Wednesday, February 18, 2015

In NYC Power 100, Ratner one notch ahead of City's Housing director; p.r. firm BerlinRosen continues rise; Lewis, James slip

City and State has issued its 2015 edition of the New York City Power 100, and Bruce Ratner and many around him--notably lobbyists--take numerous places in the city's firmament.

The editors suggest that the City Council's clout has diminished while "the influence of lobbyists, special interests and the media has grown."

Ratner's place

Bruce Ratner, Executive Vice President and Director, Forest City Enterprises, nudges up to 42 from 43, with this description:
As Mayor Bill de Blasio continues his high-profile push to create or preserve 200,000 units of affordable housing in the city, Ratner has become a key ally. A supporter of the mayor during the mayoral race, Ratner’s development group—Forest City Enterprises—has established itself as a model for how to execute the 80/20 agreements (80 percent market rate/20 percent affordable) that the administration has been touting.
That's an odd summary. After all, outside of the 80 DeKalb tower, I don't think Forest City has built any 80/20 buildings. Rather, it is building--with new partner/overseer Greenland--Atlantic Yards (aka Pacific Park Brooklyn), which is about 35% subsidized housing, with 50% of the 4500 rentals "affordable." 

Ratner's company Forest City Ratner, a division of Forest City Enterprises, has established itself as a model for, well, negotiating deals that seem to work, giving politicians like Mayor Bill de Blasio groundbreakings to tout but also pulling back from promises of affordability

Among developers, Ratner is third on the list, after Rob Speyer of Tishman Speyer, who also chairs the Real Estate Board of New York, and Bill Rudin, CEO and Vice Chairman, Rudin Management Company, and chair of the Association for a Better New York. (Also high is Mort Zuckerman, a developer better known for his ownership of the New York Daily News.)

Ratner is one notch above Vicki Been, Commissioner of the Department of Housing Preservation and Development, and one below the Rev. Al Sharpton, who actually saw his slot slip from 33 in the wake of the controversy involving his former spokeswoman Rachel Noerdlinger, who left her job as chief of staff to First Lady Chirlane McCray.

de Blasio and affordable housing

Though Gov. Andrew Cuomo leads the pack, swapping places with  de Blasio, the mayor has "been effective in solidifying his power on the city level," according to the magazine, which adds:
One area where he excels is in his affordable housing deals through partnerships with developers who get more market-rate space in return. The strategy of building higher has won over the real estate industry, the prospect of more jobs has kept labor happy, and progressive advocates are looking forward to a more affordable city. It seems like that is a win, win, win.
It's a win also because many "progressive advocates" are too scared to call him out on the deals.

Moving up significantly, to 58 from 85, was Gary LaBarbera, President, Building and Construction Trades Council, given de Blasio's push for building.

BerlinRosen and other lobbyists

Rising in influence, at 18 (from 24) and 17 (from 23) are Jonathan Rosen and Valerie Berlin, principals in BerlinRosen, which ran the de Blasio mayoral campaign and have since "been reaping the benefits." They count Forest City among their clients.

Two lobbyists that work for Forest City are doing well. Big lobbyist Suri Kasirer, President, Kasirer Consulting, dropped to 48 from 35, only because others have risen. Former Senator Alfonse D'Amato
Managing Director, Park Strategies, rose to 47 from 71.

Two major drops

Public Advocate Letitia James (updateddropped to 70 from 34, because she "has rarely taken action to check the power of Mayor Bill de Blasio and the City Council in her first year, and failed to make waves when she has." 

Bertha Lewis, President of The Black Institute, dropped significantly, to 99 from 42, because, though close to de Blasio, is playing less of a role "in determining the direction of New York City in a new progressive era" than once suspected.

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