Skip to main content

The DNC goes to Philadelphia, as press finally recognizes concerns about security, logistics; second-guessing on MSG

So, everyone knows Philadelphia was selected yesterday as the site for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, and while some cited Philadelphia's position in a swing-state and the undercurrent of scandals facing New York, the decision was officially made on three factors: logistics, security, and resources.

And Brooklyn, a good distance from most hotel rooms and requiring an extensive security cordon in residential districts, fell short. It's notable that barely any news coverage had warned about that issue, instead letting Mayor Bill de Blasio and his allies pooh-pooh any concern.

The most forceful articulation of those issues came in my New York Times online op-ed last month, which got more attention from Washington Post editorial board member Jonathan Capeheart  (who wrote "Told ya" and linked to his previous Philadelphia prediction) than from the the New York City papers' metro desks. Curious.

The Times reported Security Headaches Doomed Brooklyn Bid for Democratic Convention:
Rejecting the novelty of a Brooklyn bid for the more traditional environs of Philadelphia, Democratic Party officials made clear on Thursday that they had balked at the logistical difficulties of Mr. de Blasio’s proposal, saying they were reluctant to hold their jamboree in a densely residential neighborhood far from the ample hotels and amenities of Manhattan.
The across-the-bridge bid was always a risky endeavor, initiated by Mr. de Blasio and his team in an effort to capitalize on the national rise of a diverse urban Democratic coalition.
But choosing Brooklyn over Manhattan may have been too daring by half: The prospect of setting up a security zone in the largely residential area around the Barclays Center put off party officials. Others were unsure about siting their convention in the same borough where Hillary Rodham Clinton, a leading contender for the presidential nomination, may house her own campaign.
The press conference

Appearing with Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and Council Member Laurie Cumbo, de Blasio began the DNC discussion at about 21 minutes into the video below.

Cumbo claimed that "in my 40 years of living in New York, I have never seen Brooklyn so united about one particular idea. There were no rallies, no protests... Brooklyn wanted to see this happen."

Not so. On the same day my op-ed appeared, the Barclays Center Impact Zone Alliance announced its concerns about having the convention.

One reported pushed back, saying, "We must have talked to several dozen Brooklynites. Not one of them expressed disappointment. They all said to us, 'What a relief, or I'm glad it's going somewheere else, or talked about the parking or security."

"I don't know if I would call it a scientific sample," responded de Blasio, saying the "response I've gotten was incredibly energetic and positive."



"If the DNC had a real preference for a classic American stadium with parking lots, I don't have that to offer," de Blasio said. "If that had been the only consideration, I don't think we would've gotten to the finalist round."

Point taken. But the asset that makes the Barclays Center work for 15,000 visitors to a basketball game--the subway--was not going to work the same way for 35,000 delegates and other visitors. Philadelphia offers a straight shot from downtown to the Wells Fargo Center by road and rail.

Hindsight on MSG

Asked if there was any consideration for siting the convention at Madison Square Garden, de Blasio said that didn't respond to the "preference for a classic arena surrounded by parking lots."

Yes, but MSG is different from Barclays, not requiring the same security perimeter, sited close to hotels, and having already hosted many conventions. (But MSG is not operated by a de Blasio backer.)

The Times reported:
John A. Catsimatidis, the billionaire Republican, who donates heavily to both parties, said the city should have offered to move the convention “from Brooklyn to New York” — meaning Manhattan — rather than losing the event altogether. A more traditional Midtown site, he said, might have eased some of the selection panel’s concerns.
“There were so many things that I heard about Brooklyn. They were disturbed that it takes a lot of transportation time to move between hotels,” said Mr. Catsimatidis, referring to the officials and political donors screening convention sites.
The Manhattan borough president, Gale A. Brewer, was more blunt.
“It would have made more sense to have it at Madison Square Garden,” she said.
Security concerns

The Times reported (for the first time, pretty much):
The Barclays Center abuts quiet, brownstone-filled streets that are home to thousands of New Yorkers, and party officials were particularly concerned about arranging a security perimeter. Residents might have had to show identification to return to their homes at night, and several major avenues in the borough would have had to be shut down in the evening rush.
Party officials also cited the problems of moving conventiongoers between hotels in Midtown Manhattan and the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, according to Democrats familiar with the bid.
ABC reported that hotels were closer in Philadelphia, and the Barclays security perimeter was in a residential area. “Delegate experience was a very, very important thing for us,” said Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

From the report:
Another official from the de Blasio administration said pitching Brooklyn was a risk and agreed it was likely logistics that did the bid in, specifically noting the large security perimeter needed to pull off a modern convention and it would require blocks fenced off with restricted access and possibly residents displaced ahead of the convention. In Brooklyn, that would include apartments and small businesses. In Philadelphia, their convention site is much more commercial surrounded by parking lots and football and baseball stadiums.
Other explanations: corruption, swing state, tensions

The New York Post suggested Corruption scandals crushed de Blasio’s chance at 2016 DNC, citing "party sources."

Capital New York reported that one member of the host committee " said the perimeter issue was paramount, but also noted national Democrats were seeking a 'more centrist political environment' than deep-blue New York to host the convention."

I'd note that even backers of Brooklyn's bid told me months ago they thought Philadelphia had the edge for that reason, and I'd have bet that reason would carry the day.

The Daily News's Josh Greenman wrote Despite big names and glamour, NYC loses to Philly in hosting 2016 Democratic National Convention. He suggested that Philadelphia would be a better launching pad for Hillary Clinton, would be a swing state, would avoid former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver's corruption trial, and would avoid the mayor's feud with police unions.

Also, echoing colleague Harry Siegel, Greenman wrote
Finally, blame Brooklyn the brand. New York City's most populous borough is full of pulsing, working class, immigrant neighborhoods. But in the popular imagination, it's often reduced to its expensive swaths dominated by hipsters and Brownstones.
An artisanal mayor and artisanal mayo might have opened the convention to endless punch lines.
....It was a battle of brands. Philly won.
DNAinfo suggested some of the "unspoken reasons" behind the loss:
  • The Difficult Relationship Between De Blasio and Cuomo
  • New York City is Too Liberal
  • De Blasio's Police Troubles
  • Sheldon Silver and Preet Bharara
Disappointed locals?

In a rather unskeptical article, DNAinfo cited an open letter to the DNC signed by "dozens of business owners in the Barclays Center’s immediate neighborhood" and found several disappointed. Actually, many of the businesses--such as hotels--were outside the neighborhood.

But DNA did quote Mark Caserta of the Park Slope Fifth Avenue Business Improvement District and Michael Pintchik of Pintchik Hardware as supporting the bid.

Making the most of it

The Daily News editorialized Send out the clowns: Why Brooklyn doesn't need the Democratic National Convention anyway

It reminded me how, in 2010, the newspaper turned on a dime, spurning LeBron James after months of pulling for him, including establishment of the GetLeBron.com website.

Developer Bruce Ratner told DNAinfo he was still happy. “We were proud to be part of an effort that highlighted Brooklyn's unique diversity and energy, and to be one of the symbols of its renewal and bright future," said Bruce Ratner. "We look forward to bringing even more to Brooklyn in the years to come.”

No, he doesn't. He looks forward to selling the arena. He just lost a free advertisement.

Comments

  1. Anonymous8:52 AM

    Blam! A number of sharp jabs here. love it!

    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…

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 …