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Ratner buys friends

The Brooklyn Paper
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It turns out that Bruce Ratner is paying a lot more for his friends than we thought.

Ratner signed a so-called “Community Benefits Agreement” with eight so-called “community” groups in 2005. The CBA promises, among other things, that Ratner will create affordable housing at his Atlantic Yards mega-project, and will make a “good-faith” effort to hire many minority workers.

In exchange, the eight signatories agreed to support the project.

And then the payoffs began.

As reporters from The Brooklyn Papers and other news outlets investigated the CBA, Ratner was forced to admit that CBA signatories had received grants to do such things as distributing Ratner’s promotional flyers and pay salaries — and, in the case of a $50,000 grant to the Rev. Herbert Daughtry, to, well, it’s not really clear what.

All told, the previously known grants came to $275,000.

But that was just the beginning, it turns out.

This week, Assembly candidate Freddie Hamilton, who is running to succeed her ally Roger Green, told The Papers that her group, the Downtown Brooklyn Education Consortium, will actually receive $350,000 — not the previously announced $87,000 — from Ratner.

The larger grant was first revealed by reporter Norman Oder on his Web site, www.AtlanticYardsReport.com.

Hamilton defended the grants to DBEC (which is not surprising since, as a signatory of the CBA, she can’t say anything bad about Atlantic Yards), explaning that the money is being used “to strengthen our infrastructures and for support of ongoing operations of our programs [and] figure out how to plan some mechanism to give continuous support to those organizati­ons.”

Read that comment twice if you like, but it never actually becomes clear what the six groups that comprise the DBEC — three of which are not even registered with New York State — are doing with Ratner’s money besides giving the developer some imprimatur of “community” support.

The more we find out, the more Bruce Ratner appears willing to pay for that “support” — and the more it will cost taxpayers, to whom Ratner will likely pass the bill in the end.

Updated 4:00 pm, November 10, 2010
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