Monday, June 09, 2008

O'Keeffe's Kerfuffle

Michael O'Keeffe of the NY Daily News doesn't like Bruce Ratner, and yesterday in the paper he let that get in the way of his good judgment: "Bruce Ratner's Brooklyn Day was billed as a celebration, but Thursday's pep rally to whip up support for the Nets owner's controversial Atlantic Yards project seemed more like a goal-line stand than a party."

Oh, really? This sounds to us more like wishful thinking on his part than accurate analysis of where the project stands-and his thoughts on the large contingent of young hoopsters who were in attendance is a dead giveaway: "The quality of the crowd at Columbus Park was easier to gauge than the quantity; nobody, it seemed, had come to Brooklyn Day because they believed Atlantic Yards was crucial to New York's future. The youth basketball groups came because Ratner has sponsored their tournaments."

Of course, since he was unable to gainsay the numbers, all that was left was his own subjectivity; and the enthusiasm of the ballers was never in question, something that is directly related to the fact that FCRC sponsors their teams and games. The reality here is that our client Forest City and the Nets see the youngsters as their future stakeholders once the team comes to Brooklyn, as it will in two years in spite of O'Keeffe's willing disbelief.

There's nothing sinister in enlightened self-interest, whether it is expressed by FCRC, the Brownsville Rec Center, the Flatbush Youth Association, the Brooklyn Falcons, the Brooklyn Saints, or the CYO contingent-well represented by hundreds of happy young folks who appreciate the company's support and look forward to a continuing partnership once AY is opened and the team is finally playing in 2010.

And the same goes for the union folks and the community people represented by Build; it's a mistake to think that grass roots support can only be represented by enthusiasm devoid of self-interest. The project and the team are good for a wide range of constituents, something that will continue to be expressed right up until the first ball goes through a hoop in the new arena, and the first family gets its new apartment. Why should these folks be motivated only by the Idea of the Brooklyn Nets?

Instead we get the following from Mikey: "At least Hillary can still draw a crowd that's passionate and committed; even in defeat she shows more heart than Vince Carter ever has. Forest City Ratner spokesman Loren Riegelhaupt estimated Brooklyn Day drew up to 3,500 supporters, but that number seemed extremely optimistic, especially as the day wore on and the construction workers who are Ratner's most loyal constituency wandered back to their job sites." Talk about erroneous analysis and false comparisons.

O'Keeffe is in for a rude awakening, buoyed as he is by the delays that have been cause by the litigious-something that, according to the NY Sun, continues as the Institute for Justice, tilting at windmills once more, joins in the legal batlle In two years, when we're all drinking champagne, all he, the cluster of lawyers, and the DDDers will be left with will be sour grapes; the kind O'Keeffe ends his column with: "But if Bruce Ratner thinks Brooklyn Day was a celebration, one can only wonder how he defines affordable housing and good jobs." We'll see about this.