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

60 Minutes Parties With Prospective Nets'/Barclays Center Owner Mikhail Prokhorov

There is hagiography, and then there is billionaire worship, and then there is....partying with an oligarch.

Tonight, once respectable 60 Minutes aired a puff piece on the prospective owner of the Nets and prospective partial owner of the Barclays Center Arena—Russia's richest man, Mikhail Prokhorov. And Steve Kroft had fun doing it (expensive wine, a helicopter trip to Russia, clubbing in Mikhail's section of the club and a lavish meal), while Bruce Ratner probably had a great time watching it, as well, as none of the controversial issues about the Atlantic Yards project and Prokhorov's complicity were even touched upon. (NoLandGrab.org explains it well, see below. Norman Oder has a running commentary on the puff piece.)

As the Star Ledger's Dave D'Alessandro put it: there was nothing you couldn't find on Wikipedia. But the most eyebrow-raising part of the segment came from the NBA Commish David Stern. D'Alessandro writes:
The most telling part of this profile of Mikhail Prokhorov on CBS' "Sixty Minutes" was when Steve Kroft asked David Stern whether he believes the incoming Nets owner is a man of character.

Unless the CBS tape editors took liberties with the videotape, it was pretty obvious that the NBA commissioner wanted no part of that question:

“I think he’s a man who has passed a very tight security check,” Stern said in reply, “and nobody has come up with any reason why he shouldn’t be an NBA owner.”

Of course, nobody ever came up with any reason that Donald Sterling shouldn’t own the Clippers, other than the fact that he just paid $2.7 million to settle a suit that branded him a racist landlord.

In other words, in today’s NBA, it takes all kinds. As that Russian financial reporter said during the segment, “You had robber barons, we have oligarchs.”

So when it comes to NBA ownership, it’s all about stacks of money – and a willingness to flaunt them – so that is what the CBS program made the emphasis of its 14-minute segment.

We saw Mikky at his opulent home. We saw Mikky’s Maybach. We saw a model of his $45 million yacht (where is it docked? He didn’t know) and his guns and his workout room and his, uh, food.

We get it: He’s rich, and comfortable with it...
Something you could learn on Wikiepedia or the puff piece was that Prokhorov made his big wealth through a rigged bid to buy Norilsk Nickel and then lucked out when he was forced to sell right before the world financial crisis because of some unseemly accusations of prostitution running in France.

Rigged bid, then a bit of luck. Sound familiar? Ratner and Prokhorov's are two peas in a pod.

Ratner had a rigged bid (and no bid) to get 22 acres in the heart of Brooklyn and then a bit (a lot!) of luck finding perhaps the only man in the world willing to bail out Ratner's land grab dreams because of his own hoop dreams.

Hoop dreams? Not quite, Prokhorov tells The Times (in what appears to be a slight PR blitz, with another article in Bloomberg Markets Magazine):
“I view this investment as a business opportunity. I expect this asset to be worth around a billion dollars after the new arena is built and the team gets to the top of the N.B.A.”
And in the Bloomberg article, the real motive (oh so important to Brooklyn, New York and the NBA):
.[Owning the Nets is] about opening up other business opportunities in the U.S.,” Prokhorov says, sipping tea at 2 a.m. at his hotel in Krasnoyarsk. “If I want to do something else, people won’t say, ‘Who’s that?’ They’ll say, ‘That’s the owner of the Nets.’”
Also in the The Times' only slightly more revealing article, we have the following, about which Forest City Ratner may or may not be familiar:
...Asked if he had ever paid a bribe, he said that he had.

“It was 15 years ago, the last time,” [Prokhorov] said. “I need to be frank.”
Here is what NoLandGrab thought about the 60 Minutes 13 minutes of cotton candy:
Glasses of Chateau Lafite '95 drunk by Steve Kroft at Mikhail Prokhorov's dinner table?


Sexy Russian models partied with by Steve Kroft in Mikhail Prokhorov's favorite night club?


Tough questions asked by Steve Kroft of Mikhail Prokhorov during their 60 Minutes inteview?


Value to Bruce Ratner of the absence of any questions about Atlantic Yards?

(Update: One other really important fact came out of the interview with 60 Minutes: Prokhorov really likes women, especially ones that can cook! At least that is what he says.)

Posted: 3.28.10
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Eminent Domain Case
Goldstein et al v. ESDC
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November 24, 2009
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