The following open letter was sent to DDDB by Brooklyn resident
and Museum member Michael White.
(WE ARE STILL TAKING ENDORSERS:
Feel free to add your name as an endorser of the sentiments in this letter,
please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org,
as others are doing, providing your name and neighborhood.)
Michael D. D. White
March 31, 2008
Board of Trustees
200 Eastern Parkway
Brooklyn, New York 11238-6052
Re: Inappropriateness of the Brooklyn Museum's "Honoring" Bruce Ratner
Dear Brooklyn Museum Board of Trustees:
I write this as an open letter to the Brooklyn Museum.
My wife and I came home on Wednesday, March 12th, opened our mail from
the Brooklyn Museum, an institution important to us, and were dumbfounded
and aghast to discover that we were being invited to a Brooklyn Museum
Ball "honoring Bruce Ratner."
It is uncomfortable to step up and point out why it is inappropriate for
the Museum to be "honoring" Ratner, but it is crucial. If it helps that
I am not only a longtime Museum supporter but also a lawyer, an urban
planner and have had a long career in government with the State Finance
authorities, then it is probably all the more incumbent upon me to speak.
I do not believe it is appropriate for a respected public institution
like the Brooklyn Museum to be honoring Bruce Ratner. To many of us this
is obvious but I will explain the many reasons why.
A museum should be a good neighbor to its community. You cannot be a
good neighbor by promoting the activities of someone who is a bad neighbor,
and worse, to the community.
Where I come from in government, garnering public subsidy via influence
and sidestepping a proper bid process can wind up with the perpetrators
going to prison. Using influence and sidestepping a proper bid process
is exactly the way that Bruce Ratner is proposing to develop the Atlantic
Yards megadevelopment. As a lawyer, I could almost certainly make a distinction
between what Mr. Ratner is doing and what sends people to jail but it
would be so technical I am not sure most people would understand or regard
it as important. And I am not sure if there would be an accompanying
moral distinction. Nor could I assure you that, if the facts were fully
known about Mr. Ratner's influence and access, that there would be a legal
distinction. I leave it for the people who want a special distinct status
to set Bruce Ratner apart to explain what and why that should be. I will
point out the main appreciable difference: Ratner's proposed no-bid subsidy
grabbing is on a sheer magnitude of scale that is incomparable. The proposed
no-bid subsidies Ratner intends to collect from the public are easily
in excess of $2-2.5 billion. That far exceeds anything I am familiar
with in other analogous situations.
Why would the Brooklyn Museum "honor" Bruce Ratner at this time? There
is no equation whereby this is a good time, from the Museum's standpoint,
to honor Ratner. Ratner has an extremely unpopular and massively controversial
proposed megadevelopment in the offing. Approval of just the arena is
about 50% positive and 50% negative in the borough. The overall project
has much higher and rising negatives; when dealing with an informed population
or a population like the membership of the Museum itself the negative
view must be 85-90% or higher. (In a recent letter to the editor on this
subject, one Park Slope resident points out that the Museum heretofore
has actually followed a policy of regulating Museum public events to avoid
political controversy by denying its facilities to events that were deemed
"too political" or "too controversial.") No, this was not a good time
from the Museum's standpoint to "honor" Ratner. There were plenty of
worthy individuals the Museum could properly have decided to honor instead.
From Ratner's point of view, was this a good time to be "honored" by the
Brooklyn Museum? Ratner is desperately in need of multiple public approvals
for his Brooklyn project, the largest project in the city by a single
developer. Without these approvals the project cannot proceed. Crain's
New York gives the project no better than a 50% chance of succeeding.
Other far more dire predications abound for the megadevelopment's fate.
Ratner desires to relinquish none of the billions in subsidies he is pursuing.
The City Council and State might take some back; that is being talked
about. So, yes, there is every reason it was good from Ratner's standpoint
to be honored by the Museum- for the sake of promoting the megaproject.
Terrible time for the Museum; excellent time for Ratner- From this we
may infer that the decision to honor Ratner was not driven by the careful
considered judgment of those Museum board members with the best interest
of the Museum at heart, but rather by those on the board with business
connections to Ratner exerting influence. (For identification of some
of these conflicts of interest I refer you to the coverage of Atlantic
Yards Report. see: www.atlanticyardsreport.com/2008/03/at-brooklyn-museum-gala-honors-for-and.html.)
This concession to Ratner's influence hurts the Museum substantially.
Mutual acquaintances tell me that there can be a certain irascible charm
to Mr. Ratner's irrepressibility. But the issue is not his social skills
at a soiree or on the golf course. Nor is it a question of what, upon
inquiry, one would discover about what people say the experience of working
for him is like. The question, from the Museum's standpoint, is the man's
public life and what in that public life might be the subject of honor
or dishonor- to use the Museum's words, a proper evaluation of Bruce
C. Ratner as a "corporate citizen of Brooklyn and greater New York City."
It is fair to assess Mr. Ratner on this, particularly since I believe
that Mr. Ratner appears to have solicited this honor and the process of
awarding it to him no doubt requires that Ratner is willing to publicly
put himself forward to accept it.
In the arena of public events, Bruce Ratner is behaving antisocially,
hostile to the community and in a manner adverse to Brooklyn in the ways
listed below. When it comes to Brooklyn, I am not aware of any counterbalancing
good things weighing equally on the positive side.
1. Megadevelopment Designed as No-bid Subsidy Hog.
Even setting aside the distracting mannerisms of Frank Gehry, the pop
architect responsible for "designing" Atlantic Yards, it is immediately
obvious from any kind of rendering that shows the mass and density of
Atlantic Yards that the megadevelopment is a palpably poor match for the
community of which it is supposed to be a part. This highlights how Ratner
intends to use his no-bid jump to the front of the subsidy line. He does
not propose to build the best project possible for the area or even to
build a good one that fits in well. He proposes only to build a project
that will soak up as much public subsidy on a no-bid basis as possible.
The beyond-any-limit, unprecedentedly dense project is not designed to
weave into its community or serve the public: (It is startlingly different
from the new 10-story Atlantic Terrace project across the street which
represents the vision of all the same government officials for what belongs
in the area. - Atlantic Yards is so much taller than this 10-story project
that its shadow will prevent Atlantic Terrace from using solar panels
as originally planned.). The huge increase in density Ratner is proposing
to garner through a zoning override, sidestepping procedures and public
review represents, in and of itself, an incredible subsidy. This `density
subsidy' is then multiplied by all the other subsidies the project is
designed to sponge up. Pursuit of this "density subsidy" and the resulting
multiplication by other subsidies is also what makes closing down neighborhood
streets and avenues attractive to Ratner though it constitutes a significant
negative result for the community. The misdirection of these subsidies
is at the expense of other developers to whom these subsidies should be
rightfully flowing and whose market will be impinged upon with unfair
competition. Over half the escalating cost of the $4.4 billion Ratner
megadevelopment will be paid for with these hogged public subsidies.
2. Arena as Device to Bloat Ratner Wealth at the Expense of Taxpayers.
The building of Ratner's arena for his recently purchased basketball team
represents a vast transfer of wealth from the tax-paying public to Ratner.
It is being done with disguising complexity. Probably those on the Brooklyn
Museum board connected with Ratner have a good feel for it that the others
do not. Those involved in the development have been close to the vest
with the escalating figures, but based on the latest figures just out
in the New York Times and the 2005 analysis of the City's independent
Budget Office, New York government officials are committing New York's
public to pay no-bid subsidies of more than $1.315 billion to for the
arena plus additional subsidies such as the donation to Ratner of naming
rights. (A press event dinner celebration announcing this Barclays Center
"naming rights" deal was held at the Museum though this was not an event,
such as this, officially held by Museum itself.) Just on the arena Ratner
will clear at least $116.29 million in present value on day one. Recent
analysis indicates that all the cash flow Ratner takes in beyond the rents
he gets for the arena's luxury suites may all be gravy (130 suites at
annual rents of $300,000 to $540,000). Ratner is even being promised
that after an initial 30-40 year lease term accompanied by tax exemption,
he can extend his lease up to a total of 99 years with continued tax exemption.
This is clearly sufficient motivation for Bruce Ratner to have bought
a basketball team so I don't laud him for bringing the team to Brooklyn
while laying stake to this overwhelming subsidy (and the quite inappropriate
arena location). Ratner is also using the arena as a peg and sales device
to get more than another billion dollars in subsidies from the public
for other parts of the project. The fact that Ratner is partly replicating
a scheme that has been done elsewhere in the country and follows in the
footsteps of others such as George W. Bush with the Texas Rangers stadium
does not make it any the more palatable. New Yorkers may turn out to
be the only ones foolish enough to let someone get away with this on such
a grand and overblown scale. (Even at what used to be a far lower project
cost,- a fraction of the current figures- the arena was long ago recognized
as the most expensive basketball arena in the country.)
3. Gratuitous Eminent Domain Abuse.
Ratner is condemning an entire block, the Ward Bakery Building
block, which has absolutely nothing to do with any proposed arena. What
it does is enable him to soak up more subsidy and acquire land at below
market prices. It is the worst kind of eminent domain abuse: developer-initiated
and developer-driven in pursuit of eminent domain windfall. Not only
is unnecessary land being gratuitously condemned for eminent domain windfall
purposes, but also in the process, valuable old and historic buildings
that should be preserved for the community are being destroyed.
4. Unnecessary and Blight-causing Destruction of Valuable and
Historic Old Buildings.
There are those on the Museum board who should thoroughly appreciate the
essential value to our communities of preserving neighborhoods and beautiful
old buildings. They should be horrified by Ratner's hostile attitude toward
the community in tearing down valuable buildings that don't need to be
destroyed and prematurely tearing down the Ward Bakery Building. Judging
by his actions, Ratner's priority is to tear down any building that the
community might recognize as valuable and as unnecessary to development
of the rail yards. The more potentially valuable to the community a building's
preservation might be, the higher his priority is to tear it down. His
actions create blight- Blight and vacant lots help ensure that there will
eventually be a situation where people will be calling for anything to
be built, even something as objectionable and low quality as his megaproject.
But the tearing down of the Ward Building, actively used until recently
(well into the 90's), is likely decades premature and might never be necessary.
Every day as Atlantic Yard's approvals and financing appear less likely,
the negative impact of his actions at community expense are more glaringly
evident. Atlantic Yards may well not proceed, as it absolutely shouldn't,
and the community may well be left without its valuable buildings, only
Ratner-created blight. This blight is likely to last a very long time;
Ratner has been granted an extraordinarily protracted construction period.
Essentially, he has been given permission to construct the megadevelopment
at his leisure. (The extended construction period is a form of additional
subsidy since, if you obtain bids from multiple contractors, the ones
required to construct on schedule will inevitably cost more than those
to whom deadlines don't apply.) Ratner is not firmly obligated even to
get started building until the end of 2009 and he has a dozen years after
that just to build the first five buildings in Phase I of what is theoretically
a four-phase 16-tower megadevelopment. Buildings being torn down now
would only be replaced if the final phases of the project were ever built,
and there are no deadlines for that to happen. Are we to live with parking
lots in lieu of historic buildings until year 2035? Longer? To reiterate,
this destruction of old buildings, like Ratner's gratuitous abuse of eminent
domain, is neither necessary nor desirable: it only helps max out the
subsidy that Ratner can get.
5. Campaigning Against Fundamental Civil Rights.
Ratner is affecting the national agenda in important ways, spending heavily
to fight fundamental civil rights. The Constitution's Bill of Rights
was meant to protect against the misuse of eminent domain. There is a
reason the Fifth Amendment was insisted upon up-front as part of the Bill
of Rights required to approve the Constitution. Its protections have
been eroded in ways that almost everyone suggests require shoring up.
From a national standpoint it is important that protections be in place,
but Ratner is using his garnered subsidy proceeds to fund lobbying efforts
opposing national eminent domain reform. Newspapers recently reported
on Ratner's payment of $400,000 to the D'Amato lobbying firm, charging
that firm with the goal of frustrating the national pursuit of such protection
for these basic civil rights. Ratner's developer-initiated and developer-driven
eminent domain abuse in pursuit of eminent domain windfall is the worst
form of abuse. Atlantic Yards is a prime example of why the Castle Coalition
has testified that New York State has the "unfortunate distinction" of
being one of the "very worst states in the country in abusing the power
of eminent domain."
6. Disregard for the Interests of the Poor and Minorities.
Who but Ratner would be brazen enough to promote his Atlantic Yards Project
as desirable because it will provide affordable housing and then lobby
to get a special §421-a exception to exempt his project from providing
as much affordable housing as other developers with similar competing
projects must provide? Who but Ratner would accept a special §421-a exemption
for his project as a significant financial benefit applicable to no one
else? Who but Ratner would not be replacing the more affordable housing
he is destroying? The creation of the new affordable housing is now on
the back burner and has never been given priority in terms of when it
would be created. Ratner's project is not about providing affordable
housing though he may promote the idea that he is. I am aware that the
calculations available show that "affordable" housing Ratner intends to
provide will be rented at a higher per square foot rent than the market
rate housing. I am aware that the income levels that will qualify people
for affordable housing in the project are as high as 160% Area Median
Income ($113,440) for a family of four and may include income levels that
may not actually be different from those served by the free market operating
on its own. This is notwithstanding that Ratner is being subsidized.
Ratner has fomented race and income divisions in the community, wedges
that lead to a community that works against itself. He has created sham
community groups and bankrolled others willing to work for him and against
community interests. He has created agreements with these groups that
sound as if he might provide certain benefits but which contain commitmentless
provisions and are unenforceable in any important respect. It thus makes
it all the more objectionable and ironic that the award Ratner is being
given is the Augustus Graham award, named after a man who was involved
in starting not only the Brooklyn Museum, but the Unitarian congregation
which we attend. Unitarian history observes that Augustus Graham was notable
concern "for the poor, the suffering, the young, and those" neglected
"portions of the community" and his determination to secure for them a
larger "share of the great moral and intellectual privileges" made him
a role model for that church's great settlement work, out of which grew
the housing reforms of Alfred T. White.
There are those who work hard and earnestly to provide subsidized housing
for the right reasons and do not do so merely to add to their wealth.
Those groups need the subsidies that Ratner will be depriving them of.
They include groups like the Fifth Avenue Committee which is building
the 10-story housing across the street which is truly an affordable housing
project (78.8% of the units will be affordable units with at least 50%
of the project's units being affordable to families with incomes at or
below 80% AMI). On the other side of the street, Ratner's animated illuminated
marketing signs will stand five stories taller, 50% taller than the Fifth
Avenue Committee's meritorious project.
7. Misrepresentations, Covertness and Lack of Transparency.
Is it amusing that Ratner has proclaimed on his website that Toronto-born
Frank Gehry, whom he has promoted as the architectural star of his show,
was "born in Brooklyn" and is it amusing that he repeatedly didn't correct
this information when the misrepresentation was noted? The pervasiveness
of Ratner's misrepresentations cannot be amusing nor the way it has led
others into mistakes or given them cover to misrepresent. Even though
its inaccuracy has been repeatedly pointed out, Ratner's website still
misrepresents that the megadevelopment will be "primarily situated over
the MTA/LIRR's Vanderbilt Rail Yards" when, in fact only 40% of the megadevelopment
is over the rail yards. Those lost in the mire of this misrepresentation
are the New York Times and City Planning Commissioner Chairman Amanda
Burden. Lost in this misrepresentation is any acknowledgment that additional
acreage is being taken through gratuitous eminent domain abuse and that
through the no-bid plan Ratner intends to seize control of what will be,
together with neighboring Ratner owned land (malls and offices which government
subsidizes), a monotonous 30 acre swath of Brooklyn owned and monopolistically
operated by a single owner. All of this fostered by the government?
The actual rail yards area Rater's website speaks of would be perhaps
only 29% of this enormous swath. Further, even apologists for the use
of eminent domain for this kind of development say that eminent domain
should be used carefully, sparely and subject to scrutiny. Ratner ensures
that the process instead operates in the dark with gag order agreements.-
Gag order agreements were never used in the days when government was responsible
for eminent domain. Overall, it is astounding how much is secret and
only known by Ratner when it comes to the proposed building of a major
section of the city paid for mostly with public funds. Even information
about the adequacy (or its lack) of planned protection of the arena against
terrorist attacks (and the impacts on the community from that protection)
is only in Ratner's possession (not the public's or the government's).
Why should the Brooklyn Museum "honor" Ratner? By contrast, The Museum
of the City of New York, of which I am also a member, has thoughtful seminars
where Atlantic Yards is discussed as a poster child for what is wrong
with development in New York City and where people predict that Atlantic
Yards will create a backlash against bad process (a prediction which is
bearing out). The Brooklyn Museum responds to these same obvious problems
by "honoring" Ratner. At the Museum of the City of New York you can hear
discussed how there is a small club of developers that expect to be able
to use eminent domain but never expect that it will ever be used against
them. The Brooklyn Heights Association and Municipal Art Society have
sponsored showings of "Brooklyn Matters", an excellent documentary that
informs people about Atlantic Yards, stimulating thought and discussion.
Has the Brooklyn Museum with Ratner's people on the Board similarly stepped
up to such community responsibilities in this regard?
We look to our art museums to have sensitivity. That is so much of what
art is about. Where is the sensitivity in this misadventure of the Museum?
The Museum is also a historical museum. From this kind of museum we expect
a rigorous respect for facts and truth. How can the Museum be honoring
Bruce Ratner if it pays attention to reality?
The Museum's actions are not in the name of "art." It can't be suggested
that the Museum is really just honoring of Frank Gehry as artist; if that
were so, the Museum could simply honor Gehry and leave Ratner out of it.
(Some of us also don't regard Gehry very highly.)
Can what the Museum is doing be justified for financial reasons? Is it
a question of take the money and run? Can Ratner's financial heft or
"donations" outweigh the community and rank and file Museum members?
I recognize the pull of money. I am aware, for instance, that local community
schools have fought internally about whether they should accept Ratner
money. As much as public schools need money, people at local public schools
question whether such money should be accepted. I am also further aware
of the allegations that Ratner is channeling money only to the public
schools with better-off white and politically influential parents who
may help him get his approvals while passing over the minority schools.
The minority schools (the only ones without air conditioning) will be
most negatively affected by his project. There is, however, a big difference
between just accepting Ratner money (which is the point the school communities
have belabored), and "honoring" Ratner in exchange for it.
I don't think that the Museum should accept Ratner money, taken on tilted
playing fields, in exchange for the Museum's help in tilting the playing
field further to garner even more subsidy.
Ratner should not be confused with an erstwhile robber baron who did ill
a long time ago and is now dispensing funds after the fact to atone and
get into heaven. Ratner is doing his damage to the community now and
this "honor" from the Museum is a mechanism to further damage the community.
To "honor" Ratner because he wants to promote his undeserving project
is to deploy the Museum's not-for-profit resources in a highly inappropriate
manner. It is disrespectful of the Museum's privileged tax-exempt status
afforded to the Museum to serve the public good.
If this letter does its job, Mr. Ratner will not come away from the occasion
of this "honor" with his reputation enhanced or with any benefit from
these promotional tactics. I also hope this letter speaks adequately
for those who won't be speaking or are at a loss for words because they
are so stunned.
It is far from easy to criticize an institution like the Brooklyn Museum
and the difficulty in speaking out accentuates the estrangement I think
so many of us feel. We have revered and supported this institution as
members; it is an institution we wish to continue to venerate. It is
awkward when there are friends and acquaintances on the board we like
and respect. We know how difficult it would be, particularly for politicians,
to criticize actions of the Museum given that there are important and
influential people on the Museum board. The situation with Ratner people
on the Museum's board is not an inviting tangle to deal with.
However uncomfortable, someone must step forward to say what needs to
be said. For instance, in this small world of ours, the Brooklyn Museum's
"honoring" Ratner even makes it difficult for other organizations in charge
of protecting community interests, like Brooklyn Heights Association,
to speak with full frankness and necessary bluntness about Ratner's ill
effects upon our community.
I believe an apology from the Museum to the community is in order, and
I call upon the Museum to undertake programming and balanced community
forums to mitigate the harm already done to the community with this improper
Michael D. D. White
The undersigned agree with and endorse the sentiments of this letter.
(Feel free to add your name as an endorser of the sentiments in this letter,
please email us at email@example.com,
as others are doing, providing your name and neighborhood.)
> Clem Labine, Park Slope
> Yanis Bibelnieks, Park Slope
> David Schleifer, Carroll Gardens
Please add my name and neighborhood to the letter. This is a
unique sort of outrage. As a resident of Carroll Gardens, a neighborhood
also beset by inappropriately scaled development, I worry about the precedents
that Atlantic Yards has set, which may influence the Public Place site
a block away from my home and the Gowanus area in general. The monolithic
scale of Atlantic Yards, by denying street life, scale and diversity,
run absolutely contrary to the culture and spirit of New York City and
Brooklyn. The museum should distance itself from Ratner, not honor him.
> Abby Weissman, South Oxford Street Block Association
As a former card-holding member of the museum I am appalled at
your honoring of Bruce Ratner, who has done more to destroy Brooklyn than
practically anyone else in recent memory. Just because a person is rich
does not mean he can ‘buy” a neighborhood or a museum. I have chosen
to not renew my membership and will not attend or support the museum,
> Lucy Koteen, Fort Greene
> Paul Zimmerman, Boerum Hill
> Ken Schles, Fort Greene
I would also like to add my name as an endorser to this letter.
I am an artist who has work in the permanent collection of the Brooklyn
Museum. I am outraged that the Museum is being co-opted by its board for
such blatant political ends destructive to the community it serves. I
live in Fort Greene and have my studio in Prospect Heights.
> Eric Reschke, Prospect Heights
> Lee Zimmerman, Prospect Heights
> Jennifer Melby, Boerum Hill
> Yvette and Ronald Shiffman, Park Slope and BMA contributors
> Anne Z. Whitman, West Harlem
It is disappointing to see the Brooklyn Museum honoring Bruce
Ratner. He abuses the use of eminent domain for his private benefit at
taxpayer expense and therefore abuses the community. The Brooklyn Museum
can and should do better.
> Paul Sheridan, Prospect Heights
> Lisa Badner, Boerum Hill
> Burnley Duke Dame, Park Slope
> Robert Puca, Prospect Heights
> Tracy Collins, Prospect Heights
> Katia Kelly, Carroll Gardens www.pardonmeforasking.blogspot.com
> Steve Ettlinger, Park Slope
> Pamela Ford, Prospect Heights
I am honored to add my name to Michael White's excellent letter.
It is shameful and ironic that the Brooklyn Museum, long charged with
the preservation of aspects of Brooklyn's material culture, like the Schenk
House, should be honoring a man whose mission seems to be to destroy the
Brooklyn we love.
> Jezra Kaye, Prospect Heights
> Ken Diamondstone, Brooklyn Heights
> Stephen Furnstahl, AIA. Prospect Heights.
President, Prospect Place Block Association (between Flatbush
and Underhill Avenues)
member of the Brooklyn Museum
> Thomas F. Gogan, Park Slope
> Maxwell Ciardullo, Crown Heights, Disgruntled Brooklyn Museum
> Adam Lynn, Brooklyn Heights
> Betsy Voss, Prospect Heights
It is particularly upsetting to me that the Brooklyn Museum,
part of the Prospect Heights community, should honor Bruce Ratner, who
is destroying the community.
> Phyllis Wrynn, Park Slope
I am in complete agreement with every facet of this very comprehensive
assessment of the travesty known as Atlantic Yards. Last week, I wrote
to two members of the Brooklyn Museum Board of Trustees who I know personally,
expressing my outrage and disappointment that the museum is honoring such
a destructive force in our communities. My letter was much more emotional,
so I am grateful to Mr. White for having the patience and clarity to lay
out the case against the horrific project and its perpetrator, Bruce Ratner,
in such a detailed and compelling way. My heart has been broken by this
plan to desecrate my home town. Honoring Ratner at this stage of the process,
when there is so much evidence of false promises, hype and the biggest
land grab in Brooklyn's history, is beyond comprehension. Honoring such
a person shows complete contempt for the neighborhoods surrounding the
museum whose residents have worked tirelessly for years to expose the
fraud and scale of the scheme to destroy historic low-rise Brooklyn as
we know it.
> T Sahara Meer, Prospect Heights
> John Florio, Park Slope
> Ouisie Shapiro, Park Slope
> Benita Hack
Please add my name to the list of those who agree with your statement.
It's incredible to me that the Brooklyn Museum is planning to "honor"
Bruce Ratner. His recent abandonment of the project only bears out the
prediction that was made about him when this all started: that he would
get out of it with a tidy profit without fulfilling his promise to the
community for affordable housing.
> Cathy Wassylenko, New York Preservation Alliance
> Michael McLeod, Cambridge Place Action Coalition
> Samy Brahimy, Park Slope resident and Museum Contributor
> Judith Page, Williamsburg
> John Eader, Brooklyn Heights
> Dohra Ahmad, Boerum Hill
“This makes me ashamed to be a Brooklyn Museum member!”
> Gae Savannah, East Village
Mr. White-- what a superlative letter! Please add me to your
> Marie Nachsin, Park Slope
Please add my name to the list of supporters of this letter.
As a long-time
member of and contributor to BMA I am outraged.
> Carole Ashley, Manhattan
> Candace Carponter, Park Slope
> Rebeccah Welch, Park Slope
L. Bray, Park Slope
(Mr. Bray also sent us a copy
of his letter to the Museum's Board in which he terminates his membership.)
White, Park Slope
(Mr. Richard White, no relation to Michael, has sent us a copy
of his own letter to the museum which
can be read here.)
> Gary Powell, Prospect Heights
> Kenneth Babb, Park Slope
> SJ Avery, Park Slope
As a Brooklyn Museum member for over 15 years, I am also appalled
at the idea of "honoring" Bruce Ratner and wish my name to be
added to the Open Letter.
> Ian Ference, Weeksville
I would like to add my endorsement to the eloquently expressed
open letter from Michael D. D. White to the Brooklyn Museum. I am in complete
solidarity with the sentiment that, if the Brooklyn Museum refuses to
apologize for betraying the public trust by honoring a man who repeatedly
and continually betrays the public trust, the Museum should bear the overwhelming
burden of justifying the public laudation of Bruce Ratner to both its
members, and to the citizens of Brooklyn at large. I would like to emphasize
Mr. White’s suggestion that Ratner is no “erstwhile robber
baron” atoning for prior sins, but rather an unrepentant continual
sinner whose sins are daily having a negative impact on the very people
the Museum purports to serve. If the Museum allows itself to be an implement
for the facilitation of this ongoing cycle of sin, is not the Museum as
> Oona Short, Red Hook
> Arlene Stimmel, Brooklyn Heights
Please add my name to your excellent letter. I also opened the
invitation and was shocked to see that Bruce Ratner was being honored.
Not an April Fools joke...
> Dr. Sheila J. White, Park Slope
> Marina Urbach, Independent curator, Manhattan
> Gloria Brandman, Park Slope
> Susan Boyle, Crown Heights
> Tina Summerlin, Park Slope
> Charles Yuen, Cobble Hill
> Emese Latkoczy, New York (Manhattan)
> Richard Gehr, Park Slope
> Maureen Shea, Park Slope Greens, Green Party of Brooklyn
I am a resident of Fort Greene. I work as an architect and an
artist and I am deeply upset that The Museum's leadership is so compromised
by business dealings with Mr. Ratner. I feel the Museum should respect
its neighborhood and understand the value of its character rather than
trying to destroy it in the name of short term profits (based on building
a large volume of things that may need to soon be torn down). A museum
that cannot understand the language of spaces enough to appreciate the
topography and character of its neighborhood is lacking in the kind of
deep sensitive vision we need to improve our future and this lack of vision
calls into question the credibility of the whole institution.
> Martha Wilson
> Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats (CBID)
> Hon. Chris Owens, Prospect Heights
> Josh Skaller, Park Slope
> Ron Littke
> Sasha Hinkley, Park Slope
> Mitch Freidlin, Park Slope
> Shabnam Merchant, Prospect Heights
> Nancy Brooks Brody, Prospect Heights
> Carrie Yamaoka, East Village
> Joy Episalla, East Village
> Carolyn Weaver, Boerum Hill
> Daniel Meeter, Windsor Terrace
> Sarah E. Johnson, Prospect Heights
> Caryn Burtt, Prospect Heights
> Daniel Goldstein, Prospect Heights
> D.Inabnitt, Clinton Hill
I have read Mr White's letter regarding the Brooklyn Museum's
desire to "honor" Bruce Ratner, and I would like to add myself
as an endorser.
> Steve Hart, viewsfromthebridge.blogspot.com
Please add my signature endorsing the letter in opposition to
the Museum and Mr. Ratner exploiting each other on the public tab.
> Laila D. Bibelnieks, Park Slope
> Marc Porret, Park Slope
> Akiko Ichikawa, Fort Greene
> Susan Brill, Park Slope
> Elizabeth and Richard Harvey, current members of the Brooklyn
Museum and former residents of Park Slope
> Deborah Magocsi, Park Slope
> Sheila D. White, Manhattan
> Inese and Ken Heinzel, Mill Valley, CA
> Carolyn McIntyre, Brooklyn Heights
> Cynthia Shaw Simonoff, Park Slope
> Victoria Clark, Bedford Stuyvesant
> Steven Soblick, Fort Greene
> Michael Rogers, Prospect Heights
In a particularly cruel irony, Mr. Ratner is being honored even
as he himself destroys art, in the form of the architecturally unique
Wards Bakery. What might have been a wonderfully rethought building for
the 21st century will be replaced by a giant parking lot.
> Jon Crow, Park Slope
> Keith Gemerek, Bedford Stuyvesant
I agree with and endorse the sentiments of Michael D. D. White's
> Sarah Wenk, Prospect Heights
> Mona Fafarman, Park Slope
> Michael Kodransky, Prospect Heights
> Aron Pieman Kay, Brighton Beach
> Sabine Aronowsky, Boerum Hill resident. Producer, Freddy’s
> Stanley Greenberg, Boerum Hill
> Lynn Yellen, Boerum Hill
> Charles Wells, Boerum Hill
> Barbara Ornstein, Park Slope
I am in absolute agreement with every statement in this letter.
> Chris McGill, Carroll Gardens
> Alison Perry, Woodside, Queens
> Heloise Gruneberg, Boerum Hill
> Robin Weil, Prospect Heights
> Anne Aldrich, Park Slope
> Wesley Jackson, Prospect Heights
> Isabel Hill, Building History Productions
> Avram Fisher, Boerum Hill
> Scott M.X. Turner, Coordinator, Fans For Fair Play
> James Vogel, Park Slope
> Gloria Mattera, Green Party of Brooklyn
> Elizabeth O'Callahan, Park Slope
> David Sheets, Prospect Heights
> John Maynard
> Paul Heller, Park Slope Neighbors
> Liza Drake, Brooklyn Heights
> Jon Maass, Fort Greene
> Eric March, Long Island City
> Judith Wilson, Prospect Heights
> Alan Fleishman, Park Slope (52nd Assembly District Leader)
> Kim Reinhardt, Park Slope
> Michele Araujo, Clinton Hill
> Adam Simon, Clinton Hill
> Carrie Moyer, Carroll Gardens
> George E. Kowalczyk, Park Slope
> Lisa North, Park Slope
> Virginia K. Nalencz, Philadelphia
> Gislaine Jouanneau, Park Slope
Please add my name to the open letter. I have been living in
Park Slope since 1970 and have been a member of the Brooklyn Museum for
many years. I have a great commitment to Brooklyn and am disappointed
that the Museum does not share this commitment.
> Rachael L. Nevins, Flatbush
> Brian M. Kenny, Park Slope
Please add my name as an endorser to the open letter from Michael
D. D. White to the Brooklyn Museum. As a long-time supporter of the Museum
I am repeatedly horrified by their actions that diminish their reputation,
and alienate current and potential donors. This is the latest and most
egregious act, hurting both the museum as well as the community.
> Dan Schaffer, Park Slope
> Ursula Scherrer, Manhattan
> Arnold Badner, Brooklyn Heights
> Barbara Badner, Brooklyn Heights
> Kathleen P. Kettles, Esq., Prospect Heights
> Rose Calucchia, Kensington
> Thomas Mann, Crown Heights
> Gail Rothschild, Artist, Prospect Heights
As an artist who has been living in Prospect Heights for 19 years,
I have supported the Brooklyn Museum and spent many inspired hours there.
I am shocked that the museum would honor Bruce Ratner for his appallingly
misguided destruction of our neighborhood. We are currently living with
the ugly and non-functional results of his previous destructions - not
developments - on Atlantic Avenue.
> Barbara A. Rogers, Prospect Lefferts Gardens
> Nancy Beiter
> Marguerite Gaul, Wheaton, IL
> Sarah Dey Hirshan, Fort Greene
> Karen Burkhardt
>A M Cooper, Boerum Hill