Thursday, March 10, 2011

Hot Carl in Hot Water

It's over.
State Senate kingpin "Hot" Carl Kruger turned himself into federal authorities this morning amid federal corruption charges, linking Assemblyman William "Baby" Boyland, small-business lobbyist Richard Lipsky, and a slew of other people including real estate investors and a community board district manager's son, Michael Turano.
The most serious charges involve conspiracy and money laundering with a max count of 20 years.
Kruger allegedly took bribes close to $1 million for producing a full range of services on behalf of lobbyists including pushing the merger of two failing hospitals and delaying legislation
The story is everywhere.
Rich Calder and Andy Campbell at the New York Post, Rashbaum at the Times, Adam Lisberg and friends at The Daily News, Tom Tracy at The Brooklyn Paper, and David Freedlander at The Observer who is already speculating on his replacement and has harsh words from Kruger ally Frank Seddio.
Lots of unanswered questions here.
What is the extent of Lipsky's involvement in the case and his other lobbying jobs?
How will this affect development at Atlantic Yards and several financial players?
What's the relationship between Kruger and Dorothy Turano, CB 18s District Manager?
Will Carl start talking and should anyone else get nervous?
But this proves that US attorney Preet Bharara is the Blair Waldorf of New York politics.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Wednesday links

Let's look at some links before we get to some CB1 thoughts from last night:

The shelter isn't dead after all: Greenpoint's McGuinness Boulevard loft building was sold to a hotelier with a reputation for developing luxury hotels and also running single-room-occupancy hotels for convicted felons.

Real estate maven Matt Chaban has a long (for the Observer), well-written piece on the bike lane debate-- which reaches a different conclusion than blaming the media for fomenting the crisis.

Tim Sohn has a nice piece in the Times about St. Cecilia's Church becoming an artist haven. Although Monica Salazar has put together this kind of operation in the neighborhood for over a year now.

David Freedlander looks at the burgeoning David Foster Wallace industry.

Dog owners in North Greenpoint want a dog run of their own.

Bushwick small business owners and labor leaders fight back against a proposed Walmart.

*The Brooklyn Ink has a good look at the story of a Bushwick Avenue house through the generations. These kids are on their game this semester (just like last semester).

And coffee prices could be going up. But I take my coffee black...

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

CB 1: Fat Tuesday edition

Police have released video footage of the two perps who stole Steve Levin's car.
6:30 PM There's a sh-t ton on the agenda tonight, and unsurprisingly it's a packed room. We've got two major parks items (a tennis bubble in McCarren and the Rodney Street playground in the south side) plus concerns about a dog park at Commercial Street, a spot rezoning, some 400 McGuinness stragglers, and Lord knows what else but we're going to find out.
One update to report. Steve Levin's car is still stolen. As one of Levin's staffers explained, "that sh-t is gone."

6:34 PM: District Manager Gerry Esposito calls the meeting to order and Rami Metal gets the meeting rolling with some announcements in Steve's absence.
*The Department of Transportation is moving closer to removing the fence at Noble Street.
*Steve wrote a letter about moving the MTA's lot on 65 Commercial Street to Maspeth
Folks in Maspeth found out about it and weren't happy so we've been getting a lot of calls-- it's not over, especially if it becomes a fight between Queens and Brooklyn," says Rami.
And you know Queens Get the Money
*Also, several senior centers have made the city's cut list.
*There was a possible hate crime between Wythe and N. Fourth. It was a horrific attack.

Evelyn Cruz from Nydia's office and she's very hot about moving the Commercial Street bus depot to Maspeth, where Nydia also represents. So, this is going to be a problem.
Also, Nydia has drafted a letter about proposed senior citizen cuts for centers.

Laurie Wheelock of Assemblyman Vito Lopez's office calls the senior center cuts "absolutely frightening" and she is fighting along with everyone on this.
There's a rally on Sunday at 11 am with Speaker Silver on rent regulations.
And there's a new rep in Vito's office just on Loft Law items.

And Jason Otano from Beep Markowitz's office has some reappointment forms in the back for new and future members to join the community board. Future members like Lacey Tauber?

Antonio Reynoso from Diana Reyna's office reduxes the Dominican Independence celebration (where Lincoln Restler spoke in Spanish), a tenants rights meeting, and a Williamsburg residents association.

6:47 PM: Chairman Chris gives the mic to Parks deputy Marty Maher who will give a Parks presentation about the proposal to enclose McCarren Park's tennis courts with a bubble.
It's going to be a 15-year lease, Maher, and half the money from concessions will go to the park.
"Whether it's cost feasible or not, it' remains to be seen. There are two operators interested in it," says Marty Maher.
Ward wants to know whether tennis will be year round and it will.
There's a question about cost and a parks official says hourly fees is $40 to $50.
Sean Hoess has a question about what happens after 15 years, and Marty Maher says that it would revert to the owner who built it though the city would own the lights.

A NYC Parks Advocate rep bullies his way to ask about the fee structure and environmental impacts. Marty Maher flicks the question away, noting that the fee is embedded in the RFP.

Chairman Chris thanks Rabbi Webber, whose wife passed last month, for being here. Generous applause.

7:03 PM: Sean Hoess from McCarren Tennis supports the indoor court but wants to talk about diverting fees toward maintaining the courts during the summer winter, and he wants the city to own the equipment after 15 years. He's followed by Arthur Bobko, one of the bidders for the project, who sounds a lot like Mieszko.

7:12 PM Portia Cook from Parks takes the mic for a presentation about the Rodney Street playground redesign. This sounds like a major upgrade for the area, but it's not the dramatic BQE decking project that Councilwoman Reyna has been shopping for months.
The project won't have additional lighting but there are a lot of other improvements.

7:20 PM: Hollywood insider Tony Argento from Broadway Stages wants to make a section of North Henry Street one-way. Excuse me, I'm a little star struck.
"A lot of times I'm trying to pass on the street and I have to make a U-turn."

There's also a rep from Boar's Head who wants to turn Bogart Street into a one-way street, because Bogart is difficult to maneuver for trucks.

7:33 PM Chairman Chris introduces Bill De Blasio to generous applause. Miss Heather takes a photo suggesting a community member is having an erection as Bill is speaking. That's a little below the belt.

"My office as public advocate is pretty straightforward-- I'm a watchdog for the city. I don't want to talk about the snowstorm but my street wasn't cleared until Wednesday."
De Blasio also talks about the commonalities of his office and community boards before getting to three issues, which he illuminates in several quotes with anecdotes:
1. "This night, you'll find that there are a lot of people who can't get heat and hot water. It's illegal."
2. "Will my school be co-located in another school? We've had some success with a school in Canarsie which I have played a strong role.
3. "Finally, the budget. Every resident is trying to get Albany to recognize that we're taking a big hit with the budget. I take issue with the mayor's pronouncements that 4,000 teachers need to be laid off, 19 day care centers will be closed...
Layoff thousands of teachers, you don't know when we're going to get them back."
De Blasio has some forms to hand out for people who agree with his stances and takes question.

Mieszko Kalita: We have a local problem. 400 McGuinness Boulevard has had a proposal to put in a halfway house/ three-quarter house in its site. [Mieszko trails off, so I'll have to catch him in the hallway to find out what he's saying].
De Blasio: This is the first I'm hearing of this and I'll try to help.

Tish Cianciotta has a question about Mayor Bloomberg's "history" of closing firehouse.
De Blasio: There's a fundamental philosophical problem where the mayor thinks we can do more with fewer firehouses. I don't agree with him.

Esteban Duran asks about co-location of charter schools and invites Bill to the district when these meetings are held.

A non-board member wants to talk about the Polish Slavic Center "going in the wrong direction" likely because of its new liquor license. But he rambles badly and Chairman Chris does not cut him off.

Bill heads out, gives Tony Argento a man-hug, and takes a receiving line of commenters including the Polish Slavic Center guys.

Inside, Felice Kirby and her zoning lawyer have a presentation about Teddy's Sidewalk Cafe application. They haven't had a sidewalk cafe since 2005 so now they're requesting a commercial overlay for the block. Strangely, this item receives an inordinate number of questions, so I hit the hallway to talk to Bill.

A man named John has a public announcement about liquor licenses:
El Retono. If you're looking for one to deny, this is the one! Do you want the address? It's at 191 Graham Avenue, and they've had citations for health issues.

8:16 PM: Public session is closed!-- and Gerry takes the roll.
Chairman Chris defers his report in the interest of time. Halleleujah!

Esteban's gives his Education report, with a motion for a letter on community block grants. It passes.
Also, Cathie Black showed up to a District 14 meeting and Esteban notes that she "evaded" questions.
Finally, Amare Stoudamire dedicated a new basketball at Taylor Wythe

Land Use Wonderwoman Heather Roslund notes only one land use issue regarding 53 Hope Street, for a waiver for on-site parking. She explains the entire item in glorious detail

Phil Capanegro form Parks and Waterfront will take up the tennis bubble next meeting.

Ryan Kuonen from Environmental-Sanitation is asking for a technical review of the fart factory that the DEP is proposing with National Grid.
She's also pushing for an update regarding Superfund and Newtown Creek- it's on the agenda at the next meeting.
And remember that $2 million from the $10 million that NYSERDA is supposedly managing? Ryan thinks the group is handling the funds poorly and does not like that the group wants to expand the funding parameters to a mile radius. Tracking.

8:37 PM Public Safety. You know what that means.

What's up, Mieszko?

Mieszko introduces Fortunato Brothers' sidewalk cafe's renewal.
"No complaints about sidewalk cafe."
Next, a lobster joint.
Are the lobsters going to be farmed locally, Ward asks.
Mieszko" I hope not.
Mieszko lists three more bars before introducing another bar's 74 Wythe stipulations with stricter hours.
Mieszko asks for a vote, but Ward wants a motion to deny a liquor license for Club Rust on Metropolitan between Wythe and Berry.
Ward raises a stink and the motion passes. Sorry, Club Rust.

8:51 PM: Public Session!
*Joe Garber is going to speak very quickly, but he's running out of time.
"I feel like I'm Eliot Ness fighting Al Capone."

*Todd Eaton from Eagle Street is advocating for a dog run in North Greenpoint.

*A member of the firefighter's union notes the history of closures and the effect of the city's budget cuts on firefighters.

*Mark Wysocki notes a petition signed by 100 Greenpoint residents to rescind the Polish Slavic Center's liquor licenses at the Polish Slavic Center and notes a meeting on Mar. 12, 261 Driggs, Greenpoint

We've got a motion to close. Goodnight everybody. And thieves, return that car!

Very special guest tonight at CB1

Public Advocate Werner Herzog.. excuse me... Bill De Blasio is rumored to appear at Community Board 1 tonight to talk about taking his office to new heights.

I kid. Bill and Russell Simmons are going to talk about the new hip hop band they're forming called, Livin' Tall. Here's a preview of their lyrics. Fresh!:

Public Advocate Bill de Blasio said, “These hearings represent the same abuse of Congressional power that we witnessed during the era of Joseph McCarthy. Singling out citizens on the basis of religion will not protect New York City or the United States from terrorism. We should instead be sending a clear message to the millions of American Muslims living in our country that they are full participants in our democratic society. I encourage all New Yorkers to stand with the hundreds of thousands of Muslims living in our city and call on Congressman King to cancel these hearings immediately.”

Russell Simmons said, “As a New Yorker I am deeply saddened that in today’s world we could see an entire religious community targeted by the Republican controlled Congress. My greatest concern is that these hearings, led by Peter King, will incite fear that will only lead to the national proliferation of bigotry. I am proud to live in the most diverse city in the Country and to stand today with the countless Muslim New Yorkers who love America as much as I do.”

Monday, March 7, 2011

Monday links

When in doubt about art, talk to James Kalm.
Armory weekend is over, but check out these write-ups from not one but two art critics, Hrag Vartanian at Hyperallergic and Joann Kim's updownacross blog dramatically declaring that James Kalm saved the art fair.

Yet another James Kalm video.

And in other news...

*The People's Court takes on an art vs. condo fight at Castle Braid.

*Another bike lane could be coming to Cobble Hill.

*The Wall Street Journal has an update of the Java Street pier proposal (spoiler! Councilman Steve Levin is still upset).

*The Brooklyn Paper follows up on Steve Levin's car theft/ office burglary last weekend. Jesus. At least they didn't take his cat.

*Cathie Black visits a Williamsburg school meeting and I don't know how to reference an AC/DC song here without seeming too cliched. What about Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap?
*The new trend in Williamsburg bars is board games like Jenga and Connect Four- with drinking. I'd like to know when sleepovers return.

*Meanwhile, the new trend in Bushwick is fires!

*Curbed notes some illegal towing complaints at The Edge.

*NYU News myopically blames the increase in population in Brownstone Brooklyn on NYU students moving there.

*Brownstoner is interested in the new proposal for a McCarren Park tennis bubble, which is coming up to the board on Tuesday. Guys, it's only a proposal.

Finally, big Michael Grynbaum profile of transportation loner Janette Sadik Khan. Better ride those bike lanes while they're here, because the next mayor could strip them!