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  • 06/16/15--10:09: Clove Road Getting Stoned

  • From Rachel and DNA Info comes yet another example of why it's a tragedy that Mike Cetera wasn't reappointed to Community Board 9. Mike found an artist who's working pro bono to place a giant history stone, and Kenitchi Hiratsuka is his name-o. Check out his site, yo.

    Mike's commitment (some would call it obsession) to determining the exact history of Clove Road, and of giving it the commemoration it deserves, is nothing short of rockin'. To those who don't know, you can also thank Cetera for the beauty that it is Eastern Parkway. He fought hard to keep it from being turned into highway back in the '70s.

    More on Clove and Malbone (you knew Empire Blvd used to Malbone, right? As in the infamous Malbone Train Wreck at our beloved Q/B/S station? You don't? Get crackin'!). And if you haven't even SEEN contemporary Clove Road, walk on over and check it out. It's a serious slice of history wrapped in an enigma wrapped in a controversy as to how to deal with it now.





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  • 06/17/15--07:40: Oaxaca Rising
  • There's a new cowboy in town, name of Oaxaca. With picante pistols at his side, he plans to take Sterling 'n' Rogers in a blaze of fiery fish flautas.


    Thx Mark S for the photo. It kinda looks an old west Saloon. Needs swinging half doors.





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    Hard to believe, but it's been three years since the DOT heard our call and made some fairly effective, but not effective enough, changes at the ever-nuts intersection of Parkside and Ocean Avenues. You know, right at our beloved Q Plaza? Right at the entrance to the Park?

    It may surprise newcomers, but it used to be even worse. One of the best fixes was to close the entrance to the park to vehicles, followed by making the intersection much smaller with those cones and lines to guide cars to where they need to go. The chancges with the pedestrian lights have slowed traffic a bit, but it's still up to the walkers to alert cars that they're there. I often raise my hand to alert drivers with poor sight-lines. You know what I'm talking about. Even after you get the hang of the weirdness of having to wait to cross from the Q to the Park, even though the red has stopped traffic going south, you have to wait for speeders rounding the bend. And then, of course, they get to keep coming while you step out into the street. And forget about going from the Park south, even when the dedicated green arrow is happening, which always surprises me still after three years of walking or riding it. Plus, there's absolutely NO acknowledgment that tons of bikes come in and out at an angle. And the occasional vehicle.

    So. DOT came back Tuesday evening to the Transportation Committee at CB9 to suggest a few more improvements, all of which passed committee and will hopefully get the greenlight at the full Board meeting next Tuesday. I say hopefully, because many Board members are car zealots. Like many New Yorkers, some on the Board feel that cars and parking are always the losers in any changes taking place, from DOT to residential development to bike lanes etc. Last year they voted down two sensible fixes that would have aided pedestrians and bicycles, while not hindering traffic in the slightest. It was quite shameful really.

    So, I encourage you all to come out on Tuesday at the School for the Deaf (insert CB9 joke at the expense of deaf people here) near the Brooklyn Museum for the full Board meeting to voice your support. Here's the pic of changes from the DOT, which includes better signal management and a pedestrian median on Ocean. (Apparently there isn't room on the Parkside corner).


    I'll continue to lobby for a full stop for ALL cars to allow pedestrians a cycle to walk in all directions. To my mind, this is an entrance to the Park, not a commuter speedway. DOT claims they can't do it, since it will snarl traffic. Yes, we must help traffic flow best it can. But let's be honest, there'll just be more and more cars as time ticks forward. And pedestrians too. It's time to give walkers and bikers a fighting chance to survive one of the most frustrating intersections in the whole borough.

    So call the CB9 office ahead of time at 718-778-9279, or email Pearl Miles pmiles@cb.nyc.gov for a 3 minute spot to speak up.



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  • 06/19/15--09:49: A Post About Charleston
  • The Q kept trying to think of something useful or unique to say about the terrorist killings in Charleston. I couldn't think of anything. If you've seen the beginning of Selma, maybe you got that punch in the gut feeling when you heard the news. I just hope the mainstream media don't excuse this as another "lone madman" thing, rather than look at the deeply troubling issues of guns and racial hatred.

    I don't know how to do a moment of silence on the internet. Maybe just shutting up now will suffice.

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    Here's the story.

    And here's the beef, per reader JDB:

    "For someone who lives on the East side of Prospect Park, I find this proposal to be outrageous. The Mayor talks often about two New Yorks, this proposal only exacerbates that problem. Already, Prospect Park West is a one way road with a wonderful bike path and plentiful parking. Compare that with Ocean Avenue on the East side of the Park, which is basically a four lane highway in two directions and no bike path. Moreover, there is constant running of red lights on the street due to lax enforcement. Now the Mayor wants to compound that inequity by creating a more peaceful, safer, and environmentally friendly West side of the park without giving any relief to those on the East side of the park. Let's not forget the demographic differences: the West side of the park is predominantly white and wealthy and the East side of the park is predominantly minority and poor. Hopefully, the Mayor will be open to discussions about this proposal and decide to cut car traffic from the entire park so all New Yorkers can equally enjoy the park."

    While I happen to be highly in favor of closing the park to all traffic, I think it's a mistake to make this a Tale of Two Cities. The park's drives have been closed in stages. Various entrances and exits have gone the way of the Dodo. And at each new bit of closings, various constituencies have complained. The direction is clear; one day, hopefully very soon, non-City vehicles will be outlawed, except to Park in the Lakeside parking lot. Or with special permits for special events.

    But not everyone agrees, certainly not the hundreds of drivers who use the park every day. Believe me, they're there! I negotiate them every morning on my way to work and kid's school near Barclay's. But if this were really a matter of minority or poorer sides of park being neglected, how do you explain Lakeside and the wonderful new amenities on "our" side of the Park? The Drummer's Grove? The Lake itself? The Carousel and Zoo and Leffert's House, all in great shape and super popular? Even the Oriental Pavillion is going to get another sprucing up.

    I think what's really going on is a political calculation, since morning traffic on the east side is twice as great as in the evenings. Park Slope, more bike-centric and anti-auto, won't complain too much. Then close it down over here when people start to get used to the no-traffic thing. Trust me, there are some who will put up a fight for the auto! I deal with them all the time over at CB9.

    And here's the thing. Now's the time to come out in support of a full closure! Demonstrate! Call the Mayor's office! I'm just not so sure it's the right time to pull out the "poor and black" card, which as we know is becoming less and less accurate all the time anyway.


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    I didn't want to let this get lost, cause I'd actually like to hear what y'all think, so I promoted it from comment to post. The Q has some thoughts on the West Side car traffic closures, because I think some folks are thinking we've been shafted for being poor.

    Anon 4:24. That's not what I said. In terms of this particular issue, I think it would be wrong to make the claim that richer nabes get what they want, and we get the short end. Let me tell you what they have over in Park Slope, and increasingly in Windsor Terrace. They have strong, consistent, well-run organizations. They have political connections. They have a powerful and productive Community Board (CB6). Most importantly, they have respected City leaders. We have none of those. And you can GET all of those things without piles of cash (though it never hurts, I'll admit!)

    The City does not generally "bestow" services and changes upon neighborhoods. I've learned it's much more reactive than proactive. It's a big City and there are limited resources and the squeaky wheel gets the grease. If you present a strong, coherent proposal - like, say, the narrowing of intersections parallel to Flatbush north of GAP, DOT will do it. If you have a strong Merchant's or Civic Association or BID and you want to do an attractive median and bike lanes and smarter traffic (like Vandervilt). And if you want a protected bike lane and two rather than three lanes of traffic along a major travel route - like PPW, you can get it, despite an intense car lobby. Individuals are often behind this stuff. Passionate, committee people who stick it out and put the pieces together.

    So far, in regards to closing traffic on the east side of the park I've seen an online petition. Which (we should all get used to knowing this) is an extremely ineffective way to get things done. Who even saw it? I mean, I can get 500 signatures to build a giant Wicker Man and burn it in the Nethermead, but that doesn't mean it gets done. Hey, ask Seth Kaplan how easy it is to get what you want for PPW when you don't have the organization behind you, the political will. It's a bitch and a half. And you can come off sounding like some crazy guy if you don't rally people around you in a coherent and thoughtful manner.

    PLGNA and CB9, and CB14, must make this a priority. Better yet, Diana Richardson and Jessie Hamilton, because you know damn well Mr. Cheap Suit Eugene ain't gonna take the lead, call meetings, get involved, talk to the Mayor. Hell, he drives from Canarsie to work every day. Because he lives...in Canarsie. And loves his car. And doesn't know shit from Shinola.

    Guys, this is about leadership and organization. Sure, the Mayor will eventually close our side of the park. But it will be DESPITE the lack of commitment on our part, not because of it. It'll happen because it's insane not to. And still the drivers from Flatbush and Flatlands and Midwout and even the Island of Staten will blow a gasket. And if THEY have strong leaders and organizations behind them they might get there way too.

    So yeah, rich neighborhoods get more attention. But it's because they DEMAND it. We may have pent up demand, but until people start really getting involved, nothing's gonna happen. Look at Delson and his crew and the plaza at Parkside. You think that was going to happen in a vacuum? And he EVEN got Eugene to kick in dough. That's right, he kissed enough ass and made it clear this was a photo-op. Because Rudy Delson is a go-getter. Like Amy Musick. Or Quest Fanning. Or Cheryl Sealey and Brenda Edwards and Celeste Lacy-Davis and Alex Ely and Skei Saulnier and Richard Green and Carrie McLaren and Warren Berke and Diana Richardson and Renata Gomes and Renee Ciconne and Siobhan and Marvin and Eppley and Esteban and Kaplan yes, yes, yes Alicia Boyd. Gotta give it up there for gumption, fortitude and attention to detail. Tons of others. But on this issue, I just don't see the effort. It'll come. I double-dare ya!

    Sorry if I sound preachy. It's just that I've spent the last few years learning how this stuff works, and you can whine all you want about being the poor and black side of the park that gets shafted. Or you can do something about it. What kills me is that it's so often white people complaining about how the poor, black side of the park gets the raw deal. Like, what the hell are you doing about it?

    Go on. Bring the love or hate in the comments! Someone's gonna step up. Or just disagree with my analysis, watch how little positive, progressive change takes place.

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  • 06/20/15--06:14: How Bout Them Trees?
  • David Eppley is deep into remaking the trees. Having worked more than a dozen middle-school students, he's been enjoying greeting the kids as he places the "flowers" that they've made. Given insurance issues, Eppley is doing all the application himself on a ladder. A scissor lift, so said the short-sighted insurers, was out of the questions. Better, apparently, to do dangerous work on a much less sturdy piece of equipment. Sigh.

    Anyhow, here's where we're at. He'll be working through the weekend, so head on out and say hi.




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    Well alright! Coming into the end of the school year, and dang are my arms tired.

    Tonight the Board formalizes whom will lead and in what capacity. Yours truly is running for treasurer, but I've been a polarizing figure and don't expect to win. Would be nice to be part of the agenda-making body, but also happy to continue as a committee chair. What a wild ride. I'm beginning to think we'll be turning the corner. And yes, you know who plans to come out and cause trouble. God bless the 1st Amendment.

    The agenda for tonight's meeting at the School for the Deaf up near the Brooklyn Museum is here. If controversy is your thing, tonight there will be a crowd opposing the granting of a liquor license to a new bar at Union and Franklin. Despite the fact that we met with the owners and determined they are highly qualified to run such a place and have no history of criminality or disorderly conduct, some in the community will assert that they are a bad influence on rising rents. child safety and gentrification. And while the landlord of the building is clearly on a mission to remake the corner, in my view the business itself is hardly liable. Trying to control the economic activity of the neighborhood is not the way to keep people in their homes, legally speaking. There simply aren't the same regulations against running a business of your choice as there are for harassing tenants.

    With bars, I get it. People are concerned about kids and drunkenness. But the bar is legally far enough away from schools and churches. And frankly, it's liquor stores that concern me more in terms of public safety. Though, truth be told, it's NYC, and I don't worry about THAT too much. The cops should to a better job of keeping public drunkenness off the streets, if only for safety and the belligerence of some alcoholics. Hey, we ALL know how that goes now, don't we? Been to a family reunion lately?

    Then on Wednesday come out for the following crime forum. Should be a good conversation, hopefully with some potential solutions and action items. All are invited and encouraged to attend and share.





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    photo: Joanna Purpich/Gothamist. trash: Bushburg


    Did you catch this piece about Bushburg Realty? They buy a building complex in Bed-Stuy for (holy crap) $38 million. Residents have long complained about conditions there, so they were hopeful that the promised upgrades would benefit them. It's a Mitchell Lama building, designed when built to be affordable housing. Means-tested housing. To a certain degree, if fit the bill for many, many years. Now, investors see $$$. No surprises. More of the same. I'm pretty sure super-tall Tivoli Towers north of Empire is dealing with the same messola.

    Sure glad landlords like THAT don't do business on MY block. Oy gevalt, what's that you say? They're the developer of 50 Clarkson, the vacant lot that has that lovely graffiti-covered wall of falling down plywood on rat infested unsecured premises? You don't say? Well boy howdy, looks like 60 Clarkson has a neighbor! A pal. A buddy. A comrade.

    And you wonder why the Q sounds cynical sometimes. There's a shyster or two or ten on every friggin' block right now, smelling profits, laying turds.

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  • 06/24/15--20:46: The PTA, the CB & the SLA
  • Been a strange 48 hours. First, the Q got to witness up-close-and-personal the machinations of a diverse school's contested PTA elections. Things got a bit ugly, regulations weren't followed precisely, and the turnout was like 10 times what you'd see for a normal PTA meeting. The lines were drawn and the gloves were off. Luckily, a rep from the district was there to run the meeting, or all hell would have broken loose. It can't be stressed enough how important it is to have a Chairperson who knows how to run a meeting. Until the last year I never really got that. Controlling the mic, controlling the tenor of the room, showing fairness but being firm. It's a lot like the performative part of teaching.

    And while I kept saying to myself "It's just the PTA, y'all, no reason to bust a gut" it was, in fact, democracy in action, one of the few places that the feelings under-the-surface have a chance to rise and be counted. Actually physically counted. In the case of the PTA, about 2/3 of the school wanted to stay the course, and 1/3 favored the incoming slate of reformers. Insults, accusations, hurt feelings, the whole nine. It's interesting to me that in a place where our children are being taught and encouraged to be good citizens, we sometimes have a hard time leading by example. It's still the sandbox, even in middle age. Sand kicked, toys stolen, some sharing, some bossing, some just playing off by themselves. The mature, or the wizened, rise to the occasion. I want to be that guy. I'm getting better, but I've got a long, long way to go. And I'm pushing 50. Gotta get a Zen Master to guide my primal urges to tell everyone to shut the hell up, grow a pair, or go back to finishing school.

    Last night, at the CB9 annual election, things were SO much calmer than they've been in months. Why, you ask? Well, a certain agitator is on vacation. That's right, Alicia Boyd is off somewhere, probably AirBnB'ing and enjoying upscale amenities somewhere. So the meeting, while more than 4 hours long, was the most productive and civil in recent memory.

    Who's your new Executive Committee that will get to have insults hurled at it?

    President: Demetrius Lawrence
    Secretary: Stuart Balberg
    Treasurer: Simone Bennett
    1st Vice Chair: Patrica Moses (somebody who I've never met and seems to have come out of nowhere to beat longtime chair Jake Goldstein)
    2nd Vice Chair: Denise Mann
    Members at Large: (once again) Jacqueline Welch and Evelyn Williams

    Just because I happen to know most of who voted for Jake and me (I ran for Treasurer), and because our votes were nearly identical (21-13 against), I can honestly say that voting happened largely along racial lines. I have no hard feelings about that, but it does sadden me. It's what it is. In our district, I find myself voting for black candidates all the time, but if you're black, I think it's very hard to cross the racial divide. And this is not at all surprising or worrisome to me, just means we have a long way to go. In a country that's dominated by whites and white culture, it's reassuring that there are still places where minority candidates and minority owned businesses have a chance to thrive. Though I tell you straight up because I don't know how to do it any other way - my opponent Simone Bennett ran this year's Transportation Committee and did nothing. I'm not sure why she gets rewarded for that, except for all the noise I make at meetings and here I guess I'm not held in too high esteem. But yeah, Simone held one meeting, then attacked DOT publicly about something she had no knowledge of, then didn't even show up for the final committee meeting which was basically chaired by Ed Fanning since he knew what he was doing, despite having been kicked off the Board by the BP for no reason other than, I don't know actually. A really bad move if you ask me. I even wrote the BP a letter about it. Dumb. You don't kick off your most committed and highly prepared and qualified chairs! Crazy, but there you are. And they didn't reappoint Mike Cetera, who along with Pearl and Jake basically held down the fort for years. This is how you're repayed. And Mike was still working on very cool project. Yuch, yuck and youghk.

    (So no, the Q ain't mad, he's actually relieved not to have to go to any more meetings than he already does. Still I was looking forward to having my own piggy bank to spend on pencils and bonbons. Did I write or think that? I wish the new Exec well, and hope to chair something that I feel strongly about.)

    Now to the good stuff. Liquor. Beer. Wine. And prohibitionists. As in there were many liquor license requests, either new or renewal. That Mexican joint Oaxaca on Rogers and Sterling. A local bar for Union & Franklin. A renewal on Utica (VChris) that the cops said shouldn't happen, since there's too much ugliness, you know, assaults and the like. A couple ma and pa's want renewals. A joint wants to add beer & wine to a diverse set of offerings. The applicants were absurdly diverse in business plan and ethnicity. All good, right?

    Turns out that the bar at Franklin and Union is in a notorious building, whose attitude is Gentrify or Bust. The bar works for its "business strategy." It causes fear and loathing among many longtime residents. The bar OWNERS just want to make some dough with their fourth bar in Brooklyn. They seem earnest and intent on being a good neighbor. After much lively back and forth, the Board (rightly) chose to grant the liquor license by a 2-1 margin, even as a dozen or so voted against it, citing everything from a "glut of bars" to "the community doesn't want it." I guess the market itself will determine the second one. And frankly, I wouldn't be surprised at all if we don't see a bunch of joints along that stretch. As long as they follow the SLA rules though, it's gonna be hard to imagine that even with CB disapproval they're gonna get turned down. There's just no justifiable reason to stop a decent business from doing...business.

    Oh hell I'm already thinking about the crime meeting that happened tonight. Basically, Rebecca's brilliant organizing meant that a lot of people pissed at the cops were given a bevy of cops to sound off to. Even when I was sitting there saying nothing, I was getting the hairy "I'll mess you up, m.f." from some joker in the second row. That's what you get for calling a meeting. Gruff and Bluff.

    But honestly, most of what was said needed to be said, though it would've been nice if the "Cops Watch" folks, with Imani Henry chapeaued and agitated in the lead, would've dropped the tone down a notch so the police might actually be persuaded to work with them. Imani's group will meet July 18 at the Flatbush branch library, in the afternoon. His group is called Equality for Flatbush, and the dude seriously hates me so I see no reason to write anymore about it. Can't even look me in the eye. It's sad really, Mr. Social Worker who loves to call people racist/sexist/fascist. I do wish him well though. Most of what he says is spot on. He could stand to buy a new hat though. That one's not too flattering, dude. You just need someone honest enough to say it. Consider yourself served.

    I'm bailing on this post...g'night.





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    A while back, I noted that a neighbor is getting pressure to move, despite that they're already paying roughly market rate. To the Q, this is proof positive that the upward pressure in the neighborhood and for the outsize valuations of buildings is all about speculation. How else can describe trying to pressure or buy out tenants spending well more than $1,000 on their apartments? Given that an apartment in the $1K to $2K range suggests middle class income, that's not the way the pressure is headed. In fact, we seem to be skipping right over a huge part of what's driving Brooklyn's housing shortage. So while the rich and the working poor get the majority of ink, this story is one that I can continue to follow closely.

    From the neighbor who wrote a previous note (reprinted below for context).

    NOW: Just an update on [my] saga. Someone from management just called me asking (gently pressuring) to settle/negotiate outside of the system, by arguing that he would like to spare me the prolonged ordeal of going thru the system, since he has all the "receipts for the work". This is blatant pressure but I am not even sure if going thru the system is a guarantee I get justice considering their immense resources in faking their paper trail. Him wanting to desperately negotiate outside of the system is an indication that he knows they don't have all their ducks in a row. 


    THEN: I have been meaning to write for a long time regarding rent stabilization in part because of my personal experience and itch for urban justice. Your latest post hit it on the nail and I think one of the most critical things to do is INFORM, much like CHTU is attempting with the tenant alliances. 

    When we moved into the neighborhood in 2012 our rent for a 2 bedroom rent-stabilized apartment was $1800. It had patina of some "renovations" to justify the Apartment Improvement increase on top of the vacancy allowance increase. They had painted over the bathroom tiles, over textured wall paper in the bedroom and some other shitty repairs that in no way justify what should be over 50k in renovations according to the increase from $950 the previous tenant was paying. The urban housing agency provides a handy excel calculator for doing the math and with even the most generous allocations my rent increase should not have exceeded $1300. I asked the management for receipts of work done but they ignored it. After a year we signed a renewal lease. I have yet to receive the renewal counter signed lease from them. I have now filed papers with the city to have the matter looked into but I am not holding my breath. 

    Now I can certainly afford to pay $1800 but I was furious that I was being had and that ultimately in a few years I would be out of luck when that apartment went out of Rent Stabilization. The reason I am writing is that I feel many others are in a similar situation and simply don't care or don't know their rights and expectations and that ultimately they contribute to the erosion of affordable housing in this city and not just our neighborhood. Also, it a major factor is fear: there are occasions where filing against a landlord gets you in a blacklist. So many tenants are hesitant to stick their neck out there which is why some of the advocate agencies are so important in leading the crusade.

    So, while you have linked to some of the resources in combating this I think it would be great to devote a post for the nuts and bolts of navigating the bureaucracy of getting a rent history, calculating the allowable rent increase and then partnering with the advocates you call out like CHTU. My fear is that everyone thinks "Hey, this doesn't concern me... $1800 rent is acceptable" without realizing the tenant before had significant lower rent. Some landlords are in fact doing a bang up job of repairing apartments: I saw a 1 bedroom at 100 Lefferts that left me breathless which in that case I would almost accept the reality of raised rent. But in most cases they are calling a fresh coat of paint MAJOR renovations and no one is checking. This is egregious abuse of the allocations. 

    Well, hope you made it till here. Below is the link to the vacancy rent calculator. 




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    Gothamist was there with the deets. Below is an excerpt from writer Nathan Tempey, who took way better notes than I could ever hope to take. So I'm happy to let his be the public record.

    Suffice to say that Rebecca Fitting (and I) called the meeting to look for action items and solutions, in collaboration with the 70th, 71st and 67th Precincts, since we live at the intersection of those three. I chaired only to try to moderate, but in retrospect it really wasn't our meeting, and I got the evil eye from a number of attendees. Equality for Flatbush and Imani Henry used the opportunity to push their agenda. Which...was...fine. I felt bad that the precincts were called to a meeting where their tactics would be berated, but hey, they can take it, they're the cops. Still, the group's activism, much like MTOPP's, railroads most discussions into the direction it wants it to go. Apparently we're racist for having called it at all and for not inviting them. Whatever. E4F got their forum. Next time, though, I hope to do something where a wider range of opinions are allowed. Because as neighbor Cheryl Sealey related, all this talk about systemic change is fine. But some of us also want to walk down the street without fearing gun battles. Now, not in a Utopian future. A hard line, I know, but worth noting.

    A meeting about crime in Prospect Lefferts Gardens became a referendum on Broken Windows policing when a dozen or so of the 60 residents in attendance sounded off to NYPD reps about what they say are racist and overly-aggressive policing tactics in the area. Several spoke out against the recently announced plan to hire another 1,300 cops in the next year, which coincides with Summer All Out, a program to flood high-violence areas—including the 67th Precinct, which encompasses East Flatbush and part of Lefferts—with cops who would normally be on desk duty.
    Early on, one black woman in attendance said she opposed any calls for more police that might come out of the meeting, so long as low-level enforcement is disproportionately aimed at young men of color.
    "I have three nephews that are grown," said Vena Moore, a 15-year neighborhood resident and Brooklyn native, to the officers who attended the meeting from the 70th, 71st, and 67th precincts. "They get harassed by cops periodically, and if we're going to have more of that kind of policing with additional cops, then I don't want more cops."
    Responding to that concern, raised by her and others in the audience, Det. Robert Thybulle of the 67th Precinct said that some 500-700 officers are headed for retirement in the next year, so the hiring spree is really not a huge gain. Plus, he said, "personally, I think more police can only be good."
    Circling back around to the issue after being pressed further, Thybulle, who is African-American, cited the sensitivity training he received at the Police Academy. "I had to do a report on Germany and German society. I had to look at everything related to the food, to the culture, to everything. Everyone goes through that in the Police Academy."
    When I caught up to him in the lobby for more information, Det. Thybulle explained that he attended the academy in 1999, and that the project took 2-3 weeks of his 6-month training as a cadet. Thybulle noted that the department added a new, three-day sensitivity training for all officers last winter, a change that came in the wake of a grand jury's decision not to indict Officer Daniel Pantaleo in the death of Eric Garner.
    Back in the sweltering basement, meeting attendees shared alarming stories of police misconduct (none could immediately be independently verified). A white woman described being ticketed for being in Prospect Park after dark with her Puerto Rican boyfriend by a cop who asked, "What's a nice girl like you doing in this neighborhood?" then implied that he was making errors on her ticket so that she could get off, but stuck it to her boyfriend.
    A longtime resident, Aaliyah Lessey, told of sitting down on a park bench off of Ocean Avenue around 5 p.m. one day, then being ticketed along with everyone else in the park for an unspecified violation. Having known many of the neighborhood officers, she was flabbergasted when one she'd never met asked for her ID and came back with a summons. "If I was smoking or drinking, it was fine, but I wasn't doing nothing," she said. She said a judge dismissed the summons after taking one look at it. Others bemoaned the shutting-down of a longstanding block party, a move the 70th Precinct's Lt. Jacqueline Bourne said was due to a brawl. Equality for Flatbush activist Imani Henry described an hour of monitoring a checkpoint at Flatbush and Church avenues in 2014, during which police stopped only one white driver, and only after cops spotted him talking to cop watchers. Audience members began to raise their voices as the police on hand avoided their questions, saying they couldn't comment on incidents without knowing the particulars, and encouraging the aggrieved to call Internal Affairs and the Civilian Complaint Review Board.

    To read more, you know what to do.

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  • 06/26/15--07:50: Caribbean Bouquet
  • Man these are awesome (below). If you haven't experienced Labor Day Weekend around here, you're in for a treat. The costumes are so spectacular, the mood so festive, it's contagious. Yes, there are often outbursts of violence and we always hope this year will be different. But anytime you have a party of half a million people spread over a couple square miles, I'm afraid it's somewhat inevitable. So don't believe the hype. West Indian Day is the biggest and brightest NYC celebration, to rival New Orleans' Carnival. Plus J'ouvert, which is quite simply an all night mind-blower.

    From a neighbor:

    Alicia, one of the costumers for this year's Caribbean Day Parade, will had a preview of her work on display for the public today (Monday) and tomorrow (Tuesday) after 4PM until about 7PM at The Place. (The Q was sadly too busy to post promptly, but I hope a lot of you stopped in to ogle. Just check out these beauties!)



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  • 06/26/15--12:00: And In This Corner...

  • DNA Info on Shooting Stats

    Despite the frank talk of community policing, mediation and lesser police presence, the fact remains that shootings in the 70th Precinct are up more than 60% over last year. That's deep in the heart of Flatbush, object of the preposition Equality Of. The number of shootings remains relatively low historically, and the double-digit numbers are not big enough to count out percent gains as mere aberrations, both geographical and numerical. But if you're living in Flatbush, particularly central Flatbush and Ditmas Park, and you pay attention to each incident as it comes, you could be forgiven for thinking things have taken a major turn for the worse. And yeah, for the record, it's mostly people of color shooting people of color. It would be pretty hard (as I heard one commentator say on Crap TV) that America is heading into a race war. From my 48 year old 27-year resident of Brooklyn brain, I'd say business has not changed a great deal in recent years. But if the word "war" could be changed to "crisis," I wouldn't hesitate to agree.

    The 70th is hot right now. But...and this is a big butt (in keeping with the Q's favorite ass-obsessed gadfly), you've got other nearby precincts experiencing big drops, like in East Flatbush and Brownsville. Can't neglect to mention the 70th has an increase though. Might look like I'd lost my objectivity had I skipped it. (that's a joke; there's no such thing as objectivity, and I can prove it, beyond a shadow of a doubt. that's a joke too.)

    I note, if only for my own benefit, four distinct solutions that were presented in detail at the meeting on Wednesday. Some combination might even prove effective.

    1: More cops on the streets
    2: Less cops and "broken windows," better policing, sensitivity, cultural awareness, fairness
    3: More mediation, restorative justice, compassion for the emotional and social support needs of young people, translated into on-the-ground programs
    4: Jobs, training, community centers, playgrounds and constructive stuff for folks to do as they mature.

    But you know, the cynic in me sees some missed points. Like, it's not all young people committing crimes. Sometimes it's not even drug or gang or youth related. Fancy that! Drug abuse and drug dealing is a big part of the local economy. And most importantly, it's not like you can just try "less cops" in a neighborhood and expect crime to drop. Or can you? Certainly decriminalizing narcotics could take some of the cowboy-mentality out of drug dealing. Who knows?

    I do know we'll never entirely end senseless violence. There's definitely a number below which crime can't really go. It's too much part of human nature.







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  • 06/28/15--11:26: Bubbleland
  • From Five Brothers 99 cent store, to Bubble Land. And in between, we saw the ancient sign under the banner that showed this was once a corner drug store. Probably from the '50s I'd say. Remember when that note hung on Five Brothers saying "went home to deal with death in the family?" Home was apparently Yemen, a country ravaged by war. The lives being led by the people all around us are so intense and varied. Never ceases to amaze. This is the promise of the experiment called NYC.

    Flatbush at Woodruff.



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  • 06/28/15--11:35: Refresh the Seal
  • From a neighbor came a note so utterly unexpected, I just had to post on his behalf. Thanks Chris! I can honestly say this was way, way, way off my radar. It's this kind of thing that makes me so glad I started a blog in the first place.

    are those squirrels getting caught in a Dutch windmill? and a yo-yo in the hand of Dutch-man?
     

    As a candidate in the 2014 New York City mayoral race, Bill de Blasio deployed a campaign strategy that vocalized the polarization of the City of New York. Like the Dickensian portrayal of conflict between French peasantry and aristocracy, Candidate de Blasio’s iteration of class in contention called attention to the expansion of the “inequality gap” after the Great Recession of 2008. Pointing to the recovery of Wall Street on one hand and the struggle of millions of New Yorkers on the other, Candidate de Blasio was buoyed to Mayor de Blasio.

    In the infancy of his first term, Mayor de Blasio announced the intent of his administration to refresh the relationship between the City of New York and its constituents. At his Inauguration, the newly sworn-in mayor promised to “give life to the hope of so many in our city.” A series of launches in 2014 further revealed the content of his intent- the signing of legislation to lower the citywide speed limit to 25 miles per hour, the re-commitment to reducing the homeless veteran population to zero by the end of 2015, and the initiative to impact student learning in 94 of the City’s most troubled schools.

    The Mayor’s “refresh strategy” reveals the absence of an intention to refresh the Seal of the City of New York, the hub of government and the City itself. Like the contestation for place (equitable vs. biased, zero vs. multiple, renewal vs. exhaustion), the Seal depicts a cosmos in contention. When examining the Shield, does the windmill resemble St. Andrew’s Cross (“saltire wise”) or the gammadion cross? Does the Latin Motto translate, “The Seal of the City of New York” or “The Seal of the new City of York”? And is the “American Eagle with wings displayed” in flight or alighting “upon a hemisphere”?

    On the 100th anniversary of the unanimous decision by the Board of Aldermen to re-establish the Seal of the City of New York, refreshing the Seal provides the Mayor and City Council with the opportunity to jointly demonstrate their commitment to reconciling the two cities. The following three recommendations provide a start:
    1. Clarify, the custodial duties of the Office of the Clerk to ensure the standardization of the Seal; too many variations of the Seal exist in the City;
    2. Update, the visual appearance of the Seal to reflect modern heraldic practice; in its current iteration, the Seal appears two-dimensional and unfinished; and
    3. Commemorate, the sovereignty of the City of New York through an annual flag day on the 15th day of June; the federal government celebrates the Declaration of Independence annually through the 4th of July holiday.
    The reconciliation of polarity in the City of New York through a refreshed Seal will not only institutionalize the Mayor’s “One City”, it will energize constituents and inspire other big cities to do the same. Mayor de Blasio demonstrated in his first year that 2014 was the year of refreshing relationships. 2015 ought to be the year to: Refresh The Seal!
    --
    Meet in The Middle,

    ChrisM Jones 
    Light Makes Right
    Centennial Anniversary of the Seal of the City of New York
    June 24, 2015

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    And then there's THIS intersection

    Daily News on Accident


    Can't begin to say how glad to hear that the child survived. This is a tough, tough intersection, what with all the dollar vans and buses and turns and pedestrians. The only thing that I see that routinely flips me out is the enormous numbers of jaywalkers across Flatbush to get too and from the train. Perhaps another stoplight? Or as Ed Fanning was working on, and different placement for the express bus?

    Jeff Bachner pic of Marcia Forde, who was hit in crash



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  • 06/29/15--09:44: Spring Has Sprung: In Summer
  • The Brownstoner puts it better than I could. But let me just say that helping a project go from idea to fruition is perhaps the most satisfying thing one can experience. I used to get it making record albums. This, and I'm sure Mr. Rudy Delson and Ms. Amy Musick would agree, is simply a glorious feeling. Regardless of what the critics might say. Way to go David. Way to go neighborhood.

    pic: Jeff Scherer for Brownstoner




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    Thx Kieran C. for this early morning tee-hee


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    Yesterday was quite something, even in the ragged story of a single apartment building on my block. Dozens of current residents, many single moms who've been there with multiple children for a year or more, convened in the lobby to express outrage and fear over being (once again) moved through the Homeless Services system with little regard for the realities of raising children. The treatment, as I've come to learn through countless interactions with the residents through the years, is basically that of refugees in their own country. Make no mistake, Capitalism exacts a toll on those least able to fend for themselves, and sometimes it looks this. A report from WPIX on the shenanigans of one greedy and cruel landlord - Barry Hers - doing his best to make tons of money off the misery of others. And make a good living he has. Because after social services provider CAMBA left the building, Hers formed his OWN social services organization called, darkly ironically, WE CARES. I snapped a picture of the vacate notice given to all the homeless tenants:


    And where precisely are these families going to go? 250 Clarkson for one (ugh). Or, as in the case of my friend Merlinda and her six kids, to one of the worst, roach and rat infested heaps of filth you can imagine. Trust me, I've seen the pictures and videos. It's a hellhole, over on East 21st, near Cortelyou. Hola, Ditmas Park Corner! Have fun. Oh, and homeless families, don't forget Farm on Adderley does a killer brunch!

    More soon, when I find some internet. Happy 4th!





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