Fried Frank Wins Brooklyn 'Shell Game'

When the city’s Economic Development Corporation earlier this month explained how it planned to spend the $205 million in taxpayer money that it had earmarked for Atlantic Yards, one purpose it did not mention was lobbying expenses. But opponents are now making hay of a report that shows that Forest City Ratner spent $2.11 million for lobbying in 2006, the third highest amount of any company in the state.

Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn calls this a “shell game,” considering how the money that Forest City is saving on EDC-approved uses like land acquisition can be spent lobbying state and city officials (and because a lot of the city money is going to the state because the railyards will cost $100 million).

The Real Estate thinks the big winner in all of this is lobbying firm Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson, which received $656,520 for its efforts. Among other targets listed in its lobbying report are “acquisition of Altantic Avenue railyards from MTA” and “acquisition of city-owned property at Atlantic Yards.”

Apparently, Mr. Fried and Mr. Frank persuaded Forest City that it needed their help persuading the state and the city to do things that they pledged when they signed a memorandum of understanding (PDF) back in 2005, and for a sweet price.

In its registration letter filed with the state lobbying commission, Forest City agreed to pay up to $995 an hour for Fried Frank’s services.

- Matthew Schuerman