Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Complaint Box follow-up: Atlantic Yards debate, governmental power, and more

Well, my brief Complaint Box essay in the Times, Powerless in Brooklyn, generated some debate, though more about certain parts of the argument than others. Several commenters seem to agree that Brooklyn lacks borough-wide media and local government, but there weren't many solutions.

Here was one, from Raul Rothblatt:
I am Executive Director of a group called the Four Borough Neighborhood Preservation Alliance, which promotes community input in land use decisions in mid- and low-density. We are an alliance of civic groups from around Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and The Bronx.

We are currently working on facilitating cooperation between groups in Brooklyn, so this article is quite timely. If you would like more information, please contact me at rrothblatt [at] gmail [dot] com.

I think we will start to see get more community oversight by old means, like meeting face-to-face, and by new means. I’m surprised at the success of my crowdsourcing website last month:

http://brooklynsnowremoval2010.crowdmap.com/

I’m glad to get the input of everyone, including Norman Oder, Steve Witt, Eric McClure, Gersh Kuntzman, etc.

Responses, and further responses

From the Brooklyn Paper, the editor and a reporter defended their coverage of Atlantic Yards, though I've pointed out where they've lapsed.

Former Courier-Life reporter Stephen Witt, he of the Bruce Ratner bear hug, suggested:
Just as Mr. Oder, through his blog, and his cohorts held up the Atlantic Yards project for six-plus years with their protest of the gentrified over working-class Brooklyn, he misses there are other independent papers such as Our Time Press, the 15-year-old weekly out of Bed-Stuy. As a former reporter for Courier-Life, who covered the project since its inception, I’m also writing a book about the project which saterizes the opposition to it.
Eric McClure took Witt to task, which prompted some nasty innuendo from Witt.

My comment in response to several comments:
3. Yes, the Community Board system is controlled by those who appoint, though it doesn’t have to be.
4. Markowitz is on his third (and last) term, thanks to Bloomberg’s overturning of term limits.
9. Search on “notorious Stephen Witt” on my Atlantic Yards Report blog for a catalog of his misreadings.
28. Atlantic Yards never had a local vote, as the city let the state override the local land use process. That, as well as numerous indicia of a sweetheart deal, drove the lawsuits. And a judge in November for the second time criticized the Empire State Development Corporation for a lack of transparency.
31. There is a Brooklyn Daily Eagle, but it’s a small paper that does not pretend to cover the borough.
37. Yes, the Journal is a fourth daily, My error. But it’s a niche paper for the city as a whole, much less Brooklyn. The Daily News often covers Brooklyn better than its rivals, but the coverage is still pretty thin. Cities (though not metro areas) with Brooklyn’s population–think Philly, Houston, etc.–have their own full-scale newspapers.

I should add that the Municipal Art Society has periodically done some serious work in Brooklyn, on projects like Atlantic Yards and Coney Island, and has supported neighborhood planning efforts. But shouldn’t Brooklyn have its own MAS?

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