Skip to main content

"Shame!" Crowd outside museum shouts "Ratner's bad for Brooklyn"

Maybe it's because a major anti-Atlantic Yards rally was held on a sweltering day or that the annual Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn walkathon fundraiser takes place in comfortable weather, while last night it was cold.

Maybe it was the ostentatious elegance of the tables set for the Brooklyn Museum's gala honoring Atlantic Yards developer Bruce Ratner.

(Photos by Adrian Kinloch, except the Gloria Mattera shot. Click to enlarge.)

Maybe it was the parade of limousines and SUVs bringing well-dressed guests--at $500 to $1000 and more a plate--to an event that protesters likely arrived at via the 2/3 subway line. Maybe it was a sense that Forest City Ratner, however stalled in its plans for most of Atlantic Yards, is in the driver's seat, with most elected officials yet to challenge the developer. Maybe it's that demolitions promise increased blight around the Atlantic Yards footprint. Maybe it's just the accumulation of grievances.

But the protest organized by Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn last night outside the museum was notably angry, with some 80 people gathering at one point, many chanting "Ratner is a liar" and "Shame on you" at vehicles coming to drop off their passengers. (More people arrived later, as others left, so total attendance probably topped 100.) Taking off from the museum's function, several people carried signs calling Ratner a "con artist."

Lawyer and urban planner Michael White, he of the lengthy open letter to the museum, wore a cape and recited quotes through the ages about "honor." (Sample: "Nobody can acquire honor by doing what is wrong."--Thomas Jefferson.)

A few protesters, including Green Party stalwart Gloria Mattera (left), wore evening dress.

(Here's the Brooklyn Paper's editorial justifying the protest and the contention by Sid Meyer that protesters went too far.)

A long night

The protest started at 6:30, when guests began arriving for the cocktail hour. Tables set in the museum's entry pavilion were joined by art from the museum's Murakami exhibition; projections on brick columns suggested the latticework of the Brooklyn Bridge.

As the night wore on and got colder, the crowd diminished somewhat but remained feisty. Because several still and video camerafolk had been filming, the protesters seemed unsurprised when a well-dressed man approached them and began snapping photos.

"Where are you from?" he was asked, the question implying an affiliation with news media.

"Brooklyn," he responded, and began a testy exchange. Closer inspection revealed he was wearing a laminated ID that said "Security." He continued to take pictures, then returned inside the museum with, likely, documentary evidence of Brooklyn residents never to appear on the museum's short list for the Augustus Graham Medal.

Though some people walking into the gala took protest flyers and others cordially ignored the protesters--heck, many were likely from Manhattan and points distant--not everyone bringing guests to the gala liked what they saw, as the photo shows.

Through the windows

Given the glass walls of the pavilion, speakers at the podium were visible, at least from the back.

The protest dissolved before the guest of honor spoke--he was to be introduced by Atlantic Yards architect Frank Gehry--but protesters did spot Borough President Marty Markowitz at the podium.

"Marty's Ratner's whore," some in the group shouted. That was soon amended to "Marty sucks" and then, more cordially and with more participation, "Marty sold out Brooklyn."

That almost surely was not the sentiment inside the museum. Perhaps not coincidentally, yesterday Crain's New York Business announced a "Business of Arts and Culture" breakfast April 30 on the topic "Dealing with controversy."

One of the three speakers will be Brooklyn Museum head Arnold Lehman, who famously clashed with Mayor Rudolph Giuliani over the "Sensation" show in 1999.

Now he has a fresher issue to discuss. After all, as one sign stated, "Elephant dung can be art. Eminent domain abuse can't." Another decried a "'Dung' Deal."

Comments

  1. Yep that was me expressing my opinion.

    Sid Meyer

    ReplyDelete
  2. Sid Meyer's logic is deeply flawed, and his ignorance really speaks to the reason this protest was direly needed.

    The gala in Ratner's name was basically a non-monetary honorarium, which would be all well and good if the honoree weren't completely corrupt. I would want to ask Meyer the simple question: if Charles Manson were wealthy enough to make several $100K donations to the Museum, should the Museum likewise honor him?

    Though a reductio ad Hitlerum, this line of rhetorical probing gets to the heart of the issue.

    The Brooklyn Museum made a fundamentally bad decision in honoring an amoral, opportunistic slime like Ratner, someone who is anything but positive for the communities of Brooklyn.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Full coverage of what happened INSIDE is on The Brooklyn Paper website at http://www.brooklynpaper.com/stories/31/14/31_14_gehry_to_brooklyn_paper.html

    ReplyDelete
  4. I want to share with people the “quotes through the ages about `honor’" I was reading last night- . . .
    . . . .It seems to me that when “honors” are handed out at grand events the use of time-tested quotes is a tradition worth observing.

    I hope the quotes below are choicely apt (they were also on placards at the event) :

    "Nobody can acquire honor by doing what is wrong"
    Thomas Jefferson

    "Dignity does not consist in possessing honors, but in deserving them."
    Aristotle

    "Those who give, hoping to be rewarded with honor, are not giving, they are bargaining"
    Philo Judaeus

    "Fail to honor people, they fail to honor you"
    Lao Tzu

    "Rather fail with honor than succeed by fraud."
    Sophocles

    "The greatest way to live with honor in this world is to be what we pretend to be."
    Socrates

    "The most tragic thing in the world is a man of genius who is not a man of honor"
    George Bernard Shaw

    "He has honor if he holds himself to an ideal of conduct though it is inconvenient, unprofitable, or dangerous to do so."
    Walter Lippman

    "Honor sinks where commerce long prevails."
    Oliver Goldsmith

    "One of the common failings among honorable people is a failure to appreciate how thoroughly dishonorable some other people can be, and how dangerous it is to trust them"
    Thomas Sowell

    "The louder he talked of his honor, the faster we counted our spoons."
    Ralph Waldo Emerson

    I’d also like to note that I think the Brooklyn Museum still has a debt to pay to the community over this event so I do not view the matter as entirely at rest.

    I refer people to my open letter to the Museum. It was not designed as a “petition” (it is personal, and it isn’t short or written in vague consensus-generating bromides) but it is something that people are signing on to endorse. Though it’s only been publicly available a few days it has over a hundred endorsements so far. I think there is value to continue collecting endorsements just as I think there would be value for there to be days when we are again outside the Museum to collect signatures and acquaint and educate Museum attendees about the rectification I believe the Museum now owes to the community with respect to this matter.

    The letter, for those who want to sign on as endorsers or to it or pass it along to others is at:

    http://www.dddb.net/php/reading/MuseumLetter.php

    ReplyDelete
  5. Ratner is not Charles Manson. He is has been the chair of BAM for over ten years, clearly a laudable institution. My logic may be flawed but you comparison is insulting and probably intentionally so. So my statement that this is part of the no hold- no prisoner attacks is probably quite apt.

    I assume if Charles Manson made such a donation it would be rejected.
    You may disagree with Ratner but so far as I know he has violated any criminal law, except to the extent that he has had the state set aside the New York City zoning laws with the City's approval.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Regarding this “Charles Manson” “reductio ad Hitlerum” debate that is going on in these comments: David Cay Johnston in his interviews typically makes the point that the critical problems we are facing are not what is done that “is illegal” but what is legal that absolutely shouldn’t be and that has been obtained through abuse of influence. (Along these lines, One of his books is even titled “Perfectly Legal.”) My letter points out that what Ratner has done in the way of collecting no-bid subsides through influence makes it very hard to distinguish his actions from other situations where people do get sent to prison. To the extent that a legal difference might have been created it has been done in the name of very bad urban planning practices and egregious governance. And that doesn’t mean that the activities are not antisocial. This is not to say that I am giving Ratner a pass on legality. I don’t think we know enough about what has been done in terms of influence since it was covert.

    I remember that money has been rejected from Arab Sheiks though they have not “broken any laws.” The question here is not whether money should be accepted (some would not) but whether an honor should be awarded. It is also a question of timing. Ten years ago, before Atlantic Yards, maybe someone could have honored Ratner for something BAM related notwithstanding the poor quality of some of his development or his over-reliance on subsidy. That was then. This is now. Atlantic Yards is poised to do incredible harm to Brooklyn. That harm is intrinsically related Ratner’s abuse of process including the gratuitous abuse eminent domain for greater windfall. The use of what this site has referred to as his “shadowy foundation” for promotion of these practices is a serious problem and the public is thereby harmed. Accordingly, the activities of the protestors, myself included, are proportionate to the ills Mr. Ratner is visiting upon the community.

    I know I have repeated myself in these remarks. That is for the sake of those for whom what I said in my letter has not yet registered.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Barclays Center/Levy Restaurants hit with suit charging discrimination on disability, race; supervisors said to use vicious slurs, pursue retaliation

The Daily News has an article today, Barclays Center hit with $5M suit claiming discrimination against disabled, while the New York Post headlined its article Barclays Center sued over taunting disabled employees.

While that's part of the lawsuit, more prominent are claims of racial discrimination and retaliation, with black employees claiming repeated abuse by white supervisors, preferential treatment toward Hispanic colleagues, and retaliation in response to complaints.

Two individual supervisors, for example, are charged with  referring to black employees as “black motherfucker,” “dumb black bitch,” “black monkey,” “piece of shit” and “nigger.”

Two have referred to an employee blind in one eye as “cyclops,” and “the one-eyed guy,” and an employee with a nose disorder as “the nose guy.”

There's been no official response yet though arena spokesman Barry Baum told the Daily News they, but take “allegations of this kind very seriously” and have "a zero tolerance policy for…

Behind the "empty railyards": 40 years of ATURA, Baruch's plan, and the city's diffidence

To supporters of Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Yards project, it's a long-awaited plan for long-overlooked land. "The Atlantic Yards area has been available for any developer in America for over 100 years,” declared Borough President Marty Markowitz at a 5/26/05 City Council hearing.

Charles Gargano, chairman of the Empire State Development Corporation, mused on 11/15/05 to WNYC's Brian Lehrer, “Isn’t it interesting that these railyards have sat for decades and decades and decades, and no one has done a thing about them.” Forest City Ratner spokesman Joe DePlasco, in a 12/19/04 New York Times article ("In a War of Words, One Has the Power to Wound") described the railyards as "an empty scar dividing the community."

But why exactly has the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Vanderbilt Yard never been developed? Do public officials have some responsibility?

At a hearing yesterday of the Brooklyn Borough Board Atlantic Yards Committee, Kate Suisma…

No, security guards can't ban photos. Questions remain about visibility of ID/sticker system.

The bi-monthly Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Community Update meeting June 14, held at 55 Hanson Place, addressed multiple issues, including delays in the project, a new detente with project neighbors,concerns about traffic congestion, upcoming sewer work and demolitions, and an explanation of how high winds caused debris to fly off the under-construction 38 Sixth Avenue building. I'll have more coverage.
Security issues came up several times at the meeting.
Wayne Bailey, a resident who regularly takes photos and videos (that I often use) of construction/operations issues that impact residents, asked representatives of Tishman Construction if the security guard at the sites they're building works for them.
After Tishman Senior VP Eric Reid said yes, Bailey asked why a guard told him not to shoot video of the site, even though he was on a public street.

"I will address it with principals for that security firm," Reid said.
Forest City Ratner executive Ashley Cotton, the …

Barclays Center event June 11 to protest plans to expand Israeli draft; questions about logistics

At right is a photo of a poster spotted in Hasidic Williamsburg right. Clearly there's an event scheduled at the Barclays Center aimed at the Haredi Jewish community (strict Orthodox Jews who reject secular culture), but the lack of English text makes it cryptic.

The website Matzav.com explains, Protest Against Israeli Draft of Bnei Yeshiva Rescheduled for Barclays Center:
A large asifa to protest the drafting of bnei yeshiva in Eretz Yisroel into the Israeli army that had been set to take place this month will instead be held on Sunday, 17 Sivan/June 11, at the Barclays Center in Downtown Brooklyn, NY. So attendees at a big gathering will protest an apparent change of policy that will make it much more difficult for traditional Orthodox Jewish students--both Hasidic (who follow a rebbe) and non-Hasidic (who don't)--to get deferments from the draft. Comments on the Yeshiva World website explain some of the debate.

The logistical questions

What's unclear is how large the ev…

Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park graphic: what's built/what might be coming (post-dated pinned post)

Click on graphic to enlarge. This is post-dated to stay at the top of the blog. It will be updated as announced configurations change and buildings launch. The August 2014 tentative configurations proposed by developer Greenland Forest City Partners will change, and the project is already well behind that tentative timetable.


Atlanta's Atlantic Yards moves ahead

First mentioned in April, the Atlantic Yards project in Atlanta is moving ahead--and has the potential to nudge Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn further down in Google searches.

According to a 5/30/17 press release, Hines and Invesco Real Estate Announce T3 West Midtown and Atlantic Yards:
Hines, the international real estate firm, and Invesco Real Estate, a global real estate investment manager, today announced a joint venture on behalf of one of Invesco Real Estate’s institutional clients to develop two progressive office projects in Atlanta totalling 700,000 square feet. T3 West Midtown will be a 200,000-square-foot heavy timber office development and Atlantic Yards will consist of 500,000 square feet of progressive office space in two buildings. Both projects are located on sites within Atlantic Station in the flourishing Midtown submarket.
Hines will work with Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture (HPA) as the design architect for both T3 West Midtown and Atlantic Yards. DLR Group will be t…

Not quite the pattern: Greenland selling development sites, not completed condos

Real Estate Weekly, reporting on trends in Chinese investment in New York City, on 11/18/15 quoted Jim Costello, a senior vice president at research firm Real Capital Analytics:
“They’re typically building high-end condos, build it and sell it. Capital return is in a few years. That’s something that is ingrained in the companies that have been coming here because that’s how they’ve grown in the last 35 years. It’s always been a development game for them. So they’re just repeating their business model here,” he said. When I read that last November, I didn't think it necessarily applied to Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park, now 70% owned (outside of the Barclays Center and B2 modular apartment tower), by the Greenland Group, owned significantly by the Shanghai government.
A majority of the buildings will be rentals, some 100% market, some 100% affordable, and several--the last several built--are supposed to be 50% market/50% subsidized. (See tentative timetable below.)

Selling development …