Thursday, January 26, 2012

New Atlantic Yards critics Camara and Adams got Forest City Ratner-related campaign money in the past. Maybe now they don't think they need more.

When covering the press conference last Sunday by three elected officials previously on-the-fence or supportive of Atlantic Yards, I didn't point out that two of three had received campaign contributions from people connected to Forest City Ratner and Atlantic Yards.

Such contributions, along with constituent feedback, might have nudged Assemblyman Karim Camara and state Senator Eric Adams toward their respective AY positions, supportive and near-the-fence.

My armchair analysis: Camara and Adams don't need such campaign money now, and they're more worried about constituents who haven't gotten expected/hoped-for jobs, contracts, and housing at the project.

While I had covered most of those contributions, I'd also missed somel. In no case did the Atlantic Yards-related money represent a large percentage of the total, but the contributions were significant enough to be noticeable.

Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries, who did not get Ratner-related contributions, probably is happy to distinguish himself from Rep. Ed Towns, an Atlantic Yards supporter whom he's challenging for Congress. In criticizing Atlantic Yards, Jeffries also might take some votes from those constituents sympathetic to the anti-AY stance of city Council Member Charles Barron, who's also in the race.

(As I've learned, Adams, the host, instigated the press conference. He's at the podium, with Camara to his right. Photo by Tracy Collins.)

Contributions to Camara

Camara, a supporter of Atlantic Yards (as at this 2008 rally) received contributions from Bruce Ratner's brother Michael Ratner ($1000), and his wife Karen Ranucci ($2500) in September 2006, as shown in the graphic below. Camara also received $3000 from Bruce Ratner in March 2009.


I wrote about the Michael Ratner/Ranucci contributions here and Bruce Ratner's contribution here.

Michael Ratner is president, emeritus, for the "progressive," "radical" Center for Constitutional Rights, and Ranucci now works on special projects for the anti-establishment news program Democracy Now.

Given the seemingly contradictions between Michael Ratner's support of Atlantic Yards and his professional work, sports columnist Dave Zirin of the Nation has challenged him to co-host a showing of the documentary Battle for Brooklyn.

However, I had not written about the $3000 contribution made by Pamela Lipkin, Bruce Ratner's wife, on the same March 2009 day her husband gave to Camara.


Contributions to Adams

Michael Ratner, in October 2006, gave $1500 to the campaign of Adams, who, as I wrote in November 2006, had already moderated his stated opposition to Atlantic Yards.

However, I missed the $3500 contribution made by Ratner's wife Ranucci. (It's curious that, in paired contributions to both Adams and Camara, each made on the same day, Ranucci gave more than twice as much as her husband. Was that an attempt to be less obvious?)


I did not write about two other contributions arguably related to Atlantic Yards. Adams received $725 in 2006 from Elenora Bernard, president of the New York State Association of Minority Contractors, a a signatory of the Atlantic Yards Community Benefits Agreement.


Adams also received $500 in 2009 from Darryl Greene, the controversial minority contracting consultant who works for Forest City Ratner on Atlantic Yards.


While those contributions might be related to AY, both Bernard and Greene likely have interests in other projects and issues in and around Adams's district.


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