Monday, November 30, 2009

Breaking News: Broadway Triangle Postponed

Yup, the Broadway Triangle is getting bumped until Wednesday. Sorry demonstrators. The stated is still happening but Dan Garodnick's Land Use subcommittee hearing on the Broadway Triangle and Kingsbridge Armory is happening on Wednesday. Looks like everyone can go home after the presser this morning.

Meanwhile, I still can't put any weight on my left foot. Great. Looks like more time with some ice water.

On second thought, I'd rather stick my foot back in that ice water than listen to this again.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Breaking News: Short on DL w/ High Ankle Sprain

Breaking News!

During the end of a Thanksgiving hiatus, A Short Story writer Aaron Short sprained his ankle playing basketball with friends in the parking lot outside a small, Episcopal church in New England. Unfortunately God was busy doing His work inside the church and was not with Mr. Short as he took the rock to the hole for what should have been an easy lay-up. Details on the condition of the ankle are still emerging and it is unclear whether he will be able to appear in public for tomorrow's highly anticipated Broadway Triangle vote in City Hall.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

How to Mail In a Blog Post

Due to the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, The Short List will go on indefinite hiatus as I am fleeing the city for an undisclosed location in the woods of eastern Connecticut. Sorry ULURP fans. I assure you, nothing is going to get rezoned in the next four days except for my stomach which will receive a temporary waiver to support light manufacturing.

In the meantime, for those of hungry for more than turkey and cranberry sauce, I thought I would whet your appetite for blog posts with a little do-it-yourself tips from a professional. Soon you too will be providing linkable content for the whole community to enjoy. All you need to do is follow four easy steps:

Step 1: Think of a catchy headline, preferably with a pun, on a topic we all know and read about often, (e.g. "Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn Promises more Atlantic Antics").

Step 2: Include lots of links to important goings on, such as Streetblog's interesting advice column to John Liu and Bill de Blasio, or the fact that the smartest person in Williamsburg doesn't even live in Brooklyn!

Step 3: Be sure to include lots of shotouts to your readers, right Rabbi David Niederman and Heather Roslund!?!?!?

Step 4: Throw in plenty of non-sequitur videos just to confuse the hell out of your readers. Like this one.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Atlantic Yards Lawsuit dismissed

What does Bruce Ratner have to be thankful for this Thanksgiving?


Let's take a trip around the web today for reactions leading off with Atlantic Yards Report with not one but two updates, Downtown Eliot Brown at The New York Observer, Charles Bagli at The Times, The Brooklyn Paper, and Sesame Street's Bert and Ernie.

From AYR:
Developer Forest City Ratner still must get arena bonds sold by the end of the month, and they may be hampered by the remaining cloud of litigation and the lowered market for sports facilities, but this was the largest roadblock, and there is no bar to a promised groundbreaking in the next month or so.Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, which organized and funded the lawsuit (and whose spokesman, Daniel Goldstein, was the lead plaintiff), said it would file a new lawsuit because the court ruled only on the record from 2006.

From the Times:
“Once again the courts have made it clear that this project represents a significant public benefit for the people of Brooklyn and the entire city,” Mr. Ratner said. “Our commitment to the entire project is as strong today as when we started six years ago. Today, however, this project is even more important given the need for jobs and economic development.”

“The fight against the Atlantic Yards project is far from over,” said Daniel Goldstein, a spokesman for Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn, a community group that opposes the project. “The community has four outstanding lawsuits against the project and, meanwhile, the arena bond financing clock ticks louder and louder for Ratner. While this is a terrible day for taxpaying homeowners in New York, this is not the end of our fight to keep the government from stealing our homes and businesses.”

Meanwhile the New Jersey Nets are 0-13 though they play the Denver Nuggets tonight so hope is alive. Will the New York Court of Appeals declare the Nets blighted too?

Monday, November 23, 2009

Winding Down the Clock links

It's naptime. For the rest of the week we're just holding onto the ball and waiting for the clock to run out before Thanksgiving. However, there are some important stories that will be developing over the next few weeks that you don't want to miss. Here are a few of them:

*What is David Yassky going to do next? Well, we still don't know, but now Katherine Jose of the New York Observer is weighing in on his legacy which she believes are waterfront spaces like Bushwick Inlet Park, Transmitter Park and 65 Commercial Street.
I asked if his replacement, newly elected Steve Levin, would continue to push the city for the parks.
"Absolutely," Yassky said.
After a few seconds of silence, Yassky said, "In fact, we should get an actual baton."
He turned to Rami. "Do we have one?"
They didn't, Rami said..

*This is how to write an environmental article. Solid piece from The Times' national desk, just like the waste they're covering. You're going to be hearing a lot more about combined sewer overflows next year, particularly from groups like the Newtown Creek Alliance and El Puente. Mark it. File it. Lock it down.

*Veteran crime reporter Tom Tracy, who is working on a story about 65 guns found on Pennsylvania Avenue, Brooklyn, transforms himself to fit inside the mind of a teenage girl in order to understand Twilight.
"It was really tough," says Tom.

*Park Slope restaurants may be violating labor laws. As in delivery boys are earning as low as $2 an hour in some places. Look for a follow-up soon.

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Short List: Train of Fools Edition

Now arriving across the platform...the Miss G Train Pageant... Please stand clear of the closing doors...
And you thought we would punt the ball away and burn some clock until Thanksgiving. Nope. It's fourth and two on our own 28 and WE'RE GOING FOR IT because this is The Short List and this is the Miss G Train Pageant.

It was a night to remember at the City Reliquary for the first annual Miss G Train competition. Nearly everyone had their own documentary film crew and Michael Freedman Schnapp's crew was filming the making of the making of the Miss G Train Pageant. Let's break down the numbers: Nineteen semifinalists. Six legitimate talents. Two genders. One oft-maligned transit system. Zero chance of scoring one of those green frosting cupcakes on the judges table. Oh and MFS, there actually is a real Miss Inner Beauty pageant.

The winners! Forgive me, I get carried away in the details. Contestants showed off their vocal, dance, and bartending skills during the talent portion of the competition, but there could be only one winner. Local favorite Chelsea Tapper displayed tremendous Greenpoint spirit, Times Fort Greene blogger Anne Szustek lost and then went promptly back to work, 3rd runner up Marleah Martin displayed an impressive knowledge and verve for improving our transit system, and 2nd runner up Shane Thor had... um... tremendous upside potential... but there could only be one winner. Father John Powis, come on up here and get your plaque!

What a night for Father Powis! First he gets honored by Brooklyn Legal Services at their 41st annual pageant in downtown Brooklyn, and then comes all the way up to Williamsburg to take the Miss G Train crown of thorns. Amazing.

Make the Road's Oona Chatterjee and Andrew Friedman congratulate Father Powis
Actually, no, I'm getting my events confused. If you must know the winners, check out the video below.

Of course it wasn't all just pageantry and legal intrigue. There was a City Council subcommittee hearing on the Broadway Triangle where Al Vann's goatee stole the show, a major cocaine bust in Williamsburg on Thursday where $1 million worth of cocaine was found in a portable sauna, which is more secure but less efficient than kielbasa, anti-semitic stickers in Greenpoint (New York Shitty has a photo diary too), there's another Atlantic Yards lawsuit coming and more questions as the financing deadline looms, WNYC looks at Puerto Rican culture and politics in Bushwick, and sexy shop SHAG is open for your business.

The Short List learned its lesson. Do not lay ten points against Al Vann's goatee in a general election contest. He will destroy you.
As for the weekend, the best bet is the SCORE swap at 3rd Ward from 1 to 7 PM brought to you by the dependably delightful MeanRed Productions and a bike rack construction project on Sunday at the Change You Want To See on Havemeyer Street. And don't forget SmART Brooklyn, the borough-wide gallery hop sponsored by the Borough President's office and Brooklyn Tourism, as well as stopping by Famous Accountants from 4-7 PM on Sunday for their closing show. It's the same time as Pats-Jets, so I'll make it easy for you. Pats 61, Jets 3. See you at Famous Accountants.

Finally, congratulations to The Brooklyn Paper for their 30th Anniversary edition. Hard to believe they've been around for thirty years. Check out Publisher Ed Weintrob's column (and photograph) and Tom Callan's photo gallery for some local flavor (tastes like Bloomberg). Guys, is there an afterparty?

Pool Parties likely staying in East River

The concerts are not going anywhere. Which is what the State Parks Office is saying despite some of the early reports coming out on the blogs, print and elsewhere. I think a release jumped the gun, maybe because someone was impatient about the pace of the negotiations, or maybe Senator Schumer wanted to put the negotiations out there, but it seems like a lot of anxiety where the situation doesn't warrant it. State Parks is making the calls here, and they're saying they want to come back. Long term is another story.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Lullaby of Broadway Part II

"Tragedy tomorrow... Triangle tonight!"
It was technical arguments about urban renewal law, zoning procedures, and good ole' fashioned pluckity gumption for the First Act of the Broadway Triangle Rezoning Action Plan, the latest smash hit at City Council. All your favorite stage actors were dressed to impressed, including Marty Needelman, right, whose tie pin wins some kind of fashion honor. Curtain up!
I was excited to see how Dan Garodnick (D-Manhattan), Chair of the Planning, Dispositions and Compensation Subcommittee (and a top notch salsa dancer!) was going to handle the tempermental crowd that filled the Chambers and the upper deck. I was also curious to see how Steve Levin would handle himself since he wasn't technically a Council member yet, but is one of the most influential voices in the room (he bounced around the Chamber, sitting in several different chairs, shaking hands with everyone he knew).
Anyway, today was about the Department of Housing and Preservation Development's testimony on the Broadway Triangle and questioning proposed by the Council members. Translation: it's a big day for Diana Reyna. Would she score a couple of points and convince her colleagues to oppose the plan (early answer, unlikely)? Or would HPD navigate through a muddled discussion about urban renewal boundaries, site authorization, charettes, and eminent domain procedures. Riveting. I'll link the articles up tomorrow once they start trickling in.

Councilmember David Yassky makes an appearance.
Despite the predictable affordable housing vs. open process debate that gets rehashed every time this issue comes before the public there were a couple of surprises and unanswered questions. Was Community Board 3 excluded from the planning process and what are the implications for future rezonings? How exactly will eminent domain be used in this plan? Will Michael Rochford or Luis Garden Acosta challenge Jack Hammer and Al Vann for Brooklyn Mustache Supremacy? And most importantly, will Monica and Chandler, left, get back together in time for the Friends reunion?

The Chair would like to recognize Al Vann's Goatee, which has just entered the Chamber.

**Correction! The role of Vito Lopez was played by Debbie Feinberg, a staff member for Vito Lopez. Councilmember-elect Steve Levin had his own prepared statement. Unfortunately (and quite rudely) the chair cut him off after his two minutes were up.

Lullaby of Broadway

I am at City Hall this morning for the smash hit: "Broadway Triangle Rezoning Action" which is taking Manhattan by storm! Starring Diana Reyna! Dan Garodnick! Rob Solano! Luis Garden Acosta! Marty Needelman!
Four Stars! says the Village Voice!
A Subcommittee Hearing to Remember says The Ridgewood Times Newsweekly
I'm getting wet and I want a coffee! says The Greenpoint Gazette
**Please note, the part of Vito Lopez will be played by Councilmember-elect Steve Levin.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Cookie Homicide in Greenpoint

At approximately 8:15 PM on Monday, November 16, a cookie was found dead on a paper plate in the basement of the Capital One Bank building (807 Manhattan Avenue, off Calyer Street) in Greenpoint. The pastrycide occurred near the end of a 94th Precinct Community Council meeting and went initially unnoticed by officers present. Witnesses report drops of coffee emanating from the cookie torso, and police are still searching for crumbs of evidence. The suspect is believed to be armed and hungry. No other information is available at this time.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Planning School of Rock

On Monday night, Instructors Lacey Tauber and Kate Zidar invited me as a special guest to help assist a writing seminar they teach at the Pratt Institue's City and Regional Planning program. The topic? How to write a press release. Tauber and Zidar's dutiful students have been attending community meetings throughout Brooklyn and taking notes in order to better prepare for their assignment. I report on these meetings and receive hundreds of press releases every week so I guess they thought I was an expert. Big mistake ladies.

I was half expecting the class to unfold like a scene from School of Rock. You! Punch up that header! You! Get me a quote from the Congresswoman to spice up that copy! You! Lay down a sweet bass line! Unfortunately, it was a little more staid. We gave helpful feedback such as put the most important information at the top, add quotes and statistics when necessary, and keep things brief and to the point. It's not an article, it's a press release. Also, always mention if refreshments and food will be served because reporters are hungry all the time.

In the end, I think the students learned something valuable and appreciate that they enrolled in planning school and not journalism school. Good luck on those finals, guys!

Meet Jimmy Van Bramer

Who is Jimmy Van Bramer (hint, he's the guy in the center of the photo)? City Hall News' Chris Bragg investigates...

On the evening of Nov. 2, Jimmy Van Bramer made one last trip to an apartment building in Sunnyside that he had canvassed frequently during his Council campaign.
In a matter of hours, polls would open in Van Bramer’s general election face-off against an unknown 24-year-old Republican in a heavily Democratic district.
But taking nothing for granted, Van Bramer went for one last round of door-knocking—and upon seeing Van Bramer, a supporter broke into laughter.
“She said, ‘Dude you are hardcore! 8:30 at night, running against a Republican?’” Van Bramer recalled.
A relentless work ethic helped Van Bramer, 40, win a spirited primary over Queens County-backed Deirdre Feerick. He then coasted to a general election victory.

Phyllis' Style Critiques

This one comes courtesy of Miss Heather over at New York Shitty. Normally 94th Precinct meetings are pretty staid affairs (more on this later), but one of my favorite residents, Phyllis Mascia, had a pitch perfect style commentary about how police officers dress that needs to be observed.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Lopez Legacy

There have been a few stories going around about the effects of Reyna's victory on the Democratic Party in Brooklyn, though we won't know the full impact until county committee members and Democratic district leaders are elected next fall. Anyway, check it...

Lopez Legacy Looms Large

By Aaron Short (Courier Life)

Two weeks after the general election, Assemblymember Vito Lopez (D-Williamsburg) is looking forward to a busy legislative agenda in Albany this winter.
On tap are new affordable housing initiatives, programs to deal with stalled and vacant condominiums, and rent regulations as well as his own emergency food program, which will serve thousands of meals to housebound seniors on Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Yet sore feelings remain over Martiza Davila’s defeat in her bid to unseat incumbent Councilmember Diana Reyna. Lopez, the Kings County Democratic Party leader, backed Davila in the Democratic primary and again in the general election where she ran as a Working Families Party candidate. He sees the election result not as a repudiation of the Brooklyn Democratic Party but as a testament to Davila’s strength and popularity in North Brooklyn, despite difficult odds.
“Martiza got over 6,000 votes. That’s a remarkable number. Maritza’s turnout was a huge victory,” said Lopez.

Yet she still lost. In the wake of Reyna’s 4,000-vote margin of victory, some leaders in progressive organizations and political clubs throughout the borough are raising questions regarding whether the election has weakened the Brooklyn Democratic Party machine that Lopez runs. Once an ally and esteemed member of Lopez’s staff, Reyna has now become a political rival with two victories against a candidate that Lopez backed forcefully.
“The election shows that Vito is not all-powerful,” said New Kings Democrats President Matt Cowherd, who lives in Lopez’s 53rd Assembly District. “I have equated it to when Toto pulls the curtain back on the wizard. I think Assemblymember Lopez benefits more from reputation and notoriety than reality.”

The refrain from many Reyna supporters over the past week has been that a new political coalition of Williamsburg groups uniting over issues such as the Broadway Triangle rezoning was forged during the primary and general election. Rob Solano, Executive Director of Churches United for Fair Housing, argued that Lopez wanted the Council seat badly and miscalculated by continuing the campaign on the WFP line.
“If the machine didn’t take a hit, if everything is in its place, then why throw everything after Diana, why go after the church, why pull the favors, why run the campaign yourself? This was an embarrassment,” said Solano. “Unless the machine is broken, you don’t get people elected and not know the numbers. If you’re the machine, you don’t take these huge risks.”
Not so fast, say many political observers who credit Reyna’s general election win as illustrative of the challenges that a third-party candidate faces in a district that overwhelmingly votes Democratic.
“When you’re running on a third-party line, and Maritza got almost 6,000 votes on the third-party line, that’s remarkable in and of itself in a heavily democratic district,” said Councilmember-elect Steve Levin.
Former State Senator Martin Connor agreed, saying the race had little to do with Lopez’s political capital and that he retains a strong advantage when seeking reelection to the State Assembly in September 2010.
“I would really seriously doubt that the assemblyman is vulnerable in a democratic primary if he is running,” said Connor. “(Lopez) is very effective campaigner and organizer.”
Political consultant Hank Sheinkopf noted that the Reyna-Davila race revealed more about the strength of the Working Families Party than the Democratic Party, which did not deliver a victory for Davila despite endorsing her.
“It shows that the Working Families Party does not provide an ideological alternative to Democrats,” said Sheinkopf. “Vito Lopez has the ability to in fact create the political, social, and economic connections that people really need and want.”
That is precisely the point argued by sociologist Nicole Marwell, a professor at CUNY who wrote a book, “Bargaining For Brooklyn,” about non-profits and the political machine in Williamsburg. She believes that Reyna’s win is a “story about the power of political parties above and beyond the power of kingmakers,” and that Democrats were reluctant to vote on the Working Families Party line.
“I think the assemblyman’s read of it is that for his organization to pull 40 percent of the vote on a third-party line is a testament to their strength,” said Marwell. “Don’t start digging the machine’s grave. News of its demise will be greatly exaggerated.”
When asked for comment, Reyna said she was focused on upcoming council business and did not want to dwell on the ramifications of her victory.

Brooklyn Kitchen Labs Opens in Williamsburg

If I could choose two guys to hang out with indefinitely if New York City were headed for a post-apocalyptic hellscape not unlike the one portrayed in Cormac McCarthy's The Road, it would be Harry Rosenblum and Tom Mylan. Why? One: There would be plenty of food. Two: They have plenty of knives and sharp pikes necessary for fending off gangs of rival marauders. Three: Tom knows how to render fat in a cauldron and you need to know how to render fat in a cauldron.

Also, you need a sweet hideout, and where better than the brand new Brooklyn Kitchen Labs which just opened today? Nowhere, I say. Just make sure to bring your own beer and they'll wait a couple of weeks before putting you in the cauldron.

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Short List: Pfizer Wants Your Property Edition

Mermaids flea their Coney Island homes after the city takes their property
This week was all about zoning. Particularly government takin' private property (and vice versa). For the biggest story of the week, the city's purchase of 7 acres of Coney Island, we go to Nikki Bagli's dad at The Times, Bloomberg, updates from Gersh at The Brooklyn Paper regarding the city's plans, and his follow-up reactions from The Freak in Shoot The Freak. Zoltar had no comment.

The other big story didn't even take place in Brooklyn. It's all about Pfizer leaving New London, CT where they won a controversial precedent-setting case four years ago. Atlantic Yards Report has an exhaustive post, and Brooklyn 11211 linked up as well. Don't be surprised to see a follow-up about Pfizer and the Broadway Triangle (hearings start November 19!) soon.

At the Greenpoint Gazette, don't miss Juliet Linderman's must-read exit interview with David Yassky (where David sort-of opens up just a little bit), an incoming interview with Steve Levin,
the Brooklyn Kitchen Labs opening and BETA Spaces. Solid issue.

As for this weekend, it's fairly quiet with a lot of arts events highlighted by Austin Thomas' artstumble through ISCP on Sunday. It's the quiet before a big turkey-fueled storm. Yassky movin' out, Levin movin in, Reyna movin up... it's a ball of confusion.

Anyone want seconds?

When the Yeshiva class of Flatbush visits Juniors, you know it's time for another one of Steve Cohn's annual pre-election bash.
Multiple apologies for the disastrously late posting of Steve Cohn's fundraiser at Juniors, but really, sometimes it's more fun to view these kinds of events through the rear view mirror. It's true, everyone who's anyone shows up to this breakfast. A few groundrules: No speeches and no outlandish politicking. Keep everything discreet and keep your hands where we can see them. Awkard handshakes are permitted and usually encouraged.

The breakfast begins at 8 AM, on the Friday before Election Day. This year it was held on October 30, though only Bill Thompson was in costume. He went as David Dinkins but he didn't convince anyone.

I got to Juniors shortly before 8:30 AM just in time to stand in the clogged line waiting to shake Governor David Paterson's hand. Say what you want, but everyone wanted to pose with him for a picture and give them their thirty-second pitch/ job plea/ policy appeal. He's the new Santa Claus.

Meanwhile, in the restaurant's backrooms, there's lots of schmoozing and schnoring. I ran into Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, who said he got lost, took a left on the Brooklyn Bridge and ended up here. What was he eating for breakfast? An egg white omelete (he's watching his figure). So was Bob Zuckerman, who chatted with Jo Anne Simon in the runners-up booth.

Lots of special appearances that day besides the Governor. Congressman Ed Towns came by, as did one hundred percent of Jerry Nadler, even though only one quarter of his district is in Brooklyn. He could have just sent an aide or a pair of pants, but no, all of Jerry was there. Right before this photo Jerry was eyeing the cheesecake boxes behind the counter.

Bill de Blasio was a big hit. Whatever he got was a tall order. Get it? He's so tall, I had to shrink the photo to fit him into the frame. I snapped him standing next to the Governor right before the Governor left. By the way, props to CB 4 Chair Julie Dent for slipping into this photograph at the last second. Julie's the best.
Not present? David Yassky, above. Also, the County leader and Anthony Weiner. David, what's the deal? Free breakfast! And a great place to drop a resume or two! Oh well, maybe next year.

I had two favorite moments of the breakfast. One was watching the Brooklyn Paper's Will Yakowicz hound Billy Thompson to get his predictions for the upcoming election. Yakowitz is relentless. He will be in Billy Thompson's dreams tonight as well as Charlie Hynes'.
Heeeeeeeeeeere's Will!
The other moment occurred near the end of the morning, about 10 AM when Councilmembers-elect Steve Levin and Brad Lander arrived together. I do not believe they traveled together. Anyway, I staked out a prime position to photograph both of them talking when I noticed that Jo Anne Simon was lurking in the background ready to leave. The only way out was to walk in front of Steve, who defeated her in the primary six weeks ago. I think this may have been the first time they've seen each other in person in two months. You know what that means...

Wait for it... wait for it...

Awkward handshake!!!!
Totally worth it, even if I didn't get my complementary free pumpkin-flavored cheesecake. Apparently Nadler grabbed as many boxes as he could carry (just kidding Mary). Is Steve Cohn doing a Christmas party?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Sleepy Thursday links

A few things to chew on, on this sleepy Thursday afternoon...

*The biggest opening of the week in Williamsburg isn't a new restaurant, club, or clothing store. It's the Brooklyn Kitchen Labs, which will further cement Williamsburg as the foodie epicenter of Brooklyn (sorry Park Slope, your co-op is too strict anyway).

*The next fight in City Council will be over who controls the committee chairs, and Brooklyn councilmembers may have an in. I'll be looking at Land Use in particular, where Diana Reyna and Dan Garodnick could be candidates (and to commenters, yeah, we know that the Broadway Triangle will be decided by the old council but the scramble for committee chairs starts NOW).

7 acres and a mule. Except there is no mule. The city is buying out Joseph Sitt of at Coney Island.
*Towers in Greenpoint? Will Yakowitz with the latest.

*Will Jo Anne Simon be the next Miss G Train? Or will Steve Levin put his hat in the ring too?