Friday, November 24, 2006

Looking at Spitzer's transition team and AY

On November 16, Governor-elect Eliot Spitzer announced 13 policy advisory committees to help guide transition efforts. And, should the issue of Atlantic Yards arise, there's no shortage of experts and advocates--from across the spectrum--who could lend their voices to the debate.

Note that participating on a committee does not necessarily mean that the committee will touch on Atlantic Yards. Also, of course, there are many more committee members with no overt connection to Atlantic Yards.

Here are the ones I could identify.

Arts, Culture and Revitalization

Kent Barwick is president of the Municipal Art Society, which has criticized the Atlantic Yards plan and also helped found BrooklynSpeaks, a coalition that seeks to change the project signficantly.

Economic Development

Richard Kahan, former CEO of the New York State Urban Development Corporation (now the Empire State Development Corporation) and chairman of the Battery Park City Authority, has classified Atlantic Yards among “top-down projects” but said “I don’t think they’re necessarily bad.

James Parrott, deputy director of the Fiscal Policy Institute, contributed to a Pratt Center report that criticized the assumptions behind Forest City Ratner's claim of $6 billion in new revenue from the project.

Deborah C. Wright is Chairman and CEO, Carver Bancorp, Inc. In March 2005, Forest City Ratner opened a new account with the bank, the largest African- and Caribbean-American run bank in the United States, and deposited $1 million at the Atlantic Terminal Branch. Atlantic Yards Community Benefits Agreement signatories praised Ratner effusively.

Government Reform

Preeta Bansal is a former Solicitor General of the State of New York. She's also one of the attorneys representing the Empire State Development Corporation in the Atlantic Yards eminent domain case.

Blair Horner is legislative director for the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG), whose Straphangers Campaign has criticized the Atlantic Yards plan.

Housing

John Kest is statewide head organizer for New York ACORN, which is a signatory of the Atlantic Yards Community Benefits Agreement and negotiated the affordable housing agreement for the project.

Brad Lander directs the Pratt Center for Community Development; he served as a consultant to the Council of Brooklyn Neighborhoods in its review of the AY plan and has expressed praise and criticism for the project as currently configured. The Pratt Center last year released an analysis of the AY plan that included both praise and criticism, but said many questions were unanswered.

Labor and Workforce Development

Kenneth Adams is president of the New York State Business Council in Albany and until recently headed the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce. He previously headed the MetroTech Business Improvement District, of which Forest City Ratner is a major member. In September, Adams expressed the Chamber's support for Atlantic Yards.

Mike Fishman, president of SEIU Local 32BJ, has expressed support for AY, citing Forest City Ratner’s commitment to union labor in servicing the buildings.

Mike McGuire is Director of Governmental and Legislative Affairs of the Mason Tenders Political Action Committee , and has endorsed the Atlantic Yards project.

Transportation

Jon Orcutt is Executive Director of the Tri-State Transportation Council and Gene Russianoff is Staff Attorney for NYPIRG's Straphangers Campaign; the two groups submitted joint testimony criticizing the transportation plan in the Atlantic Yards Draft Environmental Impact Statement.

Mitch Pally is the only member of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority board who opposed the sale of development rights to the agency's Vanderbilt Yard to Forest City Ratner. Pally thought the agency could get a better deal and said worried that the project might be delayed.

Robert D. Yaro is president of the Regional Plan Association, which issued some significant criticism of the Atlantic Yards plan but praised the design of the first phase and said that it's too late to go back.

Other ties

On the Government Reform committee is Richard Emery a partner in the law firm that has been retained by plaintiffs in challenging the exercise of eminent domain for Atlantic Yards. His partner Andrew Celli, Jr. is on the Human Services committee.

I'm sure I missed some members of law firms that have worked for either developer Forest City Ratner or the Empire State Development Corporation.

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