David Yassky Weasels on Atlantic Yards
Back when David Yassky ran for Congress, he was seen as primarily a supporter of Bruce Ratner, though with more reservations than Ratner supporter Yvette Clarke. My wife took particular notice of how he would always begin any discussing on development in general and Atlantic Yards in particular with the assumption that developers would get their way and that it was up to government to get as much as they could out of developers in return. This was a defeatist view but was a consistent message from David Yassky.
During the campaign for Congress, Yassky had a habit of doing favors for supporters. One example was the $15,000 of discretionary money Yassky gave outside of his district to Steve DiBrienza's fake non-profit that spent that money almost exclusively on salaries for DiBrienza and his family. Yassky did this right after Di Brienza endorsed Yassky for Congress. Similarly, right after Yassky was endorsed by BUILD President James Caldwell, a Ratner ally, Yassky proposed relieving Ratner of his promise to fund BUILD and instead funding it with city money. This second devil's bargain seemed to ally Yassky with Ratner, and given his weak language regarding Atlantic Yards, most voters assumed Yassky was pro-Atlantic Yards.
I always said that had Yassky been stronger on that one issue, he could have won the Congressional race. Instead he weaseled, and lost.
I noticed a distinct change in Yassky's rhetoric after his loss. Suddenly he became holier-than-thou over Atlantic Yards, framing himself as an opponent. Whether this was a genuine change of heart or merely a reframing of his previous position to make it less wishy-washy, I don't know.
Now Yassky seems to be pretending that he was anti-Ratner all along. From Noticing New York:
In his presentation Mr. Yassky said that he had been against Atlantic Yards from the beginning and said:
I am the one who pointed out that Ratner has taken $40 million of your tax dollars. You know he is still sitting on $40 million of your tax money even though he hasn’t done anything on that project. And we should get hat money back. saying that he had been against it from the beginning
This is not what we all heard back when Yassky ran for Congress. And I would say there are many others who deserve more credit for keeping track of the billions (not millions as Yassky inaccurately claims) that Atlantic Yards will over time leech from taxpayers. And Yassky fails to mention his previous devil's deal with pro-Ratner BUILD where their leaders endorse him while he tries to get taxpayer money to fund them.
Back in 2006, nearly the entirety of the anti-Ratner voters distrusted Yassky and considered him too pro-Ratner (though again, less so than Clarke). Either Yassky was misleading in his rhetoric back then, or he is lying now that he was always against it. Which is it, weaseling back then or lying now? Given Yassky's rhetorical record, we may never know.
One thing that I would like to add in this whole debate is how rarely it is brought up that Yassky and his fellow candidate for Comptroller have absolutely no regulatory or financial experience. Only Weprin and Liu have such experience. I don't believe that NYC should, during one of it's worst economic crises since the 1970's, have a Comtroller who has no experience in finances. Particularly one who weasels or lies, depending on your view.