NEW YORK, NYĄToday Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn (DDDB) released
IRS documents providing smoking
gun proof that Bruce Ratner is paying $5 million to the group
that he has used as foot soldiers to garner community support.
The $5 million payment to Brooklyn United for Innovative Local
Development (BUILD) was made in the midst of negotiations over
a so called "Community Benefits Agreement"
(CBA) for Forest City Ratner's (FCR) 17 skyscraper and arena
development in Prospect Heights and Park Slope, Brooklyn.
BUILD, a recently formed 501c3 organization established by Assemblyman
Roger Green, has no track record in workforce and small
business development (the areas for which it is responsible
in the CBA), and it came into existence after the Ratner proposal
was announced in December 2003. BUILD came out strongly in support
of the Ratner proposal during its first public appearance.
Of the three BUILD officers, according to the
IRS 1023 form, President James Caldwell
receives a salary of $125,000, while Chief Operating Officer
Marie Louis and Chief Administrative Officer Shalawn Langhorne
each bring in a $100,000 salary. These officers also form 75%
of the Board of Directors, thereby determining their own salaries.
Some of Ratner's $5 million pays these salaries, while nearly
$4 million is budgeted for unaccountable "salaries and wages."
BUILD budgets the entire $5 million over 2005 and 2006∆the key
years where Ratner seeks political support and governmental
approval for his proposal.
BUILD and Forest City Ratner have repeatedly
denied that the developer funds the group created to support
Ratner's Atlantic Yards project. As recently as September 21,
on the Brian Lehrer show, BUILD COO Marie
Louis emphatically denied and took strong issue when Mr.
Lehrer asked if Ratner funds her group. In an April 2005 New
York Sun article Ms. Louis called the claim that Ratner
finances BUILD, "a malicious and outrageous lie."
Forest City Ratner Executive Vice President Jim Stuckey in a
November 2004 Brooklyn Papers article said, "of
course BUILD and ACORN are not getting paid."
"It is clear that Mr. Ratner has fabricated the appearance of
community support by paying BUILD to be his leading foot soldiers"
said DDDB spokesman Daniel Goldstein. "Ratner has cynically
paid BUILD to do his bidding, such as: making claims that Prospect
Heights is blighted; filing an amicus
brief in the Supreme Court in favor of Ratner's favorite
tactic--eminent domain; rallying against and accusing Councilwoman
Letitia James of being against jobs and housing; turning every
serious concern about, and objection to, the project into an
issue of race."
"What was already viewed as an illegitimate "Community Benefits
Agreement" is now nothing but a clearly compromised Personal
Benefits Agreement, negotiated at the expense of the community
it's supposed to benefit. We have been witness to a hoax; there
is no reason at all to trust anything that comes out of Ratner's
PR machine or his supporters' mouths," Goldstein said.
The district's Assemblyman and Ratner supporter, Roger Green,
was a driving force in the creation of BUILD. Mr. Green's former
staffer Randall Toure was hired out of Green's office by Forest
City Ratner to act as a community liaison seeking support for
the Atlantic Yards project. From that relationship BUILD sprouted.
Bonnie Brower, Executive Director of the non-partisan public
policy organization City Project, said, "If New York City had
a genuinely democratic, rational and effective process for discussing
and approving major developments, residents of communities immediately
affected by proposed projects would be activeśparticipants in
shapingśsuch deals from beginning to completion, andśother cityśresidents
and officials would also have a voice,śwheneverśsuch projects
affected city revenues.śThe problem with the Atlantic Yards
project and the so-called ÔCommunity Benefits Agreement' is
that there is neither any authenticśpublic process for participation
nor anyśeffective public oversight. As a result,śthere is far
too much opportunity forśself-dealing and narrow interests to
cut deals thatświll predictably have long-term, adverseśimpacts
on the affected Brooklyn neighborhoods and on the city as a
Goldstein continued, "The CBA is a charade. Community support
for Ratner's project is a fabrication; Ratner's chief cheerleaders
are overpaid employees of his. What did Roger
Green know about this $5 million paid to the organization
he founded? Mr. Green must come clean and explain himself and
his organization's behavior. We call on the 25 politicians who
endorsed the CBA, including Senator Schumer, Mayor Bloomberg,
Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum, and Comptroller Thompson, to
withdraw their support for Ratner and his Ôcommunity benefits
"We want to know what Ratner has offered the other seven CBA
signatories, four of who are not even incorporated. As members
of the community that is supposed to be represented in the CBA,
we will be calling for an investigation of the CBA groups and
the entire mechanism employed by Forest City Ratner to negotiate
such a compromised agreement," Goldstein said.
Mr. Ratner has tried to create and foment racial division in
his quest to build his publicly funded 9 million square foot
development. BUILD has aided him in this deliberate attempt
by publicly describing opposition to the project as a "white"
position (see: www.dddb.net/BUILD/bidding.php).
Oddly enough BUILD's President James Caldwell and a another
core member of BUILD appeared in a Mayor Bloomberg campaign
advertisement this past summer. The Mayor, who fully supports
Ratner's plan, endorsed the CBA but did not sign it. Instead
he released a statement misleadingly stating "Bloomberg...signs
CBA." At the CBA signing ceremony, when asked about the
enforceability of such a non-governmental document, the Mayor
said, "...you have Bruce Ratner's word. That should be enough
for you and for everybody else in the community."
DDDB spokesman Goldstein concluded, "Today's news must be the
tip of the iceberg, and we encourage New York's press corps
to look below that tip. For two years now the public has been
asking this: Will our elected officials finally stop giving
Bruce Ratner a free ride and start scrutinizing his secret,
taxpayer-subsidized, sweetheart deal and his unacceptable tactics?
Clearly he can afford to pay."
December 10, 2003 - Bruce Ratner unveils his Brooklyn
Atlantic Yards (BAY) Development Proposal
January 23, 2004 ∆ Assemblyman Roger Green
announces the creation of BUILD
March 4, 2004 ∆ BUILD Announces support for
Ratner BAY Project
August, 2004 ∆ BUILD begins its "CBA" negotiations
December 20, 2004 ∆ BUILD files 1023 form for 501c3
status with IRS, indicating $5 million payment from Ratner
June 27, 2005 ∆ BUILD, 7 other groups, and Ratner sign
CBA, with Mayor Bloomberg, Assemblyman Green, Public Advocate
Gotbaum, Borough President Markowitz, and other elected officials
In other recent Forest City Ratner/Atlantic
Below is based on the first official document released regarding
the Ratner proposal, which is the draft scoping document. It
can be found at the Empire State Development Corporation's website,
What was announced
on May 19, 2005 as a revolutionary 50%-50% "affordable"
housing agreement between FCR and ACORN has officially been
reduced to a 31% "affordable" housing program. All the "affordable
housing is dependent on an extraordinary package of city, state
and federal housing subsidies. ACORN has not fulfilled its promise
of a 50%-50% housing program.
Of the proposed 7,300 housing units, 5,050 would be market rate
luxury units, while 2,250 would be "affordable." Only 12% of
the housing units would be for low-income families earning less
than the Brooklyn median income of $35,000. As Councilman Charles
Barron has said, the Ratner proposal is "instant gentrification."
When the project was unveiled in December
2003, FCR announced there would be over 10,000 permanent jobs.
The Mayor continues to claim 8,500 jobs. As of one month ago
FCR claimed 6,000 jobs. The latest official scoping document
outlining the project includes office space or room for 3900
jobs at most. According to an NYC Economic Development Corporation
scenario, only 30% of those jobs will be new jobs, totaling
1,170 potential new jobs. None of which can be guaranteed to
DEVELOP DON'T DESTROY BROOKLYN leads a
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fighting for development that will unite our communities
instead of dividing and destroying them.
Over 4,000 members.
Documents & Information:|
BUILD IRS forms showing $5 million funding from Forest City
Ratner, budgets, and salaries (pdf)
Timeline of Events
clip, from 9/21/05 Brian Lehrer CUNY-TV show, of BUILD President
Marie Louis denying her group is funded by Ratner.
[QuickTime-shorter clip, 2.2mb]
[QuickTime-longer clip, 5.8 mb]
RealVideo, start at 23:55 for funding denial]
Executive VP Jim Stuckey denies funding BUILD
denies that Ratner funds the organization, claims its a
& Questions: Ratner,
BUILD and the "Community Benefits Agreement"
Roger Green's instrumental role in forming BUILD
by BUILD's President James Caldwell at May 2005 City Council
is the validity of the so-called "Community Benefits
quotes related to Ratner funding of BUILD, FCR and BUILD's
denial, and examples of BUILD/CBA tactics
How BUILD has supported
Forest City Ratner in return for Payment
(and Reverend Daughtry's) amicus brief for Kelo
v. New London, supporting Ratner position on eminent domain
overview of the CBA, BUILD, Ratner, Roger Green story: Download
Chapter 4 on the "CBA" in the report: The
New York Times and Forest City Ratner’s Atlantic Yards:
High-Rises and Low Standards
in the 'grassroots'
Juan Gonzalez, NY Daily News
September 29, 2005
A nonprofit group that spearheaded neighborhood support
for the huge $3.5 billion Atlantic Yards housing and commercial
development in Brooklyn, reported to the IRS in January
that virtually all its $5 million budget for 2005 and 2006
was coming from Forest City Ratner, the project's developer.
Cool $5 Million
The Observer Real Estate Blog
September 29, 2005
For a long time now, opponents of Forest City Ratner’s
Atlantic Yards project said that a grassroots group supporting
it, BUILD, was astroturf. continue...
arena opponents call community group a front
APNew York on Newsday
September 29, 2005
Brooklyn Arena Supporters Got Millions From Ratner
WNYC. Andrea Bernstein
September 30, 2005
Coverage (go to 19:15)
September 29, 2005