Saturday, November 19, 2005


Jason Kidd, "comprehensive" planning, and the Ratner p.r. machine

A 11/18/05 New York Times sports column (subscriber-only), even one that acknowledged "Step One in the community-relations phase of Ratner's grand plan," couldn't help from misconstruing a key point about the Atlantic Yards project, and giving Jason Kidd a bit of a pass.

Harvey Araton's column concerned point guard Kidd's new spiritual faith, thanks to a mentoring relationship and membership in [the Rev. A.R.] Bernard's Christian Cultural Center on Flatlands Avenue in the Canarsie section of Brooklyn.
This mega-church, likely Brooklyn's largest, was the site of a media event where Kidd and the Nets served an early Thanksgiving meal to needy families.

Kidd, we learn, has flourished:
"Jason was reluctant at first," Bernard said in a telephone interview. ''But he began to enjoy, and over time he began a transformation of his values, his relationships and his work."
Engaging in some celebrity name-dropping, Bernard said that the Jets' Curtis Martin was a member of his community, as were Starr Jones and Angela Bassett. They and the Kidds are part of a congregation of more than 20,000 that promotes conservative Christian values.

Unmentioned is Kidd's troubled history with his wife Joumana. I think it's wrong when fans taunt Kidd about being arrested in 2001 for hitting her. And it's admirable if Kidd, as it seems, has transformed his values and relationships, and, in Bernard's words, is "accepting and appreciating what he already has." But if he's going to be suggested as a role model, isn't it worth mentioning what Kidd may be transforming from?

More troublingly, Araton tries to describe the polar attitudes toward the Atlantic Yards plan, but gets it wrong: whether you believe the Nets' relocation plan is a cover for Ratner to build apartment buildings or a comprehensive development plan for downtown Brooklyn whose time has come.

Not even Borough President Marty Markowitz bills this as a comprehensive development plan, especially since the project would be in Prospect Heights and Park Slope, not Downtown Brooklyn. In Marty's latest State of the Borough address, he said, "I expect Atlantic Yards to result in two things that are vital to Brooklynites — more jobs and more affordable housing." As we know, there are many fewer jobs than promised, and a smaller percentage of affordable housing. And there's been no inkling of comprehensive planning. Marty wanted an arena, above all--the rest is a real estate project that has shifted significantly, by the developer's decision. And all the planning has been after the fact.

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