State finds new lawyer

Ratner, ESDC’s conflict of interest settled

The Brooklyn Paper
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They swore in court that it couldn’t be done, but the state agency reviewing Bruce Ratner’s Atlantic Yards project has landed a new lawyer.

The Empire State Development Corporation was forced to find a new legal eagle after a court ruled last month that then-counsel David Paget couldn’t work for the state because he had just worked with Ratner on Atlantic Yards.

At the time, ESDC claimed in court papers that it would “suffer substantial hardship if it is not permitted to keep Mr. Paget [who] is considered to be one of the preeminent environmental lawyers in the United States.”

ESDC said it would be unlikely to find a lawyer with Paget’s abilities — and even if it could, “it is unlikely ever to have the same comfort level with that attorney,” the agency said.

What a difference a month makes. Last week, ESDC proudly hailed its new lawyer, Kevin Healy of the law firm Bryan Cave.
“We are confident in our ability to move ahead with the project with Bryan Cave as our environmental counsel,” ESDC spokeswoman Jessica Copen told The Brooklyn Papers.

The swiftness with which ESDC replaced Paget — and the generally accepted competence of Healy — had many Atlantic Yards opponents scratching their heads about what all the fuss was about.

“We always said their argument was specious,” said Jeff Baker, lawyer for Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn, a Ratner opponent.
“There are clearly plenty of competent lawyers in New York.”

Healy did not return a call seeking comment on his competence.

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