Skip to main content

The untrustworthy men of God: how the (paid by Ratner) Revs. Daughtry and Sharpton twisted the truth

Last week and this one I'll try to compensate slightly for the failure of any metro columnists to show up and glean insights from the rich spectacle of the Barclays Center groundbreaking March 11.

It always goes down easier when it comes from a man of the cloth, right?

Even more than politicians, they can walk up to a podium and speak with brio, no matter the facts. And the Reverends Herbert Daughtry and Al Sharpton, however slender their understanding of the Atlantic Yards, know whose side they're on.

And while they may in their hearts genuinely believe in AY, the financial contributions they've received from Forest City Ratner surely make it less likely they'd do any real research.

The invocation

He's a legend, right, the man who gave the invocation? Had any of the journalists covering the groundbreaking been to the May 2009 state Senate oversight hearing at the Pratt Institute, they would've remembered how Daughtry heckled throughout.

Or they might have remembered that Daughtry refused to say how much money Forest City Ratner contributed to his fledging Downtown Brooklyn Neighborhood Alliance (DBNA). Or that, in the promotional Brooklyn Standard of 2005, Daughtry called Bruce Ratner's customary manner "humble, winsome."

Talking to God, as Daughtry put it, he deceptively described the Atlantic Yards site as being transformed from a "long-neglected, rodent-infested, garbage-strewn strip of geography into a modern oasis of splendid residential and commercial dwellings."

Only Dave D'Alessandro of the Star-Ledger noticed, commenting, "There wasn’t much chance of anyone walking it back from there."

(Photos copyright James Leynse)

Daughtry closed with words from "Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing," the black national anthem.

What about the Russian national anthem?

This arena, this groundbreaking, may have some trickle-down benefits for black Brooklyn, even substantial ones, but not as a percentage of the project and the public subsidies.

(By the way, Daughtry testified at the 8/23/06 hearing on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement that he lived “not far from the project” but “also happen to live in New Jersey and I happen to live in Augusta, Georgia.” That’s obfuscatory; his book No Monopoly on Suffering: Blacks and Jews in Crown Heights (and Elsewhere) explains that he and his wife raised their children at their home in Teaneck, NJ.)

Daughtry: hope and reality

The Amsterdam News reported this week:
He’s particularly pleased with the state-of-the-art health facility that will be built, aimed at improving health disparities in the community, especially in Fort Greene, which has a high infant mortality rate.

“I’ve been in this neighborhood for 40 years, and no other developer have ever come to me,” he said. “Ratner came to meet me in the community and he said he’s prepared to put his money into the community’s foundation.”

Daughtry told the AmNews that his organization negotiated getting a luxury suite at the Barclays Center to use as an incentive for a program that encourages students to improve their grades in school. He also said that he would receive 50 to 100 tickets to all events to give to community members who would usually not have access.
Well, the health facility he mentions is not even in the Empire State Development Corporation's Memo of Environmental Commitments.

It's supposed to be in Phase 1 of the project, which could take 12 years. Here's the description in Chapter 1, Project Description, of the Final Environmental Impact Statement:
The proposed project would also include a 20,000-sf health care facility that would provide a broad range of health care services to the community. Services at this proposed facility (program being developed) could include primary care and preventative services, specialty care, diagnostic testing and ancillary services and related support services to improve the management of prevalent chronic diseases. This health center would occupy a portion of the residential space and would be constructed during Phase I.
And who's going to pay for it? The Community Benefits Agreement says:
While it is understood that the Project Developer will continue to work with and assist DBNA in the implementation of the health care center initiative, except as otherwise provided in this Agreement or the Project Implementation Plan, the Project Developer shall have no obligation to provide on-going operational funding to the health care center.
No other developer has ever come to Daughtry? Is it really that little--the gesture of inclusion and some tens of thousands of dollars--that justifies it all in his mind?

As for Daughtry's claims of a suite, maybe they're talking about an unsold suite, but here's what the CBA says:
The Arena Developer will designate one (1) box and four (4) seats within the lower bowl, and fifty (50) seats in the upper bowl, for community use with priority given to seniors and youths for all events throughout the year.
It doesn't explicitly say that those tickets would go through Daughtry, but that seems to be his impression of the deal.

The upper bowl tickets would have a face value of $15. Let's put aside the possibility that, as with this year, the tickets might have no value. At $15 each, 50 tickets represent a face value of $750. Over 41 home games and three pre-season games, the total would be $33,000 a year.

Meanwhile, Forest City Ratner last year got a $31 million boost in subsidies from the city. It can afford some relative crumbs, especially when channeled through such a voluble advocate.

Sharpton's speech: a distraction from ACORN

Sharpton, a recipient of Forest City Ratner largesse, can be very useful to the developer. In 2005, he attacked mayoral candidate Freddy Ferrer when the latter belatedly came out against Atlantic Yards.

(Sharpton officially moved his residence from New Jersey to Brooklyn in 1996 so he could run for mayor. Newcomer?)

At the groundbreaking, Sharpton seemed to be a substitute for ACORN's Bertha Lewis, historically a prominent presence at AY-related events--heck, she MC'd the press event/rally before the August 2006 hearing on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement--but now head of a group with some very distracting baggage.

No need to tangle Forest City Ratner in ACORN's problems--beyond, of course, that $1.5 million bailout. (The bailout, interestingly enough, didn't save ACORN from dissolution, but it helped keep ACORN on its feet through the groundbreaking. Money well spent.)

There was little talk about the affordable housing plan--the term 50/50 did not escape anyone's lips--but a lot about minority empowerment.

Empowering Jay-Z

A minority of one, that one being a multi-millionaire named Jay-Z, a minority owner of the Nets.

"This project has gone through many hurdles, and there are those that continue to take different views," Sharpton declared, sounding statesmanlike without actually understanding the project. "But I want to say that what this project represents, in terms of jobs and contracts and inclusion, is something that weighs heavily on the need of a national mentality for a model on how we do these types of programs."

Actually, Mayor Bloomberg calls CBAs "extortion."

After making further vague references to the CBA, Sharpton moved on to everyone's favorite trope: The Brooklyn Dodgers. "Let me say this, also: the symbolism of what this team will mean," said the New Jersey resident. "When I was growing up in Brooklyn, my mother used to tell me about how it made her feel, that she could go to Ebbets Field before I was born, and see Jackie Robinson play. Jackie Robinson was the first black to own--to be able to play in major league baseball. He played his first games right here in Brooklyn and broke the color line in terms of major league baseball players. I'm glad I lived to see the color line in ownership broken in Brooklyn, where we've gone from Jackie to Jay-Z, where we can not only play the game but we can own a piece of the game. So my mother saw Jackie and my daughters will see Jay-Z--we have come a long way."

Members of the public should root for an owner, one who owns a tiny piece of the team?

Sharpton somehow neglected to point out that in June 2006, the majority owner of the Charlotte Bobcats, Robert L. Johnson, founder of Black Entertainment Television, announced that Brooklyn-born Michael Jordan would become the second-largest investor--two black men running a basketball team.

"But we have a long way to go," Sharpton continued. "And I think that progress takes tension, it takes discomfort--you can't have a baby without labor pains. But let the baby be born. Let us go forth. The pain is over in terms of the negotiations."

Negotiations? He probably didn't mean arm's length negotiations dubiously claimed by the ESDC. He probably did mean the CBA "negotiations" that involved only groups favorable to the project and neglected, for example, the three local community boards.

"Let's break ground on a new day, where in Brooklyn all of us will build together, work together, and share together," he said, unmindful of the fact that so few Brooklyn officials--and no local reps--were on the dais. "Let those of us that are concerned about the affordable housing keep on advocating, but let us also know that... people like Jay-Z out of the Marcy Projects can now sit back in the owner's box and say that we have a piece of the rock, too. That's why I came to Brooklyn."

Who, Rev. Sharpton, is "we"?


  1. I think one quote says it all..."we've gone from Jackie to Jay-Z."

    We have gon from someone who couldn't be bought who, as far a as I can tell, had a top notch mind that was applied outside his chosen field to a group of lap-dogs and, to use words that Sharpton uses, interlopers sniffing around for a morsel.

    No top notch minds involved in this one. It is pretty telling that Branch Rickey could mix business and social justice getting much more social justice than $$ whereas this situation paints a veneer of social justice on a billion dollar boon-doggle.


  2. African American businessmen Peter Bynoe and Bertram Lee acquired a 32.5% stake in the Denver Nuggets in 1989, and also served as managing general partners, with Bynoe running day-to-day operations.

    Their tenure was not terribly successful, but compared to the current state of the Nets and Jay-Z's tiny sliver of an ownership stake, Bynoe and Lee were far more "black Branch Rickey (and Walter O'Malley)" than Mr. Carter.


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 …

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

This graphic, posted in February 2018, 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--but not yet approved--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…

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…

Some skepticism on Belmont hockey deal: lease value seems far below Aqueduct racino; unclear (but large?) cost for LIRR service

As I wrote for The Bridge 12/20/1, The Islanders Say Bye to Brooklyn, But Where Next?, the press conference announcing a new arena at Belmont Park for the New York Islanders was "long on pomp... but short on specifics."

Notably, a lease valued at $40 million "upfront to lease up to 43 acres over 49 years... seems like a good deal on rent for the state-controlled property." Also, the Long Island Rail Road will expand service to Belmont.

That indicates public support for an arena widely described as "privately financed," but how much? We don't know yet, but some more details--or at least questions--have emerged.

An Aqueduct comparable?

Well, we don't know what the other bid was, and there aren't exactly parcels that large offering direct comparables.

But consider: Genting New York LLC in September 2010 was granted a franchise to operate a video lottery terminal under a 30 year lease on 67 acres at Aqueduct Park (as noted by Gov. Andrew Cuomo).


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…