Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Ratners, FCE contribute to Towns's re-election campaign

Four members of the Ratner family, as well as the Forest City Enterprises Political Action Committee, have contributed a total of $12,300 to the re-election campaign of 10th District Congressional Rep. Ed Towns, an Atlantic Yards supporter facing a forceful if underfunded challenge from writer and activist Kevin Powell.

This continues a pattern of Forest City Ratner/Enterprises support for Brooklyn machine politicians, though it is far more blatant. Until a Forest City Ratner contribution earlier this year to the Democratic Assembly Housekeeping Committee, controlled by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, the developer had relied significantly on contributions from Bruce Ratner's brother Michael Ratner and the latter's wife, Karen Ranucci.

The contributors include Forest City Enterprises executives Albert Ratner and Jonathan Ratner, both residents of the Cleveland area, Forest City Ratner executive Bruce Ratner, as well as Brooklynite Rachel Ratner, the daughter of Forest City Enterprises executive Chuck Ratner.

The Powell challenge

While Towns has vastly outraised Powell, the challenger has clearly gotten under Towns's skin; the incumbent was unwilling to meet Powell for a debate, despite a platform from the Brooklyn Paper. ("We see that you have raised over 60% of your campaign funds from PACS and lobbyists," Powell writes in a tough open letter to Towns.)

(Map from Gotham Gazette)

Towns, a 13-term veteran with a rather subdued local presence, aims to pass on his seat to his son or daughter-in-law, according to Powell's open letter. Towns's campaign [corrected 9/9: he has a web site] surely has the cash to contribute to community events and to get campaign workers on the street. He raised $246,000 in the last two months, on top of $380,000 cash on hand. With $210,000 spent, that leaves nearly $417,000 for a street operation before the primary election on Tuesday.

The latest figures for Powell aren't available, but he had raised less than $47,000 as of June 30.

[Update: The Brooklyn Paper has endorsed Powell.]

The AY issue

Atlantic Yards is hardly a prime issue in the race, but it is a point of differentiation. Towns, as far as I know, has not publicly defended or explained his stance. Powell recently pointed out that Towns has been "missing in action" on Atlantic Yards.

But Powell, whose critical stance earns him kudos from the Atlantic Yards Voter Guide, isn't exactly up to speed. His Atlantic Yards policy statement states that "he believes that 80/20 agreements for mixed income housing is simply not enough."

Atlantic Yards would be a 50/30/20 plan for the rentals, and about 38% affordable (to some people) housing overall.

There's lots more to critique about the AY housing plan: that that 30% middle- and moderate-income component is beyond the means of many in ACORN who supported it; that it shouldn't have been approved with the expectation of a ten-year delivery; that there aren't enough scarce housing bonds; and that the affordable housing was traded off for extreme density and a private rezoning.

"Proper" EIS?

The position paper also states:
Before Kevin Powell can consider giving support, a proper environmental impact study must done to assess how this will affect Brooklyn’s residents who are already affected by pollution issues.

Well, a very long Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) was issued and is the subject of ongoing litigation.

1 comment:

  1. It says above, “Atlantic Yards would be . . . about 38% affordable (to some people) housing overall.”-

    Affordable to SOME PEOPLE according to SOME PEOPLE, not according to me. Actually, Atlantic Yards is much closer to being just a regular old 80/20 project than a lot of people think. At least according to what is required under the Community Benefit Agreement provides for. (See: Saturday, June 28, 2008 Selling out the Community for Beans (A Giant Wrong)

    So in this case, Kevin Powell is either right because he is right in the first place or he is right by being wrong.

    Michael D. D. White
    Noticing New York