Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Attention New York State Senators...

...after midnight tonight, we're coming for you.

Aid and Abate

Ward Dennis isn't happy that he has to pay for everyone's drinks after this.

Manhattan- Vinnie "The Chairman" Abate finally received his city proclamation this afternoon, after waiting twenty nine years to get it. After serving as Community Board One Chair, representing Greenpoint and Williamsburg, since 1980, Abate announced his retirement from the position a year ago, before settling some unfinished business. There was intense speculation over his successor, but finally Chris Olechowski (above right), was chosen to succeed him, defeating Mieszko Kalita by an overwhelming margin, 249-8.
Iranians took to the streets to protest the Community Board 1 Chair vote.

Of course, today was mostly about looking at The Chairman's legacy and recognizing it on the grandest stage in New York City's civil government. Unfortunately, it happened on the same day that Mayoral Control of the schools was about to sunset in Albany and when Council had a full plate of rezoning actions and Muslim holidays to pass so The Chairman had to share the stage with a few others. Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and the entire cast of Shrek showed up too, which worked out nicely, because many of the actors resolved their unpaid parking ticket situations right out in the lobby.

Wait a minute... Shrek is a musical now?

It's not easy being green. And it's not easy being Chairman of Community Board One for TWENTY NINE YEARS! Even Speaker Christine Quinn was impressed, and she's not easily impressed!

This event was made possible because Councilmembers Diana Reyna and David Yassky insisted The Chairman should be recognized in Council Chambers. And they're right. Yassky even gave The Chairman his due in the middle of an interview with WNYC's Bob Hennelly, saying he's one of the best human beings he's ever met. Hennelly is tracking the citywide races this summer and had the pleasure of following Yassky around for the day. I'll link up what he comes up with. I know WNYC is also working on a piece about the Williamsburg-Greenpoint rezoning four years later, and Mayor Bloomberg's legacy, so they've been in the hood a bit lately.

Everyone wanted to talk to The Chairman today. The Greenpoint Gazette's Juliet Linderman asked him whether he said he was excited about getting the proclamation and Abate said, "Not really," explaining that his knee hurt and he wanted to go home. But finally, Abate, known as "the quiet man", picked up his hardware and was asked to say a few words. He thanked the councilmembers and that was that. Mayoral control may be sunsetting tonight along with Abate's career, but everyone in the community will continue to remember their distinguished and fiesty Chairman who personified public service in Williamsburg better than anyone this century. Good luck and Godspeed.

Monday, June 29, 2009

One Hundredth Post!

Williamsburg/ Greenpoint Assemblyman Joe Lentol advises: Think before you Post!

Williamsburg- I just realized I passed the 100-post watermark and that calls for a celebration of some kind. How about a big, glossy press conference McCarren Park? Hey, let's invite Mayor Bloomberg too. Really? He'll do it? Can we get two city commissioners, Joe Lentol, Diana Reyna, the guys from Transportation Alternatives, Evan Thies, root beer-loving Peter Gillespie, Greenpoint's coolest rocker mom Jane Pool, Amy Cleary, Mel Tse, Jeff Mann and the future Mrs. Jeff Mann (right), the three PR amigos (Scott Gastel, Phil Abramson, and Stu Loesser), the entire City Hall press corps, Russell Simmons and Luis Guzman too? We can? Yessssssssss!

It's always nice to see the City Hall desks come out to the hood every once in a while. Today, everyone was here to support Summer Streets program in McCarren Park, of which Williamsburg Walks is an important part of. We had appearances by New York Daily News' Adam Lisberg and Celeste Katz (I think), Metro's Amy Zimmer, right, Newsday's Michael Frazier, CBS 2's Marcia Kramer, and the Dean himself, WCBS 880's Rich Lamb. Not present was Mayor Bloomberg's favorite reporter, the New York Observer and PolitickerNY's Azi Paybarah. Maybe the Greenpoint Gazette's Juliet Linderman or that Polish dude hanging out behind the cameras can liven things up instead.

A lot of community members came to the event too, including a class of Greenpoint YMCA children enjoying their first day of summer vacation. It was fun watching the kids dance around and do aerobics routines as Press Row took photo after photo and the videos shot some B-roll. At least it was fun until the soundtrack kicked in some Michael Jackson. I asked the DJ about the choice in music and he said the set list was determined and preset several days ago. Oops.

While the Summer Streets program is important, I saw this as an opportunity to see what Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe has been up to recently. There are lots of parks openings in North Brooklyn this summer (I'll go over the full update later this week), but I wanted to know how he liked the Quidditch tournament his son Alex threw in McCarren Park last weekend. Both teams were muddied and soaked after they were done, and according to Benepe, the entire Middlebury team came back and showered at his apartment. I must add, it's nice to see the Commissioner out in the neighborhood before he gets back to filming an exciting Season Three of The Reaper.

Anyway, thanks to all the readers for paying attention. I never really gave blogging much thought before this year and now I can't stop. Okay, enough silliness. Well, maybe one more photo post...


Photo of the Day (Saturday)

Rainbow in Williamsburg during Pride weekend.
Does this mean gay marriage will pass the Senate this year?

Photo(s) of the day (Sunday)

Yassky City Council liaison Rami "Scrap" Metal recording an infield single at McCarren Park in Greenpoint during a softball game. He later scored a run. Good job, Rami!

Letter from Phil DePaolo

I got an interesting email from New York Community Council Director and Williamsburg-based activist Phil DePaolo. Check it out.

Reyna’s Math to Extend Term Limits Doesn’t Add Up

Last October, before her controversial vote to extend term limits, Brooklyn Councilwoman Diana Reyna explained her decision to vote ‘yes’ vote by reciting what she called “certain figures that get lost in the translation of the argument of term limits.” The only problem with her “figures” is that they were all wrong.
In an embarrassing 9-minute YouTube video posted by Gotham Gazette that Reyna probably wishes weren’t online,
Reyna argues that it is justifiable for the City Council to overturn the two voter referenda establishing term limits, because not enough people voted for the referenda when they were put on the ballot in 1993 and 1996. After admitting that she was one of the primary beneficiaries of term limits because they opened the Council seat Reyna won in 2001, she dismisses the referenda votes as unfair.
In the video, Reyna argues that the 560,000 voters who supported term limits in the 1996 referendum was not good enough to judge what the people of New York think. She does not mention the fact that the percentage of voters in her own Council district who showed up to vote for her in the 2005 Democratic Party came out to a measly 10.4% - a significantly smaller percentage of the voters who came out to uphold the term limits referenda in 1996.

Reyna seems to have a lot of trouble with numbers. In the video, she says that in 1996 there were “13 million registered voters in Kings County alone – 13 million – and we’re deciding who’s going to be mayor of the City of New York , because 1.9 million people come out to vote – 1.9 million.”

Reyna’s numbers are indeed startling. To start with, any New York City elementary student could tell you that since there are roughly 8.2 million people in the entire five boroughs that to claim that there are 13 million people in Brooklyn , let alone 13 million registered voters, is way off.

The mistake was not missed by Reyna’s fellow panel members at the Baruch College event. The panel member to Reyna’s right is seen on the YouTube video interrupting the Councilwoman and pointing out the error in her notes. After a quip from the event’s moderator about Reyna’s numbers, Reyna apologizes multiple times and then tries to correct herself, saying that there are “1.3 million people in the borough of Brooklyn ”. In actuality, according to the U.S. Government’s 2007 Census Bureau estimate, a little more than 2.5 million people live in Brooklyn , making it the most populous borough. There are roughly 1.3 million registered voters from Kings County .
But the Councilwoman’s gaffes don’t stop there. Moments later, Reyna continues, “In 1993, there were 12 registered voters in the Kings County so that I raise these…”

This time laughter from the crowd interrupts Reyna. “I did it again. I apologize,” says Reyna. “Let me just put this dot here. I was writing very quickly and trying to prepare for this, because I didn’t want you to be disenfranchised by the figures as well, because that serves toward this discussion as to where do we really have a problem.” It is not clear exactly how Reyna believes voters can be “disenfranchised” by “figures.”

Reyna prefaces her remarks by saying that she can’t really comment on the 1993 term limits referendum, because she was in college at the time and “disconnected from politics.” Glossing over the fact that it is deeply troubling that a Councilmember would feel unqualified to discuss any political event prior to her graduation from college, Reyna explains that she can weigh in on the 1996 term limits debate, because by then Reyna “came back to my neighborhood and had the pleasure of serving for an Assemblyman, Assemblyman Vito Lopez.”

It is revealing that Reyna uses the term “pleasure” in describing both her job as Vito Lopez’s longtime chief of staff and her 2001 run for City Council, because the two are inseparably connected. Lopez, the boss of Brooklyn ’s Democratic Party, handpicked Reyna for her Council seat.

Reyna returned the favor by doing Lopez’s bidding in the Council, essentially continuing her former job as Vito’s right hand operative. She rubberstamped all but one of Lopez’s judicial nominees, even though Lopez’s picks were widely criticized as kowtowing cronies selected through a sham, anti-democratic process. Reyna even went so far as to oppose Judge Margarita Lopez Torres for a seat on the surrogate court in favor of Lopez’s candidate, despite the fact that Lopes Torres was running to be the first Latina elected to borough-wide office in Kings County and that Lopez Torres had been universally embraced by Brooklyn’s reform movement.

More importantly, Reyna used her power in the Council till this year to funnel millions to Lopez’s massive political machine, the centerpiece of which is Lopez’s multi-million dollar patronage mill, the Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizens Council.

Over the course of their relationship there have been a couple of times that Reyna and Lopez have had arguments for unknown reasons. Most of these disagreements ended quickly with Reyna continuing to fund the Lopez’s non-profit political machine. At the end of last year, Reyna and Lopez were at each other again for mysterious reasons neither of them has publicly disclosed. Though Reyna has tried to cast their separation as a principled stand on her part against Lopez, her near 100% pro-Vito voting record in the Council doesn’t back up this claim. If anything, her record backs up the speculation that their split was personal.

Even in this time apart, Reyna and Lopez have stayed in sync on many key issues. Last October, around the same time that Lopez was telling the Times he wanted to extend term limits because “I don’t believe in a referendum form of government”, Reyna was trying to sell a similar, but more confusing, explanation, unwittingly in front of a worldwide audience on YouTube.

Reyna’s hoping the voters of her district will forgive and forget her support for Bloomberg in 2005, voting and accepting a self serving pay raise and third term.
She has no choice. This time, she won’t be able to count on Vito to get her elected.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

In case you missed it from Bushwick

Diana Reyna and RBSCC: What’s Really Going On?
by Aaron Short June 26th, 2009

For two months, Councilwoman Diana Reyna and the leaders of the Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizens Council (RBSCC), one of the largest youth and senior service providers in Brooklyn, have been locked in a bitter funding dispute, resulting in the elimination of a popular summer camp and afterschool program for Bushwick children.

After twenty years, the Hope Gardens Multi-Service Center’s youth program will be discontinued today and ten staff members will lose their jobs. Hope Gardens is one of the centers managed by RBSCC, and the program serves over 70 children, many of whom live within several blocks of the Center in Hope Gardens, Bushwick proper’s only public housing project.
Read BushwickBk.com for more information

Friday, June 26, 2009

The Short List: Gay Pride Edition

File:Theres Something About Marrying.jpg

New York City's parade-based economy gets a welcome infusion of cash as the Gay Pride Parade kicks off Sunday in the West Village (where else?) as well as several small but extremely fun events throughout Brooklyn. Expect some parties to take on a somber tone, as worldwide pop-icon (and statute of limitations-supporter) Michael Jackson's untimely death may shift the soundtrack twenty five years back. It was hard to find a car, taxi, or public bus that wasn't blaring the entire Thriller soundtrack. As my friend Karen said, as she climbed up the narrow stairs for an art opening yesterday, "I swear if I hear one more person say 'Michael Jackson tribute party' I'm going to f###ing lose it." Sorry Karen, we're piling on too:

Let's take a look at the round-up this week, as Ben Muessig's Broadway Triangle For Dummies is finally online at The Brooklyn Paper. We hear the New York Times is snooping around Williamsburg, but they haven't written anything about it yet and I'm eager to see what they put out there that we don't know already. Greg Hanlon has his Slate debut and Greenpoint Gazette's Juliet Linderman has her wrap on the CB1's ULURP Committee meeting where the rezoning was advanced, as well as a burglary at Greenpoint Mexican institution Papacito's. The restaurant was jacked on Sunday and lost $10,000. I'm guessing they couldn't fit 5000 tacos in the safe, so they just took the safe. How did this break down? Did the perps ask for $10,000 and three tacos to go, or did they go with the seitan quesadillas that everyone really likes?

It's nice to see that politicians such as Malcolm Smith and Dominic Recchia are taking the time out of a busy legislative session to issue press releases about how they are deeply saddened by the losses of Farah Fawcett and Michael Jackson. Guys, this is what facebook is for.

Don't forget to check out The Courier's Tom Tracy's reporting on a bizarre holocaust memorial story in South Brooklyn. He's got an update this week too.

The rain is expected to clear this weekend, so check out Ad Hoc Art's opening tonight, English Kills' concert on Saturday, and Pocket Utopia's salon on Sunday and other Bushwicky events, or Blonde Redhead at Prospect Park.

Finally, I'd like to give a shoutout to State Senator Tom Duane, whom I wrote a profile about for The Capitol. He could use a relaxing weekend. Tom, it's been a tough session and you need to catch up on some DVDs this summer in addition to Doubt, so let's add Shaun of the Dead and Reality Bites, and Dazed and Confused which pretty much sums up what's going on up there right now.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

For candidates in Williamsburg, Greenpoint, Bushwick..

Dear candidates,

1. Pile of hot tar.

2. Shovel.

3. Hard hat.

Make it happen this summer.


A Short Story.

Something Fishy in the Broadway Triangle

What does an old-school smoked fish company have to do with a rezoning action in Williamsburg? Find out tomorrow on The Short List!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

David Yassky is the bees knees

Councilmember David Yassky has been getting a lot of buzz this week and some film regarding his bee bill. Beekeepers want to collect honey in rooftop hives, but the city has declared rooftop hivery illegal. Introduced in February, Yassky and Just Food are trying to put some momentum behind the bill with a press conference at City Hall held yesterday. As if that weren't enough, this morning, the Times Dining section has an article about a beekeeper's ball held at the Water Taxi Beach. Also, I keep getting calls from the worker bees at David's Comptroller campaign to volunteer my time or donate jars of honey to keep the thing going. How do I get off this list? Sending envelopes with shards of plastic credit cards is probably not going to work.

Photo courtesy of the New York Times

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Goodbye ULURP Tuesday

http://991.com/NewGallery/Pink-Floyd-The-Dark-Side-Of-238561.jpg http://www.constructionnews.co.nz/articles/feb09/images/Sullair_TrimPile_1.jpg
The Broadway Triangle and Jack Hammer, together again.

We're coming live from 211 Ainslie in Williamsburg tonight for a special edition of A Short Story. It's not worth a full running diary, more of an ambling diary. Sorry guys. We've got a much smaller crowd than the Community Board one full board meeting of two weeks ago. Press Row has moved twice to get closer to the ULURP Knights of the Square Table, because Community Board One's Ward Dennis speaks more softly than a 2nd grade spelling bee contestant who forgot her word.
I see several BTCC members, mostly St. Nicks and UNO folks, as well as some Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizens Council staffers too, but not nearly as many as two weeks ago. Council liaison Rami "Scrap" Metal is wearing a white shirt with French cuffs, at least five powers better than I have seen him dressed in the past two months. Behind me is Rabbi David Niederman is leaning over two constituents, speaking in Yiddish so we don't understand what he's saying.
Some minor business to go through first (198 Varet Street's application was approved as is a property on 360-366 McGuinness Blvd in Greenpoint), before we get to the Broadway Triangle action at roughly 7 minutes after 7 PM.

"I'm going to ask all committee members to act with decorum and if you don't, I'm going to ask you to leave. -Ward Dennis.

Shampa Chanda of HPD begins her presentation, which is very map heavy. Basically, she's explaining where several vacant or manufacturing-zoned lots are within the 31-acre site and how the city will seek to add 1851 units of housing and 905 units of affordable housing.

Hey, it's Michael Rochford from St. Nicholas NPC! Mike arrives at 7:15 PM. Mike Roch, Jack Hammer, and Del Teague are all in the same room right now. Oh my God, Jack Hammer is going to take the floor and give a presentation! I think I just had an aneurysm. For three minutes, Jack reads more or less verbatim from the presentation, and every minute was riveting.

Marty Needelman arrives at 7:40 PM amd the room is filling up now. I count 20 members of the Hasdic community. Slightly under double that number are BTCC members. This crowd is more evenly balanced for and against the rezoning action, but eight of the Hasidic members are actual votes on the ULURP committee.

There are several questions about Pfizer, but EWVIDCO's Karen Knieves' question on relocation funds and business expansion is the most interesting one. NAG's Peter Gillespie adds his views about this later and slaps HPD's wrists a bit over not having enough open space and not preserving local businesses within the triangle. Here's the HPD answer regarding businesses operating within the Triangle from Jack Hammer.

We've sent out letters to each of the affected owners, sent out notices, had a CB public hearing, and we've had some private conversations with owners. They will get notice at other public hearings and we anticipate discussing these maters on an individual basis from property owners who come forward.

Only the urban renewal properties are eligible for acquisition. Anything proposed for a zoning is subject to acquisition. It's not a question for us. The property will be zoned residential. Our focus in terms of assistance is on the properties proposed for acquisition. The plan here is to rezone the area, acquire the property and rezone the site for residential development. The proposal is for residential development not for business expansion.

Esteban Duran asks his question: In drafting of the EIS, did you or did you not receive 3800 letters from community members regarding the rezoning?
HPD's Shampa Chanda: Yes we did. We looked at DEIS alternatives.
HPD's Patrick Lynch: We did look at R8A and R9-A. These zoning districts allow more density. Allows more total units overall, 3731 and 1800 affordable units. The higher density alternative results in more impacts, new impacts relating to zoning and community facilities such as schools and urban design. The buildings are a lot taller and building heights increase.

Esteban: I want to know why the higher density alternative, which will double the number of affordable housing, is not getting more consideration. Why are we proceeding with less density when the higher density plan gets more results?
Esteban interrupts her and Ward threatens to hold Esteban out of order. The crowd starts to grumble.

Shampa Chanda: We wanted to be realistic about what we could propose and what has happened in the community over the years. We don't want to not make a wrong decision and not have to change the zoning.

More questions:
Question: Number of new construction jobs? A: We don't know, we'll get back to you.
Question: Open space created? A: They don't really answer this.
Question: Any limit to # of off-site units there can be? A: It's completely up to the market.
Question: Geographic limitations to affordable housing? A: Yes.

A little girl whispers to her mother: "This is boring!" Rami's head is in his hands again. He's crying slightly. "It smells so bad in here. You don't realize it until you go outside."
Well it's been a long day.

It's 8:15 PM and Ward warns that we only have 45 more minutes.
CB's Karen Leader asks an interesting question about HPD giving site control and committing 7.6 million in funding towards development in Williamsburg. She's got a follow-up too:
"Why is the city committing resources to a site that doesn't have proper zoning and you still haven't moved on rezoning projects issued in 2007."
Oh and she has one more-
"How come you haven't named a developer for Greenpoint Hospital yet you're rushing to get the Broadway Triangle process through?"

CB1's Jaye Foxe asks about sole source disposition and explains herself:
"Whatever the city does it should be part of a transparent, open RFP process. We can reduce community infighting, if we all just asked if this could happen."

Thirty minutes to go. Jaye, Heather, Peter, Karen, Jose, and Esteban have been pushing HPD hard tonight. The Hasids have been quiet. So has Teresa Toro. Evan Thies is not here, but Jo Anne Simon's campaign manager Kelly Donnely is. Some of the Hasids are mumbling to each other in English now. Ward has dropped the hammer tonight. This meeting is totally under his control. Sigh.

Here comes the vote. Ward goes through four items, asks ULURP members to vote on each item separately. Yes with modifications or no with modifications to each item.
1. First Motion carries: 14-10
2. Modifications to the urban renewal area Motions carries: 13-9-1
3. UDAP disposition, UJO identified as sole source. Ward says UJO members must recuse themselves from voting as well as staff people. Everyone perks up. Motion fails 9-10-3.
The yes vote did not carry, so we're saying no to the resolution. Not approve the disposition.
Darn. That fails too.
Kids, we've got six minutes. Figure your stuff out.
Ward casts his vote, a yes vote, breaks the tie, and the motion carries.
4. Inclusionary housing within the zoning area, with same conditions as before. Motion carries 15-9.


Ward: "Thank you all very much."

Time for interviews. Check the papers Friday for the wrap!


I'm dumb, it's a rezoning-action. I thought I had found the one.

Tonight, the Community Board One ULURP Committee will hear the city's rezoning action on the Broadway Triangle, essentially a key step in redeveloping the 31-acre site in Williamsburg. Press Row is wondering what will transpire tonight and whether we should be prepared for another controlled riot. Broadway Triangle Community Coalition members have been meeting this past week to discuss their strategy and I believe they will not demonstrate to the same degree that they did when they disrupted last month's full community board meeting.

Hasidic community members make up nearly half of the ULURP committee, so it is likely that this rezoning action will sail through committee and be taken up by the full board on July 14. Still, it will be interesting to see what Churches United for Fair Housing's Rob Solano says, how CB1 member Esteban Duran acts, and what incoming Chair Chris Olechowski smells like. I bet it's a mix of Manhattan Specials, kielbasas, and musk.

The critical votes to watch tonight will be CB1 executive committee members Ward Dennis and Del Teague, who Solano and Duran should have been lobbying heavily for months. It appears they have only started those efforts, and it could be dificult to sway older community board members who were displeased by the protest on The Chairman's farewell meeting. HPD officials will be back tonight, so yes that means that Del Teague and Jack Hammer could be in the same room again. As Jack Horner would say, those are some great names.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Man About Town Mondays

It rained and rained and rained some more this weekend, but Brooklynites would not let the weather detour them from enjoying the Mermaid Parade in style, clothing optional. I packed an umbrella and kept the short shorts at home (madras instead), and ran into all sorts of characters. Headlined by The Wolf, with special guest appearances from Reverend Billy of the Church of Stop Shopping and Norman Siegel's slightly less than enthusiastic volunteers, this year's parade was a little subdued. I only saw two Warriors-themed floats, and one of them was promoting a roller derby league. Lots of anti-development, "Save Coney" fliers, too, and only a few anti-Bloomberg mentions, but very little energy all around. Hey, wait a minute, is that my best friend from high school who didn't give me a call that he was in town this weekend? Why, yes it is! Hi Franny!

Council Candidate Doug Biviano, center, is once again in the middle of things.

From the parade, I had to check out an MTV-sponsored Quidditch match that just happened to be playing at McCarren Park in Greenpoint. When I was there, I ran into two sweaty, muddied college teams of Quidditch players from Emerson and Middlebury with broomsticks and capes. I also ran into a recent college graduate, wearing a full suit and maroon and gold tie named Alex Benepe, left. As in Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe. Notice how poorly maintained the McCarren ballfields are in the background. I gotta give props to Open Space Alliance Exec Director and Parks Department Staffer Stephanie Thayer for putting this one together in a completely non-diabolical way.

Finally, it was Make Music New York, all over New York Sunday, with a couple of dozen accordian players in Central Park and some punk rockers shredding up Metropolitan Avenue in Williamsburg, right next to my old laundromat. I avoided all of those, and took in a little Pass Kontrol instead. You could hear them all over Bushwick. Or at least right outside Northeast Kingdom. These guys don't break a sweat. Ever.

Reid Pillifant's Steve Levin profile

The New York Observer (and WG News and Arts') Reid Pillifant, winner of the 2009 North Brooklyn Male Reporter Beauty Pageant followed around Council candidate Steve Levin for nearly a month to try to get inside his head. Here's what he came up with.

This Is Vito's Guy?By Reid Pillifant

Stephen Levin knows that to his opponents in the 33rd City Council District, he is “Vito’s Guy,” the machine candidate who has worked since 2006 as chief of staff to Assemblyman and Brooklyn Democratic Party chair Vito Lopez.
“I think that’s fine,” Levin said with a shrug. “I can’t control everybody’s perception of it. I would just say that when folks meet me one-on-one, they see that I’m an independent guy and I have my own opinions about things.”
Only a small part of Lopez’s Assembly district actually overlaps with the 33rd Council District—which stretches along the East River waterfront from Greenpoint to Dumbo—but Lopez looms large over Levin’s race, casting an even longer shadow than the incumbent, David Yassky. The powerful borough boss has been frequently, and ominously, invoked at the candidate forums—with the implicit suggestion that Levin would be Vito’s man at City Hall.
On Butler Street in Boerum Hill, where Levin recently spent a balmy night canvassing, there seemed to be no Lopez stigma, no “Vito Power” jokes, no talk of investigations. To the residents who answered their door, and those who Levin accosted on the sidewalks, he was endearing, young, hopeful.
“City Council? You look awfully young to be on the City Council,” said one basement dweller as he looked up at Levin.
Rail-thin and fresh-faced, Levin, 28, bounded up and down the brownstone stoops with the predictable enthusiasm of a first-time candidate. In baggy gray slacks, a dark tie and rolled-up white sleeves, he proudly introduced himself as the chief of staff to “Vito Lopez, Assembly housing chair,” and as the candidate recently endorsed by the Working Families Party.
“I’ve knocked on probably 2,500 doors and I’ve gotten probably 1,100 names, and I don’t recall a single one having a negative reaction to [Lopez], and a lot of them have a positive reaction,” Levin said.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Sunday update with CB 4

Bushwick Community Board ‘Live’: June 09
by Aaron Short June 18th, 2009

I am running horribly late (nearly an hour!) after covering some breaking news in South Side Williamsburg. A small group of Orthodox Jewish abuse victims decided to hold a rally in front of Assemblyman Vito Lopez’s office Wednesday afternoon, at about 3 PM. Basically the same guys I hitched a ride up to Albany with to write about the Markey and Lopez sex abuse bills a month ago. Guys, you’re killing me! It’s layout day at the paper! Word of advice for all you demonstrators out there: Try not to hold press conferences or rallies on Wednesday afternoons. Ahh, all right. News happens when it happens. Even if nothing is happening.

Read more at BushwickBK!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Craigslist: P/T Lt. Gov needed

From albany.craigslist.org/gov/
albany craigslist > government jobs

Lieutenant Governor (Albany)

Reply to:job-paterson.chamber.nys.gov6@craigslist.org
Date: 2009-06-19, 8:29AM EDT

Responsibilities include:

-Breaking tie votes
-Assisting Governor with political strategy, shoulder to cry on
-Maintaining a professional office environment
-Avoiding Tom Golisano


-3-5 years public service, preferably not in Albany
- Strong organizational and follow through skills are required
-Excellent communication and interpersonal skills.
-Excellent computer skills; Microsoft Office (strong Excel and Power Point required). Photoshop a plus
-An energetic, upbeat personality and strong work ethic are key.
-High School Degree

Location: Albany
Compensation: 13.97-37.76 per hour plus benefits
Telecommuting is ok.
This is a part-time job.
Principals only. Recruiters, please don't contact this job poster.
Please, no phone calls about this job!
Please do not contact job poster about other services, products or commercial interests.

-Minor travel required

Video of the day

David Yasky (D- Williamsburg, Greenpoint, Upper West Side) is running for Comptroller and Marty Markowitz is supporting him. Eight more guys and they'll have a minion.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Short List: Mermaids ARE real edition

It takes a special person to lead off an all-mermaid version of The Short List and that person is Cher. With her timeless elegance, iconic sound, and ageless skin, who else would be the pick for the music you hear when you call Leah Archibald at EWVIDCO and her secretary puts you on hold. Yes, I Be-LIEVE in life after love.. after love... after love... after love...

A reminder that Coney Island Hospital is located on 2601 Ocean Parkway
Yes, it's The Coney Island Mermaid Parade where for one day, thousands of otherwise normal Brooklynites brush off their best pastels, frilly scarfs, and glittery leotards to transform into land-dwelling aquatic creatures. I'm hoping to wear my short shorts. So short they're practically illegal. Fortunatley the 60th precinct will be otherwise occupied.

Backup! We need backup!
Onto more pressing matters throughout the district, as there's word of yet another oil slick in Greenpoint on Newtown Creek, Brooklyn Paper's Ben Muessig on the Greenmarket moving to the other side of McCarren Park in Williamsburg, Juliet Linderman's extensive profile of Crest Fest in the Greenpoint Gazette, the WG News Arts blog takes in the Northside Festival, the Village Voice blog picks apart Jay Mundy's trip to Williamsburg, and for some Coney Island rezoning news, check out Mike McLaughlin's take in the Brooklyn Paper.

As for this weekend, if you're not into mermaids, BushwickBK's Anna D'Agrosa has a rundown of Make Music New York's best events on Sunday. But we're into mermaids. Just like Fry.
FuturamaWeeknights, 9p/8c
Mermaid Mating
Joke of the DayStand-Up ComedyFree Online Games

Breaking News!

A Short Story has just learned that City Council Candidate Jo Anne Simon has contracted a group of ninjas to help with her petitioning in Greenpoint and Williamsburg. Sign Jo Anne's petition... or die!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


My computer apparently deleted an earlier post, so here's the article I wrote about petitioning...

Candidates launch all−out drive to get on ballot

By Aaron Short
Friday, June 12, 2009 9:24 AM EDT

Let the petitioning begin!

Severe thunderstorms did little to deter determined candidates in the race for City Council from launching the next major phase of their campaigns: petitioning to get on the ballot.

Tuesday marked the first day campaign volunteers could collect signatures from registered voters living within the 33rd District, which encompasses Brooklyn Heights, Boerum Hill, Downtown Brooklyn, Williamsburg and Greenpoint.

In storefront campaign offices, coffee shops and restaurants throughout the district, hundreds of volunteers spent much of Monday night and Tuesday morning sorting through voter walk sheets and green petition forms to learn the proper procedures for securing a legal signature.

“Monday we’ve been finishing packets and making sure everything is complied to make it as effortless as possible for our volunteers,” said Kelly Donnelly, campaign manager for Boerum Hill resident Jo Anne Simon.

Council candidates have been spending much of the week crisscrossing the district, canvassing registered Democrats, handing out pamphlets at high−trafficked areas like subway stations, and attending community events.

Candidates are not allowed to collect signatures by themselves or even witness the signatures at the bottom of the petition sheets, but they are still coordinating the petition drives with their campaign managers. To earn a place on the ballot for September’s primary, candidates must amass 900 signatures, though over the next two weeks, many campaigns are aiming to collect three to four times that number.

Williamsburg resident and Council candidate Evan Thies and his wife positioned themselves outside the Bedford stop of the L train (Bedford and North 7th streets) on Tuesday to meet and greet the morning rush of commuters. So far, Thies has a staff of six full−time campaign workers and dozens of volunteers, many of whom are from the New Kings Democrats, a North Brooklyn−based political club which gave their endorsement to Thies one week ago.

“We’re going to run up the score over the next few weeks and are using this opportunity to talk to as many voters as we can,” said Thies. “What’s encouraging is the response we’re getting from people on subway stops. Many people who have stopped to talk to us have already heard about the campaign and are interested in what we’re trying to do.”

Greenpoint resident and Council candidate Steve Levin is not following this strategy, preferring to concentrate his efforts on canvassing neighborhoods in Boerum Hill, Park Slope and Williamsburg.

“We’ve been preparing for this since January,” said Deborah Feinberg, Levin’s campaign manager. “This is what Steve knows how to do. He’s been doing a good job so far and now it’s time to really get out there.”

While it may be difficult to spot the excitement on the faces of downtown Brooklyn and Williamsburg residents who get petitions to sign, the enthusiasm among the candidates running for office, which also includes Ken Diamondstone, Ken Baer, Doug Biviano, and Isaac Abraham, is evident. On the first day of petitioning, Biviano made appearances at City Hall for a community board funding rally and at 211 Ainslie Street for Community Board 1’s monthly meeting, while also opening a new campaign office on 89 Montague Street.

“I’m making handmade plywood signs that we’re painting, ‘Biviano for Brooklyn’,” said Biviano. “I might have to go out and buy a quart or two of paint to finish this.”

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Kill Your Television

Congressman Anthony Weiner will personally fix your television sets over the coming months.

Coming home from a long day of work Monday night, I expected to watch a little Charlie Rose, maybe some Simpsons, maybe even a little Scrubs if I was feeling really bored. Instead, I get this.

Wonderful. Looks like I'm going to be reading a lot more. Anyone know where I can get a black market converter box?

Monday, June 15, 2009

Seneca Nation

"This Polonaise place is nice. Think Community Board One would let me add 18 stories on top of it? I have Jed Walentas on speed dial."

I never know what to make of Brooklyn's old school political clubs. There's Assemblyman Vito Lopez's Knights of Columbus Clubhouse on Wyckoff Avenue in Bushwick, which has neither Knights nor is a clubhouse, but is more of a political nerve center with wallpaper by way of David Lynch circa 1973. There's the Smolenski Club, which has currently been taken over by council candidate Evan Thies and his helper elves. There's the Brooklyn Democratic Club which once met on 201 Montague Street, but the site is now a Chipotle and the organization is likely defunct save for its lone surviving member, Assemblyman Joseph Lentol. Just kidding, Amy!
Then there's the Seneca Club. Co-Chaired by Democratic District Leader Steve Cohn and Community Board One District Manager and Council Candidate Gerald Esposito. The Seneca Club was actually founded by the Seneca Tribe, one of the six tribes of the Iroquois Confederacy, which were headquartered in Williamsburg before they were forced to move from their 1-bedroom hut after developers obtained nearby land and constructed a series of Iroquois longhouses along the waterfront.

Actually, I have no idea how the Seneca Club started and it's too late to call Steve Cohn. Cohn has been hosting well-regarded political events in Brooklyn for several years, and ran for City Council once, in 2001 against then-challenger David Yassky. Some political observers believe that Cohn could have garnered more votes if the democratic primary didn't happen on September 11th. It is all water under the bridge these days, and Cohn seems happy to be a District Leader and emcee events such as Thursday night's annual Seneca Club Dinner.

This year, Cohn and Esposito emceed the affair held at The Polonaise and dozens of Brooklyn (and citywide) notables showed up to collect awards. I dressed up in a tuxedo because Greenpoint Gazette Publisher Jeff Mann said the event was black tie. It was not. I looked like one of the waiters. Joan Millman asked me to fetch her a drink. I did not oblige Isaac Abraham.

The Seneca Club dinner is is the kind of event where elected officials walk down one aisle, shake a few hands, pose for a photo with their award, and then get the heck out of there. Some stayed for the food, which consisted of a variety of sausage-like dishes in heavy sauces, sauteed chicken, and of course, pierogies. I ate maybe sixteen of the suckers, washing them down with a glass of red wine, two Zywiecs, and a handle of cognac, in that order.

To Steve Cohn! L'Chaim!
I always like seeing candidates for office running against each other in small, enclosed spaces, especially if the race has the potential of getting nasty. The Seneca Dinner had Melinda Katz, David Weprin, and (eventually) David Yassky, as honorees, but alas, they weren't there at the same time. Yassky came three hours late, and greeted Thies body man Nick Rizzo while still talking on his blackberry. I think it may be actually glued to his hand. Easy, Nick. Hey now!

Evan Thies came by on the early side, greeting the Joe Lentol table and stopping by a few other places, but I didn't see him later on. Doug Biviano and Isaac Abraham were there too, stopping by to say hello. Maritza Davila, a candidate for city council in the 34th District stayed for much of the evening and sat next to Community Board Four Chair Julie Dent. NBDC Rich Mazur seemed to know who Davila was, and they talked for a bit, but Assemblyman Lopez mostly wanted to talk up Steve Levin, his candidate for the 33rd District. In fact, everybody wanted a piece of Steve. Zuch a nice young man! Easy, Joan Millman. Hey now!

It's always nice to see the Brooklyn Optimist's Morgan Pehme. In case you haven't seen it yet, Morgan put together this video for Gerry and he is his campaign manager in the race for the 34th.

Morgan doesn't like Vito Lopez. Vito doesn't like Morgan Pehme. Therefore, it must have been interesting when they found themselves sharing a stage with only a 125-lb Steve Levin standing between them. Read more about the exchange from Morgan's perspective here.

"Seriously, you guys, you're great. I'm a big fan."
Finally, I have to thank Steve, Gerry, (and definitely Jeff and Juliet) for making the night run smoothly. Good luck with petitioning!

What do we want? Open Process? No! Open Bar!!

Don't worry, Evelyn. Another post is coming soon.