Civil Liberties

"Nobody cared if Ratner was going to benefit to the tune of a trillion dollars or one billion"


The Appellate Division of the New York Supreme Court heard oral arguments today in the case of Goldstein et al. v Empire State Development Corporation, which deals with New York's controversial use of eminent domain on behalf of developer Bruce Ratner and his Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn, which just happens to include plans to build a new stadium for the Bruce Ratner-owned New Jersey Nets. The New York Observer reports that questions of transparency and favoritism loomed large:

"Did they [ESDC] address private benefit?" Justice Spolzino wanted to know.

"I don't believe they did, because there was no reason to," [ESDC attorney Charles] Webb answered.

"They don't have to?"

"They don't have to."

[Plaintiffs' attorney Matthew] Brinckerhoff, in an impromptu press conference after the hearing, seemed most confident about the justices' response to the financial disclosure part of the case—they "recognized that there is nothing in the record" examining the private benefits that would accrue to Forest City Ratner.

"Nobody cared if Ratner was going to benefit to the tune of a trillion dollars or one billion," Mr. Brinkerhoff said. "This is something that his company has zealously guarded for years."

There's also this bit of silver lining:

But the Atlantic Yards opponents may win another victory: simply dragging out the process long enough to hamstring Forest City Ratner's ability to raise capital with federal tax-exempt bonds for his planned Nets basketball arena. The I.R.S. has said the bonds must be sold by the end of 2009.

Whole thing here. More on the Atlantic Yards here. More on the ESDC's shameful record of eminent domain abuse here.