Tuesday, June 06, 2006

The Atlantic Yards Fight Takes a Detour to the Very Low Road

By today, the mini-tempest in a teapot over the statement quoted in yesterday's Daily News that was made by Develop-Don't Destroy Brooklyn's Daniel Goldstein may already have blown over. (Or, maybe not.) Goldstein was quoted in a News column referring to "wealthy white masters" of Atlantic Yards supporters. Goldstein immediately apologized, saying the statement was taken from an email and "wholly out of context." He writes, "I did not say that African-American supporters of Forest City Ratner’s proposal are tools of their 'white masters.' I certainly realize that the remarks I made were racially charged and easily misconstrued."

We're still unsure of exactly what was said, except we know that it shouldn't have been said, especially because it injects an ugly tone to Atlantic Yards fight.

The truly interesting part, though, is that a press release attacking Goldstein's claims was quickly distributed by Berlin/Rosen Public Affairs. (Their website is currently just a "coming soon" page.) The release included a repudiation of Goldstein's comments by a number of Atlantic Yards supporters. In the release, Rev. Al Sharpton, is quoted as saying, "I’m not sure where Mr. Goldstein is from or the environment in which he grew up, but the people of Brooklyn find this kind of mindless and racist language insulting. How dare this young man invoke the language of slavery to insult African-Americans who support a project that will provide jobs and affordable housing?"

Berlin/Rosen Public Affairs is the firm of Jonathan Rosen and Valerie Berlin, two very well respected Albany legislative staffers who departed last year to form their own political consulting and public affairs company. Mr. Rosen has been quoted in the past as an "ACORN spokesman," and the low-income housing advocacy group is one of those that signed the community benefits agreement. So, Berlin/Rosen is connected to the pro-Atlantic Yards faction?

You would hope that given all the very real issues associated with Atlantic Yards, that this detour onto the Low Road is short lived. Or, perhaps, given the high stakes of the game, it is only a preview of what is to come.

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