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.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Future of Neighborhood Decided By Same Dozen People At Every Damn Meeting

Make that a baker's dozen, since the Q is often there too.

Given the tenor of the debates, and the issues at stake, one might assume that large numbers of your fellow Leffertsonians and Southern Crown Heightsians would come out and express themselves at the officially sanctioned neighborhood meetings, like Thursday's CB9 ULURP. Maybe you were all at PLGNA's? I wish I'd been there to show support, since AB's been targeting them with a lawsuit meant to destroy them.

There are certain people you WILL see at nearly everything these days. That is, beyond the CB9 Board members who have managed to last this long despite the constant suing and lying and misinformation campaigns of MTOPP and its fearless leader. Board members who have been brave stalwarts include Warren Berke, Michael Liburd, Fred Baptiste, Zorina Frederick, Pia Raymond, Musa Moore, Yaacov Behrman, Beverly Newsome and others. They've managed to stay engaged and informed, though I often disagree with their sentiments and the pace of their deliberations. Regardless of what their nemeses may say, they do not have deep ulterior motives to do anything but be civically engaged and compassionate neighbors. (One, Denise Mann, seems to hate everyone and everything, but she's an exception. I've never seen her smile. If it's a medical thing I apologize.) Sure, some, like District-Manager-In-Waiting Carmen Martinez and many others are deeply involved in the affairs of local elected officials. They are, after all, chosen by the Borough President and Council Members from applications and supporters. So if you're looking to demonize them, I suppose you could say they're TOO deeply involved in local politics. Which is, of course, absurd. That's the whole point isn't it? Taking a deep interest in local politics? There's even enough of them - 50 in all - that creating monolithic decision-making is nearly impossible. From what I can ascertain, none of them are getting rich off connections or backroom deal-making. They hold beliefs and agenda like anyone else. (Thank god. We're gonna need every opinionated liberal on the planet to fight the Orange Bonehead-elect.)

So I mean to say that it's the non-Board members that seem to number around a dozen, all committed to poking holes in any and every effort to discuss or decide issues of importance to the neighborhood's future. Not that they're not entitled to their opinion. But it would be nice if that opinion weren't accompanied with shouts, accusations, interruptions and slurs - and ultimately tantrums when they sense they aren't getting their way.

The rallying cry continues to be Empire Blvd. Local anti-gentrification gentrifier Janine Nichols put it the below way on her MTOPP mouthpiece, the wince inducing-ly named Whitey on Whitey. She's referring to another perfectly reasonable group of neighbors to your north who are trying to landmark their area - the Crown Heights South Association (CHSA), led by architect and neighbor Evelyn Tully Costa. Like every other local group with an acronym or membership, they're in the crosshairs now too. Here's Whitey in her own Whords:

I suggest that it would be more useful for CHSA, whoever they are, to join our ongoing fight to prevent the Dept of City Planning (Plotting) from rezoning Crown Heights, and in particular Empire Boulevard. If DCP succeeds in rezoning Empire from commercial to residential, Black Crown Heights will become Williamsburg. No amount of landmarking will change that. 
There it is. The central thesis. Given that Nichols (white) and Boyd (not white), and workhorse acolytes like Elizabeth Mackin (white) are textbook gentrifiers themselves, it's laughable that they should be the face of keeping the neighborhood black and (enter stereotype) poor. As if their tactics were working in the slightest, right? They're homeowners, folks who moved here because this is where they could afford. Nichols actually complained the other night about having been priced out of Park Slope; Boyd out of Cobble Hill. And Mackin bought a house on Lefferts all of, I dunno, three years ago now? Don't get me wrong here. I don't find their presence in the neighborhood to be a problem in the slightest. It's the galling hypocrisy, and the thinly veiled disdain for their fellow gentrifiers, as if somehow holding the right social and political views washes away guilt like so much turpentine. Then to USE the plight of renters, caught in the crosshairs of so much market topsy-turvy, to use them to their advantage, all the while opposing any and all below-market rate home beggars belief.

I guess that's the answer, right? You don't go to these meetings because you probably want nothing to do with that nonsense either. And yet, that's the soup of the day, and right now, there's a gadfly in it. Waiter, oh waiter???


Bob Marvin said...

The same people? This was written about extensively 105 years ago, by Robert Michaels in his book "Political Parties". Michaels' "Iron Law of Oligarchy," based on his study of the German SPD, then the most successful socialist party in the world, is quite sobering and, sadly, hard to refute.

ElizabethC said...

the one thing that makes me happy about that really terrible Nichols blog is that apparently no one reads it. I did so once, and will never do it again. But you have to kind of admire people who basically blog for themselves. The new age of narcissism.

Alex said...

2 blocks. It's just 2 blocks. These people are fanatics.

MikeF said...

It as if the majority of the people do not feel the CB has anything to do with their past, present or future daily lives.

Or, feel it is their obligation to adapt to whatever they decide.

Mags PLG said...

I'm a white recent gentrifier but that central thesis seems about right to me. That strip of crap on Empire is like a big unwelcome mat to prospective white yuppie PLG migrants. Convert that to residential (contextual, non-contextual, consensual, non-sensical, or whatever other form a mythical zoning study group might recommend) and you can absolutely bet your ass that PLG will be mostly white in 10 years. Sure, de-crapping Empire may simply accelerate the inevitable but you I will never understand, Q how you dismiss the MTOPP argument out of hand. There is certainly enough evidence elsewhere in the borough to soundly validate it. I guess the only scenario that couple topple the otherwise unstoppable apple cart of gentrification/white-ification in PLG is your oft tendered prescription of lining Empire with low income house. That, sir, is never going to happen.

If I were a long-time black PLG resident you would really piss me off. I'm always somewhat amused when you seem genuinely shocked at the scorn you've engendered among the black neighbors whose approval you seem so desperately to want. Look, I'm just a white boy from the suburbs but you might want to overlook AB's in-your-face craziness and get real for a second. We were all just completely flummoxed by the Trump tsunami because of the exact kind of hubris you regularly display. It was so hard for all us well fed, liberal northeasterners to imagine how an angry white dude in Macomb county Michigan could believe that a vote for Trump would somehow help him. We were wrong about those angry white dudes.

Clarkson FlatBed said...

Fair enough. Your points are full of holes, and I think you make a pretty friggin' big leap to bring Donald Trump into the mix. We're pissed DT got elected, perhaps we can just agree to agree on that.

Here's what I love that you say: "If i were a long-time black PLG resident..." But you're not, are you? Where you're coming from is where you're coming from. Don't pretend to know "what's best" for longtime anything. Very few people agree with Alicia Boyd's thesis that you must keep Empire crappy in order to preserve something that's not being preserved. EVEN SHE doesn't agree. She wants (have you been paying attention?) low rise yuppie-loving ma and pa bistros and boulevard (black owned of course), all gussied up. She just doesn't want PEOPLE. People who are, she's decided, not right for the neighborhood. It's pathetic. She wants the rising property values and amenities of gentrification without the gentrifiers. She is no champion of the everyman. Like Trump (there I go!) she's USING the people of the neighborhood desperate for affordability to keep her block exactly as it is.

For instance...have you seen some of the huge new developments planned for just North of Empire? Finally, some affordable apartments will be built, and frankly I don't care what demographic is represented, other than "in need of affordable housing."

You're entitled to your entitled opinion, and I appreciate you articulating it succinctly. Come back often. Seriously, nice to have some new voices.

Mags PLG said...

I'm not pretending to know what's best for anyone. Just trying to reconcile what at first seemed to me a ridiculous desire to keep Empire crappy. I think it's important to say to someone like AB, "I recognize your fears that rezoning Empire is likely to accelerate the demographic shift already underway in PLG." Such validation might lead to more productive conversations. Or not but I think it's the right way to approach it.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Clarkson FlatBed said...

I'm pretty sure you've never met AB, or you wouldn't be suggesting such a sane response.

After working with the issue for a few years now, I'll tell you that she will do anything, say anything, curse anyone and sue anyone who wants to see one piece of Empire rezoned, even though it could mean the downzoning of the vast majority of Lefferts blocks. It's a long story. In my opinion, and that of many others black-brown-pink-yellow-chosen, she's using the issue of race to get what she wants. What she ACTUALLY thinks about white people, or rich people, or elected officials or men or Jews (all of whom she's railed at many times) -- all of that is really none of my business. What I do object to, and what I wish more people would come out and express, is that it's not okay to stop discourse. It's not okay to create a dangerous and venomous atmosphere at meetings. It's not okay to label as corrupt or racist or sexist or dishonest every person who disagrees with you. It's a conversation stopper that ensures any and every discussion will devolve. And that is absolutely her intention. She's learned from some very adept agitators, and sadly, it's working against her own neighbors.

Alex said...

Mags, Alicia Boyd is 100% disingenuous. She only cares about Empire because her house backs up to it, and she doesn't want construction to interfere with her AirBnB ratings.

Her earliest objections to construction on Empire came in the form of statements like, "people in affordable housing will throw trash into my backyard." Not a direct quote but very close.

As Tim stated, almost the entire neighborhood stood to be down-zoned, preventing future Parklines and the like. She completely derailed the process.

She is not who you think she is.