The blog.

Working Together

Are you a member of an organization that seeks economic and social justice for all people?  If so, Devotion NYC would like to work with you!
We’re an economic and political education and advocacy organization. We support models that promote economic justice for low and moderate income communities.
We believe in Humanity-Based Economics; the primary purpose of economic activity is to assure the prosperity and well-being of people.  People first.
If your mission is aligned with Devotion NYC and Humanity-Based Economics, let’s work together. We’d like to advocate for your organization’s causes too!
Sign-up to receive our email newsletter to get started.  Our newsletter is for people who want to make positive change and advocate for economic justice. Together we’re stronger.

F.C.R.C.’s Record II

Transparency and Honesty

When two parties enter into a contract, transparency and honesty are critical to ensuring that both benefit from the agreement.  Over 10 years ago Forrest City Ratner Companies (F.C.R.C.) entered into a contract with our communities. We supported their development in the form of public meetings, protests, calls to politicians, and $1.5 billion in tax revenues. In exchange for this support they promised the community economic development in the form of jobs, business opportunities and affordable housing. 10 years later and it’s clear that F.C.R.C. hasn’t fulfilled the contract, doesn’t plan on it, and lacks the respect and decency to disclose how short they’ve fallen or why.

Ashley Cotton, F.C.R.C. and Their Partners

Last week Ashley Cotton, senior vice president of external affairs at Forest City Ratner Companies (F.C.R.C.), met with Devotion NYC to discuss implementation of the Atlantic Yards Community Benefits Agreement (C.B.A.) in our communities.

She ran off a bunch of promising statistics, but conveniently didn’t have them with her in writing. She had over a month to prepare for our meeting. As the head of the project’s public relations efforts, it’s amazing that she couldn’t produce anything in that time to show us the work they’ve alleged to have done.

We gave Ashley additional time. We asked her for a full report on F.C.R.C.’s C.B.A. work in the area of economic development.  She agreed to deliver the statistics in writing. Ms. Cotton was given a week to produce this report, but she’s failed to produce anything at all.

As the spokesperson for the project, Ashley Cotton’s inaction lets us know that her bosses have not taken adequate steps toward fulfilling the C.B.A., that they don’t plan on doing so and that they don’t care who knows.

F.C.R.C. has displayed a blatant pattern of dismissing the economic disenfranchisement they’ve caused by not implementing the C.B.A. within our communities. It’s apparent that F.C.R.C. and their partners in the project (Greenland USA, and Onexim) don’t respect us enough to willingly implement the C.B.A. fully.  Ashley Cotton’s behavior is just the latest example of this issue.

What’s Next?

F.C.R.C. and their partners don’t want to be held accountable for their actions. It’s up to all of us to make sure that they are. With your help, we’ll make sure they supply our communities with the resources and opportunities we were promised!

Make sure to follow us on Twitter @Devotion_NYC_ or join our email list for next steps!

F.C.R.C.’s Record

Yesterday Ashley Cotton of F.C.R.C. met with Michael West of Devotion NYC to discuss C.B.A. implementation and compliance monitoring since 2005. The meeting was a great success, and we’re extremely hopeful moving forward!

Here’s what happened:

Some Stats

Ms. Cotton was extremely eager to discuss the alleged C.B.A. statistics. She confidently communicated a number of stats regarding employment, construction contracting, post-construction contracting, business development and more. The figures sounded overwhelmingly positive upon first listen, but Ms. Cotton didn’t have the numbers in writing for us at that moment.


Where’s The Record?

Since 2005 F.C.R.C. has never published a record fully outlining C.B.A. implementation. Many in our communities are unsure of exactly what the developer’s done, for whom, or how they’ve done it. So although the numbers that Ms. Cotton divulged during the meeting sounded great, we had to ask for them in writing. We asked for this written record because we’re eager to share the data with you, the community.

We asked Ashley Cotton for a complete record of F.C.R.C.’s C.B.A. work within a week. She agreed to send us one! This is a huge for the community. It means that for the first time, the work F.C.R.C. has done will be public!

Once this record is public, our communities will be able to fully take advantage of the resources and opportunities designated for us in the C.B.A.

We’ll keep you in the loop here on our blog and on social media. Follow us @Devotion_NYC_ for instant updates!

F.C.R.C. Meeting

Tomorrow marks a critical point in our accountability campaign involving Forest City Ratner Companies. We’re meeting with Senior Vice President of External Affairs Ashley Cotton about the developer’s fulfillment of the Community Benefits Agreement.
On behalf of the community, we’ll be asking Ashley for a record of what F.C.R.C.’s done to implement the C.B.A. since 2005, and proposing a plan for implementation and compliance monitoring of the agreement moving forward.

What does this all mean?

Brooklyn sacrificed a lot for F.C.R.C. to be able to build their development. Our support came in the form of public meetings, protests, calls to politicians, and $1.5 billion in tax revenues.
In exchange for our support, F.C.R.C. worked with the community to create the C.B.A. This agreement guaranteed our communities construction jobs and contracts, affordable housing opportunities, jobs and job training programs, service contracts, retail space, business financing programs and more.
The agreement was signed over a decade ago, F.C.R.C. has had more than 10 years to make good on their promises, but they’ve failed to do so. The agreement has yet to be fully implemented.
Compliance Monitoring
The C.B.A. states that F.C.R.C.’s efforts to implement the agreement are to be monitored by an outside organization in order to ensure compliance. Unfortunately, F.C.R.C. has opted to never work with such an organization.
Further, we’d question the effectiveness of any prospective compliance monitor that would be paid by the company it’s supposed to be monitoring.

Our Proposal

We’re proposing that HigherSelf Lifestyle implement the Community Benefits Agreement in the areas of employment and workforce development, business development, business contracting, and financing. They’ll provide training programs, services and resources for small businesses and individuals within neighborhoods named in the agreement. Forest City Ratner Companies will need to pay the $149,000 yearly administration cost to implement these programs and services within the community.
Just as important, we’re proposing that Devotion NYC become the C.B.A. independent compliance monitor, and at no cost to F.C.R.C. We believe that an independent compliance monitor is essential to any effort to enforce a community benefits agreement. Also, for the sake of integrity, it’s imperative that the compliance monitor isn’t being compensated by the companies it monitors.
We’ll use public input in the form of regular open polls and surveys to measure how satisfied the community is with the agreement’s implementation within their neighborhoods. We believe that the community should have ultimate say about whether or not their needs are being met by the companies that accept their tax and consumer dollars. The ‘C’ in C.B.A. stands for ‘community’, so it’s critical that everyone has a voice in its enforcement.
Thank you so much for your support thus far, and moving forward! Tomorrow we’ll let you know what F.C.R.C. decides to do on our blog, and on social media. Follow us on Twitter @Devotion_NYC_ for updates!