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

Atlantic Yards absent from Gargano's book on rebuilding America, except for flap copy claiming he "masterminded" it

It came out earlier this year, but let's not forget the book, From the Ground Up, by "Ambassador Charles Gargano," who headed Gov. George Pataki's Empire State Development Corporation when it approved Atlantic Yards in 2006.
The summary:
From The Ground Up is a prescriptive nonfiction title, complete at 72,000 words. Consider it constructive criticism for re-engineering America, from the man who rebuilt NYC after 9/11
For all his polarizing rhetoric, Donald Trump hit at least one nail squarely on the head: Our country really is a disaster in need of recovery. Regardless of our disparate political leanings, a plurality of Americans simply know in their bones that we’re in real trouble. The mandate Americans gave Trump in 2016 highlights the crises that threaten to break us, economically, politically, spiritually, and literally, if we don’t start immediately improving our infrastructure and other key aspects of our country. Sure, we’ve undergone tough times before, but today an unprecedented barrage of calamities has coalesced into the perfect storm, a mega-disaster that will either swamp us once and for all—or offer an opportunity for us to re-engineer and rebuild From The Ground Up.
Virtually no mention of Atlantic Yards


Note that there's no mention of Atlantic Yards, except on the book flap--see screenshot at left-- and only a glancing mention of the cryptic "Ratner" as a developer (see screenshot below right, which omits either "Bruce Ratner" or "Forest City Ratner"), as one of the participants in building the new Times Square.

That's too bad, because Gargano was a genial, if at times embarrassingly evasive and misleading, proponent for Atlantic Yards.

Nonetheless, the flap copy somehow claims that Gargano "masterminded the renovation and re-engineering of dozens of major New York projects, including the Atlantic Yards; the Jacob Javits Center; the second Harlem Renaissance; Dia Center for the Arts; Downtown Brooklyn; Buffalo Harbor; Niagara Falls; and the 42nd Street Revival."

(Emphasis added)

Wow. That's quite some hype. Note that no one called it "the Atlantic Yards," but rather "Atlantic Yards" or "the Atlantic Yards project."

As to "Downtown Brooklyn," it's not clear what that general designation refers to, but the creation of the MetroTech office park was a New York City project, as was the rezoning of Downtown Brooklyn. It seems they got a little carried away.

The need for infrastructure


Within the book, Gargano, a former construction executive and Ambassador to Trinidad & Tobago, makes a perfectly legitimate case that our infrastructure needs enormous work, and rebuilding that is part of our national challenge.

Unfortunately he casts that in some overwrought metaphors. Consider:
Once enough of us have modeled Ground Zero Values in our personal, family, community, and work lives, we'll become those thousand points of light to ignite the rest of thee world again.
An "indefatigable conservative force"

But his biographical sketch raises a question:
As a fundraiser, organizer, and board member for dozens of businesses, foundations, and political associates, as well as in his current post as Executive Director of the US Immigration Fund, Gargano remains a determined and powerful force for the structural and ideological evolution of the nation along Conservative lines. Now at the start of his ninth decade, Charles A. Gargano remains an indefatigable conservative force, cementing a formidable legacy in politics, business, and urban development.
C'mon. If he's really a conservative, why is working at the U.S. Immigration fund, helping in the dubious practice of hawking green cards for cash.

There's also an accompanying video (screenshot at right), which includes a visit to his childhood Park Slope, talk of reviving Times Square and 125th Street, and helping earthquake victims in Italy.

Admirable efforts like that latter, unfortunately, get diminished by his general habit of speaking about government agencies in the first person.

Did Trump endorse the book?

Though the New York Post headline 3/21/19 was New book takes aim at Trump, Giuliani and Cuomo, the book's web site offers blurbs from Pataki and former Sen. Al D'Amato, for whom he raised funds; Robert DeNiro, with whom he worked on the TriBeCa film festival; and Donald Trump.

The latter, however, is not regarding the book, but rather a quote from a 10/1/00 article: "What he’s done on 42nd Street is incredible. I’ve watched what people before him did, which was nothing. HE made it happen."

As the recent Post article details, Gargano calls Giuliani's heavyhanded push for a stadium in Coney Island "megalomania," considers Andrew Cuomo as "Not the man his father was," and criticizes Trump--after citing one specific incident--"because everything is always about him."

In a 3/16/19 op-ed for the New York Daily News, Abolish this job-killing panel: The Public Authorities Control Board has done too much harm to New York, Gargano blamed the PACB for not only the inability to develop the Moynihan Station project from the Farley Post Office but also its role as a threat to Amazon's plan for a campus in Long Island City.

"Maybe we’ll finally understand that the PACB is a custom-tailored vehicle for egos prevailing over the public good," he claimed. Sure, the PACB has been criticized as "three men in a room," but, as City & State explained last February, there were significant reasons for its establishment, notably a state fiscal crisis.

Some past coverage

A 10/1/00 profile by the New York Post's Steve Cuozzo, headlined CAPTAIN CORNERSTONE IF IT’S A BIG DEAL IN NY REAL ESTATE, CHARLES GARGANO HAS A HAND IN IT, noted the end of a investigation by the Manhattan DA into politically connected development deals, and progress at the World Trade Center--as well as the plan to "choose a developer for the new Penn Station on the Farley Post Office site."

Plus his role in Times Square, the Port Authority, the Hudson River Park Conservancy, and Queens West.

A 7/17/01 article in the New York Times, A Floridian, Not a New Yorker, Will Be the Ambassador to Rome, noted:
President Bush has decided to appoint a Florida developer and major Republican Party fund-raiser as ambassador to Italy, New York State and Republican officials said yesterday. It was a rebuff to Gov. George E. Pataki and Italian-Americans who had pushed for Mr. Pataki's economic adviser, Charles A. Gargano.
The choice, Mel Sembler, had ties to the Bush family, which were more important, according to sources quoted, than any clouds over Gargano, who'd gotten a letter clearing him.

The Ambassador and the coup

The nonprofit Association for Diplomatic Studies & Training, which compiles oral histories of U.S. diplomatic corps, has an account headlined A Quiet Coup in the Caribbean: The Takeover of T&T, describing the coup that began July 27, 1990 against the government of Trinidad & Tobago, while Gargano, a political appointee, was not to be found.

The prime minister and most of his cabinet were taken hostage for six days, while rebels took over the national TV station. What ensued was "widespread arson and looting" in the capitol of Port-of-Spain, and the death of 24 people until rebels surrendered on August 1 once promised amnesty.

There are some piquant quotes, and mixed reviews, from Sally Grooms Cowal, who then at the time was the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Latin America and succeeded Gargano as Ambassador  in 1991. From her oral history:
Gargano was my predecessor, and he paid almost no attention to the running of an embassy whatsoever, or doing the traditional things that ambassadors do. Still he had a pretty good relationship with that government, and he was quite supportive. I think they were unusual enough and not tied so much to the past that he was able to establish a pretty good relationship with them. The highest point of criticism might be that when this coup attempt took place, he wasn’t anywhere around, and nobody knew he wasn’t anywhere around.
He never understood that if you’re the U.S. ambassador, you’re supposed to be in charge, and if you’re not there, then your DCM [Deputy Chief of Mission] is supposed to be the chargĂ© and is supposed to be in charge. He didn’t play the social game. He just sort of disappeared on weekends, and people assumed he disappeared to the quiet of his lovely residence, but in fact, I guess most weekends he went back to his family and friends in suburban New York, which is from whence he came, from Long Island. At the time the coup took place, he was actually in Long Island, and nobody knew that.
He was certainly not traditional, but I think in his time we began to see that there were potentially some real problems in the drug trafficking arena, and that there were some real opportunities to have Trinidad become more open to the international trading system, and particularly trade relations with the United States, and a more open economy. So I was the inheritor of that little bit of opening, and then new elections came along very soon. The African party reestablished its hold on the country, and my time was with them in office, with Patrick Manning as prime minister. But I think I was able to play quite well on the beginnings that Gargano had established.
Cowal later says that, when asked by the press whether she was representing the views of her government, she'd say, “I’m not an uninstructed ambassador. I’m not out here on my own brief, because I think that would be doing a disservice.”

Which suggests that previously there were "uninstructed ambassadors" who went their own way.

Gargano, she said, "was not career, and who had some of the right instincts, and a lot of the wrong instincts," and was appointed because of his ties to D'Amato. Gargano, she said, "remained very interested in politics and business in Long Island, or in New York state, so he devoted some of his time to Trinidad, but he wasn’t like me."

Note that, according to a book by Raoul Pantin, former editor of the Trinidad Express, Gargano was on a routine trip to Washington during the coup. Gargano's own book mentions the coup but doesn't say where he was.

According to an official report, by a Trinidad & Tobago commission on the coup, Gargano was present in the country the evening of July 28, a day later.

"The Commission finds that the US Ambassador to Port of Spain, Mr. Charles Gargano, was particularly sensitive to the events and actively offered such assistance as the interim Government considered necessary," the document states, in seeming contradiction to the account by Gargano's successor.

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