Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Powell calls Towns "woefully" MIA on Atlantic Yards

The Brooklyn Paper has posted articles and podcasts of its separate interviews with veteran 10th Congressional District Rep. Edolphus Towns and challenger Kevin Powell.

At about 29:00 of the interview, Powell begins to criticize Towns on a number of issues, saying Towns hasn't addressed joblessness and the need to incubate small businesses, and has been "silent on police brutality" and unwilling to talk to peace activists.

"Missing in action"

Then, at about 30:30, Powell adds, "Where is he on Atlantic Yards? Woefully missing in action, because he's in the pocket of a number of developers."

Actually Towns is not so much missing in action but offering his endorsement to developer Forest City Ratner, although he's been far less vocal than most other elected endorsers.

Powell says he'd try to make sure small businesses get micro-loans and also said Towns hadn't tried to lure businesses like Best Buy to empty buildings along Atlantic Avenue in the district: "He's not using his position [to say] 'I'll fight to make sure you get the kind of tax breaks you need or the space you need'.... to create job opportunities for young people."

Tax breaks and government intervention on land? Sounds a bit like Atlantic Yards, but there is a difference: those spaces in Towns's district might need a boost to attract business, while the Atlantic Yards site is "a great piece of real estate," to quote Chuck Ratner.

Towns on housing

At about 4:00 of the Towns interview, Brooklyn Paper editor-in-chief Gersh Kuntzman asks a long question about affordable housing, mentioning Atlantic Yards and also Forest City Ratner's 80 DeKalb Avenue project, which he erroneously says has $1.5 million in subsidy per unit. (Actually, it's $1.5 million per unit in tax-exempt bonds, which offer interest rate savings compared to taxable bonds.)

Towns responds with his ideas about affordable housing, but isn't steered back to address Atlantic Yards.

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