t byfield on Sat, 27 Jul 2002 22:53:22 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Reconstruction Report: NYC2012 pitches plan to the CFR

     [transparency at its best is the proverbial fly on the wall 
      we've all been wishing for for decades, if not centuries. 
      last week i was sniffing around for info on the activities
      of NYC2012, the private corporation that's organizing NYC's
      olympic bid, and i found a truly splendid document: a trans-
      cript of NYC2012's CEO pitching the plan to the council on
      foreign relations. it reveals many things, but for me one 
      of the most important is how much the american propensity 
      for joyless sanctimony distorts what could be a spirited
      debate within 'globalization' -- about how urban centers 
      can (indeed, must) develop a sane capacity to support roving
      spectacles, of which the olympic games is just one species.
      instead, these discourses fork into vacuous PR, on the one
      hand, and glib insiderism on the other. so: here's my short
      writeup of the transcript, with relevant pointers. please 
      pass this along to your pals. cheers, t]


   A Candid Chat with NYC2012's Jay Kriegel -- at the Council on Foreign
   Relations [updated]

   posted by tb on Thursday July 25, @01:09PM

   Far more illuminating than *Gotham Gazette*'s cautious online chats[1]
   with redevelopment officials is the transcription[2] of a July 10th
   flesh-and-blood discussion we just added to our Document Archive[3] --
   between NYC2012 Executive Director Jay Kriegel, foreign policy
   heavyweight Richard Holbrooke (identified as "Vice Chairman,
   Perseus"), NBA Entertainment President and COO Adam Silver, and NFL
   Commissioner Paul Tagliabue. The subject? "New York's Olympic Plan."

     [1] http://www.gothamgazette.com/rebuilding_nyc/chat/
     [2] http://reconstructionreport.org/documents/CFR/CFR020710-oly-chat.txt
     [3] http://reconstructionreport.org/index.pl?section=documents

   Kriegel's presentation of the NYC2012's plans is *breathtaking* in its
   confidence. If it were merely a matter of his style, the transcript
   might be of passing interest, but the scope of NYC2012's Olympic bid
   has immense long-term financial and urban-planning implications for
   the City. Under the circumstances -- which include a looming fiscal
   crisis in New York -- Kriegel sounds more than anything else like a
   dotcom dude who somehow managed to sleep through the last two weeks,
   if not the last two years.

   Kriegel's no lightweight, but it may just be that the collective power
   of the august assembly he was speaking to pushed him into an
   over-the-top sales mode. Let's hope so -- because the only other
   explanation of his done-deal description is that the City's Olympic
   bid is, in fact, a done deal. And with people like Chelsea Piers owner
   and Lower Manhattan Development Corporation boardmember Roland Betts
   sitting unrecused on the twelve-member U.S. Olympic Committee's (USOC)
   Bid Evaluation Task Force, it isn't hard to wonder whether we might be
   staring down the barrel of a smoother repetition of what led up to the
   Salt Lake City scandal. Does that seem excessive? Here's what Kriegel
   has to say:

     We will be operating under ... Harvey hopefully will talk about a
     little bit ... but the position that's different rules than existed
     before, different than Atlanta, Sidney and Salt Lake City used,
     while we know who the jury is ... and this is true for the USOC
     also ... while we know who the 125 decision makers are in the IOC,
     basically, we can't go out and visit them anymore and invite them
     here. No direct contact. We can't visit, we can't give them gifts,
     unfortunately anymore. (Laughter)

   Who's Harvey? Harvey Schiller, chairman of NYC2012's Management
   Committee, former Chairman and CEO of YankeeNets, former President of
   Turner Sports -- and former *Executive Director of the United States
   Olympic Committee* (USOC). (On NYC2012's website,[4] Schiller is one 
   of 22 out of almost 250 Advisory Boardmembers whose affiliations aren't
   listed; the others are celebrities like Billy Crystal, Philip Glass,
   Itzhak Perlman, and Jerry Seinfeld, who need no explanation.)

     [4] http://www.nyc2012.com/team.sec4.html

   The tone of the discussion, which is laced with buddy-buddy greetings
   ("Obviously, Bob, with your permission, we'll use your stadium"),
   hints at just how effective -- or maybe *ineffective* -- the post-Salt
   Lake limits on contact between city host committees and the USOC may
   be. Call it friendship, call it corruption, call it whatever you want,
   because that isn't the issue, ultimately. Instead, the issue is
   whether the City and region will benefit as much as the insiders from
   the Olympic bid. And the burden falls on NYC2012 to make that case to
   the people.

   Have they? No. Instead, they've indulged us in a substance-free ad
   campaign,[5] consisting largely of wheatpasted posters and advertising
   banners placed in "high visibility" locations, including the AOL Time
   Warner headquarters at Columbus Circle, the Pace University building
   downtown, Madison Square Garden, Avalon Bay in Queens West, Times
   Square, and the LaGuardia Airport garage." Ah, yes: and "more than 1.3
   million poster-inserts" in the _Daily News_, the _Times_, and the _Post_.
   (NYC2012 received contributions from the _Times_ of between $300,000 and
   $500,000, and between $100,000 and $300,000 from both the _News_ and the
   _Post_.) The campaign was launched on June 27th -- a mere four months
   before the USOC chooses its candidate city for the Olympics.

     [5] http://www.nyc2012.com/news.20020627.2.html

   Since September 11th, New Yorkers have shown that they're capable of
   tremendous civic action, in every sphere from the practical work of
   digging and sifting horror-strewn rubble to spirited debate about the
   City's future shape and place in the world. Why, then, has NYC2012
   chosen to settle for PR fluff instead of substance? Or, on a more
   modest procedural level, where are the land-use, environmental, and
   economic impact studies for the twenty-some venues slated to be built
   or renovated around the City? How about for the "special, high-speed
   Olympic Ferry network" NYC2012 is pushing? Or are we supposed to wait
   until the USOC chooses New York to decide whether we really want -- or
   can afford -- the Olympics? At that point, of course, it'll be too

   That's why there's good reason to be uneasy at the ease with which
   NYC2012 Executive Director Jay Kriegel mapped out in detail the plans
   for the Olympic bid -- not to the people of the City but to the
   exclusive gathering of global power brokers at the *Council on Foreign

   Equally alarming is the ease with which he veered from casual contempt
   for politically neglected but immensely popular sites (Flushing Meadow
   Park is "our tub of dirty water [Laughter]"), to arrogant presumption
   that the City can be sold off (things "will be concessioned off as
   they did in Sydney," producing "in excess of $3 billion for the host
   committee"), to devil-may-care dismissals of public finance ("we would
   float a couple billion dollars of bonds ... lease[?] the public
   infrastructure ... [a]nd then over the next 30 years ... the real
   estate taxes [will] pay off the bonds"). For that alone, the
   transcript is worth reading.

   But, as the Ginsu Knife man says, *there's more* -- much more. Scattered
   throughout the transcript are gems that cast a very interesting light
   on the more vaporous claims that development officials have started to
   recite. For example, NYC2012 "founder" (and, now that he's NYC's
   Deputy Mayor for Economic Development and Rebuilding, booster[6]) Dan
   Doctoroff insists that "84 percent" of New Yorkers support the Olympic
   bid. Richard Holbrooke, on the other hand, has this to say about his
   experience pushing an Olympic bid in the City:

     [6] http://www.crainsny.com/industry.cms?industryId=239

     I found over and over again over the last five or six years, when
     we talked about 2008 and 2012, an initial wall of resistance among
     New Yorkers, people like the people in this room, who worry about
     transportation, the burden, the problems, we don't need the

   As Holbrooke himself suggests, he wasn't talking to the everyday New
   Yorkers who'll end up paying dearly for decades to come -- in the form
   of higher taxes and diminished services -- if NYC2012's financial
   projections miss the mark. He was talking to "people like the people
   in this room," who need no safety net.

   Fortunately, _New York Times_ editorial boardmember Caroline Curiel
   stuck with that line of questioning and asked Kriegel sarcastically,
   "I'm assuming you asked more than eight people, but how did you come
   to this seven to one on New Yorkers wanting it?" Kriegel's cutesy and
   evasive answer -- or non-answer -- is telling:

     All right. The USOC told us two years ago, one of the things they
     would do in measuring public support is go out and do their own
     poll, the same firm in all eight cities[...]. I'll have to admit, I
     had some concern about that. I could envision a poll which showed
     Houston with Beijing, numbers in 92 percent and cynical New Yorkers
     that, you know, in the 30s. (Inaudible) some friends of mine were
     doing political polling, we start adding questions, came back and
     said, "You know, the numbers were astonishing in New York. New
     Yorkers love the Olympics." And we did nothing on our own then. In
     December when we were concerned about the post-9/11 impact and what
     messages to use, how do you talk to New Yorkers, we went out and
     did some research, which people donated for us. And the results
     were astonishing ... and by the way, the USOC's own poll was
     totally consistent with that. They showed New York numbers very
     high. The December numbers showed 84 percent of New Yorkers support
     having the Games here against 13 percent and it's across every
     income level, every racial group, so this is several thousand of my
     closest friends. (Laughter) I've read all the names and I've called
     them and thanked them all. (Laughter)

   If only this level of respect were granted to the tens of thousands of
   people who've weighed in on the redevelopment of Lower Manhattan. Ah,
   but the people in charge of these projects are different, right? Yes
   and no. Doctoroff is Deputy Mayor for Economic Development *and
   Rebuilding* under a mayor who, on January 8th of this year, nixed two
   new baseball stadiums. Why? _Newsday_ quoted[7] him as saying, "Everybody
   understands given the lack of housing, given the lack of school space,
   given the deficit in the operating budget, it is just not practical
   this year to go and to build new stadiums." It seems that Mayor
   Bloomberg has changed his mind. Why? Is there a reason the people of
   this city shouldn't know? Have we shown that we're incapable of
   engaging in constructive civil debate about who we are and what this
   city should be? On the contrary.

     [7] http://reconstructionreport.org/article.pl?sid=02%2F07%2F25%2F0420234

   And then there's Alex Garvin, who holds so many jobs -- among them,
   his private role as NYC2012's Planning MD[8] and public roles as LMDC
   Veep[9] and NYC Planning Commissioner[10] -- that he surely knows what's
   afoot. Kriegel's remarks about him at the Council on Foreign Relations
   event, while hardly a smoking gun, give cause for further concern:

     [8] http://www.nyc2012.com/team.sec6.sub3.html
     [9] http://www.renewnyc.org/staff.htm#Alexander
     [10] http://www.alexander-garvin.com/Resume.html

     How do you run an Olympics in New York? We've chosen the issue ...
     it's not so much facilities. It's transportation, which is what
     Alex Garven(?) who did our plan chose. For those of you who don't
     know Alex, he's perhaps the ranking member of the New York Planning
     and Academic Community. Alex, based on the success in this plan
     among other things, has chosen now to be the Chief Planner for the
     Lower Manhattan Development Corporation.

     And I think hopefully you'll see from this, but I can tell you, we
     should all be reassured that having Alex be the person responsible
     for planning the options downtown is very comforting.

   Kriegel is exactly right in identifying transportation as the key
   issue that will determine the future of New York City. Digging
   miles-long tunnels for trains involves so much cost and so many
   headaches that it really isn't feasible on a mass scale anymore. And
   the City is saturated with cars, buses, and trucks, period; we can
   surely improve the ageing infrastructure that supports them, and we
   will, but there will be no new BQEs or West Side Highways. Those days
   are over. The future of the City -- and, indeed, of the region -- lies
   in *ferries*, because they open up the region's coastlines -- which
   include every borough and at least three states -- to flexible,
   complex, and *distributed* forms of economic and social expansion. In
   doing so, that ancient-seeming form of transportation holds forth the
   possibility of keeping Lower Manhattan a central nexus of commerce and
   culture, despite the myriad factors that have been driving financial
   concerns away from Lower Manhattan for decades.

   After the Port Authority and LMDC unveiled their six "concept plans"
   on July 16th, Roland Betts told me that the expanded incorporation of
   ferries into regional mass-transit was an "absolute given" -- which is
   a very good thing. So why, then, was there so little explanation of
   their future role in the PA/LMDC plans? And why does NYC2012 place so
   much emphasis on them in its "Olympic X"? And how is it that the
   self-same people responsible for both planning initiatives manage, in
   both contexts, to say so little? The people of New York would love to
   hear City and State officials map out a viable and egalitarian plan
   for the future of the region. So far, though, they seem to be doing
   something very different: speaking freely to power brokers and being
   tight-lipped with the people who they ostensibly serve.

   But enough. You can read the Council on Foreign Relations transcript

     [11] http://reconstructionreport.org/documents/CFR/CFR020710-oly-chat.txt

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