Thursday, June 26, 2014

Forest City's own consultant: CBA signatories were compensated for community support, not program goals, and perceived as "fronts"

More legal documents have been filed in the pending lawsuit filed by trainees in the coveted pre-apprentice training program led by Atlantic Yards Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) signatory Brooklyn United for Innovative Local Development (BUILD), which faces a July 11 hearing date.

Participants claim they were promised jobs and union cards by not only by BUILD but also by representatives of Forest City Ratner.

At one point, according to a motion filed by the plaintiffs, Forest City hired a consultant specializing in nonprofit management, Ritchie Tye Consulting, to evaluate the eight groups that signed the CBA.

The report--referred to in several documents but not made public--was apparently scathing. The consultant essentially validated the widespread critique of the CBA: that most groups had no track record in the community (I'd note that individuals associated with groups did have a record) and were set up to support the project.

The report even said that an effort to find a grant-writer to raise money for the signatories--otherwise funded by Forest City Ratner--was unsuccessful partly because people though the groups were "fronts" for Forest City.

The excerpt from legal papers:
37. FCRC hired independent evaluator, Ritchie Tye Consulting to conduct an internal analysis of the CBA. Ex. 12 (Marshall Dep.) at 41-43; Ex. 93 at FCRC 19789. Ritchie Tye concluded that most of the CBA organizations, including BUILD, were conceived and constructed at the inception of the CBA with no organizational history, track record, or demonstrated expertise. Ex. 7 (Ritchie Tye report on BUILD) at FCRC 7194.
38. Ritchie Tye further found that it appeared that FCRC financially compensated the organizations for their potential to secure community support for the Atlantic Yards project, and not for their capacity to fulfill the programmatic goals in the CBA. Ex. 93 at FCRC 19792. Ritchie Tye concluded that “[i]f FCRC were no longer to provide funding for operational support (rent and utilities), BUILD would not be able to operate.” Ex. 103 at FCRC 949.
39. Ritchie Tye went on to note that efforts to find a grant-writer consultant for the CBA organizations was unsuccessful in part due to the perception that the groups were “fronts” for the Developer. Ex. 93 at FCRC 19792. 

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