Monday, April 24, 2006

CBA Backlash at 85 Adams Street

For a number of reasons, I read with interest an article in Metro about an ACORN protest at 85 Adams Street in Brooklyn yesterday, not the least being how I've watched it grow all winter as I walk down to DUMBO. But what leads me to this post were a number comments (#s 6, 9, 10, 15, 19) in the related post on (who doesn't seem to believe in citing authors, so I will, Amy Zimmer).

There's quite a bit of skepticism and hostility towards ACORN, who participated in negotiating a community benefits agreement(CBA) with Bruce Ratner for the Atlantic Yards development (AKA Nets Stadium).

Writes "Concerned":

Yes, I think ACORN's ulterior motives are questionable. I think the authorities should investigate ACORN's organization to see if maybe bribes are lining up another set of pockets. Pockets of so-called activists in sheep's clothing. That could very well be a lucrative enterprise since they can use innocent Brooklynites with good intentions as pawns to promote ACORN's agenda to extort the developers.

We've talked a lot about community organizing in my community equity and wealth building class, as well as how CBAs are negotiated, and the seeming conflict of interest that emerge when community organizations get large settlements as part of them. Like negotiations to enforce the Community Reinvestment Act, when not clearly representative of the community in question, can look like "bribes" or extortion.

On one hand, shouldn't developers and businesses give back to the community part of the very lucrative breaks they get from local government? On the other, it does not bode well for business climate and economic incentives in communities suffering from decades of disinvestment to be so demanding, and in many ways hostel to local investment.

In any case, affordable housing is huge issue in the city. It's good that people are aware of what kind of breaks developers capitalize on.


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