Gloom and Loom at BBG

Gloom and Loom at BBG
Artist's rendering of proposed development along eastern perimeter of BBG

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Alicia Boyd ACQUITTED of All Criminal Charges

They try. Oh, they try.

I am delighted to report that the criminal charges brought against the fearless anti-gentrification activist, founder of MTOPP, the Movement To Protect The People, Alicia Boyd, have come to naught.

After a trail lasting 6 days in Brooklyn Criminal Court, it took the jury all of 21 minutes to unanimously reject the prosecution's charges of obstructing government business, disorderly conduct (2 counts) and resisting arrest. This victory deserves to be celebrated by all New Yorkers angry that their city is being taken from them, block by block, house by house and shop by shop.

I had taken a walk thinking it would take at least hour for the verdicts to come in. I'm told shock was evident on the faces of the prosecutors as well as the judge as the verdicts were read aloud. So confident were they of a conviction that NYPD was posted in the hallway, assumedly to quash the expected ruckus as she was remanded to Rikers. Their confidence was ill-advised; those of us in the gallery, watching the faces of the jurors throughout the proceedings, were every bit as confident of an acquittal. Several jurors were people of color and residents of gentrifying neighborhoods including Bed-Stuy and Williamsburg. They see the corruption and displacement that is epidemic in this town. No way were they going to lock up a fighter on their behalf.

The three members of CB9 who testified as expert witnesses for the prosecution could not agree on how many people were on the land use committee on the night in question, nor how many of them were eligible to vote, nor what constitutes quorum. Their conflicting testimonies brought into high relief the lawlessness of Brooklyn CB9 beginning with a complete lack of understanding of the rules governing the conduct of community boards (City Charter, Open Meetings Law, their own By-Laws), and contempt for residents who dare to question their decisions.

The self-dealing Ben Edwards, a real estate broker from landmarked Lefferts Manor and former chair of the ULURP Committee, referred to the protestors as no more than "troublemakers," denied knowing what "gentrification" is, admitted never having spoken to any of the protestors in any forum, knew nothing of a petition with 4,000 signatures protesting the submission of a request to City Planning for a "study." Mr. Edwards stands to make some serious coin on the condos and co-ops DCP has in mind for un-Landmarked Black Crown Heights.

Making an issue of quorum was something of genius move on the part of the defense, led by Boyd's two attorneys from the National Lawyers Guild, First Amendment specialist Jonathan Wallace (below, left) and criminal defense attorney Martin R. Sollar (right), long may they run. One cannot obstruct government business if quorum has not been established, you see. Such is not a legal meeting. A vote on the resolution to City Planning should never have been taken.

In my opinion, by bringing these charges against Boyd, Brooklyn CB9 was attempting to kill the protest movement by locking up the leadership. Let's not forget that a charge of Assault with a Deadly Weapon was also levied, also unsuccessfully, against MTOPP's Maxine Barnes by board member Evelyn Williams, for allegedly throwing a piece of paper that resulted in a paper cut to Williams's face. Williams wore one of those little round band-aids that comes in the variety package during her ridiculous recovery. History has proven cutting off the head to still the body to be an effective strategy. Boro Prez Eric Adams, the former state senator from this area, should be ashamed of his assumed role in pursuing such a strategy. Which side is he on? Sing with me.

Also shocking was the tearful revelation by former District Manager Pearl Miles that she had been convicted of prostitution under an alias prior to being hired by CB9 30 years ago. Prior to Miles' perfunctory dismissal over a year ago, Miles was the highest paid, longest-serving DM in the city of New York, a job she held for 20 years. She was thrown under the bus by CB9 in order to make a previous lawsuit brought by Boyd go away. Miles is, of course, bringing a lawsuit of her own against them. Chickens, roost, etc.

The prosecution relied heavily on video evidence. Let's talk about that for a moment. There were two cameras on tripods that night, in addition to cellphone cameras. The tripod cameras had the same owner; they faced each other, but only one video was posted to the internet. Maxine Barnes, knowing of the other camera angle, obtained the reverse view from the videographer, to use in her defense. Boyd's prosecutors used a compilation video that neatly excised perhaps single second, the moment where a collapsible banquet table was overturned atop the squirming Alicia Boyd, who had dropped to the floor when approached by police.

In creating a compilation video using evidence from another case the DA's office broke I don't know how many rules, but I'm advised that this is a very serious offense. The prosecutor claimed the tape had been posted to the MTOPP Facebook page and insinuated that Maxine Barnes, a professor of technology at the New York City College of Technology, had posted it, using her expertise. Because we all know only an expert can post a video link to an open Facebook page. The idea was to blame Boyd for nearly being crushed by the heavy metal table. Nonsense. About a hundred of us, myself included, were in attendance at the raucous protest of May 19, 2015. My recollection is that the cops both turned over the table and, with the help of protestors, prevented it from falling on her. Perhaps you would like to try to upend a banquet table with one hand while lying on the floor.

The judge, name unknown to me, a young, ambitious Latina for whom I have some sympathy since Hispanics have been disgracefully prevented from ascending to the bench for decades, should never have allowed a compilation video of unknown origin to be admitted into evidence. It should also be noted that she allowed the prosecution seven (7) adjournments but refused outright to allow a second for the defense. She also refused to provide the jury with the City Charter rules governing community board committee votes, rules that made a joke of the prosecution's assertions. Sigh.

I don't usually have praise for the criminal justice system, but in this case the people were heard. Not The People as represented by the DA's office, but the people of the city of New York who are being forced from their homes and out of business by skyrocketing prices for co-ops and condos in full-on hideous towers made of cheap materials where once stood brick and frame houses and 6-story apartment buildings. WE, the people, spoke today, in no uncertain terms. Since the verdict, self-dealing CB9 chair Demetrius Lawrence has announced his sudden retirement from the board. Apparently the demands of his new job as some kind of technology officer with the Blackstone Group, "the largest real estate private equity firm in the world today with $103 billion of assets under management," by their own description.

In fact, despite the entire board recently having undergone training in the Open Meetings Law, Chairman Lawrence had issued new Rules of Conduct for all CB9 meetings which banned speaking out of turn, placards, raised voices, video- and audio-recording and other violations of First Amendment rights under threat of arrest. Both Boyd and I made it clear during the Public Comment period last month that adoption of these rules would result in a federal case. The rightly terrified Vice Chair, Dr. Zorina Fredericks, standing in for the absent Lawrence, wisely tabled the matter for further consideration.

Now we wait. We wait to see what Judge Saitta, the State Supreme Court judge who has delayed his rulings in Boyd's two other cases against CB9, while waiting to see what happened in Criminal Court. One case, to which I am a party, seeks to have the request to City Planning for a study rescinded for a second time. The other seeks to prevent the ethically-challenged Carmen Martinez from becoming the new District Manager. I am, we are, very hopeful.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

What's missing?

I saw this picture, opening pages of last week's Sunday Times magazine. I thought, "What's missing from this picture?" Oh right, the EMPIRE STATE BUULDING!

Monday, April 25, 2016

Who is the Crown Heights South Association?

As you know, much energy and creativity continues to go into the fight to prevent the Department of City Planning from re-zoning our neighborhood in particular, Empire Boulevard. If Empire is changed from commercial to residential, Black Crown Heights will become Williamsburg. No amount of landmarking will prevent that. Empire is the fight.

Just as we are in court to fight CB9's illegal resolution letter to DCP, we are also fighting a PLGNA "study" of our area (not theirs!) funded by our elected officials, because any "community-based" study can be characterized by DCP as a request for a re-zoning. We have been successful in holding off DCP for over 2 years, an extraordinary achievement. That is why I am writing to convey my concern about the upcoming Town Hall Meeting and Landmark-Weekend organized by Crown Heights South Association. Landmarking requires studies.

I can't find any information about CHSA's membership. They have an email address and a Facebook page; that is all. This makes me suspicious. The Borough President is 100% eager to deliver Empire into the hands of the developers; CHSA could be a front organization.

I say this with assurance: There will be no landmarking in Crown Heights, just as there will be no downzoning. This is true throughout the city, not just here. In fact, earlier this year the Landmarks Commission DE-calendared 60 buildings that languished for years without being considered. All those de-calendared proposals involved hundreds of hours of research, documentation, analysis and substantial fundraising (I worked to protect a threatened landmark for 15 years; I have had a lot of experience in this area). And all those proposals were back-burnered, especially if in minority neighborhoods.

Through their bought and paid for shills on the City Council, the real estate industry is seeking to impose a time limit for landmark consideration, after which any proposal will be rejected, as opposed to, say, increasing funding to the Landmarks Commission to insure timely consideration.

To suggest, as Crown Heights South Association is doing, that "Automotive Row" (Empire between Flatbush and Rogers) is a viable candidate for landmarking is naive at best. To actually create such a proposal would be a yuuuuuge waste of scarce resources of time, effort and money.

I suggest that it would be more useful for CHSA, whoever they are, to join our ongoing fight to prevent the Dept of City Planning (Plotting) from rezoning Crown Heights, and in particular Empire Boulevard. If DCP succeeds in rezoning Empire from commercial to residential, Black Crown Heights will become Williamsburg. No amount of landmarking will change that.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Do Over! Carmen Martinez doesn't make the short list, so a new search begins!

The riot never stops over at CB9. The April general meeting was Popcorn Night! Every attendee was handed this playbill

featuring Board member Tim Thomas with added (by the artist, not by TT) clown nose and wig, as well as a bag of kosher popcorn, a gesture much appreciated by former Board chair Jacob Goldstein, who again found a way to let his contempt for current chair, Demetrius Lawrence, be known. This month his objection was to the scheduling, by Lawrence and Housing Committee chair Carmen Martinez, whom he also clearly despises, of a housing information forum on a Saturday. Never would have happened on his watch!

Protestors wore clown noses, too. Here I am; Alicia Boyd is behind me.

Much time was given over to the consideration/issuing of liquor licenses, to the growing disgruntlement of the community. Someone suggested the name of the neighborhood be changed to "Liquor Heights," while another pointed out that Black people prefer to buy liquor from the street side of bulletproof glass and sell it at home; I didn't know that. In other words, the bars proliferating on Franklin are not serving Black people. In so many ways. One applicant kept correcting himself every time he referred to his "restaurant" as a "bar", what it actually is, something more like this:

Then came the problem of what to do about Carmen Martinez, Eric Adams' choice for the new district manager of CB9, the former true-blue treasurer for convicted Brooklyn powerbroker Clarence Norman, Jr. and a woman allowed to retire from her job at the City Comptroller's office after admitting she stole 14 years of public service, basically keeping Clarence's dirty little empire in shipshape while the master did his time. Nice choice, Eric! This is a woman as loyal as she is self-serving and knows how to get things done!

You may remember that last month, Chair Lawrence said the Search Committee was going to have to be rejiggered and start all over again because quorum had never been achieved in their meetings. Lawrence was present at all of the meetings, of course, and had no objection at the time, not so long as the committee was putting a good face on the selection of Adams' candidate.

But, lo and behold, the Search committee chaired by Lawrence's go-to guy, Hector Robinson – at one point, Robinson chaired three committees – did their job and selected the three most qualified applicants, none of which was the disgraced crony the Borough President prefers. What's a puppet chairman to do?

And so the Board went into an illegal executive session to discuss. I say "illegal" because executive session is reserved for discussion of matters like the personal information of the applicants, salary negotiations, etc., not matters of policy and procedure, which are subject to the Open Meetings Law. Rumor has it that the session was a brawl, replete with accusations and recriminations. In the end, the Board, with few exceptions, voted to create a new Search Committee with members hand-picked by Demetrius Lawrence, who understand their marching orders, and grasp the need to fill the position by the end of the fiscal year in June, to accomplish in two months what they have been unable to do in eight.

Can they do it? I'll do my part to make sure it doesn't happen. Join me! We have our work cut out for us. Martinez is already running the CB9 office on Nostrand Avenue, following the sudden disappearance of Terry Witherspoon, who had been answering the phones since her former boss, Pearl Miles, was kicked to the curb last September. Witherspoon has been variously described as on vacation, sick, and on extended sick leave. Meanwhile, Martinez is in there, setting up her fiefdom.

Not this Carmen Martinez:

Monday, March 28, 2016

Disgraced Crony is Eric Adams' Pick

I don't read the New York Post, but maybe I should because so far the paper is the only one covering this shameful story, under the headline, "Community Board Feeling Heat To Hire Disgraced Politician's Crony," concerning Eric Adams' backing of serial offender CARMEN MARTINEZ to replace the ousted Pearl Miles as District Manager.

The last time Martinez earned $140,000 a year from the City (the DM job could pay as much), she was working in the Comptroller's office. In 2014, she was allowed to "retire" after having been accused of stealing 14 YEARS of public service while acting as the head of the Comptroller's Community Action Center, according to Conflicts of Interest Board documents. There were also other, unspecified, charges of misconduct.

Martinez continues to associate with convicted felon and former Kings Co. Democratic strongman, Clarence Norman, Jr., a regular at CB9 meetings in suits for which I think he paid too much. Released from state prison in recent years, Norman has been looking to re-consolidate his power. He certainly had/has his eye on the Bedford Armory development; a second community meeting to discuss its future is scheduled for tomorrow night at First Baptist, where Clarence Norman, Sr. was long the pastor. Junior would be a shoe-in if his father were alive.

We wondered why, at the last general meeting of CB9, Chair Demetrius Lawrence suddenly announced that the Search Committee tasked with identifying qualified candidates for the District Manager job had acted improperly and that the whole process would have to begin again. You could see the shock/embarrassment on the face of committee chair Hector Robinson, the Board chairman's go-to guy, who has chaired, however briefly, as many as 3 committees in his first year on the community board (got to be some kind of record).

The Post article asserts that the Search Committee re-boot can be traced to their collective failure to identify Carmen Martinez as a qualified candidate, even though they never properly advertised the job in the city newspapers because it is so expensive [I transcribed the tapes of one or more Search Committee meetings during evidence gathering for our case against CB9 in Brooklyn Supreme, which started this week]. Perhaps they actually identified qualified candidates! Poor Hector. What's a yes-man to do while still pretending to integrity?

I would be disappointed to learn that the terms of Martinez's retirement did not contain a promise not to pursue another high profile and high-paying job with the City of New York and I will be asking Scott Stringer just that. That Eric Adams would choose to return power to the likes of Clarence Norman and Carmen Martinez is, to me and mine, evidence of his growing desperation in terms of delivering Empire Boulevard to the Big Real Estate interests that got him elected. At the end of June, he will have failed for two years running; that's way past leg-breaking time.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

The Unblackening Continues Apace

The New York Times, of all real estate-driven papers, reports this morning on the extent to which the disappearance of the 421-a tax break will "dampen" the number of so-called affordable units ever to be built in this city under the fantasy housing policy known as ZQA/MIH.

On the one block-long street where I live, the Unblackening (to borrow Larry Wilmore's monumentally shaming, heart-breaking phrase) continues. Three houses have sold in the last year, all to white people. I can think of two, probably three more destined for the same change, currently owned by aged black people, retired civil servants. My white boyfriend has been an owner on this block for 30 years: He was always made to feel welcome, loved for his curious choice of neighborhood. Now, we agree that once Black Crown Heights comes to fully resemble Park Slope, we're moving to Mexico. There ought to be a happy medium, but there's not; neighborhoods just turn over from one group to another. That's America.

If City Councilwoman Laurie Cumbo thinks that these white newcomers are going to keep her as their representative, she is courting delusion. I have written her again today, urging her to stand with her current constituents in order to keep her office. We are watching.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Where to begin? Last week's disgraceful CB9 meeting

It is hard to know where to start when describing the disturbing events at last week's monthly meeting. Here are the lowlights.

The evening began with the long-awaited presentation by the Empire Study Group to the full board and to the community. ESG represents the combined efforts of several community groups most threatened by the prospect of luxury towers along Empire, in collaboration with Professor Tom Angotti, director of the Center for Urban Policy and Planning at Hunter College. We gave our time, energy, ideas and our money to support the creation of an alternative vision for the long-deliberately blighted stretch.

After 15 minutes, Chair Demetrius Lawrence cut off the presentation, saying time had expired and despite the stunned presenter's insistence that she only had two slides left to show. Sorry, no go. Uproar ensued and never stopped. As it happens, I was part of the ESG presentation to ULURP the month before, at the end of which ESG was promised 40 minutes to present to the full board. Lawrence lied, and ULURP chair Michael Liburd was (conveniently?) out of the room when the outrage occurred. They're really mad about the lawsuit filed against CB9 last week, Index #1865/2016.

There was the part where (white, Jewish) activist Jay Sorid, who has been trying, for two and a half years, to have an illegal vote from Sept 2013 corrected, explained, among other things, the difference between "house Jews and field Jews," sending former and then-Chair Jacob Goldstein into apoplexy. Goldstein who had just gone out of his way to embarrass the feckless Demetrius Lawrence, who dwells so far beneath his contempt, for not posting the 2016 Lien List to the CB9 website, and offering to explain to the assembled (and by implication, Demetrius Lawrence) what a lien is. Lawrence said he didn't know about the list, hadn't received it, asked where Goldstein got it. Goldstein said, "Everybody got it!" and then that he saw it in the newspaper like "millions of other people," words to that effect. Next, Dr. Fredericks called Goldstein out for trying to make the board "look bad" instead of just providing the information. All three were board members speaking at length during the Public Comment period.

Notably, we see now that Demetrius Lawrence doesn't read the newspapers, perhaps explaining why he didn't think them important enough to spend the money to publish the District Manager job opening in the Times, News or Post. Besides, everyone knows that serial felon Carmen Martinez is to be the new Pearl Miles.

During the consideration of applications for liquor licenses, a resident stood to point out that "Crow Hill", the chosen name for a proposed artisanal cocktail lounge, is a racial slur, referring, he said, to the Black inmates in the Brooklyn Penitentiary that once stood on Carroll between Nostrand and Rogers. Indeed, a single google search of "Crow Hill Brooklyn" produces this link to a site called Ephemeral New York link, on the landing page of which you can read the following: “Most historians agree that the name Crow Hill was coined in derogatory reference to the black community of Carrville and Weeksville, whose residents were sometimes known as “crows,” writes Henry Goldschmidt, author of 2006’s Race and Religion Among the Chosen People of Crown Heights." This means the lounge owners either did no research or decided to use the name anyway. I look forward to the demonstration.

Several residents who serve on the ULURP Committee rose to clarify for the audience and for the Board that the Empire Study Group had been permitted 15 minutes to present to the committee. At the end of that presentation, a vote was take as to whether ESG could present to the full board and community at the monthly meeting. That vote passed overwhelmingly. Indeed, the presentation was so successful that member Warren Berke requested that the full presentation contain more specifics, and a motion was made (I think by the disgruntled ex-Transportation Committee chair Tim Thomas, though he had earlier said he was no longer a ULURP member either) to remove Empire Boulevard from the study parameters (!!), causing panic and seizure in Carmen Martinez and Borough Hall's Richard Bearak, both of whom have their marching orders. Sadly, a vote was not taken on that matter. Chair Michael Liburd asked Professor Angotti how long he needed to present. He responded, "40 minutes," and Liburd assured him that time would be allotted.

Conveniently, Liburd was not in the auditorium when Demetrius Lawrence killed the ESG presentation and lied, outright lied, about the agreement made at the ULURP meeting regarding the length of the presentation. Something about an emergency call from his daughter and him having to step out. I get it; they're angry about the lawsuit filed last week. They're also vindictive, they do not represent, much less advocate for, the people they are charged to represent.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The ZQA Hearings: A Warning to Councilwoman Laurie Cumbo

Dear Councilwoman Cumbo,

As I'm sure you know, Community Board 9 voted resoundingly against the Mayor's rezoning plan, as did the vast majority of community boards across the city.

What has this summary rejection of the Mayor's plan achieved for us? City Hall promptly issued a pamphlet reminding elected officials that community board recommendations are only advisory, not binding, which is to say they may be safely ignored. Safely, as in legally, but not safely if you expect re-election.

The Mayor behaves as though he is starring in some demented episode of that old television show, Father Knows Best, only in this case, Father only does what's best for him and for the real estate developers who fund his campaigns, and yours, and that of probably every elected official in this city, yourself among them.

Now the Department of City Planning is leaning on elected officials like you to vote against the LOUDLY EXPRESSED conclusions of their constituents. People like me see the city we love disappearing, handed over to an absentee oligarchy who don't even live in more than 50% of the luxury buildings displacing our people and utterly changing the fabric and character of our beloved home.

The stunning success of both the Sanders and the Trump campaigns speaks to the FURY of the American people at a rigged and corrupt system. America is divided over the causes of our troubles, but united in our resolve to say, "Enough is ENOUGH." The anti-gentrification battle in New York City is further evidence of that fury, be advised.

If you are to have ANY chance of re-election, you will stand against the Mayor's plan as your constituents clearly expect you to do. Otherwise, we will work as tirelessly to unseat you as we are working to stop this pillaging of the city we built. The diversity of our people, of every color and from every walk of life, our dreams, our energy, ideas, hard work, commitment to succeed, is the engine of this city, not its financial speculators. Without us, New York will soon be nothing but an overpriced Disney-esque shopping mall for the global elite.

Stand for us, or be un-seated. That is your choice.

Friday, February 5, 2016

You can't blame the wind!

How dare they, whoever they are, blame this Tribeca crane collapse on the wind?? Wind had nothing to do with it!! Have you ever seen a coal tipple?? These things, wood and nails, bore thousands of pounds of weight and stood for a century: WIND PASSES THROUGH THEM. That's why cranes are made in essentially the same way. Today's accident has everything to do with failure to inspect and even approval for use. If I hear another word from the Mayor's office about "today's modern construction methods....."

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Eric Adams' Workaround

Eric Adams has a problem. Eric Adams is supposed to deliver Empire Boulevard near Prospect Park (Views, Views, VIEWS!) to the real estate interests. Eric Adams used to represent this part of Crown Heights as State Senator, so his backers had confidence he knew the players. But they and Adams, as well as the Mayor and so many other elected officials across the city, underestimated the opposition that would arise in New Yorkers to the whoring of their hometown.

Adams' attempt to get a request for a re-zoning through the Community Board has been nothing but a train wreck, chiefly as the result of the super-loud, brave and creative Alicia Boyd and her Movement To Protect The People, of which I am an active but informal member. The Board is entirely, now infamously, corrupt (search "CB9" at youtube), and though the Board's resolution to City Planning was "passed" in May, 2015, its legality is entirely in question and the subject of a lawsuit.

Meanwhile, the developers are salivating; markets like these don't last forever! Huge properties lie along the blighted boulevard, which is one of the few commercial stretches remaining in the city, reason enough to preserve its zoning as is. One developer has shored up hole at the corner of Empire and Bedford deep enough to support a 12-story building, not the storage facility the sign says is coming; construction has stopped while the developer awaits the green light.

What the Department of City Planning requires, and what Adams has yet to deliver, is something DCP can use to justify their rezoning without concern that it will be called back, as might the Board resolution. Specifically, Adams needs a "community-based" study of the neighborhood that contains no more than raw information about its current state. No need for the study to draw conclusions, even, or suggest/demand specific changes to the zoning codes; DCP will do its own analysis, of course, and history shows that their conclusions and decisions will be in as much contempt of the wishes of current residents as the development community requires.

Adams' workaround has now come in the form of a new study under the auspices of PLEGNA and PPEN, basically, homeowners in the Prospect Lefferts Gardens area, most of which enjoys landmark protection. Not coincidentally, the parameters of the proposed study area are precisely those of the questioned Board resolution and include the disputed stretch of Empire Boulevard.

Why, you ask? Because at the announcement of their study weeks ago, leaders of both groups reported that they had received funding from Diana Richardson ($8,000), Laurie Cumbo ($2000), Mathieu Eugene ($5000), and from Eric Adams' One Brooklyn (slush) fund ($1500). Some of these monies were said to be reimbursable, meaning that they would be paid after the money had been spent and accounted for.

Informed of the use to which their money was being put, Richardson has reportedly withdrawn her pledge. At a meeting last week, Councilman Eugene was reportedly very disturbed to have learned that PLEGNA and PPEN are planning to act as pass-throughs, paying the money directly to the two for-profit organizations they have enlisted to develop their "snapshot" of the neighborhood. He is rightly disturbed, for Council rules forbid funding recipients, as non-profits, from passing that funding entirely to for-profit entities, and Eugene has pledged that he will not reimburse either organization if the money is paid to for-profit companies.

It seems that PLEGNA and PPEN will have to raise the money their own money to pay for their study, and I wonder if they will try and how they could possibly succeed. They certainly have done nothing to enlist the support of neighborhood groups including my own, SLSNA, the Sullivan-Ludlam-Stoddard Neighborhood Association, whose members' and residents' quality of life is deeply threatened by what could happen on Empire Boulevard. Indeed, many neighborhood groups who have been fighting gentrification are furious about the sudden appearance of the enemy in a new disguise. Indeed, I wonder how residents of Crown Heights south of Empire, including members of PPEN and PLEGNA, would feel if the less well-heeled residents of north of the boulevard decided to conduct a study of their neighborhood without their consent or collaboration?

We'll find out.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Reasonable question

I'm an architecture school dropout, I've been looking at buildings all my life – the rare NYer who looks UP on the street. But now I feel bad about it because my interest is routinely misinterpreted and regarded with suspicion, understandably. People of color are not accustomed to seeing white people look at their houses with approval, much less longing. The other day, my partner, artist/architect Tim Seggerman, was walking in Ft. Greene and paused to consider some aspect of a 19th century building. Seeing him, a teenager leaning on the fence asked, disdainfully, "You wanna buy the school?"

Like I said, reasonable question.