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, September 30, 2013

Neighbors Unite Against Unacceptable Gun Violence - "PLAY FOR PEACE," next Wednesday Oct 9 at Parkside Playground - Come One, Come All!

Enough with the meetings. Some of us feel it's time to try something more public, more creative, more urgen. The Q hopes that every one of you, regardless of age and regardless of whether you normally have any use for a playground, will come out for as much of the two hours of 5-7 PM on Wednesday October 9 (rain date October 10) for a completely unsanctioned, informal and generally non-organized "Play-In," a new take on an old idea, wherein we Flashmob our way into the consciousness of the Powers That Be. Bring checkers; bring dinner; bring a basketball; bring your kids; bring a jump rope; bring a guitar; bring your congas; bring a jacket; bring a non-alcoholic beverage; bring your general dismay that street crews have made it impossible to feel totally safe on our streets and even in our parks and goodness gracious even our playgrounds. This isn't how it has to be, and we're telling everyone who will listen - media, officials, law enforcement - that we need smart policing and better preventative medicine. And hey, thanks to Karen, we've even got a logo!



What: Play for Peace - An Afternoon of Fun and Play for ALL residents of northern Flatbush, Lefferts Gardens, southern Crown Heights - areas just east of Prospect Park. It's basically a "play in." No need to scream in protest. Cops and officials know about the problems of gun violence in our neighborhood, and how concerned we are. But what are they doing? What are WE doing? We're inviting everyone to come out and play in a park that's become a symbol of official indifference and community outrage. Come play on the playground, bring a picnic, bring card games or checkers, play basketball, work out. Hang out. Share a day with your neighbors, knowing that something must be done to quell the violence.

When: Wednesday, October 9 (raindate October 10) from 5PM - 7PM. We will then witness the cops actually locking up the park at dusk as they've claimed they would do and peacefully head home.

Where: The Parkside Playground at PS92, enter on Winthrop Street between Bedford and Rogers Avenues.

Who: Play for Peace has been created collectively by concerned members of the neighborhood. The leadership team includes local parents and activists and members of local civic, educational and religious organizations. But the broader community has been actively involved in efforts for some time, and Play for Peace is designed to highlight the vast majority of residents united against gang violence, shootings and drug dealing.

Why: Play for Peace is a grass-roots effort to draw attention to the alarming uptick in violent crime in the Lefferts Gardens area of Flatbush, Brooklyn. Gun violence and gang activity have become visibly more pronounced in the last two to three years. In response, neighborhood groups have repeatedly called meetings with the 71st and 70th precincts and elected officials, created task forces, engaged the District Attorney's office, and created listservs to share information. Recently, and in an effort to take an even more active role, residents have started organizing an officially sanctioned Civilian Observation Patrol (C.O.P.) for the area. Folks are tired of the same answers and often useless forums and discussions. More needs to be done to address the number one priority for most neighbors - public safety.

Background: In 2012, the Parkside Playground was opened to much fanfare in the Lefferts Gardens neighborhood of Brooklyn. Built to be a youth-positive, attractive, communal, dual-purpose park for both families with young children (the playground itself) and for active teens and exercising adults (the accompanying basketball courts and workout stations), problems began to arise immediately after the ribbon cutting. Trash went uncollected, little maintenance to the landscaping and playground equipment took place, and episodes of drug and gang activity, including iPhone thefts, led many to wonder if the park was being monitored or cared for. Just two weeks after the playground's opening, a 22-year old was shot in the playground at 9PM, an hour well after the supposed closing time of the park (the NYPD posted signs stating the playground is locked after dusk; locking is an all too rare occurrence). Repeated calls for vigilance at and around the playground went unheeded. Local law enforcement trumpets of the large number of arrests made in and around the playground - but isn't this just more evidence that the area is out of control? Regular patrols and park closings surely would have encouraged lawbreakers to move elsewhere. Such common sense solutions were not forthcoming.

In the past year, the playground has seen its slides spray-painted with gang graffiti. Five of the original six swings were destroyed. (They were since replaced after community protest.) A group was formed to address the trash and gardening issues that needed tending. More shootings have taken place terrifyingly close to the playground itself. Groups of teens hang out and intimidate youngsters from late afternoon til all hours. A virtual “fight club” of local teens has been allowed to operate, as young boys are fighting each other to audiences of their peers. Adults and teens are allowed to “hang out” in the area made for small children, creating an unsafe and inappropriate environment. Marijuana smoking is common just a few yards from where children are playing. Drug deals go down in the open. Where, we ask, are the authorities in all this?

Zoom out and you'll see a neighborhood struggling with issues seemingly beyond their control. In the past year alone, the following shootings have taken place within a few blocks of the playground:

10/20/12          Westside of Flatbush at Lefferts
12/27/12          McKeever and Montgomery
1/02/13            Rogers at Martense
1/31/13            Empire and New York Ave
2/7/13              Sterling at Bedford
2/14/13            Church and East 18th
3/3/13              Linden and New York Ave
4/5/13              President and Franklin
4/2/13              Bedford and Carroll
4/9/13              Hawthorne near Nostrand
4/15/13            Lincoln Road near Q/B Train Station
4/16/13            Lenox at Bedford
6/3/13              Rutland Kingston
6/23/13            Fenimore btw Flatbush and Bedford
6/2/13              Lenox between Flatbush and Bedford
8/22/13            Flatbush at Beekman
9/7/13              Caton at Argyle
9/14/13            Fenimore btw Flatbush and Bedford
9/16/13            Winthrop near Bedford (same block as playground)

The nearby 71st and 70th precincts have both seen major increases in shootings, this despite drops in neighboring precincts. It's the sheer number of shootings in a relatively small geographical area that have led residents to believe that their needs and concerns are not being addressed. Something is going on between young people and "street crews," and gunplay is becoming the accepted form of retaliation. The teens and young adults involved in the street crews tell confidantes that they're scared too. Many of us feel threatened, demoralized and even enraged by the seemingly empty assurances of the powers that be. On October 9 (rain date October 10), we hope to show the City that we're tired of the same ol' same ol'. New approaches, from direct communication with young people, to community centers, to after-school programs, to beat cops who understand their neighborhood, to better gang infiltration and an understanding of crew dynamics, to working with landlords to evict repeat offenders, to proactive measures like better lighting and cameras and locking playgrounds at night and better enforcement of quality of life crimes - these we ask in the spirit of cooperation to bring down crime and make the area safer for ALL neighborhood residents.

We ask that the media join us on October 9 and interview neighborhood residents and take a look at the many, many folks who are ready to try something new, ANYTHING at all, to bring attention to this seemingly intractable problem.

For questions and comments, please contact:
Tim Thomas at 917-822-5346
Pavani Thagirisa at

Phat Albert About to Start Working Out? Planet Fitness Planned

Hmmm. New windows for Phats? An eagle-eyed reader popped this picture and noted the construction permit covers the first and second floors of this southern portion of the building.

Then the Q checked in with Albert Srour, owner of the one-time bakery itself, and guess what? He confirmed that Planet Fitness will be moving in, taking over at least the second floor of this two-story part of the building.

No more excuses. You MUST get in shape by next summer...

AND Albert just added that he'd like to see a nice restaurant open in up in the building. Wonder where? As of yet he has no plan to shut down his namesake store. But...

C'mon, there's gotta be a Brooklyn investor/restauranteur who could make it worth his while. Anyone? Btw, if you're initials are T.G.I.F. or your last name is Appleby? The place is already rented, sorry, 

Friday, September 27, 2013

Good News For Fans of Fast Food

Nobody can touch the Western Empire (Boulevard) for smorgasbord of yummy greasy fast food.

From Popeye's to Mickey D's to Wendy's you can now add Pizza Hut Express (at the new 7-11 strip mall at Bedford and Empire) and Checkers (Washington and Empire) which now has its menu up at the drive-through and an Open Soon sign. Chow down folks!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Screening of "My Brooklyn" And Lefferts Development Discussion This Saturday

Howdy neighbors. Folks can't get enough of the conversation of neighborhoodal change, and this Saturday you can join in the conversation guess what IN PERSON! Believe me, I know how much fun it can be to communicate on the screen, but nothing beats a face to face.

Here's the flyer. Please share widely!

Not for nothing, I think the picture on the flyer is unnecessarily provocative, since the building on Flatbush by Hudson is a done deal. But I think the point is that instead of having development happen TO us, we might want to have a say in issues of zoning and land use. Or that's how I took it anyway. Clearly, there's lots to talk about!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Parkside Ave - The Trees Are Coming!

Along Parkside, east of the Q, on towards the Flabenue, you'll see strange white markings on the ground. Graffiti? Only of the best kind.

These are the markings for the tree pits folks. For real trees. We're going to have a ton of trees leading down Parkside towards the park, just part of the whole Parkside Plaza initiative. To the whole committee that's been working on this for a couple years now - wow. You really can move mountains around here. Can't wait to see them in the ground. The trees that is, not mountains.

Let's just be sure, however, that the Parks D doesn't choose to plant Bicycle Trees like this one in front of 225 Parkside:

Rather than unchain and potentially destroy this tot's bike, the pavers merely moved it up the pole and poured cement under it. I wonder how long it will stay there? Til spring? Any bettors out there want to wager?

Quick Pics

Seen these? Welcome to the brand new world of Lefferts, primed for visitors who are accustomed to helpful kiosks of the sort they have in most of the civilized world:

The nonsensical hyphen between Prospect (for the park) and Lefferts (for the homestead and Manor) has now been set in stone, or plastic or whatever. As for the "s" on Garden, you probably know by now where I stand on that one. As for PLG, any neighborhood that resorts to acronyms that could potentially sound as PLAG, PLEG, PLIG, PLOG or PLUG (and sometimes PLYG) is really not the way to go. But PLuGNA long ago ensured that we'd have live with it.

Ah, but the Parkside Playground. A reader sent these pictures of a clippings loaf topped with a dollop of sumptuous garbage:

The Q notified district manager Miles. Hopefully Sanitation will be by soon to clean it up. If you notice that it's been tidied, or not, please comment!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

When the Street Art Comes Down, You Know It's For Real

It's been four years now that the murals along Lincoln Road and Flatbush have ringed the property slated to become an L shaped apartment building. After fits and starts, construction is about to begin, meaning the murals must go. The Flatbush panels may be taken down as early as tomorrow. The Lincoln Road side will be up for a bit longer.

It's bittersweet of course. Like ice and butter sculpture, plywood murals are among the saddest of all art forms. They're built to be temporary. Here's one section at its inception:

I would like to formally thank PLG Arts for its noble service to the neighborhood. Just think how ugly these stretches of road would have been without this glorious collection of colorful pieces by neighborhood artistes?

Some of them might end up being used by the community garden on Maple 3. Regardless, they've become part of the local flavor and will be missed. And some folks who will move in to the new apartments will never know the moustachioed four-armed one-legged fruit juggler that once proudly held court there.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

FOUND IN BRONX!!!!!!!!! Please Drop What You're Doing And Look At This Photo!

God have mercy he's been found...! is for our neighbor who has gone missing since this morning. He road off the Rutland Road 2 block between Bedford & Rogers in Prospect Lefferts Gardens, Brooklyn on his red bike at around 11am this morning.
Sam is 14 and he is autistic. He was wearing a red baseball cap.
or try 646-526-8309, 646-526-8341

photo removed

Friday, September 20, 2013

Just Think On This For A Minute

For the moment I'll let the picture do the talking. This is not, by the way, merely fantasy, but it's not going to involve magic...

Thursday, September 19, 2013

It's Nickagooga Time!

I was all ready to keep my big mouth shut, then I was ready to leave it on a previous post, and now that I've been given all three sides of the issue, I bring it here for public comment should you so choose.

We all know about Googamooga, right? In this blogger's opinion, the Greek Giggle Miggle was a halfway decent music fest, decent little food and wine event featuring local restaurants, and had all the charm of State Fair. The park netted some money, a lot of people lamented the crass use of the park. But my take was that the Park took a chance on raising much needed funds in a fun way. The weather crapped on the event in its second year, vendors lost tons of dough, and most folks suspect the organizers won't risk a third calamitous year. We'll see.

Now comes Nickagooga, the Nickelodeon sponsored even on the very same Nethermead - holy land to this blogger, for its being not the Long Meadow and for off the beaten path pleasantness. Once again, a week of preparations have led to scenes like this, shot by artist and pal Noel  Hefele:

So then I get a bunch in the ol' girl-pants and write this:

Okay, three things. I was challenged by a commenter so I wrote this about the Nethermead being closed down again. This time to celebrate the love that is Nickelodeon. About Nick's Get Out and Play day...

I have a call into our friend at the Park to find out how much they'll be making. Anything less than a quarter million net and my stomach is prepared to launch my lunch.

Think about the cynical reality - the station most associated with obesity and commercialism of childhood is going "dark" for three hours in order to get kids to go outside. To the Nethermead, which has been made pretty un-playable for a week, a place that kids love to run around, as my own did last weekend. As if they need to be TOLD to play outside by the company that keeps them inside. In order to sell more schlock and pump up the brands of an MTV offsho
ot. The bands? Insipid and focus-grouped to the nth.

To which the Park's position is basically that the Park is for all sorts of things, even cynical marketing opportunities dressed as playdates, 35,000 tickets have been snapped up, kids will dig it for sure, and this makes me wonder if I'm just crotchety aesthete (ass-thete? like an athlete who has a talented posterior?) for preaching what people should and shouldn't do with their Park. And this is probably true. I don't speak for everyone, just me. If most Brooklynites think this is a good use of the space, then there it is.

Interestingly, the Park feels it got a great deal out of the Krate Kooga Nooga - a walkway got finished, cash changed hands, the organizers footed the bill for cleanup and restoration (the meadow does look pretty good, it's true). And again, there's that thing I keep coming back to...try new stuff and see what works.

Personally, I'd rather they just do benefit concerts like BRIC does for Summerstage. Or paid benefit events of some kind. I don't like that it's Nickelodeon though. And I absolutely hate that they're getting millions of dollars of marketing for such cynical pursuits.

And still I wonder, yes I wonder, who'll stop the rain? No that's John Fogerty. I mean still I wonder, yes I wonder...would their be massive protests if this thing was held on the Long Meadow? Perhaps we'll never know, as our Nethermead has been designated the commercial guinea pig.

Operation Crew Cut

If you want to meet and express yourself to the cops at the 71st, go to the Precinct Community Council meeting at 7PM at the school at the corner of NY Ave and Empire, kitty corner from the precinct itself. They meet once a month and could use more involvement.

Finally from the NY Times publishes an article that nails the issue. The Q has been privy to enough "intel" around hear to know this is very, very accurate. Here's hoping the 71st finds a way to move forward in light of what's really happening. And what's that, exactly? Street crews involved in petty arguments are fueling the increase in shootings. And when I say petty, I mean petty petty petty. Want to know why we can't keep these guys behind bars? Well, unless they actually shot someone and it can be proved, or were caught with an illegal gun and it can be proved, it's really hard to get these low level crews on anything but public drinking or weed. We know who the guys are, we even sometimes know the beefs. So...what next? That's why I wanted to find out what the D.A. could do about it, since the gang laws can sometimes be used. At one particular building, an attempt is being made to toss those in an apartment on Section 8 fraud, since it's hard to kick someone out of their home, particularly if the lease-holder isn't involved in the criminal activity.

Times on Crews

I've forwarded everything I've written, and the comments you all have made, and a letter asking for an Impact Zone or greater undercover operations, and generally more presence on the streets, to those above the level of the precinct (Kelly's office and Brooklyn South). It's only my opinion, but I don't think the 71st is corrupt. Vinnie's been there for years under many commanders. Jack is a decent guy, as are many of his underlings. They work hard, and they share what they know openly. They explain the struggles they're having and it makes sense to meet. They're in over their heads though, and they need help from every angle.

Sure it sucks to keep meeting and feel like we're not getting results. But you can't expect overnight miracles. And even though we meet, very few of us step forward to keep the pressure on. An email list of those interested in meeting pretty regularly is growing, and I'd love to add your name. I'll keep you up to date on things that don't belong in a public forum like this. Let me know if you want on. It's completely fine to let the authorities do their job and go about your business. But the spike in shootings around here is very real, and we need all the attention and sharing of info we can get.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Tiny 71st and DOT Flatbush Corridor Mtg Coming Up!

1. According to the precinct, the 71st is the smallest by land. That is to say, we are roughly a square mile but more than 100,000 people. We are denser than even seemingly denser and taller nabes on Manhattan? Really? Well, remember Ebberts Houses - that's 12,000 people right there. Can't confirm that. Choice tidbit though. Especially given the 1-family thingamajig happening in the Manor, which obviously is but a sliver of the pie.

2. Master Ed Fanning, your CB9 chair of Transportation, says that despite the fact that the Flatbush Corridor project of DOT will present their finished plan to y'all later this month, they're going to try to fix the Lincoln/Washington/Flatbush cluster#@ck immediately. I posted on the hole project here.

Oh, and guess what? The poster for the Flatbush Corridor meeting came in from Pearl Miles as I wrote that.

Okay, three things. I was challenged by a commenter so I wrote this about the Nethermead being closed down again. This time to celebrate the love that is Nickelodeon:

626 Flatbush Set to Build

Looks like the 23 story residential tower at 626 Flatbush is all set to roll. Thanks MP for the proof.

Fact is, the parking lot that was behind the current "taxpayer" at 626, the one that thrifty Leffertsians used, is now closed. The Medical Center that was has broken glass inside and out. The writing was on the wall, but now it's also online and in the file.

Free Trees, Please!

Sneeze at free trees? Nuh-uh! You can reserve one AND pick it up right in Lefferts at the Maple Street Community Garden. Everything you need to know and every line to fill out is right here.


The most local pickup is at the Comm Garden at 237 Maple on Sunday October 6 at 11am. Be sure to reserve in advance and get your Johnny Appleseed outfit cleaned and pressed.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Winthrop and Fenimore Shootings

A friend wrote "things are eerily quiet" over on Fenimore not too long before Saturday came and shots rang out. It's the same damn crowd and houses that were involved last time. Then last night around 6, shots were fired down Winthrop towards Bedford. Yes, THAT playground. The one I've been writing about for months. The one who's slides were tagged with gang graffiti.

I've got work to do today. Feel free to comment away. I happened to be at the 71st precinct talking to Vinnie Martinos and Jack Lewis last night just after it went down. A few of us were there getting fingerprinted to join the Civilian Observation Patrol. Perhaps you want to join us? Send me an email.

I was writing to the Winthrop II block association that I think it's time for something more than a little sit-down with cops. It may be time for a massive demonstration, a parade around the neighborhood from one hot spot to another maybe? Get some press. Get Eric Adams on board. Get the attention of NYPD and Brooklyn South headquarters. I don't know. It's gone too far for too long, and I for one am sick of it.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Not Too Far To Tafari Tribe

Try saying THAT five times fast...

The Q met last night with Sandra Marshall-Haye, owner of the gorgeous Tafari Tribe at 593 Flatbush just up from Rutland. Let me cut the chase...Sandra is the kind of fierce, kind, open human being that could run the railroad. And by the railroad, I mean the Flabenue Railroad, Parkside to Empire. She's a global-traveler with a knowledge and love for ALL Brooklyn. She worked for years at Chase Bank but now spends her time doing something she truly loves - making things and, bringing one-of-kind clothes, accessories, artwork, home furnishings etc. and displaying them in her store like a brilliantly colored museum.

Folks, if you haven't been, you're missing out. This is a great place to shop for unique gifts - as, or more, more interesting than, say, the Brooklyn Museum gift shop, where a similar global boutique vibe happens. Sandra and staff, maybe even her daughter who was helping out last night, will help you find something cool. Or just browse.  (The vibe is chill, and (duh) she wants your business, so don't let any vague notions that a store called Tafari is for Rastas only. That would be like a baguette shop that won't sell you bread unless your French c'est magnifique). So you'll go check it out, right? Tell them the Q sent you and comment below if you think I'm high for thinking the place has oodles of pizazz.

Best yet, Sandra took my on a tour next door where she'll soon be opening Tafari Cafe. First thing you notice is the decor, which matches the Tribe boutique in colors and images. You can't see it so well in this photo, but she's made a mirrored map of the world showing the many places from which she'll be getting her coffee beans. There's plenty of space for a groovy coffee hangout, but she'll be serving food and beer and wine. I think it stands a good chance of bridging the gap between old-comer and new-comer. We'll see. I'm definitely looking forward to the Ethiopian brew. (Abyssinia, the precursor to Ethiopia, was the original home to coffee, don't you know).

Now here's where my Iowa-boy background shows through. If you saw this joint in some Midwestern college town you'd be humming the tune from "Ras Trent." (Hysterical SNL referenced video here), overwhelmed perhaps by the scent of young co-eds doused in patchouli. But because I live in Lefferts I'm lucky to be able to walk into a local shop and chit-chat with a bonafide globe-trotting business-woman like Sandra who happens to have been born Catholic in Jamaica but took a spiritual left-turn and hasn't looked back.

We also talked about how Flatbush Avenue (a/k/a the Flabenue) needs a serious makeover. Folks, Ms. Marshall Haye has the gumption and skills to bring the merchants together, and I'll definitely be happy to cheerlead. Along with a few others (I'd definitely lump Shelley and Carl from PlayKids in there, and the guys from Tugboat and TotT and maybe Richard at Rhythm Splash, among others), there could be a real renaissance around here, perhaps a true merchants association that works WITH local groups like the Parkside Committee and PLGNA and Lefferts Manor Association and CB9 and...

Oops. There I go again. Day Dreaming. Back to work.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Dogs R Us

You may remember (or probably not) my winning marketing campaign for Rogers Avenue.

Rogers Ave - Where specialties are our specialty!

The Q was thrilled by the shop that opened there for grooming and boarding pets called Bow Wow Pet Boutique and lamented its demise. What a treat then to see that it's basically resurfaced as Furry Paws and Claws. at 521 Rogers near Rutland. Don't let the name fool you! You can't take your bear or tiger there...they don't mean ALL paws and claws. I'm pretty sure it's about the dogs and cats. But they even have a vet on premises AND a guy who spells his name Gairy, which I think is too awesome. Below are pictures of all the fabulous folks at Furry including Lloyd, Chatila, Stephen, Taya and lead groomer Andera. (though sadly no Gairy in the picture - he's real though!) so Hurry on over to Furry and check them out. First customer to mention the Q gets a free doggy weave (real Indian dog hair!)

Furry Pawz & Clawz Pet Salon is your Pet's "friendly home away from home" located in the Prospect Lefferts Garden neighborhood of Brooklyn. We offer a friendly, clean and professional pet grooming environment for your furry loved ones, catering to both dogs and cats.
Our professional grooming done by Andrea, the groomer you've come to know and love offers many benefits including keeping your pet's coat and ears in good condition, increasing the comfort and social acceptability for your beloved pet while eliminating odor and promoting the overall health of your furry friend. Frequent grooming will make your pet feel and look better while maintaining grey health.
We offer the following services: Grooming; Veterinary Care; Boarding; Daycare; Pick-up and Drop Off; Dog Walking; and in-home services.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Live Blogging Our Council Race

9:50 - With 3% of the vote in, incumbent Mathieu Eugene leads 51% to 36%.

Now let me just note that by Live Blogging I mean what most of those other Live Bloggers mean. I sit here and press refresh on my browser on the NY Times website every few minutes, then I zip over to Google's blogger interface and type it up, then maybe make some pithy remark. How this is any better than you doing the exact same thing and then make the pithy remark to your spouse or pet, I do not know.

10PM: Whoa! Saundra Thomas just blew into the lead with nearly 50%! Must have been the two dozen votes I cast over at PS92! Perhaps the first election district to report was the one where Eugene's motorcade showed up (Caton School) with a picture of the candidate plastered on a motorcycle parked just outside the polling place, in clear violation of the law.

10:08: Lead holding. By the way, I took the comment moderation and word scrambler off so feel free to comment in real time...

Also I like what I'm seeing in the 35th! My main lady Laurie Cumbo is leading a strong field, and if it holds, our neighbors just north of Empire will be well represented. She's a class act, to be sure, founder of the Museum of Contemporary African Diaspora Arts (MoCADA) in Ft. Greene.

This race is an excellent example of why voting is so crucial. Each and every one of you who voted is showing up in these numbers, and in a tight race like this, it really matters whether you got it together to vote. I want to personally kiss each of you voted for ST, but prudence and feasibility suggest I stick to Live Blogging, which is sort of a digital kiss, don't you think? XOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXO.

10:20 - Holy Crap this race is tighter than fat man in a sewer pipe! 42ish to 39ish in Saundra's favor. That's with 13% returns...

10:25 - Other races kinda funky. Tish is running neck and neck with Squadron. De Blasio might not make 40% and a runoff with Thompson will be interesting. But God, dear God, who are these 15,000 people who've voted for Weiner? Is that the Sext Addict vote?

10:29 - Great Snakes! Eugene up by a point with 20% returns!! This race is gonna squeak like brakes with worn pads!

10:33 - If Kinard and Grant hadn'ta run...but you know what? Anyone can run, and gosh dangit that's what makes the Bush Flat.

10:34 - Criminy!!! What gives? Eugene's up by 5% with 30% returns!! Must have been a largely Haitian district reporting...either that or the psych ward at Kings County...

10:37 - Oy Vey! Eugene walking away, up by 7% with 36% in. Vito Lopez seems to be going down though. Good riddance.

10:43 - Lead holding. 40% in. And Saundra's mom is up here from Atlanta and everything. Don't let me's not pretty when a big beefy blogger brat bawls as a baby boy.

10:46 - Narrowing, narrowing...keep 'em comin' keep 'em comin'...

10:48 - Like a shot in the gut! Eugene's back on top by 6 with 54%! Better pray Lefferts is still to come...hee hee.

10:53 - I'm getting that gloomy no good feeling. It's still a 5 point race at nearly 70% in.

10:59 - Ken Thompson's gonna win the Dem primary against Charles Hynes in the Brooklyn D.A. race, and then face...Charles Hynes, who's the uncontested Republican candidate. How often does THAT happen?

11:15 - Took a break to steel myself for the reality and eat a popsicle. Look, our man Eugene has been handed a confidence vote. He'll likely be around for another four years. He'll hate the Q with a passion and I'll continue to dog him for not doing enough. And in 2017, should "God" tell him to run again (as he's suggested) because of the insane situation regarding how he was help me Allah I'll...

Dramatic pause.

O.K. If you go to "Dr." Eugene's office in the next four years (I doubt I'll be welcomed back), do me a favor. As he's speaking in his conference room at his Linden Blvd office, take a glance at the wall. You'll be looking at the below lovingly rendered portrait, and perhaps wondering, as I am right now, how strange it can be to live in a democracy, where a man without a clue can not only get elected, but stay elected.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Am I registered? Where do I vote?

Good questions, those. Here's the place to log in your name and address and make sure you're good to go in tomorrow's primary: Registration. From there, you'll find a link that will tell you where to vote. If you think the Man doesn't have your info correct, you can always fill out a provisional ballot. You do NOT need an ID to vote in NYC. (Unlike other more conservative parts of the country that are working hard to suppress voting by the poor and those who have no official state photo IDs (i.e. minorities and/or Democrats), your signature will do the trick. More on these nefarious end-runs around poll tax laws here, despite the fact that the federal bipartisan election commission found almost ZERO evidence of polling place fraud. Their findings here. They found some infinitesimal sporadic evidence of vote-buying (which has nothing to do with IDs) and occasional fraudulent attempts at absentee voting. There you go. Case closed, right? Not to the Supreme Court.

Just a heads up! My polling place changed for this Democratic primary vote - yours may have too. It's not necessarily the place you voted for President last November. So be sure to check before you head out the door. Remember that the polls are open til 9PM and that it is illegal for your workplace to deny you time to vote.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Two Days From Now - It's Your Choice

The best piece of journalism yet on our Council race came out on the always well-researched Brooklyn Bureau, an arm of City Limits. If you're in a hurry, below the Q highlights a particular interesting tidbit, the Councilman's sorry record of legislation. It's telling that the writer compares his record to that of Darlene Mealy. Mealy represents Brownsville and in this blogger's view is a strong contender for worst Councilperson. She's MIA and underinformed, and the constituents of her district could sorely use a strong leader. (Sound familiar?) Here's an idea of how much she respects her community. She missed nearly 1/4 of the Council's meeting, more than any other. Here's some more analysis from a piece in the Daily News that includes our own Mathieu Eugene among the least leaderly category in the do-nothing department. However, his attendance is stellar!

Councilman Faces Stiff Challenge

Six years ago Dr. Mathieu Eugene was hailed as the first Haitian-American to sit on the City Council. Now he faces a contest that reflects the growing diversity of his central Brooklyn district.

By: Darren Sands

The commercial space at 1190 Nostrand Avenue between Hawthorne and Fenimore streets in Flatbush used to be a 99 cents store. Now, it's the campaign headquarters for Saundra Thomas' campaign to become the 40th District's next representative on the City Council.

It got on the campaign's radar when Lindiwe Kamau, president of Nostrand Avenue Merchant's Organization, impressed with Thomas' easy going nature, made a few phone calls as if for an old friend. A 43-year resident of the area with deep ties to the neighborhood, Kamau wasted little time getting Thomas and her people a meeting with her new landlord. “I liked the way she connected with people,” Kamau says. The spare room's got a few tables and mismatched chairs, the kind you'd find in a church. But it's theirs.

The backstory behind the Thomas campaign's digs captures exactly the grassroots feel that has characterized Thomas' six-months on the trail, and endeared the Ditmas Park resident to a hopeful group of residents, small businesses and community activists who view her brand of collaborative politics as the future of the 40th District. Of the three challengers in the Democratic primary race to unseat Dr. Mathieu Eugene, hailed six-and-a-half years ago as the first Haitian-American on the City Council, she might be the most serious threat.
Two other candidates have not gained as much attention as Thomas: they are Sylvia Kinard, the ex-wife of Democratic candidate for mayor and ex-Comptroller Bill Thompson, and John Grant, a road car inspector with the MTA.

Roots of a challenge
Incumbent Council members don't usually face serious challengers. But Dr. Eugene hasn't achieved the kind of dominance sitting Council members typically possess. He ranked 48th of 51 Council members in securing discretionary funds for his district. The question of whether a relative newcomer with no prior political experience can defeat the incumbent may come down to whether the district's electorate has shifted enough to favor its first serious non-Caribbean candidate in at least 20 years.

“I think at this point,” said Thomas, who served as director of community affairs for WABC-7 for the past dozen years “the stakes are so high in this community that people want to vote for someone that is going to do something to ease some of the frustration, struggle and the pain that they're experiencing. I'm going to bet on the people to rise to the occasion and say, ‘Look, this isn't about nationalism. This is about our community.' And we need someone who's going to be the leader of the future for the neighborhoods. That's what I'm banking on.”

A missing link
The Eugene campaign will try to fend off that challenge without a tool that almost all established candidates use. Of the $70,000 Dr. Eugene's campaign raised, none of it came from the city's coveted public matching funds, according to the city's Campaign Finance Board records. To qualify, candidates must receive at least 75 from CD 40 residents. It wasn't immediately clear why Eugene failed to secure the funding. Records show the Eugene campaign did apply, but a spokesman for the Campaign Finance Board (CFB), reached Friday, said he couldn't comment on why the petition was denied.

Eugene's campaign did not respond to an email requesting an interview for this story. The voice of individual who picked up the phone at the campaign office trailed off before the call eventually disconnected.

In June, Eugene supported the passage of the two Council bills reining in “stop and frisk.” He has been the main sponsor of seven pieces of legislation (mostly resolutions related to immigration and veteran housing assistance, as well as a resolution “commemorating Michael Jackson's contributions to popular music and culture.”) Eugene's legislative ambition trails that of Jumaane Williams in the nearby 45th district, who has been the main sponsor of 53 pieces of legislation since 2010, but is not much different than that of the 41st District's Darlene Mealy, who sponsored nine.

In an interview given to the blog Ditmas Park Corner, Eugene defended his record. “My opponents, they have have been doing nothing,” he said. “They were not there in the community. Nobody knows them. I've been there in the community, doing the job … The other ones, what have they been doing? I've heard that they have been walking somewhere in the community, but I've been there, too.”

The district encompasses the neighborhoods of Kensington, Prospect-Lefferts and Ditmas Park as well as parts of Crown Heights, Flatbush and East Flatbush.

A newcomer gains momentum
CFB records indicate that as of the last filing deadline, Eugene had about $14,500 left in his campaign account. Thomas, who raised somewhat less than Eugene but receive $92,400 in matching funds, has outspent him significantly and still had $58,000 left to spend. CFB records show that Thomas's financial support has come mostly from small donors who gave between $25 and $250. She counts Dr. Michael Alfano, the former executive vice president of NYU, and David Banks, the nationally renowned educator who founded Eagle Academy, among her donors.

The next representative of the District certainly has a lot of work to do. The 71st precinct, which serves the District, reported a 7.5 percent uptick in violent crime according to the NYPD's CompStat numbers from a year ago. That includes six murders through Aug. 25, as opposed to just two at that time last year. There were also increases in felonious assaults (22 percent) and rape (40 percent). In addition to mounting public safety concerns, the District, made up of seven neighborhoods, is transitional phase is marked by rapid gentrification and lack of affordable housing.

In an hourlong interview at her campaign headquarters, Thomas touted her experience as her experience as a problem-solver—an approach she says has been lacking in the 40th. “The question is, how have we grown as a community? We're still having the same issues. It doesn't mean that one person is going to stop all of that. But the most basic part of this work is to be responsive to the needs of the community. And I don't mean when someone calls and says, ‘Can you donate money to my non-profit?' Or, ‘Can you donate to my hospital?' Because guess what? It's our money anyway,” she said.

Thomas supports the Project Safe Surrender program, in which nearly 250,000 offenders of minor crimes—who often live in fear of being arrested—can get assistance and the help they need to become productive members of society. She is also is in favor of community-based rehabilitation programs which proponents say have been proven successful in other large cities.

She also supports increased funding to make housing court fairer for tenants, efforts to bring BIDs to the district to support small businesses and pushing city schools to offer a holistic menu of services to families.

Close observers of the race have noticed that Thomas doesn't talk much, if at all, about her partner of 20 years. She's Susan Siegler, with whom she's raised a daughter, Calli, who is 16. Siegler own's Courtleyou Street's Brooklyn ARTery.
“I'm running for City Council,” she said. “My family isn't running for City Council. Some people are exploiting their situations. But I've been out for 30 years, my whole life I've been living out loud.”“I don't think that it's something that has to be at the cornerstone of my candidacy.”

Candidates vie for voters' attention, despite challenges
Reached on his cell phone, one of the other names in the race, John Grant, said his residence, on Midwood between Albany and Kingston was rezoned to CD 41. He said for this reason the Campaign Finance Board declared him ineligible for public matching funds. “If I had the financial strength I would have done some things differently,” he said. “I would have a lot of people on my team and doing research on the topics [concerning the community].

“Unfortunately, I wasn't able to do a lot of forums,” added Grant, who decided to get into the race near the end of March. “But the few that I did [attend] I came across to the voters to the best of my ability, and I'm looking to win. Kinard, a former attorney for the City Council, has a firm grasp of the issues and said her ground game is to communicate to voters that they have a choice.

“They're the ones that should be the focal point. They have the collective power.”

Hawthorne Street Overkill

Granted you have to take the Q's word for it, for what was said by Deputy Inspector Lewis to him. I know a lot of readers felt that the number of cops seemed oddly disproportionate given the relatively mild crimes being pursued. BUT...Lewis says they apprehended a serial car thief who had been seen in the act. He fled. He was also called in as a "prowler" by others in the 'hood who didn't know what was going on, but saw the dude getting away and trying to hide. Cops followed, looking for him, yes, with guns drawn in some cases. Every cop car that wasn't on another job came to the scene - that was probably the result of the way the dispatcher described the scene. That kind of overkill happens sometimes when a grand larcenist gets seen "in the act." He was arrested.

What happened last night over at the Caton Playground and Argyle, well, other than knowing that Mathieu Eugene was seen trying to take advantage of a good photo-op, I don't know much yet. Any readers have an eyewitness account?