Tuesday, June 17, 2008

After Michael Ratner's support for Kucinich, blowback?

Now that Rep. Dennis Kucinich, an Ohio Democrat best known for his maverick presidential run and his effort to impeach President George Bush, is going after the "loophole" behind financing for the Yankees and Mets stadiums and the Atlantic Yards arena, one of his supporters in New York City, radical lawyer and Nets part-owner Michael Ratner, has to be considering the concept of blowback.

Kucinich is questioning the statement by the Internal Revenue Service and Treasury Department that they had no choice but to endorse a questionable interpretation of the tax code via a Private Letter Ruling (PLR) for the Yankees and the Mets stadiums--a policy on which the Empire State Development Corporation and Forest City Ratner have relied to plan financing for the Atlantic Yards arena.

The IRS has since proposed tightening the rules. Kucinich has asked the IRS and the Treasury department to offer "additional clarification of your position before you proceed with further rulemaking in this area." He noted that, "While the new PILOT rule would tighten the requirements for the use of PILOTs in certain respects, it would further legitimize their use for financing stadiums by placing them on firmer regulatory authority."

As far as I can tell, the tightening of requirements is enough to provoke serious concern among Atlantic Yards proponents, since it would ensure that PILOTs not be fixed, as bond payments should be, but rather fluctuate according to tax assessments. (More from Neil deMause.)

Four contributions

Michael Ratner, the human rights lawyer who heads the Center for Constitutional Rights and just happens to be the brother of Bruce Ratner and a part-owner of the Nets, has four times given modest contributions, totaling $3500, to Kucinich for his Congressional and Presidential runs.

Michael Ratner has a record of supporting progressives in New York City and elsewhere, just as he has a curious record of supporting undistinguished products of the Brooklyn machine (who also support Atlantic Yards), as I wrote in September 2006.

While Ratner's not talking, his Brooklyn political contributions seem guided not by ideology but by the interests of Forest City Ratner (FCR). Indeed, as federal filings show, while he generally lists his employer as the Center for Constitutional Rights, some list his affiliation as First New York Partners, a separate operating entity of Forest City responsible for providing property management and services to all Forest City buildings and their tenants. In other cases, he lists his address not as his Greenwich Village home, but 1 MetroTech, FCR's headquarters in Brooklyn.

Will he ask Kucinich for his money back?

No comments:

Post a Comment