Wednesday, July 29, 2009

First Day of ESDC Hearings on New Sight-Unseen Version of Atlantic Yards: Some Noticing New York’s Testimony and Questions Asked

(Press conference and rally protesting Atlantic Yards outside ESDC hearing. Obviously many elected officials, candidates and campaign signs in evidence.)

We were at the first day of the Empire State Development Corporation hearings today on the new version of Atlantic Yards which is proposed to be approved sight-unseen by the public and the ESDC board. We testified and took the opportunity to ask questions of those who were there. There were also press conferences that went on, the most important being the really big one protesting the project before the hearing which was well attended by elected officials and candidates.

In this post we will first provide you with our testimony and then we will tell you the about some of the questions we asked of other attendees. Answered or not, we got some interesting insights.

Noticing New York’s Testimony

Here is our Noticing New York testimony which we read almost entirely to the end of before our three minutes for oral testimony concluded. We handed in a written copy with attachments. It is probably best read on the web though to take advantage of the hyperlinks.

* * * * *

July 29, 2009

Empire State Development Corporation
Attention: Steve Matlin, Senior Counsel
633 Third Avenue, 37th Floor
New York, NY 10017

Re: Public Comment for Atlantic Yards MGPP- Today’s Public Hearing

Dear ESDC:

This comment is being offered in the name of Noticing New York, an independent entity dedicated to the proposition that developing New York and appreciating New York go hand in hand.

I offer this testimony as an attorney experienced in real estate, as an urban planner and as former senior government official who worked for more than a quarter of a century in the areas of public finance and development for the state finance authorities.
1. There is good development and there is bad development.

2. Good development begets and whets the appetite for more development. Bad development creates enemies and stagnation. Good development moves relatively fast, providing jobs in the here and now rather than in the hereafter (after many of those now looking for jobs will have moved on to other things). For instance, if the alternative UNITY plan had been adopted there would be a lot of people working right now and a lot of people housed and about to be housed.

3. Good development finds a quicker more ready acceptance by the community, works with its values and doesn’t needlessly destroy its landmarks and worthwhile buildings.

4. Good development doesn’t go out of its way to embrace monopolistic ownership and control of huge swaths of the city by a single developer abusing eminent domain.

5. Good development doesn’t clog the natural forces of the economy and displace better competing alternatives.

6. Atlantic Yards is NOT good development.

7. The Atlantic Yards plan and design (such as we have actually been allowed to know what it may now be) proclaims by its obvious inappropriateness that it is a sponge for subsidy and benefit for a single developer at the expense of the public: its overbearing density through zoning overrides, the seizure of public streets, sidewalks and avenues, the suspiciously irregular footprint taking extra land through eminent domain abuse.

8. Consider all the following that bespeak the “impermissible favoritism” of a blank check for a developer-initiated, developer-driven sight-unseen project

a. No identification at this time of the supposed benefit of the megadevelopment. Benefit will be determined on an “as-you-go” basis: The project will start with the arena which the city’s Independent Budget Office has determined to be a net loss for the public.

b. Approval of (and these public hearings for) a sight-unseen project where nothing is yet designed (after half a decade!), not even the arena, and where an architect has not even been selected for the rest of what is being approved. The only promise is that it will all be “value-engineered,” i.e. built cheaply so as to cost the developer as little as possible.

c. Refusal to identify the total amount of subsidy that the megadevelopment will be given. Since ESDC is withholding or says it doesn’t know the amount, we offer our own calculations that total public subsidy being diverted into the project will surely exceed $2 billion and may well approach $3 billion.

d. No credible enforcement of or holding the developer to specific terms. ESDC has fashioned contract remedies that don’t kick in for 25 years and this hearing is held specifically because ESDC has just recently rewritten the deal, tilting it hundreds of millions of extra dollars more in the developer’s favor without any quid pro quo.

e. A no-bid award of a megadevelopment to a single developer on what is essentially a long-term, low-cost option basis. The breaking up of the project into optional (and assignable) segments undermines the specious pretexts that have been given for favoring the blank check to this developer over the Battery Park City model of bidding out to multiple developers.
9. In the end, the lopsided unparametered monopoly that has been “negotiated” by ESDC (“negotiated” is hardly a credible verb in this context) affords the government no leverage to insist that Forest City Ratner provide any level of public benefit in exchange for all the public giveaways by virtue of the blank check it has been allowed to write for itself.


Michael D. D. White


(A few Noticing New York articles on Atlantic Yards that also link to others.)


2. Sunday, June 28, 2009, Naming a Problem: The MTA Gives Ratner the Right to Name Brooklyn Subway Stations “Barclays”

3. Thursday, July 23, 2009, The Hit and Miss of Last Night’s Public “Information” Meeting on Atlantic Yards

4. Monday, June 1, 2009, Negotiating With Your Contractor: The Atlantic Yards As Kitchen Renovation Metaphor

(Civil rights Attorney Norman Siegel at press conference explaining the absence of procedural due process protection against eminent domain abuse: You don't get a day in court to defend your property. Mr. Siegel, involved in opposing Atlantic Yards from the beginning, brought no campaign signs, suggesting that gathering in opposition ought to be nonpartisan. )

Attendance by Political Office Holders and Candidates

The hearing and the press conference and rally preceding it was well attended by political officer holders and candidates, including two candidates for mayor, Tony Avella and Billy T. (Billy Talen, better known as the Reverend Billy), the vast majority most of whom were speaking in opposition. The hearings are being held over two days but we didn’t see the other Billy T. candidate for mayor, Comptroller Bill Thompson, who has at least made some noise about changing the way City Hall puts the interest of connected real estate developers above the public. We’ll see how Thompson handles the opportunity of these hearings, including whether he shows up at the hearings tomorrow, which are likely to be less well attended.

Two others we will looking for tomorrow will be Bill deBlasio, City Councilman for the 39th, and a candidate for Public Advocate like long time opponent Norman Seigel who was there (see image above), and Steve Levin Vito Lopez’s chief of staff and a candidate in the 33rd Council District race to replace David Yassky. (Yassky recently spoke before the MTA opposing the same project revisions that the hearing was about.)

Bill de Blasio was in the news this week winning a fight to stay on the ballot despite a typo in the fillig of his petitions. We were looking for de Blasio, who called for "a moratorium on demolition until there is a written plan" that "confirms what will be built when and confirms affordability" and that he "can't support" an arena-only plan (before the project actually deteriorated to the extent that it now has) because it seems that we are going to have to count on the new public advocate as a critical line of defense against boondoggle mega-projects like Atlantic Yards. We are looking for candidates that will have their heart in the job.

We were looking for Steve Levin, first because he could be clearer about his position on Atlantic Yards and other development issues, though he expressed the following about his Atlantic Yards position (again, before the project actually deteriorated to the extent that it now has):
I have many serious concerns about the Ratner plan as it is currently proposed. I especially have concerns regarding the proposed density of the development and the resulting strain that this density will put on the area's infrastructure, e.g. traffic, public transportation, and public school capacity. In addition, I am against the use of eminent domain unless in the case of overriding public benefit resulting from that use*.
Second, when we ran into Mr. Levin Friday morning at Teresa’s on Montague Street (a favored location for “power breakfasts”) we asked him about his attending the hearing and he wasn’t clear that he would make it: He spoke about the number of doors he is needing to knock on these days. This notwithstanding, Mr. Levin spoke critically about the way the project had degenerated since his above statement, together with the new $100+ million package of giveaways with which the MTA recently sweetened the developer’s deal. (We are supposed to be following up with Mr. Levin to interview him more thoroughly on his positions, something he mentioned Friday morning that we might convert to an e-mail chore.) It looked as if nearly all of Mr. Levin's opposing candidates in the race for the 33rd were there for the press conference. We'll see if Mr. Levin shows up tomorrow.

Whapped Up Side of the Head: BAM!

One of the early testifiers in favor of the project was the heavily-hissed Alan H. Fishman, Chairman of the Brooklyn Academy of Music. The reasons he said that BAM was supporting the megadevelopment sounded to our urban planner’s ears rather like an urban planning analysis of why Atlantic Yards might constitute a constructive overhaul of the Fort Greene and Prospect Heights neighborhoods in which Atlantic Yards is to be plopped. Frankly it didn’t sound like a good analysis to us and it reminded us of how the Brooklyn Museum went off track and betrayed the Brooklyn Community by “honoring” Bruce Ratner while he was trying to sell the city and sate on the idea of giving him more subsidies. It also seemed a dicey PR move for BAM to be taking a position that is likely to sincerely bother many of its informed and educated patrons. Isn’t this the kind of thing that people cancel subscriptions over?

We caught up with Mr. Fishman just outside of the door noting that it was the second time we had heard BAM giving public comment in support of the megadevelopment. Mr. Fishman said that it was the first time we had heard him deliver these comments (it was somebody else before). We noted what had been yelled out in the room as Mr. Fishman departed the lectern, that developer Bruce Ratner was on the board of BAM. Yes, said Mr. Fishman, Bruce even used to be chairman of the board some time ago.

We then asked Mr. Fishman how his attendance to present BAM’s position in favor of the project had been handled, who he had consulted with beforehand. It turned out that Mr. Fishman had discussions with Bruce Ratner about the development issues he had talked about in his testimony on behalf of BAM but that he had not discussed the position that BAM would be taking about redevelopment of the BAM neighborhoods with the BAM board. Mr. Fishman pointed out that he was also the Chairman of the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership and chairman of the Brooklyn Navy Yard (Directors of the Yard are appointed by Mayor Bloomberg) and he said “also chairman of a lot of other things in Downtown Brooklyn.” In his testimony Mr. Fishman had mentioned his position as chairman of the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership but said specifically that he was speaking to represent BAM in his remarks and to discuss BAM’s “relationship” with the project. In his remarks he said that BAM was calling upon all parties to endorse “this highly promising development plan.”

So the taking of this position by BAM was handled at the executive level without board authorization we asked? Yes, Mr. Fishman told us.

Mr. Fishman turned things around by asking us a question. He wanted to know, “setting process aside” whether we thought that the megadevelopment was a bad a project “from a community point of view, from a neighborhood point of view from an urban planning point of view”

It is an interesting impulse to want to set process aside, we told Mr. Fishman, precisely because it is the setting aside of process that has given Atlantic Yards its shape.- We hadn’t yet testified but this was one of the things we had already written into the testimony we had prepared.- Because Atlantic Yards is a developer-initiated, developer-driven project its whole design reflects the fact that it is designed and tailored to soak up subsidy and benefit for the developer by diverting public resources. Mr. Fishman suggested that was a separate issue. We said that to us the project clearly looks like something designed to benefit a developer and not the public. Mr. Fishman said that might be true. In other words, we told Mr. Fishman that the project is not only a very bad project but how bad it is cannot be separated from the way in which process was set aside. (One lesson that Atlantic Yards certainly raises starkly is that when one sets process and procedure aside, you had better get a good result rather than striking out on both counts. Obviously, Atlantic Yards is especially problematic because of its simultaneous failure.) Mr. Fishman said he disagreed with us that the project was a bad project.

We suggested to Mr. Fishman that in his BAM capacity he needed to be speaking from the standpoint of a 501(c)(3) community betterment point of view and that he should be expressing what wold be good for the community from the community’s standpoint and not from the developer’s standpoint.

We asked Mr. Fishman what kind of thinking was there on the part of the BAM board about the Atlantic Yards project. We asked whether there was disagreement or division and whether everyone was in agreement with him. He said he had “no idea.” We asked him if he thought it would have been appropriate to find out the thinking of the board before coming out to make his statement. We pointed out that a lot of people viewed the project as destructive to the community and to Brooklyn. When I asked Mr. Fishman if he would still have delivered his statement if most of the BAM board was opposed to the project. Mr. Fishman responded, “I’m done. We’re not talking anymore.”

A Few More Politicians

We were out of the main hall talking with Mr. Fishman when Borough President Marty Markowitz, who never met an Atlantic Yards developer-request or public-shortchanging he didn’t endorse, spoke to predictably mixed reactions. His spiel was standard Marty AY stuff: “Since the very first Atlantic Yards conversation took place my opinion has not changed. I still believe that this is a project that will benefit . . . etc.” Markowitz has not faltered no matter how much the project has changed and no matter how much more in giveaways have been piled on. No matter. Nothing has ever caused Mr. Markowitz to have even the slightest criticism of the project from whose developer he takes substantial money. The only possible slacking we might note is that Markowtiz did not send out a laudatory Atlantic Yards press release yesterday although Markowitz did send out a laudatory press release yesterday when the City Council voted to approve an incompetent or insincere rezoning plan that will terminate Coney Island’s history as an amusement area.

Besides Markowitz, Assemblyman Alan Maisel was the first (and only?) elected official to give testimony in favor of the project at the hearing. Maisel represents the 59th Assembly District in lower Brooklyn where Jamaica Bay almost becomes Queens. His district, bordering the Rockaways, contains New York’s first airfield, Floyd Bennett Field, Marine Park, Mill Basin, Mill Island, Paedergat Basin, Bergen Beach and Georgetown. It surprises us that any politician these days give such testimony. The project was bad and highly controversial before and now it is so much worse. We spoke to Mr. Maisel after his remarks to ask him if he could identify a project that he would consider a boondoggle. At this point we were interrupted by a project opponent telling Mr. Maisel that he was "fraud." Mr. Maisel responded by telling the opponent “You’re a fraud too” and then for some reason “And you know me very well.”

We returned to our question for the Assemblyman: “Just as a reference point, can you identify any single project, a single project that you would consider a boondoggle.” Mr. Maisel responded that he didn’t really want to talk to us. “One project, one project,” we said, “if this isn’t a boondoggle what is a boondoggle?” At this point Mr. Maisel asked that we reidentify ourselves. We did and when then Mr. Maisel said “I don’t really care.”

We left off, saying to Mr. Maisel, “So you are a public official and you can’t identify any boondoggles, any misspending of public money?” The assemblyman excused himself to exit the hall and then several minutes later quietly came back in the other door to sit at the back. We wonder, do Mr. Maisel’s constituents know how many billions in taxpayers dollars are being spent on a no-bid basis to enrich developer Bruce Ratner?

The Boondoggle Question Repeated

We were sitting with one of our former colleagues from the state finance agencies (who also testified against the project) when she pointed out that Kathy Wylde, the president of the Partnership for New York City, was present sitting near the front. Open-mindedly our colleague entertained the idea that Kathy might be testifying against the project as we both were. Everyone at my former agencies tended to be pretty aware of Kathy and we certainly all knew she was far and away bright enough to know what’s what and have good judgment. We explained to our colleague that Kathy had already testified in favor of the project at two other hearings we had attended. We mentioned the piece Norman Oder had written about Kathy’s testimony before the MTA Finance Committee and mine following, that dealt with the way the Partnership’s support for the project was “evolving” to support the project even as it degenerated. (See: Tuesday, June 30, 2009, The Partnership for New York City's evolving (and misleading) support for Atlantic Yards.) Mr. Oder's piece has video of the testimony we both gave. We also mentioned that Ms Wylde was in favor of eminent domain (“eminent domain abuse” we corrected ourselves- We all are in favor of eminent domain.) and the article we had written about this: Monday, July 6, 2009, Wylde Ideas, Making For a Wrong Partnership. We commented that we didn’t think that support for these bad ideas had been Rockefeller’s aspiration when the Partnership was set up.

Ms. Wylde got up heading to the back of the room and so did we so we could talk to her. Something was up. It turned out to be a press conference by the project supporters driven inside by the rain. Before the press conference Ms. Wylde needed to confer privately with Senator Marty Golden.

We asked Ms. Wylde whether she was there to testify or would be submitting something in writing. She said she wold be testifying personally. That did not come to pass. Later on we were there when Ms. Wylde’s name was called by the hearing officer but Ms. Wylde had departed.

Ms. Wylde had apparently read our last article about her testimony following up on Norman Oder’s about it. She said that she didn’t remember our working on the very much lower density project on the other side of Atlantic Avenue across from the Atlantic Yards site. It is true that we worked mostly in a supervisory capacity without calling attention to ourselves. (We had also worked on the site long before while at the NYC Housing Development Corporation.- A lot of people worked on the site over a lot of years.)

We asked Ms. Wylde about information that had not been made available by Forest City Ratner or ESDC at the informational meeting that previous week: “Do you know how much subsidy is going into the project?” She seemed to regard us askance. “I know as much about the project as you do,” she said. “No, seriously,” we said, “Do you know how much public subsidy is going into the project?” Ms. Wylde repeated herself, “I know as much about the project as you do."

We, in fact, knew that we would be addressing the amount of subsidy going into the project in our testimony. While it involves calculation of a somewhat shifting amount, because we had spent some time focusing on the numbers, we knew that it would be a minimum of between $2 and t$3 billion. We also knew that we had done some calculations how many additional hundreds of millions of dollars the new  most recent MTA giveaways tallied up to and that we had spent some time looking at what a proper value would be for the MTA’s sale of the right to name two of its subway stations and the MTA's giving up of it's ability to autonomously design the New York City subway map without interference from Forest City Ratner. (See: Sunday, June 28, 2009, Naming a Problem: The MTA Gives Ratner the Right to Name Brooklyn Subway Stations “Barclays”)

There were various people standing around as the press conference assembled. We got to meet and talk with Eric A.Ulrich, who is actually is the youngest serving Member of the City Council and is running for re-election as a Republican in his Queens 32nd Council District. Mr. Ulrich’s Queens City Council District is pretty much right next to Alan Maisel’s Brooklyn Assembly District, again being on Jamaica Bay and including such neighborhoods as Howard Beach (He has an “active membership in the Knights of Columbus, Kiwanis Club of Howard Beach.”)

We asked Mr. Ulrich the same question we’d asked Assemblyman Alan Maisel: What did he think was the biggest boondoggle project in the city. He looked quizzical and asked about why were asking the question. We explained that it seemed to be an essential question to ask politicians because wasn’t it the job of politicians to recognize the misspending of public money? That seemed to make sense to him so we asked again. He thought for a moment, smiled and said “Certainly not this one.” “So you have a candidate for a project that is a bigger boondoggle?” we asked. “As a point of reference, what is it and what makes it a bigger boondoggle?” Mr. Ulrich didn’t have a project to name.

We asked Mr. Ulrich whether he knew how much subsidy was going into the Atlantic Yards project. Kathy Wylde was standing right beside us in the crowded room and uncomfortable with our asking the question we had just asked her, wincing a little. Though we asked more than once Mr. Ulrich had no answer and apparently did not know how much public money was being plowed into Atlantic Yards. Earlier we wondered whether Mr. Maisel’s constituents know how many billions in taxpayers dollars are being spent on a no-bid basis to enrich developer Bruce Ratner so to be fair we must also wonder whether Mr. Ulrich’s constituents happen to know this.

While we are in the process of such wondering, we should wonder about the constituents of Marty Golden. Golden’s Senate District overlaps a bit with Mr. Maisel’s, also including Marine Park on Jamaica Bay but it sweeps more east over to Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights and Bensonhurst.

Mostly we didn’t see elected representatives from around the project assembling for this press conference except for Delia Hunley-Adossa, the challenger to quintessential Atlantic Yards opponent council member Tish James from the 38th Council District. Delia Hunley-Adossa’s campaign is apparently funded by Forest City Ratner by way of not for profits set up to support Ratner. (See: Friday, March 27, 2009, Behind Hunley-Adossa's campaign, treasurer Nimmons heads another dubious nonprofit, with Ratner funding.) By contrast, at the rally and press conference in opposition to the megadevelopment the candidates and politicians from the area around the project, the 33rd, 39th and 38th Council Districts were copiously present.

Later on that afternoon we were able to ask Ms. Hunley-Adossa if she knew how much public subsidy was supposed to be spent on Atlantis Yards. We could evoke no response from her whatsoever nor from any of the people who were making themselves available for photo ops at the time. She was, however, very good at smiling for pictures at the same time she did not respond to the repeated asking of the question.

We did see John Heyer, candidate for the 39th Council District (de Blasio’s seat), floating around the room with the rest of the people who had come in out of the rain. Mr. Heyer previously described his qualms about the project to us in great detail. His qualms included objections to the public taxpayer funding of the arena, the project’s density and poor design, and the way in which the MTA was mismanaged and not serving the public in getting less than full value of the railyards from Ratner. This was before the project degenerated and the MTA piled on hundreds of millions more in Ratner giveaways. A week prior to this we chatted with Mr. Heyer at the informational meeting on Atlantic Yards where he expressed disgust at these new additional MTA giveaways.

Mr. Heyer has more than one capacity in which he attends events these days: He is not just a candidate. He is also an assistant to Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz.

We didn’t find out exactly what Mr. Heyer might be doing next in the room. At that point, before the press conference began, we had to go back into the hearing room. We were told that our name had just been called for us to give testimony.

Chatting With Bertha Lewis About the Affordable Housing Which the Ratner/ACORN Agreement Doesn’t Provide

During the break between the two hearing sessions we had a chance to meet Bertha Lewis for the very first time and that meant we got to put a question to her we had been dying to ask.

We asked Ms. Lewis why the MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) that was then incorporated into the CAB (Community Benefits Agreement) she had agreed to with Forest City Ratner said that families who had a specified band of household incomes right in the middle would not be getting affordable housing. We had also asked this question at the previous week’s informational meeting where Forest City Ratner sidestepped providing an answer. (See: Thursday, July 23, 2009, The Hit and Miss of Last Night’s Public “Information” Meeting on Atlantic Yards.)

Ms. Lewis seemed surprised that she was being asked this question (though it seems extremely obvious why it should be asked) and she indicated that she somehow didn’t understand the question that was being asked. We can be extremely patient and explained it to her. You have an agreement with Forest City Ratner, an MOU incorporated into the CBA. (She understood this.) It provides and specifies what affordable housing will be provided. (Ms. Lewis understood this too.) And it does so by setting forth in stratified bands, the various incomes of the families to whom that affordable housing will be provided. (Yes to this too.) And right in the middle there is a specified band of incomes of people, families who will not be having any of that the affordable housing provided to them. (Right now that band is families with incomes from $38,407.00 or 50% of AMI to $46,087 or 60% of AMI.) Ms. Lewis acknowledged understanding this AMI stuff.

The missing (not provided for) band is right above the incomes for which the tax code would require that units be provided. We said this to Ms. Lewis.

(What we did not say to Ms. Lewis involves background the reader will want to take into account in assessing the rest of Ms. Lewis’s response. Right above the missing band are units that are close to at a level at which the market might provide units. Rents for those units would be $2,880, $2,304 or $1,536 per month and the units could be exceptionally small in size- See our previous post.)

Our exchange with Ms. Lewis then proceeded as follows:
BL: I think you are just wrong- Here’s the deal. I don’t know how many affordable housing units that you’ve built, I don’t know if you’ve had to do affordable housing but that’s what we do.* And here’s what we did: Everybody whether from low to moderate to middle, everybody across the board shares in this. So I don’t know what your point is, I really don’t.

(* Our MDDW resume actually tallies this experience in dollar, not unit count terms “Facilitated and participated in the issuance of over $36 billion dollars in bonds and over $390 million in State appropriated subsidy between 1993 and the end of 2006.” Though not all of that is affordable housing, the housing probably constitutes many multiples of what Ms. Lewis is conceiving of. In addition, we did many additional units from 1981 to 1993.)
NNY: “So there isn’t a missing. .”

BL: “I prevented a project from being totally luxury. So let me ask you, since you are looking at New York, I want you to tell me every other project that’s being built down here- you tell me about their bands, and then we can talk. OK?

NNY: . . “You negotiated units that were required by the tax code. . .”

BL: What did you negotiate? Don’t tell me what’s required by the tax code. I build. I am a developer.”

NNY: “I believe that if you look at the missing band of units, because I used to negotiate. . ”

BL: “Don’t tell me about a missing band of units. Here’s what I want you to do, how many missing bands are in Oro?* Do you know? Do you care? No!”
(* A 303 unit condominium at Gold and Johnson Streets, about three blocks away from where we were standing. The condominium units in Atlantic Yards are similarly not negotiated by ACORN to be affordable. It is very difficult to finance condominiums with the tax exempt bonds Ratner wants, which is why condominiums are usually market rate unless other subsidies are involved.)
NNY: “So are you denying that there is a strata that is not provided for?”

BL: No, I’m not. I’m providing for everyone, low, middle, and moderate.
Ms. Lewis did not convincingly acknowledge or refute that she knew that there was a missing band not provided for in her agreement with the developer. Instead, she first told us first that we did not know what we were talking about and she then accused us of having a point that we wanted to make and said that we did not care if we lied or obstructed or what we did.

But the deal that Ms. Lewis and ACORN negotiated is the deal they negotiated. (For more on what Ms. Lewis and ACORN negotiated see our previous post and the links therein.)

(Above chart shows the minor portion of units in Atlantic Yards referred to as "affordable." Click to enlarge.)

We would have continued our conversation with Ms. Lewis further and she seemed energized enough to want to do so, except handlers (looking out for her welfare?) stepped in, interposing their bodies and telling us that the conversation was not to continue. One of them even suggested that we were harassing Ms. Lewis.

An Emissary Lauding Ratner From the MetroTech BID (Business Improvement District)

Late in the evening a young man showed up to testify in favor of the project who might not have been there except for his connection to the Metrotech BID. . .

More coming. . .

(This article is being posted and updated in segments as written.- More to follow here.)

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