Thursday, November 07, 2013

From the Brooklyn Rail: Will James Challenge De Blasio on Atlantic Yards?

Update: in an 11/11/13 NY1 interview, James said she'd be a watchdog on de Blasio. Atlantic Yards did not come up.

Will James Challenge De Blasio on Atlantic Yards? I wrote in the November issue of the Brooklyn Rail, published just before the election:
“For the first time since the office was introduced in 1993, the next public advocate won’t chomp at the mayor’s ankles,” New York Daily News columnist Harry Siegel wrote on October 9. “That’s because [likely Mayor Bill] de Blasio and [likely Public Advocate] Letitia James are both Democrats, and also Working Families Party stalwarts.” Similarly, on October 16, New York Post contributor Stephen Eide suggested that such synchronicity made the Public Advocate’s job “worse than useless.”
Observers wonder how Council Member James will set herself apart from Public Advocate (and former Council Member) de Blasio when both move up in office. Indeed, when asked in a debate to identify an issue on which she differed from de Blasio (whom she endorsed), James demurred.

Then again, de Blasio might see longtime Atlantic Yards opponent James become a gadfly regarding mayoral support for the Brooklyn mega-development that includes the Barclays Center arena and 16 planned towers, the first of which is belatedly under construction.
But that’s only if James chooses to spend some limited political capital. After all, she’ll no longer be representing those in Brooklyn’s 35th District, which encompasses the 22-acre project in Prospect Heights, but a much larger constituency. And she’d have to show some subtlety, stressing the goal of good government and fiscal prudence over the siren call of “affordable housing.”
The issues James could raise include the Atlantic Yards Community Benefits Agreement, a Council oversight hearing, and an investigation into whether developer Forest City Ratner got free land from the city.

For more, see the full article.

Also note, as the Epoch Times reported after her victory:
James said her focus would be on ensuring more affordable housing and advocating for wage increases, something de Blasio has also advocated for as public advocate.

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