De Blasio, Clinton cronies are carving up the city. Right, developer Bruce Ratner
In New York City, the controversy plagued Atlantic Yards development appears to be heading for trouble again. That could create problems for Mayor Bill de Blasio and presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton. Allies of both Democrats have profited mightily from the project.
For over a decade, Atlantic Yards has been at the center of heated disputes over power, profit and privilege in New York. Does the site serve the needs of the taxpayers who financed its development? Or is it primarily a giant boondoggle generating torrents of cash for well-connected insiders?
The 22-acre, $5 billion Brooklyn site of planned residential, commercial and park space is home to the Barclays Center sports arena and sixteen high-rise buildings in various stages of development. According to recent news reports from Moscow, Barclays Center owner Mikhail Prokhorov is under Kremlin pressure to sell all his Russian assets. Prokhorov’s U.S. holdings could be next. Prokhorov’s fall would reverberate from Moscow to New York, where U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara is making development deals a centerpiece of a sweeping anti-corruption crusade.
New Yorkers have been here before.
“I seen my opportunities and I took ’em,” the plain-speaking Tammany Hall politician George Washington Plunkitt said in 1905. The corrupt Tammany political machine dominated New York City politics for a century, its chicanery extending into every corner of civic life. Bribes, kickbacks, fraud, extortion and graft were the order of the day. Today, New York is witnessing the birth of a new Tammany Hall. Plunkitt’s heirs are seeing their opportunities and taking them on a colossal scale.
The center of the new Tammany is Mayor de Blasio’s City Hall. But de Blasio is no Boss Tweed, old Tammany’s criminal genius. De Blasio has emerged as more pawn than prince of the city: insecure, in over his head, buffeted by moneyed players he cannot seem to resist and presiding over accelerating pay-to-play scandals that have cast a pall of political death over his administration.