Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Courier-Life misreads Tish vs. Dee

The Courier-Life's notorious Stephen Witt suggests, in an article headlined "Tish vs. Dee: a real battle" (click to enlarge) that Atlantic Yards won't be the deciding factor in the 35th District Council race.

But first he suggests they're evenly matched:
Political pundits are expecting an interesting battle this primary season for the 35th District City Council seat as popular incumbent Letitia (Tish) James faces popular community activist Delia (Dee) Hunley-Adossa.
..."It definitely will be a bruising battle," said Geoff Davis, brother of slain City Council member James Davis, who preceded James in the seat. "They both have name recognition. They both are community oriented. They both have participated in countless programs for young people and have two separate views on the Atlantic Yards project. Delia is for it and Tish James is against it."


Ok, but James is the incumbent. She's won two elections and has achieved a far different level of visibility. She crushed her opponent in 2005. Though James thinks AY is the big issue, Hunley-Adossa denies that.

"Refuses to be bullied"

Witt writes:
Hunley-Adossa said her platform revolves around the three E's--the economy, education and the environment. She also refuses to be bullied by opponents of the Atlantic Yards project, who she claims seldom allow opposing viewpoints.

This is almost as good as calling AY opponents "real land-grabbers" because some moved into industrial buildings renovated into condos.

The more important thing Hunley-Adossa refuses to do is to reveal how much money Forest City Ratner gives her dubious organization, Brooklyn Endeavor Experience (BEE). Witt writes vaguely that "Hunley-Adossa has received money from Atlantic Yards developer Bruce Ratner."

Who's got baggage?

Witt ignores the question of why BEE spends more money on salary for Hunley-Adossa than on program expenses.

He does point out that James comes out of the Brooklyn Democratic organization headed by Clarence Norman, later a convicted felon. Indeed, James does not come from a reform background. But in the past several years, she has opposed the party organization, now run by Assemblyman Vito Lopez, who nonetheless offers grudging respect for James's stand against Atlantic Yards.

Dee = Hakeem?

Witt concludes the article by outsourcing analysis to public relations expert Lupe Todd, who formerly worked on the Atlantic Yards project for Dan Klores Communications and helped her friend Hakeem Jeffries win the 57th District Assembly seat.

Todd doesn't think AY will be the deciding factor:
The recent Jeffries race proved that, she said. When the anti-Atlantic Yards people put up a candidate on that issue, he got trounced, said Todd.

Well, there are quite a few differences. In 2006, there was an open seat in the 57th, while there's an incumbent in the 35th. Jeffries had run strongly against Roger Green, so he had the most name recognition. He was a more polished candidate, with a deeper base, than AY opponent Bill Batson.

Batson actually got more than twice the votes as Freddie Hamilton, the staunchly pro-AY candidate and, like Hunley-Adossa, a signatory of the AY Community Benefits Agreement.

Jeffries, who at that point was pro-AY with some caveats, had published newspaper ads declaring himself critical of the development. The Daily News's Ben Smith commented that Jeffries "frantically muddied the water" regarding his position.

Given Hunley-Adossa's role MCing pro-AY rallies, that's not exactly an option.

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