A Spot Of Tea That Really Hit The Spot

(Photo shamelessly stolen from http://brooklynyr.com!)

Probably the best thing to come out of Bloomberg's latest flirtation with the Republican party is that NYC Republicans are active. They're talking online and in person, debating the pros and cons of this issue and others. And it's great to be part of.

Prime example: I walked out of work this past Wednesday heading towards the City Hall station as is my usual practice when I became a part of the Tax Day Tea Party at City Hall - one of many events organized all over the nation by Newt Gingrich and his new PAC in response to government taxing the life out of all of us.

Anyways, in the crowd, I spotted Jonathan Judge, the President of the Brooklyn Young Republicans. Jonathan is someone I would classify as a "true believer" in Republican ideals - his passion for the Republican party is matched by few. We were on the opposite side of the mayoral debate at the March meeting, and had only talked in formal settings and online.

I thought that this would be a good time to formally introduce myself, and break the ice a little.

Well, what started as a quick chat on my way to the train turned into a half-hour chat about different political issues that affect New Yorkers. And all the while, we were inundated with people handing out flyers about their cause, people trading email addresses, or even just meeting up to say "hello" to one another.

We didn't agree with everything the other said, but the dialogue was its own reward. We both left off with an understanding that we're both on the same side, and that there was a lot of work to be done. We made no plans for the future, but made a commitment to keep working together, even if from opposite sides of an issue. Agreement and conformity should never be a goal. I'm a firm believer that honest disagreement is the fertile soil form which great ideas grow. On this evening, I believe Jonathan and I planted a few of those first seeds.

But here we were, outside of City Hall within this mass of humanity, having a civil discourse about all things New York politics. It was a beautiful thing. It was energizing - an energy I hadn't felt since back in college when all I did was hang out, talk politics and have fun.

While I'm probably too old for all the hangin' out and can't afford to just have fun all the time, I sincerely hope that this was the first of many conversations that I have with Mr. Judge and others both here online and in person.

After weeks of talking about the ugly underbelly of NYC politics, specifically in my neighborhood, I finally have something positive to write about politically.

Thanks, Jonathan.

Playing "The Game"

In case you haven't been following Gerritsen Beach.net, you've missed the latest chapter in the ongoing saga of Cherry Hill Gourmet Restaurant & Market and the political gang down here in Sheepshead Bay. Check it out so you know what i"m talking about.

It's just amazing the games people - especially politicians - play. To briefly recap:

  • We have a deputy commissioner inspecting a building (kind of a downgrade in job description, I would think), then revoking plan approval, on a construction job that had already been signed off as completed by his superior,
  • Politicians claiming that they had nothing to do with the city agency's schitzo decision, and doing so while posing for pictures outside of the construction job that they had nothing to do with shutting down - even while the neighborhood's Good Friday Processional, which they completely ignored and refused to acknowledge, was walking right by them.
Welcome to South Brooklyn Politics - at its worst.

(Kudos to Dan at GerritsenBeach.net. This is the kind of news that flies below the radar and that no one ever finds out. We need more people like him!)

It's a world gone mad in Sheepshead Bay. The inmates run the asylum. This area is the victim of selective representation and selective enforcement. Politicians pick and choose which fight they will most benefit from, not fighting for the communities they represent.

Where was the outrage when Sheepshead Bay was overbuilt on Emmons Avenue, with violations ranging from breaking zoning regulations, to illegal dumping into the Bay? Could it be that the politician's personal interests were against advocating for the community's best interests? I leave you to check the 2005 Campaign Finance disclosures to answer that question.

Our politicians aren't working for their constituents - they're in business for themselves. And it sucks for us all.

Case in point - let's look at the news-breaking events that "our" Senator, Carl Kruger (pictured here with his despicable "Gang of Three") has been associated with recently:

(1) Fighting against a business that invested millions into a dilapidated Sheepshead Bay landmark with the promise of high-quality food and creation of over 100 jobs,

(2) "Shaking down" the Legislature with the "Gang of Three" in order to be named Finance Committee Chair, and

(3) Betraying all New Yorkers by blocking any hope of relief for the MTA and its riders.

Helleva record, Carl.

How do any of these actions benefit our district? They don't - they only benefit Carl Kruger.

I hate to throw Terry Scavo and Mike Nelson into the same boat - I have worked with both and genuinely like them. But, they're guilty of the same hubris. Getting elected is more important than doing the right thing, I guess.

Terry isn't an elected official, although there are rumblings that she may want to be someday. I'd like to know what authority she had to stand there for the "photo opp". Was she there representing the Community Board? If so, when did the Community Board approve of such action? I know it wasn't at the last meeting - I was there!

If she had no such approval, then she is abusing the trust of our Community Board - and the trust of our community. It's a shame, because she started as CB15 chair with the best of intentions, but she is slowly turning into just another south Brooklyn bottom-feeder.

I seem to view Mike Nelson as the least culpable party here. The Councilman has always seem more like a victim whenever the Senator gets involved. I recall during the Sheepshead Bay re-zoning that Mike was standing next to the Senator and his pro-developer friends, looking miserable. When Kruger lift, it looked like a weight had been lifted off of him, and he was back to being himself again. I saw that same look outside of Lundy's this week. It truly is sad.

So why haven't politicians like the good Senator been voted out of office? Well, there's lots of reasons, and none of them are good for democracy. There has been no credible challenger because the Republican Party couldn't get its act together (a problem I hope to help remedy in the future!) There is also the "power of the incumbent" - who can remember when a newcomer unseated an incumbent in this area? Hopefully, the new Republican leadership will change that as well. Finally, the wheelin' and dealin' of politics has been, for the most part, done in the dark - maybe blogs like GB.net can remedy that with more stories that this one that he broke.

Whatever the reason, this vicious "game" and others like it has got to end. These are serious times and we need serious people to step up and get involved.