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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.

DDDB is a volunteer-run organization. We have over 5,000 subscribers to our email newsletter, and 7,000 petition signers. Over 800 volunteers have registered with DDDB to form our various teams, task-forces and committees and we have over 150 block captains. We have a 20 person volunteer legal team of local lawyers supplementing our retained attorneys.

We are funded entirely by individual donations from the community at large and through various fundraising events we and supporters have organized.

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

Perkins Pounces on PILOT Problem, Sees "Spectre of Fraud" With Atlantic Yards Arena Bonds

After Senator Perkins' letter to Governor Paterson, Norman Oder, with videos of three key players, takes a detailed look at legal problems surrounding last week's sale of $511 million in bonds for Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards arena:
Hail Mary or silver bullet: Perkins, raising questions of fraud in arena bond sale, asks Paterson to put Atlantic Yards on hold
Atlantic Yards Report

Suggesting that bonds for the Brooklyn arena were issued improperly, state Senator Bill Perkins yesterday asked Governor David Paterson to halt the "master closing" for the project scheduled for Wednesday and to stay condemnation proceedings until "serious questions... are addressed."

Had the bonds been issued by an Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) subsidiary, they could be repaid via for payments in lieu of taxes (PILOTs), but the issuance would have had to have been approved by the Public Authorities Control Board (PACB), Perkins wrote in a letter. However, in an apparent effort to avoid the PACB, the ESDC created the Brooklyn Arena Local Development Corporation (BALDC), and that murky entity--which issued $511 million in bonds--should not possess a property tax exemption, the letter said.

Perkins, speaking at a public meeting in Harlem this morning, said that last night he spoke to the governor's counsel, Peter Kiernan, who was taking the matter seriously. Perkins said that if the state did not respond, legal action would be considered.

The bond issuance, Perkins said, "prevents [AY] really from going forward," adding that "we consider [the issuance] an illegal action." The letter was a little more circumspect.
Perkins, who has stood out as the legislator most interested in reforming the state's much-criticized eminent domain laws, said he expects to hold hearings on the Columbia case, the Willets Point plan, and even another hearing on Atlantic Yards, in light of the bond issue.

Paterson's response
As shown in the video, I noted that Perkins had sent a letter raising questions about arena financing. (I had shown the letter earlier to his spokeswoman, Marissa Shorenstein, who also appears in the video, so presumably the governor was briefed.)

"Well, the courts ruled on the issues that Senator Perkins addressed," Paterson responded, noting that he'd promised activists that he'd met that he'd listen and "we'll take a look."

Actually, Perkins and the activists had earlier raised questions about the use of eminent domain and the standards for blight, so I asked a follow-up question, noting that Kiernan was aware of the letter.

"Well, if there's information in the letter that's asking us to look to see that everything was done properly, we'd certainly be happy to take a look at it," Paterson said.

The "spectre of fraud"

The letter, citing a unanimous Court of Appeals decision from June, suggests that the arena does not deserve a tax exemption:
In light of this analysis, the BALDC property is not tax exempt if used for arena purposes. Consequently, payments-in-lieu of taxes cannot be used to secure the bonds, and they are effectively worthless. If ESDC knowingly misrepresented the legitimacy of these bonds, this raises the spectre of fraud.
The letter was also sent to Attorney General Andrew Cuomo and state Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.

What next?

I asked Perkins (off camera) what happens now.

"We sent that out yesterday; I spoke with the governor's counsel," he responded. "He seemed to acknowledge that he needs to take a look at it. He indicated that he would get back to me."

And if they don't?

"I'm going to reach out to them again this week," he said. "But in the event that they have a different point of view, we'll see some legal measures we can take."/

"As I said to him, the murkiness of this situation flies in the face of the [public authorities reform] legislation we just passed," Perkins said. "This is a representation of the old way of doing business."

The explanation

The issue was unearthed by Amy Lavine, a staff attorney at the Albany Law School's Government Law Center who has been studying public authorities. (She has been advising Perkins on eminent domain issues as part of her job and also offered pro bono help in off-hours for Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn.)

Posted: 12.19.09
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Eminent Domain Case
Goldstein et al v. ESDC
[All case files]

November 24, 2009
Court of Appeals

[See ownership map]

EIS Lawsuit

DDDB et al v ESDC et al
Click for a summary of the lawsuit seeking to annul the review and approval the Atlantic Yards project.

Appeal briefs are here.

Appellate Divsion
Rules for ESDC
What would Atlantic Yards Look like?...
Photo Simulations
Before and After views from around the project footprint revealing the massive scale of the proposed luxury apartment and sports complex.

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Screening Schedule
Isabel Hill's
"Atlantic Yards" documentary
Brooklyn Matters

Read a review
Atlantic Yards
would be
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