Community Average Folk 101

GET INVOLVED! SPEAK FOR YOURSELVES! DON'T WAIT UNTIL IT IS TOO LATE! More people would learn from their mistakes if they weren't so busy denying them. -Harold J. Smith

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Winners!


Community Average Folks are winners across the board tonight!

Congrats Jefferies and Clark. Community Average Folks are pleased that you have one your races...

Once again, do not under estimate the voting power of the Community Average Folk. We can make a big difference in the election outcome. All that was needed was a little motivation! Community Average Folks will do what they have to do when necessary. We are sick and tired of the rhetoric.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Community Average Folk 101

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Political and Lobbying Activities

What organization(s) violates rules and regulations and think they are above the law? What organization(s) has been most vocal about the Atlantic Yards Project? What organization(s) openly violated Political Campaign Activity and are suppose to be a 501(c)(3)organization?

(Adapted from IRS Publication 1828, Tax Guide for Churches and Religious Organizations - September 2003)

Political activities and legislative activities are two different things and are subject to two different sets of rules. The rules depend on the type of tax-exempt organization, the type of activity (political or legislative) at issue, the scope or amount of the activity conducted, and the consequences of exceeding the given set of limitations.

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Lobbying Activity

In general, no organization may qualify for section 501(c)(3) status if a substantial part of its activities is attempting to influence legislation (commonly known as lobbying). A 501(c)(3) organization may engage in some lobbying, but too much lobbying activity risks loss of tax-exempt status.
Legislation includes action by Congress, any state legislature, any local council, or similar governing body, with respect to acts, bills, resolutions, or similar items (such as legislative confirmation of appointive office), or by the public in referendum, ballot initiative, constitutional amendment, or similar procedure. It does not include actions by executive, judicial, or administrative bodies.

An organization will be regarded as attempting to influence legislation if it contacts, or urges the public to contact, members or employees of a legislative body for the purpose of proposing, supporting, or opposing legislation, or if the organization advocates the adoption or rejection of legislation.

Organizations may, however, involve themselves in issues of public policy without the activity being considered as lobbying. For example, organizations may conduct educational meetings, prepare and distribute educational materials, or otherwise consider public policy issues in an educational manner without jeopardizing their tax-exempt status.

Measuring Lobbying Activity: Substantial Part Test

Whether an organization’s attempts to influence legislation constitute a substantial part of its overall activities is determined on the basis of all the pertinent facts and circumstances in each case. The IRS considers a variety of factors, including the time devoted (by both compensated and volunteer workers) and the expenditures devoted by the organization to the activity, when determining whether the lobbying activity is substantial.

Under the substantial part test, an organization that conducts excessive lobbying activity in any taxable year may lose its tax-exempt status, resulting in all of its income being subject to tax. In addition, a religious organization is subject to an excise tax equal to five percent of its lobbying expenditures for the year in which it ceases to qualify for exemption.

Further, a tax equal to five percent of the lobbying expenditures for the year may be imposed against organization managers, jointly and severally, who agree to the making of such expenditures knowing that the expenditures would likely result in the loss of tax-exempt status.

Measuring Lobbying Activity: Expenditure Test

Organizations other than churches and private foundations may elect the expenditure test under section 501(h) as an alternative method for measuring lobbying activity. Under the expenditure test, the extent of an organization’s lobbying activity will not jeopardize its tax-exempt status, provided its expenditures, related to such activity, do not normally exceed an amount specified in section 4911. This limit is generally based upon the size of the organization and may not exceed $1,000,000.

Organizations electing to use the expenditure test must file Form 5768, Election/Revocation of Election by an Eligible IRC Section 501(c)(3) Organization to Make Expenditures to Influence Legislation, at any time during the tax year for which it is to be effective. The election remains in effect for succeeding years unless it is revoked by the organization. Revocation of the election is effective beginning with the year following the year in which the revocation is filed.

Under the expenditure test, an organization that engages in excessive lobbying activity over a four-year period may lose its tax-exempt status, making all of its income for that period subject to tax. Should the organization exceed its lobbying expenditure dollar limit in a particular year, it must pay an excise tax equal to 25 percent of the excess.

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Political Campaign Activity

Under the Internal Revenue Code, all section 501(c)(3) organizations are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office. Contributions to political campaign funds or public statements of position (verbal or written) made on behalf of the organization in favor of or in opposition to any candidate for public office clearly violate the prohibition against political campaign activity. Violation of this prohibition may result in denial or revocation of tax-exempt status and the imposition of certain excise tax.
Certain activities or expenditures may not be prohibited depending on the facts and circumstances. For example, certain voter education activities (including the presentation of public forums and the publication of voter education guides) conducted in a non-partisan manner do not constitute prohibited political campaign activity.

In addition, other activities intended to encourage people to participate in the electoral process, such as voter registration and get-out-the-vote drives, would not constitute prohibited political campaign activity if conducted in a non-partisan manner. On the other hand, voter education or registration activities with evidence of bias that: (a) would favor one candidate over another; (b) oppose a candidate in some manner; or (c) have the effect of favoring a candidate or group of candidates, will constitute prohibited participation or intervention.

Individual Activity by Organization Leaders

The political campaign activity prohibition is not intended to restrict free expression on political matters by leaders of organizations speaking for themselves, as individuals. Nor are leaders prohibited from speaking about important issues of public policy. However, for their organizations to remain tax-exempt under section 501(c)(3), leaders cannot make partisan comments in official organization publications or at official functions.

To avoid potential attribution of their comments outside of organization functions and publications, organization leaders who speak or write in their individual capacity are encouraged to clearly indicate that their comments are personal and not intended to represent the views of the organization.

Inviting a Candidate to Speak

Depending on the facts and circumstances, an organization may invite political candidates to speak at its events without jeopardizing its tax-exempt status. Political candidates may be invited in their capacity as candidates, or individually (not as a candidate).

Speaking as a Candidate:
When a candidate is invited to speak at an organization event as a political candidate, the organization must take steps to ensure that:

It provides an equal opportunity to the political candidates seeking the same office,


It does not indicate any support of or opposition to the candidate (This should be stated explicitly when the candidate is introduced and in communications concerning the candidate’s attendance.), and


No political fundraising occurs.
Equal Opportunity to Participate:
In determining whether candidates are given an equal opportunity to participate, an organization should consider the nature of the event to which each candidate is invited, in addition to the manner of presentation.

For example, an organization that invites one candidate to speak at its well attended annual banquet, but invites the opposing candidate to speak at a sparsely attended general meeting, will likely be found to have violated the political campaign prohibition, even if the manner of presentation for both speakers is otherwise neutral.

Depending on the facts and circumstances, an organization may invite political candidates to speak at its events without jeopardizing its tax-exempt status. Political candidates may be invited in their capacity as candidates, or individually (not as a candidate).

Public Forum:
Sometimes an organization invites several candidates to speak at a public forum. A public forum involving several candidates for public office may qualify as an exempt educational activity. However, if the forum is operated to show a bias for or against any candidate, then the forum would be a prohibited campaign activity, as it would be considered intervention or participation in a political campaign.

When an organization invites several candidates to speak at a forum, it should consider the following factors:

Whether questions for the candidate are prepared and presented by an independent nonpartisan panel,


Whether the topics discussed by the candidates cover a broad range of issues that the candidates would address if elected to the office sought and are of interest to the public,


Whether each candidate is given an equal opportunity to present his or her views on the issues discussed,


Whether the candidates are asked to agree or disagree with positions, agendas, platforms or statements of the organization, and


Whether a moderator comments on the questions or otherwise implies approval or disapproval of the candidates.
Speaking as a Non-Candidate:
An organization may invite political candidates to speak in a non-candidate capacity. For instance, a political candidate may be a public figure because he or she: (a) currently holds, or formerly held, public office; (b) is considered an expert in a non-political field; or (c) is a celebrity or has led a distinguished military, legal, or public service career. When a candidate is invited to speak at an event in a non-candidate capacity, it is not necessary for the organization to provide equal access to all political candidates.

However, the organization must ensure that:

The individual speaks only in a non-candidate capacity,


Neither the individual nor any representative of the organization makes any mention of his or her candidacy or the election, and


No campaign activity occurs in connection with the candidate’s attendance.
In addition, the organization should clearly indicate the capacity in which the candidate is appearing and should not mention the individual’s political candidacy or the upcoming election in the communications announcing the candidate’s attendance at the event.


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Voter’s Guides

Organizations undertake voter education activities by distributing voter guides. Voter guides, generally, are distributed during an election campaign and provide information on how all candidates stand on various issues. These guides may be distributed with the purpose of educating voters; however, they may not be used to attempt to favor or oppose candidates for public elected office.

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Type of Tax-Exempt Organization

The rules discussed in this article apply only to 501(c)(3) organizations. In addition to these restrictions, private foundations are subject to excise taxes on expenditures for political and lobbying activities.

City Council candidate Letitia James late in her 2003 campaign called Bruce Bender, Forest City Ratner's executive vice president for government and p

WHAT ABOUT TISH JAMES???????????? SHE CALLED FCRC WHEN SHE NEEDED BAILING OUT. AH, DUH...

FCR's Bender makes it happen

Here's an example of how the fundraising works. City Council candidate Letitia James late in her 2003 campaign called Bruce Bender, Forest City Ratner's executive vice president for government and public affairs. Her campaign needed some money.

Bender told her he'd take care of it, James said. On 9/24/03, Ranucci and Lipkin each wrote checks for $2750, the contribution limit. (Only eight of James's 514 donors gave the maximum, and just three of those eight were individuals. Most of her support came in checks ranging from $50 to $250.)

When I pointed out the identities of the donors, James told me that she knew that FCR had contributed to her campaign, but hadn't known the names. And yes, she realizes that the developer probably feels betrayed that, after her election, she emerged as a staunch opponent of Atlantic Yards, which was officially announced on 12/10/03.


NO LAND GRAB...Posted September 6, 2006 9:59 AM

The Ratner Touch
Bruce Ratner gets a lot of mileage out of telling anyone who will listen that he no longer contributes political campaigns to avoid the appearance of buying favors. But that doesn't stop the rest of his clan, especially "famed Constitutional Rights attorney–and brother of Bruce... –Michael Ratner."

DDDB comments on Atlantic Yards Report's revelations of large campaign donations from friends and family of Brooklyn's first developer, Caring Bruce Ratner:

Bruce Ratner doesn't just include his brother as a middleperson, but also his sister-in-law, his sister, and his girlfriend. Most astounding are Michael Ratner's contributions to convicted former Kings County Democratic party boss Clarence Norman, Democratic Party pariah Ed Towns and NY City Comptroller William Thompson. Thompson, as Comptroller, has given resounding support to the "Atlantic Yards" plan though he has never publicly scrutinized its various public funding mechanisms or the financial impact on the City of New York.

Michael Ratner has often donated using the 1 Metrotech address which happens to house Forest City Ratner's headquarters. Additionally his financial support of "Atlantic Yards," which arguably abuses the Fifth and First Amendments, has confounded us for quite a while, as we have great respect for the Constitutional and Human Rights work that he does.

====

The full article is below.

http://atlanticyardsreport.blogspot.com/2006/09/ratner-campaign-money-trail-leads-to.html

Tuesday, September 05, 2006
Atlantic Yards Report
Norman Oder
The Ratner campaign money trail leads to... Michael (& his wife)
Dennis Kucinich, Jonathan Tasini, and... Edolphus Towns.

Deborah Glick, Liz Krueger, and... Martin Malave Dilan.

The first two names in each trio are noted progressives, while those coming third are undistinguished products of the Brooklyn machine (who also support Atlantic Yards). Towns and Dilan have drawn criticism from progressives for their votes, respectively, for the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) and to require inadequate protections against lead-paint hazards.

But all have received campaign contributions from Michael Ratner (right), the eminent human rights lawyer. While Ratner's not talking, his Brooklyn political contributions seem guided not by ideology but by the interests of Forest City Ratner (FCR), the development company run by his brother Bruce.

Michael Ratner and his wife Karen Ranucci, both Greenwich Village residents, have recently made campaign contributions using Forest City Ratner's Brooklyn building as a return address. Ranucci has matched many of her husband's contributions. And Bruce Ratner's girlfriend Pamela Lipkin, as well as other Ratner family members, have made contributions engineered by an FCR lobbying firm.

Even though Bruce Ratner no longer contributes to political races himself, his inner circle seems willing to help out. Indeed, Michael Ratner/Ranucci contributions to Yvette Clarke suggest that the developer supports--or at least supported--the pro-AY City Councilwoman in her bid to win the tight four-person race for the open 11th Congressional District seat.

And Michael Ratner/Ranucci contributions to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver--sent from the Brooklyn address--hint that the developer won't forget to lobby the individual on the Public Authorities Control Board who has the greatest power to stop or shape the Atlantic Yards project. (Click on graphics to enlarge.)

FCR's Bender makes it happen

Here's an example of how the fundraising works. City Council candidate Letitia James late in her 2003 campaign called Bruce Bender, Forest City Ratner's executive vice president for government and public affairs. Her campaign needed some money.

Bender told her he'd take care of it, James said. On 9/24/03, Ranucci and Lipkin each wrote checks for $2750, the contribution limit. (Only eight of James's 514 donors gave the maximum, and just three of those eight were individuals. Most of her support came in checks ranging from $50 to $250.)

When I pointed out the identities of the donors, James told me that she knew that FCR had contributed to her campaign, but hadn't known the names. And yes, she realizes that the developer probably feels betrayed that, after her election, she emerged as a staunch opponent of Atlantic Yards, which was officially announced on 12/10/03.

More on Michael

Among the Ratner family members, Michael Ratner has the highest individual profile; as president of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), he's led the fight to provide legal representation and fair procedures for Guantanamo detainees. Harper's publisher John D. MacArthur called him "America's most important civil libertarian." His wife Ranucci is general manager of the progressive radio show Democracy Now.

Ratner is also an investor in the Nets basketball team and may well have a stake in the family-controlled Forest City Enterprises, parent of Forest City Ratner. (The parent company recently agreed to buy Bruce Ratner's share.)

Is there a larger agenda to Michael Ratner's contributions? Two candidates receiving recent contributions, Dilan and Silver, are running unopposed in the Democratic primary, which is tantamount to election.

Moreover, three contributions each from Michael Ratner and Ranucci appear in the state campaign finance database as being sent not from Manhattan, but from 1 Metro Tech Center North, the same building where Forest City Ratner has its headquarters.

I tried to query Ratner via CCR's press counsel, Riptide Communications. "Michael doesn't speak about his political contributions," spokeswoman Mahdis Keshavarz told me.

Forest City Ratner's policy

As noted in my report, Forest City Ratner has recently cut back on its political donations, as Newsday reported (Ratner Breaks the Mold, 1/23/04):
Though [Bruce] Ratner’s company still spends significant funds to lobby City Hall, Ratner a few years ago sharply cut back on donating funds to political campaigns - an unusual move for a real estate developer.
“He decided this was getting him into trouble, because every time he won a project, people would say it was because he gave money,” said former city Parks Commissioner Henry Stern, who has known Ratner for 34 years.

Gifts to Dilan

Michael Ratner and Ranucci each gave $2500 contributions to Dilan on 1/11/06 from the MetroTech address; another pair of $2500 gifts, two days later, had no specified address attached. (Did they realize that MetroTech was a tipoff?)

Why Dilan, who's tight with the Brooklyn political machine? Perhaps because he's been a supporter of Atlantic Yards.In the June/July 2005 issue of the Brooklyn Standard, the State Senator wrote a welcoming letter to the editor, hailing "the fantastic Atlantic Yards project." (Then again, when queried by the Brooklyn Rail, he acknowledged that he was unaware that the Standard was promoting the project and, had he known better, “I don’t think I would have written a letter, no.")

Dilan won his 2004 race by a more than 8 to 1 margin and faces the same Republican today, with no Democratic primary. He doesn't need the money. Were the contributions to ensure his appearance in a Forest City Ratner mailer (right) sent in May?

Why Silver matters?

Michael Ratner and Ranucci each sent $3000 contributions to Assembly Speaker Silver on 6/8/06 via the MetroTech address.

Silver is untouchable as a candidate, but he wields the key vote on the three-person Public Authorities Control Board, which must vote to approve the Atlantic Yards project after the Empire State Development Corporation signs off. It's not a formality; Silver stopped the West Side Stadium.

He's shown no such inclination regarding the Atlantic Yards project, though it's plausible that he could object to the scale and force the project to shrink. Silver will be the focus of some intense lobbying later this year and, indeed, he's already in the loop. The New York Times, in an article today on a modest cut in the project's size, reports:
I’ve been told they will modify the project in order to address some of the concerns about the development,” said Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who has supported the project. “I’m not sure all the criticisms will be addressed or that all the critics will be happy. But I understand there will be modifications.”

Brooklyn contributions

The state campaign finance database suggests two patterns regarding Michael Ratner's giving. He has supported Manhattan progressives like Assemblymember Glick and State Senator Krueger, likely out of ideological conviction.

On the other hand, Michael Ratner and Ranucci have made regular contributions to Brooklyn clubhouse candidates. They each made $2000 contributions on 1/6/04 to State Senator Carl Andrews, $2500 contributions on 9/4/02 to Assemblyman Roger Green, now a leading supporter of the Atlantic Yards plan, and $3100 contributions on 8/2/2000 to Assemblyman and then county Democratic leader Clarence Norman, who early this year received a two- to six-year prison sentence for campaign violations.

Michael Ratner and Ranucci on 10/20/05 each gave $2000 to Clarke, one of the four candidates for the open 11th Congressional District seat. Clarke was considered a leading candidate due to her history in the district and her gender, but has faltered recently after acknowledging she didn't actually graduate from college.

Michael Ratner and Ranucci on 11/7/05 each gave $2000 to incumbent Towns, who represents the 10th Congressional District. Towns is being challenged by Assemblyman Green, a fellow Atlantic Yards supporter, but his more serious rival is City Councilman Charles Barron, a project opponent.

The contribution from the Manhattan progressives to Towns came just a few months after he provoked the ire of labor and Democratic activists for his CAFTA vote.

Bundling for Thompson

In 2001, Michele de Milly, whose firm has long done p.r. for FCR, organized five contributions of $4500--for a total of $22,500--to William Thompson's campaign for city comptroller. The donors were Michael Ratner, Ranucci, Lipkin, Bruce Ratner's daughter Rebecca Ratner, and Ellen Ratner of Washington, another family member.

Thompson is now a supporter of the Atlantic Yards project, even though it raises similar issues--questionable financing and the absence of a transparent public process--that he cited when criticizing Mayor Mike Bloomberg's Hudson Yards plan in October 2004.

Lipkin's gifts

Lipkin has made fewer contributions, though she did give $4950 last year to the campaign of Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum. Gotbaum was criticized severely for supporting the Atlantic Yards project while claiming to be opposed to the use of eminent domain.

Even the Bronx

Forest City Ratner has three Bronx projects, but they've been up and running for a while, so it's not easy to discern a connection between FCR interests and Michael Ratner's $6000 contribution to the Bronx Democratic Trustees Committee on 12/5/05.

Ratner and Ranucci each gave $2000 on 11/30/05 to the campaign of Bronx Assemblyman Jose Rivera, the county Democratic Party chair, who is running unopposed. Rivera is a development enthusiast. According to Gotham Gazette, at an April City Council meeting on the new Yankee Stadium plan, Bronx Democratic boss Jose Rivera led a group of construction workers in a cheer of "Build It Now!"

Casinos upstate?

Another curious pair of Michael Ratner/Ranucci contributions came just last week, on 8/31/06, when each gave $5400--from the MetroTech address--to the reelection campaign of State Senator Marc Coppola, who's in a tight primary race upstate.

It's unclear what interest two Greenwich Village residents have in a campaign to represent Buffalo and Niagara Falls. Nearly all of Coppola's donors are local. Still he has played a key role in discussion of a proposed Buffalo casino, which is highly controversial. Forest City Ratner was lobbying New York City regarding casino gambling way back in 1999. And Forest City Ratner's parent company, Forest City Enterprises, has tried to get into the casino business in Pittsburgh.

Eminent domain in Queens

A check of the campaign database this morning showed additional $5400 contributions from both Michael Ratner and Ranucci to State Senator John Sabini of Queens, who's in a hard-fought primary battle against City Councilman Hiram Monserrate. Both contributions were sent from the MetroTech address. More contributions may surface as candidates belatedly file their disclosure forms.

The issue in Queens may be eminent domain, as the Queens Ledger reported last week:
Perhaps the topic that best highlighted the differing political styles of Monserrate and Sabini was issue of eminent domain at Willets Point. The pair both agreed that any use of eminent domain, generally speaking, should be held to the highest scrutiny, but Monserrate has been an outspoken critic of using eminent domain at Willets Point at all, whereas Sabini has largely played a behind-the-scenes role, or no role in Monserrate's opinion.

And Forest City Ratner is a finalist for the redevelopment plan at Willets Point.


# posted by Norman Oder @ 6:55 AM

Monday, September 04, 2006

Everybody Loves Bruce!

Today's Crain's reports that 60% of Brooklynites support the $4.2 billion Atlantic Yards development. A high number, no? Plus, nearly 9 out of 10 New Yorkers think the project will "be an important benefit to the community," on account of the affordable housing and new jobs. 10 out of 10 Bruce Ratners agree.

(NY1, via Crain's Premium)

Here's a letter from Daniel Goldstein and Shabnam Merchant urging all to Vote against the "Atlantic Yards" proposal on Sept 12th. *

YOU CAN'T EVEN MAKE THIS STUFF UP. THESE PEOPLE ARE OBSESSED. THIS IS EVEN OVER THE TOP FOR DANIEL -- READ CAREFULLY BELOW:

Saturday, September 02, 2006
VOTE AGAINST THE ATLANTIC YARDS ON SEPTEMBER 12th


Dear Friends,

I am writing to you because, you - like me - oppose the proposed Ratner
arena/highrise project. In our opposition to that project, there is
something very key and timely we can do.

*IF WE CAN GET THE WORD OUT VIA EMAIL TO EVERYONE WE KNOW,
THEN BILL BATSON WILL WIN THE 57th ASSEMBLY DISTRICT RACE ON SEPT 12.*

This assembly race has greater impact on the Atlantic Yards fight than
any other race this year. Other politicians and most importantly Sheldon
Silver will have to listen to Bill as the District's rep, when he is
making his decisions about the project.

Please forward this email to every single person you know who is opposed
to the Ratner project, and ask them to forward it to everyone they know.

That way this will get to as many people as possible in the 57th
Assembly District.

There are 5 things we each need to do

1) *PRIMARY DAY*
Take the day off from work on Primary Day, Sept 12 to volunteer with the
Batson campaign.

*2) VOLUNTEER*
Between now and election day the campaign needs volunteers to help do
door-to-door canvassing for Batson and phone calling for Batson to
secure voters. If you can only give a few days or hours September 9, 10,
11 are key days. (You will not be sent out alone; and if you can't
handle canvassing, then make phone-calls).

Please - please let's each put in at least 4 hours before primary day ;
Bill does not have money for "paid volunteers" to do this.

*3) VOTE*
Come out and vote on Sept 12 for Batson and the candidates listed below,
and urge everyone you know to do the same

*4) DONATE NOW*
This coming Tuesday Councilwoman Letitia James will endorse Bill Batson
at a press conference!!

If the Batson campaign can do a mailing about this, it will seal the
deal!

But they can't send a mailing unless they can raise an additional 4 - 6K

If you, like us, believe that Councilwoman Tish James' endorsement can
make the difference, then donate now!!

Visit www.batsonforbrooklyn.com to make an online donation and get the
word out about the endorsement.

*5) SPREAD THE WORD*
Forward this email and ask your friends to do the same

To VOLUNTEER contact:
Batson For Brooklyn
Abeni J. Crooms, Deputy Campaign Manager
767 Washington Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11238
917-609-6700 phone
abenicrooms@gmail.com

PS - other candidates who oppose the Atlantic Yards proposal are:
Chris Owens for Congress (11th Congressional District)
Ken Diamondstone for State Senate (25th Senate District)
Charles Barron for Congress (10th Congressional District)
--
Your friends, Daniel Goldstein and Shabnam Merchant


HEY YOU GUYS...
THESE ARE THE FOLKS THAT COMMUNITY AVERAGE FOLKS WILL NOT BE VOTING FOR COME SEPTEMBER 12TH...SEPTEMBER 13TH OR ANY DAY. IT WOULD BE FRIGHTENING IF THEY WERE TO GET INTO OFFICE.

Community Average Folk...VOTE in the next election wisely for the candidate that you believe will support, defend and fight for your issues. Not just because they are against the Bruce Ratner’s Community Benefits Agreement: Atlantic Yards Project. All of the above are going to get votes just because they are against the project.

Do not under estimate the voting power of the Community Average Folk. Public housing communities can make a big difference in the election. All that is needed is a little motivation and Community Average Folks are starting to get fed up with this rhetoric and BS.

NY1 Exclusive: Charles Barron Leads All City Councilman In Absences This Year

This Candidate (Baron) has endorsed Bill Batson...Letitia James is another council member who endorses Billy Boy. Tishy does not work for the community at large just the folks who are against the AY Project. Not only does Tishy endorse Billy Boy, she uses her staff to run his campaign. Is that a conflict of interest. They are all characters! Hey, Norman write a story about this! You love writing stories.

Abeni J. Crooms, Deputy Campaign Manager
767 Washington Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11238
917-609-6700 phone
abenicrooms@gmail.com



NY1 News
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Sep 1, 2006
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Top News NY1 Living
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NY1 Exclusive: Charles Barron Leads All City Councilman In Absences This Year
August 31, 2006

At a minimum, City Council members take home $90,000 a year, much more than the average family earns. But as NY1's Michael Scotto explains in an exclusive report, some council members aren't showing up to work probably as often as they should.

Has Brooklyn Councilman Charles Barron been thinking about another job? The outspoken Congressional candidate had the worst attendance in the City Council during the first six months of the year, missing a third of all council hearings he was supposed to attend.

NY1 obtained the records through the state's Freedom of Information Act and found that he was absent from nearly every hearing held by the council's Immigration Committee, and a third of Land Use meetings.

But the Councilman says it was not because he was busy on the campaign trail.

When I am not at a committee hearing room, I'm at a community crisis,says Barron. Somebody needs to take attendance to see which council member has been at the police precincts the most. I lead in that because our community is in crisis.

Barron did, however, make it to every vote before the full council. And he held five hearings for the Higher Education Committee, of which he is the chair.

Rounding out the list of MIA council members are: Brooklyn's Al Vann, who was absent 31 percent of the time; followed by James Sanders of Queens and Miguel Martinez of Manhattan, who were each out 28 percent of the time.

On the other end of the spectrum, Queens council members Tony Avella, Melinda Katz and newcomer Dan Garodnick of Manhattan had perfect attendance.

Overall, the average absentee rate was 12 percent, a number too high for good government groups.

If New Yorkers had poor attendance at their jobs, they would be fired from their jobs,says Dick Dadey of Citizens Union.

Believe it or not, serving on the City Council is actually a part-time job. A very well paid part-time job at that. Council members make a base salary of $90,000 a year, plus between $4,000 and more than $20,000 for holding a leadership position.

Council Speaker Christine Quinn is currently seeking to raise their salaries by $22,500. If that were to happen, some believe the council should give up perks, known as lulus.

They should stop it from being a part-time job and have it become a full-time job, and also take away the lulus, which add another $5,000, $10,000, $20,000 on top of it, says Dadey.

The City Council says it is reviewing its attendance policy to find ways to get members to come into work. Currently, they aren't penalized for skipping out on a meeting.

- Michael Scotto
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Top News NY1 Living

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Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.
Copyright © 2006 NY1 News. All rights reserved.

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Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Villiage Voice: Letter to the Editor...Amy Patrick's Opinion

August 08, 2006
Villiage Voice: Letter to the Editor
Boomerang effect

Re Cindy Carr's "Life in the Footprint" [August 2–8]: I find it fascinating that no one gave a damn about Fort Greene and all the changes until a bunch of white people decided they were being treated badly. Basically, they don't want to happen to them what they did to the neighborhood in the first place. It really shows where the media and society stand when groups like Develop Don't Destroy, the anti-Ikea people, and the Gowanus Project are all run by white people and no one brings that up. They are the defenders, the great white hope—with the exception of vote-whore councilwoman Letitia James you see no black faces. Boo hoo, white people; change happens long before you show up. Fort Greene is a beautiful and vibrant neighborhood. I have lived here for seven years and seen many changes, both good and bad. Change happens; you can't stall progress.

Amy Patrick
Brooklyn

NoLandGrab: That's pretty extreme schadenfreude.

Community Average Folk: Amy Patrick's honest opinion...

AYP Public Hearing

Dear Community Member:

The Atlantic Yards Development Project Hearing is
scheduled for Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Make sure your Draft Environmental
Impact Statement (DEIS) comments
are heard! This is your opportunity to
give your opinion, SIGN UP AND SPEAK OUT!

On Tuesday, July 18, 2006, the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) released the Draft Environmental Impact Statement
(DEIS) for the proposed Brooklyn Atlantic Yards
Development beginning the public review period.

HEARING DATE has been set…Once again, now is
the time to have your comments heard!

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 23, 2006
4:30 PM to 8:30 PM
Klitgord Auditorium
New York City Technical College
285 Jay Street
Brooklyn NY 11201

IT IS STRONGLY SUGGESTED
THAT YOU ARRIVE EARLY…

The DEIS is very large and is available for download @ http://www.empire.state.ny.us/AtlanticYards/ .
It is available on CD (no specified delivery time) on request by sending an email to: atlanticyards@empire.state.ny.us.

A printed copy is available for examination at
Boro Hall and at the main Brooklyn Public Library


Friday, July 21, 2006

Numbers for Jeffries


July 20, 2006
Numbers for Jeffries
The Empire Zone, campaign 2006 political blog for The NY Times
By Nicholas Confessore

[57th Assembly District candidate Hakeem] Jeffries has already picked up endorsements from the Working Families Parties and several key unions. He’s raised $130,000, about half of it from individuals, and has $90,000 in cash on hand.

That’s about twice what his opponent, Bill Batson, has raised: $62,000, with $20,000 cash on hand. A big chunk of that was a loan Batson made to himself.

Those numbers tell you a little bit about the importance of institutional players in these local races. Mr. Jeffries, who once ran as an insurgent against Mr. Green, is the candidate of the political establishment this time around. Now Batson is the insurgent. Opponents consider Mr. Jeffries a supporter of the Atlantic Yards project, a big issue in that district. And they consider Mr. Batson their champion against it.

The article is a must read: http://empirezone.blogs.nytimes.com/?p=357

Thursday, July 20, 2006

The Draft Environmental Impact Statement is out...


Yesterday began the battle over the Atlantic Yards Project and its impact. Critics of the project complained yesterday that the 60-day public-comment period was too short and did not allow residents enough time to dissect the environmental study. However, this project was announced December 2003! Others question why it is taking so long to be approved because they need housing and jobs. Lastly, a few are not concerning themselves at all because they are enjoying the summer months and their vacation.

In the DEIS there are a few areas that obviously need some answers, however, overall this DEIS appears to prove that the developer and community have been proactive collectively because there are not as many mitigations as anticipated. The Developer is using LEED Standards (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Building Rating System® which is a voluntary, consensus-based national standard for developing high-performance, sustainable buildings. Traffic is a major concern which is being addressed, police security is a subject matter for the experts, NYPD itself states that this is not an issue for the public to worry about, and we must include the shadows which has always been an area under discussion.

Community Average Folk stay tuned and make an appearance on Wednesday, August 23, 2006 at the hearing and voice your opinion(s). Take the time to review the DEIS and evaluate it for yourself.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

The Political Races!


Mr. Green is challenging Representative Edolphus Towns, the Brooklyn congressman for the 10th District. It appears that Ed Towns is doing the right things and will once again win his seat. The Assembly seat Mr. Green is vacating is open for many opponents of the project like Bill Batson even though they had once expected to support Hakeem Jeffries, a corporate lawyer and Prospect Heights resident who ran against Mr. Green in 2002 and the race was close. However, when they quickly discovered that Mr. Jeffries was unwilling to take a hard line against the Atlantic Yards Project he was out. He is obviously not a favorite for some.

What does this mean for Bill Batson? Well, Bill Batson is getting a lot of backing from opponents of the Atlantic Yards Project development. (He's been one of the project's most outspoken critics during his run for a seat in the assembly.) The group's spokesman, Daniel Goldstein, and his father Lawrence accounted for $6,600 of that, according to Batson's latest campaign filing. It is documented that a third of his filings are from board members or close associates of Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn.

Oh, we can not forget about Freddie Hamilton who is also running for the assembly seat. At this time she is not a front runner partly because of her connection to the Atlantic Yards Project. Well, that is according to the opposition. We have not really heard much about this candidate.

The race that is most interesting is the one with Boyland and Montgomery. Tracy Boyland, is getting into the race against State Senator Velmanette Montgomery. Boyland has submitted petitions to run against the incumbent, who thought she had an uncontested race to another term in office. This is so unexpected! This is the one to pay close attention to. It appears that this will be a very busy few months for the incumbent and her challenger. One thing for sure is that she will not just slide into the seat that was held for 20 plus years.

Do not under estimate the voting power of the Community Average Folk. Public housing communities can make a big difference in the election. All that is needed is a little motivation and Community Average Folks are starting to get fed up with the representation that they have had for years and all of the rhetoric. It will take more than chicken franks and soda to win this election. Many Community Average Folk know the Boylands and relate to them.

The other candidates in the 57th assembly race have filed by now and soon the race will truly begin. Community Average Folk we are in for an interesting summer. So much can happen over the summer.

Monday, July 10, 2006

The Monies in the Budget are FACTS...

Community Average Folk 101 got it right the first time...why is it that NoLandGrab is the only committed blog? Community Average Folk 101 makes sense. Fact, this money is listed in the 2007 budget. This is not a contradiction. This was definately not a stumble. Many other community groups are not listed in the budget.

Other groups got too and they got $100k, much more than Public Housing. Look the City Council and the State Legislature stepped up for CBN. "We too are very happy and grateful that the City Council and the State Legislature have stepped up for a change, they need to do something.” Some groups in the district should get something. They are getting money!

Anything that does not agree with you is wrong that is the problem. Community Average Folk must of hit a nerve, if you give it, you should be able to take it! Truth is that we noticed the monies given to CBN and commented on it. Sounds like this is one-sided.

NoLandGrab: Yo dude! The Council of Brooklyn Neighborhoods (CBN) is staffed with unpaid VOLUNTEERS from the COMMUNITY, which is more than we can say for these groups stumping for Ratner: BUILD, ACORN, Downtown Brooklyn Educational Consortium, and Sharpton's National Action Network.

The money for CBN will be used to hire an expert to analyze Ratner's Environmental Impact Statement on behalf of the COMMUNITY. Believe it or not, $260K will still leave the group well short of the funds needed to do a comprehensive study of the EIS.

And, to even mention the $260,000 going to experts to advise the community gives leave to cite the $200,000,000 (three more zeros than 260K) of direct cash subsidy already approved by NY City and NY State and the $3,000,000 (one more zeros than 260K) that City Councilmember David Yassky tried to secure for BUILD. (The operative word is TRIED.) They did not get it, but CBN did get it!) The City-State $200-million could go a long way toward under-funded schools, housing, jobs programs, public transportation, etc. Any developer would have gotten the same.

NoLandGrab is committed (No other community voice is committed?)to presenting all visible points of view, but if Community Average Folk 101 continues to stop making sense, we'll have no choice but to give up on the blog to focus on more rational pro-Ratner voices.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Who Got The Money? CBN Council of Brooklyn Neighborhoods Got the Money $130,000.00 from 35th Council Member


The 35th Council District has money for CBN. Council of Brooklyn Neighborhoods gets $130,000.00 and more to come from other local politicians. No money for community programs, but over a hundred thousand dollars for CBN groups. Follow the money from the budget and get the bigger picture. Money for the special groups ONLY in the 35th. Hiding behind CBN and including all of those others (check and see what groups are included). Who is buying who? Is it alright for them to get tax payers dollars?

(http://www.nyccouncil.info/pdf_files/reports/fy07%20schedule%20c.pdf) Review the budget and see how the money was distributed.

Look what the Community Average Folk did not get. Public Housing Residents got peanuts compared to CBN which includes all of the special groups.

JUST FOLLOW THE 35TH COUNCIL MONEY!
A BLIND MAN CAN SEE WHAT IS HAPPENING!

Monday, July 03, 2006

AYP Shapes Politics

What a great article I read today: July 03, 2006

Atlantic Yards, Still but a Plan,
Shapes Politics in Brooklyn
The NY Times
By Nick Confessore


What would make anyone think other than the fact that the Atlantic Yards Project would shape politics in Brooklyn especially with the opposition making sure that this project is kept in the press daily and the only issue to speak about these days. Keeping this project in the public eye daily and the number one priority is a benefit in its own weird way. Community Average Folk thank you for that.

Many people had and still do have some reservations about this massive development, including Roger Green and those eight signatories that sat at the table instead of sitting this one out... they made a good choice. The CBA is not the one from California; it was written for Brooklyn, USA. It is historic! Agree with it or disagree with it...it is a historic document! After this project all politicians will go back to the drawing board and re-evaluate their positions in the community. The community is not sleeping on this one huge massive development nor ignoring the lack of support of their local elected officials. The community also sees that opposing this project was the only important item on their local elected officials’ agendas, overlooking the Community-at-Large.

For those who sleep on this one...Community Average Folk know who you are and what you did not do for Community Average Folk. You had an opportunity to negotiate on behalf of the community, express your opinion, and be on the inside, but they decided to sit this one out and ignore the Community Average Folk.

The next elections will be interesting…

Touché Community Average Folk you are two up…

Monday, June 26, 2006


VOTE FOR ME because I am against the Bruce Ratner's Community Benefits Agreement: Atlantic Yards Project. How contemptible is this? These are the people who care so deeply about bona fide issues…unlike Community Average Folk who do not have bona fide issues and can not think for themselves.

DO NOT VOTE for me because I am the best candidate! DO NOT VOTE for me because my platform is great! JUST VOTE for me because _____________! But better yet...JUST VOTE for me because I am against the Bruce Ratner's Community Benefits Agreement: Atlantic Yards Project.

Community Average Folk...VOTE in the next election wisely for the candidate that you believe will support, defend and fight for your issues. Not just because they are against the Bruce Ratner’s Community Benefits Agreement: Atlantic Yards Project. Chris Owens is going to get votes just because he is against the project. Now this is politics at it's best. This is definitely a good reason to vote for their candidate. Let Chris Owens change his position before the election and see what happens to him. It would be amusing if he got in office and changed his position wouldn't it? Maybe he is using them just to get into office. Whose not to say that Community Average Folk are not smarter than they think? I agree that it's an interesting political calculation and risky.

Once again, do not under estimate the voting power of the Community Average Folk. Public housing communities can make a big difference in the election. All that is needed is a little motivation and Community Average Folks are starting to get fed up with this rhetoric.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

What About the Leadership?


It is not clearly understood why people do not understand the differences in opinions about the Atlantic Yards Project. Most recently I read about leadership in communities; this really touched on every aspect of the concept of the Community Benefits Agreement and why no leadership were signatories. The Average Community Folk decided to negotiate on their own behalf due to the lack of leadership. Like anything else Monday night quarter backing is easy...there seems to be a lot of time spent on this one particular subject defending why the local leadership is not in agreement. In the meantime, programs and resources are diminishing at a rapid pace in all areas in this particular community. No one is focusing on the decrease in resources because all time and effort is fighting a project that is inevitable to happen. Is it that the leadership is totally aware of their shortcomings to the community? Or are they angry that they did not negotiate the Community Benefits Agreement? Either way they can only find fault in themselves. What is the real issue in this debate?

The Average Community Folk(s) are suffering more today than 30 years ago…that is a problem. The multitude of black business people and politicians who pass for African American leadership is at a standstill, and so is the rest of black America. Their leaders have failed to produce economic development models for inner cities and poor black enclaves that benefit the people who live there now.

Unfortunately, not only is this leadership class unable to create jobs at living wages for the hundreds of thousands of black families that desperately need them, they can't even describe to the rest of America how such a thing might be done. This leadership class dares not admit the serious shortage of low and moderate income housing, or publicly question programs like HOPE VI which intensifies that shortage. Read below:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: National Housing Law Project, 510-251-9400 x101, tespinosa@nhlp.org
Tuesday, June 25, 2002
Release of False HOPE: A Critical Assessment of the HOPE VI Public Housing Redevelopment Program

Despite years of promotion by the U.S. Department of Urban Development (HUD), a recent report identifies serious shortcomings and inconsistencies in HUD’s administration of the HOPE VI public housing redevelopment program. The report examines available HUD publications, General Accounting Office and Office of Inspector General program audits, and other documents to trace HOPE VI over its nine-year history. The report describes how HOPE VI plays upon inaccurate stereotypes about public housing to justify a drastic model of large-scale family displacement and housing redevelopment that increasingly appears to do more harm than good.

False HOPE: A Critical Assessment of the HOPE VI Public Housing Redevelopment Program was prepared by the National Housing Law Project together with the Poverty & Race Research Action Council, Sherwood Research Associates, and Everywhere and Now Public Housing Residents Organizing Nationally Together (ENPHRONT). It is intended to contribute to the on-going debate regarding the HOPE VI program and its possible reauthorization by Congress. Current statutory authorization for HOPE VI is set to expire at the end of the current fiscal year.

A program without clear rules or standards, HOPE VI is resulting in the forced displacement of tens of thousands of families and the permanent loss of large amounts of guaranteed affordable housing. In these and other respects explained in False HOPE, HOPE VI bears a striking resemblance to the Urban Renewal program of previous decades.

False HOPE describes how all too often HUD’s administration of the program has conflicted with the basic purposes of the HOPE VI statutes and HUD’s own policies. The report provides specific documentation of HUD’s HOPE VI track record on the awarding of grants, citizen participation in redevelopment efforts, family relocation, data reporting, and other issues — and proposes concrete reforms.
The full text of False HOPE is available from the National Housing Law Project website in Acrobat (.pdf) format: www.nhlp.org/html/pubhsg/FalseHOPE.pdf.
Therefore, the question is what are our local leaders doing for the Community Average Folk? Community Average Folk vote too. Are they hiding behind smoking mirrors? Do they really understand the plight of the Average Community Folk? Are they truly in tune with their Community Average Folk’s basic need which is to survive in a community that is slowly changing and pricing them out due to all of the years that they have been the leadership? If Mr. Ratner is receiving tax benefits is it because some of these same leaders allowed it to happen? Just remember he is not the only developer receiving these tax benefits, they all are.

In order to pay back bondholders, the city would use funds raised from a blanket Payment In Lieu Of Taxes (PILOT) arrangement with all developers that come to the area. Instead of paying certain taxes to the city, the developers would pay into a fund designated specifically to repay the debt issued to develop the area. (If this sounds similar to a Tax Increment Financing arrangement, it is. Learn more about TIFs below.)

TIF stands for Tax Increment Financing. Originally sold to the public as a means of fostering beneficial economic activity in "blighted" or "underdeveloped" areas, TIFs are now legal in forty-seven states and the District of Columbia. Here's how they work: TIF districts are created in areas where local government wants and expects property values to rise as a result of new construction, rehab and ongoing economic activity. When property values go up as a result of such activity, a local government normally expects to collect and keep more property taxes which it can use for things like roads, schools, sewers, infrastructure, police and fire protection. But in a TIF district local government freezes the amount of property tax revenue it keeps to use for schools, roads, sewers, etc. at pre-development levels for 20, 23, or 25 years depending on local regulations.

What exactly is a TIF?
“TIF” stands for “Tax Increment Financing,” a special tool that the City of New York can use to generate money for economic development in a specific geographic area. TIF allows the City to re-invest all new property tax dollars in the neighborhood from which they came for a 23-year period. These “new” revenues – also called “increments” – arise if new development takes place in the TIF district, or if the value of existing properties rises, resulting in higher tax bills. These funds can be spent on public works projects or given as subsidies to encourage private development. But TIF also makes it much easier for the City to acquire private property and demolish buildings to make way for new construction.

With consistent community participation, TIF can be a tool for implementing a community-based revitalization plan through encouraging affordable housing development, improving parks and schools, fixing basic infrastructure, putting vacant land to productive use, creating good-paying jobs, and meeting other local needs.
Without strong and sustained public participation, however, TIFs can give the City power to change the basic character of a neighborhood against the wishes of those who live and work there, accelerate the pace of gentrification, and drive up property values to the point that existing residents and businesses can’t afford to stay in the community. In short, TIF is a mixed bag, and its success or failure depends on how active the community is in their planning and implementation.
When the economic development schemes of this leadership class are not fraudulent they are often downright foolish. Like the white political and business class whom they mimic, most black elected officials and wannabes seem ignorant and not eager to know anything about any inner city economic development models other than moving poorer residents out, richer ones in, and building brand new retail and commercial space. This is the norm, however, the developer (Mr. Ratner) himself has decided not to due business as usual and negotiated a Community Benefits Agreement with 50% affordable housing, preference for public housing communities, community amenities, sustainable environmental assurances, creation of jobs with training, real jobs with MWBE/MBE and clergy involvement, etc.

The leadership's concurrent lack of involvement from the real world and appalling lack of imagination is graphically evident when it comes to the “Atlantic Yards Project Development Plan." They should have been at the table and negotiated for all that they could get for the COMMUNITY-at-LARGE. Community Average Folk are now questioning their leadership and although taken for granted the numbers in public housing communities alone can take any elected official out of office in these areas. All that is needed is a little motivation!

Everything considered, in all fairness there are some notable exceptions of leaders that do not fall in this category like Reps. John Conyers, Jesse L. Jackson Jr., Cynthia McKinney and Maxine Waters, and others on the national stage, Sen. Barack Obama and a modest number of similar local office holders, not to exclude the Ms. Jones and Mr. Washingtons that volunteer in the communities, black elected officials have generally proven unwilling or unable to defend the very democratic openings that made their own coming out on the national or local scene possible. Note that there are far and few who truly understand and fight for the Community Average Folk. Usually they exploit them and abuse those who are the most vulnerable.

Community Average Folk are starting to seriously "Think about the Leadership".

Monday, June 19, 2006

BALANCE...


Balance: A state in which two opposing forces or factors are of equal strength or importance so that they effectively cancel each other out and stability is maintained.

People are talking about casting shadows over their windows. They are entitled to comment on the shadows just as much as Community Average Folk worry about not having a window. Without affordable housing Community Average Folk will be forced out of the community. What is the answer for them? The majority of the land is acquired by Forest City Ratner so why can’t they cultivate their land? The rail yards has been uninhabitable for years. Why not develop on this land and include affordable housing units? There needs to be some balance. Is it because some do not want affordable housing in and around their brownstones?

Development is running rampant in downtown Brooklyn, I agree. However, has anyone really questioned the other developers/development in the area like Mr. Ratner's project? All of the focus is on him, yet his plan includes hope for the Community Average Folk. Although his project is larger, if you total up all of the other little development(s) in the downtown Brooklyn area they add up. They too are contributing to the traffic congestion, environmental concerns and cast shadows. Do they have affordable units? Do they or did they have to answer to the community? Did they seek input from the community? We talk about balance, but is their really a true balance? Does anyone really care?

If the community really wants the best for the COMMUNITY-at-LARGE, then it is clear that all sides should come together, maintain equilibrium and work their differences out so that the community gets the best all around! It is clearly understood that their needs to be some sort of a balance in this dialogue. Perhaps then possibly all can come to the table together because there is some good in both sides of this difference of opinion...

One thing for sure is that someone is going to develop on this land.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Smoking Mirrors...


Anyone who knows anything about basketball knows of the Rucker League in Harlem. The basketball league created by the young Parks director became such a large success that in the early '60s, Mr. Rucker began to lay the foundation of what is now a basketball institution that draw's crowds of people to the street ball court then known as P.S. (Public School) 156 Playground; the park is on North 155th Street which Rucker brought to street-hoop basketball. He was a man of humble beginnings…

The Park’s beginnings started in 1926 in Manhattan, where Holcombe Rucker was born. As a child, he attended Benjamin Franklin High School in NYC where he exhibited an unbelievable love for the game of basketball from a very young age. Along with this love for basketball, he also was a good hearted person and always gave back to the community that he loved so much. He was a true volunteer in every sense of the word! Rucker devoted almost all of his time to this, taking positions as park supervisor and eventually working for the Parks Department of NYC for 16 years. In 1947, he combined his two loves to begin The Rucker League in Harlem, a basketball league which he created with the motto "each one, teach one". The league was played at a small run-down park and Mr. Rucker would personally teach league participants basic literary skills assign and grade homework, and grant playing time according to their academic results. He believed in education. He spent countless hours overseeing the league that he created and passionately loved. He himself continued his education, completing his degree and began teaching English at New York’s JHS 139.

This ‘pro-versus-street' charisma created by the Pro Rucker League continues today with the Entertainer Basketball Classic (E.B.C.). This league, named the Pro Rucker League, allowed the youth of the community to see the guys that they grew up watching on that very court take on the men that they so idolized each night. Mr. Rucker achieved his goal in merging community togetherness with basketball. For Holcombe Rucker, however, this glory was short-lived; he passed away in 1965, at the young age of 38, due to complications from cancer.

During the summer tournament(s) that spans nearly a month, teams sponsored by hip-hop entertainers like Sean Combs and Fat Joe sport such talent as The Bone Collector, Skip To My Lou, Too Much Black, and regularly square up against this generation's line of NBA superstars, while appearances by the likes of VC, AI, Lamar Odom, and Juanny Wags draws spectators to the Rucker like Star Jones. The whole atmosphere that was established in the '60s and '70s when that era's street ball legends were going up against the greats of the game has remained, and perhaps has gotten more intense. For all street ball fans, the thought of their idols, like The Ninja and Sik Wit It, going toe to toe with NBA superstars sends chills down their spines.

The fact that Mr. Ratner teamed up with the Rucker League only confirms that he is connected with the folks that know and respect basketball. This league is an elite league within the basketball world and those who don’t know to respect it, and its evolution only lets you know that they don’t know much about the game at all. What is this collaboration going to do for Brooklyn? This collaboration is going to bring the best of the best to Brooklyn!

You can’t believe all of the hype…the facts are what counts!

Saturday, June 17, 2006

A LITTLE SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT...

WHO are these folk in such an uproar about the Atlantic Yards Project and not any other development?

WHAT makes folk think that they can move into the community for 6 months and only their opinions are valued?

WHEN are community average folk going to see that the Atlantic Yards Project is a great opportunity?

WHERE is the genuineness about safeguarding the “Community at Large” when the facts are that all other development(s) in progress do not have any community input, affordable housing, training opportunities or jobs?

WHY are they so eager to coerce the community average folk out of the community by denying them the following:

Opportunities

Affordable Housing

Training and Jobs

Most of all HOPE!


HOW can the "Community Average Folk" allow this to happen to them without demanding to be heard?

Just A Little Something Else To Think About?

Could it be that the truth is that they do not want affordable housing, training opportunities and jobs for the "Community Average Folk" because the new gentrified community should not include the “Community Average Folk” who have been living here for the past 10, 20, 30 or 40 years just because they want the re-gentrified community to themselves?

Well, if this is not the reason...What is the reason?

WE ALL WANT SOME OF THE SAME THINGS...


Coming from humble beginnings myself I feel a need to wake up my "Average Community Folk". We all need jobs and training to make an honest living in order to have a roof over our families’ heads. We need affordable housing in order not to become homeless and pushed out of the only community we know and love.

We want to stay in our community! Yes, our community! Our voices can not fall on deaf ears; our presence can not be disregarded as if we do not exist! Our desire for a better life or even a second chance should not be determined by those who have. This time our voices will be heard! This time our presence will be acknowledged! We MUST stand united this time and not allow folk to tell us what is good, bad or indifferent! We can decide that on our own.

My Average Community Folk I strongly suggest that you unite and secure your future and your children’s future before it is too late.

Don't come back years later saying "shoulda, woulda, or coulda" because that will be too little...too late!

WHO WOULD NOT WANT ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND AFFORDABLE HOUSING FOR COMMUNITY RESIDENTS WHO ARE IN NEED?

The Atlantic Yards Project (AYP) is bringing Job Opportunities, Environmental Assurances, Small Business Opportunities, Educational Initiatives, Housing, Opportunities for Public Housing Residents, Community Amenities and Facilities to the Community.

  1. Should average "regular" community folk’s opinions count?
  2. How does one determine whose opinion(s) are more urgent and/or significant than others?
  3. What makes folk think that they have all the answers?
  4. How do you feel about the Atlantic Yards Project (AYP)?
  5. What do you think it will do for the area?
  6. How will you personally benefit from the project?
  7. What do you feel the Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) is?
  8. What would you like to see the CBA accomplish?
  9. What changes will occur in the area as a result of the CBA?
  10. Do you think you will still be in the community without the AYP or do you think you will be priced out?

Silence is deadly...let your voice(s) be heard!

Don't you think you should get involved?