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Pols must hit Ratner in wallet

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After hearing two major lawsuits — one challenging the state’s unjustifiably lax environmental review, the other decrying the state’s use of its condemnation power to hand privately owned property over to the profit-making Forest City Ratner — judges have turned a blind eye to egregious misuses of state power surrounding the $4 billion Atlantic Yards project.

With judges punting, the most potent challenge to Ratner’s taxpayer-funded payday rests in the legislatures, which have the power to turn off the torrent of taxpayer dollars.

For Ratner, Atlantic Yards has always been about the money — not jobs or housing, not urban design or athletic excellence, but the massive sums expected to flow from the public trough.

As it becomes increasingly evident both how costly this boondoggle will be in the end and how little the public will benefit given the cost, it will be increasingly difficult for elected officials to hide behind Ratner’s lies (see page one of this week’s Paper for proof of the most recently documented Ratner lie).

Councilmembers Letitia James and David Yassky have put forward a resolution that asks the state legislature to withdraw $700 million in subsidies to Ratner’s Nets basketball arena.

The James-Yassky resolution is modeled on a similar resolution, which recently passed the council, that asked the state to curtail a 25-year-old, $300 million, tax subsidy to Madison Square Garden.

The council is vengefully pursuing the Garden in retaliation for the Garden’s successful opposition to another government giveaway — to the owners of the New York Jets, who hoped to build a stadium on Manhattan’s West Side. If the council was acting out of real concern for taxpayer resources, it would turn its attention to Ratner instead of the Garden, since Ratner’s windfall far outdistances the Garden’s.

The smokescreen behind which so many pro-Atlantic Yards legislators have been hiding was the central lie that the project would bring in $4.4 billion in tax revenues to state and city coffers over the next 30 years. Lies about the extent of job creation were exposed early on.

As we’ve pointed out many times, Ratner’s public revenue estimates are a fantasy. In fact, the state admitted as much last year, when it downgraded the revenue projection to just $944 million over the same 30 years — a mere $15 million per year, a drop in the bucket for a state and city whose annual budgets are in the tens of billions.

But you don’t have to believe us or the state. For the first time ever, Ratner has finally admitted that he was lying all along.

As the Atlantic Yards Report first reported this week, buried in a footnote in a recent legal filing is this admission from a Ratner lawyer:

“[M]y statement in my prior affirmation that the ‘environmen­tal impact statement for the project estimates that the project will create ... $4.4 billion in net tax revenues for the city and the state over 30 years’ is mistaken, because ‘[t]here is simply no projection at all regarding the net tax revenues contained in the EIS.’”

At long last, an admission that the original sin of Atlantic Yards — the inflated tax revenues that so many elected officials used to cover their tracks — was a lie.

It’s time to stop this charade. Our elected officials — and everyone with open eyes — should know now that they’ve been lied to. It’s time for them to respond in the only way they can: Stop this sweetheart deal before Ratner formally acquires the state-owned rail yard on which he hopes to build, and before Ratner and other state agencies ink the subsidy deals that prop up this oversized white elephant of a project.

Updated 4:35 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Ronald Fleishman from Chicago says:
Based on my personal experience with Forest City in Chicago, I think at all costs you need to stop their Atlantic Yards project. To say they're Slum Lords would be paying them a compliment.

I've live in the Pavilion in Chicago for nearly 35 years. It was (key word "was") a great place to live. With all it's amenities it was like living on a resort.

However, in the last two years or so they've really been running this place into the ground.
Click on "Pavilion Apartments Review" on Google and take note of the more recent reviews. If you like mold, poor plumbing and 100 degree temperatures in your apartment the Pavilion is the place for you.

I recently started a petition in regards to these problems and practically everybody was signing. That was until the 16th district police department here came out and threatened to arrest me if I didn't stop immediately. The City of Chicago up to now has been basically ignoring all other complaints. Hmmmm, would campaign financing have anything to do with this?

Future tenants of Atlantic Yards should also expect to have their first amendment rights squashed if they try to complain about the 3rd world conditions of their apartment or office.
Oct. 13, 2008, 5:03 pm

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