Thursday, December 31, 2009

A Short Story List of the Year (Bushwick, Williamsburg, Greenpoint)
A reminder that The Short List is still technically on hiatus. but with the year coming to a close and not a heck of a lot happening save for Mayor Bloomberg's quickie Inauguration tomorrow, I thought I'd put together an impromptu list of A Short Story's best of 2009.

Best Fake Resignation: Teresa Toro. Everyone knows that Toro is going to crawl back to Community Board 1 and take over the mantle of Transportation Temptress in 2010 after a couple of months on the new job. We'll keep the seat warm for you.

Best New York Giants Related Reference: To Greg Hanlon, who's electric Jeremy Shockey-like performance at The Williamsburg Courier was replaced by my workmanlike Kevin Boss-like performance. We all miss the flash and the cursing in the locker room.

Best Embarrassingly-Uncomfortable-Yet-Sneakily-Hilarious Video: I am only going to link to it.

Best Lawsuit: So many to choose from, from Marty Needelman's Broadway Triangle Stay-cation to the one filed by the two hipsters who vandalized (or "restored") the Bedford Avenue bike lane, but I'm going with the Atheists' suit against the Catholic Church. It is their first lawsuit and you always remember your first lawsuit. As Vito Lopez puts it,
“From what I’m hearing, it’s a reverend who’s not a reverend, it’s a lawyer who’s not a lawyer, and about six people showed up,” Lopez said. “It’s a group that doesn’t believe in Christmas ornaments or trees.

Best Four Square Performance: Brad Lander. Hands down. Dude can ball.

Best Don Draper Impression: Ward Dennis.

Best Betty Draper Impression: Juliet Linderman

Diana Reyna Lifetime Achievement Award for Best Meandering Monologue: Diana Reyna, multiple appearances (this one is accompanied by a song!).

Best Monologue: Danny Hoch. At a Community Board 1 meeting.

The David Yassky I-Was-Against-Term-Limits-Before-I-Was-For Term-Limits Best Flip-Flip: David Yassky on Evan Thies.

Best Zoning Smackdown: Marty Markowitz, on supporters of Rose Plaza. You'll have to air your dirty laundry elsewhere.

Best Al Franken Impression: Lincoln Restler (2nd Team Jack Hammer Great Names All-Stars)

Best David Duchovny Impression Zoolander Era: Rami Metal (2nd Team Jack Hammer Great Names All-Stars)

Best Worst Kept Open Secret: Rami Metal will be continuing to work on constituent issues with Council member-elect Steve Levin.

Best Bar Mitzvah Party: Steve Levin's Inauguration.

Photo courtesy of Juliet Linderman

Best Supporting Actor: David Niederman. There has been lots of talk about how Steve Levin won his council seat in a seven-way primary, but Rabbi David Niederman deserves at least a third of the credit. Plus, he may be the most stylish person in Williamsburg south of Broadway.

Best Injury: Tie between my 6-week high ankle sprain and whatever Mike Freedman Schnapp did to himself in Paris. We're going to have fight this out early next year.

Best Community Meeting Meal: Community Board Four's deliciously satisfying December potluck dinner. God forbid Community Boards 1 or 2 every try this.

Best Picnic Party: Lots to choose from here too, but Sunken Meadows Part I was a fun day in the sun.
Best Budding Romance: The EPA and the Mayor's Office of Environmental Remediation. There's something sweet wafting in the air... and it's fetid raw sewage, but that's a good thing.

Best Disco Dancer: Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez. Antonio Reynoso wins 2nd Runner-Up.

Best food-related campaign stunt: Viva La Chicharron Hombre!

Best Fake Demonstration: The topless Bedford Avenue bike protest that actually included more clothes, which inspired this headline that only Freed Schnapp will get.

Best What The Hell Was That? Demonstration: The counter-sex abuse rally at Vito's office. It sure was something alright.

Best Zoning-related Telenovela: The Broadway Triangle. From Rob Solano's daily press releases to appearances from Brooklyn Great Names All Stars Jack Hammer, Ward Dennis and Kenneth Knuckles, to the five-hour anticlimactic finish, the Broadway Triangle had it all.

Miezko Kalita Annual Best Facial Hair Award: Do I even need to say anything?

As you celebrate the new year, some Newtown Creek news

The EPA received several presents this Christmas, including a 50 page document from the city, submitted by DEP Commissioner Cas Holloway, below. Want to know what's in it? Check it out.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Christmas continued...

If you ever had the urge to visit the Dyker Heights Christmas display... now you don't have to. Because it's freaking 20 degrees outside

Monday, December 28, 2009

Vito Lopez (and Mayor Mike) Wish You and Yours a Merry Christmas

It was a pretty crazy Christmas morning at the Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizens Center (I'll tell you about it later), highlighted by Mayor Bloomberg taking out his upright bass and performing "Christmas With the Devil" with Judith Owens. Did you know that Steve Levin plays bass?

Saturday, December 26, 2009

It's Christmas, so we're off...

On a temporary hiatus. Meanwhile, sit back, and do what the reporters are doing this weekend: watching a classic.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas from the Poop Factory

Smells like Greenpoint Christmas...

And Merry Christmas to you Mr. Mayor! (and Jimmy Pynn!)

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Breaking News: DDDB Kidnaps Santa Claus

Photo Courtesy of The Local

BushwickBK reporter Diego Cupolo has reported that Santa Claus is missing and his whereabouts is unknown. Previous sources have noted that the Broadway Triangle Community Coalition is holding Santa hostage, but a new report indicates that Develop Don't Destory Brooklyn is now claiming responsiblity for Santa's disappearance.
Forest City Ratner is calling Casey Ryback to investigate the matter.

The Short List: Christmastime Edition

Steve Witt wishes you a Merry Christmas. Please tip generously.

It's Christmastime in Brooklyn. You can almost hear the silver jangles of sleigh bells riding over The Edge and other developments Williamsburg waterfront (Santa doesn't need to spend that much time in empty condos), sprinkling Christmas magic over Greenpoint's Newtown Creek Sewage Plant, delivering a last-minute pep talk to Ridgewood Bushwick helper elves who have been preparing 3,000 meals for North Brooklyn seniors, before hovering over the B38 Bus and and bringing Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn a shiny, new favorable MGPP decision wrapped in a red Christmas bow.

That is, if Santa were actually free to deliver presents to good boys and girls. Sources tell us that Santa is being held hostage by Broadway Triangle Community Coalition members, below, who are demanding a preliminary injunction of their own before Christmas.

Coalition Chair Juan Ramos, speaking for the group said that the Broadway Triangle rezoning proposal is "nothing more than a cheap political deal having been made at the expense of the bulk of the Latino, Hasidic, and African-American communities of the affected neighborhoods. This rezoning is not an isolated occurrence, but an extension of the City's long history of outrageous racial and religious discrimination in Williamsburg in favor of UJO and its pals."

Ramos would not comment on Santa's whereabouts, but many Brooklyn's political leaders are urging for Santa's quick and safe release. Brooklyn Corporation A attorney Marty Needelman has volunteered to temporarily pick up Santa's duties this week after a stay was awarded by Manhattan Supreme Court.

Allright, this joke has gone on long enough. I got carried away there for a bit. Let's just focus on some Christmas decorations and the mayor's visit to Bushwick tomorrow and not talk about a likely trailer park for artists that is coming to Bushwick next year

Many are asking where are the best Christmas decorations in North Brooklyn. While Devoe and Conselyea Streets in Williamsburg and areas around McGolrick Park always bring the goods, I'm voting for Evergreen and Cedar Streets in Bushwick for their decorations. This display is from 2007. I can't wait to see what they've got up their sleeve this year.

And finally, while many will be heading to midnight mass or a Matzo Ball Jewish singles party tonight, RBSCC workers are busily preparing thousands of meals for home-bound seniors. Tomorrow Mayor Michael Bloomberg is joining Assemblyman Vito Lopez, State Senator Marty Dilan, Council member elect Steve Levin and other special guests.
Also, St. Brigid's Church is roasting a whole pig after mass and holding a five-hour pageant. And you thought nothing is going on here.

2007... 2008... 2009?

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Broadway Triangle "Stay-cation"

Yes, the Broadway Triangle is moving "Off-Broadway" (thanks Gary Schlesinger), now that Manhattan Supreme Court has awarded plaintiffs a stay in the case. For more information, check the story out.

Before we look at the details, a word about Shekar "Omar" Krishnan, above. Members of the Broadway Triangle Community Coalition have been referring to their plucky Brooklyn Corporation A attorney as "Shake 'n Bake". Sure, they all had a good laugh but coalition members began abusing the term and Krishnan has had enough of it. The dude went to Michigan Law, ya'll. How 'bout some RESPEC?

So, I'd like to make a motion to change Shekar's nickname to "Omar" in reflection of his resemblance to Omar Little from The Wire. Council member Reyna seconds. All in favor. Approved. Congratuations. Don't mess with Omar Krishnan. I meant Don't mess with Shekar Little. That sounds better.

What exactly is your occupation Mr. Little?
I rip and run.
Excuse me?
I rob drug dealers.

Paging David Yassky...

I'm putting out an APB for Council member David Yassky. I'm supposed to buy him a coffee/ lunch before his term is up, but I can't seem to locate him.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Nydia's got what you want... you got what she needs

It was an all-night dance-a-thon (at least until 10 PM) at The Warsaw in Greenpoint on Friday, where Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez held her annual holiday party. Despite the chill, North Brooklyn's venerable community leaders stopped by, including Teresa Toro, David Lopez, Jo Anne Simon, Julie Lawrence, half of Brooklyn Corporation A (the unkosher half), Esteban Duran, Rob Solano, Diane Jackson (above), and of course Council member Diana Reyna and her staff. P.S. Nice glasses Linderman!

But first they ate. Roast chicken, three kinds of rice and beans, and plantains were on the menu and they hit the spot. Constituent liaison Evelyn Cruz was there to help serve the food, which is perfect because Evelyn can dish it out.

A few other notable guests. Waste Management's cheerful liaison Rachel Amar stopped by, confirming my Rachel Amar-rule for social importance (aka if Rachel shows up to your political event, it's important). Doubtful? The new Public Advocate has Rachel on speed dial.

I saw Woodhull Hospital Chief Medical Director Ed Fishkin who helped me when I tore my foot up over Thanksgiving. He said I should stay off my foot as much as possible and wear the soft cast for at least another couple of weeks. Also, Dr. Fishkin organizes a youth bike ride club called Kids Ride Club that Woodhull sponsors every summer and they recently had their annual dinner. I guess you could say they have a leg up on their peers with regards to health and fitness.
Speaking of bicycling, Brooklyn Greenway Initiative's Meg Fellerath stopped by too. Velazquez has given over $18 million in funds to the Greenway in 2005 and has continued to support the project. I asked Meg if she would be participating in the topless bike ride demonstration on Saturday. She said no, but that Milton Puryear might give it a go.

Soon it was time for the speeches. Cue Diana Reyna, Congressman Ed Towns and Comptroller-elect John Liu.
Notice how Ed Towns has his arms folded like Celtics icon Bill Russell did when he stared down opponents during pre-game warm ups. Ed Towns is the Bill Russell of Brooklyn politics. Does this make Al Vann Dr. J?
After John Liu said a few words, it was time to dance. Cue Donna Summer.

Toot toot... hey... beep beep...

Bad girls... talking about the sad girls...

Sad girls... talking about the bad girls, yeah...

Friday night and the strip is hot sun's gone down and they're about to trot spirit's high and they look hot do you wanna get down now don't you ask yourself, who they are? like everybody else, they wanna be a star

Sad girls, sad girls
you such a dirty bad girl beep beep uh, uh you bad girl, you sad girl you such a dirty bad girl beep beep uh, uh

Now you and me, we are both the same but you call yourself by different names
now you mama won't like it when she finds out
her girl is out at night

Toot toot hey beep beep

There's a Stay in the Broadway Triangle

The Broadway Triangle drama is not over yet.
At 5 PM today, a Manhattan Supreme Court justice granted the Broadway Triangle Community Coalition's request for a stay (until a hearing on preliminary injunction in March 2010), and issued a temporary restraining order. About construction on the site, not between Marty Needelman and Vito Lopez or Rabbi David Niederman.

“It is truly sad that until we got to the Court, no governmental agency was willing to overrule the politics of the situation and address the outrageous impropriety of the process and the shocking racially and religiously discriminatory result incorporated into the City’s proposed rezoning and land give away in the Urban Renewal Area,” said Needelman.
More tomorrow.
Correction: I wrote previously that the court granted a preliminary injunction, but the court only granted a stay, which halts the proceedings until a hearing next year where the preliminary injunction request will be taken up.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Scenes from a hectic day at City Hall

Not Diana's day.
Updated: With a 1 PM stated session for Council to vote on a grab bag of items before it recesses for the rest of the year, it mean the showdown over the Broadway Triangle would finally commence. Check out the Courier for my coverage of the whole show, in three acts.

Act I: At 12:30 PM it was time for the Broadway Triangle supporters, or as Azi Paybarah calls them, Steve's people, to take their place on the steps of City Hall for an impromptu rally. Steve Levin and Maritza Davila, right, fired up the crowd.
"Yes We will! Yes We Will!" they shouted.

I see Scott Short from RBSCC (no relation) and ask him how he thinks the vote will go. He says he's cautiously optimistic it will pass, but sees eminent domain concerns as a potential snag.
“Do not disturb the process,” said Davila, instructing the crowd as they moved inside. “Remember we are civilized and we come in peace.”

By 1 PM it was time for the opponents to take the stage. Led by Rob Solano, Juan Ramos, Marty Needelman and Council member Reyna, the Broadway Triangle Community Coalition wanted to say one last remark before the battle shifted to the courts.
"It is unfathomable in this day and age that we will allow politics to get in the way of a community that suffers from displacement and gentrification," said Reyna. "This is not government for the people. This is self preservation for a
political cause."
As Reyna was speaking, Council member-elect Steve Levin walked down the steps and left City Hall, leaving the compound. Cue dramatic music which begins to swell.

Act II: Shortly after 1 PM, Press Row starts assembling in the front tables and along the perimeter. There's one council member in the Chamber. Speaker Quinn is holding a pre-stated press conference to talk about all the bills downstairs in the green room. Usually green rooms mean shrimp cocktail. I leave my post to go investigate.
There was no food of any kind. Instead, Speaker Quinn is at a podium, flanked by ten council members, and is delivering a brief overview before taking questions from the press corps. On the agenda today includes the override of the Mayor's veto on the Kingsbridge Armory, the rezoning of the Western Rail Yards in Manhattan, and the Queens street co-naming of Sean Bell, among other things.
I ask Speaker Quinn whether the lawsuit that Broadway Triangle. opponents are filing would affect the vote in any way.
"I don't know. I can't speak to the lawsuit. You'll have to speak to those who are filing it," said Quinn.
You mean this guy, (right)?
Courtney Gross from Gotham Gazette (who has one of the more comprehensive round-ups of the rezonings I've seen so far) asks a follow-up about the Triangle and how the Council would vote today.
"We believe this is a project that will bring affordable housing to a part of the city that needs it. We are very mindful that this is not without opposition, but on the balance, the pluses outweigh the minuses."
It's nearly 2 PM and I make my way back up the chambers. Press Row looks a little bored. How do I know? They're all reading Marty Needelman's lawsuit. Kareem Fahim is almost done with it.
Andy Campbell, Juliet Linderman and I notice a gentleman leaning over the balcony who bears a remarkable resemblance to Steven Seagal. Watch out City Council! Do you think you are Above the Law?

Act III: Council members slowly file in and greet each other before the stated meeting which begins just after 2 PM. There is a lot to vote on, and some council
members who haven't been reelected (see Stewart, Kendall) or lost opportunities for higher office (see Avella, Tony; Katz, Melinda; Weprin, David; Gioia, Eric; and Yassky, David) might get emotional because it is their last meeting ever. Some of the newbies are already circulating around the gallery such as Jimmy Van Bramer and Steve Levin, scoping out their seating arrangements. Diana Reyna has a front row seat right next to Robert Jackson and Erik Dilan. We're only in hour one of three hours of voting and even the council members look bored.

Let's fast forward to the actual voting, which begins at around 3:30 PM after a number of people, including the Sean Bell family, are recognized. This is a roll call vote, but each council member will take about five minutes to explain their vote. Some take ten. David Yassky and Diana Reyna have an exchange throughout the vote. First, David introduces the rezoning and explains why he is voting for the Broadway Triangle, citing the 1800 units of housing, 44 percent of which are affordable, and adding, "I can't imagine how we can make this project more affordable." When it is her turn, Diana responds.
“Not only is this giving us the minimum, it’s looking to displace hundreds of jobs in this area,” said Reyna. “For any plan not to address economic development and job creation, it’s not a plan at all. All I have been asking for is a plan for our community."
When it is David's turn to vote, he adds a comment.
“This is not an Atlantic Yards situation where ULURP was circumvented. It went through full ULURP process and had dozens of public and semi-public meetings in the decade leading up to this. Anybody who wanted to put up an alternative proposal for this site has had their plan heard and not necessarily adopted," said Yassky.

Two other notable votes, as also reported in The New York Times, include Public Advocate elect Bill De Blasio who voted in favor of the Broadway Triangle while criticizing the process and vowing to add more oversight for sole source site authorization, and Council member Letitia James who changed her vote to yes after saying she had been comforted by promises to small businesses that might be moved via eminent domain from the Triangle that they would receive fair compensation for their relocation.
As the vote totals are being tabulated, I notice Team Vito in the upper balcony on their cell phones. I take some pictures. Then Andy Marte and members of Team Vito start taking pictures of Press Row.

You know, Vito Lopez and The Charettes would make a great name for a funk band. Can you guys cover "How do I let a good man down?"

The parliamentarian tabulates the final vote, which is 36 yes, 10 no (Avella, Barron, Foster, Ignizio, Liu, Mark-Viverito, Mendez, Palma , Reyna, Sanders) and 4 abstentions ( Brewer, Gioia, Jackson, Katz). Diana sheds a few tears and pulls herself together. She could have used Steven Seagal.
It's 5 PM and Press Row breaks up to go downstairs for some interviews.
There is a holiday reception in the Council lounge, which is kind of like my high school's teachers' lounge because I am not allowed inside.
I file and talk with The Dilans, who are milling in the foyer in one corner, greeting Helen Sears and several departing Council members. Diana comes out to greet the attorneys, which include Marty "Rabbi" Needelman and Shekar Krishnan, formerly "Shake n' Bake" Krishnan. After they file their Broadway Triangle lawsuit, Shekar will be known as Omar.

Rabbi Needelman says that “We are committed to non-violence as long as humanly possible." These guys are Out for Justice.