Saturday, August 15, 2009

From the upcoming TV debates: even AY supporters don't favor more city subsidies; also, why no debates in 34th, 35th, 36th Districts?

Atlantic Yards was a significant issue in several debates to be televised next week, and there seems to be a consensus that even Atlantic Yards supporters don't favor additional city subsidies.

Whether that's meaningful is another question, since it was Mayor Mike Bloomberg--not the City Council nor Public Advocate nor Comptroller--who inserted an additional $105 million in the city budget in 2007 for the project.

Debates coming

According to the Brooklyn Paper, debates in "[a]ll the major races will be cablecast" next week on BCAT, with all shows online in 24 hours at Brooklyn Independent Television and BoroPolitics.com.

The debates include:
• City Council District 33 (currently held by David Yassky): Monday, Aug. 17.
• City Council District 39 (currently held by Bill DeBlasio): Tuesday, Aug. 18.
• City Council District 45 (currently held by Kendall Stewart): Wednesday, Aug. 19.
• Comptroller (featuring Yassky, John Liu, Melinda Katz and David Weprin): Thursday, Aug. 20.
• Public Advocate (featuring DeBlasio, Mark Green, Norman Siegel and Eric Gioia): Friday, Aug. 21 (repeated on Tuesday, Aug. 25).


That's hardly all the major races. Several important races within the circulation area of the Brooklyn Paper and the Courier-Life (aka CNG) deserve much more coverage, including the challenge to incumbent Diana Reyna in the 34th District, the challenge to incumbent Letitia James in the 35th (featuring the stealth candidacy of Delia Hunley-Adossa), and the challengeto  incumbent Al Vann in the 36th District.

In the 33rd and 39th

In the 33rd District, the candidates keep debating and debating, even though their strengths, weaknesses, and positions will have been well-aired--especially after the latest debate screens. (Aaron Short calls it high-school bickering. Check out a North Brooklynite's take on Evan Thies., with more comments here.)

While the spirit of democracy is admirable, as the willingness of the candidates to be out there, it would be healthy for the news ecosystem if they take a break from the next debate and instead urge their counterparts in adjacent districts to go public.

By adjacent, I don't mean the 39th, where leading fundraisers Brad Lander and Josh Skaller have been going at it over public school and private school--which is not illegitimate, but ultimately tiresome, because it's generated disproportionate coverage, sucking the attention away from their rivals (Bob Zuckerman, Gary Reilly, John Heyer, and the Green Party's David Pechefsky).

According to Short's print coverage of the debate in the Courier-Life, Lander challenged Skaller over how long he'd been an opponent of AY--an interesting tactic, given that, while Lander has long been a critic, unlike Skaller, he hasn't stood with Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn over fundamental issues like eminent domain.

Lander, who's been associated with BrooklynSpeaks:
said that he opposed Atlantic Yards, though he was not a die-hard opponent of the project. he said he wanted to give developer Forest City Ratner time to respond to public criticism about the design throughout the planning process, but said they had failed to do so.

Reilly and Zuckerman said the plan should be killed. Heyer was more vague:
while he would be disappointed if the Nets did not come to Brooklyn, he believed Forest City Ratner would do what they wanted with the site.

That's not quite so--project documents signed (and to be signed in the future) by the Empire State Development Corporation should to some extent control the future of the site.

Public Advocate & Comptroller

In the Public Advocate debate, according to Stephen Witt's coverage in the Courier-Life, it sounds like Eric Gioa and Norman Siegel were most critical, while Bill de Blasio and Mark Green opposed additional subsidies but highlighted the public benefits.

In the Comptroller debate, according to Witt's print coverage, all four candidates said they opposed additional subsidies:
Yassky and Liu spoke out more adamantly against the project, with Yassky saying Ratner should give back the money he already got for the project and Liu saying Ratner has promised the sky and the stars with nothing to show for it.

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