Sunday, April 25, 2010

Parsing the Times's misleading summary of the Atlantic Yards settlement

From the New York Times's Week in Review today:
THE HOLDOUT

The News Daniel Goldstein, above, the last holdout standing in the way of the giant Atlantic Yards redevelopment in Brooklyn, agreed to accept $3 million in return for surrendering his apartment and ending his active opposition.

Behind the News Mr. Goldstein, who paid $590,000 for his condominium in 2003, became the standard-bearer for opponents of the $4.9 billion mixed-use project when he refused to move. If he had not reached a deal with the developer, Forest City Ratner, he faced eviction by the state government, which had lost patience with the delays and had condemned his property.
The annotations

He was the last residential holdout.

Atlantic Yards isn't redevelopment.

He agreed to accept $3 million in return for surrendering his apartment in about two weeks, and because a judge pressured both sides to make a deal that day, thus leaving Goldstein vulnerable to a lowball payout and a fairly swift eviction date anyway.

It's not at all clear what active opposition means, given that Goldstein (who was likely to step back in some way) has continued to slam the project.

Forest City Ratner had ample reason to make a deal, given that it claimed delays were costing $6.7 million a month. It had received $131 million in taxpayer money for (until then) $280 million in land purchases.

It wasn't that the state government "had lost patience with the delays and had condemned his property." It was that the state government had already condemned properties for Atlantic Yards--via a dubious blight finding--and the judge had lost patience with delays.

Actually, the state government has enabled delays by signing a Development Agreement that gives Forest City Ratner 25 years, rather than the officially promised ten years, to complete the project.

The Times has not reported on this Development Agreement.

Nor did the Times, in this brief summary, disclose its business relationship with "the developer, Forest City Ratner," in building the Times Tower.

3 comments:

  1. thanks for this blog which often clarifies the Times frequently misleading reports on atlantic yards development. has the ny times ombudsman, who supposedly examines the Times reporting for evidence of bias, ever looked into their AY coverage?

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  2. I have written directly and publicly multiple times to two Public Editors; one responded briefly to specific concerns (way back in 2006) in a few emails but neither have been willing to look at the Times's AY coverage.

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  3. Norman,as the mother of David Sheets I have had great interest in reading your postings first thing every morning for more than six years. It seems to me that you make every effort to report rather than editorialize. I understand what has been going on in that neighborhood. I understand the harassment those living in the neighborhood (not a few blocks away, but IN the neighborhood) have had to endure at the hands of the city and of the developer: jack-hammering street destruction at 2:00 AM then being completely without water for days at a time as a result of that destruction, and with the streets impassable the garbage accumulated for weeks as did the rats which came to feed on it; bathtubs and other fixtures/appliances being tossed out of the sixth floor of adjacent buildings and crashing into metal dumpsters outside resident's bedroom windows; KGB-type surveillance cameras designed not to film those breaking and entering, but to intimidate the residents; and perhaps most unnerving of all the uncertainty of what the next type of harassment will be and when it will come.

    For Daniel and his family there have been additional egregious problems peculiar to their building. I recall Daniel's being trapped alone in a non-functioning elevator in an otherwise vacant building. It is my understanding that since the state took ownership of their property they have lived under armed guards. In New York City!

    Since you do make an effort to be fair in your reporting it was stunning to me that you could even suggest that the Goldsteins should consider sharing the settlement.

    Who has volunteered to share their pain and suffering?

    While some information may be of interest to some, it does not necessarily follow that such information is any body's business. Perhaps you were not the first to make the suggestion, but now the Goldsteins are suffering what I believe is unjustified vilification.

    It seems to me that Daniel and his family have paid a very high price already--higher than has been expected of anyone else. I hope that you will reconsider your stance on this and see that it is very difficult to put a high enough price on the kind of pain and suffering to which these people have been subjected.

    Kindest regards,
    Wilma Sheets Smith

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