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AY CBA witness Bloomberg blasts CBAs as extortion; signatory Nimmons brushes off questions from The Local

There's an interesting addition to Mayor Mike Bloomberg's interview with reporters and editors from the Community Newspaper Group:
He also blasted the kinds of community benefits agreement that Ratner signed with several groups, some of which did not exist before they signed an agreement to support the project in exchange for some financial backing.

“I’m violently opposed to community benefits agreements,” he said. “A small group of people, to feather their own nests, extort money from the developer? That’s just not good government.”


Despite the segue, it's unclear whether Bloomberg specifically targeted the Atlantic Yards Community Benefits Agreement. As reported in the Times, he began criticizing CBAs in April 2006, less than a year after he presided over the ceremony for the AY CBA.

(Despite the headline on the mayor's site, he was a witness, not a signatory. Moreover, the press release was incoherent, having the mayor declare, "This Community Benefits Agreement is the largest private sector investment in Brooklyn's history.")

So much for the "modern blueprint" to harvest community support for AY, as discerned by a Times reporter in October 2005, during his first weeks on the AY beat.

Nimmons stays silent on AY

In The Local, Andy Newman describes how he got a press release from Council Member David Yassky naming Charlene Nimmons, who heads the CBA signatory Public Housing Communities, as contact person.

However, Newman couldn't get her to talk about Atlantic Yards or the City Council campaign of her friend Delia Hunley-Adossa, for whom she no longer serves as treasurer (but remains a supporter).

I wrote in March that neither Nimmons nor Hunley-Adossa would discuss whether Forest City Ratner supplies most of the funds to their organizations.

On July 22, Forest City Ratner executive Mary Anne Gilmartin confirmed at a public meeting that the developer provides funds to *all* of the signatories of the Community Benefits Agreement (including groups headed by Nimmons and Hunley-Adossa).

So, given the light workload of both nonprofits, the salaries Nimmons and Hunley-Adossa both draw from their nonprofits give them an opportunity to work on the campaign--which suggests that the developer is supporting the challenge to Council Member Letitia James even without direct contributions.

Comments

  1. I don't think there's any inconsistency on Bloomberg's part here. It's evident from his expression at the signing that he finds them distasteful, not so much because they allow developers to set up puppet community organisations and use money to brush aside the existing (marginally) more representative organisations. No Bloomberg sees them as a drag on the private sector's ability to transform neighborhoods as it knows best. Few people would make as their primary objection to CBAs a characterisation of them as "extortion" of a developer. I think he would prefer that this was all settled in a pow-wow in his bullpen.

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