Tuesday, May 03, 2011

"Ratner's refute"? Real Deal claim of "largely favorable PR" deserves some footnotes

I've already pointed out one gap in The Real Deal's cover article headlined Ratner's refute: Developer insists Atlantic Yards is moving forward.

Here's another. The publication reports:
Later, even as the developer who brought big-box stores to the boroughs, who helped redevelop Times Square, and who transformed Downtown Brooklyn with MetroTech Center and the Atlantic Terminal Mall, he enjoyed largely favorable PR.

"I got almost no negative articles," [Ratner] said. "And if I thought there was going to be a negative article, I would shiver until it came out, and then I would read it carefully and say, 'Oh my God!'"
Looking back to 2000

True, there were many fewer negative articles, but they were not insignificant. Consider the 11/1/2000 City Limits article headlined Wage Rage: Big corporations and developers reap major subsidies from the city, but their service staffs make starvation wages. Now a wave of organizing campaigns is trying to change the equation.:
One week before the Renaissance Plaza strike began, on May 9, demonstrators marched outside the Atlantic Center Mall to demand better wages and benefits for workers in all of malls operated by Forest City Ratner, the city's largest retail developer. Al Sharpton led the chants, but the protest was organized by the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now--better known as ACORN. The group, organizer Bertha Lewis explains, wants heavily subsidized, "big box" retail developers like Bruce Ratner to make mall tenants agree to pay decent wages and benefits. "If you are feeding at the public trough, then you must at least pay your workers a living wage," she says.

Ratner's company, Lewis readily admits, is no worse than any other developer. They all have the same "dead-end, low-wage, non-union, no-benefit jobs," she says. ACORN singled out Ratner because he's one of the biggest developers in the city, and because he is currently receiving more than $20 million in city subsidies.

Those are the same Al Sharpton and Bertha Lewis who Ratner, thanks to strategic giving and questionable promises, has been able to recruit to support Atlantic Yards.

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