Friday, June 08, 2012

At announcement of gospel shows, Sharpton claims (!) Ratner "has lived up to everything he said and more" (!?!)

OK, so yesterday the Wall Street Journal had a scoop about Forest City Ratner's pulling back on its obligation to build a replacement railyard--a boring, process-y infrastructure story, right?--but the Barclays Center announced two new gospel shows:
  • GRAMMY award-winning gospel great and Brooklynite Hezekiah Walker and his Love Fellowship Choir
  • 2012 Verizon’s How Sweet the Sound™ Gospel Celebration, the country’s premiere and most prestigious gospel music experience
  • plus ‘The King’s Men’ (already announced)
The New York Post, in Brooklyn’s Barclays Center dubbed New York’s new 'Home of Gospel', had a couple of quotes:
“I grew up in Fort Greene, and it was always a dream of mine for a major venue in Brooklyn to become the home for gospel music -- now it’s a reality,” Walker said. “Barclays Center will be the place where the top gospel artists come to perform. I can’t wait to perform there myself.”
...“We are proud to make Barclays Center the home of gospel in New York and to welcome Hezekiah and several of gospel’s greatest performers onto Brooklyn’s biggest stage,” said arena developer Bruce Ratner. “
Daughtry, Sharpton, and head-spinning claims

The arena's in-house scribe had a report, Gospel has a home, on the press event, "a rousing two-song preview." But the real news, in my reading of Ben Couch's account wrote, concerned the massaging of history:
Joining Ratner and Walker as speakers were Rev. Dr. Herbert Daughtry, Pastor of The House of the Lord Church and Founder of the Downtown Brooklyn Neighborhood Alliance. Both spoke of the commitment Ratner made to ensuring the community was included in the Atlantic Yards project, and more importantly – his commitment to following through on their agreements.
Daughtry traced the roots of their relationship to 2004, when the DBNA first came to an agreement with Forest City Ratner on fostering arena programs, as well as the development of a state-of-the-art health center and an intergenerational complex. Sharpton pointed out that the setting proved fitting because Daughtry’s leadership helped to define the Community Benefits Agreement that swayed those with questions to support the project.
But credit DNAinfo, in Praise the Lord! Barclays Center Christened as Gospel's New Home, for some stunning quotes:
It was nearly eight years ago that The House of the Lord church hosted another press conference, where officials from Forest City Ratner Companies and the Downtown Brooklyn Neighborhood Alliance announced that they had hammered out a Community Benefits Agreement to guarantee that locals would benefit from the Atlantic Yards development, said the church's pastor, Rev. Herbert Daughtry.
With the arena now poised to open in September, Daughtry praised Ratner for delivering on promised amenities like a health center and meditation room at the new arena.
Sharpton echoed those comments. "I can say without contradition [sic] that Bruce Ratner has lived up to everything he said and more," Sharpton said to a hearty round of applause. "He is an example of what corporate accountability and partnership is all about."
But some critics disagree. The watchdog group Brooklyn Speaks is holding a rally Sunday June 10 to demand stronger oversight of housing and jobs promised as part of the arena deal.
Some critics disagree is what NYU scholar Jay Rosen calls the "View from Nowhere," the false middle, the inability to do any analysis (and, btw, BrooklynSpeaks is only a part of the rally).

Some analysis

Um, Ratner may deliver a meditation room, but there's no health center coming yet. Nor is there an Independent Compliance Monitor for the Community Benefits Agreement. Nor is Forest City even meeting its goals for minority contracting. Trainees in a competitive, CBA-mandated apprenticeship program have filed suit.

As for Sharpton saying that "Bruce Ratner has lived up to everything he said and more," well, that's Orwellian, almost, to quote Jim Stuckey.

Eric McClure of No Land Grab suggested that "means the Reverend Al's check from Forest City must've cleared." DDDB's headline: Reverend Sharpton, Perhaps Inhabiting a Parallel Universe, Praises Ratner for Fulfilling Promises:
Actually, there is plenty of contradiction. The four big promises of job creation, affordable housing, so-called "blight removal," and the creation of open space have all amounted to big failures two years after the arena groundbreaking. Contraray to Sharpton's mind-boggling comments, Bruce Ratner has lived up to nearly nothing he has said about Atlantic Yards.

Just today it came to light that the promised new rail yard construction start, which the MTA claimed to be a big benefit, is being pushed back.

As for Bruce Ratner being an "example of what corporate accountability and partnership is all about" is Sharpton referring to all those associated with Ratner's firm who have been indicted or convicted, or perhaps those who are suing him. Or perhaps he is talking about the 8 groups (out of hundreds in Brooklyn) he partnered with for the Atlantic Yards Community Benefits Agreement, five of which didn't exist prior to the announcement of Atlantic Yards.
Piece of the action

NY 1 reported, "Religious leaders were singing the praises of the new Barclays Center Thursday." Well, ones with a piece of the action.

Daughtry and Sharpton, as I wrote after the groundbreaking in March 2010, are the "untrustworthy men of God" and recipients of Forest City Ratner's largesse. And the actual singer, Rev. Walker, is performing at the arena, so he surely is happy with it.


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