Skip to main content

Council Member Tish James wins Democratic runoff for Public Advocate, will be first black woman elected to citywide office; FCR supported opponent

In a runoff election because no candidate hit 40% in the Democratic primary, 35th District Council Member (and Atlantic Yards opponent) Letitia (Tish) James beat Brooklyn state Senator Daniel Squadron with nearly 60% of the vote after a sometimes bitter race.

That's tantamount to victory, though there are small-party challengers on the ballot in November. (The expensive runoff also prompted a push for instant runoff voting, in which voters mark second preferences at the primary.)

Though turnout was low (under 200,000), given no others on the ballot, it was higher than expected, a tribute perhaps to James's strength with unions, the Working Families Party, her campaign push, and the notion that, in a city where white men are poised to win the mayor's office and comptroller, it would be good to have a minority woman in citywide office.

Indeed, as James said emotionally in her victory speech (on NY1), flanked by Comptroller John Liu and Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito, she'd be the first black woman to hold a citywide office.

"No, Mayor Bloomberg, we don't need any more millionaires," she said, suggesting the city needs to boost working families and the middle class. (Of course, Bloomberg would say millionaires help pay the bills.) She ran hard against Bloomberg, echoing Bill de Blasio's mayoral strategy, while painting Squadron as a Bloomberg supporter.

James vs. Squadron



Turnout

Note the turnout in Central Brooklyn and Brownstone Brooklyn, according to WNYC's map, below. And note, in this WNYC map, above, how James won heavily in black and Hispanic districts.




The summary

As the Times reported:
Ms. James, who held a packed victory party at the Copacabana in Midtown, gave a sermonlike victory speech to cheering supporters, saying that she would be proud to make history as “the first woman of color to hold citywide office in New York City,” promising to fight for middle-class New Yorkers, and suggesting that Mr. Squadron had been supported by the political elite and “one-percenters.”
“Despite being outspent, we won tonight,” she said.
A former public defender and assistant New York State attorney general, she was first elected to the City Council in 2003 on the Working Families Party’s ballot line, becoming the first member of the party elected to office in New York State.
On the Council, she was an outspoken critic of the Atlantic Yards project in Downtown Brooklyn [not actually downtown], arguing that it was too large and would lead to “the Manhattanization of Brooklyn.” She also opposed the extension of term limits by the Council in 2008.
Ms. James, who described herself in one of the primary debates as “a thorn to bureaucracy and those who represent the elite throughout the City of New York,” said that as public advocate she would focus on affordable housing and taking the concerns of public school parents to the Education Department.
In addition to labor unions, she was endorsed by Gloria Steinem and women’s groups like Emily’s List, Planned Parenthood and the local chapter of the National Organization for Women.
Mr. Squadron was endorsed by Senator Charles E. Schumer, the two former public advocates, and three daily newspapers.
Those daily endorsements didn't work for Council Speaker Christine Quinn, either.

The Ratner connection

As I wrote last March, In the race for Public Advocate, where James was one of three [later four] candidates, Forest City-related contributions clearly favored fundraising leader Squadron, who's pretty much sat out the AY debate and is close with project supporter  Schumer.

Bruce Ratner's sister Ellen Ratner gave the maximum $4950 to Squadron, as did his wife Pamela Lipkin. Also, Bruce Ratner bundled two max contributions from the two associates, Arthur and Selma Rabin. That's a total of four contributions worth $17,800.



Also, Forest City executives Ashley Cotton and MaryAnne Gilmartin gave Squadron $400 and $200, respectively.

That's not to say James would focus on Atlantic Yards in the rather undefined job of Public Advocate.

But it's likely she'll approach AY with more skepticism than either Democratic mayoral nominee Bill de Blasio, who tops the polls, or Republican nominee Joe Lhota. After all, she was quoted last week regarding a legal victory by those challenging the state's re-approval of the project:
“The Court has acknowledged what many of my constituents have known all along—that an agency of the State of New York has failed, and continues to fail, to represent their interests in favor of those of a powerful corporate developer,” said Councilmember Letitia James, who represents the neighborhoods of Fort Greene, Prospect Heights, Clinton Hill and Crown Heights. “ESDC needs to bring fundamental change to the oversight of this project to ensure public benefits get delivered before private profit.”

Comments

  1. My name is James Lane and I want to make history as the first Green Party Public Advocate of New York City!

    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…

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…

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…

Revising official figures, new report reveals Nets averaged just 11,622 home fans last season, Islanders drew 11,200 (and have option to leave in 2018)

The Brooklyn Nets drew an average of only 11,622 fans per home game in their most recent (and lousy) season, more than 23% below the announced official attendance figure, and little more than 65% of the Barclays Center's capacity.

The New York Islanders also drew some 19.4% below announced attendance, or 11,200 fans per home game.

The surprising numbers were disclosed in a consultant's report attached to the Preliminary Official Statement for the refinancing of some $462 million in tax-exempt bonds for the Barclays Center (plus another $20 million in taxable bonds). The refinancing should lower costs to Mikhail Prokhorov, owner of the arena operating company, by and average of $3.4 million a year through 2044 in paying off arena construction.

According to official figures, the Brooklyn Nets attendance averaged 17,187 in the debut season, 2012-13, 17,251 in 2013-14, 17,037 in 2014-15, and 15,125 in the most recent season, 2015-16. For hoops, the arena holds 17,732.

But official…

At 550 Vanderbilt, big chunk of apartments pitched to Chinese buyers as "international units"

One key to sales at the 550 Vanderbilt condo is the connection to China, thanks to Shanghai-based developer Greenland Holdings.

It's the parent of Greenland USA, which as part of Greenland Forest City Partners owns 70% of Pacific Park (except 461 Dean and the arena).

And sales in China may help explain how the developer was able to claim early momentum.
"Since 550 Vanderbilt launched pre-sales in June [2015], more than 80 residences have gone into contract, representing over 30% of the building’s 278 total residences," the developer said in a 9/25/15 press release announcing the opening of a sales gallery in Brooklyn. "The strong response from the marketplace indicates the high level of demand for well-designed new luxury homes in Brooklyn..."

Maybe. Or maybe it just meant a decent initial pipeline to Chinese buyers.

As lawyer Jay Neveloff, who represents Forest City, told the Real Deal in 2015, a project involving a Chinese firm "creates a huge market for…