Monday, July 22, 2013

Bruce Ratner reflects on career: "I am a big public interest person. But I need to make money."

From BloombergBusinessWeek
That's the Atlantic Yards developer, Bruce Ratner, on the back page of BloombergBusinessWeek. Maybe it's the format, which understandably focuses on the positive, but not there's nothing critical, other than some potentially self-sabotaging statements.

Bruce Ratner: How Did I Get Here contains a quote that to many will be unexceptional: "I came from Cleveland. Back in the 1980s, Brooklyn wasn't such a great place, so I would joke, 'Coming from Cleveland, anything looked good.'"

As I commented, in the past, rather than comparing 1980s Brooklyn to Cleveland, Ratner has instead gushed regularly about the borough where his business is located. Consider his interview last year with Charlie Rose.

"So why Brooklyn?" Ratner asked rhetorically. "Brooklyn, I think growing up for me, I grew up in the 50s, you had the Brooklyn Dodgers, everybody great that I knew of, whether it be Jackie Gleason, or Walt Whitman, who I read about in college and high school, everybody seemed to come from Brooklyn."

"I got to travel all over the city, I fell in love with Brooklyn: the transportation, the parks, the museums, just everything, the brownstones," Ratner added. "And so, very early on, I said, in 1984-85, this is a place I want to develop, because I believe in this place, I believe this place will come back. So that's really what it was."

Ratner as victim?

It states that he "Went through eight years of litigation before getting approval for the Barclays Center."

There are other ways to put that, including:
  • "Harnessed the nation's most powerful eminent domain laws to acquire property for the arena project."
  • "Leveraged political connections, p.r. spending, lobbying, campaign contributions to get an inside track and a discount price on public land."
In his own words

Also consider Ratner's own words: "I am a big public interest person. But I need to make money."

Or: "The only way you can really not go to war was to go to grad school, so I applied to law school. I had no interest in the law."

You can draw a (jagged) line from that mindset to the New York Times's description last year of Ratner's "reputation for promising anything to get a deal, only to renegotiate relentlessly for more favorable terms."

And that's part of the Culture of Cheating I've described regarding Ratner's Atlantic Yards project.

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