: 79
Bang for the buck: 104
Change from last year: -17
The Rangers have been a solid team, but prices keep going up, hence lousy bang for buck, and the "roster has also stagnated," says ESPN.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Nassau County Executive Mangano (and wife) indicted for taking bribes

So, another Forest City Ratner-allied politician is tagged as a criminal (though not yet convicted, of course). As the New York Times reported this morning, in Nassau County Executive Is Arrested in Bribery Scheme:
The Nassau County executive, Edward P. Mangano, his wife and the supervisor of the Town of Oyster Bay were arrested and charged on Thursday with trading government contracts and official favors for free vacations, a $450,000 no-show job and other bribes.
Mr. Mangano has been dogged by reports — many published in Newsday — that he and his family had vacationed in the Virgin Islands and Turks and Caicos on trips that were paid for by Harendra Singh, a Long Island restaurateur who won a county contract to provide food to local officials in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy in 2012.
...A 19-page indictment released by federal prosecutors on Thursday outlines a bribery and kickback scheme stretching back to the beginning of 2010, when Mr. Mangano entered the county executive’s office after upsetting Thomas R. Suozzi, his Democratic predecessor, in the previous year’s election.
Here's the indictment. It has nothing to do with Forest City or the company's deal with Nassau County to renovate the Nassau Coliseum. But it does--for now--reinforce the suspicion that Mangano might not always be acting in the best interests of the public.

Newsday editorialized that Mangano and Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto should step down, since they can't do their jobs and also their defense. It added:
Long Island is so awash in conflicts of interest and outright stealing that it’s keeping the public corruption divisions of two of the largest U.S. attorney’s offices in the nation working overtime. Federal prosecutors looking into this nexus of political power, money and misbehavior already have convicted Suffolk Police Chief James Burke, Suffolk Conservative Party head Edward Walsh, Town of Oyster Bay Planning Commissioner Frederick Ippolito and State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos.

Gilmartin: Forest City earlier on was a "shark tank environment" (and hers is kindler/gentler?)

How's this from the Real Deal regarding Forest City CEO MaryAnne Gilmartin?
Gilmartin also described her early days at Forest City. She said Bruce Ratner created a merit-based culture at the company but said there was ample room for improvement.
“It was a shark tank environment there, early on, because there was a lot of testosterone,” she said. “Getting in there, staying in there, sticking with it, and rising based on my merits, allowed me to start to create a culture, a culture that might have been built and birthed by Bruce Ratner but certainly was shaped by those who followed.”
...“Building a culture, while it sounds so simple, I would argue is more challenging than building a billion dollar arena, with 35 lawsuits and one Great Recession, which I have a lot of experience in,” she quipped. “I would say culture is challenging, culture is everything and it starts from the top.”
OK, so Ratner's culture was merit-based but shark-tanky? Remember, as surfaced in a 2011 lawsuit, an architect who tangled with her reported to a colleague, "I had an unpleasant conversation with MaryAnne. I was told they know the same people I know and they’ll make sure to fuck me whenever possible."

Oh, and there weren't 35 lawsuits. They have never provided a list. But it sounds good from their end.

Is the Barclays Center using Dean Playground for staff meetings?

The nearest neighbors of the Barclays Center and Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park report enormous frustration with impacts of construction and arena operations--noise, truck traffic on residential streets, idling limos at night on residential blocks, incursions on public space--as I'll detail more shortly.

At a meeting Monday night of the Dean Street Block Association, residents said construction workers regularly eat lunch in the Dean Playground, just half a block from the arena. It's off-limits to adults who aren't supervising kids, but is conveniently located in a residential district that otherwise doesn't offer places for workers to take a break.

That's not allowed, agreed Marty Maher, Chief of Staff to the Brooklyn Borough Commissioner.

And yesterday, a reader sent me photos of what appeared to be a meeting of Barclays Center workers in the playground, which would have been improper unless they had a permit. I queried the arena community affairs rep and press office but didn't hear back.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

B12 footings installed in good faith? Construction Updates indicate "one permanent footing" completed (plus new photos)

View looking north from Dean Street building
Last week, I expressed skepticism about Pacific Park project director Susi Yu saying, regarding the delayed B12 condo site (aka 615 Dean) next to the 550 Vanderbilt tower, "We actually put the footings in to preserve our 421-a benefit."

But did they really commence construction on 615 Dean to preserve that lucrative tax break?

The 421-a law says "'commence' shall mean the date upon which excavation and construction of initial footings and foundations lawfully begins in good faith." (Emphases added)

I showed photos that looked like pretty general excavation, plus a few vertical "knobs" and a white horizontal installation that might be classified as footings.

What the Construction Updates say

A close look at the official Construction Updates shows that the work on B12, first announced 12/21/15 update, almost exclusively involves excavation and the clearing of soil. However, the 1/18/16 Construction Update did say "one permanent footing has been completed." So I should have acknowledged that they have taken a small step forward.

But how does completing one footing--and then stopping for ten months and counting--suggest a good-faith start to construction? Nothing has happened since then. I don't doubt that it's standard practice in construction in New York City to do the bare minimum to qualify for the tax break. If so, though, the city clearly doesn't pursue enforcement.

More photos

Below, some photos looking south from the northern border of the site, the demapped and privatized Pacific Street between Carlton and Vanderbilt avenues, currently used for construction staging, thanks to a reader who sent them to me.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Notice: Pacific Street between Sixth and Carlton avenues closed Friday through Sunday for construction

Ok, maybe the third time's a charm. A Community Notice from Pacific Park Brooklyn indicated that on 9/23/16 contractors would be delivering and installing new DC substation modular building and transformers for the new Long Island Rail Road yard, requiring the closure of Pacific Street between Sixth and Carlton avenues. The most recent Construction Update indicated that the work would start last Friday, 10/14/16.

Today comes an Updated Community Notice regarding "Long Island Rail Road Substation & Transformer Delivery & Installation Friday, October 21 through Sunday, October 23." There's no indication that the previous work was done, and the attached graphic is the same, so I'm assuming that the previous work was postponed. But they should've been more clear.

The notice:
As part of Pacific Park Brooklyn construction, beginning Friday, October 21st through Sunday, October 23rd contractors will be delivering and installing new DC substation modular building and transformers for the new Long Island Rail Road yard.
Delivery of the units will occur during the early morning hours of Friday, October 21st and they will be stored on Pacific Street between Vanderbilt and Carlton Avenue.
Pacific Street will be closed to vehicular traffic on both Saturday, October 22nd and Sunday, October 23rd between the hours of 7:00AM to 7:00PM.

A crane will positioned at Pacific Street at 6th Avenue and vehicular access in and out of the parking garages along Pacific Street will be maintained via Carlton Avenue.

New view from above suggests skyline change that Site 5 project poses

Looking southeast along Flatbush Avenue, with arena and
 461 Dean in background, Williamsburgh Bank

tower at left, Site 5 & Fourth Avenue in foreground right
It's all perspective, right?

The views from Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park apartment buildings surely will change--at least in part--when the rest of the project is built.

Consider the views, in the photos here, from the 29th floor club space (over 300 feet up) at 300 Ashland, the new Two Trees 80/20 rental building on the wedge-shaped space next to the Brooklyn Academy of Music and the Williamsburgh Savings Bank.

NW to Downtown BK
There are some nice vistas from this floor, while other views, as at left, point toward new construction in downtown Brooklyn. And, in ever-changing Brooklyn, some views might change.

The Site 5 plan

Let's focus on the photo above right, which shows part of the bank building (512 feet) at left, the Flatbush Avenue corridor and the 461 Dean modular tower (officially 322 feet, closer to 360 feet with mechanicals) at center, and Site 5, currently home to Modell's and P.C. Richard, near right.

There would be a huge skyline change if the currently approved plan for a 1.1 million square foot, 511-foot tall tower over the arena+plaza were built, as well as a 250-foot, 439,050-square foot tower at Site 5.

From Greenland Forest City Partners presentation;
note that taller Site 5 tower could be 53% taller than bank
But Greenland Forest City Partners has floated a plan for a two-tower project that could go as tall as 785 feet, in the tower occupying a rectangular space along Fourth Avenue, some significant fraction of the square P.C. Richard footprint.

That's more than twice as tall as the floor from which I took the photo.  So the annotation below, in purple, should extend off the photo to the north.

The companion "smaller" tower on the Modell's site could be between 293 feet and 383 feet--potentially taller than the modular building.

That said, neither new tower, should they be built, will be massed/oriented in the crude rectangles I've set up.

But this perspective contrasts with the developer's presentation (see Slide 7), which stresses the march of towers south from Downtown Brooklyn and suggests this is a natural continuation.
Annotations crudely suggest potential scale of new Site 5 project. Tower at right, in purple, would stretch much higher.
Looking south to Gowanus, including the Gowanus Houses center right, and, at far left, the Fourth Avenue corridor,
from new 300 Ashland tower. New York Harbor at far right
Looking southwest to New York Harbor from 300 Ashland. Note Downtown Brooklyn towers in far right of frame.

Monday, October 17, 2016

At Islanders' home opener, a commandeered "public" plaza, illegal parking, and a confrontation with security

Yesterday's New York Islanders home opener, according to the team, had a lot going on:
Fans are encouraged to arrive early for a pre-game fan fest on Barclays Center's Resorts World Casino NYC Plaza and for an exciting in-game opening presentation.
The festivities begin at 3:30 p.m. on the plaza, with music from band The Zoo and DJ Razor, as well as interactive games, appearances by Islanders legends and Sparky the Dragon.
...Guests will notice an Islanders brand takeover at Barclays Center, starting with the newly renamed team store, the Swag Shop at Barclays Center, which will feature the Islanders year-round.
So yes, the Resorts World Casino NYC Plaza, as I have written, is often less public open space than an arena safety valve.  (The game was reportedly a sellout, though tickets distributed never equals gate count.)

As noted in photos below, there was rampant illegal or unpermitted parking, with vehicles in traffic lanes, no-standing zones, or behind the MPT (maintenance and protection of traffic) fence.

As I describe below, Barclays Center security officers were rather zealously trying to prevent photography being taken from a public sidewalk/street.

At the plaza

A DJ and a stage for the band
Islanders merch!
A chance to take some slap shots
A "rink" for the kiddies
Parking on Atlantic Avenue
Inside the construction fence for the MPT: VIP Parking

Inside the construction fence for the MPT: VIP Parking
Parking on Dean Street

As I walked on the sidewalk outside the arena loading dock on Dean Street, I took out my phone to take a picture.

The security guard in the red jacket (pictured below) rather aggressively told me I couldn't take pictures of "my loading dock." I told him it was legal to take pictures from public property and invited him to check with the cops.

The guard told me I couldn't take pictures from the sidewalk. I moved a few steps to the street. That didn't change his posture, as he made unspecified threats.

(I didn't want pictures of the open elevators but rather wanted to show the SUV with taxi plates that was parking on the "pad," in the center below, encroaching on the public sidewalk. According to the Design Guidelines, the minimum sidewalk width is either 18' or 13'4"; the available sidewalk seemed smaller.)

To deescalate, I moved across to the south side of Dean Street. Then, in unbidden synchrony, Dean Street activist Peter Krashes, in the blue jacket below, was walking home on the same sidewalk. He took out his phone to take pictures. A similar discussion ensued.

The female security official in the black jacket approached. I crossed the street to join the conversation. The guards got on walkie-talkies to talk to superiors. Finally, they concluded we were "community" people and not scoping out a potential sabotage attack, cordially de-escalated, and said it was OK to take pictures.

Arena parking encroaches on public sidewalk

Below, a truck and a (team?) bus parked on Dean Street outside the arena, protected by construction fencing.

On Dean Street outside the arena

Below, illegal parking with some get-out-of-enforcement cards.

Car blocks hydrant on Carlton Ave. between Bergen & Dean Sts. Dashboard had Detectives Endowment Association card.

Cars block bus stop at Dean Street and Carlton Avenue. No ID on the
dashboard of the first car, but the second had a permit from
the NYPD's 104th precinct, which is in Ridgewood, Queens.
The new Cielo Garage at 670 Pacific; a place to pay for parking
Improving the atmosphere (update)

Newsday reported on how the Barclays Center has tried to improve the experience for fans and team:

There’s more Islanders imagery and branding. There’s more merchandise in the team store. More LIRR trains were added for the postgame commute.
There’s also now a VIP room for the players’ wives and a suite for them during games.
Then there’s the ice, which drew bad reviews last regular season.
“We’ve brought on board an ice technician to really manage the ice,” Yormark said. “I think we’re getting really good marks from the players.”
Around the arena

Yes, the Nets Shop is now the Swag Shop
The side facade of the B3 tower. No windows in part of the health care facility?

LIRR doubling service to Islanders games this coming season (and MTA is paying)

Last month, various news outlets reported on expanded service to the Barclays Center for New York Islanders fans, based on an MTA press release headlined LIRR to Double Service to New York Islanders Games Compared With Start of Last Season, with the subheading "Same Number of Trains to Be Provided As During 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Barclays Center."

This means a fourth post-game train, bound for Ronkonkoma, and doubles the service from the start of last season.

“More and more Islanders fans have found the LIRR to be the quickest and most convenient way to and from Barclays Center,” said MTA Long Island Rail Road President Patrick A. Nowakowski. “We anticipate continued growth in ridership to Brooklyn as the Islanders begin their second season there." Arena operators are giving LIRR riders a 10% discount on tickets for select games.

The background: in the first season, about 40 percent of Islanders fans attending games at Barclays Center travelled the LIRR to Atlantic Terminal. The LIRR added two post-event trains for weekday games and two pre-event and two post-event trains for weekend games with direct service to Babylon and Farmingdale. Two months into the season, the LIRR increased that to three trains, and when the Islanders reached the playoffs last spring, a fourth train was provided in each category.

A writer at Eyes on Isles suggested that more trains should limit overcrowding and thus diminish rowdy behavior. One season ticket said he worries about safety, including the impact on his young kids: “The cursing is out of control, people have zero respect or tact when kids are around.” 

So maybe arena neighbors who worry about rowdy fans have a point.

Enhanced service includes the following:
Weekdays: 4 Post-Game Eastbound TrainsBeginning with the Islanders first pre-season game on Monday, September 26, the LIRR will have four eastbound post-game trains on weekdays departing from Atlantic Terminal. Two trains will provide direct service to Babylon and one each to Farmingdale and Ronkonkoma. Customers bound for other eastbound destinations will change at Jamaica for their home branch.
Weekends: 4 Pre-Game Westbound & Post-Game Eastbound TrainsOn weekends, the LIRR will supplement its regular westbound service with four westbound pre-game trains direct to Atlantic Terminal, two direct from Babylon and one each from Farmingdale and Ronkonkoma. It will also run four eastbound post-game trains from Atlantic Terminal, two direct to Babylon and one each to Farmingdale and Ronkonkoma. Fans traveling to and from other destinations will change at Jamaica for their home branch.
2 Additional Post-Game Brooklyn-to-Jamaica Shuttle Trains AvailableAdditionally, for select high-demand games, whether on weekdays or weekends, two additional Brooklyn-to-Jamaica post-game shuttle trains will be available for customers who change at Jamaica for other eastbound branches. Remember that during games, Barclays Center posts LIRR train schedules in real ¬time on monitors located throughout the concourse and on the center¬ hung scoreboard.
Who's paying?

As is typical, the MTA pays for increased service, and is reimbursed only by venues in special cases. MTA spokesman Aaron Donovan explained:
We’re reimbursed by the New York Racing Association for the special trains we run to Belmont Park. That service is different in nature from trains to any of the other sports venues we serve because trains to Belmont Park station meet both of these criteria. a) They serve a spur that has no other service except for special event service to Belmont. (The other sports venues are served by main line trains.) b) Belmont Park track is the only destination accessible from the rail station; there is no other reason a customer would use that service except to reach the track.
According to MTA figures as of 2010, passenger revenue on Babylon trains paid for 88% of peak train costs and 32% on off-peak and weekend trains. For Ronkonkoma, the figures were 95% and 40%. Farmingdale trains are part of the Ronkonkoma line. (See LIRR map.)

So, does this represent a subsidy from the public? Donovan pointed out that "it's unlikely that these are 'average' trains given the special nature of the service" and, presumably, a higher percentage of passengers. And if fans drive that imposes other costs.

So it's hard to tell, without passenger count and new cost estimates. 

Still, we should remember that, when planning the Barclays Center, developer Forest City Ratner promised to pay for a bundled subway ticket to encourage people to use public transit, then backed off, after calculating that many fans already had unlimited ride passes. 

In that case, increased transit usage would have cost the arena operator, and extra spending would have gone to the public agency. In this case, other than the unspecified games in which there's a 10% discount, the extra transit usage doesn't cost the arena operator.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Guess who's co-chairing the annual BRIC Gala?

Who doesn't love BRIC, which supports Celebrate Brooklyn and many other free arts events?

The page for the annual BRIC Gala, held 10/25/16, tells us the co-chairs are Ashley C. Cotton and Jessie McClintock Kelly. Cotton is Forest City Ratner's Chief of Staff and Kelly is a Columbia University fundraiser and former president of the Brooklyn Historical Society.

There's nothing wrong with Forest City Ratner executives helping raise money for worthy non-profits, and surely they'd be criticized if they avoided charity work.

But it also means that Forest City gets close to major Brooklyn institutions--the Brooklyn Museum, the Brooklyn Children's Museum, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the Brooklyn Historical Society, the Brooklyn Public Library, among others, have all received major support. Sometimes Forest City executives have been honored. It's a cousin to lobbying.

That doesn't necessarily rule decisions made by these institutions, but, then again, I wouldn't bet there was zero influence, either. For example, the Brooklyn Academy of Music's BAM Rose Cinemas never screened the Atlantic Yards documentary Battle for Brooklyn, though presumably the potential audience was nearby. (The Brooklyn Public Library did do so, albeit nearly four years later.)