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More from Doctoroff, Carter in post-Moses discussion

After going through my tape of the symposium Thursday night on the legacy of Robert Moses, I added numerous verbatim quotes from Deputy Mayor Dan Doctoroff and Sustainable South Bronx founder Majora Carter. Below are excerpts from that expanded article.

Carter said, "It's important to let history be our guide, because when terms like 'blight' get thrown around, it doesn't mean 'Let's fix the problem for the poor people we have now;' it's called 'Let's get poor people out so that the powers that be can push their projects that they want to see so developers can make a lot of money.'"

"Any time we think it's OK to sacrifice one demographic for another, we are making a deal with the devil," she said. "That's the kind of ideology that says 'It has to be big' and assumes that a few powerful and well-connected individuals know what's best, diverting the free market for themselves and their friends."

Closing discussion

The symposium closed as Carter commented that Mayor Mike Bloomberg's sustainability concept was good "but there's got to be a bigger effort;" the marketing campaign for the Olympics, she said, was an example of the city's willing to invest in communication.

"We are trying to reach out--we won't get it perfect," said Doctoroff, noting that the city had placed a 2030 plan brochure in every home-delivered newspaper in the city. "This isn't just about big projects," he said, noting that "we spent a year with a task force in Majora's neighborhood." Even in Hunts Point, he said, "as you know, there are big divisions about, on the one hand, environmental issues, versus having more jobs."

"That’s not true, Dan, I'm sorry,” she shot back. “We like jobs. We also want to breathe.” Applause.

"I think you know that we've been very, very sensitive to that," Doctoroff responded, "and we worked together for a very long time to try and come with a plan that satisfied everybody. Yes, at some point, we're going to have to deal with: where do we put a jail? On the other hand, we also are working with the people in the community to move into noxious location a prison barge that everyone has objected to. We're trying to get rid of waste transfer stations. We are trying to deal with the issues. Unfortunately, there are lots of things in this city that nobody wants in their own communities and we're trying the best we can do deal with them."

Doctoroff on AY

I caught up with Doctoroff after the panel to ask him a little about Atlantic Yards. "The question that comes up, listening to the talk about consultation," I said, "is that a lot of people in Brooklyn think there hasn't been enough. And you say you're getting better at it with the 2030 [plan]--how do you place Atlantic Yards in the paradigm?"

"Atlantic Yards, obviously, followed a state process, and that has a different set of rules," he responded.

"Doctoroff's Law," I riposted, referencing his earlier formulation, “The degree of difficulty in completing a public project is a mathematical function of the number of governmental entities involved."

(So Atlantic Yards was a state project, and the city had followed the letter of the law. But earlier in the session, author Tony Hiss cited the fate of Park West Village, a Moses development where the original covenants are expiring, allowing development to encroach on half the remaining open space. “Not breaking eggs,” Hiss said, “would be the city involving itself even though it’s not required.” The same might have been said about Atlantic Yards and ULURP.)

Doctoroff responded, "Look, I think we have certainly come around to the view that, generally speaking, more public input is a good thing. The question is: where do you draw the line? That's an issue that will continue to be discussed over time."


I said, "Someone brought up the issue of CBA, a Community Benefits Agreement, whether it's buying people off. I know there's a significant difference between the Atlantic Yards CBA and the Columbia [one], where there's actually an LDC [Local Development Corporation]. Have you come up with a paradigm for how CBAs should be?"

"Well, I don't think we have yet," he said. "On the one hand, what's the line between--where a project legitimately impacts a community versus using the political process to demand concessions from a developer or project sponsor. It's a very fuzzy line, one that we continue to explore."


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