Monday, March 24, 2008


I spent today going through the business plans of bond insurers - for profit (well, a paycheck) rather than fun. So I didn't have time to go through the State funding agreement for the Atlantic Yards project. Well, early bird, and all that, because Norman Oder got the most interesting news out of the agreement, which was that there is a deadline for the developer to get his buildings up, but it's pretty lenient, and the clock doesn't appear to start ticking till the project reaches financial close.

The remaining details, of what exactly the state and developer are on the hook for, are pretty well-known to the Atlantic Yarderati. This agreement did not cover the overall financing of the project, and the spaces where the project costs would go have been left blank, probably because they haven't been settled yet. My interest was briefly roused by the guarantee agreement from Forest City Ratner's corporate parent, Forest City Enterprises, to the state, but this seems to just cover the phase one infrastructure, rather than the stadium or anything else at the site.

Quick note from Mrs. Cutesome, who has a lovely eye for matters legal (well, a lovely everything), but less interest than I in spending a Sunday going through funding agreements. Quite a few of the subclauses in the agreement have been struck out, with only [intentionally deleted] remaining to let us know they were ever there. According to her, any decent law firm would have moved the clauses up to replace the deleted ones, and gone through the rest of the document making damn sure the loose ends were tied up. And who were the city and state using for the work? Only top Wall Street law firms Skadden Arps and Fried Frank. Poor show, chaps. Still, if you can't trust Wachtell Lipton not to bodge the bank rescue of the decade who can you trust?

Still, I didn't mean to obsess about the arena today. I was much more perturbed by the sight of our useless gutless ward-heeler of a Borough President Marty Markowitz on the TV this morning. And he wasn't propping up a spurious news item, either. No, he was in a commercial.

The commercial was for the Dine In Brooklyn festival, which starts this week. It's actually one of the few initiatives of his for which I hope he does not endure time in purgatory, even if it is stolen from a more comprehensive, and better-supported Manhattan version. Neighborhood standards are more evident than the newer restaurants, but it's still a good way to sample some new places. It's on this week.

But why, in the name of crap did Markowitz decide to spend someone's money on low-budget and unappealing commercials featuring his leaden delivery and sh1t-eating grin? Oh, wait, I know why, it's because it's a little over a year before the democrats decide which eminently forgettable functionary they put up against the republicans. Markowitz figures a few cut-priced slots might put him over the top.

Where have we seen this before? Oh that's right, those NY tourism adverts that ex-governor Pataki made but which seemed to enjoy suspiciously heavy play within the state. California, at least, has a celebrity for a governor, and seems to be prepared to spend money where the tourists might be.

Markowitz already has form in less-than-clean fundraising practices. Good to see he's also working on the dubious campaign expenditures angle too.


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