Skip to main content

"I've been here since 2:00": echoes of Beckett at DEIS hearing

This week AYR will look back at the 8/23/06 hearing on the Atlantic Yards Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS), drawing on the official transcript.

There are more than a few places where the dialogue, at least as captured on the transcript, has echoes of absurdist playwright Samuel Beckett, notable for lines like “You must go on. I can't go on. I'll go on.”

Anonymous voices inside the Klitgord Auditorium lamented that people were not let into the building, that they'd been waiting for hours, and that the public would no longer be allowed to speak at a public hearing.

(Photo of Beckett mural in London by Rachel Scott Halls, reproduced under a Creative Commons license.)

Inside and outside

THE HEARING OFFICER: Thank you, Mr. Watkins. The next speaker is Bob Braun. Is Bob Braun here?

A VOICE: He won't be let into the building. Bob Braun is outside.

THE HEARING OFFICER: In that case, the next speaker is Richard Chernoso (phonetic.) Is Richard Chernoso here?

(No response.)

THE HEARING OFFICER: Then the next speaker is Paul Heller.

A VOICE: He also has not been allowed in the building.

A VOICE: These people are not being allowed in the building.

A VOICE: There's a thousand people outside waiting to get in.

Endless waiting

[Later in the hearing]

THE HEARING OFFICER: Rhonda Dweck.

(No response.)

THE HEARING OFFICER: The next group of speakers will be: Margaret McNabb; Anthony Knight; K. Gleeson; Ronald Washington; Henry Weinstein; Blaise Sarne; Kate Galassie; Stephen Ebaz; Lilana Aristizabal; William Stanford Jr.; Gaston Dweck; Judith Wright; Genevieve Christy; Cecil Henry; and Simon Sarway.

A VOICE: I've been here since 2:00.

A VOICE: I've been here since 3:00. What's going on?

VOICES: We haven't spoke yet. You're not going in order.

(Audience participation.)

THE HEARING OFFICER: There are approximately, where I can see, at least 300 people who haven't spoken yet.

(Audience participation.)

THE HEARING OFFICER: Everybody will speak. We'll continue. The next speaker is Margaret Mcnabb.

(No response.)

(Audience participation.)

THE HEARING OFFICER: Anthony Knight.

(Audience participation.)

(No response.)

THE HEARING OFFICER: K. Gleeson.

(No response.)

(Audience participation.)

THE HEARING OFFICER: Ronald Washington.

(No response.)

In conclusion, confusion

THE HEARING OFFICER: It is now 11:30. Thanks to the cooperation and courtesy of everyone here today, over 100 people have been able to speak in a short period of time. I have been advised by ESDC that the June 12th hearing --

(Audience participation.)

THE HEARING OFFICER: I mean, sorry, September 12th, that at the September 12th hearing, that individuals who were not called will get priority and that there will be a list posted on the ESD website by Friday.

A VOICE: September 12th was promised to be a public meeting, not an official hearing. Are you now stating it's a public hearing?

THE HEARING OFFICER: I am not stating it's a public hearing, it's just an additional forum --

A VOICE: So if it's not a public hearing --

(Audience participation.)

THE HEARING OFFICER: Sir, sir, sir, please sit down.

A VOICE: Why?

THE HEARING OFFICER: This hearing --

(Audience participation.)

THE HEARING OFFICER: -- this hearing is concluded. There is another hearing, an additional hearing scheduled --

(Audience participation.)

THE HEARING OFFICER: Please sit down. Please sit down.

(Audience participation.)

THE HEARING OFFICER: Please sit over there. Please sit over there.

A VOICE: I want to know if it's a public hearing.

THE HEARING OFFICER: Ma'am, please sit over there.

(Audience participation.)

THE HEARING OFFICER: It is not a public hearing --

(Audience participation.)

THE HEARING OFFICER: If everyone would please be quiet.

(Audience participation.)

THE HEARING OFFICER: Ma'am, please be quiet It is not a public hearing. I am told it is a community forum. And at that community forum, which I'm told, that the transcript will be made available to ESDC that --

A VOICE: So you're concluding a public hearing tonight and not holding another
one, is that what you're saying?

[Had the additional community forums been considered public hearings, the comment period would have been extended. The issue was part of the lawsuit over the environmental review, which is under appeal; a judge ruled that the community forums, despite their resemblance to the public hearing, were essentially an expansion of the opportunity for written comments.]

(Audience participation.)

THE HEARING OFFICER: This hearing --

(Audience participation.)

THE HEARING OFFICER: -- this hearing is now closed.

A VOICE: So there will not be another public hearing --

(Audience participation.)

THE HEARING OFFICER: There will not be another --

(Audience participation.)

THE HEARING OFFICER: -- public hearing.

A VOICE: When?

THE HEARING OFFICER: There will not be another public hearing.

A VOICE: There will not. So you are not allowing the public to speak at this public hearing.

(Audience participation.)

THE HEARING OFFICER: Again, I am here as an independent hearing officer. And you may make a request from ESDC --

(Audience participation.)

THE HEARING OFFICER: Sir, let me talk. I can tell you that the hearing now is closed.

A VOICE: Is there going to be another public hearing?

THE HEARING OFFICER: No. Again, one additional thing, the written comment period is extended to thirty days. I believe it's September 22nd, written comments can be made and will be included as part of the record.

(Audience participation.)

THE HEARING OFFICER: Thank you and good evening.

Comments

  1. Not only were there all those people outside not being let in and all the people inside not being allowed to speak, but the "hearing," itself, was held with insufficient notice from a practical standpoint and was held in the second half of August a time when preople are more likely to be on vacation. As a measure, on this date my legal department was almost always more than 50% depleted and working with a skeleton crew. Community boards and other public bodies typically shut down. At the Agencies we never asked our board members to have meetings and never would have thought of such an imposition.


    Michael D.D. White
    Noticing New York
    http://noticingnewyork.blogspot.com/

    ReplyDelete
  2. who needs the theater of the absurd when we have the politics of the corrupt? thanks, Norman, for that reminder of that bleak non-happening (scheduled, of course, when many of us were out of town).

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

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…

At 550 Vanderbilt, big chunk of apartments pitched to Chinese buyers as "international units"

One key to sales at the 550 Vanderbilt condo is the connection to China, thanks to Shanghai-based developer Greenland Holdings.

It's the parent of Greenland USA, which as part of Greenland Forest City Partners owns 70% of Pacific Park (except 461 Dean and the arena).

And sales in China may help explain how the developer was able to claim early momentum.
"Since 550 Vanderbilt launched pre-sales in June [2015], more than 80 residences have gone into contract, representing over 30% of the building’s 278 total residences," the developer said in a 9/25/15 press release announcing the opening of a sales gallery in Brooklyn. "The strong response from the marketplace indicates the high level of demand for well-designed new luxury homes in Brooklyn..."

Maybe. Or maybe it just meant a decent initial pipeline to Chinese buyers.

As lawyer Jay Neveloff, who represents Forest City, told the Real Deal in 2015, a project involving a Chinese firm "creates a huge market for…

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…