Sunday, October 16, 2005


BUILD's jobs development: distributing Ratner's propaganda sheet

So the second issue of the Brooklyn Standard, the Forest City Ratner "publication" is out, and numerous people are standing on street corners in neighborhoods like Park Slope and Prospect Heights handing out copies. And who does Ratner choose to organize this? BUILD, the "jobs development" group that Ratner has just admitted funding. (Ask one of the street team members: they'll tell you they picked up their copies at BUILD.)

[Note: the new issue of the Brooklyn Standard is not yet available on the web, but I will analyze it in another post.]

Ratner spokesman Joe DePlasco, in the 10/14/05 Times article headlined To Build Arena in Brooklyn, Developer First Builds Bridges, said that the $100,000 was to go to job training:
Mr. DePlasco emphasized that the money given to Build was intended to fulfill the company's obligations under the community-benefits agreement.
"No money was given to Build prior to the community-benefits agreement. What they're supposed to do is begin outreach and job training so that people are ready to apply for these jobs when they become available. If you are going to commit to programs that otherwise don't exist, you have to find the funding for those programs - or at least a big chunk of that funding," he said.

Does Forest City Ratner plan to regularly issue free "publications" that require a street team to distribute? If not, the use of BUILD to distribute the Brooklyn Standard counts as part of Ratner's public relations effort, not the job training in the Community Benefits Agreement (CBA). Page 13 of the CBA states that BUILD is responsible for job training for construction jobs. Regarding permanent jobs, page 15 of the CBA says that tenants may request that BUILD provide specialized job training for applicants they intend to hire tailored to the tenants' particular needs.

Then again, page 40 of the CBA says that developers will work with BUILD, among other organizations, to target hard to employ young people (including ex-offenders between the ages of 16-21) who face barriers to employment for employment training opportunities at the Project. Could Joe DePlasco explain away street distribution of the Brooklyn Standard as fulfilling this component of the CBA?

BUILD's mission statement suggests that it's not aiming at short-term jobs:
BUILD is an organization committed to supporting development as a means of creating economic opportunities to promote financial self-sufficiency and prosperity in socio-economically depressed communities....

Testifying before the City Council on 5/4/04, BUILD first VP Marie Louis also emphasized the importance of building skills for the long term:
To safeguard against this, Bruce Ratner and Forest City Ratner Companies has committed to working with BUILD to negotiate an agreement aimed at:
--developing the capacity of working age adults to economically gain and benefit from the revitalization spurred by this project;
--preparing youth for global marketplace success so that they have the capacity to live anywhere they choose well...

Meanwhile, BUILD still hasn't updated its web site to revise its denial of financial support from Ratner. The site still says:
Myth: BUILD is financially supported by Forest City Ratner.
Fact: Since its inception BUILD has been supported by its members and community based supporters. BUILD’s faith in God and strong ties to the community has sustained and perpetuates our operations and advancement of our mission. Space, computers, supplies and time has been donated to the organization by its members since its inception this year (1/2004).

The BUILD site does have one useful link on it:
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