Bush's massive escalation of the Iraq war isn't the only escalation New Yorkers have to worry about. We are facing a massive escalation of the amount of money taxpayers are expected to subsidize to Pataki/Bloomberg buddy Ratner so he can build his dream project at Atlantic Yards.
It seems that the mayor's office has recently let slip that the amount of capital improvements the city is expected to pay for for Ratner's Atlantic Yards project is around twice what was promised almost exactly 2 years ago, and that there is no cap on the amount the city may have to pay out for Ratner.
In the 2/18/05 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) proposed $100 million in taxpayer money for capital improvements to make Ratner's plan possible. In the Bloomberg administration's newest capital budget, the mayor proposes $205 million for Atlantic Yards. I think you can do the math: with little fanfare (and even less press coverage) the mayor has just doubled the amount you and I have to pay for Ratner to build his project. Can we have an accountability moment here? Why the sudden increase?
When the Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Dan Doctoroff was asked whether the was a cap on the amount taxpayers were expected to shell out for Ratner, the response was: read more »
Jesse Hamilton, currently a contender in the race to fill Yvette Clarke's seat, is reaching out to the blogs. That's all good.
What's vaguely troubling is the message he's sending. Take for example this from Room 8:
We should not seek to build housing which only benefits single people or childless couples. Giving tax breaks to developers who bring to market studios and one bedrooms as affordable housing units sends the wrong message about who we are trying to encourage to stay and prosper in NYC. Affordable, multiple bedroom housing should be the goal of any changes in the 421 A and also 421 B laws seeking to create new housing.
What, singles can move elsewhere?
It's worth pointing out that per the U.S. Census, in the 11th Congressional District, which wholly covers the 40th City Council District, only 34.1% of females and 44.0% of males are married (the U.S. average is 52.1% and 56.7% respectively). Concurrently, however, average household and family sizes in the 11th are slightly above the U.S. average, at 2.71 people per household and 3.38 per family. So there is most certainly room for debate about more multi-bedroom apartments; but that debate could be held positively, not by talking about right and wrong kinds of people, and should also include the question of cost. It's not a zero-sum game in any sense of the word. read more »
Joan Millman (my Assemblywoman) recently sent out her newsletter. Within it is a quote from her testimony on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement on the Atlantic Yards project which I think is more important than ever:
Countless community groups, community planners, and constituents have all contacted me objecting to the overwhelming scale of [Ratner's] project. I agreed with them when I voiced my objections in a testimony almost one year ago, and I agree with them now: the project is simply too large. Nothing has been done on the part of the developer [Ratner] to reduce the project's scale by a meaningful amount in order to minimize the project's impact on the surrounding neighborhoods.
Until the developer substantially reduces the density and scale of this project and makes a commitment to protecting the affected social services and infrastructure, I cannot support the process moving forward.
I should note that Joan Millman has in the past largely supported the broad vision of Ratner's plan, including a stadium, but clearly the scale and the lack of response to the community's concerns and the nearly complete lack of consideration for the surrounding neighborhoods concern's Assemblywoman Millman just as much as it does me. read more »
Well, Ratner's supporters kept saying it wouldn't happen, but now it has. Eminent Domain is now being officially used by NY State to condemn property owned by one private individual to benefit another private individual. What's the difference? The beneficiary private individual happens to be a law school buddy of Pataki's.
Will our Public "Advocate," Betsy What's-her-name, going to finally stand up?
A spokesman for Gotbaum's campaign says simply, "If eminent domain is part of the project she's not supporting it."
A Brooklyn reader sends me his open letter to incoming Governor Eliot Spitzer regarding his concerns about Ratner's gigantic plan for Central Brooklyn creating a new target for terrorists:
It is clear that the State run Atlantic Yards Development Project is headed for quick approval by the PACB. Once that occurs, rapidly followed by Governor Patakiâ€™s exit, you will become the highest elected official responsible for the outcome of the project. Given that PACBâ€™s decision will be based on materials prepared by the ESDC, which you have long criticized, it is equally clear that knowledge of the full impact of this project will not be available when they make that decision.
Unconscionably the ESDC has chosen to ignore all too many of the documented concerns of the communities surrounding this project. One area of profound consequence they have refused to address regards issues of public safety and security. Since the attacks of 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina this has become a major focus of attention at all levels of government, yet any such consideration here was disregarded.
Beyond having just been overwhelmingly elected as Governor, this issue matters in terms of your current position as Attorney General. The decision of the ESDC to omit safety and security concerns, apart from violating common sense, also violates recent federal court decisions. For this reason it is likely that the state will be drawn into unnecessary litigation regarding the ESDCâ€™s decision to prepare its Final Environmental Impact Statement as if concentrating three known terrorist targets at a single location will have no consequences and therefore need not be acknowledged. read more »