Saturday, June 23, 2007

Hakeem Jeffries explains his 421-a vote

So how could Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries support (and sponsor) legislation to reform 421-a, then vote against it? Below, the press release from his office, and then a further explanation.

Press release issued Friday

Assemblyman Jeffries today voted “No” on A.9293, legislation introduced by Vito Lopez that would treat the controversial Atlantic Yards project more favorably than other developments as it relates to the 421-a tax abatement program.

“The Atlantic Yards project has feasted on government funds for far too long. Enough is enough. There is absolutely no justification for treating Atlantic Yards better than any other development project in New York, when Forest City Ratner has already received $300 million in government subsidies.”

Joining Assemblyman Jeffries in voting against the bill is Assemblywoman Joan Millman, who represents the neighboring assembly district. The legislation passed 105-6 on the floor of the Assembly. It will now be sent to the Senate for consideration.

Assemblyman Jeffries (D-Brooklyn) represents Prospect Heights (the site of the Atlantic Yards project), Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, parts of Crown Heights and Bedford-Stuyvesant.


Further clarification

I asked for a further clarification this morning, and got this response from Chief of Staff Daisy James:

Assembly bill 4408-A is the original 421-A legislation that was introduced in the Assembly several months ago, and amended shortly before it hit the floor to include the Atlantic Yards carve-out provisions. This bill, 4408-A, was passed in the Assembly on Thursday, June 21.

Assemblyman Jeffries did not get the opportunity to vote on 4408-A since he was in the district that morning attending graduations for P.S. 11 and P.S. 20, and serving as the keynote graduation speaker for P.S. 9 and M.S. 353. He returned to Albany that afternoon, but the vote had already taken place. Assemblyman Jeffries supports the bill since it dramatically expands the 421-A affordability requirements to low and middle-income neighborhoods throughout New York City.

On Friday, June 22, a chapter amendment, A.9293, that clarifies the Atlantic Yards 421-A carve-out provisions, came to the floor. Assemblyman Jeffries voted against this bill, and was joined by at least two colleagues from Brooklyn, Joan Millman and Rhoda Jacobs. He could not support a bill that related solely to treating the Atlantic Yards project in a more favorable way than any other development in New York City, without justification.


One more update

(9:55 pm)

Here's the account from the New York Observer, and another statement Jeffries gave me:
I still support the main thrust of the 421-A reform effort in 4408, notwithstanding the Atlantic Yards poison pill, given the dramatic expansion of the affordability requirement to working class and middle-income neighborhoods throughout New York. Standing alone, however, the Atlantic Yards carve-out provisions in 9293 are unacceptable.

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