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.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

One Year and Two Months Later - The Letter Is Reinstated

Despite yet another last minute effort by CB9 member Fred Baptiste to table the motion, we actually after long, long last got to vote on whether to send the letter to the Department of City Planning asking them (mind you they still have to say yes!) to begin (just begin!) a study of our neighborhood in the wake of unprecedented change and an influx of big, big $ and buildings sprouting like grass over a septic tank.

Fred, you may recall, has been at the heart of the effort to derail this process ever since his motion to send the issue back to committee failed in March of 2014. With a little help from the Sultan of Sterling, he managed to blindsided the board with a motion to rescind the previous year's decision to start the process, caving to MTOPP at their first over-the-top showing in September. He also shut me down when I tried to get a vote back in December. I've also seen him getting chummy with Alicia, so despite the appearance of him being a "process oriented dude," his insistence that we follow HIS idea of process actually meant that developers have had more than a year to plan their takeover the neighborhood. Which, let's get honest, was going to happen anyway. I'm just pointing out that any good that comes from a study is now going to happen much later than we'd hoped. And I'm not going to hold any of this against Mr. Baptiste. He seems very much the Dudley Do-right character, and I appreciate that he has principles. Can't say that about some other folks in the room.

So how did "we the people" vote? It wasn't even close. I recall the tally being 24 yays, 6 nays and a handful of abstentions. Not too far off from the original vote over a year ago. Blah blah blah. The Q ain't taking any victory laps. This whole thing has been a massive drain on what should have been a community coming together to work with the City to strengthen its future. And there was Boyd, muttering "Uncle Tom" under her breath as the meeting came to a close, presumably referencing temporary chair Demetrius Lawrence. Who won the election to be the official chair for one month, even though we have to vote AGAIN in June for the official official chair for 2015-16. Process, people! Process!!

Which brings me to the REAL story that unfolded tonight. I've always liked Demetrius, his calm and his reason, but I had no idea how he'd fare in the heat of the spotlight. You know what? I think we just witnessed a real leader being born. He had the presence and the humility to become (dare I say it?) a really great CB9 chairman. And what was particularly poetic was that this was the night that the Board honored longtime chair and 38-year military man Jake Goldstein for his exemplary service to country. As an orthodox Jew he was one of the first to get to keep his beard in the army those many years ago. And as chaplain, he's been all over the world counseling our men and women in uniform. Thanks Jake!

And with that, the baton passes. Here's to a steady leadership under Demetrius Lawrence, whose name has never been, nor will it ever be, Tom. You will do well to remember to listen, but also to remember that she who speak loudeth is not always the righteth.

And with thateth, I bideth you goodeth nighteth.


Curious28 said...

Just watched some videos of the meeting and it was a lot tamer than expected. I was a bit irked by the idea of MTOPP co-opting the Hands Up, Don't Shoot chant during a friggin vote on a zoning study though. I dunno, seemed a bit inappropriate?

MikeF said...

As seen here, , Isaac was the smartest person at the meeting.

babs said...

Congratulations to all for prevailing at last over these disruptive adult children (and, often, non-CB9 residents). I thought Demetrius did a credible job, and a big thank you to Rabbi Goldstein for his years of service, both at the CB and for our country.

Alex said...

I'm not much of a gambling man, but I'll bet someone Erv's most expensive cocktail that DCP says, "no thanks, brats."

babs said...

Totally inappropriate, Curious, not to mention an undeserved insult to our 71st Precinct officers. Otherwise it was an almost semi-civilized meeting. Good to see evidence of the obvious collusion between MTOPP and CC however.

MikeF said...

I was impressed that MTOPP could keep a rhythum during the "No Vote" table drumming as well they did.

Lou said...

Hi Alex, you're on. I say DCP says, "We've watched this circus and are ready to stand with the sanity group!".

Alex said...

I guess we'll see, Lou!

Dudley Do-Right said...

Now Tim, if you are going to tell the story, make sure that you present all sides and give a FULL accounting. The original motion last March was a blindside. We spoke about a zoning request at the Feb meeting and the upshot was that the planning intern was supposed to create a study that looked at the entire community that was to be presented to the ULURP committee for review and then a recommendation be brought before the full Board (it is all in the minutes). And then in March, in short order we had a public listening session 1 week prior to the board meeting and a document sent to the Board members the day before, and a call for a vote by the Chair without any review from the ULURP. That study that the intern was commissioned to do was never seen and just turned up within the last 2 weeks after FOIL requests were issued for them. And yet you see nothing wrong with any of that?

The motion that I presented in September was that the Board rescind the resolution AND refer it back to the ULURP committee for additional review and conversation. Why? Because we had a number of new board and community members who had NO idea of what was going on and because a number of terms were introduced by the CPC that no one had even contemplated until the stakeholders’ meetings started in the summer, i.e. the specific mandate that Empire Blvd HAD to be included as part of the study. We didn’t contemplate it because rushed the March vote.

And please tell the folks what I did to further derail the process when we thought the vote was lost between September to December…NOTHING. I respected the process and the vote. But again, because the Board was sloppy in doing its work (i.e not following process) we find out that the motion passed (after the filing of FOIL requests). Instead of trying to do the right thing and engage in the spirit of the motion, more time is spent fighting and arguing. I spoke against your attempted vote because yet again it was about trying to circumvent dialogue and process instead of doing the right thing. I haven’t tried to derail anything – my motion was not to squash anything but to send it back to the ULURP for a better look at everything as a board and community.

Not sure what picture you are trying to paint by saying that I am too cordial with Ms. Boyd and other members of MTOPP. But it is odd/sad that that is off-putting to you (and others)as we should all able to speak as neighbors. Maybe that is the real problem.

So the upshot is yes - process matters because had we used it we could have building community instead of dividing it...

-Fred Baptiste

Clarkson FlatBed said...

Thx for the explanation Dudley! However, I respectfully disagree.

It was the rescinding of the letter that CAUSED the ensuing fracas. Your idea of process is to refer to committee a motion that has already passed the full Board? That's absurd. And now we should re-do everything that was done the prior year because there are new members?

I think the proof is in the pudding. Your (and to be fair, others) insistence on "process" has been a distraction from getting the REAL work done. Which is to sit down with the City and determine what can and can't be done to save our neighborhood from the ravages of outsized and outlandish development.

But I stand by my complaint. You used a sneaky maneuver to get your way, and I would argue that you were using the inexperience of the new board to your advantage to circumvent a perfectly legal vote the previous session. (there is nothing in the bylaws that says the board can't send a letter to such and such without a committee. As Pearl often notes, the Board meeting is the Board meeting and we can do what we want as long as the vote is valid and a quorum established.) But in the end, the vote was the same. And a year was lost.

We have two perspectives, and I'm not the only one that takes mine, and you're not the only one who takes yours. The vote, however, was the vote. I hope you won't stand in the way of doing the work.

As to talking to Ms. Boyd you're entitled. I have nothing but contempt for the way she's treated us, and I don't talk to terrorists. Her ideas are not anathema to me - it's her sheer disrespect and meanness. She gets no passes from me.

Looking forward to working with you, Fred. I bear you no ill will, and like I said, I admire your sense of propriety. I've become something of a pragmatist about our inexperienced leadership, but it would be nice if our meetings ran as smoothly as others I've witnessed. Here's hoping.

Alex said...

Sounds like a very long winded way of explaining and allegiance with Alicia, Fred, which you're entitled to. In my opinion, which I shared with the board previously, it's unfortunate that she was able to manipulate people into thinking that her goals and objectives are in the best interest of the neighborhood, and, in turn, mislead people into thinking that zoning has much more power to transform a community than it actually does.

It reminds me of when people in my suburban town growing up became up in arms about the creation of an assisted living facility near a busy intersection. There was a lot of fear mongering about strangling traffic. But, in the end, there's not a whole lot of comings and goings from an assisted living facility, but traffic DID increase. Why? Because the entire town was in extremely high demand from people seeking good schools, proximity to the city, and the trend throughout the 90's was an influx of wealth in the area, and the population increased in ours and neighboring towns.

This might not seem like a very good parallel, but it is. The error of misattribution is pretty similar. It's not zoning that's causing density and demographics to change around here. It's much larger forces at work - namely, demand, be it organic or created by developers (if you build it they will come sort of stuff). It was wrong to delay the letter to DCP because the decision involved mistaking correlation for causation speculatively. Under our current zoning, you cannot stop development and increases in density one iota. Under what DCP has more or less said we can change, there's hope for limiting height and maintaining some of the neighborhood's character.

Alex said...

One more comment... there's no rational reason to oppose housing on Empire based on the fact that CB9 is supposed to represent the whole district, not Sterling and Sullivan only. The density argument does not hold up - development is everywhere. The only reason to oppose it is proximity, and to hold up the process with DCP for the sake of a handful of people who fear construction near THEIR house, disregarding everyone else, is unfair to the rest of the neighborhood. I've stated this to the board previously as well.

roxv said...

i think it's a little bizarre when reasonable-sounding people describe what Alicia has been trying to do as "talking to neighbors." No, sorry, once you use the tactics she and her followers have used, you lose the benefit of the doubt of your neighbors wanting to "engage in discussion." it would be as you showed up to a party and started shoving people into walls and then complained that nobody wanted to dance with you.