Thursday, December 01, 2011

Lawsuit prompts Brooklyn Paper to take tough (and partly misleading) look at BUILD and failure to deliver project jobs to supporters

Now that BUILD (Brooklyn United for Innovative Local Development) has been sued for not delivering Atlantic Yards jobs to some of the 36 selected for a highly competitive pre-apprenticeship training program, some are taking a closer look at the results delivered by one of Forest City's most vocal organizational supporters.

The Brooklyn Paper, in Out of work! Ratner ally BUILD got just 15 jobs for black Yards supporters, offers some tough--and in a couple of cases significantly overstated--reporting, focusing on the failure to deliver promised jobs expected as a result of the Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) BUILD signed:
BUILD’s President James Caldwell said that the group has helped 400 people find work around town — but he admitted that only 15 of those positions were on Ratner’s Prospect Heights development, which currently consists of only the under-construction Barclays Center near the corner of Flatbush and Atlantic avenues.
I reported last month that most of the 350-400 jobs were at places like Forest City Ratner's malls, though not that 15 had found work at the project. Note that the Brooklyn Paper headline overstates the issue somewhat, since, the "just 15 jobs" refers to jobs at the project, not jobs in total.

Most importantly, the article points to an issue I've reported on previously: experts on CBAs agree that groups shouldn't take money from the developers they negotiate with. BUILD never existed before Atlantic Yards was announced, and has always supported the project.

(I should add that, while BUILD's constituency of lower-income job-seekers is significantly black, it is not exclusively so.)

The budget, and salaries

Caldwell blamed the economy. The Brooklyn Paper added:
But the Great Recession didn’t hurt BUILD’s bottom line: the organization’s annual operating budget increased from $191,721 in 2007 to $279,395 in 2009, according to the latest available documents from the Internal Revenue Service.
Approximately 85 percent of the money is spent on the salaries and benefits of Caldwell and his chief operating officer Marie Louis.
Ratner has covered a significant portion of those funds; including 77 percent of the group’s operating costs this year, according to Louis. BUILD runs a storefront office on Hudson Place that offers job-training and resume- and interview preparation.
(Emphasis added)

The Brooklyn Paper overstates the numbers, according to the IRS Form 990 (below). The 2009 report indicated that Caldwell received $57,500 and Louis $47,917, while overall salaries for the organization, which has several staffers, totaled $238,938, more than 85% of the $279,395 in total revenue.

The 2008 report indicated receipts of $273,000, indicating salaries of $37,000 for Caldwell and $29,200 for Louis, part of a total of nearly $116,000 in compensation and salaries.

The revised 2007 Form 990 cited $191,721, of which more than $110,000 went for compensation and salaries. CEO James was paid $42,064 and COO Louis was paid $32,311.It states that BUILD received $193,004 in 2006 and $202,530 in 2005.

Sources of revenue

It's notable that Forest City Ratner spokesman Joe DePlasco wouldn't tell the Brooklyn Paper how much the developer committed to BUILD, though BUILD's Louis told the Brooklyn Paper that Ratner covered 77 percent of the group’s operating costs this year.

I reported that BUILD also has received funds channeled through the city-funded, union-run Consortium for Worker Education (CWE), as well as the Workforce Development Corporation.
I'd add that the Hudson Avenue (not Place) office of BUILD is provided free by Forest City.

Build 2009 Form 990




BUILD 2008 Form 990








BUILD Public Statements

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