04 Aug The Doors Spin Wildly
The revolving door between government and industry doesn’t just exist in the armed services and financial fields. A lot of the issues at play in our film, “Battle for Brooklyn” (click on link to see discussion of title) have to do with the revolving door between developers and the government and the government/developers and journalism.
It’s difficult to find a way to get these facts into our film- because they are really the subtext of our story and not the “text”. As our story is a character driven narrative that follows several people as they fight the project it’s difficult for us to get this information in unless they talk about it.
We were just going through the footage on one scene and spotted a journalist who was asking the locals some questions outside a press conference about some of the purported benefits of the project. The locals had been kept out. A year later that journalist was working as a PR person for the Empire State Development Corporation – the quasi governmental agency that pushed through the project.
There’s another writer who shows up in the early footage who went on to work for another development agnency. The Borough President’s assistant left his position after helping to push through the Downtown Brooklyn Plan. This plan called for eminent domain to be used to take a row of houses that were used as part of the underground railroad. They were to be torn down to make way for a park (to cover underground parking) and a hotel. This gentleman is now helping to develop the hotel.
Bruce Ratner, the developer started his “career” working in the housing department under Mayor Koch in the 70’s. He left after a few years to start working for his family’s development company….. The vice president of Forest City Ratner also worked in government before joining the developer.
We’re trying to work on a way to get some of this information into the film, but it’s hard. We don’t have any talking heads, and cards that give this kind of info are too strong. In the end though, the film will hopefully shine more light on these issues and inspire a great deal of discussion about them.