Missing the story in the first place
[Updated] Of the three big newspapers in New York City, only one covered it in print.
The New York Times's CityRoom blog headlined its brief post Legal Victory for Atlantic Yards Developer and, in what may be a first (in a Times story, as opposed to a Blogtalk roundup), actually linked to my coverage.
While the Times didn't think the story fit for print, it did cover two other legal disputes: a union hearing involving actor Jeremy Piven's exit from a play and a trial involving a Saks saleswoman charged with theft.
The Daily News story isn't online, but it's a three-sentence round-up, under the headline "Yards scores in court," in the NYMinute column. While the article mentions that "opponents... vowed to appeal," it says nothing about the misgivings expressed by the court and the fiery concurrence by one judge.
I don't know why the New York Post passed on the story, given that it has put far less important AY stories into print, especially when it has exclusives. Was it too complicated? Given that both Forest City Ratner and Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn issued press releases, some story would've been easy to slap together.
Missing the overall point
Most of the other coverage either simply indicated that the case was dismissed or called it a big win for developer Forest City Ratner or even--as the developer's press release suggested--a big win for the project.
While the dismissal does help the project move forward and the developer was a secondary defendant, the big winner was the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC), the state agency that was the main defendant and whose decisions, by law, must receive extreme deference from the court system.
In Newsday: Court tosses Atlantic Yards environmental lawsuit
On NY 1: Court Greenlights Atlantic Yards Review
In AM New York: Atlantic Yards wins legal victory
In Crain's: Atlantic Yards developer wins key legal victory
In the Brooklyn Paper: Breaking news! Ratner wins a big Yards case
In the Record of New Jersey: Nets' Brooklyn move clears hurdle
On WNYC: Court Tosses Atlantic Yards Environmental Lawsuit
Getting closer to the point
Three articles, I'd suggest, get closer to the complexity.
The New York Law Journal: Concerns 'Legitimate' But Project Proceeds
The New York Observer: Ratner Wins Another Round in Legal Fight Over Atlantic Yards
AYR: Appellate court, despite some misgivings, dismisses EIS case; one judge concurs but slams blight study, says his hands were tied
While it is important to point out how the decision helps the project proceed, the court ruling and surprisingly bitter concurrence indicate that something's wrong.
Concurring Justice James Catterson believes that the Empire State Development Corporation's blight study was in many ways bogus, calling one argument "ludicrous."
And the main opinion, upholding the blight study, made no attempt to assess whether it was arbitrary for the state to call a lot built to 60% of its allowable development rights as underutilized.
Nor did those justices acknowledge, as Catterson did, that the original contract for a Blight Study required consultant AKRF to study market trends in and around the project site, but AKRF did not do so.
So, when Bruce Ratner says, “This project has been reviewed as thoroughly as any in the city and now it is time to put these cases behind us and get to work,” not only should it be pointed out--as NLG did--that nobody's getting to work just yet, but also that a formal and apparently extensive review by the unelected ESDC does not mean a truly thorough review.