this blog is exists for discussion about the drinking liberally chapter in the williamsburg/greenpoint neighborhood of brooklyn, ny, as well as issues facing our little corner of the world. our drinking liberally chapter meets every tuesday at THE LEVEE, 212 berry st. @ 8pm. come on out and see us sometime.... saving democracy one pint at a time.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

whatever bloomie wants...

...bloomie gets.

except he's now buying favors with your money.

from the times:

$800 Million to Be Spent Downtown

Gov. George E. Pataki and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg announced $800 million worth of projects for Lower Manhattan yesterday, including cobblestone streets around the New York Stock Exchange, a new elementary school on Beekman Street and improvements in Chinatown.

Many of the projects are intended to bring further life to a neighborhood still recovering from the Sept. 11 attack, after a protracted period of wrangling over how the money should be spent. But they are also dear to the heart of Sheldon Silver, the State Assembly speaker, who represents the area and has been pushing for more government money and attention downtown. Next week, he will be a crucial voice in the debate over the proposed West Side stadium.


But the spending list was also the bluntest example yet of the link between the rebuilding of Lower Manhattan and the fate of the stadium. The state Public Authorities Control Board, on which Mr. Silver controls the Assembly's vote, could take up the stadium question as early as next week, and in the days leading up to the vote, stadium supporters have made an all-out effort to win over Mr. Silver.

In one demonstration, a majority of the City Council yesterday signed a letter encouraging him and the leader of the State Senate, Joseph L. Bruno, to give the stadium their blessing. The 28 council members specifically backed the mayor's plan to spend $300 million in city money on the project, which will make it difficult for Council Speaker Gifford Miller, a stadium opponent, to block the spending.

The letter was a blow to Mr. Miller, who has used his opposition to the stadium as the cornerstone of his mayoral campaign. But he said he was unfazed.

"When they actually have to vote to take $300 million out of schools, senior centers and subways in their district and put it toward a football team," he said, "I know they'll vote in favor of their constituents and against the stadium."

Two stadium supporters and one member of Mr. Bruno's staff said Mr. Bruno received a call last week from Andrew H. Card Jr., the White House chief of staff, urging him to support the stadium. But Mr. Bruno did not seem to have budged from his ambivalence, saying yesterday that he still had many questions about the project.

Mr. Silver also declined to change his public position of serious doubt about the wisdom of the stadium, even after yesterday's announcement about the downtown projects. He said he did not regard the announcement as having anything to do with proposals he unveiled last week for revitalizing commercial life downtown using tax credits and incentives for moving jobs to Lower Manhattan.

no, i'm sure the decision to dump $800 million bucks into silver's district had nothing to do with the stadium. nothing at all.

wonder what bruno is gonna get....

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Marty Needelman for Civil Court Judge

Marty Needelman: community activist, founding member of Mobilization Against Displacement and head of Brooklyn Legal Services (the help out people who can't afford lawyers) and guy who looks good in a Williamsburg Warriors headband is running for Civil Court Judge in our district.
Expect a real article soon.

we're in Mother Jones!

check it out!

Hey we were written up in Mother Jones magazine back in Feb.
I am quoted near the bottom of the article and my name is spelled wrong but hey..

Thursday, May 05, 2005

fuck diane cardwell.

diane cardwell's truly awful article about the rezoning vote on monday pissed me off so much, i couldn't even write about it. it was long fucking pro-developer blowjob without a single quote, not a fucking one, from someone less than exuberant about the city's plan. it was atrocious.

well, Kate Yourke has written an eloquent and beautiful reply that most certainly won't be published by the times.

we ain't the times. the letter in full:

reply to "City Backs Makeover for Decaying Brooklyn Waterfront" May 3,

The rezoning of the Williamsburg and Greenpoint waterfront will reshape
one of the City’s most unique and spirited neighborhoods into a bedroom
community for those whose backs are to the working class borough of
Brooklyn, their sights fixed on the dazzling lights of Manhattan.

While containing some concessions to community concerns, this rezoning
allows developers to reap tremendous profits on formerly industrial
property purchased cheap and allowed to crumble while awaiting the
City’s gift of this rezoning. Rewarding these developers for their
speculation troubles none in the City Council as they celebrate
themselves for approving this "historic"plan, historic for attempting
in some small way to respond to the real needs of their constituents with
affordable housing incentives and funds to retain manufacturing and
industrial jobs.

Displacement is rampant in Williamsburg and Greenpoint, as it is in
parts of this city. Backhoes clog the streets of Williamsburg as
developers smell a new demographic on its way. This ethnically diverse,
tight knit community has seen these forces massing for decades. We
organized and tried to prepare even as we fought redlining, firehouse
closings, incinerators, superfund sites, transfer stations, the largest
urban oil spill in the world, the largest sewage treatment plant in the
Northeast, power plants, and a radioactive waste transfer and storage
facility which doubles as a toxic, hazardous and flammable waste
site. We are still fighting, as the land under our feet is sold for
luxury living.

Mayor Bloomberg is quoted in your article as saying "This rezoning will
insure that the reuse of this priceless but derelict waterfront will be
for the purposes of housing and recreation and not for such
inappropriate uses as waste transfer stations and power plants." This
the rock opposing our hard place, between which our community squeezes
its previously modest existence. Gentrification is seen as a natural
appropriate solution for our environmental problems. We are
threatened with further environmental degradation if we oppose the
market forces of residential real estate.

15 years ago we began a community based planning process, hosting
hands-on planning workshops throughout this diverse neighborhood. I
fondly remember long afternoons spent discussing the present and
planning the future with factory workers, recent immigrants, civil
servants, students, artists, seniors, professors, activists,
PWA’s, Polish, Hasid, Hipster, Latino, Italian, the tremendous surprise
was the prevailing consensus. The character of the neighborhood must
extend to the waterfront. The mixed-use quality must be preserved;
people must be able to work within their community. The waterfront must
be accessible. And the neighborhood must be a beacon, a catalyst, an
incubator for the development of technology and services to address the
kind of environmental problems we suffer from.

The material from these workshops was refined and processed into the
City Council-approved (and award-winning) Williamsburg and Greenpoint
197(a) plans, which were supposed to govern future development in these
communities. They do speak for this community. They do not include
hi-rise luxury developments, or power plants, on our waterfront.

When someone in the Big City flushes their toilet, it comes here. When
they throw something in the garbage, diesel trucks will drive it here,
and drive it around, and drive it somewhere else. When they turn on
their air conditioner or the bright lights of Broadway, the power
here spew. We have been the service entrance, the back door, the
underside of Big City glamour. Now that glamour is all around us,
filling in all the empty spaces, crowding out the sky. Will we need to
make the sewage treatment plant even larger? More power plants to run
all these new air conditioners? More cars, more garbage, not to mention
life in a construction site for a decade or more? (And how about that
fire station?)

Development in New York City must address the environmental impacts of
building materials, processes, and practices. There are no more
communities available to burden and underserve. Expansion has its cost,
and if in the neighborhoods of Williamsburg and Greenpoint we cannot
resolve this rock with this hard place we will be crushed. Development
in a community already overburdened with severe environmental problems
requires thoughtful solutions and real planning, not just rezoning and
the brutality of market forces. Starting here, especially here, let us
look to the future when building; employing state-of-the-art energy
efficiency technology, intelligent waste water systems, reused and
recycled materials, alternative heating and cooling technologies like
geothermal and wind ventilation, etc. The utilities savings will give
new depth to the term affordable housing. The factories for producing
specialized materials could be nurtured here in our mixed-use
neighborhood, eliminating the environmental impact of long haul
while providing environmentally sound jobs for the good people of
Brooklyn. Here is the chance to leverage out from between the rock and
the hard place and to gather the momentum of this moment, rather than
allowing blind market forces to create yet more environmental problems
along with their unforgivable tidal wave of gentrification and

Kate Yourke
Williamsburg, Brooklyn

put that in your pipe and fucking smoke it, madam cardwell. oh, and fuck you too.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

the morning after...

Drinking Liberally at Levee
May 3rd, 2005

(the full collection of original photos can be found here)

any lawyers in the house?

so i just ran in to williamsburg warrior eve over at the lucky cat and she brought up something that i had yet to think about, at least not in this way. she directed me to a site run by Mary Campbell Gallagher who defends red hook with her blog, big cities, big boxes. there are a couple posts there that are intriguing to say the least as regards our fight against bloomberg's plan to soho-ify our little corner of the world. this post really piqued my interest. in it, attorney Antonia L. Bryson of the Urban Environmental Law Center argues that 197-a plans ARE the city's Master Plan and have the weight of LAW. a taste:

The Red Hook 197-a Plan is a comprehensive land use plan for the Red Hook area, and provides the basis for zoning decisions in the area. It is not merely a policy document. New York City Charter § 197-a; Housing Justice Campaign v. Koch, 164 A.D.2d 656 (1st Dep’t), app. denied, 78 N.Y.2d 858 (1991); Angotti Aff. ¶ 5. The meaning or effect of a provision of the New York City Charter can be elucidated, but not altered, by City rule.

According to materials prepared by the Charter Revision Commission at the time the new Section 197-a was proposed, it was adopted specifically for the purpose of providing Community Boards the power to initiate long term plans for the development and improvement of their districts. These plans were to be reviewed by the City Planning Commission, with final action taken by the Board of Estimate (replaced after the 1989 Charter Revision by the City Council). The new 197-a replaced, and was intended to substitute for, a prior provision requiring the City Planning Commission to prepare a Master Plan for the development of the City. See State Charter Revision Commission for New York City, A Comparison of Revised and Current Charter Provisions, August 5, 1975, and George Hallett, Community Board Changes Under the New City Charter, April 1976, Exhibit 16.


Thus, a Section 197-a plan has whatever force and effect a "master plan" has. Such force and effect is defined by the case law. See Petitioners’ Memorandum of Law in Support of the Petition, p. 31. While City rules and statements of the City Planning Commission itself can guide and help define its force and effect, they cannot make it less than established by the Charter.

The City may not have been required to take any action to implement the Red Hook 197-a Plan, and need not initiate any zoning actions pursuant to it. However, when it affirmatively undertakes to re-zone property covered by the Plan, it must either act consistently with the Plan or first provide its well-thought out rationale for changing it. Asian Americans for Equality v. Koch, 72. N.Y.2d 121 (1988)

(--all emphasis mine)

that seems pretty clear to me, but i'm no lawyer. at a minimum, this avenue needs further scrutiny, preferably by someone with some legal training. norm, you listenin'?

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

elana levin, rockstar.

hey, kids. our own resident superstar elana gets written up by the gothamist!

Elana Levin, Community Organizer & Williamsburg Warrior

Elana Levin, 25, has a passion for organizing -- organizing people to empower their lives through collective action against powerful, often impersonal, interests. By day she works as a union labor organizer. But just about every moment of this energetic, creative and politically engaged individual’s spare time in 2005 – nights, weekends, lunch breaks even -- has been spent on other NYC issues. For over a year she has been spending an ever increasing amount of time as a "Williamsburg Warrior" opposing the Bloomberg Administration’s rezoning plans for Williamsburg / Greenpoint. The plan, opponents believe, threatens to eradicate skilled jobs, reduce quality of life, and force life long residents from the very neighborhoods they have nurtured and built for much if not all of their lives.

Gothamist recently spoke with Elana to discuss efforts by a broad partnership of arts and activism groups -- The Creative Industries Coalition-- against the Bloomberg Plan and for an alternative plan the local community itself has proposed.

You’re involved with efforts to fight the City’s rezoning plans in Williamsburg / Greenpoint. Why are you opposing the plan?

It’s incorrect to say we are opposed to the City’s plan. We ARE the city. It is the Mayor’s plan that is opposed to the city! The mayor’s cronies are on a rampage to turn radical, unique, magical New York into a luxury bedroom community of chain stores and conformity.

Ten years ago this community asked the Department of City Planning to rezone our formerly industrial waterfront. Community members, with the help of urban planning experts, drew up a plan for what would make for a livable and workable Brooklyn. The plan was visionary but economically sound. So what did the Mayor do? He threw it in the trash. The administration refuses to acknowledge our right to decide what happens to the place we live. It is undemocratic and it’s just plain shortsighted urban planning.

At the heart of it is a question of values. The people here value their neighbors, diversity and the long-term sustainability of the local economy. The developers value quick profit and will vampirically suck the life out of NYC, turning it into a bedroom community and playground for the super rich.

go read the whole thing. elana was really able to get a lot of good info into the interview. in fact, it's probably the most fact-rich article i've yet to see about the rezoning fight. good work, elana!

she even name drops my house which is pretty cool. hey, raphie! a little credit on the photo would be nice, ya know.

Monday, May 02, 2005

crunch time for williamsburg/greenpoint rezoning

oh, and some more lame threats from bloomberg, et al. from the daily news:

Brooklyn housing fight

The fate of a controversial Brooklyn housing plan was up in the air early this morning as Bloomberg administration officials and City Council members butted heads late into the wee hours.
The sides couldn't agree on the number of apartments to be reserved for low- and moderate-income residents and the creation of a waterfront park in Greenpoint on an MTA-owned bus depot site.

Land Use Committee Chairwoman Melinda Katz (D-Queens ) was "cautiously optimistic" that a deal would be struck before a Council vote this morning.

The mayor's plan would entice developers to build 10,000 apartments in towers up to 40 stories tall in Williamsburg and Greenpoint over the next decade. Bloomberg's bid mandated that 23% of apartments built be made affordable housing, but Brooklyn activists wanted 40% of units kept below market value.

If a deal couldn't be made before the vote, Bloomberg officials have warned that unpopular projects such as a TransGas power plant would go forward.

i'm not sure how the apparently contentious negotiations portend for the vote today, but it's interesting that bloomberg and crew are still wielding the power plant over our heads. they really are shameless, aren't they?