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

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

    YOU MUST BE REGISTERED BY TOMORROW THE 16th!!!

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

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

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

    Your neighborhood needs you.



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

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

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

    Go team Dynishal!

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  • 08/19/13--19:18: Questions for the Candidates
  • Do you need to vote absentee for the all important Sept 10 primary? Go to this page ASAP to find out how. One option I hadn't considered before was voting absentee IN PERSON. You can still get it by mail if you request now.

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

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

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

    First off, Who do you support for mayor? and...

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


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



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



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  • 08/22/13--18:56: Loews Kings Looking Killer
  • Even as I question the current biz plans for the gorgeous old Loews on Flatbush, I gotta admit how thrilled I am about the renovation. Recent pictures off of Untapped Cities show an almost "Close Encounters" scene of space age technology meeting early 20th Century Flatbushian chutzpah. I mean dig these pics:



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

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

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

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



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    Courtesy of Delson Enterprises:

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

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

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


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    This from a listserv writer last night:

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

    Any information, please comment here.

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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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



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    Seems some commenters feel the Q is too focused on crime these days. What, I should be beating the drum for housing prices and lattes all the time? Fair enough. For those who prefer a more upbeat message, I've decided to combine the latest violent crime with a good vibe bit. Here's to the new half-empty half-full Q...

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

    In other neighborhood news, two men were stabbed on Flatbush tween Parkside and Winthrop around 3:30 am on Saturday. One of the victims was extremely inebriated and had been denied entrance at Rhythm Splash. Any info, email Vinnie Martinos.

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

    First up, the impressionistic digital Tafari shopping experience:

    And a sweet interview:



    Switchblades are still the favorite for the intermediate stabber. They fit neatly, and safely, into pockets, and go from dull to deadly in split seconds. The "stiletto" blade, like the word "cool," never seems to go out of style.





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  • 08/27/13--20:26: Flabenue Scuttlebutt
  • Know that building at the corner of Flatbush and Lefferts, the one that just added a pawn-shop-gold-buyer-check-casher, much to the dismay of all of us who secretly wished for a Long John Silver's? You've probably also wondered what might go into that long lovely loft on the second and/or third floors.

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

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

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


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


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



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  • 08/28/13--10:08: Goodbye Neighbors
  • The ever on-it Brownstoner scooped me on my neighbor-building and its success turning rentals into condos  - SOLD condos. We half thought the managing agent John was joking when he told us about the conversion effort a couple years ago. The Mrs. and I noticed last night that nary a light could be seen on the side of the building facing us...a ghost pre-war of its former rowdy self. Usually by this time of year (near Carnival and J'ouvert), many of the apartments would be blasting music, and not all Caribbean! A thump war would sometimes erupt, and summer would end with intense volume punctuated by late-night screams of revelry (and occasionally screams of another sort, but not often). End of an era? Absolutely. I wonder how many buildings will follow suit?

    From the Brownstoner.com:

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

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

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

    photo by Brownstoner


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

    From the organizer:



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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



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  • 09/02/13--09:31: What's Doin' On Woodruff
  • Three pictures. Three mimeographs. Three lightposts. One whimsical mimeo-artiste?

    Elizabeth C photos




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  • 09/02/13--13:08: Baby Steps On Bedford
  • shot just the other day, as a matter of fact
    The Q has passed 1860 Bedford at Midwood, oh, probably 300 times in the last 10 years. It's always been such a sad sight to see...a beautiful old house on a highly visible corner, reminding us all of the blights of yesteryear. I'm sure those who live in "the Manor" have tried through the years to get the owner to do something about its sorry exterior. But in the past few months, incremental progress has led from point A to point B. Peek inside and some serious infrastructure work is taking place, along with new windows and work on the roof and solarium. The house used to be covered with graffiti, all windows blown out, trash strewn about - the whole nine. Is it being repaired to the letter of law of landmarks? Probably not. But the fact of the matter is, it really does make the street seem nicer.

    Now if someone wants to take a shot at 1910 Bedford, we might be in business...

    Speaking of Bedford, a reader sent in pictures of Bedford at Winthrop, a corner whose wildlife has gotten a just a wee bit out of hand. Looks like we'll have another project for Pig-Pile-911.









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  • 09/03/13--12:30: Saundra Thomas On the Issues
  • You've heard the Q talk about Saundra Thomas, the City Council challenger in the 40th District with the best chance to defeat incumbent Mathieu Eugene. She really has been pounding the pavement in search of votes, one at a time, and if she hasn't answered specific questions you may have, feel free to contact her via her website or drop by her campaign office right here in Lefferts at 1190 Nostrand Avenue. Here's contact info:


    Folks have asked me to ask her to get more specific on the issues of the 40th. She and I had a chance to chat at length a few weeks ago, but I thought it might be best to collate some of the questions folks have been asking and get her to sound off on them, which she's graciously done over the past couple days. Below you'll find some informal answers to questions. Also, I encourage you to go to her website. She's done a good job of filling in details on various questions she's been hearing on her tours of the neighborhood.

    Unlike her opponent, Saundra is way into "Participatory Budgeting," the popular movement towards letting districts spend their own discretionary funds through direct voting. (The Q has problems with P.B., but I'll save that for another day. Actually, why save for tomorrow what you can do today? See, I don't like popularity contests for tax dollars; I prefer money going to the neediest and even UNpopular projects that are truly urgent. Sometimes an elected official must make tough choices, and that's why we elect them. However, I don't believe our current councilman has been up to the task - another reason to let him go back to "the medical profession" he so adores. Heck, if y'all vote him out of office, I promise I will make him my primary care physician after the election! Anyone ever see Marathon Man with the delightful Dustin Hoffman? Sequel time!) That issue aside, I think she's got great answers. Some are necessarily vague, in the sense that there are not always straightforward answers that will get us where we want to go. It's her emphasis on listening and community input that I find most encouraging.

    Some worry that she won't have the experience necessary to be an effective legislator. But as others have noted, she'll hire the right people to advise and work with her. She'll need a seasoned council operator to be her legislative aide and/or chief of staff. She's a quick study, and while there are many important aspects of governing that require finesse, term limits have narrowed the distance between newcomers and old-timers on the Council. Saundra is extremely personable, and I expect her to make fast friends where appropriate, but not people-please to the point of obsequiousness. That's one of the things I like about the Progressive Caucus. They're not afraid to gain media attention to dissenting views by standing together. We may not always agree with the Caucus, but she'll be sure its voice gets heard. Too often the Mayor has used his bully pulpit and fat-cat friends to bulldoze over important issues. Here's hoping a more transparent and sensitive administration will work with minority opinions in a more constructive manner. (Full disclosure - the Q voted for Bloomberg twice. I'm not a full-fledged Bloom-basher. I do like to take him to task now and then though. The one time he shook my hand I asked him if he could spare a few bucks. He got the joke, or at least laughed at the right moment. He did not give me any money however. I am a fundraiser by the way; so I'm essentially a beggar by profession. I should have used the line that one scammer used on me, saying that he was a member of the group Spyro Gyra and needed to get to a gig out on Long Island and could I give him enough money to buy an LIRR ticket? Sure, a fellow musician in need, no problem! Until he asked to borrow my Sony Walkman as well so he could bone up on some of the old tunes. Many years later, the exact same guy with the same story hit my wife up for dough in Bushwick; maybe the walkman had become an iPod and...why is it so hard for me to stay on-point?)

    The biggest thing I wanted to know is the one thing she really shouldn't answer - whom she supports for Mayor. If it ends up being someone else, why start off with a bad relationship? I get it. But without going out on a limb, I suspect de Blasio is her choice. Or Randy Credico!

    Now to the questions:

    Is affordable housing really possible? Where else (in NYC and nationwide) is public policy actually working in this regard? Is 80/20 enough? With so many apartments leaving rent regulation, is it really fair to focus so much attention on this decades old law than to create something more meaningful for today that doesn't create perverse incentives and disincentives for landlords?

    80/20 is hardly enough. We need to develop thousands of units to accommodate and account for the economic down-turn and the folks who have lost jobs, had to sell their homes and have been pushed out of neighborhoods.

    It is possible. Public policy will work when it includes really making landlords accountable. Much of this depends on the state and federal government, but city council members can make noise and align themselves and influence their peers. 

    In the meantime we have"affordable" housing...but people are being pushed out to make way for middle and upper income people-by pulling back on repairs, a horrible housing court system and uneven "playing" field. There are also designers and builders committed to creating affordable housing right in our district-but they are too few and too far between.

    People can refer to my website for many of my thoughts on affordable housing
     
    Empire Blvd, moving out from the park, seems like a HUGE missed opportunity. Do you imagine something better for this grand sounding wide street leading to the park?

    Ah...the glorious Blvd.  Here is a visionary's dream:  I was tempted to say bring back the roller-rink but hey...I'm aging myself! I would love to see the beautification of Empire Blvd.  I think it certainly has the potential to become a state of the art "corridor" and reflect the future of our community. With sensitive development that reflects both the  needs of the community, a pathway to future opportunities and serves all, I can envision a cultural arts center where groups such as the Flatbush Film festival would have a home, as well as some of our regional theater groups and dozens of others.  With so many artists and musicians living in Flatbush-a center that has programs, performance space and classes at the very least. Would dare also to say I would love this to include a small independent movie theater.

    Included in this vision would be: A technology incubator. I would love to see a facility dedicated to educating, training, discovering, supporting, growing future talent in the tech field who live right here in our community.  Maybe even throw a school in there.  How big can I dream? 

    Do you have particular thoughts on bicycles and bike safety and bike lanes and bike, bike, bikes?

    I am a cyclist. I love biking. Biking plays a huge role in livable and safe streets. I want to bring in DOT to do a complete assessment of the WHOLE district and look at the traffic calming issues before I even get to the issue of bikes and bike lanes. Our neighborhoods are changing in respect to traffic issues: more children, more cars. We need safer streets and we have to see what the effects of the Select Service bus routes will have on these changes.

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

    Because I am nostalgic, I am excited about this project.  However, we have been mulling over what will be the outcome since long before I moved here in 1999. Marty Markowitz...wherever he is...will see this through. It's HIS legacy project. Capital funds will find their way to the project-trust me. My only concern right now is that the programming reflects the community; that there is appropriate and strategic marketing to bring the people into the place, unlike other performing arts centers in our backyard, and that it will be accessible for EVERYONE.
    Would you join the Council's Progressive Caucus? Any caucus?
    I do intend to join the Progressive Caucus and in fact had a conversation with Brad Lander about just that when I was at the Lambda Independent Democrats of Brooklyn endorsement interviews (They did endorse me). It would be a privilege. The Caucus' 13 bold progressive ideas for NYC falls in line with my ideology. I would also join the BLA (Black Latino and Asian Caucus). 

    Do you support increasing the number of charter schools allowed in NYC.
    I believe in the original intention of charter schools, but not at the expense of district schools. I'd like to see minimal growth and more funding put into city schools.

    What is your plan to address the increase in violent crime in the 71st Precinct?

    Please see my extended statement on my campaign website: Community Safety. 

    What do you think of Mayor Bloomberg's climate change plans (sea walls, etc)? 

    Parts of Bloomberg's climate plans are comprehensive and innovative. It's just imperative that those in poorer communities (Rockaways and Red Hook, eg) are at the top of the list for consideration for sea walls, levees, etc.  The big question is:can we afford to do it without tons of federal aid? 

    When change happens to Brooklyn neighborhoods, it often comes in the blink of an eye. How does a councilperson both cheer a neighborhood's development while being respectful to those who've lived there for decades? 

    The question about changing neighborhoods is the elephant in the room in CD40, but also requires a lengthy response. Gentrification is not new.  We have issues of co-existence and clashes of culture in our communities. It's local, it's national, it's global. I believe a councilperson who has the talent to bring disparate groups together can absolutely make headway-but it takes a community and people willing to TALK TO each other-and listen. I have that talent frankly. It's what I have done my whole life.

    Do you support the council's recently-passed legislation concerning the NYPD? (Intro 1079, which establishes an Inspector General for the NYPD and Intro 1080, which opens the door to racial profiling lawsuits against the NYPD)

    I support the Community Safety Act and in fact stood on the steps of City Hall with members of the CC when the Act was passed.  A step in the right direction to the elimination of marginalizing and targeting our youth with little evidence of success in stopping crime. Stop, Question and Frisk is not helping anyone in the community and certainly not helping to bringing community together.

    What do you think of the emphasis on testing in the City's schools? Do you support the job Dennis Wolcott is doing as Schools Superintendent?

    We are over-testing our children. We need to spend more time preparing them for life.  We need to find models around the country that increase learning with little high-stakes testing. They exist.  I am hopeful that the Common Core Standards will be step toward changing the dynamic. My personal inspiration is found in the A+ NYC Roadmap to successful schools in NYC.  Take a look-holistic approach to education.  It contains many elements that I will encourage the education council I intend to develop to bring to our district. 

    Quality of Life stuff: How will you use your office to help lessen trash, get people to scoop their poop, lessen mosquitoes, help new businesses move to the neighborhood? Can a councilperson help a neighborhood become more livable? 

    BIDS can make a tremendous difference in QOL as BIDS have the potential to create resources for cleaner and safer streets. If a community agrees to bring in a BID, I would work with them to do so.  I have seen their success and their failures. It takes time and patience, but can be a wonderful way to bring people to the neighborhoods.  There are private services, that employee low-wage workers-some who have to perform community service-to take care of street cleaning and beautification. Someone needs to fund this.  A citycouncil person can do that.  A strong partnership between the merchants' association and a local CDC can also bring beautification to a neighborhood. The CDC applies for a grant and the work begins. What really needs to happen in PLG, is for there to be a local CDC that would become the infrastructure to receive government funds from such agencies as SBS and commercial revitalization and DYCD for youth and community development programs.  

    Would you support the art project currently taking shape around the green sheet metal Flatbush trees at Empire/Ocean/Flatbush? 

    I would absolutely support the art project taking shape on Empire/Flatbush/Ocean-with the caveat that all opportunity to include a diverse team of community members to make it happen be considered. Great idea...needs maximum input.

    Are you supportive of (and will help see that money is found for maintenance for) the Parkside Plaza project?
    I can't wait to help find ways to support the sustainability of the Parkside Plaza Project! I would put this on the list for Participatiory Budgeting which I would absolutely bring to this district.  I know YOU have mixed feelings, but if you want to think of a way to bring folks together...this is one of them.

















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    Most of you probably remember the tragedy last August of Fatima Gordon, who was the victim of a poorly aimed assassination attempt on a local group of thugs sitting in a parked car. The Q just got word from the victim's aunt that on the anniversary of her birthday, tonight September 4, friends and family are gathering in front of 80 Clarkson to remember her and march to the Pioneer grocery store in silent memory of her fateful trip on August 30, 2012. Her surviving son Chinon will be there, He's pictured. Godspeed, young man.

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    A Q-comrade sent a wonderful architectural design for the much ballyhooed residential project at 626 Flatbush. Lest I be accused of going all Orson Welles on y'all, let me add that this is ONLY a student project and not an actual rendering of the "War of the Worlds" project to be:


    This vision of a vertical neighborhood comes to you from one Alejandro Garrido Perez, who imagines a truly space-age cum Brooklyn-age monster structure. Here's the rest of his design.

    In related fantasy news, word has it a glamorous tapas style eatery will move into the commercial space at 626, designed and co-owned by famed restauranteur and jerk lover Danny Meyer. The chef will be Peppa, and the Michelin-starred establishment will be known as Danny and Peppa's*. It will look something like this:



    * If you got the Danny and Peppa's reference, congratulations! You're now officially an old-timer!

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  • 09/05/13--06:49: Swings Votes Prevail!!
  • A few weeks ago about 20 of us tried a new tactic - the Pig-Pile 311. The Safety Task Force tried calling and emailing a complaint to the Parks Dept as our first issue. We chose the big-kid swings at the Parkside Playground, which had dwindled from 6 to 1. And guess what? We got nearly instant action from the Parks Department as they claimed to be fabricating the seats.

    Just this morning I snapped these shots below. Folks, we really can make the neighborhood more livable if we work together. I credit Kimberlee A. for making the PP her issue, and she's still planning to coordinate a Friends of the PP group. Email me if you're interested and I'll forward to her.

    As an aside, emails from the Q and others to Councilman Eugene's office produced ZERO results when it came to safety, equipment and trash at the playground. The Playground continues to be something he takes credit for, since he shepherded the money through the budget process to make it happen (he did not, however, initiate the action as he sometimes claims). I doubt he has so much as driven by the playground since. Here's to a day when our elected representative cares enough to follow-through after HER day in the sun.




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    It's been just 19 months or so since I last posted about PLG Outpost, Michael Campbell's latest venture in his ever-evolving loveable strip mall on Fenimore, along with wine store 65 Fen and Delroy's. I wrote that it would open "as soon as next weekend" in February, 2012. Well, guess what? If I'd said 80 weeks from now, I'd have been just about right. Today I rode by and the door was open. Michael ushered me to the door and here's what I saw:


    He listed a ton of neat sounding food items that I promptly forgot. Artisanal Brooklyn made things, don't you know. Some fancy kombucha, good coffee, cheese, breads, all from local vendors. I'm not going to predict an opening date (though he said as early as Saturday), but here's hoping for a sweet addition to our foodstuff options.

    (And I hear Delroy's has undergone a major upgrade thanks to chef Brian Lindsay. And regular hours to boot. Anybody want to drop a review on us?)





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