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About DDDB
Our coalition consists of 21 community organizations and there are 51 community organizations formally aligned in opposition to the Ratner plan.

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We have the financial support of well over 3,500 individual donors.

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"Why should people get to see plans? This isn't a public project."
Bruce Ratner in Crain's Nov. 8, 2009

Bertha Lewis, WFP Target Steinbrenner's Corporate Welfare With No Mention of Ratner's

The Association of Community Organizations for Reform now, aka ACORN, the key group supporting Forest City Ratner's arena and skyscraper proposal known as Atlantic Yards, is, of course, also a key player in the Working Families Party (WFP). Today the WFP has sent out an email signed by ACORN's Bertha Lewis (with a "take action" link to a letter to Mayor Bloomberg) reprimanding the Administration for going to bat for the Yankees in their attempt to get more triple tax exempt bond financing.


We cosigned a simliar letter on the same issue, sent out today to the New York congressional delegation and Senators Schumer and Clinton. But there is one big difference in the letter we signed on to and the email WFP has released. Studiously unmentioned in the WFP message is the $800 million in tax-exempt bond financing Ratner is seeking. Ratner is currently working with the Yankees, lobbying the IRS to keep that type of bond an option for sports teams including the Nets.

Are they suggesting that what is bad for one billionaire—Steinbrenner—is fine for the other billionaire, ACORN's partner Bruce Ratner? It appears so. Or at least they don't want to draw attention to Ratner's corporate sports welfare while shining the light on Steinbrenner's.

We ask the WFP to join groups like Good Jobs NY, Sustainable South Bronx, the Fifth Avenue Committee and us to call for an end to this sports welfare for all sports teams, including the one involved in the deal they remain silent on — the Nets billion dollar stadium.

The WFP action letter is here. The text of the email letter to Mayor Bloomberg follows below. As you can see, everything it says applies to Ratner's billion arena, but that arena goes unmentioned. (The text is editable when you follow the link, and we encourage you to add Ratner's billion dollar Nets arena to the message to the Mayor before you send it in.)
I was disappointed to learn that your office has teamed up with the Yankees to lobby in Washington for hundreds of millions more in tax-free bonds for private sports stadiums.

Enough is enough. The city and state have already spent more than enough on the new Yankee Stadium, and they don’t need more public tax dollars to finish the project on time.

New York City’s public infrastructure - our schools, trains, bridges, and hospitals - are desperately in need of investment to make sure the city can meet the challenges of the 21st century.

That’s where public money belongs, and I hope you’ll reconsider your priorities in Washington.

And here is the email sent out by the WFP to its supporters. It is signed by Bertha Lewis, NY ACORN Executive Director and fierce defender of the Atlantic Yards proposal, including Ratner's billion dollar Nets Barclays Center Arena:

Dear WFP Supporter,

Enough! That was the reaction of thousands of New Yorkers last Thursday to the news that Mayor Bloomberg is working behind the scenes in Washington to secure up to an additional $350 million in tax-exempt financing for the Yankees' new stadium.

Bloomberg and the Bronx Bombers have teamed up to reverse a very sensible IRS rule.  It says private sports teams should not have access to tax-free bond money meant for public development projects.

If they succeed, other sports teams in NYC, and around the country, could see billions more in public money heading their way.

Luckily, not all politicians are rolling over for Steinbrenner and Bloomberg. State Assemblymen Ruben Diaz Jr., Hakeem Jeffries, and Jose Peralta are raising important questions that boil down to this: With funding needed for  schools, healthcare, and mass transit, why on earth are we still talking about more corporate welfare for billion dollar sports teams?

Momentum is on our side, but we need to make sure Mayor Mike gets his priorities straight.

Click below to send a letter to Mayor Bloomberg, asking him to keep public money going where it belongs:

If we can send thousands of letters to the Mayor, we can show him the public isn't behind another big subsidy for a team that doesn't need it. 

Nothing says New York like the Yankees, and lots of Working Families voters are big fans. But Bloomberg's latest giveaway to Steinbrenner and friends could cost $83 million in state, local, and federal tax dollars.

That's on top of $800 million in taxpayer money the stadium project has already received.

Worst of all, the Yankees don't even need the money
. They are one of the most profitable franchises in all of sports, and are on track to open their new stadium in 2009, with or without the new bonds.**

It makes you wonder, of all the things New York City's Mayor should be asking Washington's help for  (like federal money to expand subway service or build new affordable housing), why is Mike prioritizing ill-advised public subsidies for a team that doesn't need them?**

When it opens, we'll be there cheering as loud as ever in the new Yankee Stadium. But we'll never root for corporate welfare.  
(Our emphasis added.)

Take 20 seconds right now to make sure Mayor Mike knows how New York feels:
That's all for now.

Bertha Lewis, Bob Master, Sam Williams
WFP Co-Chairs

Dan Cantor
WFP Executive Director

** Bruce Ratner told NY1 last week that he too doesn't need the money, doesn't need the tax exempt bonds. Yet, of course he wants them. As NoLandGrab commented, "he just wants more free money."

Posted: 6.17.08
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