Sunday, October 01, 2006

Two views of Brooklyn Speaks: middle ground or "same stale agenda"?

From Stephen Witt's article in this week's Courier-Life chain on Brooklyn Speaks:
Cracks of dissention and capitulation are beginning to show among the opponents of Bruce Ratner’s Atlantic Yards project.
Several organizations long aligned with the organization Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn (DDDB) announced last week the creation of a website aimed at seeking a middle ground on the project.


Louis weighs in

Columnist Errol Louis, however, didn't do much homework. Then again, his pork-over-principles agenda is pretty clear.

In his Oct. 1 Our Time Press column, headlined Different Group, Same Elitist Song, Louis writes:
A new group bearing the misleading name Brooklyn Speaks has popped up with a website and the same stale agenda as Develop Don’t Destroy and the other anti-development groups hell-bent on killing the $4.2 billion Atlantic Yards project.

Same stale agenda? Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn has criticized Brooklyn Speaks for not addressing the issue of eminent domain. Brooklyn Speaks doesn't want to kill the project; they aim to modify a project that they believe is on the track to approval.

Middle-class loudmouths?

Louis writes:
Don’t be fooled by the name: Brooklyn Speaks actually speaks for a small group of middle-class loudmouths who have no problem with denying housing and jobs to people who desperately need it and a majority that supports the project....

Louis is correct in saying that the name is ambitious for a group that, at least in its inception, contains no groups from Crown Heights and parts further into Brooklyn, though Brooklyn Speaks does intend to gain more allies.

But his statement that they are "denying housing and jobs" flies in the face of the intention of Brooklyn Speaks to make the housing at the project affordable to average Brooklynites. Two of the groups in Brooklyn Speaks, the Fifth Avenue Committee and the Pratt Area Community Council, have long experience in working with low-income communities.

Looking at the evidence

Louis writes:
By now, the press and public are well aware that most New Yorkers and most Brooklynites are in favor of some version of Atlantic Yards. They have said so in every possible way – in public hearings, in opinion surveys and at the polls on election day, when anti-Atlantic Yards candidates were trounced.

At public hearings, most of the people supporting the plan were associated with unions or Community Benefits Agreements signatories that stand to gain from it. The latest poll was deeply flawed.

And while most Atlantic Yards opponents did poorly in the recent election, the low turnout, district boundaries, and failure of the victors to campaign on the Atlantic Yards issue puts Louis's assertion in doubt.

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