Sunday, September 29, 2013

Inside baseball: when Ratner was clever, the Times saluted Atlantic Yards tactics. Now?

Some of us remember this 6/9/05 New York Times article, Unlike Stadium on West Side, an Arena in Brooklyn Is Still a Go, which approvingly described Forest City Ratner's tactics regarding Atlantic Yards:
As soon as it set about devising its plan in early 2002, it brought aboard a seasoned team of lobbyists who immediately went to work building support among political leaders, especially [Assembly Speaker] Mr. [Sheldon] Silver.
Or this 10/15/05 article headlined To Build Arena in Brooklyn, Developer First Builds Bridges:
Mr. Ratner's street-level and high-level public relations campaign began in the fall of 2003, when his company retained Dan Klores Communications, one of the city's top public relations firms. Their team, headed by Joe DePlasco, a veteran of the city's Democratic establishment, began lining up politicians and other supporters before the December news conference unveiling the initial design.

Since then, the firm has run what amounted to an ambitious traveling road show, organizing presentations for community boards, business groups, block associations, and others, according to a schedule Mr. DePlasco offered. It also worked with the developer's allies to turn out local supporters at press conferences and at several contentious public hearings, and connected Build and other groups with media outlets that were in search of pro-arena voices. 
And now?

But somehow we haven't seen such discussion of the process led by Forest City's governmental partner, the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC), as described by Supreme Court Justice Marcy Friedman in a decision issued last week awarding legal fees to those who challenged the ESDC's failture to study a 25-year buildout of the project:
The ESDC claims that it had a reasonable basis for, although it did not prevail on, its position that its use of a 10 year build-out in assessing environmental impacts of the 2009 MGPP [Modified General Project Plan] was reasonable, and that an SEIS [Supplementary Environmental Impact Statement] was not required in connection with the MGPP. This claim reflects no small audacity, in light of the court’s prior findings as to the ESDC’s review process. These findings included what the court characterized as the ESDC’s “deplorable lack of transparency” in failing even to mention the MTA [Metropolitan Transportation Authority] renegotiated agreement by name in discussing changes the agreement made in the deadlines for completion of the Project; the ESDC’s continuing lack of transparency and failure to meet its obligation to bring the Development Agreement to the court’s attention in order to correct “totally incomplete representations’’ made in opposition to the Article 78 petitions regarding such deadlines; and, upon remand, the ESDC’s performance of a wholly “perfunctory” analysis of the environmental impacts of a build-out of the Project that was potentially more than doubled under the MTA and Development Agreements. This is not a case in which the ESDC’s determinations were substantially justified.

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