" getting the inside track on potentially valuable public property and then getting the zoning changed"
Norman Oder - Atlantic Yards Report
"little or no regard for public opinion..." "Their entire business model is to exploit every tax loophole and taxpayer-funded subsidy...promise the world and deliver far less...all by manipulation".
John Murtaugh former Yonkers City Council Member
Unfortunately, the public review process for the Atlantic Yards project is part of a pattern in which the State and the City enter into an agreement with a single developer prior to a full debate of alternatives. Ideally, this strategically vital piece of public real estate would have been the subject of a planning exercise… open bidding…. Instead, the state worked exclusively with Forest City Ratner while the MTA entered into a truncated bidding process only after a memorandum of understanding had been signed by FCRC, the state and the city. The details of the project were largely devised behind closed doors by the developer, and only minor modifications have been made in response to public criticisms. While the developer has held numerous public meetings and provided information to the community, most of the decisions regarding the site had already been made. As a result, the public has no way of knowing if this project is the best possible one for the site. It is greatly handicapped in assessing potential alternatives, and has less leverage for negotiating changes that would add to its community benefits.
"…the project will have significant negative impacts on several thriving neighborhoods…The scale of the development will loom over the surrounding low- and mid-rise neighborhoods, casting long shadows in many places."
Regional Plan Association Criticism of Forest City /Atlantic Yards Project
Sandy Annabi, Zehy Jereis, Karl Kruger,Lipsky, Malcolm Smith, all involved somehow with Forest City/Ratner. Six degrees of separation? One more name to complete the circle.
John D'Alois - Talk of the Sound Skies Over Echo Bay Heat Up as County Gov. and Polls Renounce Bramsons's Follies
You get the picture, for years we have been reporting on what seems to be questionable ongoings surrounding the whole Echo Bay process and product. Finally, and hopefully not too late, there appears to be some momentum building as more and more people realize the downside of Bramson politics. If I haven't been able to convince you by now, perhaps the investigation by the good folks over at Cause of Action will shed a little more sunlight on the issue.
As advocates for government accountability, Cause of Action has spent nearly 2 years gathering information on the way Forest City weaves its way through development projects throughout the country. The investigative report titled, Political Profiteering: How Forest City Enterprises Makes Private Profits at the Expense of America’s Taxpayers Part I, delves into the relationship between political contributions, government subsidies and the profits to be had by greasing the right wheels. While we have been looking locally, C of A has cast a much broader net, crunching the numbers to demonstrate just how much return on investment there is to be made by investing in political campaigns. This is a MUST READ for anyone wanting to see actual numbers and how the game is played.
Here's a few quotes from the report
"Mission - Cause of Action is a nonprofit, nonpartisan government accountability organization that fights to protect economic opportunity when federal regulations, spending, and cronyism threaten it. Our mission is to expose the ways our government is playing politics in its use of taxpayer dollars, in its decision-making on behalf of individual Americans, and how it seeks to burden the economic opportunities that employ us and make our lives better. Cause of Action seeks to prevent the federal government from politicizing agencies, rules, and spending by bringing transparency to the federal grant and rule-making processes. Cause of Action’s representation of organizations and individuals helps to educate the public about government overreach, waste, and cronyism."
"When the politically powerful, not the competitive marketplace, determine winners and losers in America’s business decisions, taxpayers take on all of the risk and crony companies extract the profits."
On government subsidies - "The subsidies amounted to twenty-three percent of FCE’s $11.4 billion in revenues during that time period"
On campaign contributions - "FCE even went so far as to coordinate donations among employees in FCE project locations: $15.4 million of the contributions were made by multiple employees of FCE on the same day."
On the issue of purported "net benefits" as Mayor Bramson likes to call it - "New York City’s own Independent Budget Office (IBO) reported in 2009 that the arena would be a $40 million net loss for the city over a
30-year period and that the total government benefits to FCR totaled $726 million."
This is just part one of their findings. Follow up reports will show "In the reports that follow, resulting from Cause of Action’s nearly two year investigation, CoA will show how FCE took public benefits under the premise of providing jobs for minority workers but failed to deliver as well as how FCE enriched itself through bribery and political graft, without ever being subject to investigation or oversight." (emphasis added)
Man, I like these guys. Read the report, read the report, did I mention read the report?
Here's the links again:
Cause of Action Investigative Report click HERE
Cause of Action home page click HERE