Stunner: Goldstein Takes $3 Million Buyout

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Our hand-wringing yesterday over the financial fate of Dan Goldstein looks pretty silly now! As most readers have probably heard already, Goldstein, the last remaining resident in the footprint of the Atlantic Yards project and the biggest thorn in developer Bruce Ratner’s side over the past several years, took a last-minute buyout of $3 million yesterday after mediation session led by Judge Gerges. (As Atlantic Yards Report reveals, after the lawyer’s cut and subtracting the market value of his apartment, this comes out to about $150,000 a year for his activism work. AYR also notes that the seven renters received an average of $85,000 each earlier this week.) “What I did today was hopefully protect my family and end up on my feet after fighting like heck for seven years not for to reach this day, but not to reach this day,” Goldstein said. While Goldstein agreed to resign from his leadership role at Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn and not to “actively oppose the project” as part of his deal, he managed to get this quote off to NY1: “Atlantic Yards is an illegitimate project that got where it is today through an illegitimate process — a breakdown of democracy.” It’s tough not to have mixed emotions about Goldstein’s decision. On the one hand, he was going to be evicted in less than a month, so who can blame him for taking as much dough as he could get. On the other hand, the amount is so much that it threatens, at least from a PR standpoint, to throw into question the motives behind his activism; not only that, but AYR points out that it’s not quite true that there was nothing left he could do. We don’t in the slightest bit doubt the sincerity with which Goldstein devoted himself to opposing the project nor can we blame him for his final move in the giant poker game given the options, but it’s hard not to have some feelings of ambivalence about the way it all ended. After all, it was never supposed to be about the money.

A statement released this morning by Goldstein, and posted in full on the jump, helps explain the play-by-play and how he views yesterday’s news.

Daniel Goldstein Leaves for $3 Million [NY Times]
Last Atlantic Yards Hold-out Daniel Goldstein Folds [NY Daily News]
Last Atlantic Yards Holdout Cuts $3M deal to Go [NY Post]
DDDB’s Goldstein settles for $3M [AYR]
Ratner Pays Millions To Have Yards Residents Relocate [NY1]
Last Holdout Accepts Ratner’s $3M! [Brooklyn Paper]
Last Pure Man in Brooklyn Sells Out [Gawker]

As has been widely reported (see the invaluable NoLandGrab for full coverage), I reached a financial settlement with the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC), tool of Atlantic Yards developer Forest City Ratner, to move out of my home—which the ESDC took ownership of on March 1st—by May 7th.

I did not know, when Wednesday started, that a settlement was in store. It was nothing that I expected to happen. I only knew that I had to defend myself against eviction by New York State.

My day started at 9:30 in State Supreme Court where my attorney (not DDDB’s) argued against ESDC’s effort to get Judge Abraham Gerges to evict my family from our home on May 17th. I did not expect that this argument would then lead to a settlement, so I did not have a press release prepared when an agreement was reached around 3pm. I did not even think of the press implications because I was thinking about my personal situation and my family, not the press. I should have known better because clearly Forest City Ratner saw it as a big press event and sent out a press release immediately. This has led to some misreporting. I send this statement to clarify what has actually occurred. There is a lot to say, so I hope you’ll forgive the length, and my apologies for not getting this message out sooner.

Contrary to press reports I have not given up my First Amendment rights or my involvement with Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn. (Ratner, though he tried to hide it, did require this of nearly all those who sold their homes to him years ago, and they agreed to it.) Ratner and ESDC tried very hard to force me to agree to give up those rights and the work I do with the organization I helped found. It wasn’t enough, I guess, for Ratner to decimate my neighborhood, take my home, and kick me out, they also felt they had to cut out my tongue. For nearly 3 hours of talks mediated by Judge Gerges I refused to accept any kind of gag order. I would not have taken any amount of money to do that, and I did not.

I did agree to give up my title as “DDDB spokesman”, but that’s just a title. And I did agree to remove my name from one outstanding lawsuit which remains in court despite that. Otherwise I can do and say whatever else I want, and my agreement explicitly states that I have maintained my First Amendment rights. So they have not succeeded in silencing me and I am free to criticize and speak about the project, the developer and the ESDC as much as I want. I intend to do that whenever the need arises.

For seven years my wife Shabnam Merchant (who I met as a fellow activist against Atlantic Yards) and I have worked and fought day after day—giving up an income for many of those years—in an effort to help bring community-based, democratic development to Central Brooklyn. This meant, obviously, opposing Ratner’s corrupt, developer-driven, undemocratic project.

As a co-founder of DDDB I will continue that work to the best of my ability and as time allows. I’ve not been silenced, and I am not leaving DDDB as it transitions into a new phase of fighting Atlantic Yards, exposing its corruption and false promises, and advocating for changing the State’s abusive eminent domain laws and the way development is done in New York. And should Atlantic Yards falter, and the land return to its contested state, DDDB will be prepared to jump in.

Impact on the Fight Against Atlantic Yards

On March 1st, after years of litigation, ESDC took title ownership of my home. From that day on, I no longer owned my apartment but instead became a tenant of the State.

At that time, with that action on Ratner’s behalf, there was nothing I could any longer personally do with my home that would stop or impact the project. Staying in my home until the sheriff came to evict my wife, child and I would have accomplished nothing at all for the fight but would have severely harmed us.

After March 1st, it was inevitable that we would be forced out; it was just a matter of when.

On April 9th ESDC filed papers requesting that the court evict me on May 17th. Wednesday morning my attorney argued that the court should not grant that eviction. After the argument, Judge Gerges made it crystal clear that he wanted resolution between me and ESDC/Ratner—that day—as to when I’d leave my home.

So instead of being evicted in about 27 days and then being forced to go to court to hope to get close to fair market value for my home (as opposed to the extremely lowball “just compensation” offered to me by New York State, which was nowhere near fair market value), I agreed to leave in about 17 days. That agreement to leave ten days sooner avoids further litigation over “just compensation,” which would have cost me more time and money while accomplishing nothing for the fight against the project.

I did not sell my home today. I had no home to sell as the state took my home on March 1st. Contrary to what Ratner and ESDC might want people to believe, eminent domain was used on me and many others. My home was seized by the government to give to a private developer.

What I did do was agree to leave my home rather quickly in return for a payment. What I did do was what I needed to do as a responsible husband and father to make sure that my family could make an orderly transition to a new home in Brooklyn. I was left with no good choice by the ESDC or Judge Gerges.

I have always promised that once the legal options to save my home and the homes and businesses of my neighbors were extinguished, I would have to turn my attention to what was best for my family, after years of neglecting our interests. That is what I did on Wednesday.

DDDB

Speaking as the “former” spokesman of DDDB I have this to say.

The fight we have waged as a community has been heroic and crucially important to literally millions around the City and the country. We have all exposed the project and the process as fatally corrupt. We have convinced nearly all good people of good will that the project is a sham and a poster child for the wrong way to develop cities. We shined a bright light on the way eminent domain is abused in New York State to the point where there is now a legislative effort led by Senator Perkins to reform the state’s laws.

We have fought every lie, exaggeration, fudge, false promise, abuse, and misinformation campaign tooth and nail. The project that Ratner wanted to build will never be built. And we know that his promises, many already broken, will continue to be broken—especially his promise to build 2,250 units of affordable housing in ten years. It is shameful, and it is shameful that so many politicians remained silent, and still do to this day.

And we, as a community, as DDDB and so many other community groups, will continue to expose the project’s problems and abuses.

Through the relationships and alliances amongst community groups and individuals I am certain that it will be impossible for developers and their government cronies to ram this kind of project down another community’s throat ever again in New York City.

They didn’t ram it down ours.

While we didn’t stop the groundbreaking, our voice of protest was heard loud and clear for years before that day, and on that day. On Ratner’s day of celebration, the overwhelming media coverage (besides Beyonce and Jay-Z of course) was of the protest of that travesty.

A legacy of this fight will be that we have proven that all that we have found wrong with Atlantic Yardsngal has been shown to be legal in the view of the courts and most legislators. The abusive laws, which favor the most powerful and entrenched interests, must be changed.

Finally, please remember that DDDB, this community and the fight against Atlantic Yards was never about a single person or a single apartment—or even about a single borough. It has been, and still is, about one of the biggest failures of government and democracy in this City’s history, and its impact on the lives of hundreds of thousands of people in the great borough of Brooklyn. Our fight has—and this is one of the victories—given hope, inspiration and encouragement to innumerable people that a community united can fight principled fights worth fighting, regardless of the outcome. These are fights that have to be fought if we are to find a way to become a working democracy, which treats individuals and communities fairly, rather than disenfranchising and disempowering them.

See you at the next meeting (once I find a new Brooklyn home). And please be in touch with DDDB.

With my great respect for all the civic minded people who have engaged in the resistance to Atlantic Yards, to any degree at all, throughout the years. You are heroes and YOU have the power.

Daniel Goldstein
Co-founder of Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn

PS. It will be interesting to see what Congressman Pascrell accomplishes with his effort to get a Treasury Department investigation into Mikhail Prokorov’s business deallings in Zimbabwe.

112 Comment

  • daveinbedstuy

    “the amount is so much that it threatens, at least from a PR standpoint, to throw into question the motives behind his activism.”

    “it’s hard not to have some feelings of ambivalence about the way it all ended. After all, it was never supposed to be about the money.”

    He’s a fraud. Given the costs of all this to Brooklyn, he’s no better than Madoff.

  • he should keep what his home is worth – and give the rest to some brooklyn based charity.

  • dittoburg

    “You are heroes and YOU have the power.”

    And I have the $$$ ;-)

  • Anyone know how much he’s paid in legal fees over the years?

  • no comment on his asking $5 mio in the settlement talks. that would cover a lot of personal legal fees…

    actually i am not opposed to him taking it out of ratner, but it sure makes him look closer to ratner than his poor ex-neighbors/neighborhood.

    but let’s call a spade a spade. this was a sellout.

  • Biff Champion

    “he should keep what his home is worth – and give the rest to some brooklyn based charity.”

    I like that idea. And also keep what he paid it legal fees. Too bad it won’t happen.

  • Why did Ratner have to pony up that much for Goldstein? What am I missing? Was it just to dodge further legal hurdles?

  • jessibaby- i’d be willing to bet that dddb racked up nearly all the legal fees. he goes so far as to say his lawyer not dddb’s showed up to the eviction proceedings. this makes me suspect the eviction proceeding, which is clearly personal, is one of a limited number of personal legal engagements.

    anyway, he coould come clean and give up the same transparency he sought out of the esdc and ratner. let us see how much he paid for lawyers and how much he paid himself for six years of what now looks like a job.

  • dittoburg

    I think he should spend it on coke and hookers.

  • “I think he should spend it on coke and hookers. ”

    that would definitely stimulate the local economy, amongst other things.

  • benson

    DIBS;

    I’m counting on your to write the apropriate lyrics for this situation, to the tune of “Danny Boy”.

  • Agreed that he should make public the amount that DDDB paid for legal. I doubt it was coming out of his pocket. Were any of the lawyers working pro-bono?

    I gave a substantial donation to DDDB. Now I feel ripped off.

  • Antidope – good point. If he was using part of the money to pay legal fees, he probably would have said so. I just didn’t realize that people were actually giving money to the DDDB legal fund. Here’s the address if anyone wants to contribute: 121 5th Avenue, PMB #150
    Brooklyn, New York 11217

  • more4less

    any guess where he’ll move to. I’m guessing Park Slope

  • After all his speeches, all his bluster, all the delays HE CAUSED with his senseless lawsuits. He now *MUST* be ignored from this day going forward, what creditability does he have to stand on now? Paco the delivery guy for Area bagels has more creditability than Goldstein when it comes to atlantic yards. When Lincoln Center was built in the 1960′s, the city actually tore down hundreds of historic tenements and displaced thousands. Here they are building a sports arena above RAIL YARDS, and every one who has been displaced are compensated generously! What a waste of time!!! Shame on you Goldstein.

  • i equate this to all those pro-life abortion clinic protestors getting wasted, going to a bar and getting knocked up with a one night stand and then aborting the fetus.

  • babs

    Why should a private citizen have to reveal to anyone how much he spent on anything? Unlike Ratner, Dan Goldstein didn’t use taxpayers’ money in any of this. And DDDB’s last three years of tax returns may be obtained by anyone who asks, as it is a 501(c)(3) corporation, so that should answer any questions you have about salaries paid to employees and all expenses.

  • Now that is established what he is, it just came down to price.

  • my email to GOldstein:
    A sad day indeed. But I’m glad you did not agree to any kind of gag order (which I find one of the more reprehensible aspects of our flawed legal system.)

    As a very peripheral player in this drama, I thank you for your efforts in this fight, and am both surprised and pleased that you could carry on so long. While in this case we couldn’t win over City Hall and Ratner, maybe the next time there will be more transparency and accountability in the process of major developments, though the cynic in me doubts it.

    I hope that we (and you) can influence the development in some positive way to make it less of a monstrosity that it is.

    Please keep me on your mailing list in case of any future events, and the best of luck in finding home again.

  • I don’t fault Goldstein for doing what was necessary to protect his family at the last minute, when defeat was inevitable. It was a good fight and DDDB’s loss is a loss for all of us.

  • Go Danny! It was the smart move. Win win. Just because you oppose something on principal doesn’t mean you’re stupid. I don’t doubt his sincerity in the least. He just did what’s good for him and his family when the odds became next to impossible.

  • the question is, had the rat offered him $3MM 6 years ago would he have kept up the fight?

  • babs

    buttermilk channel, the amount DDDB paid for legal services is on their tax returns, which anyone may request (see above). Many of the DDDB lawyers were working at extremely reduced rates, if not entirely pro-bono. Dan’s personal lawyers, who were involved in this case, not DDDB’s, were paid for by him personally.

  • babs- stick to real estate. this is not a legal question. of course he can take the money. but it is a moral question. and if he leaves it like this, my view is that he is a failure to his constituents, though his family will be happy to enjoy a park slope townhouse for the efforts. maybe you know a good one to show him?

  • I’m very much Pro-Atlantic Yards, and very much Anti-Destroy Don’t Develop Brooklyn, but more than anything else, I’m pro-capitalism, so I’m not mad at Goldstein at all. You go boy! He did what he had to do to take care of his family….don’t hate the player, hate the game. His daughters education is paid for.

    Basically, his choices were (a) refuse to settle, get evicted and end up with $510K, or (b) settle, leave on your own terms and end up with $3 million

    It’s a no brainer as far as I’m concerned

    For supporters of the Nets, Atlantic Yards and Daniel Goldstein, this is a win-win

  • On the moral issue, I see his taking the money as no different than an individual getting millions in a settlement for “pain and suffering” beyond out-of-pocket costs (which should go to a general pool instead of to the individual)

    I am opposed to both, but given our ridiculously private-leaning legal system, don’t condemn him.

  • Hard to say what I would do in the same situation, but my heart sank when I heard the news. Meanwhile, the deli owner this AM said, “He’s a smart man.”

  • Maybe he has a plan, you know, like in Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, when Peter Le Fleur out smarted White Goodman in the end!!

  • I don’t get why people would be at all upset at Goldstein for taking the money. He had lost, period. All he could do at this point was drag out a meritless fight against his eviction (having drawn and eventually lost the fight against the condemnation).

    Antidope — what constitutents? Did you elect Goldstein to be the spokesperson for DDDB?

  • Ratner played him well. 3M was a small price for him to pay to destroy Goldstein’s credibility. Goldstein was the voice of DDDB… now he’s just a sell-out.

  • “He’s a fraud. Given the costs of all this to Brooklyn, he’s no better than Madoff.”

    DIBS-

    So you are against taxes and government regulation, but are for the government taking the private property of one citizen at the behest of the heavily subsidized and politically connected.

    Consistency is not your strong suit is it?

  • babs

    antidope, how is it immoral to do what’s best for one’s family (provided it’s legal)? Dan had no choice, as FtGreeneCorey has stated above. I continue to hope, however, that we never see a Brooklyn Nets, and that the utter corruption of this process and the parties involved continues to be revealed, and that the state eventually re-takes this land from FCR to build something of true value to the community, a la the Unity Plan.

  • GOLDSTEIN: “FIGHT THE POWER! FIGHT THE POWER!! FIGHT THE POW..excuse me? how much will you give me to stop? Ok, I’m f’n exuasted, I’ll take it, I don’t give a shit about what people think of me anyway now, I’M RICH!”

  • Arkady

    D.G. is quoted in The Times as saying that “a big chunk” will go to his lawyers. I agree w/ Bob Marvin @ 9:32.

  • I think its hilarious. DDDB must feel like suckers.

  • I don’t fault him for taking the money. He fought the good fight. But, unfortunately, at this point, it was obvious he was not going to win so why not get the most possible from Ratner. My issue…if he was really fighting this for the neighborhood, the community, why not get the most possible for himself and the most possible for the neighborhood? At least something for the *cause,* some sort of money for those not in the foot print but adjacent to it who will have to suffer through the next however many years.

  • dittoburg

    I was a vegan until Ratner offered me one meellion dollars in a back alley to eat ham. I’m not stupid, I took it.

  • Get off your high horses, everybody. The guy spent 7 years fighting a behemoth of a machine – 7 YEARS!!! When was the last time any of us had the tenacity to stick to something so frustratingly hopeless and ugly as he did? If you want to make it a moral question, fine. I think he was morally bound to do the best for his family he could in a bad situation. In this world, people sometimes get rewarded in weird ways for their efforts. Rattner et al recognized after 7 years of fighting this guy and his movement that he’s a formidable foe and that they had to move aggressively to remove the thorn. Don’t blame Goldstein for the results of his competency.

    I have no doubt that in negotiating this settlement he still felt like he lost, and, even as he realized that his years of fighting at least got him in a position to come out ahead (which everyone wants when they invest in a home), he thought ruefully about all the people who were on his side, and all the people who weren’t, and how they would all judge him for this deal, even though each and every one of them, should they be sane and rational, would have done the exact same thing.

    Danny Goldstein, you worked your ass off fighting for what you believed in for seven long, losing years, in a day and age where most of us just quit and resort to bitching on the internet. You deserve a pat on the back and more. Don’t listen to these self-righteous jokers.

  • daveinbedstuy

    GrandPa, I wasn’t around here when they started the eminent domain seizures. So I don’t have an informed opinion on it. All I know is that there are a lot of vacant rail yards and that part of Brooklyn is an eyesore. On the land seizure issue, what’s done is done. Move forward.

    In the end, ratner and brooklyn wins with some development there.

  • Bertha Lewis’ quote in the Times made me ill. If you want to point the “sell-out” finger, point it at her. I too don’t blame Dan Goldstein one bit for bowing out now while he can. Many Brooklynites took a good look at how Ratner was getting his arena and were appalled at the process and the acquiescence shown by so many in power (not just politicians, but the NY Times and other media as well). However, no one else dedicated so much time, basically a full-time job, to fighting back. Whether you personally agree with him or not, his opinions were shared by many in Brooklyn and I’m glad he kept it up as long as he did.

  • I can’t imagine a better comment (and tribute to Goldstein) than GoGoMrPoPo’s one @ 9:56!

  • denton

    So where’s everyone who screamed about the judges getting paid off?

    Look who took the ultimate payoff.

    I actually give Ratner a lot of credit here… he might have taken it personally and dragged it out in court and let the judge put a price on the property… wouldn’t have been 3 mil, that’s for sure.

    This is just like buying out RC/RS tenants… the guy who screams the loudest and holds out the longest gets the biggest payout.

  • petunia, agree completely. Bertha Lewis and ACORN were TOTAL sellouts at the get-go, when they signed on the Ratner band-wagon and contractually agreed not to criticize AY (as did others). At the time I wrote several letters (many published) about this, and sent copies to her.

    At least Goldstein refused to be gagged and can continue to play a role against AY.

  • Joe From Brooklyn is spot on. I’m glad he got a good payout. Doesn’t diminish the work he did, his sincerity or the value of the arguments DDDB put forth. I think it is a bit of a cheap shot to question that. What would you have he and his family do, faced with eviction, over what was clearly a sham process in acquiring the yards and getting approval for the development?

    I don’t like the idea of an arena. I like the idea of development over the yards. I’m not sure why it has to be subsidized by the City/State, why the land had to be sold for less than market value, and why, with all the vacant land that exists, you need to acquire additional properties (via eminent domain) and raze them so you can build even more. The whole process by which FCR acquired this land stinks – and that’s from someone (me) who actually wants the area to be developed into something that brings more people and businesses to the area, even if that means tall residential and commercial towers.

  • It never ceases to amaze me that so many of you DDDB and Daniel Goldstein haters seem to have no issue with the *hundreds of millions* of our tax dollars showered on Ratner, for what he himself says is a *private* project, but get your panties in a bunch when Daniel, with no options left after a long 7-year bitter fight, made the best deal that he could to provide for his family before the state forces him out of his home. Daniel gets some portion of $3M. Ratner gets at least $130M cash + 22 acres in central Brooklyn + part ownership of the Nets + …

    I wish Daniel and his family the best. I hope they take a very long vacation away from all of this. If he never does anything again in this fight, that’d be okay, too. He devoted 7 years of his life to this fight, and it’s probably taken at least that many off what remains of his life, to fight for what he believes in, against nearly impossible odds. What have any of you done? I’d fight along side Daniel again.

    I don’t regret any of the time or money I spent in this fight. It was the right fight, even though it was always a very long shot.

  • I think the people that are jerks and sellouts are the ones who took the money and ran early.
    We are a weak society.
    It is rare that we truly stand together.
    I hear a lot of people complaining about the banks, But why are we not making a run on the banks.
    If everyone cleared out their checking/ savings accounts tomorrow. The banks would listen to us.
    Mr Goldstein you are a hero who did not win this battle but the eminent domain fight goes on.
    We should now stand behind him even more.

  • “The guy spent 7 years fighting a behemoth of a machine – 7 YEARS!!! When was the last time any of us had the tenacity to stick to something so frustratingly hopeless and ugly as he did?”

    I don’t know about you but I spent the last 7 years working at a job.

  • I don’t want to blame Goldstein either, but it’s a sad day. We’re all gonna be a lot worse off because of this con. Many of us saw it, but he was one of the few that tried to stop it.

    The bills from AY will keep coming decades after we’ve forgotten this part of the story.

  • Hey, everybody has his price. Now he can probably afford to move to Manhattan. /sarcasm

  • goldstein = ratner = capitalist tool unless:

    all money above sum of a) actual value of home, b) actual personal legal costs, and c) six/seven years cumulative salary (on which he’ll have to pay city/state/federal taxes) should be returned to dddb donors. to do this requires real transparency and i won’t be holding my breath.

    im looking forward to walking to nets games with my season tickets in hand.

  • A lot of those who are slamming Dan Goldstein today are the same pro-Ratner/AY advocates who were slamming DG and DDDB all along. So nothing new there. There are plenty of us who think you are a man of principle who fought a whole lot longer and harder than most for what you believed in. As per the comment of another that I posted to last night’s Blogwrap: “There is nothing wrong with losing with money in your pocket.” Keep your head high, Dan Goldstein; shame on the haters and stay strong.

  • “Unlike Ratner, Dan Goldstein didn’t use taxpayers’ money in any of this.”

    It sounds like some of the money might have come from the state.

  • I’d be willing to be called a sell-out for $3 million, I guess he was, too.

  • dittoburg

    “There are plenty of us who think you are a man of principle”

    He’s now a man of prinicpal. With no interest payments due.

  • babs

    You mean the money Ratner is paying Dan Goldstein, Brokerdeveloper? If it is from the state, I’d so much rather see it go to compensating just citizens for the seizure of their property and the wrecking of their lives than to see it used to bring a last-place basketball team majority owned by a Russian gangster into a hideous and out of place arena named after a bank that made its money in the slave trade. In that case, I say give ALL the money to Dan Goldstein!

  • “all money above sum of a) actual value of home, b) actual personal legal costs, and c) six/seven years cumulative salary (on which he’ll have to pay city/state/federal taxes) should be returned to dddb donors”

    let’s see, that may be $17.50?

  • I can’t help but feel like all of the supporters of DDDB have been cheated a little by this. Will any of the $3 million he received go to repay the thousands of hours volunteers put into the project? What about the thousands of dollars of donations given to DDDB to help fund the fight? I know I gave my share. Were we just paying Goldstein’s mortgage and living expenses all of these years so he could fold at the last minute and still win his final hand of poker?

  • “Unlike Ratner, Dan Goldstein didn’t use taxpayers’ money in any of this.”

    Sure he did, in a way. He took donations from local residents. That’s how he ran the operation. I spoke to himself myself at the beginning when he was cold-calling people in Park Slope asking for $200 each household. I asked about his board of directors and advisers first and he wouldn’t provide the info. It wasn’t helpful to anything how unprofessionally organized the effort was at the start. I dare say somebody else than Goldstein may have succeeded in stopping AY.

    As for how much debt there is for him to pay, he doesn’t pay the attorney fees. What are you guys talking about. He established a nonprofit. The fees are incurred by the nonprofit. This payout is to Goldstein as an individual, not to the nonprofit. Additionally, people did pro bono work for the nonprofit, including political advisers and attorneys. Also he wouldn’t have lived off nothing for 7 years — he would have been paid a salary via the nonprofit.

    Perhaps nobody would have stepped up and organized the effort if he hadn’t. But come one, he is not perfect and neither were the efforts and strategy. I think a more well organized effort that first got great advisers (that were actually listened to, which I heard Goldstein wasn’t good at doing) before starting to just call people and make noise was essential. And determine with a lot more clarity what the goals were. I never understood if they wanted nothing built there, or if they were okay with developing that spot in some way but smaller, or if they just didn’t want Ratner to build it, or what. The voices coming from his side were all over the place. You always need to organize your supporters and clarify the mission.

  • 3 mil was a steal for Ratner as delays would have cost him 2 to 3 times that per month. Danny ran out of time too and wasn’t about to walk away with nothing. Like in the old days, when a railroad runs through your property, it’s somewhat of a windfall.

    Stop hating, DIBS.

    Go Newark Nets! Ooops – Go Brookyn!

    ***Bid half off peak comps***

  • daveinbedstuy

    Admit it, the delays were just that, delays. And they cost brooklyn a lot.

  • Actually the delays probably saved us money.

    We delayed a massive, massive expenditure with almost no economic benefit – as verified by Ratner’s own studies.

    If you’re gonna throw away many hundreds of millions of dollars it’s better to do it later than sooner.

  • I don’t blame Goldstein one bit for taking a relatively big payout. He fought the good fight and went without years of income and other professional opportunities to do so. His home has been taken. There is no need for him to further martyr himself. In addition, he has a small child and has to take that child’s future into consideration.

    I am bothered, however, that he apparently agreed to take less of a leadership role in DDDB for money. In his email to DDDB members (which omits the settlement amount), he states that his title change is just a semantic quibble, but why would Ratner pay extra for a semantic quibble?

    Goldstein also agreed to remove his name from the remaining lawsuit. His email also minimizes that move, but that seems pretty serious to me. THAT looks like being paid to abandon the fight. He must be VERY tired, but that is very disappointing.

  • We have half of the project we would have if these NIMBYs hadn’t stood in the way of progress. If FCR could have financed this before the credit crunch Brooklyn would be so much better off. But instead it got delayed by a bunch of people who hid their snobbery and money grubbing behind all kinds of fake social causes. And in the end we see what they are really made of. Brooklyn loses. Goldstein wins. And the people who supported him will probably never understand how much damage they really did. What an astonishing abuse of the legal system.

  • babs

    Excuse me, traditionalmod, how is taking donations from residents using taxpayers’ money? Maybe those residents who donate enough to deduct on their income taxes pay some fraction of this amount less in taxes, but that isn’t the same thing, is it?

    And, again, this case was argued by was Dan’s personal lawyers paid for by his personal funds, not DDDB lawyers and not DDDB funds.

    And since when, DarkStar, do volunteers ask to be (re)paid? Isn’t that why they’re called volunteers, they don’t get paid?

    Sheesh – I am not at all surprised by the usual haters, but it is truly disappointing to see DDDB contributers swayed by the Rat’s latest obfuscations. Don’t you know better than to believe a word out of him/FCR?

  • daveinbedstuy

    Can we just begin construction now????

  • From the DDDB website regarding where their money comes from:

    “We are funded entirely by individual donations from the community at large and through various fundraising events we and supporters have organized. We have the financial support of well over 3,500 individual donors.”

    I’m looking at the advisory board and it’s 99% artists. Literally literary! Bad joke. Nobody in politics or architecture or from Wall Street, who I myself would have made sure I had. There is one urban planner but who identifies herself first as an artist. Sounds like a lot of yes-people. If he’d had true experts in how to fight this those people would be very opinionated because of their expertise and by nature of their jobs, and maybe that was too much a clash of personalities? If you’re running a political campaign you hire people who are able to understand and even sympathize with the opposing view. Does it look like that happened here?

  • “He fought the good fight and went without years of income and other professional opportunities to do so.”

    Do we know if he took at salary from DDDB?

  • Excellent post, traditionalmod.

    I just don’t get why some of you continue to slurp DG. It’s over, you lost, and worse you worshiped a false idol. For DG “haters”, the issue is NOT that he got paid (good for him; I could care less if he has $3mil…), but rather that, in the end, what we’ve been saying all along about DG seems to be true: he was only ever in this for himself.

    If you guys are still cool with him as your poster boy, fine by me. You’re the only ones that come off looking foolish.

    I’ll say it again: in the final analysis Bruce has a deal, DG got paid, and Brooklyn sports fans have an arena (contrary to what the anti-AY crowd says, we don’t _all_ lose, some folks want this and are fine with the tax burden…). The only people with nothing to show for it are well-meaning folks who truly believed they were fighting the “good fight” (and thought DG shared their motivations).

    The well-meaning activist folks are the ones who should be hatin’ on DG today, for those of us who have been doubting his motives all along, today is just vindication. Far from “hating” on him, I’m actually the happiest I’ve ever been with DG: he’s shown his true colors. I’d actually take the man out for a beer today and say “well played” if I had the opportunity.

  • babs

    Becaue, BrooklynChicken, Ratner intended to milk that “semantic quibble” for all he could get out of it – at first lying in the press release stating that Dan had agreed to keep silent and then allowing his minions at all the papers to paint him as a sell out. Because it was worth $3 million to the Rat to try to destroy DDDB’s and Dan’s credibility. Well it’s not going to work, because we’re still here and we’re still watching, all over Brooklyn. And Dan removed his name from the lawsuit, because his presence on it will not affect its outcome, except as the Rat’s attorneys try to twist that to mean that he’s OK with everything now, and therefore it should be dropped, despite the continued presence of the other plaintiffs.

  • Babs, it’s really really important to do a breakdown and analysis of what happened here if such efforts are to ever succeed in the future. Try to see the value in reading what those who weren’t swayed by DDDB are saying.

  • Really, be rude? He did that for seven years so he could get $3 mil (before expenses & taxes)?

    Come on, people. Whatever else you might think, it beggars the imagination to think he did everything he did as a personal extortion plot against Bruce Ratner. Do you think he was in secret negotiations all along?

  • daveinbedstuy

    “Obama Doesn’t Intend To Give Back Goldman Campaign Donations”

    Puts him on par with Daniel Goldstein.

  • Certainly at first, Jessibaby. DDDB started out pretty poor and small. But that’s a good question. He can’t have gone without compensation for all that time.

  • I’m not pro-AY per Ratner’s vision for it, by the way. I just didn’t support DDDB and DG as a donor for reasons I stated.

  • The squeaky wheel gets the grease.

  • chicken – YES – goldstein is a giant fat turd POS and the enemy to many. horrible horrible human being.
    stood in the way of progress, of jobs, of clean up of a foul area, entirely for his own gain.

    despicable, and saw through him from the beginning.

  • babs

    traditionalmod, those who weren’t swayed by DDDB were swayed by the Ratner’s $$$$ and false promises. Obviously DDDB never had FCR’s resources – FCR invented fake companies (BUILD), funded charitable organizations (ACORN), and just plain paid off politicians and church leaders via donations so they’d all support its cause.

    FCR had the money to bus in crowds of school kids from Bed-Stuy to testfiy about how important this basketball arena featuring luxury skyboxes and gourmet food was to them – in return for sandwiches, basketball uniforms, and sneakers. I was there and heard them discussing it – they had no idea why they were there, but the swag was certianly cool and who doesn’t like basketball.

    FCR had the money to hire union members and pay them overtime wages to disrupt each and every public hearing ever held on this subject, as well as private protests. Again, I was there and saw and heard all of this.

    FCR had the money to buy out area residents at multiples of what they’d paid for their apartments, in return for the written promise that not only would they never say a bad word about Bruce Ratner, FCR, or Atlantic Yards, but that they would work actively to persuade their neighbors to take the same deal.

    FCR had the money to pay its Nets players and to buy turkeys for them to distribute at Thanksgiving in the poorer communities of Bed Stuy and Crown Heights, reminding residents how much better their lives were going to be once there was a professional basketball team in Brooklyn.

    Learn from those who weren’t swayed? Puh-lease.

  • Bruce Ratner is lucky to have friends like you, wine lover. He has to pay most of his friends.

  • Anyone have a link to the actual video of Goldstein’s statement to the press after the settlement was reached?

  • dittoburg

    “FCR had the money to pay its Nets players and to buy turkeys for them to distribute at Thanksgiving in the poorer communities of Bed Stuy and ..”

    Lots of people are feeling like turkeys now

  • So, it seems that DG is not a hero afterall. If he was that principalled, he would have been the captain of the ship leaving it last and watching it sink (or sinking with it).

    Instead, we have some shmoe who got a nice chunk of change, the arena is still going up, and the money wasted to fight “the good fight” was also tax-payers money – who do you think payed for all those trials?

  • DDDB was an ad hoc, grassroots effort and not the work of a professional advocacy organization. The 20-20 hindsight on DDDB’s mistakes sounds impressive now but the same failed results could have easily been secured by professional organizers. In the end, you had a trio of unscrupulous billionaires — an infamous developer, a Russian entrepreneur and a _____ mayor who all collaborated in a sham bidding process on an oversized, unaffordable development scheme, grabbing a chunk of public land, displacing the residents who were living there, hiring and firing a starchitect and buying a losing bball team . . . for what? To make more money of course! Given all that it took to push that garbage through the City Council, Albany, the Courts and the minds of some Brownstoners, I’m not convinced that well-paid, mistake-free professional organizers and advocates would be singing a much different story today than DDDB.

  • It is another sad day for Brooklyn, not because Goldstein took the money – CMU, Joe from Brooklyn, Bob Marvin and GoGoMrPoPo pretty much covered my thoughts on that issue – but because we get to see more of the Ratner spin promulgated through the media – especially the NYTimes, which never even came close to biting the hand that fed it.
    And it does seem that most of the pro and anti AY folks are lining up in our usual manner.
    I can’t help but think that the Goldstein is a sellout bashers are people who have never been in the unhappy position of being involved in a long and difficult lawsuit where, at some point, it just becomes clear that you are not going to “win” – it’s wretched, but there comes a point where you have to think about issues like the rest of your life and your family and cut your losses.

    Traditionalmod’s armchair quarterbacking speaks to what appears to be a lack of first hand experience with community organizing, as well as a cursory attempt to understand the scope of opposition to AY:

    “I think a more well organized effort that first got great advisers (that were actually listened to, which I heard Goldstein wasn’t good at doing) before starting to just call people and make noise was essential. And determine with a lot more clarity what the goals were. I never understood if they wanted nothing built there, or if they were okay with developing that spot in some way but smaller, or if they just didn’t want Ratner to build it, or what. The voices coming from his side were all over the place. You always need to organize your supporters and clarify the mission.”

    There were a number of community forums where ideas for development over the AY area were discussed – and models were built of those plans, which were far easier to build and could have been underway by now – and allied groups like Brooklyn Speaks sure had a lot of expert involvement and was very clear about their mission. With respect to “voices all over the place”, well, that’s true – lots of people were against AY for many different reasons and in a democracy (or what is left of it)you can’t simply muzzle less articulate speakers.

    We do need to learn from the AY experience (which I bet will go down in urban planning studies as one of the worst developments ever, in terms of design and process)- but the big question for me is how to influence a project when so many politicians, state agencies, big buck corporations are in on the fix – and where the media (with very, very few exceptions) doesn’t ask hard questions or air opposition views.

  • >>Really, be rude? He did that for seven years so he could get $3 mil (before expenses & taxes)?

    No, Chicken, that’s not what I’m saying.

    (though your statement is a bit odd compared with your other post a few minutes later where you begin to question whether DG got compensation … if he was paid by DDDB for 5-6 of the 7 years _and_ got $3 mil at the end, well, not so far fetched, is it?? Again, though, that’s NOT the argument I’m making…)

    The folks who saw through DG from the very beginning simply said was that he’s in this for himself, and was merely co-opting the facade of worthier causes (sloppily, nonetheless) to seem more palatable.

    Did we think in the end he was after a $3 mil payoff, no, not necessarily (though it’s not far fetched to believe that, in the back of his mind, the worst case was some sort of payoff at the end…). He did this initially because he didn’t want to move. He was a NIMBY, he didn’t care about ED abuse or gov’t corruption, he just didn’t want to move. He likely stayed in it for seven years for the same NIMBY reasons, coupled with some thirst for the spotlight his little movement gave him. In the end, though, the point is DG was always in it for DG.

  • be rude, you just don’t have any access to the “real motivations” of DG. I don’t either, but having fought painful local political battles, let me tell you there are a lot easier ways to prevent moving.

    Brooklyn Red, I love your statement:

    “I can’t help but think that the ‘Goldstein is a sellout’ bashers are people who have never been in the unhappy position of being involved in a long and difficult lawsuit where, at some point, it just becomes clear that you are not going to “win” – it’s wretched, but there comes a point where you have to think about issues like the rest of your life and your family and cut your losses.”

    I have lost a lawsuit, and while you think you will be able to just take your lumps, it feels so terrible. And it’s expensive. However much money he got, paying his lawyer’s fees has got to be bitter.

  • Imagine getting three million bucks for doing no real work — just complaining to anyone willing to listen. It’s better than winning the lottery. It’s the American Dream.

  • If this were just between DG and his legal adversaries, I wouldn’t hold the settleent against him. But as traditionalmod says, with DDDB he solicited donations from people all around Brooklyn for a fight that ultimately enriched him greatly. Is he going to compensate any of them?

    Sigh. Goldstein, Bertha Lewis, Bruce Ratner–it’s hard to like anyone in this whole deal.

  • Not to mention the “protect my family” line, is the biggest hunk of horse manure I’ve ever heard.

    The guy works and obviously makes a decent living. What the hell does hitting the jackpot in a blackmail coop have to do with “protecting his family?”

    Does he need an armored tank or something?

  • DG could definitely get sued by his “supporters” who want their money back.

    There are thousands of poor homeless Brooklynites without two nickels to rub together going hungry while DG will be eating at Peter Lugar’s twice a week for the rest of his life.

    You call that fair?

  • more4less

    come one people, DG expected and probably OK with this highly probable blow-back reaction on this when he agreed to take the $3M. if he didn’t want it, he would’ve taken less (ie just enough to be breakeven). To pocket millions, give up role,… and to expect no blow-back, that would be fantasy thinking. I think the dude make the right decision but I also think this reaction is appropriate for that decision.

  • East New York

    By buttermilk channel on April 22, 2010 9:28 AM

    Agreed that he should make public the amount that DDDB paid for legal. I doubt it was coming out of his pocket. Were any of the lawyers working pro-bono?

    I gave a substantial donation to DDDB. Now I feel ripped off.

    **

    By DarkStar on April 22, 2010 10:32 AM

    I can’t help but feel like all of the supporters of DDDB have been cheated a little by this. Will any of the $3 million he received go to repay the thousands of hours volunteers put into the project? What about the thousands of dollars of donations given to DDDB to help fund the fight? I know I gave my share. Were we just paying Goldstein’s mortgage and living expenses all of these years so he could fold at the last minute and still win his final hand of poker?

    SUCKERS

  • daveinbedstuy

    And, as usual, the lawyers got richer.

  • infinitejester

    Calling this a “shakedown” is like calling marriage a “sex-for-home-and-security” scam. It shows no true understanding.

  • Jester, in hindsight, this guy got to be a hold out and get more money than most because he was able to do so on the backs of those who donated. It may not be a shakedown, but it’s ugly.

  • Well late to the party, but I’m echoing what babs, Bob, Brooklynista, cmu, and PoPo (good name for a band) all said, along with others of a like mind. I don’t feel any differently about Goldstein than I did yesterday before this news broke.

    He was the right person in the right place for the job he did. After 7 years, with 99% of the battle over, and the bulldozers at the door, to capitulate at this time, and emerge able to take care of his family, is not selling out, or losing. While some here would have only been happy if he had stood on the roof of his building as it imploded, others have no problem being happy for him for getting what he got. I’m one of them.

  • “Calling this a “shakedown” is like calling marriage a “sex-for-home-and-security” scam. It shows no true understanding.”

    I know jester. Only someone who lacks understanding would use sex in that sentence.

  • “And, as usual, the lawyers got richer.”

    You have a problem with that????

  • “I’m not convinced that well-paid, mistake-free professional organizers and advocates would be singing a much different story today than DDDB.”

    We’ll never know, Brooklynista because those types never got the chance. And who says they would have had to be paid. We know a talented political consultant who donated his time and expertise early on pro-bono but DG wouldn’t listen to him so the guy gave up and quit. I never said experts are “mistake-free” but at least they know something as opposed to nothing.

  • “traditionalmod, those who weren’t swayed by DDDB were swayed by the Ratner’s $$$$ and false promises”

    Mmm, not really. Bad argument. I’m not sure I know anybody who gave money to DDDB, Babs. And ours is a circle of progressive liberal people in Brooklyn who certainly were not swayed by Ratner in any way for any reason.

  • Good for him, I am glad he got all that money,that was his home. Who would like the state to come along and use Eminent Domain to seize their homes….

    The City should call Landmark Tavern property in PS to Eminent Domain, that is a freaking disaster.

    ….and no, I do not think that Brooklyn needs a stadium for sports, and how many of those apartments are really going to be affordable….please.

  • So previously, the judge threw out the last of the lawsuits, the eviction process was going forward and in the end, Goldstein was able to be compensated like other home owners, plus obtain compensation for renters as well. What’s the problem? After all of his efforts, was he suppose to walk away with less than the market value of his home? The issue has never been whether or not to develop AY but the size and scope of the development and who was to pay for it. Atlantic and Flatbush is already a bottle neck. Now factor in a dozen or so high rises and a stadium. A catastrophe. Funny how many of the proponents of the development don’t live in the area nor have plans of relocating to the area upon completion.

  • “Mmm, not really. Bad argument. I’m not sure I know anybody who gave money to DDDB, Babs. And ours is a circle of progressive liberal people in Brooklyn who certainly were not swayed by Ratner in any way for any reason.”

    So, not swayed by Ratner, and put off by Goldstein, please remind me just what the “circle of progressive liberal people in Brooklyn”, not swayed by Ratner, did in terms of voicing an option about his plans?

  • This has got nothing to do with fair market value. DG extorted many times the market value of his apartment — far more than anybody else got or deserved.

  • http://www.observer.com/2010/real-estate/bertha-lewis-acorn-ceo-not-happy-daniel-goldstein

    Even the head of now defunct Acorn, the group that helped get Obama elected President, sees DG as a complete fraud.

  • I’ve said it for years and I’ll say it again: Dan Goldstein has been out of his league on this fight from the start. As a dotcommer, he had ZERO experience with community organizing when he appointed himself the savior of Brooklyn. Time and time again, he showed his incompetence and unwillingness to cooperate with others.

    I don’t buy for a second the bullsh** about accepting the money in order to care for his family. The vast majority of people in this world raise a family on far less than that. Even if you break it down annually (as Norman “OCD” Oder did), Goldstein was still paid a sweet 150K per year for his “activism” (yes, that’s AFTER legal fees, taxes, etc.). That still places in him the upper echelons of this country. When you factor in his hedge-fund manager daddy’s wealth, the “care for my family” line only looks more absurd.

    The above posters are correct. Ratner paid what for him is a tiny sum and now Goldstein will slither off forever. Congrats, Danny Boy, YOU are not the “wealthy white master”.

    Nets, welcome to Brooklyn!

  • does this mean that the foolish sheep will finally move onto the next thing now? whatever happened to that anti glass buildings b/c they kill birds movement?

  • bfarwell

    The best part is that it will be really ugly. I know I get all excited every time I walk past Atlantic Center, and now I can look forward to 10x that much excitement for the new ugly archi-turd that will be AY.

    Deeeelicious. Nothing like ugly shit built with gov’t incentives.

  • May we all be half as courageous at some point in our lives as Daniel Goldstein has been. And may we all be smart enough not to be duped by the PR-savvy machine that is Forest City Ratner.

  • People think he went through this for seven years for what will be much less than three million after all his expenses? Really??? How petty are we?
    What about all the money going into the pocket of Ratner at the expense of the taxpayer when hospitals and schools are closing and the MTA (which sold to Ratner at far below market value) is cutting services?

  • Why the stunner title? It was all apart of the master plan. Holdout.Holdout for as long and for as much as you can get. Come on, it was pretty obvious to him that this was a done deal so why not get the most you can from it? He had till May 17th before the eminent domain came into play so he was smart to grab the $3 million which is probably really $13 million. He is no dummy by any stretch of the imagination.The bottom line was always the mighty dollar.

  • One thing that Daniel Goldstein is NOT is courageous. How courageous is it for him, a man already rich from the dotcom era, to dabble in community activism? In fact, it was Goldstein’s wealth that gave him the luxury of protest, as he did not have everyday concerns of those who immediately and eagerly accepted buyouts. He is nothing but a fool and one that many are glad will be leaving PH forever.