Update: Word reaches the Q that Pearl Miles will be filing a lawsuit against the Community Board, claiming the firing was age discriminatory, political and without merit.
In a removal motion that was eerily bare on hard facts and thick with MTOPP lingo, Pearl Miles was removed as District Manager of Community Board 9 after more than 30 years of dedicated, albeit sometimes combative, civil service. The Board went into Executive Session and sealed Ms. Miles fate after her heartfelt rebuttal of the claims against her. There was no evidence presented of legal wrongdoing, but clearly Pearl has pissed off a lot of community residents and board members through the years. When the vote was announced to the still full auditorium at 11pm, a big cheer went up from the anti-everything crowd, as I've come to think of them. They pulled big numbers tonight, carrying signs and carrying on.
Personally, I found the display of celebration to be cruel and unnecessarily jubilant, as if the Beast had finally been slain. While many complained of Pearl Miles' lack of compassion for the community, they showed her absolutely zero of same as her long career came to an end. And that, I suspect, is further proof that it wasn't really Pearl they were after. The anti-development crowd will spit on anyone who would dare try to suggest to Developers, who are already on a building spree, that they build affordable and senior housing as part of their "investment" in the community.
It was pretty lonely for the Q tonight. Despite the fact that I know for a fact that my opinions on Transportation are mirrored by many, I was the lone voice tonight for a very clear-headed DOT plan to improve pedestrian, bicycle and (yes) automobile safety at the notoriously dangerous intersection of Empire and Franklin. It was even suggested by some in the audience that the REAL reason that DOT and the Design Commission want to close the ridiculous one-way Franklin Ave going the wrong way by the Western Beef was to make way for residential towers where the WB's parking lot now sits. Say what? This project has been in the pipeline for years. DOT's elegant approach to the intersection was torn to shreds, by angry motorists mostly, too upset about traffic and parking to recognize the very real possibility that a safer, saner intersection might save lives. So what did I learn tonight? That many attendees tonight were:
1) Anti Safety
2) Anti Housing (yes, and I'll explain further another day)
3) Anti Gentrification (that was a given)
4) Anti Greenspaces and Trees (the plan at Empire/Franklin included a nice pedestrian plaza)
5) Anti pretty much everyone who works for the City and gets invited to the Board to present their projects for improvements to infrastructure
6) Anti All Community Board Members
7) Anti Chair Demetrius Lawrence
8) Anti Tim Thomas (another given)
9) Anti longtime chair Jacob Goldstein
10) Anti Due Process
11) Anti Bike Lane
12) Anti Pedestrian
13) Anti Traffic Calming
14) Anti Bicycle (tonight I was called - gasp - one of those bicycle people)
15) Anti Social (the lack of respect for the Board and its speakers is really quite shocking, given that they're pretty much all dedicated servants to the community)
Civility, shall we say, was not apparent, really, I must say, until the Board deliberated alone. With a few exceptions, the conversation was heated but never nasty, and Chair Lawrence did a terrific job of running the show. Which makes me wonder how much better the Board would operate without the running commentary by MTOPP and its cronies.
All well and good I suppose. Democracy was served, and I lost pretty much every issue. I have no intention of stopping sharing my opinions, though, and I do hope that somewhere down the line those of you with some horse sense will join the effort to plan for a NYC and world 5, 10, 50 years hence. One where DOT can drop the statistic that 29 people were killed or maimed at two intersections will be met with concern, rather than selfish defense of their need to get from point A to B without interference from pesky safety improvements.
My last point is one that the Board will have adequate time to digest long after the night's "celebration" wears off. Pearl Miles does not have any intention of letting her poorly conceived dismissal letter go unchallenged. She will file suit. She will probably win, since personality is not a disqualifying factor against 30 years of competent, even exemplary, hard work and attention to detail. She runs a clean, organized office. She knows the position backwards and forwards, and I imagine over the years she's learned plenty of tidbits that could take people down if she's feeling vindictive. And why wouldn't she? She wasn't given so much as a warning. Granted, it wasn't even close. The vote was, like, 32 to 7 to 3 abstentions. Who knows maybe she'll get a better job offer elsewhere. She has lots and lots of admirers in City Government, who I believe appreciate her no-bullshit attitude. But her Achilles heal was her pride, which blinded her to the need to be polite and warm. I'll miss Pearl Miles. She was feisty, but she was bold.
Lastly, to one complaint against Pearl that I found absolutely ludicrous. She posted some comments on her personal Facebook page that were so generally misanthropic that no legal expert could pin them to a disdain for the neighborhood and those in it, as was alleged. She was having a bad day, and said the world was full of stupid people acting like assholes (I paraphrase). No mention of our neighborhood, or ethnicity or race, or anything other than general disdain for mediocrity and ignorance. And who among you hasn't privately thought the same? And so now private Facebook confessions of despair are reasons for termination? Close my account. Actually, close my blog.
Actually, I might have to borrow some of that language from Pearl's comments on Facebook. I'm feeling a bit misanthropic myself tonight.
The Q at Parkside
News and Nonsense from the Brooklyn neighborhood of Lefferts and environs, or more specifically a neighborhood once known as Melrose Park. Sometimes called Lefferts Gardens. Or Prospect-Lefferts Gardens. Or PLG. Or North Flatbush. Or Caledonia (west of Ocean). Or West Pigtown. Across From Park Slope. Under Crown Heights. Near Drummer's Grove. The Side of the Park With the McDonalds. Jackie Robinson Town. Home of Lefferts Manor. West Wingate. Near Kings County Hospital. Or if you're coming from the airport in taxi, maybe just Flatbush is best.