And Now A Word From Our Assemblyman…

levinmailer2

 

Every evening the Mister checks the mail. And every evening he faithfully presents the latest campaign “material”— with commentary— for my delectation. I will refrain from publishing what he had to say about this one. No worries, I have plenty to say…

  • On the subject of “safer” streets: the last I checked a LOT of people— including not one, but TWO Transportation Chairs of Community Board 1— were quite vocal and pro-active about the manifold number of pedestrian/bicyclist safety and traffic woes hereabouts. Methinks both preceded Mr. Levin’s tenure as our City Councilman. While it is laudible that he helped push the matter, the fact of the matter is what has been accomplished thus far (there’s still a long way to go) is not, by any means, exclusively his handiwork. Plain and simple. Step back, Steve.
  • While I am on the subject of safer streets, Levin fails to note that it was under his watch that crime has increased in the 94th Precinct. Specifically, Greenpoint— his “home”. I attended the Community Council meetings. The idea of bringing back “block watchers” and “neighborhood watch groups” was presented by concerned citizens. Nonetheless, our City Councilman saw fit to do nothing until the problem got too much publicity to ignore. And even then meeting he conducted with Mr. Lentol conflicted with a Land Use Committee meeting regarding Greenpoint Landing and 77 Commercial Street. Hmm.
  • “Fairer Budget”: the concept of participatory budgeting is a good one. The way it is implemented, however, is not. Since (for all intents and purposes) all the outreach is done online, less affluent/tech-savvy citizens and communities are precluded from the process.
  • Greener Brooklyn: the repaved pathways and benches at McCarren are nice— but what about essentials like trash cans, port-o-lets and, yes, toilet seats? These may not be the stuff of excitement (or campaign mailers), but they are necessary. As for WNYC Transmitter Park: this has been on the table (so to speak) for decades. I know this because awesome ladies like Irene Klementowicz fought long and hard for it to happen. This is not Mr. Levin’s achievement by a long shot. Above all, calling a walkway, benches and one new park a “win” for his north Brooklyn constituency is laughable. Really.
  • Stronger education: while I find his rhetoric (especially as it pertains to charter schools) compelling, I have to wonder whose work he is taking credit for on this one?

In closing I have to say I am disappointed in Mr. Lentol for endorsing Steve Levin. Then again, I was also disappointed when I read this from the New York Times a couple months ago…

Assemblyman Joseph R. Lentol, Democrat of Brooklyn, sponsored a bill to retroactively extend tax breaks to developers who had converted old factories into luxury lofts. That bill passed the State Senate. Alas, it foundered in the Assembly. And that, he noted, broke the hearts of a few developers.

“Was this proposed tax break for these properties a good thing or not? I can’t say,” Mr. Lentol said. “I don’t have enough knowledge to say it’s a good thing or bad thing.”

And if legislators don’t ask, why should anyone else?

That is an excellent question.

NYCCFB

Why should we ask about luxury loft conversions of old factories? I have. Over and over. Mr. Levin attempted to assuage yours truly regarding 239 Banker Street some time ago:

Heather,

I have noticed your posts and am glad you continue to bring light to the issue of lofts in Greenpoint and Williamsburg. The Loft Law was designed to protect residential tenants who, knowingly or unknowingly, moved into manufacturing or commercial spaces and it may grant rights for tenants to save and stabilize their housing and avoid the excessive costs associated with being vacated.  With regard to 239 Banker Street, I cannot say whether they will be covered by the Loft Law.  (As the law stands presently, no. — Ed. Note) However, when the building was vacated in 2009, many tenants suddenly lost their living spaces as well as thousands of dollars in rent and security deposits.  I do not want to see a repeat of that event.  I will work to ensure that all building code issues at 239 Banker are addressed, but I hope to avoid seeing another vacate order if possible.  All I can do is try to spread the word about the Loft Law…

3bunkbeds

216siegelstreet

…so that tenants in such spaces can apply for coverage that they may be legally entitled to.  Of course, the Loft Board will make final determinations about each application individually.

When queried about the rather notorious property that is the former “Sweater Factory Lofts” last November by the New York Times, Mr. Levin had nothing to say. In the meantime the owner(s) of this illegal loft conversion are getting $2,700 – $3,400 month in rent— and, no, the living conditions are not so hot the last I heard


The former “tenant” of this “room” (which I can assure you is QUITE illegal) paid $925.00 a month. Loft law application FAIL.

From The New York Shitty Inbox, Part III: Cleaning Up After Hurricane Sandy

December 14, 2012 ·
Filed under: 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic, Newtown Creek 

 

This comes via an anonymous tipster and will undoubtedly be of interest to a great many folks here in north ‘Point. This upcoming Monday, December 17th, at 6:30 p.m. at the Visitors Center at our very own Shit Tits Waste Water Treatment Facility an information session will be conducted for families and businesses impacted by Sandy. Mark your calendars— and ask questions Greenpointers!

Cleaning Up After Sandy: An Information Session
December 17, 2012 starting at 6:30 p.m.
The Newtown Creek Visitors Center
329 Greenpoint Avenue
Brooklyn, new York 11222 

Closing on a related note, those of you who have not seen this segment on PBS regarding the toxic aftermath of Sandy please do give it a watch. In it Greenpoint’s very own (former) resident, Jacqueline Lombard, speaks out. You go, girl!

*You can view Mr. Levin’s missive in Spanish by clicking here.

From The New York Shitty Inbox: A Word From Joe!

I asked for it— and I got it: a word (and then some) both via email and telephone from none other than Assemblyman Joseph Lentol regarding the recent turn of events regarding Vito Lopez. Without further ado here it the first (as authored this morning, August 30th at 12:30 a.m.!):

Let me be clear, Heather:I do not condone sexual harassment or sexual abuse by anyone. Since Friday when information about Vito Lopez’s problems became public I have spoken to many current and former members of the NYS Legislature, Democratic Party officials, dozens of constituents, Assembly attorneys and the press about the situation. To learn my reaction and views you can phone, stop at my office or email. You know I always reply. I do not always see everyone’s blog, but someone sent me yours tonight.

I’ve not been silent about the findings of sexual harassment committed by Vito, whose constituents can turn him out of office if he does not resign. Only the Wall Street Journal included one of my statements in one of its articles today. Adding a press release to all the others that have been issued is superfluous. Instead I will work to help tighten the Assembly procedures to make it faster & easier to make a complaint. Most important, however, are efforts to curtail sexual harassment in every workplace. And that’s where our efforts need to be placed.

So there have you— and thanks, Joe!

The Word On The Street, Part II: Silence Speaks Volumes

Unless you have been on vacation in Timbuktu, fellow north Brooklynites, you are undoubtedly aware of the recent allegations of sexual harassment as practiced by the fellow at left: the Honorable Assemblyman Vito Lopez. I for one found the whole affair so repulsive I saw fit to mention it on this site.

Mr. “Gropez” (as I have taken to calling him) has received a great deal of media attention as a result. I do not see this changing in the foreseeable future. The same goes for commentary* and questions tendered by my fellow citizens— and I can assure you there are many. But as of late the prevailing sentiment seems to be as follows:

Why haven’t our elected officials/public servants spoken up about (or at least acknowledged) this turn of events?

I for one think this is an excellent question.

Let’s take Christopher Olechowski, for example. As you can see from the above piece of campaign literature our current chair of Community Board 1 purports to be the voice of our community. I find this fascinating given he continues to be curiously quiet. To my knowledge Mr. Olechowski has yet to respond to inquiries regarding his “leadership” role in the fight against the TGE plant or requests that he participate in a debate with our current 50th Assembly District Leader, Lincoln Restler.

Perhaps silence is the voice of our community? The lack of any acknowledgement— much less a response— from fellow Assemblyman Joseph Lentol regarding Mr. “Gropez’s” alleged activities would certainly indicate this. But I digress.

This morning I:

  • a resident of Community Board 1
  • a constituent of the 50th Assembly District and
  • a very pissed off  registered voter with a vagina (and free time)

mulled the matter over. Finally I decided:

Fuck it. If they want to act like there’s not a problem, I will remind them there is one. On their proverbial doorstep.

So I dug into my war chest of Crayola sidewalk crayons (mere sidewalk chalk would not suffice), tossed on some flip-flops and took a walk.

A very long walk.

Here’s the deal, folks…

These public servants work for us, not the other way around. They are accountable to us, their constituents. Our votes can and have placed these individuals in office— and our votes can remove them. How much time and/or effort would have been required of Mr. Olechowski, Mr. Lentol or, dare I say, our City Councilman** to simply state (or have a staff member “tweet”) the following:

In light of recent allegations against Assemblyman Vito Lopez, I (insert name here) want to make it clear I do not condone sexual harassment. I want to assure you, my constituents/neighbors, I will be watching this matter very carefully.

My educated guess would be “very little”— and yet this has yet to happen. Think about this when you cast your votes in upcoming elections, north Brooklynites.

I know I will.

UPDATE, August 30, 2012: I have received both an email and telephone call from Mr. Lentol! You can read the first by clicking here.

*Including my personal favorite. A piquant observation which comes from a lady named Sarah:

Hey, Vito, don’t let the door hit you in the DICK on the way out.

**Stephen Levin, former Chief of Staff for Mr. Gropez Lopez.

 

Tomorrow: Simulated Explosion On Commercial Street

August 15, 2012 ·
Filed under: 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic 

Special thanks goes out to Assemblyman Joe Lentol for passing this along!

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.

Reader Contribution du Jour: Today at Lake McCarren

Well, not exactly a reader contribution per se. This photo was taken by our very own City Councilman, Steve Levin*, and was forwarded to the keeper of the dog (whose name is Ursula) in question . Hey, I like to give credit where it is due!

P.S.: I would be remiss if I did not note that Mr. Levin (and a number of our elected officials, such as Joe Lentol who can be seen at far right) made a brief appearance at today’s Lunch with Lambda!

MONDAY: Transportation Committee Meeting Regarding The Nassau Avenue Reconstruction Project

April 19, 2012 ·
Filed under: 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic 

As promised (and organized by the fabulous co-chair of Community Board 1’s Transportation Committee, Karen Nieves, with BIG help from City Councilman Steve Levin and Assemblyman Joe Lentol), here it is!

Nassau Avenue Reconstruction Community Meeting
Monday, April 23, 2012 at 6:30 p.m.
Lutheran Church of the Messiah
129 Russell Street
Brooklyn, New York 11222

New York Shitty Day Ender: Live From Bushwick Inlet

October 1, 2011 ·
Filed under: 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic 

The weather was hardly hospitable— but who would I be to complain? I had an absolute ball! I got to meet some really amazing men and women and view interesting artifacts inside a metal storage container while riding out the storm! What’s more— and as one chap stated— this was quite authentic given what we were commemorating. I mean, this IS the U.S.S. Monitor we’re talking about after all! Without further ado here is some footage from today’s proceedings. Enjoy!

The Raising Of The Flag

The Unveiling Of The Sign (featuring none other than Assemblyman Joe Lentol)

A Little Music Afterward

You can view a larger image of the newly unveiled sign by clicking here.

Reader Contribution Du Jour, Part I: City Hall

September 21, 2011 ·
Filed under: 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic, New York City 

Taken by Christa.

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