Monday, October 28, 2013

Payback or just the best deal? de Blasio rents campaign HQ in Brooklyn from campaign supporter Ratner

Maybe it was the best deal available, as I'm sure Bill de Blasio's campaign would say, or maybe it's payback of sorts, as I suspect critics might say.

Democratic mayoral nominee de Blasio is paying developer Forest City Ratner--whose executives have raised campaign funds for him and co-hosted a fundraiser--$5,000 to rent his campaign headquarters in Brooklyn.

The location is 345 Jay Street in MetroTech, a space occupied by Sid's Hardware until early 2010.

(Since then, the raw space hasn't had a long-term tenant, which means it has not been easy to lease--a Sid's store manager said in 2010 that "the rents are too high, there’s no parking, and this dead scene isn’t a place to run a business." It has been used--in two if not all three cases donated--for a bone marrow drive in May 2013, the Brooklyn Folk Festival in May 2012 and a Guggenheim pop-up gallery in May 2011.)

Campaign headquarters

While the official home of New Yorkers for de Blasio is 32 Court Street in Downtown Brooklyn, this space at 345 Jay is listed on hand-lettered signs and in some web announcements, such as the MeetUp announcement at left, as "campaign headquarters."

I suspect there's a plausible explanation for the lease, that it was better-priced, better-located space than the alternatives, and it might well be. (I submitted questions, including the term of the lease, to a campaign rep earlier this morning.)

Plausible, but unseemly

But it's also somewhat unseemly, a bit of you-scratch-my-back-I'll-scratch-yours.

Note that de Blasio has been unwilling, for example, to criticize Forest City regarding Atlantic Yards--he reserves criticism for the "process" and repeats Forest City talking points.

So this business relationship suggests another sign of coziness between the candidate--sometimes "elastic and opportunistic" (to quote NY magazine's Chris Smith)--and the developer.


The lease is disclosed in de Blasio's campaign finance report:

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