Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Betsy Gotbaum vs. reality: Ratner "has always demonstrated the highest ethical standards and behavior"

Former Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum writes an astonishing letter to the New York Times, published today:
Praise for a Developer

To the Editor:

I disagree with Michael Powell (“A Developer Between Legal Clouds,” Gotham column, Jan. 10) that two bribery investigations with ties to the developer Bruce Ratner and his company, Forest City Ratner, suggest misdeeds on his part.

More important, the professional investigators have not found that the company or its employees behaved in an illegal manner.

While I do agree that we have an unprecedented amount of corruption among elected officials, lobbyists and others, you cannot and should not assume that a developer is guilty of the same behavior because, well, he’s a developer.

As a former New York City public advocate and during many years in public service, I have had the honor to work with Mr. Ratner. He has always demonstrated the highest ethical standards and behavior. As consumer affairs commissioner and as a developer, he has worked to improve the city and help those with greatest needs.

BETSY GOTBAUM
New York, Jan. 11, 2012
The highest ethical standards and behavior?

Then why did Forest City Ratner give a no-show job to the consultant charged with bribing the Yonkers council member who changed her vote to green-light the developer's Ridge Hill project?

Gotbaum was endorsed in 2005 by the Times, which cited her opposition to the West Side Stadium with no mention of her record regarding Atlantic Yards. As I wrote 9/7/05:
Conspicuously absent is any mention of Gotbaum's indefensible record on Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards plan (which also would require hundreds of millions of taxpayers' dollars): in a nutshell (as she even told me when I ran into her on the campaign trail), she's for the project, unless there's eminent domain; then she's against it. But Bruce Ratner told her there wouldn't be any eminent domain, so she trusts him--even though several landowners within the proposed project footprint have vocally indicated their intentions not to sell, and that the Memorandum of Understanding between Ratner and the state includes eminent domain.
Of course, there was eminent domain. Gotbaum kept quiet.

(Also see Eric McClure's criticism in NLG.)

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