Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Officials tout 2016 DNC at Barclays Center; challenges regarding Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park (including foreign ownership) go unmentioned

So, yesterday was kind of a big day, with Brooklyn and New York City elected officials, led by Sen. Chuck Schumer (Mayor Bill de Blasio) was busy, along with Barclays Center Bruce Ratner, holding a press conference at the arena plaza--the temporary plaza, given promises of an office tower--urging the Dmocratic National Committee to hold its convention there in 2016.

Terence Kelly/Instagram
The Times reported, in In Brooklyn, Officials Court Democrats in Bid to Host 2016 Convention:
Senator Charles E. Schumer, bragging about his home borough of Brooklyn, name-checked Big Daddy Kane and Lena Dunham.
Bruce Ratner, the developer of the Barclays Center, invoked Jay Z, an early investor in the arena with a somewhat more elevated public profile.
Then an entourage of tire-kickers from the Democratic National Committee were invited inside the building to munch on local fare from Calexico and Junior’s.
Beyond the question of the value (or not) of holding the convention in a non-swing state, and the countervailing opportunity for massive press coverage, other main issues include proximity of hotels (mainly in Manhattan) and transportation to Brooklyn (backers suggested special bus lanes would do the trick). Columbus and especially Philadelphia seem the main challengers.

Unmentioned challenges

No one, apparently, discussed the challenges:
  • of holding the convention in a location that edges into/in a residential neighborhood (heck, the B2 tower should be open by then)
  • the tainted history of Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park (probably not on anybody's tongue)
  • the optics (as NetsDaily's Net Income--aka Bob Windrem--has suggested) of having the convention at an arena owned 45% by a Russian oligarch
  • the fact that, outside the arena and first tower, the surrounding Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park project will be owned 70% by the Chinese government
Selling Brooklyn

Via NYC Mayor's Office
According to the Times:
Some national Democrats, including Hillary Rodham Clinton, who is considering a presidential run, seem to have warmed to the idea of a Brooklyn convention. Joe Trippi, a longtime party strategist, said the borough stood for “a working-class kind of vibrancy.”
On Monday, Amy Dacey, the chief executive of the Democratic National Committee, offered little hint of the group’s plans, saying only that the committee was “very serious” about Brooklyn.
About an hour after the news conference, a personalized Brooklyn Nets “DACEY” jersey could be seen slung over a chair in a Barclays Center dining area. Mr. Ratner sat beside Ms. Dacey, at a table that included the mayor’s wife, Chirlane McCray.
Administration officials, committee members and community members shot baskets on the practice court where the meal was held, keeping a safe distance from the tables. A scoreboard nearby listed the score as 20-16 (Brooklyn leading), with 20 minutes and 16 seconds remaining.
A "working-class kind of vibrancy”? Really? That's very 1950s of him.

Other coverage

From the Wall Street Journal, New York City Courts Democratic National Committee
"The convention anywhere else in the United States of America is just going to be, 'eh,'" declared Councilwoman Laurie Cumbo, a Brooklyn Democrat, at a news conference outside the Barclays Center, the site City Hall has proposed for the 2016 Democratic National Convention. "This is going to be epic. People are going to talk about this for generations."
...U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, a Democrat, led the news conference in the mayor's absence, saying, "Brooklyn throughout America symbolizes a resurgent future." 
"New York has the right story to tell -- that's because Brooklyn's story is America's story," said City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. "Brooklyn is where the country's middle class was born, and Brooklyn is where the melting pot of America resides.""Brooklyn," she said, "is just cool. 
Kind of curious to see them skirting the borough's rocketing real estate prices, right?

According to the Daily News's Daily Politics, Schumer said the issue wasn't Brooklyn as a swing state. “You win elections these day by appealing to the future,” he said. “No place, no competitor represents the future like Brooklyn.”

Really? A Russian oligarch and a Chinese government-owned real estate firm?

Many progressives like de Blasio fret that the Democratic Party will be ill-served if Hillary Clinton accepts the presidential nomination, as is considered more than likely at this point. But a convention in Brooklyn also could be a chance for Clinton to bask in the progressive shine of the de Blasio administration, all the while rubbing elbows with those who transformed Brooklyn from the provincial home of Ralph Kramden into a brand that has launched the careers of Lena Dunham and Jay-Z.
According to the Observer, Schumer Mocks Other Cities as Brooklyn Vies for Convention:
“There is no place that says the American dream burns brightly better than Brooklyn. Like America, they counted us out but we came back and America’s gonna come back and the convention is gonna symbolize that–that knocks anything that Pennsylvania, Ohio or Arizona [has],” Mr. Schumer added. 
...A procession of pols, including Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Comptroller Scott Stringer, Public Advocate Letitia James and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, boosted Brooklyn as the diverse, cutting edge sort of borough that is ready to host a convention. Police Commissioner Bill Bratton spoke briefly about the borough’s plummeting crime and its bevy of public transportation options, while Atlantic Yards and Barclays Center developer Bruce Ratner praised the glittering arena he overcame community protest to build.
Betabeat suggested that AirBnB could help house delegates in Brooklyn.

FCR executives will help raise money

Politico reported:
"New York City has put together a sweeping list of more than 70 people — ranging from Napster founder Sean Parker to Goldman Sachs Chairman Lloyd Blankfein to designer Diane von Furstenberg to union leaders — committed to raising the money to host the Democratic National Convention in Brooklyn in 2016.
A source said the city will announce $100 million in host-committee commitments to entice the Democratic National Committee to pick the borough.
Add Bruce Ratner and MaryAnne Gilmartin of Forest City to that list, as well as Alan H. Fishman, Chairman, Ladder Capital Corporation, and a longtime powerbroker in Downtown Brooklyn.

Question marks

The New York Post, perhaps because it is not, as is the Daily News, a sponsor of the arena plaza, took a different tack, in Traffic nightmare feared if DNC comes to Brooklyn in 2016:
“It will probably have a tough impact on the traffic situation,” said Robert Sinclair, a spokesman for AAA New York.
“I don’t think any bridge is ready for a dedicated lane, to be honest with you. The only roadway in our area that has a dedicated lane is the LIE. It’s tough. You don’t have the available road space to do those things without having an impact on traffic, particularly during rush hour.”
Brooklyn magazine expressed some doubts, in Team Clinton Wants The DNC In Brooklyn, Too (This Is A Bad Idea):
If you’re wondering what Brooklyn has to do with any of this, the answer is the same as it always is, and has been increasingly in the past decade-plus: Brooklyn is “the haven of liberal cool,” or so says the Times, simply because neither cool people nor liberals can afford to live in Manhattan anymore but for professional or social reasons, can’t afford not to live in New York City. While Bill’s DNC was held at Madison Square Garden, real estate costs, among other things, have changed since then. “The borough, seen as a hipster bastion, would give any nominee ‘a youthful, forward-looking appearance…’ Brooklyn is also a touchstone for millennial voters and the party’s liberal wing.” So, basically, a Brooklyn DNC means all the rich-people perks of New York City (Broadway! Bergdorf!) made edgier by “millennial” street cred.
...But aside from bad marketing and lack of political sense, the logistics of hosting the DNC in Brooklyn sound like kind of a nightmare. Multiple major thoroughfares would likely be closed off for convention attendees only, including portions of 42nd Street, Houston Street, the Bowery and the Manhattan Bridge, which would surely affect commutes, and politicians and police would be rampant in hotels and around the Barclays Center, meaning that it’d stall pretty much the entirety of central Brooklyn for over a week, all so that a few politicians can feel a teensy bit edgy. 
 Council Member Inez Barron won’t support Brooklyn D.N.C. bid, according to Capital New York "because there's no evidence it will help the low-income residents in her district."

An article in the Daily News acknowledged that some party insiders thought the convention should go to a swing state and others worried about logistics.

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