Atlantic Yards Nexus of Scandals
Look at what Marty Markowitz, Bruce Ratner, Bill de Blasio, Michael Bloomberg and Bertha Lewis, to name a few, have brought to Brooklyn. Atlantic Yards seems to be bringing some real sleaze to our city, though not much in the way of real, long-term jobs or affordable housing.
Barclay's, the company that bought naming rights to Bruce Ratner's arena, has just been fined for more than a decade of illegally doing business with the likes of Iran, Libya, Sudan and Burma. From BBC News:
Barclays Bank is to pay $298m (£190m) to settle criminal charges that it violated US sanctions in dealings with Cuba, Iran, Libya, Sudan and Burma.
The bank was charged with breaching the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and the Trading with the Enemy Act in dealings between 1995 and 2006...
Barclays has agreed to pay $149m to the US government and a separate $149m in a deferred prosecution agreement with the district attorney in New York.
Yep...Marty Markowitz, Michael Bloomberg, Bill de Blasio, Bruce Ratner, Bertha Lewish and all those other Atlantic Yards shills have given prominent place in our community with a company that was guilty of "Trading with the Enemy." Will these people look with pride at the "Barclay's Arena" knowing that Barclay's broke the law to do business with the brutal dictators of Lybia, Sudan and Burma and the religious zealots of Iran? Is that what we want here in Brooklyn? A monument to "Trading with the Enemy?"
Of course Barclay's has a long history of disgusting business practices dating all the way back to the slave trade. Gee...THANKS Marty Markowitz, Bertha Lewis, Michael Bloomberg and Bruce Ratner. You are placing the name of slave traders and buddies of Burma, Iran and the Sudan dictators over our borough. Are you proud of that?
But what else are they bringing to Brooklyn? Oh yeah...in addition to Barclay's the shady bank they are bringing Mikhail Prokhorov, the shady Russian billionaire. Another link we in Brooklyn can look to with pride, right?
Of course Prokhorov fits in quite well with Barclay's since Prokhorov has ties to Zimbabwe dictator Mugabe.
Gee...thanks Marty Markowitz, Bill de Blasio, Michael Bloomberg, Bruce Ratner and Bertha Lewis. Lybia, Cuba, Iran, Burma...AND Zimbabwe. That's the kind of ties you are bringing to Brooklyn. Are you proud?
Of course not all the corruption that surrounds Bruce Ratner and Atlantic Yards was imported. Ratner did plenty of sweetening the pot for local politicians. Remember how RIGHT after Ratner's brother donated to Brooklyn Party Boss Vito Lopez we saw Vito Lopez introduce a bill offering Ratner $300 million MORE taxpayer money? Okay, so Vito Lopez, corrupt as he might be, is no where near as bad as the dictators of Zimbabwe and Burma, but it adds a nice local flair to Bruce Ratner's web of corruption, doesn't it.
Are you proud Marty Markowitz, Michael Bloomberg, Bill de Blasio and Bertha Lewis? Are you proud that you have enabled this web of corruption right here in Brooklyn?
Oh yeah...it's all about affordable housing, isn't it? That's what you kept telling us. That is why you justified using our tax money and using eminent domain to kick people out of their homes so Ratner can make a profit?
Oh yeah...but YET AGAIN you forgot to actually put in one single guarantee that one single unit of affordable housing will ever be there. From Salon.com:
The Bloomberg administration has a wretched and largely ignored history of promising affordable housing and never delivering. (Not to mention the worst failure of the Bloomberg era: homelessness. It was at historically high levels even before the great financial crisis and no serious attempts at ameliorating it ever developed.)
The Bloomberg housing plan was to give land to private developers, for pennies, in exchange for the promise to build affordable housing for middle and low-income families, and then just not do anything, at all, when the developers simply ignored their promises and built nothing but luxury units. This happened on the Williamsburg waterfront, and it's happening right now near my neighborhood at the Atlantic Yards. Those developments are the norm, not exceptions.
And from Atlantic Yards Report:
Remember, the Atlantic Yards affordable housing was sold to the public and supported by ACORN as a way to help the poor. Forest City Ratner attorney Jeffrey Braun swore in a 1/25/08 affidavit (p. 5) in a case challenging the Atlantic Yards environmental review:
“Furthermore, pursuant to an innovative Community Benefits Agreement, the FCRC affiliates that sponsor the project are contractually bound to provide a wide array of far-reaching benefits to the historically most disadvantaged segments of Brooklyn’s communities…”
Not only is that claim contradicted by the fact that a majority of the subsidized units would be unaffordable to ACORN's constituency, it's quite likely that the first building would be even less affordable to that constituency.
In five of the six scenarios contemplated for the first housing tower, the monthly rent for most of the affordable apartments would range from $2287 to $3790, depending on household size. Those are the kind of unaffordable rents that ACORN members have cited in arguing for the project.
This is what most of us have been saying for years now, but of course our warnings were dismissed or ignored. It was clear from day one that Ratner had little intention of offering real affordable housing if he can avoid it. From day one this was about nothing but giving a well connected developer (Ratner was law school buddies with George Pataki, who was Governor when Ratner was given the deal) anything and everything he wants and whitewashing it for public consumption. And Ratner's biggest enablers for the scam of the century were Marty Markowitz, Michael Bloomberg, Bertha Lewis and Bill de Blasio. Thanks guys. We can all now point to the luxury housing that will eventually be build, the increased traffic and the Arena linked to business ties to Burma, Sudan, Cuba, Iran and Zimbabwe and thank you for the embarrassment. We've been scammed by Ratner and his business partners and YOU are to blame.
But it is no wonder that Atlantic Yards seems like a sewer of scandals...after all, one of the main problems with the project is that Brooklyn's sewers are already overloaded leading to frequent sewage backups in basements all over the borough. And building all those skyscrapers and an arena right in the heart of Brooklyn will just make matters worse...and the over flow will eventually make it to the Gowanus canal, meaning clean up efforts there will be made all that much harder by the sewer that is Atlantic Yards.