Skip to main content

Taking a look at the primary; was AY a factor in the District Leader race?

What to make of the primary election? Well, as it's clear that the three Atlantic Yards opponents (see the Atlantic Yards Voter Guide) didn't win, but in only one race Atlantic Yards was likely a factor and it's unclear how much.

Similarly, after the 2006 primary, I wrote that the results certainly weren't a referendum against the project--as many AY opponents sought to achieve--but they weren't a referendum for the project.

The Towns-Powell race

The New York Times's CityRoom blog on Wednesday, in an article headlined Winners and Losers in the Primary, declared that one loser was the Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats (CBID), which endorsed writer and activist Kevin Powell, "who lost overwhelmingly to the longtime incumbent Edolphus Towns." (Powell criticized Atlantic Yards, while Towns is a supporter. CBID is led by AY opponents Chris Owens and Lucy Koteen.)

Towns, who outraised Powell by a significant factor (including contributions from the Ratner family), won 22,586 votes (67.2%), versus Powell's total of 11,046 (32.8%), according to the Brooklyn Paper

In 2006 Towns won 19,469 votes, while rival Charles Barron (an AY opponent) got 15,345 votes and Roger Green got 6,237 votes. The difference is more likely attributable to Barron's greater profile in the district and Towns's more significant campaign effort.

The 57th District Leader

The Times observed that CBID also lost in endorsing Bill Saunders, longtime incumbent Democratic 57th District leader, who was defeated by challenger Walter Mosley, who has ties to Towns and others in the Brooklyn Democratic organization. (I haven't seen the vote totals.) CBID cited "Mosley’s tepid criticism of Atlantic Yards" as a factor in the endorsement, though CBID said members were impressed by him.

Saunders was backed by City Council Member Letitia James and State Senator Velmanette Montgomery, both AY opponents, while Mosley was supported by (and campaigned with) Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries and State Senator Eric Adams, a mild critic and a supporter of the project. (The Times declared Jeffries and Adams winners in the primary.)

Mosley, a lawyer, is part of a well-known political family and is two generations younger than Saunders, so there were likely multiple factors at work, well beyond AY. Still, if the race reflected the relative power of James/Montgomery vs. Jeffries/Adams, at least in the 57th, the edge goes to the latter.

The Squadron win

Challenger Daniel Squadron's narrow victory over incumbent State Senator Martin Connor likely had little to do with Atlantic Yards. Note that Atlantic Yards Voter Guide expressed skepticism about Squadron, citing his support from AY backers Sen. Charles Schumer and Mayor Mike Bloomberg.

Still, it's worth noting that Squadron's camp positioned the challenger as a critic of Atlantic Yards, compared to Connor's caution.

The Silver win

Veteran Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver easily defeated challengers Paul Newell and Luke Henry, even though Newell got endorsements from the New York Times, the New York Daily News, and the New York Post. The power of incumbency, as well as a history of delivering pork for his neighborhood, was clearly more important to constituents than criticism of the "three men in a room" political arrangement in the state.

Newell criticized Silver on a number of fronts, including his coziness with the powerful. On Monday's Brian Lehrer Show, Newell, at 19:15, brought up Forest City Ratner:
When someone is as powerful as Sheldon Silver has been, the people who get into that room are other powerful people. It's not that he's a bad guy. I think he does care about the fact that we have overcrowded schools. But what's his solution? He goes to one of his largest donors, Bruce Ratner, gives him millions and millions of dollars in subsidies and tax breaks to build a 76-story luxury tower that we need like a hole in the head, and build a school in the basement, ostensibly, that we're going to get, maybe, in five years, if we're lucky. He's already pushed it back two years, and the market's going to push it back again."

Newell suggested that a school could open in September 2009 by converting office space. Note that Ratner has given big to the Democratic Assembly Campaign Committee's Housekeeping account, but I haven't found evidence he's given directly to Silver. (His brother Michael Ratner and Michael's wife Karen Ranucci each gave Silver $3000 two years ago.)

The main tax breaks for the Beekman Tower include Liberty Bonds and a convoluted approval of 421-a subsidies. (I'm not sure of Silver's role.)


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…

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 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…

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 …

Forest City acknowledges unspecified delays in Pacific Park, cites $300 million "impairment" in project value; what about affordable housing pledge?

Updated Monday Nov. 7 am: Note follow-up coverage of stock price drop and investor conference call and pending questions.

Pacific Park Brooklyn is seriously delayed, Forest City Realty Trust said yesterday in a news release, which further acknowledged that the project has caused a $300 million impairment, or write-down of the asset, as the expected revenues no longer exceed the carrying cost.

The Cleveland-based developer, parent of Brooklyn-based Forest City Ratner, which is a 30% investor in Pacific Park along with 70% partner/overseer Greenland USA, blamed the "significant impairment" on an oversupply of market-rate apartments, the uncertain fate of the 421-a tax break, and a continued increase in construction costs.

While the delay essentially confirms the obvious, given that two major buildings have not launched despite plans to do so, it raises significant questions about the future of the project, including:
if market-rate construction is delayed, will the affordable h…

"There is no alternative": DM Glen on de Blasio's affordable housing strategy

As I've written, Mayor Bill de Blasio sure knows how to steer and spin coverage of his affordable housing initiatives.

Indeed, his latest announcement, claiming significant progress, came with a pre-press release op-ed in the New York Daily News and then a friendly photo-op press conference with an understandably grateful--and very lucky--winner of an affordable housing lottery.

To me, though, the most significant quote came from Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen, who, as the Wall Street Journal reported:
said public housing had been “starved” of federal support for years now, leaving the city with fewer ways of creating affordable housing. “Are we relying too heavily on the private sector?” she said. “There is no alternative.” Though Glen was using what she surely sees as a common-sense phrase, it recalls the slogan of a politician with whom I doubt de Blasio identifies: former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, a Conservative who believed in free markets.

It suggests the limits to …