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, February 29, 2016

Let the Woman Speak

One of her supporters recently told me I don't give Cabia Doily enough opportunity to speak truth to justice. Well, she sent a note to the whole community board and elected officials today that I figure pretty much sums up her positions, so I thought I'd share. More than one member of the Orthodox Community is outraged. The whole thing stinks, and she continues to get her way at every turn of the story. No one has yet been able to stop her power grab. Feel free to give her a call to "discuss." Or an email to At this point, she's driving the conversation about zoning, planning, district managers, committee and overall chairs, transportation and safety, housing...if anyone deserves Time's Person of the Year, she rivals the Trumpster. On the one hand "who cares?" On the other, there are so many missed opportunities here, and so many elected officials have written us off.

Dear Neighbor

When I was a little girl growing up in Brooklyn
The greatest hero to come out of Brooklyn was Shirley Chisholm
The first Black Female Congresswoman!

I remember being disappointed that she wasn’t a raving beauty
But I could remember the pride that I felt that she was from Brooklyn
My hometown, my borough, the biggest concentration of Black People
In the United States, what a hero!

When I grew up I realized that she also possessed something
Better than beauty, she processed integrity, commitment
And a desire to truly represent her community.
Her famous motto was
UnBrought and UnBossed!”

As it is always known,
The dark comes after the light -
The reign of Former Assemblyman Clarence Norman came into being.

For two decades he destroyed Shirley Chisholm legacy
With his own, of corruption and thievery.
He was known for his extreme loyalty to his people closed to him
And absolute in difference to his own people’s struggles.

He watched as the Community Board 9 was completely controlled
By a hand full of Jewish and White males from Prospect Lefferts Garden
While the Black community was completely ignored and disempowered.
The Crown Heights Riots depicted these serious inequalities
 but very little was done, beside a few token jobs and money
Given to youth programs etc…

During Clarence Legacy Brooklyn because known
as the most corrupt borough in NYC,
With his faithful allies standing beside him.
 One being Carman Martinez who was also caught doing illegal stuff
But was given a pardon for her testimony against him,
which placed him in handcuffs, his lawyer’s license revoked,
 and   9 counts of corruption convictions,
mostly for selling out the Judicial system,
where anyone wanting to become a Supreme Court Justice, or Civil Court Judge
In Brooklyn, could just buy it from Clarence.

Then on September 23, 2014,
all of the corruption at the community level was about to be exposed.
That was the day in which the community residents came out in full force
To the Community Board 9 to stop a rezoning,
which would cause the Black community to be seriously displaced
and the neighborhood gentrified
as it has been happening in all communities of color in NYC.

This request actually targeted only the Black Community
and again left the Jewish Community safe, outside its borders!

Again the community residents could see the inequalities,
the racial profiling, the disempowerment of the people
contained right within the borders of the rezoning request.

The newly appointed members of the board were a part of that new movement,
For they had been told they were being placed on the board
to stop this Old regime from continuing to dis-empower the people.
The aim was to remove Pearl Miles from her position,
To change the way in which CB9 operated
and to get a Black Executive Board in,
who would empower the people.

So this new group of CB9 members all voted to listen to the people
And rescind the letter, all except one personMichael Liburd
The question one asked was what did Michael Liburd
know that the rest of the members
Didn’t, but I will get back to that one.

Then a year of hell began as each member of the board was approached
And was convinced that…
Only the Black side of the parkneeded rezoningnot the Jewish.
They were convinced that this was a protective move.
That City Planning was actually coming to protect our homes
From all of the development happening in our community.

And yet nothing they had seen so far in the history of City Planning
Every showed that a Black Community came out ahead when a rezoning happened.

In Fact everything was showing the opposite.
Williamsburg, Harlem, Downtown Brooklyn.
These were all examples of communities’ once affordable, livable communities
Now completely out of reach for people of color,
and where the original people
Were violently removed from their homes and businesses.

They were however told that City Planning only wanted Empire Blvd
And just by giving up those three blocks, countless of other blocks
Would be protected. 

Of course none of this was put in writing.
These were just whispered statements, with no guarantees
Just going on blind faith and honesty
which hadn’t been displayed as even existing.

In a move to stop any type of education
or the voices of the people
Community residents were time and time again prevented from speaking
From joining committees. 

Community board members were told lies about what they could and couldn’t do
And kept completely in the dark.
Some were brought with favors or promises,
others threaten and some just removed
At the end of the term,
whereas others were promoted depending upon
Their commitment to a rezoning.

In the mist of all this,
there was Carmen Martinez known loyalist
and apart of Clarence Norman Regime,
having just lost her $140,000 year old job in June 2014,
Due to the Conflict of Interest Board filing charges against her
For stealing 14 years of Time from the Comptroller’s Office from 2000-2014.

This is also the same time that she was working directly for Clarence Norman,
So we can see how she might have been using that stolen time,
Despite the records making the claim she did it in support of non-profits,
namely my Block association,
which she didn’t officially join as an officer until 2011-2012.

She was illegally placed on the Board in June 2014 along with Michael Liburd
But she dared not vote against the people on September 23, 2014,
 because at that point, she knew she couldn’t go directly against her block,
who were the ones pushing for this rescinding of the resolution the hardest.

But from that day forward her side did a serious campaign
 of discrediting the opposition,
telling the board members that City Planning actually
Was trying to help and not harm this community.
and laying the ground work to eventually
Remove Pearl Miles and place Carmen Martinez in her position,

Because Carmen now found herself completely unemployable
by any other governmental agencies
Because of the all of the baggage that she was carrying;
her affiliation with Clarence Norman,
and her known tarnish record of theft of 14 years!

But first they needed Pearl Miles to do their dirty work.
To continue her reign of disempowerment,
so that a letter would be passed to give to the department of City Planning
requesting to rezone the Black side of the Park and the Black side of CB9.

However, once that had been accomplish
(but not very good) they threw Pearl Miles under the bus,
 blamed the entire year on her
and then proceeded to move forward.

New members were appointed onto the board
and given specific instructions as to their reason
why they were placed on the board
and the “hunt” for a new District Manager began

A Search committee was formed,
without community residents being allowed to join,
conditions of employment was all  decided behind closed doors,
including that huge spread of money from
 $59,000-$145,000 for the salary of the District Manager.

As Demetrius Lawrence did his famous “I’m Sorry” routine,
every time he violated the law,
and of course true to form,
Carman Martinez submitted her application
And is now conducting herself as if she is running CB9 already.

Despite having less than two years of experience on the board,
she is now handling housing issues, landuse issues, landmarking issues
and is now a voting member of the Executive board,

She was the main person, who has initiated, based upon her word,
The overthrow of the Executive Board with voting Chair members,
because she read in the Mayor’s Pamphlet and in the City Charter
That Chairs are a part of the executive Board!

Of course the community residents will not be surprised
That Carmen Martinez winds up a part of the final three applicants
To be considered by Community Board 9,
nor will we blink an eye when she is voted in as our District Manager

We are aware that a reign of corruption just doesn’t stop,
Because the people demand for it to stop,
Just as it just didn’t begin.

We understand that Shirley Chisholm left a powerful legacy
And maybe at one point Clarence Norman had tried to follow in her footsteps
but found them too big and powerful.

That corruption is a disease that eats at the soul
and slowly like an addiction
It happens so quietly that one doesn’t even know it until it is too late.

But all things change and change is on the horizon
As Karen Fleming stated at the last Community Board meeting
This community is now fully awake
and we are not going back to sleep!
Our Eyes are Wide Open!

We will not sit and watch another legacy of corruption take hold Of Community Board 9,
we will not watch our family and friends and homes be destroyed
because a few want to make millions off of the suffering of the many.

One thing history has taught us is that all corrupt regimes
falter and die and Community Board 9 is no different.
(718) 703-3086

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Zika Hype Machine

How to connect this to the neighborhood...hmm. This guy in the neighborhood was talking about Zika. There you go!

The Q had the pleasure of meeting an NYC Medical Ethicist at dinner the other evening. For the curious and curiouser, science geeks make excellent company. Of course, like any science fiction fan, I wanted to know when and how the Clones will take over, and whether they're already walking among us. Turns out the issue on his plate right now, and about which he's about to deliver a talk, was Zika virus. And how the media response, and as a result poLITical response, is way out-a-hand and unwarranted. Yet, anyway, and has made untold millions worry.

I'd name him by name but it's way early in this soon-to-be-damning debate, and there are a lot of people frantically searching the internet for clues, and I'm not a journalist, just a dude who eats dinner and talks to people. His evidence was damning though. Because the WHO and CDC were so slow and inept in their response to Ebola, he thinks they're making up for it by making a big deal about a mosquito-borne virus that has no evidence of connection with birth defects - at this point, he says, it's too early and largely anecdotal. A vague possibility is how he described it, and relative to the typical defect numbers in countries like Brazil. When I started investigating his claim by going to the Library of Congress (er, I mean googling) I found precious little debate on the internets about it. What I DID notice was that almost every new major story in every major outlet was dated the same date...that's usually a sign that you're merely reading a rewriting of a press release. Most interviews seemed to be conducted with the same few people, though if you'll notice they're not really interviews at all. More "Dr. XXX says that..." which could have easily been picked up in the press release. Having written a few of them myself, I gotta say it's pretty incredible how otherwise seasoned journalists print the things verbatim.

Mr. M.E., as I'm calling the PhD, said that the number of confirmed cases of coexistent microcephaly is, like, negligible, compared to the number of Zika infectees. Yes, hundreds have come forward with babies afflicted with the horrible and heartbreaking disease. And the images of such children are emotionally powerful. But, as my new friend offers, most of these "thousands" babies haven't been tested. They merely point to, perhaps, a larger than usual number of tiny heads this year. That is, the issue could either be a) completely unrelated or b) merely more people coming forward. As Brazil has an enormous underclass and wildly divergent opportunities for medical care, we could either be seeing more microcephaly or just more of the already existing cases.

But think about this - have you ever heard of governments telling women not to become pregnant because of remote possibility of having birth defect? That's craaaaaazy. There's a million things that can go wrong in pregnancy, but usually they don't, and it's hardly reason to stop women (and men) from having families. And considering canceling the Olympics? Really???

Sounds like a typical case to overhype and under-science to this blogger. Anyone else? Then again, don't ever take anything the Q says as unadulterated fact. I've been wrong too many times, but I DO love a good debunk or two now and then!

Some more fun debunking here.

Friday, February 26, 2016

The Sensational Seven

Were you to wander one shoppe north of Tafari Tribe on the Flabenue, with the frustratingly tantalizing name Tafari Cafe (where's the Ethiopian coffee we were promised?) above the entrance, you might peer in at a wildly eclectic collection of handmade crafts, jewelry and clothing and wonder what it's all about. Well I'm here to tell you - this is a store you simply must experience, because the breadth of goods and gifts is staggering. It's a (hopefully) longterm Pop-Up shop known as Brooklyn Flair and it deserves your patronage.

Why you ask? Because the shop shares the wares of six wholly unique and experienced female entrepreneurs. Zenobia Marion, Enkunish Hailu, Saidah Haye, Naeemah Senghor, Sequoia David and Brenda Edwards-Gueye, with the marketing panache of their charismatic impresario, design consultant Blane Charles. The wonders within? Nu Ade Nourishing Hair Oils, exquisite artisinal African molded silver jewelry, hand crocheted items, handmade soaps and outlandish used clothing...if you've ever searched for a gift or special treat for yourself or home, this is a must visit. With the brilliant Tafari Tribe next door, you could spend hours and hundreds of dollars without leaving your neighborhood. I know that sounds like it might be a BAD thing, but in this case, BAD most definitely means good.

Skip right to the pictures below, or stop on in and meet these ladies in person, rather than read on as the Q muses about just why such a shop is a local treasure, and the people behind it deserve the true title Local Gentry.

Something happened when the world went digital that is hard to express, and a writer with much greater facility than the Q has certainly given it a go. Oh, I could find and read such an essay, but I have time only to write, not read, so here goes. 

In the past, most humans lived their lives in relative obscurity to everyone but family and friends and co-workers and tribe, until, oh, about 1995, at which time we started showing up in search engines, engaged in the business of life and the life of business, doing things both boring and silly and cute and perverse. Once your lifestyle involved any dot-coms, even for hobby or sex, your every public (and sometimes NON public) activity was part of the permanent record we call The Cloud, or Web, or some other equally inadequate metaphor, since clouds and webs aren't nearly so categorized, stored and sorted by ones and zeroes.

Something I found when I started working with older-generation folks in our neighborhood was that it wasn't so easy to "google" their accomplishments and affiliations. Was this because of race and culture? Sort of. But have you ever tried to google your own mom or grandpa, and found nary a trace? Unless of course they had some sort of celebrity - say an artist or politician or captain of industry. The history of the world up until 1995 was primarily told by newspapers and historians, who were always waxing subjective about their subjects. And their subjects were rarely middle managers, aspiring this-or-thats, teachers, community leaders, clergy etc.

It is clear to anyone who walks into Brooklyn Flair that the six vivacious figures selling their wares are the sorts of women who really should have their own Wikipedia entries with lots of footnotes. (Have you ever googled someone and thought "well she seems to be very accomplished" and then realized you've merely seen a bunch of reiterations of the same tired copy that accompanies their website or press release? As in, it doesn't take much to "appear accomplished" on the latenight web search. And the aforementioned Sir Charles aside, beware the word "consultant." It might more accurately be phrased "under-employed." Not that there's anything wrong with that, mind you. Many of my best friends could thusly be described.)

The Q stopped in on the coldest day of the year just to shoot a picture and determine what PLGNA's Brenda Edwards-Gueye had latched herself onto. What I found was a bunch of long-time residents with stories to tell and histories to recount, about a neighborhood often called "in-transition," but in-transition from what exactly? The newcomers tend to come with google-able attributes and careers. The older generation not so much. But their stories would bore a hole in your noggin.

Brenda was telling me that despite being a schoolteacher herself, she like many others in the '70s, sent their kids to private cooperative schools with names you've likely never heard of. While white hippies were inventing any number of counter-cultural education options, Afro-centric Americans were also dropping out of the mainstream to re-contextualize the American experience outside the typical canon of "white men, their wars, language and art." Whole academies and schools of thought and fashion and music and art and literature grew from the minds of newly radicalized imaginations. Much of that idea is familiar to middle class-and-up whites, the stories told by their older generation or memorialized in books, movies and memorabilia. But another story existed right alongside, a black world, a black neighborhood, a black REALITY. And as is also true of contemporary Brooklyn, it existed right alongside the other realities, rarely crossing the others in any meaningful ways, except on the subway or at the bodega.

Perhaps the one place where the Q's lily-white world collided with this black consciousness was in music. Once I discovered (in high school in Ames, IA at the public library) Funkadelic, Miles Davis, the Ohio Players and later the early rap of Grandmaster Five and the beatbox music of Afrika Bambaataa and his Zulu Nation, the books Malcolm X and Roots by Alex Haley, poetry-essays-art then in college, it became clear that two very distinct versions of America were being expressed and explored.

Sometimes the two WOULD connect - the younger of you will probably never fully appreciate what a nation-wide moment was the telecast of Roots. (Actually, the idea of a "telecast" is probably meaningless to begin with. This is before videotape and DVDs, or even Cable TV). With Roots, for the first time (perhaps not the BEST time), the story of slavery was told from the black point of view. It was required viewing. As in REQUIRED. Our history teacher made us write and report on each episode. Nearly 40 million people tuned in to Roots' final episode on ABC. This at a time when the population of the country was around 200 million. And yet, soon after its airing, the "conversation" turned to the hostages in Iran. Remember that? The revolution that's still burning? From that came Nightline with Ted Koppel, and soon the downfall of Jimmy Carter. Ronald Reagan arrived. Coincidence that America's black consciousness seemed to ebb thereafter? By 1982 the Reagan Revolution had essentially declared war on the inner cities and its lawlessness and drugs. Any gains in race relations were, in my view, set back a generation. By the late '80s, Crack and Black were synonymous. The Central Park Rape case, that horrible twisted modern lynching, took control of the tabloids. Riots in Crown Heights, in Los Angeles. The rise of Gangsta Rap, much more a response than a cause, gave rise to even uglier depictions of young black men as being unreachable, unrepentant and unemployable. We were suckered into believing that the great hope of MLK had been a mirage, except for the reality of fully assimilated black folks, one of whom would one day become President. And even as we celebrated MLK's legacy, we ignored its deepest messages, that the deepest legacy of slavery itslef was not in the character of the freed blacks and their grandchildren and great-great-great grandchildren. The deepest legacy was in the hearts and minds of the descendants of slave owners, still in power, but unable to escape the prison of their own minds and fears.

Back to the real business of America though...SHOPPING!!! Pictures below...

To Being Or Not To Being

photo by Sarah Crean and DPC

What a terrific piece from Sarah Crean at Ditmas Park Corner on the CaribBEING House. Don't tell me you weren't curious when you saw the "box car" on the plaza at the Caton Market. Not just for lovable hobos anymore, these old rail and truck containers are being repurposed for every kind of use from housing to small business storefronts. I won't give away the myriad purposes of this colorful spot...please read Sarah's piece. But I'll risk ridicule by placing right here my submission for best neighborhood artist's name, as referenced in the article, the first artist in residence at the CaribBEING House: Shakespeare Guirand of Haiti.

Forgive me if I "borrow" another of Sarah's photos to tease with you what's inside the metallic barrier:

photo by Sarah Crean for Ditmas Park Blog

Thursday, February 25, 2016

The Substance

Beyond the outrageous rhetoric, MTOPP and the Empire Study Group that it spawned have pretty much controlled the discussion of what should happen to the two blocks leading up to Prospect Park. They have invested considerable time in preempting any City-led Planning Study for the ENTIRE western portion of the district (New York Ave to the Park, Empire Blvd to Clarkson). It's hard to believe, but what started as a desire on the part of many of us to plan the growth strategy for the neighborhood became class and race warfare over that tiny chunk of real estate. Yet, there it is.

The Q would hate to disqualify their ideas outright as woefully impractical, so I'm publishing their entire Power Point presentation without comment - except this. All of the safety, bike lane, and landscaping improvements would be part of a City plan too, one that would include market rate and affordable housing capped at around 12-14 stories (not the ludicrous 25 stories that ESG insists). I think it would be disingenuous to suggest this the most universally embraced ideas come from MTOPP. Many of them are, in fact, already on the table, study or not. That said...

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

LGCS Closing? A Petition? And an Opening

Sad to hear the Chancellor has plans to close the local Lefferts Gardens Charter School. It opened with such optimism 6 years ago, but staff and board issues made the early days anything but smooth sailing, and some say it struggled to gain its footing. Still, my impression that principal Michael Windram had put things on a strong course in the past couple years. If you'd like to see LGCS remain as an option in the 'hood, please sign the petition!

In brighter news, right down on the corner, at Rogers and Parkside, the terrific Gratitude Cafe has opened a second location. Please stop in and join the chorus of congrats to Richard Otto & Annalisa Riordan. They've been nothing but sweet and gracious boosters of everything Lefferts since they opened up at Midwood/Rogers. Their food is delicious and homemade, the space welcoming, and the smiles genuine. Feeling certain this new location will hit all the right chords. Good luck R&A!

Last Night's CB9 Meeting

The Q gets it. You have better things to do with your time than have Cabia Doily's spit get spat on your pate. So here's the deal in a nutshell.

MTOPP/Empire Study Group presented their hopes for Empire, as I've noted previously. Professor Tom Angotti continued his spurious claims that only his version of "planning" is actual planning. He's tussled with NYC City Planning for years about his distaste for new housing, so there's no surprise there that he thinks Planning does not actually plan. Actually, I think he's a bit out of touch, locked in his Ivory tower, having long ago left the NYC agency. In a private aside, he told me that demanding affordable housing from developers is a terrible idea. While I'd agree that the City should do more to build deeply affordable subsidized housing on its own, I hardly see why it's a problem to get some lower-income working-folks housing built during boom times. I guess, as they say, we can agree to disagree? Actually, no, that's not the MTOPP way. There shall be no disagreeing; just shouting and demanding utter allegiance, and there was plenty of THAT last night.

The Brooklyn Flea founder Jonathan Butler was there. The Board voted lopsidedly to support his request for a full liquor license for his Smorgasbord thingy in Prospect Park on summer Sundays. It proved successful last year, though the Q doesn't particularly care for all the new fangled sliders and Korean Tacos and veggie things that really shouldn't be veggie, OR $10. To each his own. I've decided to support any new business, so long as its not run by felons, felon accomplices, or ne'er-do-wells more generally. (see comments for disclaimers on that.)

Blessings got full support for wine and beer license, as did Castillo de Jagua. Both joints are near each other in Lower Flabenue. Lakeside will add outdoor liquor space.

The contentious liquor license app-of-the-eve came from a new restaurant/bar tentatively and poorly monikered Crow Bar. You might recall the gay bar of the same name in Manhattan, but that's not why I say poorly named. If anything we could use a gay bar around here. The Crow Hill area of Crown Heights was named, many say, for the prison that stood there, and was a derogatory reference to black folks. Others contend a less racial derivation, though I'm inclined to side with the story that exposes the worst of human nature. The vote on that one - at 820 Franklin at Union - was 17 yes, 12 no, 5 abstentions. That means there wasn't a majority in favor, so the app did not pass. Or DID it?

Chanina Sperlin contends his vote wasn't counted!
Chanina Sperlin: Did he, or didn't he?

Mr. Sperlin, it must be noted, has a habit of getting up and walking out of the room to take or place phone calls. What to do about the dispute? His name is strikingly similar to Rabbi Spellman's! Was that the cause of confusion? Or was he, as Chair Lawrence contended, out of the room at the time of the vote? Well...there's tons of video tape going on these days. More intrigue...will the video-makers allow the use of their film for this purpose, as it would potentially contradict their desire to see the application rejected?

Oh, the suspense. As Jonathan Butler, who is also the Founder of, said to me - "I've never seen anything like this, anywhere." Well said. The Greatest Show On Earth continues to wow and amaze. No need for elephants or tigers or PETA protests.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

What Could Possibly Be Better Than This? Tonight!

(back from Mexico City and ready to rumble like a Lucha Libre warrior! Just call me El Q-sadilla. )

Now that yours truly has been dumped fom the Transportation Committee, I can sit back and enjoy the show once more without fear of walking into booby traps. Actually, there's a suit that's been filed to have me, Warren Berke, Michael Liburd and Chair Demetrius Lawrence removed for the board for being, um, active and involved? Men? Not sure precisely. That's coming from MTOPP, so look for a judge to dismiss it as fast as a cowboy Dollar Van rips up the Flabenue.

Tonight, after nearly two years of braying and naying, the good folks at MTOPP and their more politically palatable Empire Study Group (their Sinn Fein?) have an opportunity to present their plan for the two blocks of Empire Blvd currently zoned for commercial uses only. Having heard the yarn already, wanna know the secret? They'd like to keep it that way, but encourage festive uses of the low rise variety.

Other agenda items and their flyer below. See y'all there! (Oh, and if you're curious about the history of "The Bridge" agenda item, here's some background. And if you'd like a copy of CB9's draft budget requests to the City, just shoot me an email and I'll send it to you. It's 31 pages long, but an easy read. And it needs a LOT of review.)

Friday, February 12, 2016

Oy. The Q Gets Still More Neighbors and A Tall Building

Rebecca Baird-Remba from NY Yimby shows just how much my block will change thx to the unfriendly zoning of R7-1. No more Pentecostal crooning, I guess. The cinder block church, almost from another universe, will be moving to Jersey. The folks who lived in one of these houses were among the sweetest on the street. The middle structure was the church's rectory and community space. Oh, and no affordable units in the new building. Lots and lots of studios and one bedrooms. The Q lost his battle for rezoning, and is now relegated to telling what happens. And oy vey is it happening. Lots of buzz on landmarking though, and lots of neighbors getting together to try to make it happen. Will tell the story when it goes above ground.

Brookland Capital is taking Prospect Lefferts Gardens and Flatbush by storm. Yesterday the Bed-Stuy-based developer filed plans for an eight-story building at 88 Clarkson Avenue, which will be its fifth new project in the area.
The 75-foot-tall building will rise only two and a half blocks from Prospect Park, between Flatbush and Bedford avenues. The Parkside Avenue Q stop is close by, and so is the Winthrop Street stop on the 2 and 5 trains.
The development will hold 46 apartments and 31,750 square feet of residential space. Apartments will average just 690 square feet, signaling lots of studios and one-bedrooms and possibly rentals.
The ground floor will be devoted to recreation space, parking, and a lobby. Each of the upper floors will host six to seven units. The parking garage on the first floor will include 14 spots – the minimum required to satisfy zoning.
The 8,500-square-foot development site is currently home to a squat single-story church and two wood frame houses clad in vinyl siding. Demolition permits have not yet been filed to knock down the old structures.

Scumbags Harassing Gardeners

Nice guys, these Makhani Brothers. So incensed are they that someone might challenge their allegedly faked deed to the land under the Maple Street Garden that they've taken to harassing the gardeners with all manner of legal mumbo jumbo. Story from Nathan Tempey at Gothamist. What was that Public Enemy song? Bring the Lawyers?

The Q's loving this pic! I like pretending they're watching an environmentally friendly mime promoting composting.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Sound and Fury, Signifying Not A Lot?

Depending on the size of the gash in the tire, the air leaks fast or slow, and last night, the squeak was audible as the fierce rhetoric of the past few months came down to a simple, maybe even simplistic, presentation. The Empire Study Group, which lists Alicia Boyd as one of its principals, presented its Plan for Empire Boulevard last night. The strip of commercially zoned properties from Flatbush to Bedford is hardly magisterial in its current incarnation, but it has taken on an outsized role in the battle for the future of the neighborhood.

Richard Bearak, the Borough President's head of Land Use, presented first, followed by an update on the exciting plans for the Bedford-Union Armory. Then Professor Tom Angotti, much in need of a lozenge, shared summation of his numerous encounters with the Empire Study Group by suggesting that the current C8-2 zoning already invites creative commercial uses, even if none of them have been hitherto attempted. Suggestions were plentiful and myriad. Museums, pharmacies, bistros, community centers, creative streetscapes, a roller rink (I know, I know) or re-purposing of bulky storage marts…the list goes on. Best part, says Angotti, you don't have to rezone and give up ANYthing. Just take residential development off the table. In fact, the vast majority of attendees and committee members at last night's ULURP committee meeting seem to favor taking Empire Blvd completely off the Planning Study request to the City. Without the presence of Alicia Boyd (did she too have a cold?) I must say the whole proceedings were anxious but civil. As I've noted many times before, the disagreements are really not so severe as to deserve Ms. Boyd's vitriol, vendetta and insistent character assassination. It's a discussion, a disagreement even, but it's not nor should it ever be all out war.

But here's the thing. City Planning officials have already told us, in public and private, that they are not going to invest oodles of resources for a net result of no new housing. Because in the heart of a housing crisis, for homes at ALL income levels, it simply doesn't make sense to create less opportunities for growth, and less opportunities for affordable housing. They maintain that our neighborhood has precious little space available for new apartments that DON'T involve teardowns.  Empire Blvd is perfect for new construction, and developers will be keen to build decently and pay for amenities and infrastructure and even 20 or 30 percent affordable set-asides because, well, people will WANT to live near the Park and Garden and plentiful transit. For that, they'd look at "soft spots" throughout the proposed area from NY Ave to the Park and E.P. to Clarkson, to help us fend off unnecessary and out-sized apartment buildings. 

And that leaves us at an impasse. Much of the neighborhood would desperately like new protections against teardowns and overdevelopment. But those near Empire are unwilling to cede their commercial frontier to new residents. We have what they might call a humdinger of a conundrum.
But then we always knew this. There were no surprises last night, and thankfully no bloodshed. Just a restatement of the problem. And while visions of a commercially enticing, walkable couple of blocks leading up to the Park might sound alluring, we do not own the land, nor does the City. Private hands will make private decisions based on how best to grow their investments. Richard seems to think a likely scenario would be some sort of mixed-use medical facility, as Obamacare makes the CityMDs more viable economically. Look for 10 to 12 story buildings of SOMEthing, he says, even hotels. But it remains highly unlikely that landowners will poor millions into amenities like the ones of the Empire Study Group plan. Another scenario? Economic downturn. And...nothing. No changes, no residential, no new commercial...but plenty of burgers!

For those just joining the conversation, the Q enjoys restating the obvious:

To recap…

1) Your Community Board #9, yours truly in cahoots, conducted a series of meetings and forums in 2013-14 to determine how best to respond to aggressive development in the area, particularly in response to the giant tower at 626 Flatbush.

2) The Board voted overwhelmingly in Spring 2014 to send City Planning a letter requesting that a Planning Study be jointly undertaken, to determine how best to plan for growth, affordability and infrastructure while protecting the context, economics and history of the neighborhood.

3) Alicia Boyd formed a resistance group to prevent such a Planning Study to commence, lest the City place ITS priorities over those of surrounding community residents, most notably, herself.

4) In Fall of 2014, Ms. Boyd managed to so disrupt Community Board meetings and change the dynamics to such a degree that the Board reversed itself, rescinded the letter and offer to work with Planning, and began to scheme a better use for Empire Blvd than residential. MTOPP claimed that huge towers were planned that would destroy the neighborhood and lead to unchecked gentrification; elected officials said no, 10-14 stories were more likely in a contextual rezoning, and only that tall if they included substantial set-asides for affordable apartments at (roughly) 60% of Area Media Income, or families of 4 making up to $50,000. (It should be noted that the housing market continued to froth, and gentrification continued unabated even as the standoff wore on.) The City's retorts were ridiculed as lies and MTOPP attacked anyone who dared contradict that conclusion. This led to the resignation of CB9's newly elected board chair, its secretary, and the filing of numerous lawsuits aimed to rid the CB of corruption. The Q took aim and fired at MTOPP frequently and without mercy, citing Ms. Boyd's seeming inability to listen, compromise and play nice. Ms. Boyd devised a counterattack that included not just the Q but all elected officials and district manager Pearl Miles, among many others. Mr. Imani Henry of "Equality for Flatbush" orchestrated a petition for Tim Thomas's ouster based on his supposed racist hatred of the entire black community, of which he, Alicia Boyd, Karen Fleming and Mathieu Eugene are apparently the sole members. 

5) Amidst Ms. Boyd's relentless attacks, DM Miles was canned in October of 2015. There was much rejoicing, but there was also a $20 million lawsuit and a lot of paper back up her claims, all of which she took with her on her way out the door. Ms. Miles has pledged to do everything in her power to see that her enemies meet justice, both financial and otherwise. Oh, and she wants her job back. What an odd scene that would be, should it come to pass. Welcome back to hell, Pearl! Especially since she'd probably retire soon after.

6) The Community Board continued to deliberate the arcane details of Zoning Regulations amidst a citywide effort to address, in its eyes, the obstacles preventing the production of better and more affordable housing.  CBs, often known for their reactionary NIMBYism, responded in character, overwhelmingly disapproving ANY increases in density at the hands of the City. Economists note that this is not the first city-wide construction boom, nor should we expect it to last indefinitely. Choices, both made and unmade, may bear consequences for decades to come. That is, it's not often that the City is in a position to dictate (mandate) affordable housing be built and manage to keep a seat at REBNY's bountiful table.

7) We wait. And wait. And wait. While the Board rearranges the deck chairs on the Titanic. Like so much of what I've seen come before the Board, there is no consensus in the making. Only reiterations of the same tired positions.

Perhaps, as with the Congress of this great nation, this is how democracy is supposed to work. Sometimes it's designed to ensure that we do nothing at all, while we bitterly dig ourselves deeper into our own rigid positions.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Comic Relief - Sat Night @ Bluebird

Whoa, Nelly! Time to step back into the light of love, joy and stand-up comedy. Right in the P.L. of G. Designed to coincide with everyone's least favorite holiday...even those in love stress out about it. Amiright?

Friday, February 5, 2016

Et tu, Imani? Imani Henry Is Behind the Racism Charge

The Q had always wondered where all the talk of my racist blog started. I combed old posts for things I might have written that could be misconstrued. I guess I figured my sense of humor was such that sarcasm could get me in trouble. I blame David Letterman. I was a pretty sincere kid, then I caught the irony bug. It's really hard to wash it out in the tub.

A couple years ago I came across a guy named Imani Henry. His group "Equality for Flatbush" sounded great on the surface. The anti-gentrification thing seemed a tough sell, but he'd been priced out of various neighborhoods (who hasn't?) and felt that black Brooklyn was being colonized. Basically, I agreed, and we spoke on the phone about his efforts to film cops doing bad stuff. Cop Watch. I think it's become a lot tougher for police to go all Rodney King knowing they'll be filmed, but clearly it hasn't stopped the insanity. I never imagined what would happen next. He went crazy on me at a CB9 meeting after I called out Alicia Boyd as a jerk. This was, in his mind, paramount of treason.

When Imani hooked up with Alicia and MTOPP they saw that they were birds of a feather. They were willing to go to any length to achieve their objectives...actually, I still don't fully understand what their objectives are. Clearly there's a power thing there, the ability to say you're leading a movement, that you have substance, that your thoughts and values have worth in society. (Wait...why does that sound so familiar?)

Last year a petition was put out asking for my removal from CB9. I wasn't surprised to hear that MTOPP was pushing it. The racism cry was painful but I kinda got it. Nobody likes a big white guy yelling at you. Nobody. Except maybe at a football game. My bad.

So who was behind the petition? Who was pushing it and making it such a big deal? I guess I shouldn't have been surprised to learn it was Imani Henry. "Equality" for Flatbush indeed. What a sad excuse for an activist, sinking to lying about people and skulking behind the scenes. Oh, he'd deny it of course. But this time Mr. Henry, you've been caught red-handed. The Q has unearthed the following email, and clearly Mr. Henry did NOT want to go one the record as having written and promoted the petition. As a local blogger I guess this as close as I'm going to get to the Pentagon Papers.

CB9 Chair Removes the Q For...Being the Q

It is with both surprise and relief that the Q is here to tell you just how disappointed and oddly elated he is. I am. I've been removed as Chair of Transportation, after enduring an evening of blatant lies about my character. I was particular struck by LMA President Ben Edwards' harsh words. He barely every speaks at all, and apparently he holds me in extremely low regard. Perhaps his miserable work as ULURP Committee Chair last year plays into it? To date, I've not knocked any members of the Board personally, and I'll continue to try as best I can to take the high road. Ben blew me off when I looked for LMA to weigh in on the Empire Reconstruction Project. As in he didn't say "no." He just never responded.

I'm not feeling anything yet. BUT, I did send the below to anyone and everyone. I joined the Board in part to shed some light onto its inner workings. Why stop now? 

Chair Demetrius Lawrence:

Okay. This is very disappointing. I believe that the members last night have internalized all the nasty things that Alicia Boyd and Karen Fleming and their group have been saying about me. They are false, and personal. No one who knows me, or has read extensively of my writings, could conceivably call me a racist. I take great offense, and will continue to call out people who take quotes out of context to skewer me.

The content of last night's meeting was clear. The Board is unable to contain a virus that has spread through the membership. It is poisonous, and it is vicious. Rather than stand up to it, and support your fellow Board member, you decided to capitulate.

I do not agree at all that members of the Community Board cannot be activist members of society in general. The Board's assertion that we must somehow remain silent and passive while people in the community hijack our meetings is offensive to the hundreds of people who have signed petitions to the contrary. Look around you - on other Community Boards you will find countless members and officers and chairs who could easily be called activists and outspoken critics of politics. This is not a fault - it's a plus! If anything I fault board members for NOT taking stronger positions against housing injustice, City planning, greedy landlords and developers, and broken City agencies.

Today you did a great disservice to the community. By once again caving to the outrageous behavior of MTOPP, you have shown that you do not have the resolve to stand up to Ms. Boyd.

Mr. Chairman, I think you are trying to be all things to all people. That is NOT leadership. You have alienated a giant segment of our neighborhood in order to appease a few.

And I will not be silent as CB9 continues to mock the very idea of community by removing hard working, caring and passionate members of that community. To remove someone for breaking a rule or law - that's one thing. Today, you cut me loose because a few members of the community don't agree with me and set out to "destroy me," in the worlds of Alicia Boyd.

With respect to you personally, but not to your actions today,


P.S. I will not remain on the ULURP committee. Chair Liburd has done a tremendous job trying to run the meetings in the face of MTOPP's behavior. But the meetings themselves have become a farce. After twice voting for a Planning Study, the Board continues to drag its feet. 

On Fri, Feb 5, 2016 at 10:38 AM, Demetrius Lawrence <> wrote:

Good morning. 

I want to first Thank you for attending last night’s special executive committee meeting. 

We appreciate and Thank you for your service as Chair of the Transportation committee, however at this time as Chairman of this Community Board 9 and in accordance with our by laws; Article VII sec. 8.2 (The committee chairpersons shall be appointed members, shall be appointed annually by the Chairperson of the Board and shall serve at the pleasure of the Chairperson of the Board), I will remove you as Chair of the Transportation committee effective immediately.

Myself or another executive committee member will be chairing next weeks transportation committee meeting. Please share with Terri and myself any additional information for the February 10th Transportation committee meeting.

Tim as you offer a wealth of knowledge and information to this board, we would like for you to remain as a member of our ULURP committee.


Demetrius Lawrence
Chairman - CB9