Skip to main content

Author deMause on Zimbalist: "a lot of people don't take him as seriously"

This is the third of a multi-part interview (conducted May 28) with Neil deMause, the Brooklyn-based co-author of the book Field of Schemes: How the Great Stadium Swindle Turns Public Money Into Private Profit, and writer of the companion web site. He testified at a 3/29/07 Congressional hearing that questioned taxpayer financing of stadiums, convention centers, and hotels.

One curious thing I noticed about the new edition of Field of Schemes is that it appears with a prominent blurb from Smith College sports economist Andrew Zimbalist, one of the scholars on whom deMause and co-author Joanna Cagan relied for the first edition of the book.

Zimbalist, of course, is notorious for writing a "promotional" study of the economic impact of the Atlantic Yards project, paid for by developer Forest City Ratner, and defending it poorly, as on the Brian Lehrer Show Monday.

deMause v. Zimbalist

It's safe to say that Zimbalist would not blurb the revised and expanded edition, since deMause has since publicly clashed with him about the Yankees Stadium and the book contains a skeptical account--though not as extensive as my critique--of Zimbalist's Forest City Ratner-sponsored economic impact study of Atlantic Yards.

If the housing component of the AY development would generate the most revenues, as per Zimbalist's analysis, why, deMause asks rhetorically in the book, wouldn't the state find a developer to build just apartment buildings, which would require no eminent domain nor special subsidies?

(Zimbalist improbably maintains, as he did on the Brian Lehrer Show Monday, that the benefits for Forest City Ratner would be as-of-right.)

Zimbalist's damaged reputation

Q. What do you think Zimbalist's Atlantic Yards "study" does to his reputation? You’re talking with someone who thinks it’s been damaged.

deMause paused before answering, knowing that Zimbalist is a highly combative sort.

A. I’m trying to figure out what I’m going to say that won’t have Andy calling me on the phone and yelling at me. He would never actually pick up the phone. I think Andy already hates me, because I’ve called him out on a lot of stuff. I think that, from the people that I have spoken to in the field, there is a lot of surprise and a lot of curiosity as to why he’s been so gung-ho about the New York City projects, the Nets and the Yankees and Mets project.

He wrote that op-ed about the Yankees project in the Times, saying it was going to help gentrify the Bronx, which is a claim Andy has never made about anything and a weird one to be trying to sell as a good thing, given that one of the complaints was that it was going to gentrify the Bronx and drive people out of that area.

I think a lot of people are wondering why he did this, and has changed his tune so much on these projects, and wrote that book praising [baseball commissioner] Bud Selig. And I think there are a fair number of people who don’t take him seriously any more. There are certainly people who will talk to him and cite him and refer people to him. He’s still a smart economist, but the fact that this is someone who has said, oh, consulting reports paid for by sports team owners are worth crap and then went and did a consulting report paid for by a sports team owner--that doesn’t make him look very good.

Q. It was not peer reviewed.

A. Yeah. I don’t think it's destroyed his reputation by any means, but I think there are a lot of people who don’t take him as seriously as they used to. I certainly don’t. I used to think he was somebody who you could go to and would give you a straight answer based on his years and decades of study. I’ve just seen too much work by him that seems to be bending over backwards to make a project look good. His response, when I ask him about it, is What do you know, you’re not an economist.

I’m like, Yeah, I know I’m a journalist. That’s why my job is to question the economists. So, if the numbers don’t add up, I’ve got a calculator. So it’s been very difficult. Andy has always been a prickly guy in the best of times and he’s never taken kindly to people disagreeing with him on stuff.

Comments

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 …

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

This graphic, posted in November 2017, is post-dated to stay at the top of the blog. It will be updated as announced configurations change and buildings launch. Note the unbuilt B1 and the proposed shift in bulk to the unbuilt Site 5.

The August 2014 tentative configurations proposed by developer Greenland Forest City Partners will change. The project is already well behind that tentative timetable.

How many people are expected?

Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park has a projected 6,430 apartments housing 2.1 persons per unit (as per Chapter 4 of the 2006 Final Environmental Impact Statement), which would mean 13,503 new residents, with 1,890 among them in low-income affordable rentals, and 2,835 in moderate- and middle-income affordable rentals.

That leaves 8,778 people in market-rate rentals and condos, though let's call it 8,358 after subtracting 420 who may live in 200 promised below-market condos. So that's 5,145 in below-market units, though many of them won't be so cheap.

As…

The passing of David Sheets, Dean Street renter, former Freddy's bartender, eminent domain plaintiff, and singular personality

David Sheets, longtime Dean Street renter, Freddy's bartender, eminent domain plaintiff, and singular personality, died 1/17/18 in HCA Greenview Hospital in Bowling Green, KY. He was 56.

There are obituary notices in the Bowling Green Daily News and the Wichita Eagle, which state:
He was born in Wichita, KS where he attended public Schools and Wichita State University. He lived for many years in Brooklyn, NY, and was employed as a legal assistant. David's hobby was cartography and had an avid interest in Mass Transit Systems of the world. David was predeceased by his father, Kenneth E. Sheets. He is survived by his mother, Wilma Smith, step-brother, Billy Ray Smith and his wife, Jane all of Bowling Green; step-sister, Ellen Smith Alexander and her husband, Jerry of Bella Vista, AR; several cousins and step-nieces and step-nephews also survive. Memorial Services will be on Monday, January 22, 2018 at 1:00 pm with visitation from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm Monday at Johnson-Vaughn-Phe…

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…

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…