Quicklink/Op Ed: Turdpedo Shuts Down McCarren Park Pool?

Yes folks, it would appear this is indeed the case. Or was an errant piece of feral furniture in need of a dip to beat the summer heat to blame? In this respect CBS’s account is rather ambiguous.

In all seriousness: why is this news? Sure, I’m always open to Caddyshack/Baby Ruth jokes (as the video opening this tome attests). But really?

We all know how the adage goes: shit happens.

And occasionally it happens in our public spaces. This is nothing new. I have seen all manner and variety of effluvia in our subways, streets, stoops, etc., over the years. However, any and all incidences involving our newly re-opened pool seem to merit media scrutiny. Why is this so? I can assure you, gentle readers, there are much more pressing matters here. I do my best to cover some of them on this site.

Nonetheless since this site is— albeit in petite form, media— I feel compelled to direct some scrutiny of my own to the matter of our pool. Without further ado, here it is.

Last Thursday when I walked by there were to my recollection no less than two squad cars, a “meter maid” vehicle; a van commandeered from the 83rd Precinct (which I can assure you has problems of its own*), and a North Brooklyn Task Force vehicle. Given there were no crowds to control, simply a family of four peaceably entering this facility and an entrepreneur who had set up a table selling locks for $5.00 and (amusingly enough) diapers I have to wonder if this presence was a mite bit excessive.

But then again, our Finest follow orders. Their mandate is to protect and serve. My question is exactly who they are protecting and serving?

No one seems to be the least bit outraged that a “secret” meeting was organized to discuss the matter of our pool. One in which our City Councilman, Assemblyman Joe Lentol, the head of the 94th Precinct, and Christine Quinn were involved (among others). You should be. Among the manifold number of things I learned were:

  • Mayoral candidate Ms. Quinn seems to have organized this meeting. The sign-in sheets had her name on them. She does not reside in this community. This raises an eyebrow.
  • D.I. Hurson noted that all of the individuals apprehended had extensive criminal histories. He told me personally that one of the men involved in the “tear gas” incident (in which he himself was shoved) had been arrested— but not prosecuted— for a shooting at the Cooper Park Houses. The reason he was not prosecuted was because the victim (or witness) would not cooperate (probably because he/she was scared out of his/her wits). Given the number of 94th Precinct Community Council Meetings I have attended I am hardly surprised by this. Representatives of the Cooper Park Houses attend and speak at them regularly. They do so because they are tired of the violence and want it to stop.
  • Parks Enforcement Officers (who should be the “first line” of defense, if you will) were not allowed to attend this meeting (but the Lifeguards’ Union apparently was). I find this quite troubling.
  • The matter of registration cards was posited by our City Councilman. Apparently this practice is employed at the pool on Metropolitan Avenue. While it might— might— deter “evil-doers” from patronizing the pool, it would probably also discourage otherwise law-abiding citizens as well. For example: those who are not fluent in English or are uncomfortable filling out such paperwork (because they are recent immigrants, be they legal or otherwise).

Let’s assume for a moment registration cards do deter “bad guys (and girls)” from using the pool. This will simply send them somewhere else. Preferably from hence they came. If some the really ugly commentary** I have seen on Facebook and elsewhere is any indication this what a great many of my neighbors want. Not me.

The conclusions I have drawn, albeit with what little information I do have, are as follows:

  1. The real issue with the pool is the fact that crime (and the criminals which engage in them) which have become commonplace elsewhere in our community have made themselves manifest in an affluent, “hip” area.
  2. The pool is simply a new location for an already extant problem. (Although Parks/OSA made a number of mistakes and for these they should be held accountable.) Had, for example, the fellow who was involved in the tear gas incident been actually tried for the shooting two years previously would that “fight” have transpired? I think this is worth considering. (As is this woman’s take on what happened, which differs greatly from all other accounts of what happened— but I digress.)
  3. Thus, it would only be logical (if not politically expedient) that attention be paid to law enforcement in general as opposed to a small army being posted at the pool. It clearly was not needed when I walked by.

Like I said: I have little information from which to work. Most of the people reading this tome are in the same proverbial boat. Hence why the matter of the pool should be explored in a public/town hall forum. One in which our elected officials, police department and community board members are present to ask and answer questions. And most importantly of all: listen to us, the public.

Some semblance of transparency and dialogue is going to do a hell of lot more for this community than yet another tome about turds. CBS and their ilk have no vested interest in what happens here. Their sole concern is clicks (READ: revenue). Shit sells. (I should know.)

*These stats are from 2010. Note the asterisk point about the 81st Precinct.

Here’s a comparison of the 83rd Precinct’s CompStat numbers to the 94th’s.

And for the simple sake of comparison here are the 90th’s (which, it should be noted was recently rated as #5 in the entire city regarding the use of “Stop and Frisk”).

**Which can be, at best, politely described as thinly veiled racism.

New York Shitty Day Starter: Dispatch From The Transportation Committee Meeting

I did not attend last night’s meeting. But I received copious correspondence as to what came to pass— and the flood abatement plans (seriously) ended up being the most contentious. Simply put, the peeps at Parks want to plant storm water management gardens (among other things) so as to prevent flooding. This would be fine and dandy if the plans they presented did not obstruct trucks providing wood chips to the adjacent dog run.* But of course it does— and a number of questions followed. Among them:

1. Marie, a stalwart employee of Community Board 1 (and amazing woman), noted that this should have been accounted for in their plans. E.g.; the size of the trucks needed to maintain the dog run’s wood chip needs should have been taken under consideration. But, alas, they were not. Thus, the Transportation Chair herself is going to visit the intersection* in question personally. Which dovetails to…

2.Why hasn’t our Parks & Waterfront Committee stepped up to the plate? This was question was raised. And no clear answers were tendered other than the lack of awareness-raising about the meeting being tossed on the Transportation Committee’s proverbial doorstep and this being considered a “transportation matter”.

I suppose it is to a certain degree— but park space is also implicated. Thus, it is also a “Parks & Waterfront” matter. So why this wasn’t this material being perused by them as well? Perhaps it is because this body’s Chair does not like to listen to… people complain? Nonetheless, other members of Community Board 1 have shown interest in getting involved with this item so I suspect we’ll be seeing some revised plans soon.

While I am tangentially on the subject of parks, I’d like to share the following email:

…I had the opportunity to visit the “No toilet left behind” queen bee toilet seat at the park house. The good news is that it’s still there. The bad news is that the hardware and hinges are damaged because there is a blatantly obvious leak or mini flooding occurring with each flush. If someone gets a video to me, I’ll be glad to attach it to my online complaint form. I attempted to take a video of it, but it failed. But attached is a photo of the seat and some water under the tank. I also attached my 311 complaint for you. It would be a shame for the money & effort to go to waste because of poor maintenance issues.

I designed this toilet seat with a despondent expression on purpose. I mean, would you like the following to be your home?

Nonetheless, I am pleased to report the leaky valve problem has since been addressed. I field-tested the toilet in question personally yesterday. I do not leave my toilet (seats) behind!

P.S.: Other (thrice confirmed) gossip from this convocation: our very own chair of Community Board 1, Christopher Olechowski, is going to run against Lincoln Restler (the latter of which was present at this meeting, the previous was absent) for 50th Assembly District Leader. Mr. Olechowski kicked off his campaigning last weekend when Carolyn Maloney had a meet and greet at McCarren Park (so as to welcome us to her constituency which apparently includes Michael Bloomberg himself— we have arrived!). Here’s how a tipster put it to me:

At today’s meet & greet with Maloney, I learned that Chris O. is going to run against Lincoln. Chris seems to think that I’ll vote for him and had a conversation with others, in front of me, about how Lincoln doesn’t come from here, isn’t one of us, doesn’t understand our needs, and so on. It was very interesting to say the least…

Given Mr. Olechowski seems to require constant coaching from our District Manager (who appears to be sorely out of touch with our needs— or simply passes the buck), this should be interesting.

*Had Parks, say, bothered to actually walk by the dog run they would have noticed this problem. As well as the sign across the street which has added-value in the way of “Penis Pump” and what appears to be a crude rendering of male genitalia. As noted on this site previously and this post.

 

Live From Community Board 1: Our District Manager Speaks

Some of you might recall last month I posted a letter from a concerned parks user about the deteriorating conditions at McGolrick Park. Well, I have some good news on that front: this individual will be meeting with our Parks Supervisor— among others— to discuss the matter in person.

And now the bad news: in the process of making this happen she received a less than helpful response from our local Community Board. More specifically: its District Manager. She was informed that while she was welcome to attend the Parks & Waterfront Committee meeting to “observe”, alas she could not speak. This matter was brought to the table by a Community Board member (and Parks and Waterfront Committee member, it should be noted) during last night’s proceedings. What she got in the way of an answer from Gerry Esposito and the Chair of the Parks & Waterfront Committee is rather interesting. Watch for yourself. Hearing is believing!

As you can imagine yours truly found what Manager Esposito had to say quite interesting. Especially in light of the following piece of correspondence from his office…

and what the charter granted to Community Boards by our fair city has to say about the matter of public speaking segments at board meetings.

Perhaps you are not troubled by this, gentle readers. You should be. Here’s the deal:

  • First, I and many others in attendance last night found Mr. Esposito’s conduct juvenile, arrogant and of questionable veracity. Is this how a public servant should deport himself?
  • Secondly, I found Mr. Esposito’s stating that the person in question should take the matter up with OSA (Open Space Alliance) curious. OSA is a parks advocacy group. While OSA’s Executive Director, Stephanie Thayer, is in fact also our Parks Supervisor; the matters outlined by the woman in question are Parks Department matters, not those of advocacy.
  • Is it not the role of Community Boards to be an advocate for the community they serve? If, for example, an issue between a citizen and a municipal agency (let’s say the Parks Department) is not being resolved to said citizen’s satisfaction, is it not the board’s job to “lend an ear” and moderate a dialogue so the matter can be resolved? Merely referring the citizen (back) to the Parks Department (for example, once again) is ludicrous.
  • We as a citizens have a right to speak at any and all public meetings conducted by the Community Board. This is why they are called “public meetings” in the first place.

We are all adults here, folks. I and many of my fellow constituents of Community Board 1 neither need nor desire someone to be our “mommy and daddy”. We simply want our civil servants to do their job and follow the rules. Is this too much to ask? If the conduct of Community Board 1’s General Manager and Parks & Waterfront Chair last night is any indication, I’d say the answer is “yes”. Last night Mr. Esposito opined:

…as like everything else online, it was inaccurate…

In the clarity that is hindsight (and after a cursory review of Community Board 1’s web site), I have to confess he might just be onto something!

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