Thursday, September 26, 2013

Ratner Must Pay Up: And So Will NYC for Willets Point United

As Develop Don’t Destroy is reporting:
“A judge today ruled that the Empire State Development Corporation ("ESDC") is liable for legal fees incurred by community groups that sued successfully to compel a supplemental environmental impact study (SEIS) for the second phase of Forest City's controversial Atlantic Yards project.  She referred the parties to a referee to determine the amount of the award, which under an agreement with ESDC, Forest City Ratner will then have to pay.”
Good for them! Just another example of how Big Real Estate cheats their asses off and expects the politicians and the courts to turn the other way:
"Justice Friedman's ruling today is another reminder of the sordid 10-year history of the Atlantic Yards project, which to this day has largely failed to deliver on the promises that were used to sell it to the people of New York," said Candace Carponter, Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn's legal director.  "We're gratified by today's decision, but the fact remains that, as Justice Friedman suggests, had the ESDC and Forest City Ratner not knowingly misrepresented the facts to the court, the entire Atlantic Yards project, including the heavily subsidized Barclays Center, would never have gotten off the drawing board."
Too often, these kinds of vindications come posthumously-and what should be seen as criminal or civil liability ends up being simply throwing coins at beggars. Willets Point United is facing the same situation-with the criminal activity being exposed and little or no consequences for the perps. But when the city pulled its eminent domain proceeding-fearing the exposure of massive corruption-they opened the tax payers to being on the hook for all of the WPU legal fees. As the Daily News reported:
“A group of Willets Point property owners want the city to pay their hefty legal fees after pulling plans last week to take over their land through eminent domain proceedings. The city halted its controversial approach because it was instead nearing a deal with a developer to overhaul the industrial cluster of auto body shops and scrap yards next to Citi Field.”
Show us the money-the city must be made responsible for putting the property owners through a living hell. All for nothing, as the News points out:

"Michael Rikon, an attorney representing about two-dozen WilletsPoint business owners, said he will file a petition for the city to repay his clients’ legal fees. Willets Point United members have shelled out more than $300,000 in legal fees since 2008, he said. That number is on top of the money group members paid to attorney Michael Gerrard, who represented them in their fight against new exit ramps on the VanWyck Expressway. Rikon said his clients are entitled to the money under section 702 of New York State eminent domain law."
The $300,000 is really chump change when seen in the context of a $400 million boondoggle-and still escalating fraud-but it is symbolic of the disregard of the plutocrats for the fate of the peons. The City Council has now been given the opportunity to give this bait and switch the bum’s rush, but given the total lack of character of the leadership-and their obeisance to Big Real Estate (not to mention the complete lack of competency of the local council member)-this is as unlikely as the sun setting in the East. It will be up to the new mayor to take a look at all of the unethical and criminal behavior involved in this mayoral grift-and decide if there really will be a new day for New Yorkers.