The Q at Parkside

(for those for whom the Parkside Q is their hometrain)

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.

Monday, March 28, 2016

CB9 District Manager Search Becomes Political Football

The rest of the story...for now anyway, and a continuation from that last post on the Big Man Of Central Brooklyn (BMOC-B).

The Q was one of the few CB9 members to support Pearl Miles as she went down in a flurry of resentments last October. Her lawsuit is making its way through the courts, as she made, quite literally, a Federal Case of it. Age discrimination and political shenanigans, she charged. The real reason she got canned so quickly and without a lot of substantiated reasons (other than people not liking her) was that Borough Hall wanted her out. Why? Well, there certainly was no love lost between longtime BP aide Ingrid Lewis-Martin and Pearl. The two hated each other, to put it mildly, after years of tussles. Once Ingrid was in position to do so, with the support of BP Adams, she and he saw to it that the votes were in to ax Pearl. 18 new Board members swept in once Adams took office - an unprecedented number that only added to the tumult of the past couple years. My dear friend Alicia Boyd claims Adams even placed more than his allotted members onto the Board, and for once I tend to agree with her. Proof? My placement on the Board by none other than Mathieu Eugene. That's right, the councilman the Q worked hard to unseat, and whom I knock every chance I get (the guy is quite simply the worst councilperson since Zorg of the Far Caves, circa 22500 B.C.). Ever since, I have suspected that my reappointment was coming from someone else. Frankly, you'd think they'd have snuffed my participation, given my tendency to knock and snark. It's fair to assume this term of two years will be my last! If I last THAT long...

In a nutshell.

  • A search committee of CB9 was created ad hoc to find three top candidates for the DM job from a pool of resumes
  • That committee held 13 meetings and at the end created minutes to reflect its findings
  • That report was not made public, nor did the Board itself see it
  • Chair and BP BFF Demetrius Lawrence rejected the work of the Committee, citing too many absences at committee meetings
  • Committee Chair Hector Robertson objected, noting outside pressure played a part in the decision
  • Many on the Board think they're being played for fools
  • It's really only fair that we see the names the committee put forward, so we can judge for ourselves whether to move forward with those names

The reason for not accepting Hector's three candidates? There was no requirement about attendance. In fact, with a job like this, too many cooks can make the vetting even more difficult. Mr. Robertson's report needs to see the light of day. Clearly someone's not happy with the names on the list. Why else put everyone through another round of vetting? At the very least we should meet with the three, no?

The Q's sentiment is - if Borough Hall wants to see someone in particular take the position, then just come out and say it. We'll probably consider the suggestion, maybe even add it to the pile. But what's happening now is just plain disruptive (at best) or corrosive (at medium) or corrupt (at worst).

So who do the Power People want as OUR District Manager? None other than longtime Clarence Norman, Jr. ally Carmen Martinez, who was canned in 2014 for using work time for, get this, doing the business of her PLG block association, among other stuff. Clearly she shouldn't be considered anyhow, being a current board member and divisive political presence in a job that's supposed to serve ALL constituents equally. And hey, I think Carmen is terrific as Housing Committee chair - smart, knowledgeable, a good communicator. Though the cynic might wonder why she was placed on Housing at this serious juncture in the nabe's history, if not to position her for something else. A run for pol perhaps? Or the DM job?

But the big question is WHY does Borough Hall and Norman and Lewis-Martin etc etc care so deeply about this civil servant position anyway? As is usually the case, follow the money, the power, and Clarence Norman, Jr. Because our District is ALL about development right now. As I noted before, the First Baptist Church of Crown Heights has a development arm (CHDC) that put in a proposal to redevelop the Bedford-Union Armory - with a hotel component to boot. When they failed, they even tried to submit another proposal with a different name. By putting loyal people in place at CB9 - both on the Board and in the office - one can imagine you'd have the insider track on any land use deals. Though I'm still skeptical it'd make a huge difference, as long as at least SOME members of the Board remain independent and aware.

The Q is not accusing anyone of anything, other than disregard for the Board and its independence. But even if the current Machine has terrific intentions, it should just come out and say what they are. Because this sort of backroom dealing is so 1980s and '90s. And so damn unnecessary. I'm serious. This stuff is not so important that it can't be played out in public. I say people been watching too damn much TV. And now I says:

"BP Adams et al - we want to support you, your work, your goals. You come down on the right side of nearly every issue. So why take us for a bunch of fools? Do the right thing. Come clean. Say what you want to do. And let us decide if we agree with you. If you want to build a political machine with REAL clout and power, do it with the power of truth and transparency. Because you're not far off the mark. You might find you have many more supporters that way."

And if this is really about the development arm of the most powerful church in the Borough...well, that's a situation best addressed at the polls. There should be no "most powerful church." I suspect most Brooklynites don't even know this stuff goes on. Though given the culture in Albany, we shouldn't be surprised. Our guys (and gals) learn from the few, the proud, the NY State Legislature.

Stay tuned y'all. It's about to get messier, or cleaner. But the choice right now resides in the seats of power. I hope they make the right decision.

(Everything above is based on the Q's observations, emails and conversations with people-in-the-know willing to speak off-the-record. If you feel you've been misrepresented, by all means send me a note and I'll happily print your retort.)


MikeF said...

I think most Brooklynites are fully aware that this stuff goes on, yet ignore it to the best of their ability.

This stuff is not new, nor is it going away.

Clarkson FlatBed said...

Beg to differ Mike. A random poll of people I know suggests the opposite - people say they know that corruption is rampant, but they can't name more than one or two elected officials at best. Nor have they ever heard of Clarence Norman, Jr.

You may be on top of things, Mike. But most Brooklynites couldn't give a damn.

MikeF said...

I understand their stance, and find it to be in their self interests. IE I find it to be a healthy response to the environment.

I have a much harder time understanding people who believe that opinions should matter to politicians, and that they (individually or as a group) should be able to exert a large amount of control their local environments.

Clarkson FlatBed said...

I have no idea what you're saying. Can you clarify? Sounds even more cynical that my take, but maybe I'm not following. You're saying they should just do whatever they want? Because I'm talking about a convicted felon coming back to bully people into his development goals. Not sure I'd agree that's a "healthy response."

MikeF said...

I am talking about non politicians. The "masses".

Here's that statement again: I understand their stance, and find it (their uninvolvement in politics) to be in their self interests. IE I find it to be a healthy response to the environment.

I have a much harder time understanding people who believe that opinions should matter to politicians, and that they (individually or as a group) should be able to exert a large amount of control their local environments.

Clarkson FlatBed said...

Okay. Got it now.

You do indeed put the sin back in cynical!

MikeF said...

There is nothing cynical about learning to be happy in your environment and embracing opportunities.

The Serenity Prayer sums it up nicely.