When I was a little girl growing up in Brooklyn
The greatest hero to come out of Brooklyn was Shirley Chisholm
The first Black Female Congresswoman!
I remember being disappointed that she wasn’t a raving beauty
But I could remember the pride that I felt that she was from Brooklyn
My hometown, my borough, the biggest concentration of Black People
In the United States, what a hero!
When I grew up I realized that she also possessed something
Better than beauty, she processed integrity, commitment
And a desire to truly represent her community.
Her famous motto was
“UnBrought and UnBossed!”
As it is always known,
The dark comes after the light -
The reign of Former Assemblyman Clarence Norman came into being.
For two decades he destroyed Shirley Chisholm legacy
With his own, of corruption and thievery.
He was known for his extreme loyalty to his people closed to him
And absolute in difference to his own people’s struggles.
He watched as the Community Board 9 was completely controlled
By a hand full of Jewish and White males from Prospect Lefferts Garden
While the Black community was completely ignored and disempowered.
The Crown Heights Riots depicted these serious inequalities
but very little was done, beside a few token jobs and money
Given to youth programs etc…
During Clarence Legacy Brooklyn because known
as the most corrupt borough in NYC,
With his faithful allies standing beside him.
One being Carman Martinez who was also caught doing illegal stuff
But was given a pardon for her testimony against him,
which placed him in handcuffs, his lawyer’s license revoked,
and 9 counts of corruption convictions,
mostly for selling out the Judicial system,
where anyone wanting to become a Supreme Court Justice, or Civil Court Judge
In Brooklyn, could just buy it from Clarence.
Then on September 23, 2014,
all of the corruption at the community level was about to be exposed.
That was the day in which the community residents came out in full force
To the Community Board 9 to stop a rezoning,
which would cause the Black community to be seriously displaced
and the neighborhood gentrified
as it has been happening in all communities of color in NYC.
This request actually targeted only the Black Community
and again left the Jewish Community safe, outside its borders!
Again the community residents could see the inequalities,
the racial profiling, the disempowerment of the people
contained right within the borders of the rezoning request.
The newly appointed members of the board were a part of that new movement,
For they had been told they were being placed on the board
to stop this Old regime from continuing to dis-empower the people.
The aim was to remove Pearl Miles from her position,
To change the way in which CB9 operated
and to get a Black Executive Board in,
who would empower the people.
So this new group of CB9 members all voted to listen to the people
And rescind the letter, all except one person, Michael Liburd
The question one asked was what did Michael Liburd
know that the rest of the members
Didn’t, but I will get back to that one.
Then a year of hell began as each member of the board was approached
And was convinced that…
Only the Black side of the park, needed rezoning, not the Jewish.
They were convinced that this was a protective move.
That City Planning was actually coming to protect our homes
From all of the development happening in our community.
And yet nothing they had seen so far in the history of City Planning
Every showed that a Black Community came out ahead when a rezoning happened.
In Fact everything was showing the opposite.
Williamsburg, Harlem, Downtown Brooklyn.
These were all examples of communities’ once affordable, livable communities
Now completely out of reach for people of color,
and where the original people
Were violently removed from their homes and businesses.
They were however told that City Planning only wanted Empire Blvd
And just by giving up those three blocks, countless of other blocks
Would be protected.
Of course none of this was put in writing.
These were just whispered statements, with no guarantees
Just going on blind faith and honesty
which hadn’t been displayed as even existing.
In a move to stop any type of education
or the voices of the people
Community residents were time and time again prevented from speaking
From joining committees.
Community board members were told lies about what they could and couldn’t do
And kept completely in the dark.
Some were brought with favors or promises,
others threaten and some just removed
At the end of the term,
whereas others were promoted depending upon
Their commitment to a rezoning.
In the mist of all this,
there was Carmen Martinez known loyalist
and apart of Clarence Norman Regime,
having just lost her $140,000 year old job in June 2014,
Due to the Conflict of Interest Board filing charges against her
For stealing 14 years of Time from the Comptroller’s Office from 2000-2014.
This is also the same time that she was working directly for Clarence Norman,
So we can see how she might have been using that stolen time,
Despite the records making the claim she did it in support of non-profits,
namely my Block association,
which she didn’t officially join as an officer until 2011-2012.
She was illegally placed on the Board in June 2014 along with Michael Liburd
But she dared not vote against the people on September 23, 2014,
because at that point, she knew she couldn’t go directly against her block,
who were the ones pushing for this rescinding of the resolution the hardest.
But from that day forward her side did a serious campaign
of discrediting the opposition,
telling the board members that City Planning actually
Was trying to help and not harm this community.
and laying the ground work to eventually
Remove Pearl Miles and place Carmen Martinez in her position,
Because Carmen now found herself completely unemployable
by any other governmental agencies
Because of the all of the baggage that she was carrying;
her affiliation with Clarence Norman,
and her known tarnish record of theft of 14 years!
But first they needed Pearl Miles to do their dirty work.
To continue her reign of disempowerment,
so that a letter would be passed to give to the department of City Planning
requesting to rezone the Black side of the Park and the Black side of CB9.
However, once that had been accomplish
(but not very good) they threw Pearl Miles under the bus,
blamed the entire year on her
and then proceeded to move forward.
New members were appointed onto the board
and given specific instructions as to their reason
why they were placed on the board
and the “hunt” for a new District Manager began.
A Search committee was formed,
without community residents being allowed to join,
conditions of employment was all decided behind closed doors,
including that huge spread of money from
$59,000-$145,000 for the salary of the District Manager.
As Demetrius Lawrence did his famous “I’m Sorry” routine,
every time he violated the law,
and of course true to form,
Carman Martinez submitted her application
And is now conducting herself as if she is running CB9 already.
Despite having less than two years of experience on the board,
she is now handling housing issues, landuse issues, landmarking issues
and is now a voting member of the Executive board,
She was the main person, who has initiated, based upon her word,
The overthrow of the Executive Board with voting Chair members,
because she read in the Mayor’s Pamphlet and in the City Charter
That Chairs are a part of the executive Board!
Of course the community residents will not be surprised
That Carmen Martinez winds up a part of the final three applicants
To be considered by Community Board 9,
nor will we blink an eye when she is voted in as our District Manager
We are aware that a reign of corruption just doesn’t stop,
Because the people demand for it to stop,
Just as it just didn’t begin.
We understand that Shirley Chisholm left a powerful legacy
And maybe at one point Clarence Norman had tried to follow in her footsteps
but found them too big and powerful.
That corruption is a disease that eats at the soul
and slowly like an addiction
It happens so quietly that one doesn’t even know it until it is too late.
But all things change and change is on the horizon
As Karen Fleming stated at the last Community Board meeting
This community is now fully awake
and we are not going back to sleep!
Our Eyes are Wide Open!
We will not sit and watch another legacy of corruption take hold Of Community Board 9,
we will not watch our family and friends and homes be destroyed
because a few want to make millions off of the suffering of the many.
One thing history has taught us is that all corrupt regimes
falter and die and Community Board 9 is no different.