Saturday, November 20, 2010

A letter to the Courier-Life (and Brooklyn Paper) on coverage of the Friedman decision

I sent this letter to both the Brooklyn Paper and the Courier-Life chain, which published identical articles, in the Brooklyn Paper as Yards foes win a big case that will not likely change a thing.

There's no Letters page in the Brooklyn Paper, but my letter is published this week in the Courier-Life under the headline "Nervy claim."

Note that italics indicate words added by the editor, while bold indicates words in my original letter that were not published:
Your recent coverage described the state Supreme Court's decision slamming the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) for its questionable behavior regarding the Atlantic Yards timetable as a "meaningless victory" for Atlantic Yards foes ("Yard foes win a big case," Nov. 12).

That's rather conclusory. Neither the ESDC nor developer Forest City Ratner made such a claim. In fact, a day after the decision, an executive from Forest City Enterprises, FCR's parent company, seemed somewhat unnerved as he discussed the issue. (See my coverage at http://bit.ly/dAEYON.)

It's unclear at this point whether the ESDC will appeal the decision--and have to further defend its behavior--or whether the agency will produce a document that asserts that a 25-year buildout (as opposed to the ten-year buildout that was studied) would have little impact on the community around the project site. Either tack invites more litigation.

As Supreme Court Justice Marcy Friedman noted, courts typically defer to administrative agencies, but "judicial review must be 'meaningful." In this case, a meaningful review meant that the corporation's delay in releasing the Development Agreement it negotiated--an agreement kept under wraps until just after a crucial court argument--didn't get a pass.

Evidently, And that meant that someone official agreed that the process behind Atlantic Yards was just a little fishy. That's meaningful.

Norman Oder
Park Slope

Oder, a journalist, writes the Atlantic Yards Report blog.
The slight edits--the omission of my credits--serve to diminish my authority a bit.

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