Monday, October 28, 2013

Lhota to attack de Blasio over Atlantic Yards housing failures; new video of Forest City promise of Independent Compliance Monitor for CBA

From City and State's First Read newsletter:
12 p.m. – [Republican mayoral candidate Joe] Lhota calls for [Democratic mayoral candidate Bill] de Blasio to address failures in the creation of affordable housing in the Atlantic Yards project, Flatbush Avenue and Dean Street, Brooklyn.
This will be interesting. As I've written, there's little de Blasio can do to speed creation of the affordable housing, given that state contracts give developer Forest City Ratner a long leash. But he has been mushy-mouthed or silent on key issues.

That said, de Blasio can be challenged on:
  • his failure, as Public Advocate, to issue any comment on Forest City's failure to meet its promised goal of 50% (in floor area) family-sized units in the first tower, which is under construction
  • how exactly de Blasio has, as he has claimed "pressured" Forest City on the housing? (he's said nothing publicly)
  • the Public Advocate's failure to say anything about Forest City's failure to hire the promised Independent Compliance Monitor required in the Community Benefits Agreement
  • how he plans to speed such housing as mayor--does that mean he'll devote more subsidies?
Ex-ACORN pushback?

I would not be surprised if de Blasio supporters associated with ACORN and successor groups show up to heckle/protest. Unless they think it's unnecessary, given the Public Advocate's huge lead in the polls.

Note that Bertha Lewis, former head of New York (and national) ACORN and a big de Blasio supporter, is also Forest City Ratner's partner on the Atlantic Yards affordable housing. Not only did Lewis sign an agreement promising to support the project publicly, she also owes Forest City big time.

After Lewis took over national ACORN, which faced huge losses after an internal embezzlement scandal, Forest City bailed out ACORN with a $1.5 million grant/loan, and when ACORN folded in 2010, Forest City was the organization's largest creditor.

New York mag on de Blasio

From Chris Smith's cover story today, in New York magazine, The 99% Mayor: Bill de Blasio’s promise may also be his problem."
As a council member, De Blasio did follow through on his principles even when there was minimal political gain: In the wake of the murders of Nixzmary Brown and Marchella Pierce, he staged hearings but also spent months collaborating on ground-level improvements to the city’s child-welfare system. Bertha Lewis, the fiery housing advocate and a close friend of De Blasio’s, lauds him for holding bad landlords accountable. But De Blasio can also be elastic and opportunistic. He’s talked about the outer boroughs’ deserving the same quality of services as Manhattan, but this summer he landed large donations from the entrenched taxi-medallion owners—and sided with them against an outer-borough taxi-expansion plan. He’s been exceedingly patient on the delayed construction of subsidized housing at Atlantic Yards, a project that got key backing from his friend Lewis and whose developer, Bruce Ratner, co-hosted a birthday-party fund-raiser for De Blasio.
Forest City's promises

At a 11/29/04 public informational meeting held at City Tech in Downtown Brooklyn, then-Forest City point man Jim Stuckey was asked, "What plans are being made to have an independent compliance officer to oversee the project’s original plans and intentions?

His response: "The Community Benefits Agreement that we have in negotiations calls for an independent officer, probably more than one, that will be selected by an RFP."

Probably more than one. Stuckey even augmented the promise. Classic.

"They will work, as part of that, they will include DBAOC," Stuckey continued, referring to an existing group, "but they also will be, based on an RFP, an independent monitor will be selected, who will look at the Community Benefits Agreement, who will make judgements on whether the Community Benefits Agreement’s being followed by us and by the other participants  in the Community Benefits Agreement... the CBA and that monitor will have the right to issue reports and hold penalties that will be agreed to as part of the Community Benefits Agreement if we collectively and Forest City individually doesn’t do follow and do the things it basically said it would do."

Despite such promises, no monitor has been hired.

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