Monday, December 08, 2008

A dozen Atlantic Yards stories that have gotten scant or no coverage

Given tomorrow's IFC Media Project segment on Atlantic Yards, I'll list some recent AY-related stories that most media sources--especially the three major dailies--either haven't picked up or have gotten wrong.

1) Forest City Ratner's bailout of the national organization ACORN. It did get coverage on WNYC.

2) The work stoppage at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's Vanderbilt Yard, Forest City Ratner's lame explanation, and the fate of the Carlton Avenue bridge. Only the Daily News has covered that, among the dailies, relegating the story to the Brooklyn section.

3) Forest City Ratner's attempt to evade paying $159,000 in partial restitution to the city for demolished trees because the trees in the Atlantic Yards open space eventually would compensate for the loss.

4) The revelation that the seemingly-generous payments by the developer to buy out residents of the AY footprint were reimbursed by city taxpayers. Note that the Daily News got a front-page article, headlined Bonanza, out of the initial revelation, and the New York Times ran another article flattering to the developer, headlined Forced to Move, Some Find Greener Grass.

5) Forest City Ratner's spurious "Brooklyn Day" rally generated widespread coverage. The New York Times ignored it. (The Times ignored a lot this spring, as I wrote in an open letter to the Public Editor.)

6) Forest City Ratner's release of new Atlantic Yards renderings and a new timetable last May generated widespread coverage. The New York Times ignored it.

7) The view of Atlantic Yards in neighborhood scale. Still.

8) Andrew Zimbalist's "voodoo economics" report for Forest City Ratner that predicted $6 billion in new revenues. Still.

9) The legitimacy of the Atlantic Yards Community Benefits Agreement hailed by Mayor Mike Bloomberg and whether Forest City Ratner's outreach effort has proved to be, as the New York Times inadvisedly dubbed it 10/14/05, "a new and finely detailed modern blueprint for how to nourish--and then harvest--public and community backing for a hugely ambitious development...." Still.

10) The phantom Atlantic Yards scaleback that somehow became the lead story in the 9/5/06 metro edition of the New York Times. This left a big impression on people with a cursory knowledge of Atlantic Yards, many of whom did not read the follow-up article some three weeks later, which stated, “Moreover, the new reduction only brings the project back to the original size proposed in 2003.”

11) Why exactly do the city and state give away naming rights for sports facilities that are publicly owned, without asking even for a piece of the action? "There’s no reason for this to be private money," author Neil deMause said earlier this year. "If the public is building the stadium, if the public is owning the stadium, why should the team get to slap a name and get the money from it, or consider the money from it that pays off the stadium as paying off their share?" Rep. Dennis Kucinich, whose subcommittee has been investigating sports facilities, is perplexed, as well.

12) Forest City Ratner's claim of winning 20 court decisions was repeated without proof by various media outlets. Even though there's since been a loss, shouldn't the developer be asked for a tally?

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