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"I've been here since 2:00": echoes of Beckett at DEIS hearing

This week AYR will look back at the 8/23/06 hearing on the Atlantic Yards Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS), drawing on the official transcript.

There are more than a few places where the dialogue, at least as captured on the transcript, has echoes of absurdist playwright Samuel Beckett, notable for lines like “You must go on. I can't go on. I'll go on.”

Anonymous voices inside the Klitgord Auditorium lamented that people were not let into the building, that they'd been waiting for hours, and that the public would no longer be allowed to speak at a public hearing.

(Photo of Beckett mural in London by Rachel Scott Halls, reproduced under a Creative Commons license.)

Inside and outside

THE HEARING OFFICER: Thank you, Mr. Watkins. The next speaker is Bob Braun. Is Bob Braun here?

A VOICE: He won't be let into the building. Bob Braun is outside.

THE HEARING OFFICER: In that case, the next speaker is Richard Chernoso (phonetic.) Is Richard Chernoso here?

(No response.)

THE HEARING OFFICER: Then the next speaker is Paul Heller.

A VOICE: He also has not been allowed in the building.

A VOICE: These people are not being allowed in the building.

A VOICE: There's a thousand people outside waiting to get in.

Endless waiting

[Later in the hearing]


(No response.)

THE HEARING OFFICER: The next group of speakers will be: Margaret McNabb; Anthony Knight; K. Gleeson; Ronald Washington; Henry Weinstein; Blaise Sarne; Kate Galassie; Stephen Ebaz; Lilana Aristizabal; William Stanford Jr.; Gaston Dweck; Judith Wright; Genevieve Christy; Cecil Henry; and Simon Sarway.

A VOICE: I've been here since 2:00.

A VOICE: I've been here since 3:00. What's going on?

VOICES: We haven't spoke yet. You're not going in order.

(Audience participation.)

THE HEARING OFFICER: There are approximately, where I can see, at least 300 people who haven't spoken yet.

(Audience participation.)

THE HEARING OFFICER: Everybody will speak. We'll continue. The next speaker is Margaret Mcnabb.

(No response.)

(Audience participation.)


(Audience participation.)

(No response.)


(No response.)

(Audience participation.)

THE HEARING OFFICER: Ronald Washington.

(No response.)

In conclusion, confusion

THE HEARING OFFICER: It is now 11:30. Thanks to the cooperation and courtesy of everyone here today, over 100 people have been able to speak in a short period of time. I have been advised by ESDC that the June 12th hearing --

(Audience participation.)

THE HEARING OFFICER: I mean, sorry, September 12th, that at the September 12th hearing, that individuals who were not called will get priority and that there will be a list posted on the ESD website by Friday.

A VOICE: September 12th was promised to be a public meeting, not an official hearing. Are you now stating it's a public hearing?

THE HEARING OFFICER: I am not stating it's a public hearing, it's just an additional forum --

A VOICE: So if it's not a public hearing --

(Audience participation.)

THE HEARING OFFICER: Sir, sir, sir, please sit down.


THE HEARING OFFICER: This hearing --

(Audience participation.)

THE HEARING OFFICER: -- this hearing is concluded. There is another hearing, an additional hearing scheduled --

(Audience participation.)

THE HEARING OFFICER: Please sit down. Please sit down.

(Audience participation.)

THE HEARING OFFICER: Please sit over there. Please sit over there.

A VOICE: I want to know if it's a public hearing.

THE HEARING OFFICER: Ma'am, please sit over there.

(Audience participation.)

THE HEARING OFFICER: It is not a public hearing --

(Audience participation.)

THE HEARING OFFICER: If everyone would please be quiet.

(Audience participation.)

THE HEARING OFFICER: Ma'am, please be quiet It is not a public hearing. I am told it is a community forum. And at that community forum, which I'm told, that the transcript will be made available to ESDC that --

A VOICE: So you're concluding a public hearing tonight and not holding another
one, is that what you're saying?

[Had the additional community forums been considered public hearings, the comment period would have been extended. The issue was part of the lawsuit over the environmental review, which is under appeal; a judge ruled that the community forums, despite their resemblance to the public hearing, were essentially an expansion of the opportunity for written comments.]

(Audience participation.)

THE HEARING OFFICER: This hearing --

(Audience participation.)

THE HEARING OFFICER: -- this hearing is now closed.

A VOICE: So there will not be another public hearing --

(Audience participation.)

THE HEARING OFFICER: There will not be another --

(Audience participation.)

THE HEARING OFFICER: -- public hearing.

A VOICE: When?

THE HEARING OFFICER: There will not be another public hearing.

A VOICE: There will not. So you are not allowing the public to speak at this public hearing.

(Audience participation.)

THE HEARING OFFICER: Again, I am here as an independent hearing officer. And you may make a request from ESDC --

(Audience participation.)

THE HEARING OFFICER: Sir, let me talk. I can tell you that the hearing now is closed.

A VOICE: Is there going to be another public hearing?

THE HEARING OFFICER: No. Again, one additional thing, the written comment period is extended to thirty days. I believe it's September 22nd, written comments can be made and will be included as part of the record.

(Audience participation.)

THE HEARING OFFICER: Thank you and good evening.


  1. Not only were there all those people outside not being let in and all the people inside not being allowed to speak, but the "hearing," itself, was held with insufficient notice from a practical standpoint and was held in the second half of August a time when preople are more likely to be on vacation. As a measure, on this date my legal department was almost always more than 50% depleted and working with a skeleton crew. Community boards and other public bodies typically shut down. At the Agencies we never asked our board members to have meetings and never would have thought of such an imposition.

    Michael D.D. White
    Noticing New York

  2. who needs the theater of the absurd when we have the politics of the corrupt? thanks, Norman, for that reminder of that bleak non-happening (scheduled, of course, when many of us were out of town).


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