Friday, July 31, 2009

The Short List: High School Nostalgia edition

Yes, it's a very special 10-year anniversary edition of The Short List. My 10-year high school reunion (Go Panthers!), that is. It's BYOB this weekend at Lion's Field. That's Bring Your Own Babies. Everybody is going to be packing and I have a problem. Hey Doug Biviano, can I borrow your kids for the weekend? I'll bring them back in one piece!
Lots of doings on in Williamsburg, Greenpoint and Bushwick this week, but I'm saving two big stories for later posts with more analysis. For Downtown Brooklyn, we've got a thorough recap of the CB2 meeting from Brooklyn Heights Blog, The Brooklyn Paper's wrap of weeklong Atlantic Yards hearings as well as Steve Witt's at The Courier (and his follow-up), The Brooklyn Paper's Mike McLaughlin splits up the B61 Bus and takes in the roller coaster Coney Island development vote at City Council along with The Courier's Michele De Meglio.
In political news, DeBlasio is back on the ballot (oh, you've heard?), Josh Skaller has technical problems, and there was a debate in Williamsburg (more on that later). Also, Gotham Gazette star Courtney Gross profiles Tony Avella,
Looking for something to do? BushwickBK's Anna D'Agrossa has the list. I'm hanging out with Romy and Michelle. Time after time.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Marty Needelman wrote a baseball book

Nice call by Greg Hanlon. The resemblance here is uncanny...

Books of The Times
Taking a Swing at Baseball’s Hall of Fame (and Infamy)

Published: July 28, 2009
Over the years the
Baseball Hall of Fame, the shrine in Cooperstown, N.Y., that held its annual induction ceremony on Sunday, has been so fraught with controversies about who deserves admission and who doesn’t that Red Smith, the great sports columnist, once wrote that the only solution was to blow up the place and start over.
Jim Rice giving his induction speech on Sunday. It took him 15 years to get in, perhaps because he was aloof from writers.

In his new book, “Cooperstown Confidential: Heroes, Rogues and the Inside Story of the Baseball Hall of Fame,” Zev Chafets suggests that part of the problem is that the whole institution is built on a foundation of deceit: a falsified creation myth that asserts, all evidence to the contrary, that our national pastime was first played on the bucolic pastures of Cooperstown and that a leathery, rag-stuffed orb bought from a local farmer for $5 might be the game’s Holy Grail, the very first baseball.

My Summer with Vito

What’s your idea of a perfect summer’s day? Is it a rooftop soiree in Bushwick? An outdoor concert on the East River in Williamsburg? Or possibly a long bicycle ride down Ocean Avenue to Coney Island?
For Assemblyman Vito J. Lopez, it’s a picnic with thousands of Brooklyn seniors, hundreds of volunteers, and every candidate for office endorsed by the Kings County Democratic Party.
Naturally, when I heard that Lopez and the Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizens Council were throwing their summer picnic for Brooklyn’s seniors at Sunken Meadows State Park in Long Island (the 37th annual!), I had to attend. It is about an hour’s drive on the Long Island Expressway to the North Shore. I missed my chance to hitch a ride with the Los Sures Senior Center in Williamsburg Thursday morning, so I called Jeff Mann, publisher of the Greenpoint Gazette, to see if he was up for the afternoon drive.
“Oh, dude, I totally forgot about that,” said Mann. “Meet me in Greenpoint at 12:30, but we gotta be back by 3:30, 4 at the latest. I have a date tonight.”

Sunken Meadows is a big place and the seniors were in Field 4, a large hill with dozens of picnic tables. Fifteen buses lined the western edge of the parking lot and a large blue banner hanging from the trees read “Assemblyman Vito J Lopez. Working Together for a Better Community.” We found it.
Once we got out of the car, I encountered a small group of “Yassky for Comptroller” volunteers as well as the unabashedly charming Harriet Yassky, Councilmember David Yassky’s 67-year old mother, right. I’m going to nickname her “The Momptroller” if David can pull this off.
At the edge of the campgrounds, we passed a crew of eight “Thompson for Mayor” volunteers scooping chocolate ice cream out of a cardboard box for a line of patient seniors. After taking a left at the “Eric Adams for State Senator” banner, we ran into Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries, who, if you believe the rumors, is contemplating a primary challenge against Brooklyn Congressman Ed Towns.
I spotted the Dilans — that’s State Senator Martin Malave Dilan and his son, 37th District Councilmember Erik Martin Dilan — a few feet from a grill station. Senator Dilan is Chair of the Transportation Committee, which tried to handle the MTA’s financial crisis this year. Councilmember Dilan is Chair of the Housing Committee, which couldn’t stop the Rent Guidelines Board from raising regulated rents again. That's not fair.
The Dilans are among the most reliable contributors to the Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizens Council, both of whom have allocated tens of thousands of dollars to the nonprofit, along with Councilmembers Lou Fiddler, Alison Crowley, Diana Reyna (last year) and Speaker Christine Quinn (last year) for senior services and youth and community development programs. For the 2009 Fiscal Year, Councilmember Dilan secured $202,000 in senior and youth services, with Quinn adding another $150,000 and Reyna chipping in $278,214, though Reyna hasn’t attended this picnic since 2005. This year, Councilmember Dilan set aside $20,000 for the Sunken Meadows senior picnic alone through DFTA (Department of Aging). And Marty Dilan? This year, he allocated $125,000 to offset costs for the picnic. Needless to say, if you liked the food, you should have thank the Dilans. The skies opened up and the rain began to fall over the campground. Seniors scattered toward the buses like a school of minnows… only much more slowly. A flock of Maritza Dávila campaign volunteers passed through, chanting “Ma-RIT-za! Da-VI-la!” led by the council candidate herself. They didn’t stay to chat.

I was ready to leave, but Jeff spotted the head table where Assemblyman Lopez was sitting with his long-time girlfriend Angela Battaglia, RBSCC Director of Housing, several members of his district staff, and Steve Levin, Lopez’s Chief of Staff, who is running for Yassky’s City Council seat, was nearby. Both Battaglia and Lopez wore Brooklyn Cyclones hats and white “Davila for Council” t-shirts and Steve had his own shirt advertising his candidacy. Steve looked nervous. He looked like he had just been ordered to disable an IED, but he sat down next to Vito anyway.
“So my interns tell me there’s this Brooklyn reporter who happens to be on Diana’s payroll and has been handing out flyers with her volunteers. You don’t happen to know anything about that, do you?”
Nice to see you, too, Vito.
It turns out Vito was in a good mood and he wanted to talk about Steve and Maritza’s chances in their Council races. I didn’t say very much, but Jeff kept the conversation moving and Vito had rapid-fire responses for everything, roughly paraphrased here:

On Steve Levin’s campaigning style: David Yassky knocked on 4,000 doors in the district in 2001 and Steve said he will knock on 4,000, but I think he’ll be short. Knowing Steve, if he loses, he’ll blame it on not knocking on that 4000th door.
On Levin’s chances for winning: He picked up two big endorsements (DC 37 and the United Federation for Teachers) and is getting the New York League of Conservation Voters this week. He’s got 2100 teachers in downtown Brooklyn. Endorsements from Women age 40 to 70 love him. They invite him into their homes for coffee, ask if he’s single. He has that photo of him with his cat. We should have sent out a mailing with it.
On Maritza’s chances for winning: It’s tough running against a two-term incumbent, but Maritza has support from 8 unions. Did you see those videos and that article in the Queens Ledger two weeks ago? Diana saying that 13 million people live in Brooklyn when 1.3 million do and the people at Crain’s were correcting her, helping her through the debate?
On why they haven’t emphasized Diana’s term-limits vote and her record on the rezoning: We will. It’s a long race.
On Yassky bringing his mother to the event: That was a smart move. She’s a campaigner.
On the Comptroller and Public Advocate races: I’m backing Yassky and De Blasio and I think they will force run offs (this was before De Blasio’s ballot was challenged).
On Council candidate Jo Anne Simon, one of Levin’s main opponents: “I like her a lot but she leaves people cold. I don’t like the way she looks.”
(I’m not sure if this is a backhanded compliment or a front-handed insult. I’m going with the latter.)
On the event itself: We had 4,000 seniors, 350 volunteers, steak lunch and chicken dinners on five grills. Union guys were working on backup grills to give the volunteers a rest. Every bus was filled even though the seniors knew it could rain.
On Yankee Stadium: I went to the Yankee game in the new stadium last week. It was 1-1 and I was falling asleep before Matsui hit that homer. The stadium is beautiful.
On the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry: My staff bought Dilan’s wife, who is a Red Sox fan, little Yankee gear for their eight-month old. She can’t say no to that.
On why so many Democrats signed on for a bridge repair bill at Sunken Meadows even though the park was in a Republican Assemblymember’s district: This has been a Democratic hangout for years. Because if they don’t build the bridge, we can’t get to the water.
On the New Jersey corruption scandal: I haven’t heard anything about that. We don’t get cell phone reception or the radio up here.
It was 3:30 PM. The rain steadily came down and we were getting soaked. Vito said goodbye and we headed for the car. Jeff and I went over the conversation in the car for a while.
“That was worth the trip, right?” I said.
“Eh, I had nothing better to do,” Jeff said.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Raindrops keep falling on my head

... but that doesn't mean my eyes will soon be turning RED!

Okay, things are better on the bicycle building bill now. Queens Councilman John Liu will support it and whatever differences Liu and Councilmember David Yassky had (they are facing off in the Comptroller race) have been settled on this issue.
"We've already arm wrestled about it," Liu said.
Liu also said that he tried to bike from his home in Queens to his office on 250 Broadway but security wouldn't allow him to bring his bicycle up to the office!
Lots of Transportation Alternatives advocates at the press conference too. First Kent Avenue, then the MTA reform advocacy and congestion pricing, and now this. TA is gaining street cred to go along with city residents shift towards cycling as a commuter mode of transportation. More on this later.




It was a triumphant day for City Council candidate Brad Lander and his supporters and a bitter day for Aaron Short as Lander held firm in the highly touted Four Square match: Battle for the Slope. Dressed like Uma Thurman in Kill Bill Volume II, Short had hoped that this third and final match would revive his teetering career after devastating losses to Councilmember David Yassky, Rami "Fabricated" Metal and council candidate Steve Levin. Sadly this was not the case.

"Sometimes you have to go on a journey, a journey to Park Slope, in order to get home again," said Short, thought it was pointed out to him that the setting of the match was actually in Windsor Terrace. "Really?" said Short. "Where the Hell is that?"

The event was originally scheduled on a playground near 15th Street and Prospect Park West, though Short conceded that he wasn't allowed near playgrounds anymore after the incident.
"It's sort of like canvassing, only the exact opposite," said Short, when asked to elaborate.

After a grueling series of rallies with Lander, NAG's Michael Freedman Schnapp, and Streetblog's Ben Fried, Short wilted like a water lily in July heat. Lander proved unstoppable, as did Fried, who showed how Four Square is played in The Streets. They even talked policy during one early rally.
"How's the 2nd Avenue subway project going? I hope they fund it," said Lander.
"We need to find a revenue stream for it," said Fried.
"I got your revenue stream right here," said Freedman Schnapp, spiking a winner on Fried's square.

Short was repeatedly frustrated throughout the match. Even his non-unionized Mexican alter ego, "El Pequeno", failed to score points. Afterwards, Lander thanked everyone, Freedman Schnapp proclaimed victory and Short announced his re-retirement.
"I'm done. It's over. Plaza de mala muerte de cuatro !" said Short.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

NAG Verbal Smackdown Tonight!

It seems everyone is amping up for tonight's NAG forum (not a debate... a forum) Rumble in North Brooklyn. Of course I just have a headache. The good news? I will not be moderating. The bad news? It will still last two hours. At least we're getting drinks afterwards. Right? Right?

Things to look for tonight in no particular order:
1. Will Jo Anne Simon press Evan Thies about the consequences of the 2005 Williamsburg-Greenpoint rezoning that took place on David Yassky's watch?

2. Will Ken Diamondstone go after Steve Levin regarding his endorsement by the Kings County Democratic Party and Jo Anne Simon for her role in bumping him off the ballot in 2001?

3. Will Evan emphasize policy solutions to open space and vacant lots in Williamsburg and go after Steve Levin for making general objections?

4. How many times will the words "reform", "open space", "rezoning" and "hipster" be used.

5. Will Steve Levin show up and if he does, will he mention his endorsements from the New York League of Conservation Voters, United Federation of Teachers, and DC37?

6. What in G-d's name will Isaac Abraham say about the New Jersey corruption bust that ensnared 14 rabbis, including one of his campaign's financial contributors?

Stay tuned. I'll try to live-blog it.

ULTIMATE VERBAL SMACKDOWN Tuesday, July 28, 2009 7:00-9:00 pm Willamsburg Northside Preschool 152 N 5th Street between Bedford and Driggs

Monday, July 27, 2009

Photos of the weekend

Friday: The new pool on Williamsburg's Northside and Nick Rizzo is all casual in Greenpoint.

Saturday: Steve and Debbie wish me good luck at Four Square while a young woman enjoys summer at the McKibben Street Lofts (it's not Bushwick but it's close).

The East River Pool Parties get shut down due to lightning strikes (everybody out of the pool!) and this is what's left of the pig roast by the time I get to 3rd Ward Brooklyn.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Short List: The Comeback Edition

We're back and I'm back, and we're ready for a special COMEBACK edition of The Short List. When Michael Freedman Schnapp and I fought at Williamsburg Walks three weeks ago, I had that edge. And now I have to get that back. And the way to get it back is to go back to the beginning. Some people say my time has passed. To that, I say, I have the eye... the eye of Sponge Bob.

A full recap of the final Four Square match between BRAD LANDER and AARON SHORT will be coming Monday morning, but first, let's take a look back at the week that was and what lies ahead:

The next stage in the primary elections
, Atlantic Yards, and mayoral control were all important stories, but the biggest story (of the summer?) is the corruption bust in Jersey that included the FBI raiding Dial-A-Beeper on South 8th Street. Sh#t! Now where am I going to get my beepers? Yes there are some Williamsburg ties too, and The Courier's Steve "Perfect Game" Witt has a closer look. Also, NYDN's Liz Benjamin points out that Isaac Abraham is reviewing two $175 contributions that he received from Naftoly Weber, one of the dozens arrested in the corruption sting operation who ran a money laundering operation with Mordechi Fish, one of the rabbis at the center of the investigation.
Abraham's wit via The Daily Politics, which will be further on display at Tuesday night's NAG forum (Sorry Joan Millman, this was the only shot of Isaac I could find):

"I'm very, very surprised. I don't think the community has digested it yet, while they know the charges, I don't think they understand what the charges are...I'm baffled when they say somebody tried to sell on organ. It's not something we hear in this community every day. We don't sell organs, unless it's a musical instrument."

In other developments, the Atlantic Yards
meeting on Wednesday night was apparently an eventful affair, with the Times Fort Greene Local blog saying it erupted several times. Check out Norman's Oder for must-read extended commentary on Atlantic Yards Report as well as Eliot Brown getting Real with Real Estate at The Observer and Mike McLaughlin's wrap at The Brooklyn Paper. Nice photo, guys!

The Greenpoint Gazette's Juliet Linderman is back from vacation and it's full steam ahead with a story about 172 North 8th Street, the India Street mural project (by Talisa Chang), waterfront parks, the new Putting Lot in Bushwick, and East River concerts. Welcome back Juliet!

Hey, registered voter! You like petition challenges? How about obscure, archaic rules that can bump off well-qualified candidates who have raised over 1 million dollars? Well, The New York Times doesn't. Do you blame them?

Quiet weekend so far, though BushwickBK's Anna D'Agrossa has you covered, with today's Pig Roast at 3rd Ward and Summer Streets Bushwick with the RBSCC among the highlights. Trail of Dead is also playing today at East River and I'm getting in touch with my... um... masculine side at Humpday with an old roommate later on. We've got some issues to work out.

Marlowe and Daughters' Tom Mylan's favorite TV show is Dexter.

Be sure to check out NAG's Verbal Smackdown on Tuesday night at 7 PM at Williamsburg's Northside preschool, and send in your questions to make it interesting. Otherwise, it's going to be a lot of Jo Anne sharing jokes about the time she was a roadie with KISS and Evan fake laughing at them.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Breaking Out of Media Rehab

-Williamsburg. 7:12 AM. Service Smoked Fish Factory (54 Throop Avenue)

For the past forty eight hours (save for a four hour excursion to the North Shore of Long Island) Camillo Hexidor and I have been sorting and weighing slices of smoked salmon. This media overexposure rehab has been the hardest thing I have ever gone through. And now they're going to make me cure 200 lbs of sable. Well, I've had it. Enough is enough. I'm tunnelling out of here. Can I get three packages of lox and four of those baked salmon filets to go? I have a Four Square match to attend!

A ten minute shift break is coming at 9:01 AM and I only have time to make one phone call. I know who I need to call.

"Hello? Assemblyman Lentol's office"
"Hi, it's Aaron Short. Is Amy Cleary there?"
"No, she's not in yet."
"Okay, I'll try back later. Thanks." Click

Damnit! Okay. One more try.

"Hey... MFS?"

"This is about the four square game with Brad Lander we talked about earlier this week? Let’s play in Prospect Park near Celebrate Brooklyn. 9th Street and Park. There's a playground nearby."

"Help! I'm trapped in a fish factory in the Broadway Triangle and I can't get out. You gotta bust me outta here!"

"I told you I wouldn’t do this, Aaron. I’m not going to enable your foursquare addiction."
"Geez MFS, you’re just like Rami "Sheet" Metal. You’re the one who started all of this. You’re the one who has to end this."
"Aaron, I just really think you need help...."
"I know, I know I do."
"...And the way I’m going to help you is having you OD on four square, by putting you out of your misery."
"Let’s do this."
"All I wanted to do was have a reason to bring a playground ball to Williamsburg Walks, and you’ve ruined it. Thanks."

Already Broken News


Looks like Public Adocate candidate Bill De Blasio is getting bumped off the ballot. Problems with the cover sheet. Apparently they did not propery "cure" the petition, so an error regarding the number of volumes of petition signatures remained on the cover. This is his campaign manager Jillian Waldman on the matter (from Liz Benjamin's NYDN blog):

"We are entirely confident we can resolve this matter working with the Board of Elections. We don’t believe the law was intended to prevent a candidate with over 125,000 signatures from getting on the ballot because of a typo."

De Blasio by the numbers: 132 volumes of signatures. 125,000 signatures, $1.3 million raised. 8 1/4" hat size. 6'9" tall (and growing). XXL boxer briefs, preferably the ones with cartoon smiley whales on them.

Bill De Blasio has even appeared on Dancing with the Stars

Thursday, July 23, 2009

This story has a Williamsburg connection...

When there's smoke, there's fire, and in this case, both.

By now, everyone's read about this story. 44 arrested! 3 New Jersey mayors! 2 State Assemblymen! 5 rabbis (and counting), including the grand rabbi of the Syrian Jewish community! Money laundering! Organ trafficking! Bank fraud! Corzine! Fake real estate developments! ORGAN TRAFFICKING!!

And yes... there's a Williamsburg connection. I was on a field trip to Long Island today, but don't worry, Steve Witt, right, is on the job.

Knickerbocker Avenue, Bushwick

By Aaron Short

Back in the day, closing down two blocks of Knickerbocker Avenue near María Hernández Park for six hours usually meant that a significant amount of police tape and wooden barricades would be involved.
Times have changed.
On Sunday, July 19, the Department of Transportation’s
Summer Streets initiative officially expanded to Bushwick, with the help of a partnership between the Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizens Council and Arts in Bushwick. The initiative, which Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced July 2 at McCarren Park in Williamsburg, follows the success of two pilot programs last year, including Williamsburg Walks, which shut down seven blocks of Bedford Avenue to vehicular traffic on Saturday afternoons during the summer.
Ridgewood Bushwick’s Small Business development office hoped to replicate the program on Knickerbocker Avenue and had planned the event since March. RBSCC’s Rachel Fuentes and Lauren Abel joined forces with Arts in Bushwick’s Laura Braslow and Chloe Bass to organize the event and recruit local businesses and artists to participate.
Their plan was to close the two blocks along Knickerbocker Avenue from 11 AM to 5 PM for three consecutive Sundays in late July, enabling much of the park’s traffic to spill into the street.
"We hope it will be really cool when that happens and people will discover something that they wouldn’t necessarily have gone to, outside their typical spaces and activities they would go to," said Braslow.
Walking along the two-block stretch of Knickerbocker, one may encounter an ever-expanding dominoes tournament, Terrel Davis, The Matt Jones Band, Sangre Nueva, Sound Cartagena, or Bryan Vargas & Ya Está ripping through their set, women sewing threads onto a
cloth map as CAPITAL B’s Adriana Young took gentrification-related surveys, and Bushwick street artist 0H10 M1KE drawing portraits of passers-by. A tent featuring to-go service from a wide array of local restaurants was also a major component of the day, though an evangelical religious group loudly blasted sermons from an amplified PA system on the street corner for the first two hours of the event, scaring away many potential customers.
"We want to figure it out so it will be harmonious," said Fuentes.
This is not the first collaboration between RBSCC and AIB, but it is the most visible. Braslow, Bass and Fuentes have spoken about finding additional ways of working together, such as having artists visit RBSCC senior centers or having senior artists participate in
Bushwick Open Studios and other AIB events.
"We’ve been collaborating with them before, and we’ve been building a relationship with them over the last several years," said Braslow. "It’s not a new thing to be working with them. This is a great opportunity to work together and bring together different constituencies."
Throughout the afternoon, city council candidate and RBSCC organizer Maritza Dávila scurried throughout the block, monitoring the domino tournament, coordinating the bands, and making sure everyone was having a good time. Next Sunday will feature a health fair and the following Sunday will focus on volunteerism. Dávila will likely be there, too — and she may even teach me how to play Dominos.
"It’s a nice street for people to sit outside and do something out of the ordinary," said Dávila, as a salsa band kicked off and a couple began dancing.

Paparazzi, No!

Brooklyn- Shortly after 8 AM this morning, celebrity community journalist Aaron Short checked into a Bushwick rehabilitation clinic for Four Square overexposure. According to several witnesses, Short couldn't handle the pressure that came from a 468-word feature article written in The New York Observer Wednesday.

"I could have handled 200 or even 300 words, but over 400 words? That was way too much," said Short, trailed by half a dozen paparrazi. "This four-square phenomenon has taken over my life. I blame Williamsburg Walks."

Over the coming weeks and months, Short is expected to receive the best treatment for media overexposure in the city, including seminars with esteemed recluses such as Cormac McCarthy and Harper Lee, as well as former Vice President and Nobel laureate Al Gore, because, let's face it, no one has heard from him in a while. Lauren Conrad, Meghan Fox, and the entire cast of Cougar Town are expected to enroll.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

...and now this

Yassky wins four square challenge
Wednesday, July 22, 2009 3:37 PM EDT
City Council candidate Jo Anne Simon puts up a fight during the epic match on Bedford. Photo by Stefano Giovannini

Councilmember David Yassky demonstrated his facility and dominance on the four square courts, teaming up with City Council candidate Jo Anne Simon to defeat Williamsburg Courier reporter Aaron Short in an epic match.After weeks of hype, the showdown on the streets never materialized, as Yassky easily dispatched Short and other challengers throughout the afternoon.— Aaron Short

Steve Levin: Too Legit 2 Quit

Steve Levin has been in the news a lot this week. This morning the 33rd City Council candidate (Williamsburg, Greenpoint, Brooklyn Heights, Boerum Hill) received two major endorsements from the United Federation of Teachers and the DC 37 AFSCME.

“I am honored and thrilled to receive the endorsement of the UFT and DC 37. As City Councilman I will work closely with these unions, whose progressive visions have helped build our city and provide a strong voice to those who work tirelessly to keep our city running well," said Levin.

Along with the Working Families Party, Levin has been racking up unions like cue balls on a pool table. Here's looking at you Steve.

Uh oh...

By Joe Pompeo
July 21, 2009 7:32 p.m
As the nightlife mobile app Foursquare gains popularity among the city’s digerati, the classic playground game four square is taking Brooklyn politicians and City Council candidates by storm.
It all started on July 4, when Michael Freedman-Schnapp, volunteer coordinator for Brad Lander, who is running for Bill de Blasio’s Council seat (Mr. de Blasio is running for public advocate), challenged Councilman (and city comptroller candidate) David Yassky to an impromptu four-square game on Bedford Avenue. (The street is closed off to traffic on select Saturdays during the summer.)
The match caught the attention of Aaron Short, a community news reporter and local blogger who was out on assignment in the neighborhood that day.
“I thought, well, he looks like Harry Potter. I can take him!” said Mr. Short, who challenged Mr. Yassky to four square the following weekend. Same time. Same place.
The object of the game is to make it into the highest numbered square by eliminating other players, which happens if they hit the ball twice when it is bounced into their respective courts.
Mr. Short said he entered many a four-square game during his formative years at a Connecticut summer camp, but he was no match for Mr. Yassky, who won the most points and kept sending Mr. Short back to square one.
“He lulls you to sleep by not being fiery, but he’s very efficient and competitive,” said Mr. Short. “This is what he’s going to do in the comptroller race—lull his opponents to sleep.”
Asked what he thought of this analogy, Mr. Yassky replied: “All I know is that I stayed in that No. 1 box for a good long while, but what matters is who’s in the No. 4 box at the end.” (Council candidate Jo Anne Simon also got in on the action that day.)
The following weekend, Mr. Short upped the stakes by challenging State Assemblyman and Brooklyn Democratic party boss Vito Lopez to a match at a mural dedication in Greenpoint. Mr. Lopez didn’t show, but his former chief of staff, Stephen Levin, whom the assemblyman is backing to replace Mr. Yassky in the Council, did, as did various community board members. Council candidate Evan Thies was gearing up to compete but had to leave for another event, said one spectator.
As of press time, the latest four-square development was a mutual challenge between Mr. Short and Mr. Lander. The match will be played this Saturday at a yet-to-be determined location, and it was rumored that Mr. Lander’s opponent in the race for Mr. de Blasio’s seat, Josh Skaller, would be competing as well.
“We’re gonna show them how it’s played in south Brooklyn,” said Mr. Freedman-Schnapp, adding a disclaimer: “As far as our campaign goes, I would not read anything into the fact that we’re playing four square.”

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

From El Diario (translated)

16 Jul 2009
El Diario
Neighbors at war with 'triangle' of Brooklyn

BROOKLYN, NEW YORK - The controversial plan for the city rezonificar Broadway Triangle area in Brooklyn was approved Tuesday by the Community Board 1 after a contentious debate that caused the meeting to 10 pm
CARMEN ALARCÓN/EDLPBrooklyn community groups are protesting the city's plan for urban redevelopment area "Triangle of Brooklyn.
With 23 votes favor and 12 against, the Board ignored the request of one of the councilors of the area Diana Reyna not accept what she and opponents of the plan seen as an agreement between parties and not a plan that will benefit the community Befdord-Styvesant and Williamsburg.
Coalition members of the Broadway Triangle (BTCC), which includes more than 40 Latino organizations, and African-American Hasid area, denounced the lack of transparency in the awarding of public land to two community organizations and the exclusion of community in the process.
The plan for 31 acres rezonificar Triangle will create 1.851 units including affordable housing -905 between Throop Street, Harrison, Middleton and Flushing Avenue.
"The plan of HPD (Department of Housing Preservation and Development of the city) did not include the views of people in Williamsburg and Bedford-Stuyvesant," said Rob Solano, director of the Organization Churches United for Fair Housing owned by the coalition.
Seth Dolin, HPD spokesman, said that there was nothing unusual in the award of two land claims that have included the community in the process.
"The community played an active role throughout the process, and that improved the project. In the end, one group opted not to participate in the public process," noted the spokesperson for the City Hall, Andrew Brent.
The coalition announced that it will oppose the plan HPD.

Photo of the Day (Sunday)

Williamsburg- Yes, that's Councilmember David Yassky (D-Greenpoint, Wburg, Brooklyn Heights) handing flyers out to registered voters at East River State Park. Because when kids these days come to a Dirty Projectors show, the first thing they're thinking about is the City Comptroller race. Still, points for effort.

Speaking of State Park, check back this week for articles about the Pool Parties, the Open Space Alliance, as well as strategies for opposing the Broadway Triangle and the St. Nicks-Community Board One tiff that's been simmering. I had a long interview with Brooklyn Brewery's Steve Hindy this morning. He's planning on staying there and expanding, and he might have lucked out now that prices are dropping again.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Breaking News

Three Council Candidates Challenged
By Aaron Short
Monday, July 20, 2009 5:41 PM EDT

The challenges are already pouring in. Since filing their petitions on Friday, July 20, three City Council candidates are facing challenges to them, raised by their rivals who have been endorsed by the Kings County Democratic Party machine.
City Council candidates Jo Anne Simon, Evan Thies, and incumbent Councilmember Diana Reyna (D-Williamsburg) have officially been notified by the NYC Board of Elections of general objections to their petitions by associates of Council candidate Steve Levin and Assemblymember Vito Lopez (D-Williamsburg).
According to several Brooklyn political observers, supporters of candidates often file general objections in Council races in order to give enough time to review petitions for inaccuracies or election fraud.
This year, the presence of two candidates, Steve Levin and Maritza Davila, who have been backed by Lopez, who is also the chair of the Kings County Democratic Party, has put other candidates on the defensive, wary of a possible court challenge.
In the 33rd District Council race, Williamsburg resident Evan Thies and Boerum Hill resident and Democratic District Leader Jo Anne Simon were challenged by Jackelyn Reyes, a Williamsburg resident.
According to public records with the Board of Elections, Reyes shares an address and an apartment with Maria Viera, Senior Assistant Director at the Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizens Council and one of the members of the Broadway Triangle Task Force, the Lopez-backed coalition group that supports the rezoning of the Broadway Triangle.
Viera, who has made financial contributions to both the Levin and Davila campaigns, did not return calls for comment left at RBSCC's Bushwick headquarters.
When contacted about the challenges, Simon campaign manager Kelly Donnelly said, "Jo Anne is committed to helping people with the issues that affect them the most. She is running for City Council because she wants to take part in the decision-making process around those issues and will not be deterred by this classic 'politics as usual' campaign tactic."
Thies was also challenged by Williamsburg resident Hope Reichbach, a paid campaign worker with Levin since May 25, and daughter of Brooklyn Supreme Court Judge Gustin Reichbach, who was supported by Lopez for his judgeship.
Thies's campaign staff this week said they were continuing to review the challenges and conferring with their election attorney.When reached on Saturday, July 18, Levin said he was unaware of any challenges filed against his campaign or his opponents and Levin staff members did not return calls for comment on July 20.
In the 34th District race, two candidates, Williamsburg resident and CB1 District Manager Gerald Esposito and Bushwick resident and Democratic District Leader Maritza Davila, are challenging incumbent Councilmember Diana Reyna.Only Reyna's petition was challenged, by Ridgewood resident Andy Marte and Williamsburg resident Kevin Ying, both of whom are summer interns with Lopez.
"We have strong support. We are confident that we have strong signatures," said Antonio Reynoso."The councilwoman will continue to do what she's been doing, even after she has been elected. "
Council candidate Doug Biviano, running in the 33rd District, sent an e-mail to supporters Saturday, July 18, accusing Levin of "playing politics as usual" in anticipation of a petition challenge, though none was filed.
"Levin, no doubt at the directive of the folks pulling the strings for his campaign, chose strong-arming tactics to try and bully his rivals rather than engage in that debate," said Biviano campaign advisor Wilson Karaman."It's part and parcel with how his campaign's been operating."
For the past month, volunteers for candidates running for office have crisscrossed their districts in order to secure enough signatures, 900 for City Council, to become eligible for the ballot for the September 15 primary.Specific objections to a candidate's petitions, such as improperly registered witnesses or signators who are deceased or do not reside within the district, will be filed from seven to nine days after the petition due date.

Short Loses Again



Greenpoint: In a shocking turn of events, the results of a Four Square match held next to the India Street Mural Project were declared null and void after Kings County Democratic Party Chair Vito Lopez (D-Williamsburg, Bushwick, Record: 98-0-2) challenged Aaron Short's (0-2-0) 2009 Four Square license, before the New York State Gaming and Liquor Authority immediately stripped Short of his eligibility.

"This is a truly disappointing development," said Short, after learning of the NYS Gaming and Liquor Authority's decision. "But I'm not going to say it was entirely unexpected. I was outmaneuvered today, politically and athletically."

Rob Solano, Aaron Short, Steve Levin and Rami Metal hold court on India Street

Earlier this week, Short challenged Lopez and several city council candidates to a Four Square rematch held at the corner of India Street and Kent Avenue in Greenpoint following a previous defeat at Williamsburg Walks. Lopez did not attend the match, instead sending his former chief of staff and council candidate Steve Levin to participate in the match. Levin scored several winners in the rally, repeatedly frustrating Short and other challengers.

"Wow, Aaron really sucks at this," said Teresa Toro, Community Board One Transportation Chair.

"What's up with that outfit?" asked Stephanie Thayer, OSA Executive Director. "Is this from Midnight Cowboy or something?"

According to many witnesses, despite repeated setbacks, Short displayed the competitive fire of a champion, though the leading performers of the day included David Yassky Liaison Rami "Rusted" Metal and Moviehouse Founder Chris "Al Jazeera" Henderson. Metal's punctuated spikes were so impressive that several women fainted throughout the competition, though Metal's rugged demeanor and the near 80-degree courtside temperatures may have contributed to their swoon.

Members in the Lopez camp declared victory following the result, celebrating with a round of seltzer drinks flavored with just a hint of citrus. Councilmember and City Comptroller candidate David Yassky (D-Williamsburg, Greenpoint, Brooklyn Heights, Boerum Hill, record: 2-0-0), who attended the mural opening event, got a chance to celebrate his victory the next day at the East River State Park.
"Nice hat," said Yassky.

At East River Park, Short announced that he would not challenge the State Gaming and Liquor Authority's decision and that he would re-retire from Four Square immediately, vowing never to play again.

If you can't take the heat, then stay off the Four Square courts