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.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Last Night's Council Candidates Forum

The Q kids you not. I went to the forum at St. Gabriel's prepared to listen to the candidates, take some notes, maybe some pictures, and go home. The event was hosted by a blog/paper called Street Hype, which would lead one to believe that the forum - one of the few chances to see all the 40th Council Candidates in the run up to the Sept 10 primary - would be hyped to the hilt. In fact, after you subtract the longtime Mathieu Eugene supporters, the organizers, the people working for the church, and the candidates themselves...there were probably 10 people there from the community at large. I don't know anyone in Lefferts (where the forum was held) who knew about the event, which was a shame, because I honestly believe every candidate had a pretty good chance to strut their stuff. They each got 10 minutes to talk, and 10 minutes to take questions. The moderators did a good job of sticking to the format. So far so good...

Your candidates for City Council in the 40th District - John Grant, Sylvia Kinard, Saundra Thomas and incumbent Mathieu Eugene - were all there and spoke in that order, interspersed with two others, starting with the passionate left-winger Randy Credico who actually managed to get on the ballot for mayor. To learn more, check out the awesome videos here. After his attack on the evil ONE PERCENT, it was ironic that a black republican candidate for comptroller, John Burnett, who hails from Wall Street, took the podium next to preach his conservative agenda. "I'm a proud Republican" he stated at the end. I wanted to raise my hand and ask if he'd been following the Republicans SINCE Lincoln freed the slaves and the racist Southern Democrats switched parties to become racist Southern Republicans, but I figured he's been too busy following the ups and downs of the financial markets to pay attention to the fact that the Repubs have been on the wrong side of nearly every moral issue for the last 100 years. But he was too busy questioning John Grant about his (Grant's) attack on the "sagging pants" epidemic among young men. Burnett said Grant needs to do his research about the origins of the sag, and he dropped the old inference that it comes from prison "bottoms" signaling their availability for gay prison sex. Speaking of doing your research, Burnett was dead wrong on that one. Think about it - how much "advertising" would you need to do in prison anyway? Gossip gets around pretty quick I suspect. pretty much debunked that homophobic myth, and though prison may have been an "inspiration," its the prevalence of the "sag" as fashion statement in rap videos that caused the sensation. Add in some moral outrage from the older generation, and you've got a full-blown fad along with tattoos and nose pierces and heavy metal. People - it's a SIGN, not a cause. Though I do love Eric Adams' video on the subject...

Next issue prices. Despite the fact that rent rate laws barely make a dent in the issue of affordability for most New Yorkers, candidate Sylvia Kinard used her time to voice her disdain for rising rents. But as with most politicians, she's only talking about the prices by the Rent Guidelines Board for stabilized apartments. As noted in my previous post, apartments are disappearing from stabilization all the time and in all sorts of ways. Not to mention that its hardly a fair system to those unlucky enough to live in a non-stabilized apartment. She's calling for a 0% increase next year and for years when the median income for the middle and lower classes doesn't budge, as it apparently hasn't for years. But I DID like that she's planning a protest/press event at the Q at Parkside station on Friday at noon about that very issue. Way to choose an excellent location, Sylvia! She's a smart lady, and if she were the only challenger, I'd certainly vote for her. Her heart isn't in it though...her campaign hasn't raised much, and she has no deep support from Flatbush. She may just end up splitting the vote, sending Eugene back to his throne. Sigh.

Saundra Thomas, the Q's choice for council, came next. She was more impassioned than I've heard her yet. (I'll be printing the answers she gave to my list of questions in the next day or two, to give you a better sense of what she's about). It's a shame she's just hitting her stride now, but better late than never. Her early support from popular former councilwoman Una Clarke never turned into the juggernaut I anticipated - even Una's daughter Yvette and my man Eric Adams endorsed the incumbent. I asked Eric about it last night and he just flashed a smile when I asked if his endorsement was made "publicly," because Eugene trumpets it all the time. Ah well. I guess it's just politics, since if Eugene wins, Eric gets to call him friend, and if he loses, Eric just befriends Saundra. Yuck. Nobody says what they mean anymore. Maybe they never did.

Then the incumbent, Mathieu Eugene took the mic. At times screaming at the audience, he made a loud and angry case for his reelection. His claim? In the past six years he has worked tirelessly on your behalf. He has been ahead of every issue. He has brought millions to the district. He is a great leader and a compassionate man, who (as he always reminds us) believes that all power on this earth comes from almighty God.

In a word, I wanted to puke. It's garbage, untrue (well, maybe the God part is true, I'm an agnostic so the jury's out on that one), and designed to deflect the very real fact that Mathieu Eugene has barely lifted a finger for you or for his district. He is never here; he never leads; he doesn't know the people of his district; he doesn't have a clue how City budgets work; ex-staff make fun of his vanity and ego; he holds occasional "forums," then retains nothing and doesn't follow through; ex-members of his staff joke of his vanity and ineptitude and claims of being a doctor; he claims to have brought millions to the district for things that the Council actually CUT in total from its overall budget; he takes credit for projects that were already in the pipeline - Kings Loewe's Theater for instance, and Parkside Playground and Parade Ground playground and affordable housing projects - he never leads; he constantly makes reference to an organization he started called Y.E.S. that helped young people through sports, but the organization folded as soon as he won office amid allegations by the City of shoddy bookkeeping; he voted against Bloomberg's extended term limits but won't rule out running again in 2017 making his potential term 14 effing years (read the City Charter - it's depressing but true, he could actually do it); he's so cheap he pays some of his staff less than minimum wage; he managed to find $20,000 for the Jewish Children's Museum which ISN'T EVEN IN HIS DISTRICT but precious little for popular project IN his district; he lavishes his tiny discretionary budget (other Council members so dislike him they make sure he doesn't get much dough) primarily on pet projects and churches (yes that's legal - read all his giving by putting the name Eugene in here). And the one that I find most sad and perplexing - he trumpets the 10 million dollars he's given to Kings County Hospital from his capital budget. Because "health" is his number one issue. But here's the thing. While buying millions of dollars of equipment for a hospital that has countless other potential funding sources, he hasn't spent that $10 million on projects that could truly benefit the community at large - his actual constituents, rather than the relatively few patients who need those machines. Machines that could have been procured through other means. Machines. To promote health. Because he's a doctor. And to win over the powerful hospital union that endorsed him. Cynical? You bet.

Imagine - community centers, public plazas, a new park, another revitalized park, new senior center, basketball courts, programs for troubled youth, and SCHOOLS. The only thing he's done for schools is to buy some computer equipment, including his much ballyhooed smart boards. Guess what? Few teachers even like or use those stupid smartboards. They're already ancient equipment in the digital realm, way overpriced, and recently I've seen them in classrooms with pieces of paper taped to them - that's how cutting edge and useful they are. The blackboard is still the visual aid of choice, and computer projectors are a zillionth of the price. But given Mathieu's inability to even maintain a website, I can't imagine that he understands or cares.

And after all the nonsense he spouted last night, we had to once again endure his "as a medical doctor" mumbo jumbo. And that's when I lost it I guess.

Folks, the man has never earned a license to practice medicine in the United States. He has lived here for decades. At any time, he could have become a doctor, or updated his credentials. For intents and purposes, he is as much a medical doctor as you or me (except those of you who ARE M.D.s, my apologies). Yes he went to medical school, in Mexico, if he's to be believed. But he has never worked as a doctor in Brooklyn or anywhere else in his naturalized country. Everyone must refer to him as Dr. Eugene, but it's hogwash and designed to make it seem like the man has some tiny bit of credentials to run on. I mean check out this ridiculous piece below on his having held a thing at Maimonides. The digital voice over doesn't even pronounce the name of the Medical Center correctly. And is this hospital in his district? Check out his extended praise service near the end of his speech as a "medical doctor."

So i guess I'd just had enough, and I walked up to the mic and asked "why do you continue to call yourself a medical doctor when you don't have an active medical license to practice anywhere?" He refused to answer, his supporters (including the organizer) started heckling me, and then, as any strong leader responding to a hardball question, he started to say that my blog has been spreading lies about him. I didn't take kindly, so I told him that was ridiculous and asked him to point out one thing I've written that's untrue. The organizer Vivia Morgan, a Eugene supporter herself, told me I needed to leave. Eugene called me "unprofessional" and said to the audience "this man is intent on destroying the community." At the end of his schpiel I went up to shake his hand and apologize if I was too harsh, and he withdrew his hand and gave me the "I'll smack you with the back of my hand" gesture. He looked REALLY mad, almost as mad as his brother who allegedly pushed a Thomas supporter who brought him the subpoena that said they were going to challenge his signatures, signatures that nine people came forward to say were in fact FORGED.

It's all true folks. That's what went down. I was in the hall talking to district leader Jessie Hamilton and Eugene continued to berate me. I asked why he refused to shake my hand, and then why rather than answer my question he decided to tell the audience how divisive I was and how I had lied about him and that my blog was nothing but an attempt to discredit him. And I'm unprofessional. As a what, exactly? A blogger? A constituent? The dude flew off the handle.

In the end, I rode home on my bike, annoyed with myself for losing my cool, and disheartened for the future of our neighborhood. Folks, the guy is a crank. He's inept at best and dangerous at worse. Please, go to the polls. I don't care who you vote for anymore. Just do what you can to throw the bum out.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Meet the Canidates - Tonight In Lefferts! 6-8:30 pm.

Yes, it's last second notice. But I only now got confirmation it's happening! Street Hype is the host, it's being sponsored by your community board, number 9. And it's just down the street, Hawthorne, at St. Gabriel's. Come on down!

From the organizer:

Greetings,This is a special invitation to attend the "Candidates Forum," being staged by Street Hype, the community newspaper. This forum will be held on Wednesday, August 28, 2013  at St.Gabriel's Episcopal Church located at 331 Hawthorne Street Brooklyn, NY 11225 from 6:00 pm to 8:30 pm. As you may know the hot topics for our communities including Immigration reform, Jobs, Gun control, Health Care, Education, Displacement/Housing as well as challenges facing our youth. For further information or clarification, please feel free to call me at 917-627-7690. Looking forward to your usual kind support and cooperation. Regards, Vivia Morgan Event Director Street Hype Newspaper 

Goodbye Neighbors

The ever on-it Brownstoner scooped me on my neighbor-building and its success turning rentals into condos  - SOLD condos. We half thought the managing agent John was joking when he told us about the conversion effort a couple years ago. The Mrs. and I noticed last night that nary a light could be seen on the side of the building facing us...a ghost pre-war of its former rowdy self. Usually by this time of year (near Carnival and J'ouvert), many of the apartments would be blasting music, and not all Caribbean! A thump war would sometimes erupt, and summer would end with intense volume punctuated by late-night screams of revelry (and occasionally screams of another sort, but not often). End of an era? Absolutely. I wonder how many buildings will follow suit?

From the

More than half of the apartments in the 40-unit building at 35-41 Clarkson Avenue in Prospect-Lefferts are already spoken for, according to Brian Meier, a broker with Douglas Elliman. Fourteen of the units were released in early June, and within a night, all had offers at their asking prices — between $200,000 and $400,000 — along with backup buyers. Now there are 16 units under contract, with another 6 ready for release on Wednesday.

The prewar, four-story building is a conversion from rentals to condos and will be 100 percent occupant owned, Meier added. “We are working with tenants to leave the building and then releasing the apartments in batches,” he wrote in an email.

As a commenter pointed out - what does it mean that they are "working with tenants" to get them to leave? A rational, sweet and warm conversation I imagine, and some help finding a new place. Maybe a little cash to sweeten the blow? It's a win-win all around, really!

photo by Brownstoner

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Flabenue Scuttlebutt

Know that building at the corner of Flatbush and Lefferts, the one that just added a pawn-shop-gold-buyer-check-casher, much to the dismay of all of us who secretly wished for a Long John Silver's? You've probably also wondered what might go into that long lovely loft on the second and/or third floors.

An insider tells the Q there's going to be a Bikram Yoga studio and art-music-dance-culture center from longtime hero Kwayera Archer-Cunningham and her wonderful Ifetayo program. She's one of those indefatigable humans who brings a positive global perspective to the arts and youth empowerment. I've seen Ifetayo's African drumming and dancing groups, and witnessed their work in the schools. First rate, with passion for its mission, Ifetayo rocks.

Both would be welcome additions to the neighborhood, in a great location. Now about that Long John Silver's, I may just have to start a petition...

And lest ye think the Q isn't thinking of your breaded fish needs, check out the coupon below. Just print, snip and save!!!

And don't forget to sign up for this winner...

And to tie it all together, did you know that "scuttlebutt" is actually an old seaman's term? Apparently the sailors used to share gossip over the ascestor of the water cooler, a/k/a the "butt" or cask of water, which had been "scuttled" to make an opening. The modern water cooler is next of kin, a place for frivolous conversation. Today, much of this frivolity is done online, and its name is Twitter.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Tafari Tribe To Open Cafe

Latest news from the Q in exile (back in a couple days y'all): Tafari Tribe, the kickin' boutique at 593 Flatbush, is going to expand next door with a proper cafe. What great news! Cafe Exhale has been exhaling for a couple years now. Time for a deep inward breath. Good luck Sandra and Steadman et al!

Some great intro videos to Tafari Tribe below, though please do visit them in person anytime. The friendly proprietors will be sure to help you find a unique gift. It's a gorgeous store, with great attention paid to every detail.

First up, the impressionistic digital Tafari shopping experience:

And a sweet interview:

Friday, August 23, 2013

Notes on Last Night's Meeting

I'd like to thank the Q at Parkside's highly paid intern for taking notes at last night's Candidate Forum. To the haters who say I'm biased against the incumbent (guilty as charged), I bear no responsibility for the below comments, though I do trust the writer to stick to the facts. By the way, don't blame me if mine is the only blog or media outlet covering this election. It's a sad state of affairs when you Google this election and come up with zip, save some dorky blog.

The four candidates for City Council in the 40th District met Thursday night for a "Candidates Forum" that was notable for the broad agreement expressed, and for one pointed and baffling exchange between the incumbent and his best-funded challenger.

Two candidates arrived on time: John Grant, an engineer with the New York Transit Authority, and Sylvia Kinard, an attorney who formerly worked for the New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal. The forum began only with the arrival, a few minutes late, of Saundra Thomas, the former President of Community Affairs with WABC and the only candidate in the 40th District to qualify for New York City matching funds.

Mr. Grant, Ms. Kinard and Ms. Thomas were in broad agreement about the needs of the district, but disagreed on the correct approach.

All three agreed on the need for a City Councilperson who would encourage small business in the district. Ms. Kinard emphasized the need for a greater presence in the district by the New York City Department of Small Business Services; Ms. Thomas emphasized the need for new BIDS, or business improvement districts, on local avenues; Mr. Grant emphasized the need for more credit to be made available to local small business owners.

Likewise, all three agreed on the need for affordable housing in the district. Ms. Kinard emphasized the need for tax incentives for working and middle income developments; Ms. Thomas emphasized that plenty of affordable housing stock exists, but that residents are being illegally displaced, and that better advocacy was needed to make sure that existing laws are enforced; Mr. Grant again emphasized the need for more credit, this time to potential home buyers.

Likewise, all three agreed that something needed to be done to improve access to healthcare in the district, and all three believed that this was largely an issue outside of City Council's control.

And then, an hour after the starting time, the incumbent, Dr. Mathieu Eugene, arrived.

The theme of the night for Dr. Eugene was, "You name it, I am doing it." Small business? "We just held a small business forum," which was why he was late to the debate. Affordable housing? Dr. Eugene said, "I created hundreds and hundreds of affordable housing units." Hospitals? Dr. Eugene said he gave $10 million to Downstate and Kings County Hospitals. The candidates were asked about the need for zoning changes to preserve the nature of residential blocks in the neighborhood. Ms. Kinard and Ms. Thomas both spoke of the need for a City Councilmember who would work better with the Planning Commission. Dr. Eugene replied that he just "sent a letter to the Commissioner right now."

"I am doing it, I know how to do it, every time there is an issue, I am there at the forefront," Dr. Eugene said.

The challengers seemed reluctant to challenge Dr. Eugene. An anonymous question from the audience pointed out a statistic, recently reported by the Gotham Gazette, that between fiscal years 2009 and 2014 only three City Councilmembers had brought less discretionary spending to their districts than had Dr. Eugene. Dr. Eugene called the report false; none of his challengers spoke up. Asked about what could be done to improve conditions at Wingate Park, Dr. Eugene spoke of the money he had directed to the Parks Department, and "also to the Prospect Park Alliance, I gave them millions of dollars." It was unclear what monies Dr. Eugene was referring to; none of his challengers spoke up.

Dr. Eugene's brother was in the audience, as were two women whom Dr. Eugene identified alternately as "on my staff," and as youth who had benefited from his work with neighborhood youth. Each time he finished speaking, the three applauded passionately and volubly.

The evening's most pointed and most baffling exchange occurred when the moderater, Pia Raymond, offered the candidates the chance to ask one another questions.

Saundra Thomas asked Dr. Eugene about term limits as they applied to his own potential candidacy in 2017—but she flubbed her own question. She may have meant to ask why, if Eugene voted against the possibility of a third term for Michael Bloomberg, Eugene wanted a third term for himself? But what she actually asked was, "Is it true that you voted for a third term for Bloomberg, and do you plan to seek a third term in 2017?"

Dr. Eugene saw his chance, and he pounced. He had voted against a third term for Bloomberg, he declared. He chided Ms. Thomas for not doing her homework. As for a third term for himself? Grinning broadly, he said that was in God's hands. And the voters' hands.

John Grant provided the evening's scant moments of humor. When asked what he would do to stop gang activity in the neighborhood, Mr. Grant, who has lived in the neighborhood for fifty-three years, recounted how when he was a boy, the two gangs in the neighborhood were the Jollystoppers and the Tomahawks. "And I was a member of the Jollystoppers," he said, quickly adding that what the neighborhood needed to do was call in the gang members, and "bring them to the table." When asked what he would do to make Wingate Park safer, he said the park was already safer than it was when he was a kid, this time making no mention of the Jollystoppers.

John Grant also provided some of the most specific answers of the evening. What is the neighborhood's greatest need? Security cameras and speed bumps. How should discretionary funds be spent in our district? Solar panels. Does he support contextual zoning? Yes, because "I have a ham radio" and permitting tall buildings to come in "screws up my signal."

The forum was organized by the Nostrand Avenue Merchants' Association, the Visionary Political Action Committee, and the Prospect Lefferts Gardens Neighborhood Association, and took place in the basement hall of St. Gabriel's Episcopal Church on Hawthorne Street. The Rev. Eddie Alleyne graciously concluded the evening with a reminder that there were refreshments, at the back.

Shooting on Flatbush Near Maple

This from a listserv writer last night:

Someone was just shot at the barber shop between Golden Crust and The 99 cent store on Maple and Flatbush. Heard the shots, saw the guy run away. Tons of cops. Huge crowd at the barber shop. Hope no one was seriously hurt.

Any information, please comment here.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Phirst Photos of Phorum Phor Q Phaithphul!

Courtesy of Delson Enterprises:

Candidates from left: John Grant, Sylvia Kinard, Saundra Thomas. Looks like Lindiwe Kamau at the podium.

The incumbent arrives one hour late. Very, very busy time for the Council in late August. Much hard work to be done. No time for punctuality. Gratuitous meeting on Small Businesses scheduled at 5pm to provide cover for lack of accomplishments less than two weeks before primary election.

Thomas takes a solo after Kinard sings first verse of "That's What Friends Are For." Eugene works his million-dollar smile while Grant attempts to place whoopee cushion on Kinard's chair.

Loews Kings Looking Killer

Even as I question the current biz plans for the gorgeous old Loews on Flatbush, I gotta admit how thrilled I am about the renovation. Recent pictures off of Untapped Cities show an almost "Close Encounters" scene of space age technology meeting early 20th Century Flatbushian chutzpah. I mean dig these pics:

The place is going to look effin' fantastic. I do hope the operators know what they're doing. This is definitely, in my book, Marty's greatest gift to the borough. His old boyhood neighborhood could certainly use a facelift or three, and this is a wonderful beginning.

So there! I'm bullish on the theater, and hold-and-watch on the for-profit commercial prospects of contracted management Ace Theatrical.

And while the Q may still be Gone Fishin', he's waiting on pins and needles for info about tonight's Meet the Candidates forum. I couldn't help but notice that the incumbent's schedule was kinda tight, having scheduled a Small Business forum that ran til 7. The "Meet the Candidates Forum" was set to start at 6:30. "I cannot do it alone," said the Councilman. "I need your help to schedule a very rare public forum designed to give you the impression I'm busy serving your needs just days before the primary during late August to ensure that as many entrepreneurs and business people are available as possible."

Just because I love it so much, once again I present you with a picture of Mathieu "They Added My Image To the American Flag" Eugene.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Your Chance To Meet the Candidates - This Thursday!

Thanks to a lot of hard work from leaders in the community (Quest Fanning and Lindiwe Kamau and Milford Prewitt among others - sorry if I've missed anyone crucial to the effort!), a Candidate's Forum for the 40th Council District is on for this Thursday the 22nd at 6:30. If you're in town, you've GOTTA be there to represent your neighborhood. See for yourself what the four candidates have to offer. Flyer below. Don't miss it!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Questions for the Candidates

Do you need to vote absentee for the all important Sept 10 primary? Go to this page ASAP to find out how. One option I hadn't considered before was voting absentee IN PERSON. You can still get it by mail if you request now.

I've noted recently that at least 3/4 of the NYC 40th Council District candidates have become readers of the Q at Parkside - and are commenting to boot! I'm honored. I've also heard that a community forum is being hastily assembled for Thursday at 7PM at St. Gabriel's on Hawthorne between Nostrand and NY Ave. Will let you know when it's confirmed.

But while I'm on the subject, I've compiled a list of questions that I hope get asked on Thursday. OR, candidates may chime in at any time!

Ms. Kinard, Ms. Thomas, Mr. Grant and Mr. Eugene - please consider the following questions.

First off, Who do you support for mayor? and...
  • Would you join the Council's Progressive Caucus? Any caucus? Do you support increasing the number of charter schools allowed in NYC?
  • What do you think of Mayor Bloomberg's climate change plans (sea walls, etc)?
  • When change happens to Brooklyn neighborhoods, it often comes in the blink of an eye. How does a councilperson both cheer a neighborhood's development while being respectful to those who've lived there for decades?
  • Is affordable housing really possible? Where else (in NYC and nationwide) is public policy actually working in this regard? Is 80/20 enough?
  • With so many apartments leaving rent regulation, is it really fair to focus so much attention on this decades old law than to create something more meaningful for today that doesn't create perverse incentives and disincentives for landlords?
  • How will you support our invaluable Prospect Park? And how will you help keep the Parkside Playground safe, maintained and well groomed?
  • Do you support the council's recently-passed legislation concerning the NYPD? (Intro 1079, which establishes an Inspector General for the NYPD and Intro 1080, which opens the door to racial profiling lawsuits against the NYPD)
  • Since Christine Quinn will no longer be speaker, is there anyone on the Council that you think is up to the task?
  • What is your plan to address the increase in violent crime in the 71st Precinct?
  • What do you think of the emphasis on testing in the City's schools? Do you support the job Dennis Wolcott is doing as Schools Superintendent?
  • Quality of Life stuff: How will you use your office to help lessen trash, get people to scoop their poop, lessen mosquitoes, help new businesses move to the neighborhood? Can a councilperson help a neighborhood become more livable?
  • Hudson Companies is building a huge new rental building at 626 Flatbush. It will be clearly visible from the park. Do you support this idea? Do you support reopening existing zoning in the area? Would your office take a lead in doing so?
  • Empire Blvd, moving out from the park, seems like a HUGE missed opportunity. Do you imagine something better for this grand sounding wide street leading to the park?
  • Do you support a strong merchant's organization or BID from Parkside to Empire on Flatbush?
  • Would you consider championing a Museum of Flatbush?
  • Would you support the art project currently taking shape around the green sheet metal Flatbush trees at Empire/Ocean/Flatbush?
  • Are you supportive of (and will help see that money is found for maintenance for) the Parkside Plaza project?
  • Do you have particular thoughts on bicycles and bike safety and bike lanes and bike, bike, bikes?
  • What can be done with the gorgeous but dilapidated Phat Albert's building, once a proud bakery in the neighborhood, now with a clock that doesn't keep time? The Flatbush Museum, maybe? A Wendy's annex? Trader Joe's?
  • How will you help us make Flatbush Avenue safer? It's INSANE! And Rogers is a speedway.
  • Flatbush Revitalization. EDC’s Fiscal 2013 January Capital Commitment Plan includes $52 million in Fiscal 2013-2016 for the restoration of Loew’s Kings Theatre in Flatbush, Brooklyn. The goal of the renovation project is to restore the historic structure and create a state-of-the-art performance facility. Located at 1025-1035 Flatbush Avenue, the space will be the largest indoor theater in Brooklyn and will be the centerpiece of a revitalized Flatbush. The expected
    opening is in the fall of 2014.

    So, it'll open in the fall of 2014? Who's watching this project, er, minding the store? Has it really been thought through? What do YOU think, honestly?

Meeting Tomorrow With D.A. and Precinct at Tugboat

August is a tough month to convene folks, but this meeting is a good one if you're available. If you recall, the recent uptick in violence led some of us to meet with the D.A.'s office. One group of folks has already organized (after our meeting at 40 Clarkson Ave) and will meet a second time in September. All along I promised another group meeting "up north" following Dynishal Gross's lead. She organized a meeting at 40 LINCOLN a few months back, and she's asking folks from the community to come out and talk turkey. When?:

TOMORROW! Tuesday, August 20th
6 PM
Tugboat Tea Company, 546 Flatbush Ave. b/w Lincoln Rd. & Beekman Place

Community Meeting on Crime, Law Enforcement & Safety in Our Community
Come share your ideas and concerns with representatives of the 71st Precinct & the Brooklyn District Attorney's Office.
If it seems like a doubling of efforts, well, it kind of is, but in a good way. We all know that micronabes have their own ecosystems and needs. Dynishal has always had her finger on the pulse of Lincoln and the Prospect Park station, the way I try to keep tabs of Parkside Ave and my beloved but currently half-dead Q train. Please join Dynishal et al tomorrow night to discuss what YOU'RE seeing on a daily basis, and how you'd like to see it changed.

Go team Dynishal!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Tomorrow's the Last Day to Register For Primary Election!

As we all know, NYC's elections are decided in September. The overwhelmingly Democratic City chooses its winners two months before the general election. (Rudy and the fake-republican Bloomie being the notable exceptions).

If you want to vote for this year's candidates -


Luckily while I'm busy feeding cows and horses and sucking down shots of Vermont Maple Syrup, the ever able Ditmas Park Corner has the deets on how to register.

Here's the 411 on the 9/10 primary.

In the relatively small districts for City Council, your vote is absolutely essential.

Your neighborhood needs you.

Murmurs from the 40th Council District Campaign Trail

Two excruciatingly hard-to-swallow endorsements came out in favor of our incumbent in City Council, Mathieu Eugene. Health Workers local 1199 has once again given thumbs up to the good "doctor," and lest you think this is inconsequential, 1199 has a HUGE presence in the neighborhood, with many health workers living within the 40th. No surprise then that rare appearances in the area by Eugene have included hospital related issues, and Eugene has funneled large sums (in the millions) to Kings County Hospital for big ticket items. (e.g. $3.5 million in 2012 - video here; $2 million in 2010 - video here).

It's not unusual for unions to back the perceived frontrunner in campaigns, so as to receive the best possible treatment from the presumptive winner once in office. Such a disappointment to see, however, that the area's biggest mobilizer of votes has seen fit to endorse a seriously disastrous candidate...yet again. For shame.

Even more disappointing, however, is the endorsement by the Working Families Party. I'd be extremely surprised if they've actually done any homework at all on our current Councilman. Perhaps they're busy with the Mayor's race, and unable to Google the man, who has shown absolutely NO leadership on any of the issues they claim to hold dear. Dan Cantor, are you serious? There's still time to reexamine your choice.

Here's a note I sent to WFP today. I hope to be able to report some sort of explanation:

Hi from the Q at Parkside blog (  I write neighborhood news, essays and lean towards community betterment for the Prospect Lefferts Gardens and North Flatbush area. I've also taken a serious interest in core concerns of residents, though not strictly on the level of business development. I've watched too many neighborhoods grow and change without the interests of its longterm and less affluent residents at heart. Schools, jobs, housing, crime, trash. These are big concerns to me and my readers and those issues cross arbitrary lines of race, ethnicity or economic class. The Working Families Party has often seemed aligned with these interests and many of our goals (though I wouldn't be sincere if I didn't strongly disagree with you from time to time!)

It is therefore extremely surprising for me, and many of my neighbors, to see your endorsement of Mathieu Eugene for City Council from the 40th district. On what basis was this endorsement made? I would love to have the chance to discuss this with you. Perhaps you are not fully aware of the Councilman's lackluster record on...well, just about everything. Those who know him well, including those who have worked with and for him, detail a man completely over his head and unable to lead on the most basic level. I have personally sat across the table with him in my role at Community Board 9 and on various issues. I can assure you he understands next to nothing about budgeting, and has "led" on exactly ZERO issues. Occasionally, he will latch onto something that sounds beneficial to him. That's about it.

I hope that Dan Cantor or someone with knowledge of Eugene can contact me at or 917-822-5346.

An explanation as to WTF's understanding of this district, and of the incumbent's opposing candidates, would go a long way to giving us the confidence that you have done your due diligence.

Very best, and in most all other races --- "go get 'em!"

tim "theQ" thomas

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Q Gardens Coming! Meeting Tomorrow, Thursday the 15th

In my rush to split town, I forgot to trumpet the emerging project at the Church Ave stop on the Q (and it's quick weekday baby brother, the B). A number of neighbors are involved, and they've got some pictures to boot. Tomorrow night there's a meeting for those interested. A note from an organizer:

We are an ever-expanding group of neighbors dedicated to turning this over-grown lot into a welcoming, public green space and edible community garden.  The MTA has given the project the go-ahead and that we are in the final stages of entering into a contractual agreement with them/gaining access to the lot -- we want people to be aware of this exciting project in the making!  And to join us in our efforts.  The next meeting is August 15th.  People can email to find out the location. 

Check out the key points to know, neatly collected here:

Community Garden Proposal
Site: Brooklyn; Block: 5078 Lot: 32 (behind the subway stop at Church Avenue and East 18th Street)
  • Ali Jacobs (; 413-636-8042)
  • Anne Schoeneborn (; 503-866-7195)
Goal: To convert this unused, overgrown lot into a productive community garden

In the fall of 2012, Anne Schoeneborn, a new resident to the Prospect Park South neighborhood, engaged to add this lot to their online map of NYC public, unused land. She subsequently engaged MTA, the owner of the lot, to request authorization to convert the lot into a community garden. Prescott Vann, MTA’s Deputy Director of Leasing & Acquisitions, assigned Arturo Espinoza to help seek approval from New York City Transit. Through 596 acres, Ali Jacobs, a resident of neighboring Lefferts Gardens, has also joined the project. Together, Anne and Ali have reached out to community stakeholders, gotten the official support of Community Board 14 and local businesses, residents and organizations, built a community of 30 neighbors and gardeners who are interested in actively participating in the garden as well as a core group of organizers leading the legal and financial resources of the group. On May 23rd Arturo Espinoza informed the group that the application has progressed to the next stage and the land is approved for our use. Currently the core organizers are seeking fiscal sponsorship and insurance to meet the MTA’s requirements to procure the leasing agreement to the lot.

Although the lot is small, we hope to turn this into a very productive urban garden. In the first year, we envision developing a shared, communal garden (without any individual plots), with a series of raised beds, rain barrels, and a composting bin. We believe the communal garden model will allow us to make the most of the space, and hope to grow a range of vegetables, herbs, and flowers. We hope to engage the local community, particularly children, as much as possible—and believe this high-traffic corner is an ideal location. Currently, the lot is abandoned, over-grown, and trash-strewn. Our goal is to see this corner transformed into a beautiful, green community space that provides:
  • A space for children and adults to learn about gardening
  • A space for children and adults to participate in the process of planning and carrying out garden-related activities, including: sowing, weeding, watering, and harvesting
  • A local source of fresh, organically grown vegetables and herbs
  • A place for children and adults to experience and enjoy a safe, green space in their community
Community supporters to date:
  • Community Board 14
  • Sustainable Flatbush
  • DSJ Management, which owns the two large apartment buildings closest to the lot
  • More than Sevenlocal business owners
  • Flatbush Community Garden
  • Flatbush Farm Share CSA
  • Church Ave BID
Resources needed:
  • Fiscal sponsorship for 501(c)(3) status
  • Insurance

Materials needed:
  • Tools and storage space
  • Materials for raised beds (wood, tools, topsoil, compost)
  • Materials for compost bin
  • Rain barrels
Potential sources of materials/technical assistance/ funding:
  • Green Thumb
  • GrowNYC
  • NYC Compost Project
  • Brooklyn Botanic Garden
  • Sustainable Flatbush
  • Citizen’s Committee for New York
  • Brooklyn Community Foundation - Brooklyn Community Garden Fund
  • Merk Family Fund
  • Phillip J Hahn Foundation
  • Brooklyn Food Coalition
  • Compost for Brooklyn
Alls I can say is WOW. This is one heckuva good start folks! More power to you.

Some nifty drawings below:

Monday, August 12, 2013

A Modest Victory For Truth - Justice, Are You In There?

Finally mainstream media has taken a close look at something those of us on my block have known for some time. Barry Hers, landlord of 60 Clarkson, is getting rich by running a slum. Not the usual way of refusing to provide basic services to tenants. Oh, he does that all right, and his building is a rat-infested hellhole for the few hundred folks living under his greedy thumbs. But he's figured out how to double or triple his take - make a contract with the City's Department of Homeless Services to rent out his apartments for $3K a month to...homeless families. As if the indignity of putting yourself at the mercy of the City isn't bad enough, for the taxpayer's money comes moldy walls, broken plumbing, bedbugs, cracking paint, leaks, and occasionally no hot water or heat in winter.

It's an outrage. The Q tried his darndest to get attention to the matter, even meeting with CAMBA (the social service agency charged with overseeing the clients in the building) and trying to get a meeting with DHS. I sent out emails to a lot of folks in the media, but interestingly not to WNYC, who actually picked up the story today. No matter how the piece made it to the always on-it Cynthia Rodriguez, I'm glad to see our friend Vina getting a chance to tell the story from an actual tenant's perspective. There are only a few rent paying tenants left in the building, and they're getting SQUEEZED to leave. We're talking good people, folks. Not thugs or nuisances. Mr. and Mrs. King, for instance, have been here for 40 years, helping hold the block together while most newcomers wouldn't have dreamed of living here. It's heartbreaking really. The wife has always noted what a gorgeous building is 60. In fact, back in the day it was where "the rich people lived," according to twins Sandy and Randy who've lived on the block their whole lives.

The story's here: WNYC on 60 Clarkson.

Thanks Cynthia. Everyone, please, forward this story to whomever you know who could actually see Mr. Hers pay for his inhumanity, and change a system that allows slumlords to get rich off of all of us. Yuch.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Open Letter to Mathieu Eugene - Incumbent for the 40th Council District

Dear Mathieu "inside the flag" Eugene:

It started off so hopeful, and we had some nice times together. But for my sanity and for the sake of the 40th Council District, I think it's time we start seeing other people. Oh the heck with it...I'm breaking up with you, and here's why.

better days!
When I first met you a couple years ago, I was excited that you showed interest in dealing with trash and the Flatbush Trees, plus the Parkside Prize and our efforts to remake the plaza at my hometrain the Q. It turned out, though, that you couldn't even find a few bucks in your discretionary budget for a project that's been embraced by so many in the community. You gave money to all sorts of pet projects and churches and organizations that seem to mean something to you, but when the neighborhood pulled together to create a plan to improve the business environment and physical appearance of our humble part of the borough, you came up short. A councilman with six years experience should be able to command more resources than that. It's very disappointing. But that's just the sour icing on the fruitcake. I mean, how is it that after six years you're still near the bottom of the pack when it comes to dollars brought to your district? Like I said, very disappointing.

When you came into office, you cost the taxpayers roughly $400,000 because you failed to move to our district in time to get the election certified. You refused to state under oath that you lived here. Why exactly did you do that? Was living in the district you represent that unimportant to you, that you failed to cross your t's and dot your i's, and um, live here? And exactly how much time have you spent at the apartment in Flatbush, the one that you apparently have trouble paying the rent at? By the way that Ditmas Corner article I just linked to noted that you're occasionally seen taking your kids to school. I won't touch that one, but frankly I rarely see you out and about. Most council members spend a great deal of time getting to know their constituents. I mean, it's not like you're in Albany most of the time. You're right here in NYC. I see State Assemblywoman Rhoda Jacobs more often than you. Where are you most of the time? I'm shocked to say it, but I'm quite sad not to see more of you. Your reelection campaign website cites 2011 information. You have next to no presence ANYWHERE on the web. Google you then google Jumaane or Tish or Lander. It's bizarre. You're the only person I know who's able to hide from the internet!!

But now I hear that you're not even playing by the rules in your current reelection campaign. Why, Mathieu, did you send out a brochure trumpeting your achievements in the Council within 90 days of the Primary Election? Did you forget that this was absolutely against the law? It's called a "blackout period," during which you're not allowed to utilize your office or its funds to campaign. I wonder if the Campaign Finance Board has been alerted to this. Surely they, and the Council itself, must frown on such illegal activity. Very disappointing indeed. Is it true that your reelection campaign team (basically run by your well-compensated brother) had listed your district office on Linden Boulevard with governing authorities? Did you not know that this is also illegal? It's important to at least APPEAR to separate your office budget (that we all pay for) and the budget of your campaign, that frankly we all pay for too, but you have to at least raise 1/6 of it yourself from friends and supporters. Wait a second. You haven't been approved by the Board to receive matching funds. Why is that? Doesn't every candidate want 6 times their war chest? Or is there something preventing you from getting that taxpayer money? Poor planning maybe, or poor accounting, or maybe spending too much from the wrong kitty. Either way, it was a very big oversight, Mathieu. It's disappointing to be sure, but par for the course I'm afraid. You're just not interested in such thorny details.

Maybe someone whose job it is to look at such things will complete some sort of audit of your books. I'd be surprised if they didn't find more irregularities. You're just not very careful, at best, and perhaps even willfully negligent or criminal, or more likely, just plain incompetent. I've begun to suspect the latter, because I'd like to assume you're a nice guy who means well.

But Mathieu, meaning well is not a qualification for reelection. Don't take it hard; I still like you. But you're unfit for office, and certainly unfit to represent the people of Flatbush, or more accurately the various Flatbushes, since each micronabe and cultural community deserves to be recognized, respected and represented. There is just one community that you've shown interest in, and even the Haitian community deserves better than your generalized statements and much ballyhooed use of your office for immigrant information, a service that's provided to you pro bono anyway and would be to any councilperson living in an immigrant rich neighborhood. I suspect any of your challengers would do as well if not better at championing the causes of the Haitian diaspora.

My opinion of you went from disbelief (that any elected representative could speak with such vapid platitudes - check out this absurd video about domestic violence) to shock, when I sat around a table with some of my fellow members of CB9 to discuss the budget. You showed up late, but hey, you showed up. When we asked you whether you'd even read the Community Board's requests to the City, you clearly had never bothered to read it. We sent it to you Mathieu. It contains your districts most important needs and concerns. We voted on it as a neighborhood. You wouldn't have even had to come to an actual CB9 meeting (though you occasionally do to claim victory for some budget priority that you had little to do with getting). You could have read the document from your Campaign Office, er, District Office, or even at your primary residence in Canarsie. And you seemed to have NO IDEA how the City budgeting process works. That's, like, your most crucial job as City legislator. Six years in and you still don't know how the budget works?

Feel free to have your people contact me to verify or deny any of the things I've said here. I'm quite confident you won't, because frankly Mathieu, you don't have much to be proud of at this point, and much more to lose than to gain by picking fights.

Some of the newer or less politically minded folks in your district might wonder how you got elected at all. It's pretty simple really. The old council person Yvette Clarke, and the council person before that, her mother Una, hand-picked you to be their successor. Here's what Una had to say about you at the time.  “I think he will make an excellent and competent council member" and “Yvette and I are sparing no effort to help someone who will build on our legacy and do better than we did and that person is Mathieu Eugene."

I'm cc'ing you on my open note to Una: Hey Ms. Clarke, it's never too late to admit you got it wrong. Please, please use your clout and expertise at getting out the vote and endorse someone else, preferably Saundra Thomas, who actually has a website and a passion to lead the district. For the sake of the 40th that you love so much, please consider the good you'd be doing!

But Mathieu, here's hoping I see you again soon, back practicing as a doctor and not pretending to know what you're doing in public office. Actually, I've heard you don't know what you're doing as a doctor either, and have actually keeping up a ridiculous facade that you're even licensed to practice, but let's not go down that road.

See you in the 'hood! Flatbush that is, not Canarsie.

- The Q

Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Fishin' Musician

It's come that time of year when even the most dogged of bloggers clear their noggins by heading for the country. Southern Vermont, if you must know, in a valley without cell service from ANY company. The internet is available in the old town hall, which I'm parked outside of, trying desperately to distance myself from the need to communicate with y'all. Deep breaths, unplug, unplug. No one here gives a darn about NYC, except what they read in the papers sometimes. It's amazing how City-centric we get. People live the whole year with nothing but the change of the seasons to get riled about. We're renting a tiny farmhouse from the 1820's, when people were short - I hit my head everywhere. It's owned by Junior Bentley, who just turned 90 but takes a ride with Sue and Valerie out to the hill to "hay" the cows off the back of a flatbed. Last night we went to an Oxen Show and ice cream social. My daughter riled one of the Oxes, and he riled her right back. Guess what that ox's name was. Blue. Blue Ox. As Sting sang, "synchronicity." Dang that record blows in retrospect. "I'll Always Be King of Pain?" Yuch. Worse than Coldplay lyrics...

I actually don't fish, but I do love the above sign. And craziest thing...the cat's all fish here too!

Yes I have subletters so don't think you can swing by my house and tag it or steal my collection of blue and yellow 1/4 inch patch cords.

AND send me any tidbits you'd like amplified by this most odd of megaphones and I'll do my best to get it up here. You know where to reach me...mines the kitty on the left by the way. Quite the angler.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Farmer's Market at Caton Market

For those who've been craving the farmer's market experience (FME), a humble FME can be had at the corner of Caton and Flatbush every Wednesday from 8am - 4pm (ignore the dates/times on the Flatbush-Caton Market website). It's sponsored by the Caribbean American Chamber of Commerce.

Please do stop by it and share your comments. Perhaps if it becomes popular enough they'll add more vendors!

For those who know what a market is, but are not quite sure about the farmer part, here's a picture of a typical farmers-market farmer to give you a sense of the man behind the melons:

Monday, August 5, 2013

National Night Out Against Crime - Two Locations!!

Once again it's time to eat some hot dogs and talk turkey - about crime, and how to stop it - by going outside. Flyers below. The tradition has a rich history. Read more about it here. Seriously, go out the doors to the out-of-doors and meet your neighbors and precinct folk. Both the 70th and 71st precincts have their spots.

anybody else see a ghost face just to the right of the hot dogs? and what are the yellow things? popcorns?

In the family picture above, I get that there's a Dad, baby, mom, and little girl. But who's the other figure? The chubby uncle?

We Got Pictures To Prove It!

Thanks Rudy for the following to prove the last post was no August Fool's Day joke:

Buy American!!

didn't they get the memo about DR's new look?

And to prove that Parkside Ave is cookin' with gas, a new cell phone store next to Mickey D's!!!!

there's a story in the biz model of these stores I simply don't get. Anyone? The Wireless R Us on Flatbush near Woodruff I get. Constant charismatic chaos in there. But can the City really support these all?

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Latest Curiousities

The Q may have gone fishin', but that doesn't stop him from hearing tales of oddness in the 'hood.

Like...the long blue wall along the Duane Reade? Suddenly beige? Why? That blue was the only thing saving that wall from not being blue. With the Berlin Wall fencing on the roof, it must now truly resemble Sing Sing.

But more ominous is the fact that Pioner took down the flags representing many of the Caribbean islands in favor of many of the old red, white and blue.

Huh. Wouldn't want to read to much into that one now would you...

Here's a list of the 13 largest (by size) West Indian islands, in preparation for the big day on Labor Day. Clearly, the Bahamas are the least population dense by a longshot. That's what I took away from this exercise anyway...

1) Cuba
Area: 42,803 square miles (110,860 sq km)
Population: 11,087,330
Capital: Havana

2) Dominican Republic
Area: 18,791 square miles (48,670 sq km)
Population: 9,956,648
Capital: Santo Domingo

3) Haiti
Area: 10,714 square miles (27,750 sq km)
Population: 9,719,932
Capital: Port au Prince

4) The Bahamas
Area: 5,359 square miles (13,880 sq km)
Population: 313,312
Capital: Nassau

5) Jamaica
Area: 4,243 square miles (10,991 sq km)
Population: 2,868,380
Capital: Kingston

6) Trinidad and Tobago
Area: 1,980 square miles (5,128 sq km)
Population: 1,227,505
Capital: Port of Spain

7) Dominica
Area: 290 square miles (751 sq km)
Population: 72,969
Capital: Roseau

8) Saint Lucia
Area: 237 square miles (616 sq km)
Population: 161,557
Capital: Castries

9) Antigua and Barbuda
Area: 170 square miles (442 sq km)
Population: 87,884
Capital: Saint John's

10) Barbados
Area: 166 square miles (430 sq km)
Population: 286,705
Capital: Bridgetown

11) Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Area: 150 square miles (389 sq km)
Population: 103,869
Capital: Kingstown

12) Grenada
Area: 133 square miles (344 sq km)
Population: 108,419
Capital: Saint George's

13) Saint Kitts and Nevis
Area: 100 square miles (261 sq km)
Population: 50,314
Capital: Basseterre

Friday, August 2, 2013

Red Lines

A fantastic conversation is taking place on the Yahoo Lefferts Listserv about rising rents and stabilization laws. Seems like some verification on the facts and some statistics would help immensely. Barbara? Is there a great article out there that I could post on the subject? Actually at the bottom of the page I cut and pasted her comment from the listserv (hope that's okay BR!)

The bottom line - rents are rising so fast that recent transplants to the neighborhood can't afford to stay, to say nothing of long-term residents who are being pressured to leave. Many forces at play.

But let's not forget the pink elephant in the room...race. Landlords often take the position, illegal as it is, that renting to whites increases their chances of moving up and out of stabilization thresholds quickly - particularly youngish recent graduates. And who do you suppose has been the most conspicuous demographic of newcomer to the neighborhood? White looks green in a greedy landlord's eyes.

People call gentrification inevitable, and maybe that's so. But why the massive change in racial makeup, from Harlem to Bed-Stuy and Ft. Greene and Crown Heights? Is it really all just "desirability" and the fact of racial income disparity, or is it also a bit more sinister? I don't accuse anyone moving to a black neighborhood of racism. That certainly wasn't on my mind when I moved to Clarkson 10 years ago. The process itself ENCOURAGES racism though. I believe that's what's so troubling to many of us who've moved here and watched the average skin tone lighten. It's a creepy feeling, am I right?

This is big, big, big stuff. Heard recently from an interracial couple I know - "he always does the dealing with the landlords. It's just "easier" that way. Sad, but true." Speaks volumes to me. Btw, when we moved to our block we could count the white folks on both hands. It would be foolish now to guesstimate; almost every new face is, if not white, certainly post-collegiate and paying considerably more than one would have payed three or four years ago.

The argument about stabilization and market forces and warehousing and lack of affordable housing is an old one, and no one seems to be able to fix it. There's so little political will. But we at least ought to be able to stand together, as they did back in the last big REDLINING era, and throw the book at landlords practicing discrimination.

If we could find out authoritatively which landlords are the worst offenders, we could protest outside their buildings, and run stings in concert with the district attorney. It's easy. One person applies with an African-American sounding name, another with a probable white name. On the phone, one sounds "black," the other sounds white. Or better yet, go in person. Even make sure that the black applicant has a better credit rating. What happens next would be very telling indeed.

You may shake your head and wonder if it's happening. But I've gotten to know a few landlords a bit, and heard some stories that will scare you straight, and I can assure you that it is VERY much happening. There are some real scumbags around here. A forum on the subject is fine, but I suggest action. This is the sort of thing PLGNA was created for. I hope they take the lead.

If other neighborhoods in Brooklyn and upper Manhattan are any indication, our neighborhood will be majority white within 5 years or so, maybe less. Barring natural or unnatural catastrophes of course. To illustrate further just how quickly a neighborhood can change complexion, check out this fascinating document I found showing the census numbers from 1960 and 1970. Of course, Prospect-Lefferts-Gardens, having only been coined, was extrapolated from census tracts from the previous census.

Now I ask you this. If racism was so clearly involved in the previous change from white to black, why would one assume that similar yet opposite effects aren't being utilized now? Perhaps not as much, it is 50 years on after all. But aren't the same kinds of fear-mongering and profiling going on today?

From Barbara:

Buildings are not stabilized, apartments are.  A building can have a mix of stabilized, controlled, and market rate units.  Currently, the threshold to remove an apartment from stabilization is $2500/mo. (was $2000 up until 2011), so what many landlords try to do is to get that legal rent above the threshold as quickly as possible.

How do they do this? Through a combination of vacancy increases (currently between 18% - 20% of the rent amount, added every time the apartment turns over to a new tenant) and major capital improvements (MCI) increases - 1/40th of the total cost of MCI renovations to an individual apartment is added to the monthly rent.

Due to vacancy increases, younger peoples' typical mobility (job or relationship changes, etc.) thus becomes a factor encouraging gentrification  For example, if a $1200 apartment turns over every year for three years, the three 18% vacancy increase would have the rent up to $1971.64/mo. without any rent increases at all.

So you can see why many landlords like apartments to turn over frequently and also why there are so many over the top renovations being done to vacant apartments.  I know of one building in the neighborhood where the landlord totally renovates every vacant apartment, including adding stainless steel kitchen appliances, dishwashers, new hardwood floors, etc., all to get that MCI increase.  And he has gotten a good number of apartments off stabilization that way; I have heard from the tenants in those apartments that the increases they've gotten since then have been pretty shocking.

Sometimes landlords will illegally remove an apartment from stabilization (they simply tell the new tenant that it's not a stabilized apartment and have them sign a standard non-stabilized lease). If you suspect this is the case for your apartment, you should get its rent history from the City's DHCR (Division of Housing and Community Renewal) to see.  Here's a link for more info:

And don't think that just because you live in a big building and your rent is under $2500 that it's stabilized.  Even though the legal rent may well be over that amount, nothing obliges the landlord to charge that legal rent. I know of one building in the area in which the landlord was able to get most of the apartments off of stabilization through MCI increases; he then rented them out at a lower rent (called a "preferred rent'), because there was no way the market would have supported the higher legal rent at the time.  However, now that the market is going up, he is free to revert to whatever market rent he wants to choose.

The DHCR's list of rent-regulated buildings specifically mentions that inclusion in the list is not a guarantee that there currently are rent-regulated units in it, but it shows a total of 497 buildings in the 11225 zip code (I only searched by the 11225 zip code, so those farther south may also be there), including, in PLG, buildings on Beekman Pl., Fenimore St., Flatbush Ave., Hawthorne St., Lefferts Ave., Lincoln Rd., Maple St., Midwood St., Ocean Ave., Rutland Rd., Sterling St. - just about every big building (over 6 units) in the neighborhood is on the DHCR's list - however, this only indicates the probable presence of rent regulated units, it doesn't mean that your individual apartment is regulated. So be aware before you sign that lease!