Friday, January 10, 2014

Honored at tickets giveaway, Ratner claims program could be "as important or more important" than Barclays Center

Despite much consensus that Atlantic Yards Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) is a model to avoid, in a parallel universe of partly-fulfilled promises and mutual congratulation, the "modern blueprint" in which Forest City Ratner "nourished" and "harvested" community support still holds.

The jobs and housing lag, there's an ongoing lawsuit regarding promised job training, and the arena has still not been offered at discount rates to community groups as promised.

But the Downtown Brooklyn Neighborhood Alliance (DBNA), organized out of the Rev. Herbert Daughtry's House of the Lord Church, has steadily distributed free tickets at monthly sweepstakes drawings, one of the most visible positive results of the CBA.

And Barclays Center developer Bruce Ratner was welcomed as a savior, then improbably claimed that the tickets program was "as important or more important than the arena," because it brought community groups together.

The next monthly sweepstakes is tonight, as indicated in the graphic above left. Instead of being held at the church, or the Ronald Edmonds Learning Center in Fort Greene, as with several previous events, this one's at Brooklyn Job Corps, 585 DeKalb Avenue (near Nostrand) in Bedford-Stuyvesant.

(L-R) Sharon Daughtry, Bruce Ratner, the Rev. Herbert
Daughtry, and Karen Daughtry, by Terence Kelly, Barclays
Center Community Relations Manager/Instagram
That program, as I've written, is both a worthy effort and a limited one, led by the Reverend's daughter Sharon Daughtry. While providing free tickets to many grateful recipients, the process may be off-putting to some potential participants and could be widened to include more community groups.

(The application to participate in the ticket sweepstakes for the arena's second season closed Nov. 30 without any particular effort at outreach.)

Anniversary celebration

The program celebrated its first anniversary with special guest Ratner on 9/19/13, as shown in the video and described below. It was a lively event, with enormous enthusiasm for the honoree.

As Terence Kelly, Barclays Center Community Relations Manager, put it on Twitter:
happy 1 year anniversary to the downtown brooklyn neighborhood alliance! Bruce & Rev. Daughtry, lots of positive energy in the house tonight.
The church role

Though the DBNA is not an official arm of the church, it has offices there and its officers are associated with the church, including the Rev. Daughtry.

He welcomed the crowd, with some affirmations like "I'm too blessed to be stressed/I'm too grateful to be hateful."

As if recognizing some aren't believers and that the event is not supposed to be church, Daughtry at one point asked the crowd to keep him in their prayers "and atheists, just give me good vibes."

Still, he said, "I'm going to get a little bit religious... The spirit of the living God is upon me." And then he turned it into something of a church service, talking about how to improve the mind/spirit/body and "relations with the God I serve," as well as family and neighbors.

Daughtry recalled his relationship with the Ratner family; Bruce Ratner's brother Michael, a noted civil rights attorney, served as his lawyer.

"We decided that this project was moving ahead, and I didn't want to be on the platform on the train throwing rocks," Daughtry recalled, "so we were able to negotiate several items... they agreed to build a state of the art health and wellness center in the next phase" of the project.

That will take a while, and significantly serve the new residents, not Daughtry's constituency.

The tickets program

In a bit of paternal grade inflation, Daughtry said he wanted "to celebrate the genius of Sharon Daughtry."

"You all are hilarious," declared Sharon Daughtry to a friendly crowd. "In the name of complimentary tickets, we have had some moments." She gave some advice and details, warning people not to scalp the tickets and noting that people might come up as winners more than once because they represent more than one organization.

Before introducing Ratner, the DBNA showed an 8-minute video of a documentary in progress, which seemed to portray the giving out of tickets as a civil rights victory.

"A ticket is not just a ticket," says Sharon Daughtry in the video. "A ticket is an invitation to an experience." "We're hearing... lots of excitement," declares Forest City CEO MaryAnne Gilmartin.

"They kept their word," Sharon Daughtry says. "People didn't think they'd follow through, even though it's in a legally binding document."

Then again, Forest City didn't follow through on, say, the Independent Compliance Monitor promised as part of the legally binding document. Nor do we get straight answers on how arena employees are compensated.

(“If he doesn’t honor this [CBA],” declared the Rev. Daughtry in March 2005, “I will do all in my power to make downtown Brooklyn as ungovernable as possible.” In January 2012, he told the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, "The point is that I feel, whether they [FCR] have reneged on promises, I’m not concerned about it.")

Ratner speaks

After the video, Sharon Daughtry introduced "the man that made all this possible... we are so utterly grateful... Mr. Bruce Ratner!" He came to the stage to cheers and whoops.



"I've known Rev. Daughtry for too many years to count," Rather declared. "We've done a lot of things together... we've worked together on so many things... this is a homecoming for both of us, really."

Ratner can be a bit of an unreliable narrator, as I've suggested.

"I'm going to say something: I believe that what has been done here is going to wind up in its own way being as important or more important than the arena," Ratner declared. "And I mean that. Why? Think about it. Here's what's been done: 300 community organizations... many who never heard of each other... working together, playing together, having fun together, being able to interact... I believe there's nothing more incredible than... bringing together 300 community organizations."

It was reminiscent of his dubious 2005 statement, as noted in the documentary Battle for Brooklyn, welcoming a new supporter of the CBA: "Reverend Daughtry has agreed to help us think through the issues of housing and jobs.”

"I have a huge amount of respect for everything you do," Ratner declared. "Any time you need me, you let me know."

Parting moments

Ratner posed for photos with his hosts.

Sharon Daughtry presented Ratner with homemade books containing photos from the sweepstakes and thank-you letters from recipients. The photos chronicled "the crazy things" people have been doing in the name of complimentary tickets, she said.

If Ratner ever feels embattled in the press, she suggested, he could just look at the books and bask in the thanks.

No comments:

Post a Comment