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Why does Ratner not contribute to local races? Maybe because contributions keep the line open to Cuomo, the next governor

A couple of people have asked me: if Bruce Ratner is no longer a campaign contribution refusenik, why isn't he giving money to Mark Pollard, who's challenging Atlantic Yards opponent Velmanette Montgomery in the 18th Senatorial District and has gained the support of some Atlantic Yards backers?

Well, maybe it's purely pragmatic; Montgomery has endorsements galore and a record of achievement.

Even a strong candidate--and I don't think Pollard qualifies, having started his campaign only in May, rather than building momentum over time, and relying disproportionately on charter school backers outside the district--would have trouble beating a veteran like Montgomery, even in this anti-incumbent political climate (and her failure to fully embrace reforms in Albany).

(When the 11-day pre-primary reports are made available on Friday, we'll see if Ratner's changed his tactics.)

Influence at the top

Ratner is not averse to contributions in local races, but maybe it's purely pragmatic on another level.

Ratner, I suspect, doesn't worry much about local elected officials; his concern is the governor, who controls the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC), the unelected agency that's shepherding Atlantic Yards and not looking too hard.

So that's why Ratner gave $5000 to the campaign of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Cuomo in February 2009, plus another $7500 this past May.

From Ratner's perspective, Montgomery may be a pest. But as long as the man at the top takes his calls, he'll be fine.

Another contribution: New York Uprising

Ratner also gave $10,000 to New York Uprising, the clean-up-Albany project spearheaded by former New York City Mayor Ed Koch, Citizens Union Director Dick Dadey, and former New York City Parks Commissioner and New York Civic Director Henry Stern.

I suspect that Ratner's contribution was generated less by desire to support candidates signing New York Uprising's worthy three-part pledge (Non-Partisan, Independent Redistricting; Responsible Budgeting; and Ethics Reform), than by his relationship with his old mentor Stern, an often-useful civic watchdog whose critical scrutiny has reliably bypassed Atlantic Yards.

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