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Are Nets' Brooklyn Giving Programs about Generosity ...or Politics?

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Norman Oder, critic and chronicler of the Nets' move to Brooklyn, questions whether the team's community efforts in the borough are about generosity or politics. The Barclays-Nets Community Alliance has sponsored reading programs, playground upgrades, visits by children with cancer to summer camp, a competition between historically black college drumline teams to help a local marching band and benefit performances by recording artists. Barclays and the Nets set up the $1 million a year giving program four years ago.

"Using charitable donations to make friends and neutralize potential critics is not a new strategy; after all, Forest City Ratner has practiced this tactic for years," writes Oder in his Atlantic Yards Report. 

Oder contends the giving helps win allies who in turn will lobby for more subsidies for the arena and other elements of Atlantic Yards. Thus, "Ultimately, however, these gifts are an easy call for the donor, since the public is essentially paying the freight...Just don't think it's generosity."