Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Community Board 1: An FBI Agent Interrogates Board Members
Mieszko and Tom's plans for the holidays? Dress up like pandas and introduce some cubs into the wild.
It is a toasty 75 degrees inside the Swinging Sixties Senior Center for the last board meeting of the calendar year. An oldies station featuring swing music versions of Christmas songs from the 1940s is playing on the background, which seems both ironic and appropriate. All we need is the Italian Christmas Donkey song and we'll be set.
The crowd is pretty sparse tonight- you can attribute that to the cold and lack of substance of the agenda. But Tom Burrows is here and that means juicy neighborhood gossip. Burrows' building was burglarized over the weekend and there have been a rash of such burglaries around Manhattan Avenue near the BQE this week.
But more interestingly, there's a contestant from a pop-up bakery on Graham Avenue on a reality show who made a cake-version of the Giglio Tower. And sources who got a look at the presentation said that the cake was awful. So awful it deserved to be eliminated but he wasn't cut from the show because he received a bye from the previous week. Our Lady of Mount Carmel Father Joseph Calise is very disappointed.
We're joined tonight by an agent from the FBI who will talk about the government's InfraGard program. The Greenpoint Gazette's Jeff Mann is very excited. Also Will Florentino started work at the Citizens Committee and he's wearing a wool hat that looks like a teddy bear.
"Dude it's the warmest," said Will. "That's the only reason I'm wearing it."
6:37 pm Chairman Chris Olechowski calls the meeting to order and hands the mike to FBI Special Agent Jim Capozzi, who looks strikingly like a thin Andy Garcia and says he's an Italian from Brooklyn and doesn't need the mic.
"This is my 25th year at the FBI so I've been around the block a few times, I've been to Europe, Asia, but none of that you care about...
That's a blatant lie. We care a lot. Let's move on as the agent explains the InfraGard program.
"It's a collaboration on subject matter where citizens and the FBI together collectively collaborate to prevent our city from being subject to a terrorist attack... this has 41,000 nationwide and 1,500 members in New York City"
In other words, this is the federal system of "if you see something say something" but regarding national security. My former colleague Stephen Brown has more.
The Greenpoint Gazette Jeff Mann says he wants to volunteer to protect the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant from imminent threats. Dammnit Jeff! That was my choice!
Esteban Duran takes the opportunity to mention that a neighborhood nonprofit is currently under investigation by the FBI and asks the agent to look into "misappropriated funds" which is pretty delicate choreography, even for Esteban.
Finally, Special Agent Jim Capozzi urges board members and others int he audience to share the information presented today with their friends, work colleagues, bowling league, and whatever else.
Jeff Mann: I can't rat out the bowling league.
Lincoln Restler: We should start a bowling league.
Let's just run a clip from Internal Affairs and forget this whole thing happened.
7:01 pm: Moving on, we have an application for renewing a gas station at 51 Kingsland Avenue. They've been here for 65 or so years and this should be a no-brainer. It's going to ULURP.
7:13 pm: Chairman Chris closes public session with a moment of silence for the anniversary of Pearl Harbor and also mentions that former Congressman Stephen Solarz, who used to represent the neighborhood, died last week. Did I mention that Will Florentino looks like he's wearing a Teddy bear on his head?
Chairman Chris summarizes the Executive Committee meeting:
It's not necessary to read verbatim every single word in the report... at times there are reports that get very lengthy. And we need then at that point to get the information out to everyone here and help them respond to questions. It will help us keep us within the frame of a board meeting that ends at a reasonable time for everyone.
Jeff Mann: Like this one.
7:22 pm: Committee Reports! Uh oh. Land Use leads off.
Heather Roslund: I was on vacation in Miami, it was 80 degrees. I had a great time. I came back this afternoon.
Heather explains the YUCO project that is on the table, with a resolution to deny the application with recommendations to reduce income thresholds and alter the design, which had a committee vote of 9-1-1. The motion carries.
The second item, 143-155 Roebling Street is a reconsideration regarding parking spaces on the site. It is 10-0-1, voted up as in approved. The motion carries.
"I redeem myself," says Heather.
7:30 PM Public Safety. You know what that means. It's Doda time.
"We all need a drink rabbi, especially this time of year," begins Mieszko.
Mieszko reads the list, which includes Desy's Clam Bar, which is applying for a liquor license, as well as Club Rust (new license, full liquor bar) in a converted warehouse on 134 Metropolitan, a tavern at 490 Metropolitan Avenue, and a new polish-sounding restaurant on 191 Manhattan Avenue with a full liquor license. And they're approved.
7:37 pm: Ryan Kuonen gives a summary of her last Environmental Committee meeting.
"Lots of environmental stuff. Not too exciting. Actually very exciting," says Ryan.
National Grid is coming to the next meeting, which will take place about half an hour before the city's massive Kayak Ban meeting on Dec 19. The temporary ban, preventing boat launches from city-owned sites on Newtown Creek, does not prevent kayaking on the East River, just entering the water in Greenpoint.
"The ban is a little ridiculous," says Ryan. "They're saying you can launch from any private spot, they're just stopping the launch of any public spot on Newtown Creek. It's because of Superfund. The city has jumped the gun..."
Now Dewey Thompson is adding his interpretation of the city's decision but Ryan tries to rein in the discussion by pushing people to the meeting on Dec. 16. Nice job Ryan.
7:42 PM: Public session. Unsurprisingly, Joseph Garber is up first.
*Garber- "I have not been invited for several months now to Transportation Committee meetings. I am a member, but somehow I have not been getting invitations."
Garber adds another 12 announcements before getting cut off by the timer and then adds too more announcements.
7:46 PM: New Business!
Tom Burrows talks about the rash of burglaries where people have been climbing up fire escapes on Manhattan Avenue and stealing laptops from unopened windows.
"Each night I went out and saw a patrol car, I asked another one, yes. Another one, yes."
Tom suggests that the new commanding officer at the 94th Precinct come to the meeting to talk about the burglaries.
Rabbi Niederman: Crime does not discriminate here. We had a horrible two weeks. Before that, shooting and swastikas. Two terrible incidents. One man severely beaten, and again last night as well. This has a happy ending. The 90 precinct together with the Shomrim. Two youths involved. For the record we should say, Michael Kemper is doing a wonderful job and kudos to him. But for criminal incidents, South Williamsburg, we should look, what could be done.
And that's it. Chairman Chris wishes everyone a safe holiday and much warmth for the upcoming year.