Saturday, May 06, 2006

FCR's Stuckey stonewalls re CBs; brochure poster girl rips Ratner

So, what does Forest City Ratner have to say about the complaints made by the Community Boards that the developer has misrepresented their participation in "crafting" the Community Benefits Agreement? In the developer's favored Brooklyn weekly, the Courier-Life chain--which last year published a softball interview with CEO Bruce Ratner--VP Jim Stuckey obfuscated rather than apologized.

His response came in a roundup article headlined "Critics Blast Latest Ratner Mailer As ‘Propaganda’" (and embedded below):
Stuckey responded that while the community boards were legally prevented from being official parties involved in the CBA given their governmental responsibilities, they did play a role in the process.
A draft outline of the key points of the CBA document was in fact shared with them for discussion with key committees, he said.
“In addition to this process, we met with individual community boards on many occasions and also attended a joint community board meeting that was also open to the public,” Stuckey said.


However, did play a role does not mean crafted. Nor did Stuckey acknowledge that the CBs were barred from attending working sessions. As for that joint community board meeting in November, 2004, there was no crafting of anything, just a smooth-talking Stuckey and a very contentious audience.

Stuckey apparently wasn't asked to respond to the CBs' request that FCR "discontinue all mention, in any form, of our participation."

The Brooklyn Papers didn't have the story, which broke early Thursday afternoon in this blog, after their deadline. None of the dailies have followed up, though The New York Observer's blog The Real Estate took note.

Poster girl rips Ratner

Both the Courier-Life chain and the Brooklyn Papers added to the coverage of Forest City Ratner's deceptive mailer, a story broken Wednesday by this blog, NoLandGrab, and Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn. While the story was picked up by The New York Observer's blog The Real Estate and the real estate blog Curbed, it hasn't yet been cited in the dailies.

Notably, as the Brooklyn Papers reported, actress T. Sahara Meer was deeply dismayed that the photographer who took her picture sold the photo to the developer: “That innocent day in the park [is] one of the most nightmarish experiences of my life: I have become Bruce Ratner’s poster girl,” said Meer, who has a “Stop Eminent Domain Abuse” sign in the window of her Prospect Heights home. “My only hope for redemption is to fight harder. So, thanks, Bruce, for fueling my fire, my anger, my ire, my hatred of you.”

Marty backpedals

The Courier-Life questioned Borough President Marty Markowitz about his open letter on the second page of the brochure:
A Markowitz spokesperson said the borough president’s office provided no funding for the flier and had little to do with the concept.
“There was no role whatsoever. We had nothing to do with the concept or the planning. They did ask if Marty would write a letter and he did,” the spokesperson said.


Unmentioned was the content of Markowitz's letter. Though he claimed that the "booklet is another step in familiarizing Brooklynites with the details of the project," he either denied reality or had not actually seen the brochure.

Those mysterious blogs & the CBA

The Courier-Life article continued:
Additionally, several blogs that have been highly critical of the FCRC proposal questioned the validity of the CBA.
These blogs pointed out that several of the signatories received money from FCRC, were not registered non-profit organizations prior to the CBA negotiations, and said that the document wasn’t inclusive of the entire community.


Which blogs? How mysterious to not name them--do the newspaper's editors and reporters fear that their readers might consult another source?

But a CBA defender was found:
...But Bertha Lewis, who heads the New York chapter of ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) and who signed the CBA on behalf of the organization, defended both the CBA and the housing component.
The signatories had several pro bono attorneys looking at the CBA and ACORN, as a national organization had its general counsel look at it, Lewis said.
Lewis further stated the CBA calls for an independent monitoring body that “does not have a dog in this fight” to oversee the CBA’s implementation.


The role of the lawyers and the independent monitoring body don't actually address the criticisms, but Lewis should be expected to defend the CBA--she's contractually obligated to support the project. But what would experts on CBAs say?

Critics Blast Latest Ratner Mailer

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