Saturday, May 09, 2009

Forest City Ratner just outside top ten in lobbying, but has third largest state contract

The New York State Commission on Public Integrity released its 2008 Annual Report Thursday, with real estate and construction, spending $26.1 million on city and state lobbying, in second place behind health and mental health organizations, spending $29.9 million.

And Fried Frank Harris Shriver &; Jacobson had the third largest contract, valued at $370,399, with Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Yards Development Company. (In 2007, Fried Frank's work on Atlantic Yards represented the second largest contract, at $771,170.)

Forest City Ratner, according to my calculations, finished just outside the top ten in combined lobbying.

Columbia University clocked in at $919,429. I had on March 16 calculated that Forest City Ratner spent $928,652, with at least 80% of that involving Atlantic Yards, but I also included $60,000 from the Forest City Residential group, which may be more accurately attributed to the parent Forest City Enterprises.

Little news coverage

I missed the press release announcing the report because no one covered the Atlantic Yards angle, apparently, and the mention of AY didn't surface until the press release was republished on a web site called EmpireStateNews.net, which, despite having no discernible editorial intervention, shows up in Google News seaches, while AYR, as a one-person operation, does not.

There was very little coverage of the report. There was no mention of the Atlantic Yards contract in Daily News coverage of the report, or in a brief wire report in Newsday. The Times ignored the report. Last year, the Times ignored the report, though others gave it more coverage.

A challenge to Brian Lehrer

WNYC talk show host Brian Lehrer, who generally does a decent job, on Thursday wondered if "people go to Norman Oder's site, which is, y'know, pitched primarily anti-Atlantic Yards Project and have a discussion on both sides? Or is it just an echo chamber of the like-minded?"

He missed the point, I argued, and today's news buttresses my argument. My goal is to explain to people what's going on, and to look into questions of civic importance, I wrote. Have Lehrer or WNYC informed the public of the Commission on Public Integrity's report? Not as far as I can tell.

Should the public know that Forest City Ratner is spending so much on Atlantic Yards, especially when little work is going on? Sure. (DDDB pointed out that FCR was working the back room.)

Isn't a behind-the-scenes lobbying effort "just an echo chamber of the like-minded"? And isn't that a lot less transparent than a blog that links to publicly available sources?

1 comment:

  1. lobbying = legalized bribery

    ratner gives a few Million $$$ to the politically connected and gets a few Billion $$$ back in taxpayer subsidies

    america ... what a great country!!!

    ReplyDelete