Monday, August 21, 2006

Ink Spilled on the 57th AD

Today brought forth a Crain's article (Brooklyn referendum Big names support Yards; foes eye Sept. 12 primary) and a Times (In Brooklyn, a Fierce Contest to Be Assembly Successor) article on the 57th Assembly District race between Batson, Jeffries and Hamilton.

From Crain's:
All the most important names in New York politics support the $4.2 billion Atlantic Yards housing and sports arena project proposed by Forest City Ratner: Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Gov. George Pataki, Comptroller William Thompson, Borough President Marty Markowitz, even gubernatorial front-runner Eliot Spitzer.But opponents are working desperately to turn the Sept. 12 Democratic primary into a referendum on the development. They are hoping that strong showings for half a dozen candidates who are against it will make community opposition too obvious for government power brokers to ignore.

Their top priority is helping Bill Batson succeed Assemblyman Roger Green, a supporter who is leaving the Legislature to run for Congress. "It is the key race when it comes to Atlantic Yards," says opposition leader Daniel Goldstein. "The entire district is very politically charged and active right now because of that project." Several dozen Atlantic Yards opponents collected signatures to put Mr. Batson on the ballot. They are raising money for his campaign and will be distributing his literature throughout primary day. Without the controversy to drive his campaign, Mr. Batson would have an uphill battle against Hakeem Jeffries, who ran strong--though unsuccessful--races for the seat in 2000 and 2002 and has more campaign money and institutional support. Mr. Jeffries does not believe the issue will decide the election, but he was wary enough to advertise in local newspapers his objections to the project's size and proposed use of eminent domain. At the same time, he calls Atlantic Yards "a step in the right direction" toward more affordable housing.
Need we remind Jeffries of this blog's motto:
The question should always very clearly be stated as "Do you support THIS proposal as it CURRENTLY stands?"

Not "Do you support affordable housing?" or "Do you support FCR?" or "Do you support development of Atlantic Yards?"

Candidates can't equivocate on this question. There is no "on the other hand."

You either support the project described in the DEIS and the process, or you don't.

There are no do-overs folks, and the only possible relief is in the courts if this thing goes through.

(motto purloined from blogger and early commenter Dope on the Slope)
As for the article in the Times (whose editorial board endorsed Jeffries one day earlier because he is a "...rising political star...," but did not clarify that Batson opposes the project and Jeffries supports it) it does clarify where the candidates stand. Though it does leave out a small, but not unimportant fact about the third candidate Freddie Hamilton...
Ms. Hamilton is a staunch supporter of the project, saying that it will bring jobs, economic opportunity and affordable housing to residents of the area.

"It’s the kind of project that I feel strongly will do some good in
this community," she said.
The article forgets(?) that Hamilton received $350,000 from Forest City Ratner and signed the "Community Benefits Agreement." It sure will do some good in this....pocketbook.

The Times continues:
Mr. Batson is equally outspoken as a foe of the project. He said the project would strain public services and make traffic worse, and that the project includes too little housing for low-income residents.

Mr. Jeffries is in the middle. He criticized the scope of the project, saying that it was too big.

"We should encourage smart development," he said. "But it cannot be at the expense of the community. We should build something there that addresses the affordable-homeownership crisis in the community. But it should be scaled down."

Mr. Batson said that the Atlantic Yards project was only a symptom of a larger problem in Brooklyn regarding development.

"The problem is that the only economy is real estate, and people in Brooklyn are viewed as so many bison and buffalos," he said. "We need to freeze the clock. Anyone who comes should feel welcome, but no one who lives here should feel forced out."

Similarly, Mr. Jeffries said that he would push to make certain that "New York State gets back in the affordable housing business."

"People have to be able to purchase homes in the communities where, in many cases, they have lived all their lives," he said.
What Batson and Jeffries say is absolutely true. But, once again we need to remind Jeffries of our motto (see above). And if he doesn't think that the "Atlantic Yards" issue will determine the race (see above in Crain's article) then why does he continually chase Batson's firmly planted boot of opposition to no avail?


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