Here are the Citizens Union questionnaires for Biviano, Sikora, and Simon, which list priorities.
Hammering away at taint
A video via Brooklyn Heights Blog where candidates ask each other questions (go to 13:27):
The Atlantic Yards question
At a recent debate in Prospect Heights, moderator Janet Babin of WNYC asked a version of a question I had posed: "Would you have approved of compromise regarding Atlantic Yards, setting a new timetable for affordable housing... how can you change deals like these to ensure that people of Brooklyn who truly need affordable housing can get it?"
Sikora said, "The deal doesn't provide enough affordable housing, particularly for lower income. The affordable housing that's in Atlantic Yards going forward should reflect what the neighborhood used to be like... people got pushed out. I would have approved of this compromise, because it seems to be better than the alternative, but we should back up and not get put in a box as a community on these kinds of deals."
Biviano's response: "I want to put this into the real perspective, the special interests driving these issues... Affordable housing is a bandaid on a cancer, it's because of the tax breaks and abatements given to developers... it's about public giveaways. You want it eliminated, control the campaign finance laws, such that candidates can't take large contributions and then give away all our public properties and overdevelop, overbuild, and then deplete the tax base so we can't really address affordable housing."
"As the only candidate here who was involved in Atlantic Yards at all, publicly, I can tell you about the very, very long fight," responded Simon, a member of BrooklynSpeaks, which helped negotiate the compromise. "So here's the thing: the affordability levels were not set by anybody other than the developer, in accordance with a Community Benefits Agreement with certain organizations, many of which were created by the developer.... It actually didn't benefit very many people at all. What we have done in this agreement is we have moved up the housing, we have expanded the number of apartments and the size of the apartments to more adequately deal with families. The affordability levels were set by HUD, and there was actually no opportunity for us to do that. We'd be happy to work with that going forward."
Probed by Babin on finances, Sikora said he has raised roughly $194,000 for his campaign; Simon reported roughly $190,000; Biviano said he has raised $7,000.
Simon said she has not taken any money from developers with projects in the community. Sikora said that he wasn’t taking any money from real estate.
“But you’re exploiting every campaign finance loophole that’s out there,” Simon said. [an apparent reference to the WFP help.]
Biviano said that the other candidates raised more money than he did because they were beholden to special interests. He was cut short when he tried to list individual donors who gave to his competitors’ campaigns.