Skip to main content

Boyland's $100 mystery campaign and the state's weak campaign finance laws

If you've gotten Tracy Boyland fliers in the mail or have seen posters up in the 18th Senatorial District, you know that the candidate challenging incumbent Velmanette Montgomery (who opposes the Atlantic Yards project) must be spending some serious money.

Just yesterday, I received three different Boyland mailings--one with the not-so-subtle message of "Progress for us," accompanied by three photo-ops at housing projects.

However, according to Boyland's filing with the New York State Board of Elections (BOE), Boyland has only $100 to spend--from herself. (See below, and click to enlarge.)

That was from her required 32-day pre-primary report, due in early August. Her 11 day pre-primary report was due September 1. She hasn't filed yet. And if she doesn't tell the public who's funding her before the primary election in September 12, well, she'll get away with a slap on the wrist: a fine of $500.

Ratner's role?

Is Forest City Ratner backing Boyland, who supports Atlantic Yards (though doesn't say so in her mailings)? The Crain's Insider last month quoted sources saying Boyland was using the same consulting firm--Knickerbocker SKD--that FCR uses for its deceptive Atlantic Yards mailers. Boyland told the Brooklyn Papers that she's friends with FCR's Bruce Bender.

I've reported on how a push poll from Pacific Crest Research--likely a client of Forest City Ratner--attempted to sway voters to Boyland, an Atlantic Yards supporter. Forest City Ratner wouldn't comment on the company's role in Boyland campaign, according to the Courier-Life chain.

Boyland herself has been elusive. She didn't fill out a candidate's questionnaire from the Brooklyn Papers, nor return phone calls. And, as the Village Voice reported in 2004, she has a history of playing fast and loose with campaign finance regulations.

Losing endorsements

Boyland's lack of transparency has driven even pro-AY editorial pages at the Daily News and the Courier-Life chain to endorse Montgomery.

(The Courier-Life calls Boyland "a phantom" and hails Montgomery for not being "afraid to challenge the status quo" in opposing Atlantic Yards. Still, the editorial page endorses 57th Assembly District candidate Hakeem Jeffries while claiming that anti-AY candidate Bill Batson is backed by what is mischaracterized as the "NIMBY" crowd. Isn't Montgomery also backed by some of the same people? The Brooklyn Papers endorsed both Batson and Montgomery.)

Weak state penalties

Can Boyland get away with this? The sanctions for flouting state campaign finance laws pale in comparison to those regarding city or federal campaign laws. Candidates who fail to file their state reports on time get a letter sent five business days later warning that they face a judgment with a maximum amount of $500, plus court costs and interest.

"That's the only thing we can do," Lee Daghlian, director of public information for BOE, told me. "We can't civilly fine."

While candidates miss deadlines frequently, it's often because they're new to the process. That's not the case with Boyland, however, a former term-limited City Councilwoman from a Brooklyn political dynasty.

"We pursue them all who should file. It takes a couple of months to get a judgment," Daghlian said. Given that there are six filing deadlines for each race, there could be six separate fines if a candidate missed each deadline.

It's tougher elsewhere

"We've asked for years to be able to levy civil fines, like the city campaign finance board or the FEC [Federal Election Commission] does, but the legislature hasn't responded," he said.

In New York City, candidates who fail to file see the penalties grow each day, plus a multiplier depending on how much they've raised. The FEC also adds a base fine linked to the amount of money raised, plus daily penalties, as well as a multiplier based on the number of previous violations.

Boyland's empty promises

Boyland, despite her entrenched status in Brooklyn politics, was described in the push-poll as "a candidate who would be new to Albany and try to shake things up." One of her mailings promises "a new era of understanding."

Apparently neither applies to campaign finance laws.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Forest City acknowledges unspecified delays in Pacific Park, cites $300 million "impairment" in project value; what about affordable housing pledge?

Updated Monday Nov. 7 am: Note follow-up coverage of stock price drop and investor conference call and pending questions.

Pacific Park Brooklyn is seriously delayed, Forest City Realty Trust said yesterday in a news release, which further acknowledged that the project has caused a $300 million impairment, or write-down of the asset, as the expected revenues no longer exceed the carrying cost.

The Cleveland-based developer, parent of Brooklyn-based Forest City Ratner, which is a 30% investor in Pacific Park along with 70% partner/overseer Greenland USA, blamed the "significant impairment" on an oversupply of market-rate apartments, the uncertain fate of the 421-a tax break, and a continued increase in construction costs.

While the delay essentially confirms the obvious, given that two major buildings have not launched despite plans to do so, it raises significant questions about the future of the project, including:
if market-rate construction is delayed, will the affordable h…

Revising official figures, new report reveals Nets averaged just 11,622 home fans last season, Islanders drew 11,200 (and have option to leave in 2018)

The Brooklyn Nets drew an average of only 11,622 fans per home game in their most recent (and lousy) season, more than 23% below the announced official attendance figure, and little more than 65% of the Barclays Center's capacity.

The New York Islanders also drew some 19.4% below announced attendance, or 11,200 fans per home game.

The surprising numbers were disclosed in a consultant's report attached to the Preliminary Official Statement for the refinancing of some $462 million in tax-exempt bonds for the Barclays Center (plus another $20 million in taxable bonds). The refinancing should lower costs to Mikhail Prokhorov, owner of the arena operating company, by and average of $3.4 million a year through 2044 in paying off arena construction.

According to official figures, the Brooklyn Nets attendance averaged 17,187 in the debut season, 2012-13, 17,251 in 2013-14, 17,037 in 2014-15, and 15,125 in the most recent season, 2015-16. For hoops, the arena holds 17,732.

But official…

Is Barclays Center dumping the Islanders, or are they renegotiating? Evidence varies (bond doc, cash receipts); NHL attendance biggest variable

The Internet has been abuzz since Bloomberg's Scott Soshnick reported 1/30/17, using an overly conclusory headline, that Brooklyn’s Barclays Center Is Dumping the Islanders.

That would end an unusual arrangement in which the arena agrees to pay the team a fixed sum (minus certain expenses), in exchange for keeping tickets, suite, and sponsorship revenue.

The arena would earn more without the hockey team, according to Bloomberg, which cited “a financial projection shared with potential investors showed the Islanders won’t contribute any revenue after the 2018-19 season--a clear signal that the team won’t play there, the people said."

That "signal," however, is hardly definitive, as are the media leaks about a prospective new arena in Queens, as shown in the screenshot below from Newsday. Both sides are surely pushing for advantage, if not bluffing.

Consider: the arena and the Islanders can't even formally begin their opt-out talks until after this season. The disc…

Skanska says it "expected to assemble a properly designed modular building, not engage in an iterative R&D experiment"

On 12/10/16, I noted that FastCo.Design's Prefab's Moment of Reckoning article dialed back the gush on the 461 Dean modular tower compared to the publication's previous coverage.

Still, I noted that the article relied on developer Forest City Ratner and architect SHoP to put the best possible spin on what was clearly a failure. From the article: At the project's outset, it took the factory (managed by Skanska at the time) two to three weeks to build a module. By the end, under FCRC's management, the builders cut that down to six days. "The project took a little longer than expected and cost a little bit more than expected because we started the project with the wrong contractor," [Forest City's Adam] Greene says.Skanska jabs back
Well, Forest City's estranged partner Skanska later weighed in--not sure whether they weren't asked or just missed a deadline--and their article was updated 12/13/16. Here's Skanska's statement, which shows th…

Not just logistics: bypassing Brooklyn for DNC 2016 also saved on optics (role of Russian oligarch, Shanghai government)

Surely the logistical challenges of holding a national presidential nominating convention in Brooklyn were the main (and stated) reasons for the Democratic National Committee's choice of Philadelphia.

And, as I wrote in NY Slant, the huge security cordon in Philadelphia would have been impossible in Brooklyn.

But consider also the optics. As I wrote in my 1/21/15 op-ed in the Times arguing that the choice of Brooklyn was a bad idea:
The arena also raises ethically sticky questions for the Democrats. While the Barclays Center is owned primarily by Forest City Ratner, 45 percent of it is owned by the Russian billionaire Mikhail D. Prokhorov (who also owns 80 percent of the Brooklyn Nets). Mr. Prokhorov has a necessarily cordial relationship with Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin — though he has been critical of Mr. Putin in the past, last year, at the Russian president’s request, he tried to transfer ownership of the Nets to one of his Moscow-based companies. An oligarch-owned a…

Former ESDC CEO Lago returns to NYC to head City Planning Commission

Carl Weisbrod, Mayor Bill de Blasio's City Planning Commission Chairman and Director of the Department of City Planning, is resigning,

And he's being replaced by Marisa Lago, currently a federal official, but who Atlantic Yards-ologists remember as the short-term Empire State Development Corporation CEO who, in an impolitic but candid 2009 statement, acknowledged that the project would take "decades."

Still, Lago not long after that played the good soldier at a May 2009 Senate oversight hearing, justifying changes in the project but claiming the public benefits remained the same.

By returning to City Planning, Lago will join former ESDC General Counsel Anita Laremont, who after retiring from the state (and taking a pension) got the job with the city.

Back at planning

Lago, a lawyer, in 1983 began work as an aide to City Planning Chairman Herb Sturz, and later served as the General Counsel to the president of the NYC Economic Development Corporation, Weisbrod himself.