Saturday, March 19, 2011

Noticing New York: if Ratner was considering modular construction for a year, that plan was hatching even as he saluted unions at the groundbreaking

Noticing New York's Michael D. D. White, in The Real Question to Ask About the Ratner Bait-and-Switch Approach on Atlantic Yards, offers a partial list of bait-and-switches (e.g., Frank Gehry, timetable, railyard, less money down) facilitated by the government.

Notably, White points out that Ratner was already considering a modular construction plan that would "shaft the unions" even as he saluted them at the groundbreaking last year.

Also, in a second post, White suggests Ratner might be bluffing the unions, as he did with the Beekman Tower, which was halted at the half way point for renegotiation.

Below, a couple of excerpts from the first post. First, who's in the driver's seat?
Ratner’s Preintention When It Comes to Bait-and-Switch

I am not surprised that the first thing a friend asked me upon hearing of this latest bait-and-switch was: “Do you think that Ratner intended this all along?” Whether Ratner intended this particular bait-and-switch all along is not the question. What is important, as we have pointed out before, is that ESDC worked from the beginning to put the Forest City Ratner organization in the driver's seat, giving it, without bid, exclusive rights to this megadevelopment in such a way that Ratner could always shortchange and blackmail the public with frequent bait-and-switches thereafter. This setup for bait-and-switches was certainly intended by Ratner and consciously facilitated by ESDC officials from the get-go. So whether or not Ratner intended this particular bait-and-switch is not important: He intended a framework in which he could pull off this bait-and-switch or any other bait-and-switch he could think of.

Is Ratner really intending to carry out this most recently proposed bait-and-switch or is it just blackmail to get the state and city to give him more money? Does it make a difference? The result is the same; the public has been gypped. And thank you very much ESDC; this comes courtesy of you.
Second, the impact on the unions:
It has, of course, been noted that Ratner’s switch to modular construction leaves the unions high and dry, eliminating almost all of the promised jobs and replacing them with much cheaper low-cost and perhaps out-of-state jobs. Atlantic Yards Report has posted an article, complete with embedded video of Ratner saluting his union allies at the at the ceremonial groundbreaking for the Atlantic Yards arena (Thursday, March 17, 2011, At the March 2010 groundbreaking, Bruce Ratner saluted union labor, to cheers, thanking them for "arm in arm support for this project" (video)). That was March 10, 2010.

A One-Year-Old Ratner Plan to Shaft the Unions

On March 17, 2011 (St. Patrick’s Day), the front page New York Times story that informed us that Ratner was shafting the unions by going with modular construction also informed us that, “Mr. Ratner’s development company, Forest City Ratner, has been investigating modular construction for a year, but has kept its plans secret.” For a year!

That sounds like two things were going on simultaneously, Ratner was praising the unions as his allies and secretly planning to shaft them.

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