Friday, August 25, 2006

"Atlantic Yards": Jeffries' Mailer and Batson's Statement

We went to the "Atlantic Yards" hearing Wednesday night in search of some political clarity on the issue. Today we'll look at the 57th. The hearing went on for a long time and unfortunately neither Hakeem Jeffries nor Bill Batson was in the room when their names were called many hours after the hearing started. We think both names were called well after the scheduled ending of the scheduled 4:30-8:30 hearing which ended, in real life, at 11:30.

So, as we were most curious to hear these speakers, we went looking around the internets on the day after the hearing to see what we could find.

Over at Jeffries' very slick Flash (with music but slow loading) website we found no comment at all about "Atlantic Yards". Nothing at all. Nothing generic, nothing on the fence, nothing about the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS). (Though we did find that silly NY Times endorsement front and center).

So we went on over to the Batson website to see if there was any reference to the DEIS hearing. There was.

Batson had posted what we presume is the testimony he intended to read at the DEIS hearing. Here is a snippet:
My name is Bill Batson. I am a member of Community Board 8, where I serve as the Co-Chair of the Committee on the Environmental Impact of the Brooklyn Atlantic Yards. I also stand here as a candidate for the Assembly from the 57th District. This is my second time appearing before the Empire State Development Corporation. As a volunteer, with hundreds of my neighbors, we spent the last year, including last summer, getting ready for this audience. We have held hearings and enlisted pro-bono experts to understand a proposal that was actually never really made available to us. But we worked. And we wrote your office on numerous occasions, as official community advisory council members. You ignored all of our letters. Last summer Mr. Gargano did not show his face here, as his consultants attempt to divide the largest real estate parcel in New York history.

I see that Mr. Gargano is not here today. If I were him, I would also avoid bearing witness to the attempted disenfranchisement of an entire borough of four million. To hold a hearing while all three affected advisory bodies are on vacation and to hold a dubious “forum” on primary day should draw the attention of the Justice Department. We are being disenfranchised.

After hundreds of hours of close examination of this project, with my neighbors and peers, I must condemn virtually every aspect of the Forest City Ratner (FCR) proposal for the following reasons:...

Click to find out the reasons...
The testimony concludes with some rather strong comments:
Brooklyn’s fate should be in Brooklyn’s hands. That is why our ancestors fought and died in Prospect Park, and at Gowanus and in Wallabout Bay. We are a city of four million who must not only have representation for our taxation, but must reject this vulgar and undemocratic effort to use our own tax dollars and our own government against us. You have no authority that we in Brooklyn recognize. Go home and take your mega-developments with you. We will rebuild our Navy Yards and our own homes and preserve our own history.

We turned back the British and their Hessians. We’ll turn back the billionaires and their political thugs and puppets. ESDC go home, Brooklyn will house and feed our own. Thank you.

Well, it's clear where that candidate stands on "Atlantic Yards."

Since we couldn't find any comment from Jeffries on his site, or elswhere, on the DEIS, we were fortunate that on the very same day we are writing this post, we received a Jeffries campaign mailer in our in-box. We figured we would surely find something about "Atlantic Yards." And while the mailer shows a wonderful history of Hakeem over the years, it is lacking in the topic at hand here. Here's the mailer below, click image to enlarge.

The biggest and most controversial issue in the district over the past three years, a huge and contentious public hearing on a 4,000 page impact document, and Jeffries' website and mailer is devoid of even the words "Atlantic Yards."

18 days until primary day. Perhaps there'll be another mailer?


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