Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Stadium lawyers suit up

Subject: New York Daily News - Juan Gonzalez - Juan Gonzalez: Stadium lawyers suit up
Date: 5/3/2005 7:49:46 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time
Sent from the Internet (Details)

Stadium lawyers suit up
by Juan Gonzalez
NY Daily News
May 3, 2005

So many lawyers are expected at the upcoming Manhattan Supreme Court
showdown over Mayor Bloomberg's proposed West Side stadium for the Jets
that the bands of barristers alone could comprise opposing football teams.

On one side will be attorneys for the city, the Metropolitan Transportation
Authority and the Jets. They will defend the MTA's March 31 decision to
award the 13-acre West Side railyards site to the Jets for $250 million.

On offense will be lawyers for Madison Square Garden, a coalition of civic
groups headed by the Straphangers Campaign, TransGas Energy Inc., Public
Advocate Betsy Gotbaum and City Council Speaker Gifford Miller. They'll
challenge that award and seek an injunction to stop it.

This is not just a misguided effort by Mayor Bloomberg and his economic
development czar Daniel Doctoroff to spend millions in public money on the
world's most expensive private stadium.

No, this stadium deal is far worse. It reflects the chief hallmark of the
Bloomberg years - crony capitalism. "These hyperdevelopment projects are
going up all over the city," says Beka Economopoulos of the Creative
Industries Coalition, a neighborhood group in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. "City
Hall keeps squeezing out residents and small businesses in favor of rich

Just connect the dots. Then you will notice the frenzied pace at which
Doctoroff and Bloomberg are rezoning huge swaths of city land for big
developers. Too often, the builders are also friends or former associates
of top Bloomberg aides, or they're big contributors to Doctoroff's 2012
Olympics dream.

Take Williamsburg and Greenpoint. For many years, community groups there
worked on a grass-roots plan to revitalize their neighborhood. "Bloomberg's
people swept into the area and offered their top-down plan that really
crushes us," Economopoulos said. In a modest neighborhood filled with
three-story buildings, City Hall is proposing a phalanx of 40-story
waterfront luxury condos that will bring in nearly 40,000 new residents,
most of them well-heeled.

Despite overwhelming opposition from the neighborhood, City Council members
negotiated a compromise over the weekend with Bloomberg's aides.

Among the developers who will benefit is George Klein, a big supporter of
both Bloomberg and Gov. Pataki. Klein's Park Tower Group purchased a
23-acre waterfront site in Greenpoint just after Bloomberg took office and
will now build condos on it.

Then there's Bruce Ratner, with his huge plans for a Nets arena and more
than a dozen real estate and commercial complexes around the MTA's Atlantic
Yards in Brooklyn.

But the development juggernaut extends even further.

In the Bronx, the Related Cos. took over the old Hunts Point Market with
the city's blessing. Related, whose boss is Steve Ross, a friend and former
business partner of Doctoroff, is now trying to summarily evict scores of
small businessmen from the market.

Doctoroff himself, as I reported recently, was an investor in a key
building on Manhattan's West Side, 450 W. 33rd St., when the building
received a valuable rezoning in 2003 from the Department of City Planning -
an agency that Doctoroff supervises.

Michael Cardozo, the city's corporation counsel, as I reported last week,
was a co-chairman of the sports law division at Proskauer Rose, a firm
whose clients have included the Nets, the National Football League and the

Cardozo quietly sought and was granted three separate waivers from the
city's Conflicts of Interest Board because of his potential conflicts in
negotiating the Jets deal.

That means we now have two top Bloomberg officials involved in development
deals around the Jets stadium site where their former associates stand to

At the very least, this doesn't look good. Our billionaire mayor seems to
favor only those big development projects that make his rich friends happy.

The rest of us are standing in the way of progress.

Originally published on May 3, 2005

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