Monday, December 12, 2011

A modest proposal to Gov. Cuomo: why New York State should hire that AY Watch camera guy to fill the Atlantic Yards community outreach position

To: Governor Andrew Cuomo

From: Norman Oder/Atlantic Yards Report

Since I know you take a special and granular interest in state personnel issues, I wish to alert you to one prominent un-filled position, that of Atlantic Yards--Manager, Community & Government Relations. It was announced as an "immediate opening" way back on June 21.

We in Brooklyn wonder why no one's been hired, given the daily violations--or seeming violations--of construction rules at the Atlantic Yards site and the regular complaints by residents.

Could it be that developer Forest City Ratner, whose CEO has been not ungenerous to you, has a veto? Is Forest City's trying to save on paying the salary for that position? Or does understaffing represent a convenient excuse for paltry oversight, as documented on Atlantic Yards Watch?

Clearly, there's a crying need to have someone to respond and even allow the state, as Project Director Arana Hankin might say, to be proactive. (You might lose that nagging "Status Cuomo" nickname, too.)

After all, Atlantic Yards Watch daily documents incidents involving noise, improper truck procedures, double parking, and more.

It is, you might admit, a salutary example of citizen input. It's also pretty damning. The photos and video don't lie. You're lucky most in the press suffer from Atlantic Yards "issue fatigue."

Still, when asked, Ms. Hankin is left to offer belated explanations for such things as why railyard lights were on all night.

If you look closely at Atlantic Yards Watch, you'll see that the single most prolific contributor goes by the handle 700PacificW.

Let me tell you about Mr. 700PacificW. He lives and works in the Newswalk building, a large condo building that was once a Daily News printing plant. It's smack across the street from the Vanderbilt Yard and on the Pacific Street route of trucks exiting the staging area and traveling to the arena site. (Why wasn't it part of the Atlantic Yards project? Too expensive to buy out.)

His apartment is in the back, facing the railyard. He's got high-end photo and video equipment. He gets woken up a lot. He doesn't need a lot of sleep.

That's why he's there recording infractions, day in, day out, when the state's contracted monitors are absent, or blinkered.

Powder dumped on the street? Check.

Railyard lights on too late? Check.

Trucks double-parked and idling on the street? Check.

Let me tell you, Mr. Governor, 700PacificW is on it. (He doesn't like using his name because, well, he's got people at the construction site, like those construction workers who like to double-park, pissed at him. But if you empower him with a job and the full force of the state, I bet you can work something out.)

I know you're concerned about the state budget. I have good news for you.

700PacificW will not request any assistance with re-location. He's located.

He does not need an office. He's set at home.

He does not need monitoring equipment. He's equipped.

And let's face it, this would increase governmental efficiency. Right now, 700PacificW takes a photo or video, posts an incident report, and waits to see if anyone responds. Sometimes Atlantic Yards Watch posts an additional article. Some in the press (usually me) may contact Ms. Hankin. Then, somewhat later, she reports that it won't happen again.

Here's the key: you cut out the middleman. 700PacificW could be working for you. You save on contractors, and you get embedded in the community.

Yes, that means that Mr. 700 would have to deal regularly with Ms. Hankin and Forest City Ratner, and that could get interesting.

But didn't Lyndon Johnson say something about getting your antagonists on the inside of the tent?

Whaddya think, Mr. Governor?


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