Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Ratner family and allies gave big to Kucinich's 2008 challenger

Even if Michael Ratner, the most publicly left-wing member of the Ratner family, has given several contributions to Rep. Dennis Kucinich's Congressional and Presidential races, others in the family worked hard to support Kucinich's most recent opponent.

Should Kucinich scrutinize plans for the Atlantic Yards arena the same way he's done the Yankee Stadium deal--with the important distinction of doing it beforehand rather than after-the-fact--undoubtedly there would be reason for the Ratners to support his next opponent.

Cimperman v. Kucinich

In a 2/26/08 piece in the Cleveland Leader headlined Cimperman Is Doing Corporate Work, Cleveland gadfly journalist Roldo Bartimole wrote about the campaign of Downtown Councilman Joe Cimperman to gain support from developers in the city, including Forest City Enterprises.

Bartimole wrote:
Cimperman got one of his first tastes of the downtown crowd after taking office. At a holiday party, someone poked him in the back. It was the legendary Forest City’s Sam Miller. As I wrote in January 1998, “Cimperman, young, idealistic and exuberant, introduced himself and said that he hoped the two could work together. The kind of chatter one might expect at a first meeting. The gruff Miller wasn’t having much of the ‘can’t we get along’ line and wanted to know why Cimperman had voted against his (and Mayor Michael White’s) candidate for City Council President.”

I guess Cimperman was beginning to understand how the game was played. He became a favorite benefactor of Sam and the Forest City gang.

His zestful pursuit of campaign funds made him the all-time City Council money raiser. In 2002, he raised $62,210 to bring his bank account to $150,004, a very sizeable sum for a mere councilman. He held one fund-raiser at fashionable and expensive Johnny’s, the favorite restaurant of downtown developer Dick Jacobs (who, by the way, gave two $1,000 checks at the time) and many other elites. The restaurant location was via an in-kind contribution. They love Joe.

Once on the “take list,” it’s hard to get off. Now Cimperman lives on the pay-as-you-play dole.
Let’s lead off with the 10 donors for this Congressional run from Forest City Enterprises, the chief buyers of politicians: The Ratners: Al, $2,000, Brian, $1,000, Mark, $1,000, Ronald, $1,000, James, $1,000, Kevin, $1,000, Audrey, $2,000, Charles, $1,000, Deborah Ratner Salberg, $1,000 and Alan Krulak, $1,500. That’s $10,500 from Forest City people in the first financial report to the Federal Election Commission. (On a single day in the early 2000, Cimperman got $4,000 from some of the same Ratners, always seeking favors at City Hall)

When Tower City’s Al Ratner made his pitch to the Convention Facilities Commission, guess the only Councilman on hand to speak out strongly for Forest City’s location grab for the new convention center.

Did you guess Joe Cimperman? Go to the head of the class.

He was from the beginning an exuberant supporter of a publicly subsidized convention center on Ratner property, attached to its heavily subsidized downtown shopping area, Tower City. Whatever, you guys want, says Joe.

The Federal Election Commission database shows that people associated with Forest City Enterprises gave $22,000.

Kucinich did bounce back

Kucinich, with his national profile, however, outraised Cimperman, relying significantly on out-of-state donors, beat him in the primary, and was reelected. Commentators on Bartimole's piece suggest that the money flow to Cimperman declined after the incumbent showed his strength.

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