Saturday, February 27, 2016

From the City & State Power 100: Berlin/Rosen, Ratner, and Kasirer (and housing runs through DM Glen)

The 2016 City & State Power 100 has more than a few people linked to the Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park project, and while I'm not going to detail the obvious (Governor Andrew Cuomo, Mayor Bill de Blasio), I wanted to highlight a few, and note how de Blasio's Deputy Mayor Mayor Alicia Glen is said to run his housing plan.

At #16 (last year individually ranked at 17 and 18):
Valerie Berlin / Jonathan Rosen
Principals, BerlinRosen
Don’t take our word for it – just listen to what government watchdogs said last year when NY1 did extensive reporting on the consulting firm’s close relationship with the de Blasio administration. Those watchdogs like to use BerlinRosen as an example of a system they view as flawed, which just adds weight to the argument that the growing firm is having a clear impact on the policy decisions being made in the city.
BerlinRosen offers the Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park developers a key link to City Hall.

Ratner and housing

At #45 (last year ranked at 42):
Bruce Ratner
Executive Vice President and Director, Forest City Enterprises
The real estate mogul is often under fire from community groups in Brooklyn alleging that he hasn’t lived up to his agreement to build affordable housing and create jobs for low-income workers at the Atlantic Yards Project, but the negative press hasn’t appeared to hurt Ratner. In fact, he seems to be as strong as ever thanks to his close relationship with the de Blasio administration as one of the real estate industry’s most vocal supporters of the mayor.
Well, he hasn't lived up to his agreement to build affordable housing even as he builds affordable housing. The negative press "hasn't appeared to hurt Ratner" because too few point that out.

I'd note that his close relationship with the de Blasio administration should be seen as a partnership with Forest City Ratner CEO MaryAnne Gilmartin, who was on the mayor's transition team (and probably, by now, should be twinned with Ratner in these rankings).

Last year, Ratner was one notch above Vicki Been, Commissioner of the Department of Housing Preservation and Development, and one below the Rev. Al Sharpton. This year, neither appear on the list. Instead, at #7 (up from #38), we have:
Alicia Glen
New York City Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development
It’s pretty rare to see any major variation in the ranking of the top 10 most powerful city politicians, but Glen skyrockets up this list because of her increasingly visible and vital role as Mayor de Blasio’s top deputy. Glen’s position also dovetails with one of the mayor’s signature programs – the creation and preservation of 200,000 units of affordable housing – and de Blasio has given her enormous leeway as the primary negotiator (and cheerleader) for that initiative. Insiders say that the city’s entire housing apparatus runs through her office.
Glen’s Goldman Sachs pedigree and brusque manner – her informal tagline for the housing plan, per New York magazine, was “We’re getting shit done” – has certainly not won over housing advocates or community boards who want deeper affordability in the program. But Glen has helped forge an important alliance with real estate developers who could have easily balked at a mandate for affordable housing development. If Glen can help clear the housing program’s next hurdle, City Council approval, her influence in City Hall will be further solidified.
(Emphasis added)

This year Ratner is one notch ahead of real estate developer and New York Daily News owner Mort Zuckerman, who previously was #24. Developer Rob Speyer is at #25 (up from #34) and developer Bill Rudin is at #23 (up from #31).

Another lobbyist, and more

At #53  (last year ranked at 48), is a major Forest City Ratner lobbyist:
Suri Kasirer
Founder and President, Kasirer Consulting
Year after year Kasirer and her firm are among the top consultants in New York City. Kasirer Consulting’s clients include some of the biggest companies in New York City. While they were displaced from the top slot last year, they remain among the elite lobbying and consulting firms in New York City – Kasirer, Omar Alvarellos, Julie Greenberg, Peter Krokondelas and other associates are go-to consultants for companies with business before the city.
"Top consultants"=lots of revenue=get their clients results=not necessarily the public interest.

Also, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams remains at #44, Public Advocate Letitia James bumped up to #50 from #70 (after a previous 34-point drop), and Black Institute head Bertha Lewis, who last year dropped to #99 from #42, is no longer on the list.

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