Sunday, April 03, 2011

Post focuses on the Rev. Daughtry's control of arena tickets; will he also control use of the arena ten times a year by community groups?

The New York Post discovers that the Reverend Herbert Daughtry and his created-for-the-Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) Downtown Brooklyn Neighborhood Alliance (DBNA) will be in charge of free tickets for the Barclays Center arena, as we've long known.

But the big news--if true--was slipped in as an aside: Daughtry's group also would control the ten-times-a-year use of the arena by community groups. That was never specified in the CBA.

Daughtry's role

In Brooklyn pastor scores prime seats at Nets' new venue, the Post reports:
Want Nets tickets? You'll have to make a higher calling.

Rev. Herbert Daughtry, pastor of a Boerum Hill church, will have the final say over the distribution of 54 free tickets and a luxury box for every event at the new Nets arena when it opens next year.

The deal is part of a "community benefits agreement" the clergyman -- who was a high-profile proponent of the arena's construction -- hammered out with developer Forest City Ratner on behalf of his nonprofit Downtown Brooklyn Neighborhood Association, which was formed with $50,000 in seed money from Forest City in 2005.

The deal includes four seats in the $1 billion Barclays Center's lower bowl, 50 ducats in the upper section, and a posh suite, according to Nets spokesman Barry Baum.
Note: I reported after the March 2010 groundbreaking that Daughtry had spoken of controlling access to 50 free tickets--valued at $33,000, a mere blip in the total of public subsidies and tax breaks the developer has received.

(I'm assuming such $15 tickets would all sell out. And while lower bowl seats and a suite would have a higher face value, it shouldn't be assumed that any value should be assigned, since they wouldn't all sell out.)

Some background

The Post reports:
The 80-year-old activist, who was an adviser to the Rev. Jesse Jackson and slain rapper Tupac Shakur, found God after doing a four-year stint in state and federal prison in 1953 for attempted armed robbery.

Daughtry's group was among eight that signed the benefits agreement in 2005 and stand to gain as the project proceeds. One signatory, for example, the Mutual Housing Association of New York -- it replaced the defunct activist group ACORN and in 2008 received a $1.5 million loan from Forest City -- will be in charge of marketing the project's affordable-housing component.
It's worth mentioning that, while Daughtry claims to live in Brooklyn, he raised his kids in Teaneck, NJ. (A 9/29/02 wedding announcement for Daughtry's son described his parents' residence as Teaneck.)

As for ACORN, that was not a $1.5 million loan, but a $1.5 million grant/loan. The distinction isn't crucial; ACORN isn't paying Forest City Ratner, and the developer still got a good deal.

The CBA

The Post reports:
The deal, in theory, was to hold developers accountable to local stakeholders, but critics say that since six of the eight signatories were created expressly to sign the document, it amounted to a farce.

"This is [Daughtry's] little piece of the pie for having been a cheerleader to Ratner," said Candace Carponter, legal director of Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, a group opposed to Atlantic Yards.
Here are the groups that signed the CBA:
  • All-Faith Council of Brooklyn (AFCB) [now Faith in Action]
  • Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) [now, according to the Post, Mutual Housing Association of New York, though I thought it was New York Communities for Change
  • Brooklyn United for Innovative Local Development (BUILD)
  • Downtown Brooklyn Neighborhood Alliance (DBNA)
  • Downtown Brooklyn Educational Consortium (DBEC) [Now Brooklyn Voices for Children]
  • First Atlantic Terminal Housing Committee (FATHC) [now Brooklyn Endeavor Experience]
  • New York State Association of Minority Contractors (NYSAMC)
  • Public Housing Communities (PHC)
ACORN and the NYSCAMC already existed.

Among the rest, as far as I know, only BUILD has extended itself beyond Atlantic Yards issues, as it has placed job-seekers in positions at Forest City Ratner facilities, security firms, and a range of other employers (though few at the AY site).

Daughtry's group has essentially existed to cheerlead for the project (and to claim the benefits as stated in this article).

The "community center"

The Post reports:
Daughtry's negotiation also includes the construction of a community center geared toward seniors and kids and a meditation room that is a toned-down version of the chapel he initially requested. His group will also receive use of the arena for 10 events per year.
It's supposed to be a health center and, as I reported, the developer has no obligation to pay for it.

And it's unclear when it would come in Phase 1, which could take 12 years--or 19 if Chinese investors get a piece of the project.

The meditation room would be 150 square feet, the size of a living room.

Community events?

If Daughtry's group will control use of the arena for ten events a year, that's big news. The CBA states:
E. ARENA RELATED PROGRAMS. The Arena Developer seeks to make the Arena an integral part of the Community by providing the following:
(1) Events. The Arena will be available to Community groups for at least ten (10) events per year, at a reasonable rate, with net proceeds from such events to be used to support non-profit community organizations.
Note that the CBA says a minimum of ten events, while the Preliminary Offering Statement for arena bonds said a maximum of ten events:
Tenant shall make the Arena available to ESDC or its designee for use as a venue for civic, cultural, social or other events as requested by ESDC, not to exceed ten (10) events in any lease year, which access shall be on the same terms, including cost, as the Arena is generally made available to other Persons for use.
(Emphasis added)

In neither case was Daughtry's group mentioned. In fact, the offering statement suggests that the Empire State Development Corporation, a state agency, would have decisionmaking power, though an ESDC spokeswoman told me it was redundant because the CBA already memorializes it.

Getting the most he could?

The Post quotes Daughtry:
Daughtry was unapologetic about getting the most he could out of Forest City head Bruce Ratner, whom he described as a "great friend" and whose brother, attorney and Nets investor Michael Ratner, represented him in a defamation lawsuit in the 1980s.

"This project was going forward anyway. Can you imagine what I'd feel like stepping out on my church stoop and look at all that's happening and know that all I did was throw rocks at a moving train?" Daughtry said.
That's been the justification for signing the CBA. The question is whether who got a better bargain.

After all, as Bettina Damiani of Good Jobs New York told the City Council 5/26/05:

The BAY [Brooklyn Atlantic Yards] project is the first project we know of in New York City in which the developer has advertised that he seeks to participate in a Community Benefits Agreement (CBA). As a sponsored project of Good Jobs First, which provided support for the CBAs negotiated in California and continues to act as a clearinghouse for information on CBAs, we feel it is important to draw the Council’s attention to several major differences between CBAs as they have been used in other parts of the country and the series of negotiations that FCRC is calling a CBA.

Perhaps the most striking is that elsewhere CBAs are negotiated by one broad coalition of groups that would otherwise oppose a project, a coalition that includes labor and community organizations representing a variety of interests. The coalition hammers out its points of unity in advance and then each member holds out on settling on its particular issue until the issues of the other members are addressed. This way, the bargaining power of each group is used for the benefit of the coalition as a whole.

In the BAY case, several groups, all of which have publicly supported the project already, have each engaged in what seem to be separate negotiations on particular issues.
What Daughtry did

Daughtry heckled at the May 2009 state Senate oversight hearing at the Pratt Institute, In the promotional Brooklyn Standard of 2005, Daughtry called Bruce Ratner's customary manner "humble, winsome."

At the Atlantic Yards arena groundbreaking, Daughtry deceptively described the Atlantic Yards site as being transformed from a "long-neglected, rodent-infested, garbage-strewn strip of geography into a modern oasis of splendid residential and commercial dwellings."

Among the daily press, only Dave D'Alessandro of the Star-Ledger noticed, commenting, "There wasn’t much chance of anyone walking it back from there."

1 comment:

  1. Doesn't this amount to Reverend Daughtry having his own little patronage mill or slush fund? One wonders what one will have to do or say (or not do or say) to get one of these tickets from the Reverend.

    ReplyDelete