Monday, April 30, 2007

SENIOR COLUMN: A Different Education

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SENIOR COLUMN: A Different Education
By Tanveer Ali
Issue date: 4/30/07 Section: Opinion

Once, during my junior year, I was denied a paper extension."I'm rather confident that you can accomplish this, especially since you're a pro at writing on tight deadline from your work at the Spectator!" read the e-mail from my European History TA.

Thwarted by her optimistic response, I proceeded to complete the paper on time then decided to change my tactics for the future. Since then, I think I've had two family emergencies and one nasty fall. I once considered bringing one of my grandfathers "back to life" but that seemed too farfetched. He wasn't even dead.

Of course, I wouldn't have had to ask for these extensions if not for Spectator. When I sometimes worked more than 50 hours a week for an organization, my duties as a college student always came in second. The number 2875 (Broadway) just meant more to me than the number 209 (Butler).

I wasn't always like this though. In my first few semesters in Morningside Heights, when I was only tangentially involved with Spec, I often wrote multiple drafts, attended office hours, did all of my reading, and always finished my work on time. I was getting an "Ivy League education." Mom and dad were proud and I could have even impressed a grad school or two.

But though I enjoyed studying subaltern issues and the history of colonialism in South Asia, it was covering the surrounding neighborhoods that had more formative effects. As much as I've learned in the classroom-when I attend-and books-when I read-most of what I learned in college came through being where history happens. The residents of 3333 Broadway wondering if they could still afford to live in that building, the disorganized community board meetings, the briefings with Robert Kasdin. Everyone had a story to tell and I listened. These are the things I'll remember of my college education.

I've had ninety bylines in Spectator, and even with the ninetieth, I've continued to learn so much. Two weeks ago I went to the Community Board 9 general meeting, telling the writer originally assigned to the story I would like to cover it. She called it mere sentimentality, while I saw it as the last session of my last class.

And though I often say that these meetings are the greatest shows in our neighborhoods-sorry, Varsity Show-this month's edition was among the most memorable with issues of Latino representation coming to a head. I wrote that article cautiously, trying to avoid bungling a story with race and ethnicity at its focus, issues I've seen students on our campus feel so adamantly about so many times in the past four years. In the article I referred to the chair, Jordi Reyes-Montblanc, as a Latino, which was by all accounts factually true and accurate according to both Spec and Associated Press style. I received an e-mail the next day saying he was not a "Latino," but a "Cuban-born American." This may have been a minute detail to some, but he was correct, as I had no right to provide him with an identity that is convenient for me, but insufficient for him.

Every day at Spectator we strive for perfection and professionalism, both on our pages and in dealing with each other. Every day we fall short of these goals. Despite all the angry e-mails and phone calls I've fielded and anonymous Bwog comments these mistakes provoke, I've learned that these errors are all right. I've even come to treat them as a good thing, not because I dislike perfection, but because I could never learn from it.

Now pardon me. I have to come up with an excuse to get an extension on my swim test. If only I would've learned to ask for these things earlier.

was the city editor of the 130th managing board

Olympics-China repression worsens ahead of Games-report

Date: Mon, 30 Apr 2007 06:49:39 -0400
From: "Tenant"
Subject: Reuters, Amnesty Int'l on Beijing Olympic housing abuses

Olympics-China repression worsens ahead of Games-report
30 Apr 2007 00:01:12 GMT
Source: Reuters

BEIJING, April 30 (Reuters) - The human rights situation and
repression in China continue to worsen ahead of next year's Beijing
Olympics, and the government has not yet fulfilled its media freedom
pledge, Amnesty International said on Monday.

Forced evictions to make way for Olympic projects and the detention
and harassment of people who have protested the evictions is a
particular worry, and one the International Olympic Committee (IOC)
should raise with the government, the group said.

"The IOC cannot want an Olympics that is tainted with human rights
abuses -- whether families forcibly evicted from their homes to make
way for sports arenas or growing numbers of peaceful activists held
under 'house arrest' to stop them drawing attention to human rights
issues," said Catherine Baber, Amnesty's Deputy Asia Pacific Director.

Amnesty said in a report the IOC should make public concerns about
human rights if it is unable to get Beijing to loosen up, adding "the
Olympics is apparently acting as a catalyst to extend the use of
detention without trial".

While Amnesty welcomed the government's decision to let a few veteran
activists travel abroad, it said there was still "serious risk of
abuse" for many other dissidents, like blind lawyer Chen Guangcheng.
Amnesty said Ye Guozhu, jailed for organising protests against forced
evictions in Beijing, had been tortured in jail.

"The organisation ... urges the IOC to raise these allegations of
forced evictions and related arrests with the Chinese authorities in
an attempt to clarify the situation," the report added.

China seems to be overly pre-occupied with ensuring stability, which
could backfire, it said.

"While such concerns are understandable for any country holding such
a major international event, policies and practices must be founded
on respect for rule of law and human rights, or they risk fuelling
further discontent."

And Beijing's crackdown on domestic media is intensifying, despite
its media freedom promise, Amnesty said.

"The failure to ensure equal rights and freedoms for both foreign and
domestic journalists smacks of double standards -- China has yet to
meet its promise to ensure complete media freedom for the Olympics,"
Baber said.
The Tenant Network(tm) for Residential Tenants
Information from TenantNet is from experienced non-attorney tenant
activists and is not considered legal advice.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Hearing Monday on Columbia expansion

New York City

Hearing Monday on Columbia expansion
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By Magdalene Perez
Special to amNewYork
April 29, 2007, 3:40 PM EDT

West Harlem residents will have a chance to voice their opinions Monday night on a new plan to preserve the neighborhood in the face of Columbia University's impending $7 billion expansion.

The zoning plan calls for building height limits, affordable housing and anti-harassment legislation to prevent low-rent residents from being pressured out. The proposal by Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer follows vocal community opposition to Columbia's 17-acre development proposal for the area north of its Morningside Heights campus.

"This is aimed at making sure the existing character of the neighborhood is preserved in the long term," said Eric Pugatch, a spokesman for Stringer, who will present the plan at 6:30 tonight at the Community Board 9 office on 125th Street. "The borough president supports Columbia's expansion, but we want to make sure the community is not overrun."

The special zoning district would span from Convent Avenue to the Hudson River between 125th and 145th streets, a much broader area than the site Columbia hopes to convert to a mix of academic buildings, research labs and university housing. The goal is to protect the entire area, rather than focus narrowly on Columbia's proposed development site, Pugatch said.

Public approval is essential to pushing the plan toward legislation, said Community Board 9 Chairman Jordi Reyes-Montblanc, who stressed that the proposal is "not a finished product." If the Community Board approves it, the proposal would then be reviewed by the Department of City Planning.

The Columbia development plan is not finalized. Originally presented in April 2004, the university is completing an environmental impact study. According to plans released on the school's Web site, the university hopes to build about half the development by 2015. Columbia's office of community affairs could not be reached for comment.

Those who oppose the expansion say the development will drive up rents and push out long-time residents and businesses. Many fear the university will use eminent domain to claim property and others have raised questions about the safety of the school's proposed research labs, whose use the school has not yet disclosed.

But not every neighbor is opposed to the expansion. Several Harlem residents said Friday they believe an influx of young people would help the neighborhood. "There will be less delinquency, less drugs," said Jose Perez, who has lived in West Harlem for 10 years.

Arnie E. Cox Sr., a lifelong Harlem resident and former Columbia employee, said he wouldn't mind the university's expansion if the institution agrees not to displace people through eminent domain.

"They should give you an option," Cox said. "Instead of just pushing it down people's throats."But others are pessimistic about whether new regulations could stem the tide of gentrification.

"The only way you're going to keep the character of the neighborhood is to keep the neighbors in the neighborhood," said Vaughn Cameron, another lifelong Harlem resident. "And unfortunately, that's not happening."

A Borough President Who Wields a Big Broom

The City
In the Region
N.Y./Region Opinions
Manhattan Up Close

A Borough President Who Wields a Big Broom

Published: April 29, 2007

When members of Community Board 2 in Manhattan showed up for their monthly meeting April 19, they were ready to play hardball over zoning and liquor licenses, but found themselves also playing the name game. As they shuffled into an auditorium at St. Vincent’s Hospital Manhattan on West 12th Street, returning members had to meet no fewer than 11 new members, appointed by Borough President Scott Stringer in one of the largest reshufflings of a borough’s community boards in recent memory.

Not at the meeting was Patrick Munson, a board member whose appointment was not renewed. “I thought I did a good job,” he said, “and didn’t expect to be swept away.”

The City Charter directs that community board members serve two-year terms at the pleasure of the borough presidents. While the boards are mostly advisory, their decisions can influence city agencies, and borough presidents commonly replace some members to augment their own influence.

But the scope of Mr. Stringer’s changes has been eye-catching. Manhattan has 12 boards, each with 50 members, and like other borough presidents he generally selects half by himself and defers to local council members’ nominations for the other seats.

Before taking office last year, Mr. Stringer — himself a former teenage board member in Washington Heights — campaigned broadly for community board reform. “We wanted a merit-based process,” he said recently, “and we felt we needed to put fresh, energetic people on the boards.”

In March 2006, and again last month, about one-third of the members Mr. Stringer appointed were new to their boards. Because many of last year’s new members had been appointed to vacant seats, this year even more veteran board members were dropped.

Not surprisingly, the upheaval has ruffled feathers. “When you embark on this kind of change agenda, there is going to be some pushback,” Mr. Stringer said, acknowledging that his overhaul of the boards exceeded most. And some dumped members were left flummoxed.

“I was at every meeting, I had a great attendance record, I spoke a lot, I worked really hard,” said Anne Whitman, the owner of a moving and storage business, who was not reappointed to Community Board 9 in Morningside Heights. “They won’t give you a reason. They say they have a lot of applications and a lot of talented people and blah, blah, blah.”

Dr. Robert Schoor, a dentistry professor at New York University, was also surprised to be dropped from Community Board 6, serving the East Side. But he has since been appointed as a nonvoting public member of the board, he said, “so they must feel like I am some value to the community.”

In the opinion of Mr. Stringer’s predecessor, C. Virginia Fields, hurt feelings are inevitable when borough presidents tinker with the boards, but she understands the impulse. New officeholders, she pointed out, want their own people to work with. But when the new official attends a board meeting, she said, “the people you meet there have been appointed by the previous borough president.” DAVID SHAFTEL

Friday, April 27, 2007

Exiled Cuban dissident writer Raul Rivero won one of several Ortega y Gasset Prizes that were announced Wednesday.

MADRID, Spain Apr 27, 2007 (AP)— Cuban dissident writer Raul Rivero has won a prestigious Spanish journalism award for his reporting on his native country, where he spent two years in jail on charges of trying to undermine President Fidel Castro's government.

Rivero, who is 62 and moved to Madrid in 2005 after being released from prison, won one of several Ortega y Gasset Prizes that were announced Wednesday. The awards, now in their 24th year, are given by Spain's top-selling newspaper, El Pais.

The jury voted unanimously to give Rivero the prize for journalism in recognition of his "tenacious and committed battle for journalistic freedom" in Cuba.

It praised Rivero, who is also a poet, for a life's work that is "very original and of extraordinary literary value."

Other prizes were given out in categories such as photography and investigative reporting. The awards are named for the late Spanish philosopher Jose Ortega y Gasset.

Each carries a $20,000 stipend and a sculpture by the late Spanish artist Eduardo Chillida. The award ceremony is scheduled for May 9 in Madrid.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press.


Rivero says he will go home some day
Associated PressMadrid, June 20, 2005

Cuban dissident writer Raul Rivero said he would like to go home once President Fidel Castro is no longer in power to report on the transition period in the country that kept him in a rat-infested jail cell for nearly two years.

"I'd go back, of course. I would go back to do journalism, to tell that story," Rivero said of the post-Castro era. "I'd start up a newspaper that would be freely distributed in Cuba," Rivero, a journalist and poet, told The Associated Press in an interview. Rivero, 60, is the best-known of 14 dissidents that Cuba's government released from prison late last year. They were among 75 independent journalists, opposition politicians and other activists rounded up in March 2003.

After spending 20 months in gruesome conditions in a Cuban jail, charged with working with the U.S. government to undermine Castro's communist regime, Rivero moved to Madrid in April to start a new life.

Living in a largely unfurnished two-bedroom apartment in an upper middle-class neighborhood of Madrid, these days Rivero writes and reads about Cuba, sharing his Spanish adventure with his wife Blanca Reyes and their 12-year-old daughter, Yeni.

He said he chose to leave Cuba after getting out of jail because the stated reason for his release was illness _ he has emphysema and kidney trouble - and he still had most of his 20-year sentence to serve.

"My release was a political decision. I still owe the Cuban state 18 years of prison," said Rivero.

"I did not want to run any risk. At my age, a 20-year sentence is a life sentence." He said that 20 years ago he thought he would always work in Cuba but that was before most of his friends and colleagues were jailed or emigrated.

Rivero worked for years for Cuba's official media - he was once the Moscow correspondent for the official news agency Prensa Latina. But he broke with the government after signing a letter in 1991 calling for the release of political prisoners. The other nine signatories have since emigrated.

In 1995 Rivero formed the independent CubaPress news agency, which published his and others' work in newspapers and Web sites overseas.Rivero said he never set out to be a dissident, just an independent journalist. "I'm just a reporter that writes what he wants. I'm not a professional opponent of the Cuban regime," he said.

He said his stay in prison was dismal. He lived in a dark, dirty cell less than 2 meters (yards) long, with rats, cockroaches and lizards. He caught many illnesses."Physically I suffered a lot, but spiritually I was never imprisoned. I felt free, I knew I was innocent," he said. He survived by reading and writing poetry and knowing that people abroad were working to free him. But he does not want to dwell on the experience.

"I don't want to become an ex-convict. That's a tragedy to me. I'm not going to be a permanent prisoner," he said. His current life is filled with opinion pieces for the Madrid daily El Mundo and poetry, and traveling to receive awards. But most important are his dealing with politicians, journalists and advocacy groups to campaign for the release of 21 other journalists who are still in prison in Cuba.

"My commitment is with the jailed journalists and with the 300 political prisoners that are currently in Cuba" said Rivero, who admitted that sometimes he feels helpless in the struggle. "For Cuban prisoners it's very important that there be dialogue, a policy of openness toward the Cuban regime.

Rapprochement is how we, the 14 people of the 75, got released," he said, referring to a drive under Spain's new Socialist government for the European Union to ease political sanctions against Cuba in exchange for improvements in its human rights record.

Rivero said he was optimistic there will be change in the future of Cuba, ruled for the past 46 years by Castro, now 78. "I think fate can't be linked eternally to one man," said Rivero.,001100040006.htm


Havana Journal
Read. Discover. Understand
Cuban Dissidents Raul Rivero and Osvaldo Alfonso Valdes Freed on Parole

Published: Tue November 30, 2004

By: Publisher in Cuba Politics > HumanitarianTools: Tell-a-Friend Email this author Printer Friendly This
By ANITA SNOW Associated Press Writer

Cuba’s communist government freed writer Raul Rivero and another dissident from prison Tuesday, the latest in a series of releases apparently aimed at cleaning up the island’s human rights record.

Cuban dissident writer Raul Rivero is seen with his wife Blanca Reyes and Yenia Perez, left, a girl who lives with the Rivero family, moments after being released from jail, Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2004 in Havana, Cuba. (AP Photo/Jose Goitia)

Rivero, among 75 dissidents rounded up in a massive crackdown in March 2003, had been sentenced to 20 years in prison on charges of working with the United States to undermine Fidel Castro’s socialist government. Rivero and the other activists denied the charges.

Also freed Tuesday was opposition party member Osvaldo Alfonso Valdes, 39, who was also among the original 75 and had been sentenced to 18 years in prison.

"I don’t have any plans for the future,” Rivero said after he arrived at his Havana home. “I’m still confused.”

Rivero’s wife, Blanca Reyes, said her husband was released on a medical parole after a checkup at a Havana prison hospital for emphysema and cysts on a kidney.

The dissidents released Monday also suffered medical ailments. Economics writer Oscar Espinosa Chepe was hospitalized for months with a liver ailment, Marcelo Lopez has a neurological disorder and Margarito Broche suffered a heart attack behind bars in August.

Castro’s government made no public statement about the releases, but analysts said the government was eager to avoid the possibility the dissidents would die in jail, and to signal flexibility to the European Union and Spain amid warming relations.

The latest releases come just days after Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque announced his country has resumed formal contacts with Spain, although that country had repeatedly criticized last year’s dissident crackdown.

The new Socialist government of Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero has said all Spanish political parties and the European Union should work to encourage the Caribbean island to open up.

“It’s a step in the right direction,” said Javier Valenzuela, spokesman for Zapatero, who on Tuesday was attending a one-day summit with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi in Cuenca, Spain.

“We think this has to do with the Spanish government: firmness in its principles while proposing more efficient tactics in its relations with Cuba,” Valenzuela said. “The liberation of a dissident is always a reason for joy for any democrat.”

International human rights groups, however, called on Castro’s government to free the dozens of others still behind bars.

“Cuba’s release of these political prisoners is a welcome move, but many more remain incarcerated in violation of their fundamental rights,” said Jose Miguel Vivanco, Americas director at Human Rights Watch. “We call on the Cuban authorities to release all of them.”
Vivanco regretted that the three men released Monday were freed on parole, rather than unconditionally.

“By granting them parole only, the Cuban government leaves open the possibility of returning the dissidents to prison to serve out their sentences in the future,” said Vivanco. “Its a way of intimidating them from exercising their fundamental rights.”

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists said it welcomed the release of Espionsa Chepe, one of more than two dozen independent Cuban journalists jailed on the communist-run island.

“Their only offense was doing their jobs,” said the committee’s Executive Director Ann Cooper. “We again call on Cuban authorities to immediately and unconditionally release all imprisoned journalists, and to allow them to work freely.”

After his release, Espinosa Chepe spoke from his book-filled living room, where a small Christmas tree sat atop a refrigerator in the corner. He said he hoped the rest of the prisoners would return home.

“We are nonviolent people, who have not committed any crimes,” he said.

Despite the difficulties suffered in jail, Espinosa Chepe said he did not want to leave Cuba. “I feel Cuban and I want to die in my own country,” he said.

In Washington, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher welcomed the releases but said the detainees never should have been imprisoned in the first place.

“We continue to condemn the unjust incarceration of dozens of other prisoners of conscience in Cuba,” Boucher said. “We hope that they can return to their work to build a truly just and open Cuban society.”

City Council Calendar for Monday, April 30, 2007 - Sunday, May 6, 2007

Date: Fri, 27 Apr 2007 16:48:01 -0400 (EDT)
From: "NYC Council Legislative Update"
Subject: City Council Calendar for Monday, April 30, 2007 - Sunday, May 6, 2007

City Council Calendar for Monday, April 30, 2007 - Sunday, May 6, 2007
- - - Council responds to Mayor's Executive Budget - - - - -
City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn responded to the Mayor’s executive
budget, recognizing the Mayor for balancing tax breaks, new programs and
responsible long term planning. She applauded the administration for accepting the
Council’s proposal to baseline $13 million for the District Attorney’s
offices with an additional $5 million to step up prosecution of child abuse.
Similarly, the Speaker was pleased with the plan to allocate increased funding for land
acquisition in the Catskill/Delaware Watershed to protect the City's water
quality. Furthermore, signaling a commitment to Speaker Quinn’s proposal to
develop 10 State of the Art Health Clinics in high need communities, the
administration pledged funding for the Council’s primary care initiative.

- - - Will the public safety, environmental, and health care initiatives in the
budget affect your quality of life or your neighborhood?
- - - - -
The Council wants your feedback on issues that are important to you. Contact
Speaker Quinn at:

- - - - - - - Legislative Calendar - - - - - - - -
Please check schedule at
before attending any meeting.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

** Monday, April 30, 2007 **
Joint Meeting. Committee(s) on: Drug Abuse; Mental Health, Mental Retardation,
Alcoholism, Drug Abuse & Disability Services; Fire & Criminal Justice Services

10:00 AM, Council Chambers - City Hall
Oversight - Status of the Implementation of the Brad H Settlement & the
Discharge Plan for Mentally Ill Inmates

Committee(s) on: Public Safety
10:00 AM, Committee Room - City Hall
Int 562 - A Local Law to amend the administrative code of the city of New York,
in relation to establishing certain penalties for the offense of public
Res 752 - Resolution calling upon the New York State Legislature to amend the
Penal Law to categorize the crime of public lewdness as a class A misdemeanor,
and to amend the Correction Law to include multiple or serial acts of public
lewdness and public lewdness in the presence of an individual less than eighteen
years of age as registerable sex offenses.

Joint Meeting. Committee(s) on: Consumer Affairs; Civil Rights
10:00 AM, Hearing Room - 250 Broadway, 14th Floor
Predatory Lending in New York City

Committee(s) on: Waterfronts
11:00 AM, Hearing Room - 250 Broadway, 16th Floor
Oversight - New York Harbor's Fireboat Fleet

Committee(s) on: Technology in Government
1:00 PM, Council Chambers - City Hall
Oversight - Establishing Strong Network Neutrality Principles in Order to
Protect the Internet

Committee(s) on: Governmental Operations
1:00 PM, NYC Department of Records
Tour: NYC Department of Records
31 Chambers Street
New York, NY 10007

Committee(s) on: Civil Service & Labor
1:00 PM, Committee Room - City Hall
Res 738 - Resolution supporting S.201, also known as the "9/11 Heroes Health
Improvement Act of 2007", to establish a grant program for individuals still
suffering ill health effects as a result of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the
World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
Res 785 - Resolution calling upon the New York State Legislature to amend the
Volunteer Ambulance Workers' Benefit Law to include volunteer ambulance workers
who render aid at the request of the City.

Committee(s) on: Economic Development
1:00 PM, Tully Construction Co.
Tour: Willetts Point Redevelopment Area
Tully Construction Co.
127-50 Northern Boulevard.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

** Tuesday, May 01, 2007 **

Subcommittee(s) on: Landmarks, Public Siting & Maritime Uses
11:00 AM, Committee Room - City Hall
See Land Use Calendar Available Thursday, April 26, 2007 in Room 5 City Hall

Subcommittee(s) on: Planning, Dispositions & Concessions
1:00 PM, Committee Room - City Hall
See Land Use Calendar Available Thursday, April 26, 2007 in Room 5 City Hall

Committee(s) on: Sanitation & Solid Waste Management
1:00 PM, Council Chambers - City Hall
Oversight - Report on New and Emerging Technologies -Part II- What will work
for New York City?

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

** Wednesday, May 02, 2007 **

Subcommittee(s) on: Zoning & Franchises
9:30 AM, Committee Room - City Hall
See Land Use Calendar Available Thursday, April 26, 2007 in Room 5 City Hall

Committee(s) on: State & Federal Legislation
10:00 AM, Council Chambers - City Hall
Res 711 - Resolution calling upon the State Legislature to pass, and the
Governor to sign Assembly bills A.795, and A.797 which may help preserve affordable
housing for low and middle income New Yorkers residing in a Mitchell-Lama
following an opt-out such as Starrett City, as well as Assembly bill A.352, and
calling upon the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to impose an
additional review period to the sale of Starrett City due to the potential of a
large displacement of residents who are receiving Section 8 and other Federal
housing assistance.

Subcommittee(s) on: Public Housing
1:00 PM, Hearing Room - 250 Broadway, 14th Floor
Oversight - Update on NYCHA's New Section 8 Vouchers

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

** Thursday, May 03, 2007 **

Committee(s) on: Land Use
10:00 AM, Committee Room - City Hall
All items reported out of the subcommittees AND SUCH OTHER BUSINESS AS MAY BE

Joint Meeting. Committee(s) on: Transportation; Aging; Mental Health, Mental
Retardation, Alcoholism, Drug Abuse & Disability Services
10:00 AM, Council Chambers - City Hall
Oversight - Are New Access-A-Ride Rules Leaving People Stranded?

Committee(s) on: Housing & Buildings
1:00 PM, Council Chambers - City Hall
Int 561 - A Local Law to amend the administrative code of the city of New York,
in relation to an alternative enforcement program by the department of housing
preservation and development for violations of the housing maintenance code and
multiple dwelling law.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

** Friday, May 04, 2007 **

Committee(s) on: Immigration
10:00 AM, Committee Room - City Hall
Oversight - The Demand for English for Speakers of Other Languages Programs
Among Immigrant Adults in New York City

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

** Meetings for Saturday, February 17, 2007 **

-- no public meetings scheduled --

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

** Meetings for Sunday, February 18, 2007 **

-- no public meetings scheduled --

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TC Faces Challenge of Aiding Local Schools - Despite Top Ranking, Teachers College Works to Prove Its Status In Harlem, Around City

Home > News

TC Faces Challenge of Aiding Local Schools
Despite Top Ranking, Teachers College Works to Prove Its Status In Harlem, Around City
By Joy Resmovits
Issue date: 4/27/07 Section: News

On March 30, U.S. News and World Report named Teachers College the number one graduate school of education, up one spot from last year and topping Stanford and Harvard. But despite its top status, TC is surrounded by some of the lowest-performing public schools in Manhattan.

"How can the College be a great college, if it is next door to failing schools?" TC trustee Arthur Zankel asked in regards to his donation to a TC program.

Teachers College has had a relationship with New York City schools since its inception in 1887.

According to TC President Susan Fuhrman, the school was founded with the express intent to serve its surrounding community. "It was New York City children that the founders had in mind," she said.

It has succeeded in nurturing many talented educators and at conducting extensive research and policy analysis, but its collaboration with surrounding underachieving schools is still being fine-tuned and streamlined to help children in the city school system who are still "left behind."

"Since TC is ... within Harlem, it has an obligation to have a continuous dialogue with schools of color," Jonathan Jungblut, TC '07, said, adding that they should consult with the school before making decisions. "If TC is seen as so well-performing, why would you want to rock the boat?"

But new leadership has expressed interest in rocking the boat. The same day TC hit the top of the charts, TC President Susan Fuhrman met with the principals and district superintendants of District 5 to discuss their needs and TC's role in meeting them. "We all agree our work in the schools can be more focused so it has more consequences for kids," Fuhrman said.

Higher-ups at Teachers College claimed that TC does impact local schools, but not in a way that affects students everyday. Some said that TC's neighboring schools are behind because TC's involvement is on more of an ad hoc, project-by-project basis, rather than systematically.

Despite TC's decades of work in the neighborhood, senior advisor to the Campaign for Educational Equity and Professor Emeritus of psychology Edmund Gordon said, it's still "more of an emerging relationship than an established one."

Teaching Hospital

While there is a formal laboratory school, the Heritage School, on-site run jointly by TC and the Department of Education, Teachers College professors and students use classrooms throughout the city as laboratories in their research, and then work as policy advisors to encourage schools to pick up successful techniques and programs. Gordon called TC's work in this respect like that of a "teaching hospital."

One of the "teaching hospital's" methods is its pre-service program that requires degree candidates to teach in NYC schools.Harriet Barnes, President of District 5 Community Education Council, said she is aware of the TC student teachers. "I know they're helping," she said. "Some people consider it help, some people consider it as the children being used as guinea pigs."

Though they may have to study in public schools, student-teachers are more likely to get placed in successful schools rather than the struggling neighborhood schools near TC. Dawn Arno, Director of TC EdZone Partnership, a group that sends TC students to aid children at local city schools, acknowledged that TC's best and brightest tend to study at schools in wealthier neighborhoods.

In response to the student-teaching program's lack of what she called "civic engagement," Arno started EdZone using funds donated by the trustee, Zankel. In the structured tutoring program, reading and math buddies spend two and a half hours daily with groups of six students.

Arno said that EdZone has increased children's desire to read. One boy in the program started bringing in the newspaper for his teacher to read. Arno said that other students picked up on the practice, saying that they looked like "little Wall Street men with newspapers under their arms."

Gordon said that deep involvement in individual schools is more effective than outreach to disparate departments in many schools. "Urban colleges and universities should assume at least partial responsibility for the quality of education," he said. "I don't think we have become responsible enough."

Research and Shaping Curricula

In an effort to make TC more accountable for the academic performance of neighborhood students, TC has begun evaluating the progress of the Harlem Children's Zone, a tutoring center co-headed by Gordon.

HCZ is an educational institution that tutors and holds extracurricular programs in schools, to ensure the safety of 12,500 children and adults in schools throughout 60 blocks in Central Harlem. Harlem Peacemakers, a program funded partially by UNICEF, promotes non-violence among students. The Teachers College Reading and Writing Project produces a great number of literacy teachers, who then train teachers at public schools around the city-but not all parents are thrilled with its influence.Parent Susan Crawford said she was dissatisfied with the project.

"As a mother of two dyslexic children, there can be too much reading and too much writing," she said.Educational Policy and School FundingBut much of the interaction TC has with the public schools system happens outside of the classroom. Professor of Law and Educational Practice at TC Michael Rebell spent over 10 years fighting for increased funding in public schools as the co-founder for the Campaign for Fiscal Equity, an organization that provided the framework for the money and programs which the state government recently allocated to city schools.

Rebell said his concern is now ensuring that the money is allocated equitably among schools. "Although it sounds like a lot of money...the money goes fast," Rebell said, referring to the five billion they will receive over the next four years. "We want it to be given to schools with greatest needs, our local Harlem schools."

The colaboration between TC and the city is still growing, and this growth is encouraged by representatives of city schools, who are brimming with recommendations. "I would like to see TC come into the elementary schools and start over with a curriculum of grammar," Barnes said. "These kids are speaking Ebonics. Some of the teachers are too."

If nothing else, Fuhrman's meeting with local principals to discuss TC's role in NYC education is indicative of the desire to turn over a new leaf. "I'm going to talk, [Rep. Charles] Rangel's going to talk, we're going to have it set up so the principals and other administrators can engage in our faculty," Fuhrman said.

SENIOR COLUMN: Hey, I Spelled My Name Wrong

SENIOR COLUMN: Hey, I Spelled My Name Wrong
By Jimmy Vielkind
Issue date: 4/27/07 Section: Opinion

For the past four years, every article I have written has contained (at least) one major factual error.My name is not Jimmy Vielkind; it's Jim Vielkind-Neun. At least, that's the name I learned to spell in kindergarten and carried until I walked into this campus and filed my first story for these pages.
There is no good reason why. Neun is my father's surname, Vielkind my mother's. He reads every word dutifully and lovingly, never complaining that it is alone branded with his wife's maiden name-and the closest thing to an explanation I've ever provided him is, well, this column.
It might have something to do with rhythm. Jimmy Vielkind has a nice iambic ring to it, I tell myself. Girls think the diminutive nickname is cute, and sources underestimate a reporter whose balls they can bust by simply saying the word Olsen. And who wants to look at a clunky hyphenated byline? No one. Maybe it's that I didn't have any input into the decision-making process when it happened, so damn it, I rebelled. You always said you would make fun if I got a tattoo, Dad.
As I watched classmates storm stages, occupy plazas, and teach in about issues surrounding identity conflict, I kept mum about my own existential inconsistency. That's the reporter's role, after all, and while people engaged the world, issues, and injustices omnipresent on this most vibrant campus in the world's greatest city, I took notes. I wrapped my head around the conflicts without ever taking a side. Except in my byline.
Freshman year, I found solace in a girl down the hall who was now calling herself by her middle name. Those were heady days, a time that felt, as Fitzgerald said, like it had "all the iridescence of the beginning of the world." We were all new to each other and freed for the first time from the influence of our parents and the shadows of our pasts. Jimmy was going to be a much different person than Jim was.
I was as white bread as the suburbs from which I came, and then I met New York, the great love of my college life. I walked her streets at all hours. I followed her government, learned about her buildings, and read of the famous deeds of her sons and daughters hardly able to contain my daydreams. But through-probably because of-that iridescence, the shadows of the world from which I had been so insulated shone stronger.
There were the meetings in St. Mary's, where people would vent their fears and frustrations about Columbia's latent juggernaut pawing at the place they called home. There was the time Spanish class stopped cold so we could hang our heads out the windows and watch as a banner begging for a "Union NOW" was hung on Alexander Hamilton. Or my classmates wearing signs shouting that they were being silenced on campus.
The neighborhood changed, too. The seven dollars that bought a pitcher of beer at the West End when I was 17 is only enough to cover the price of a cocktail. AmCaf barely exists in a blurry memory. The building on 110th Street and Broadway fell, then rose. The city got richer, and the last nagging doubts as to whether New York will be a bastion of the good life for years to come have all but evaporated. We have a new Congress. Newly created support structures on campus. Financial aid reforms. We've made our mark on this place as much as it's shaped (or scarred) us.
I've been educated by more than just the schooling meted out here, but in the end, I'm the same person I was when I came in.I went the other day to fill out a pronunciation card for graduation and paused for a moment before filling in James Vielkind-Neun (P.S. If the person who's saying the names is reading, it's veal like the meat, kind like the type of person you are, and noon like 12 o'clock). I don't think anyone will get tripped up.
The author was the was the 129th city editor./

Thursday, April 26, 2007

CU secondary school will move to P.S. 125 - Parents Association Pres. in Agreement; Some Are Skeptical

CU secondary school will move to P.S. 125
Parents Association Pres. in Agreement; Some Are Skeptical

By Anna Phillips
Issue date: 4/26/07 Section: News

School administrators, parents, teachers, and Department of Education officials have come to a consensus which will result in Columbia Secondary School for Math, Science, and Engineering being housed at P.S. 125 for the next three years.

Beginning in the 2007-08 school year, 81 rising sixth graders who have already applied and been accepted to the magnet school will occupy currently unused classrooms in P.S. 125, a public elementary school currently housing first through sixth grades. According to a letter from Garth Harries, Department of Education officer of new schools, to the P.S. 125 parent-teacher association, P.S. 125 is currently significantly underutilized. Only 22 of the school's 42 classrooms are being used to hold classes this year.

Columbia Secondary, which will be run collaboratively by the DOE and the University, will start by occupying part of the fifth floor beginning this fall. As enrollment grows, the secondary school will occupy more space in the building. By the end of three years-the time Columbia says it will need to build the school's permanent home at 125th Street and Broadway in the University's proposed Manhattanville expansion zone-the magnet will cover the entire fifth floor, as well as five classrooms on the fourth floor. During this time, P.S. 125 is also expected to grow to occupy 29 classrooms, leaving four to be used for special instruction and staff offices.

When DOE first began looking for a temporary location for the magnet school, it selected P.S. 36, an early childhood school located at 122nd Street and Morningside Drive, one block south of P.S. 125. Parents quickly pressured officials to squelch the idea, protesting that the school was already overcrowded and arguing that it was it was inappropriate to mix middle school students with P.S. 36's young population.

At P.S. 125, as Parents' Association president Hyacinth Myers, is ready to point out, the situation is quite different."We have the space," said Myers, who also has children at P.S. 36 and is active in the Parent Association there. "I know we have preconceived notions about Columbia, but this is a public school with Columbia affiliations. We have a partnership here that could help our children try to succeed."

At a PA meeting Wednesday night, Myers stood outside the room, hoping more parents would show up. What she calls "the committed ten" were there-a collection of parents with several years of consistent involvement in the PA-but word of the magnet school's plans had reached few others.

"Not too many parents know about Columbia moving in here," PA member Zenola Turner said. "If the parents knew, they would be here like at P.S. 36, because those are the same parents."

Those aware of the plans expressed skepticism about Columbia mixed with optimism for what the magnet school could provide. Many PA members said they were concerned that Columbia would move in and "take over" or simply not add anything to the school's resources.

Ralphell Davis, a mother of a 12 year-old and two 10 year-old twins, said she wouldn't oppose the addition of the magnet school as long as Columbia contributed to P.S. 125. "I think it would be helpful if they would come in here and help us build on our math and reading skills," she said.

Other parents noted that the school's pool isn't functioning, there isn't an art program, and there's no regular physical education program in a district with high levels of childhood obesity and diabetes. "I'm not exactly opposed to it [the magnet school's move], but if they come in here, what are they going to do for us?" asked Jeffrey Quarles, the father of an 8 year-old at P.S. 125.

Monique Bourgeois, the mother of 8 year-old twins, pointed out that P.S. 125 belongs to the DOE. "I don't think they're [the DOE] obligated to do something for us," she said. "I'm looking at it from the viewpoint that the space is here and it needs to be occupied."

PA members also criticized the magnet school itself, expressing concern that a new population of high-achieving students separated from the others would give the current middle school students a sense of inferiority. Currently, the DOE has designated P.S. 125 as a "Need of Improvement" school, meaning that math and reading test score levels do not meet No Child Left Behind requirements. Several parents said they found the idea of a magnet school attractive, but worried that while it would give priority to local students, its academic requirements would be beyond P.S. 125's students.

"Harlem is on the rise, people are moving here, but this change has to be for us and not just the people who are coming here," Myers said. "Of course I will apply [to the magnet school] but will my baby qualify? That is the question," she said.According to Donna Conwell, who works in the P.S. 125 library and whose children attended P.S. 36 and 125, the middle school's population has been decreasing each year. Conwell placed the school's population in 1984 at around 1,000 students. Now, the DOE puts the figure at 428.

With a decrease in population has come a marked decrease in parental involvement and a propensity for parents in district five to send their children to better-ranked schools in districts two and three.

"People don't believe in change," Myers said. "We have been so conditioned to believe that public schools can't work."

Wednesday, April 25, 2007


Date: Wed, 25 Apr 2007 19:21:20 -0700 (PDT)
From: "Hernandez, Ana A."
CC: "Abreu, Elizabeth"
Subject: 504_Workshop_May20071.docDate: Tue, 17 Apr 2007 09:58:49 -0400






Guest Speaker: Celeste Kaptur, U.S. Small Business Administration

Topics include:



Date: Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Time: 6:00PM – 8:00PM

Place: Brooklyn Economic Development Corporation

175 Remsen Street, Suite 350 (Between Court and Clinton Streets)

Trains: 2, 3, 4, 5 to Borough Hall - “M”, “R” to Court Street


CONTACT: (718) 963-4112 Ext. 563

The NYS/SBDC program is supported by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). SBA’s funding is not an endorsement of any products, opinions, or services. All SBA funded programs are extended to the public on a nondiscriminatory basis.

Brooklyn Economic Development Corporation provides this training workshop with financial support from the Empire State Development Corporation.

STAFF EDITORIAL: Another Eyesore - Northwest Corner plans should be reconsidered

Home > Opinion

STAFF EDITORIAL: Another Eyesore
Northwest Corner plans should be reconsidered
Issue date: 4/25/07 Section: Opinion

The administration recently announced its design and construction plans for the new science building slated to be built in 2010 in the northwest corner of campus, the last undeveloped section of the Morningside campus. The building will provide the school's space-crunched science departments opportunity to expand. But unfortunately, the administration's specific plans suggest that the structure will be a gaudy monstrosity more akin to the glaringly out-of-place Lerner Hall than the graceful Low Library. The plans exemplify the administration's continual failure to connect with the student body and its poor choices with regard to campus architecture. The University should halt construction and engage the community in its plans for the development before it makes another mistake that will hurt Columbia's prestige and, like Lerner, be an eyesore to students and visitors alike.

The Morningside campus, designed by the famed turn-of-the-century architectural firm McKim, Meade, and White, speaks directly to Columbia's reputation and history. The campus' beaux-arts architecture reflects the origins of our famed Core curriculum and our historically significant role in New York City-the style also appears in many of the city's most famous and historically significant structures, including the New York Public Library, the American Museum of Natural History, and the New York Historical Society. The campus also represents one of the only institutions of higher learning built in a neoclassically derived style, making it dramatically distinct from the neogothic or colonial character of its peers. But the planned structure, more akin to the oft-ridiculed Lerner, Uris, Carman, and Mudd halls, is a glaring affront to the campus's architectural and aesthetic unity. If built as planned, not only will it clash with the surrounding buildings, but its size will dominate the community skyline as well as the views of campus buildings on Broadway and 120th.

When the new building first was announced, University President Lee Bollinger stated that "an extreme sensitivity to context" would be shown in its design-but if anything, the new plans show a brash insensitivity to the school's history and the campus' architectural context. The fact that the administration and Board of Trustees have allowed the plans to stand is troubling, as the University's planned alterations seriously threaten the aesthetic appeal of the Morningside campus. Princeton, Yale, and Dartmouth, institutions that lure many qualified applicants to their campuses, understand the importance of maintaining an architecturally significant and aesthetically impressive architecture for recruitment and community-building purposes. Princeton's new residential college, for instance, will be constructed in neogothic style in order to preserve the unity of the campus. The new college will join the university's other architecturally impressive buildings that grace its promotional brochures and Web site. As it currently exists, most of Columbia's buildings foster an intellectual and collegiate atmosphere that stands apart from the rest of the city, an atmosphere that many students treasure. Columbia's plans for the northwest corner signify a slap in the face to its students and its campus.

Variety can be refreshing, and the Manhattanville campus is an appropriate place for the University to consider employing a new architectural aesthetic. The Morningside campus, however, is too small, too compact, and far too historically valuable to experiment so wantonly with stark contrast and architectural excess. The administration should rethink its plans for the new science building. Instead of kowtowing to au courant architectural fads that will be repudiated and forgotten in a decade or two, the administration should make a long-term investment in its campus. Everyone-students, administrators, and the University as a whole-stands to benefit.

Hudson North American Moving and Storage - Place that Matters of the Week

Date: Wed, 25 Apr 2007 11:13:21 -0700 (PDT)
From: "Anne Z. Whitman"
Subject: Fwd: Hudson North American Moving and Storage - Place that Matters of the Week
To: "Jordi Reyes Montblanc"

Anne Z. Whitman, President
Hudson North American
3229 Broadway, New York,
New York 10027

From: "Place Matters"
To: "List Member"
Subject: Hudson North American Moving and Storage - Place that Matters of the Week
Date: Wed, 25 Apr 2007 10:55:25 -0700

Place Matters .................. ................. April 25 , 2007

Dear Friends,

Look for the Place that Matters of the Week -
Hudson North American moving and storage company

Photo by Tamara Coombs

Log onto and the Municipal Art Society website to learn about our featured place of the week, Hudson North American moving and storage company, at 3229 Broadway (near 129th St.) in Manhattanville.

You would never guess that Hudson's was once a stable; housing horses, wagons, and milk delivery paraphernalia for the milk bottler and distributor, Sheffield Farms-Slawson-Decker Company. Its distinguished appearance, with brick and terracotta fa├žade, meant to convey an impression of hygiene and modernity in an era when tainted milk was a key cause of sickness and death for infants and children. Constructed in 1903, the building still retains features from its former life and was listed to the National Register of Historic Places in 2005.

Unlike last week, when we lamented a roller rink about to be replaced by a storage facility, this week we're rooting for storage. Anne Whitman founded Hudson's in 1992, and like her brother and sister-in-law (whose storage company Despatch is just a stone's throw away), is carrying on the business started by her father. Whitman specializes in serving artists, architects, and designers, along with other small businesses that, characteristically for New York, are desperate for space. They use hers to extend their own -- turning what might be considered "dead" storage into a beehive of constant activity.

Columbia University wants Whitman's land for its proposed Manhattanville campus that will extend from 125th to 133rd St., and Broadway to 12th Ave. She refuses to sell. Despite the protests of Whitman and others, Columbia insists on one big campus and raises the possibility of using eminent domain to force condemnation. The local Community Board #9 has its own plan, developed before Columbia's and already submitted to the Dept. of City Planning, and it puts forth a different vision. To see a copy of the community plan and Columbia's rezoning proposal, go to the website of Pratt Center for Community Development.

Log onto the PlaceExplorer for more on the history of Whitman's building, or search by borough and neighborhood for the five other nominated places in Manhattanville. To read more about Manhattanville itself, see the book Manhattanville: Old Heart of West Harlem by Eric K. Washington.


Sad UPDATES on past weekly features:
The Empire Roller Skating Rink closed this past weekend. See Saturday's New York Times for "The Last Lace-Up" article and videos.

The New York Post reported that the Claremont Riding Academy is closing because of lack of business.

For the full list of weekly features to date, log on to the Place Explorer and choose the Featured Search called "Place that Matters of the Week." Or, log onto the Municipal Art Society.
Please tell your friends about these places of history, memory, and culture and invite them to join the Place Matters e-mail list.


Marci Reaven, City Lore/Place Matters (
Lisa Kersavage, Municipal Art Society/Place Matters

M'Ville Caught on Film In Alum's Documentary - Manhattanville: A Neighborhood Under Siege Praised for Showing New Community Faces

Home > News

Caught on Film In Alum's Documentary
Manhattanville: A Neighborhood Under Siege Praised for Showing New Community Faces
By Anna Phillips
Issue date: 4/25/07 Section: News

From a large screen on the altar of St. Mary's Church in West Harlem, the familiar faces of Columbia University administrators and Manhattanville community activists flashed before an attentive congregation.

It was the first time Leah Michele Yananton, CC '04, had shown her documentary, Manhattanville: A Neighborhood Under Siege, to the community whose fight against Columbia's proposed expansion plans is encapsulated by the film. Yananton, a former Manhattanville resident, began the film three years ago with the help of former Columbia professor Larry Engel. Now complete, the documentary is the first visual chronicle of an urban development conflict that has been going on for several years.

It shows University President Lee Bollinger, a few years back, defending the proposed plans to the members of Community Board 9, and has scenes of the tent city erected by Coalition to Preserve Community members on Columbia's campus. The documentary offers new faces from the community-something Yananton was especially considerate of-in order to communicate a message to an administration she feels has written off some of the area's more vocal activists.

"The issue of the film is that we have a community here that's going to be lost," Yananton said. "I wanted to make a time capsule. I wanted to bring out the life of the community."

Those in attendance praised the film, and several remarked that the scenes of Bollinger explaining the University's need for more space made them "want to scream."

Following the documentary screening, several members of community activist organizations, as well as local business owners and residents, spoke out on the issues it brought up.

"The movie said it perfectly: it [the proposed expansion] didn't have to happen this way," said Tom Kappner, a leader of the CPC. Kappner lamented what he sees as a lack of University outreach into the Manhattanville community and said he saw little difference between the relationship between the community and University now and in 1968.

Members of the Student Coalition on Expansion and Gentrification also spoke at the meeting. "We don't want an expansion in our name that's going to steamroll a community," said Andrew Lyubarsky, CC '09. Referring to several pro-expansion comments made by Columbia students in the documentary, Lyubarsky said there was work to be done. "Clearly, students are not informed about the expansion," he said.

At the end of the evening, Yananton was pleased, describing the film screening as "perfect."

"Community members have criticized the film, and Columbia students have criticized the film, so I think I must have done something right," she said.

Where is the Community in "CBA"?

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Where is the Community in "CBA"?

After reading the MetroNY article below NoLandGrab commented today:

The Atlantic Yards Community Benefits Agreement signatories (some of whom represent groups formed for the express purpose of the CBA and supporting the project, and are financed by Forest City Ratner) have a hot-line to developer Bruce Ratner. That didn't stop them from throwing a fit when politicians showed up at last weekend's rally to express concerns about the demolition of buildings like the Ward Bakery to make way for giant parking lots.

(MetroNY doesn't have the article online, so it appears in full on NoLandGrab)

Groups sit down with pols over Atlantic Yards
By Amy Zimmer

When eight groups signed onto Forest City Ratner's Community Benefits Agreement two years ago, they were designated the gatekeepers of the $4 billion project's affordable housing and employment initiatives.

They were to serve as a bridge between the neighborhood and developer, but as local elected officials continue to raise concerns over the project – and are calling on the Spitzer administration to make changes -- the CBA organizations are feeling shoved aside.

Eight local politicians sent a letter requesting a sit-down with the Empire State Development Corporation the state agency overseeing the project, to discuss community concerns. Yesterday, CBA members held a closed-door meeting with some of those pols.

"We said, you've dismissed the collective body – which is the CBA," said Delia Hunley-Adossa, chair of the Community Benefits Agreement Executive Committee, "We let them know they didn't reach out to use so we reached out to them."...

Dismissing the collective body?"
Collective body" sounds like another word–"community." And nobody has been more left out of the so-called Atlantic Yards Community Benefits Agreement" then, well...the collective body, aka the community.

As a matter of fact the stakeholders in West Harlem have gone out of their way to avoid the Atlantic Yards "CBA" model.

According to a New York Observer article in February:...

WHEN THE COMMUNITY BOARD STARTED TO FORM an entity that would negotiate on West Harlem's behalf, one thing was certain: Harlem didn't think much of the community-benefits agreement for Atlantic Yards, in which developer Forest City Ratner negotiated directly with nonprofits that would end up making money from the agreement.

"Ratner and the city got together with one big, national not-for-profit and a set of local sycophants and put something together which doesn't seem to have satisfied too many people, except for those who are benefiting directly from it," Mr. Reyes-Montblanc, the chairman of Community Board 9, said.... On the Observer's real estate blog Mr. Reyes-Montblanc had more to say:

"We are avoiding the Brooklyn model," he said. "We are wanting to do something else. We are wanting to develop a wide coalition of organizations and people that will be properly represented, perhaps through a local development corporation, but it's not going to be ACORN negotiating for the community or any similar type of thing." (emphasis added)

The MetroNY article continues:

...Hunley-Adossa understood the concerns that protesters raised at a rally earlier this week, opposing the demolition of two city blocks' worth of buildings for a parking lot. "I worked on that during the environmental review," she said." A lot of people were worried they would lose their on-site parking [during the construction] and were concerned about traffic flow." The lot was a way to accommodate the community.

"We told them, ‘Our concern is you never came to us. You jumped and went straight to the ESDC, to the new guy," she said after the meeting. "Had you come to us, you would have known we are addressing these issues."...

Full article

"You never came to us." That sounds familiar. That is exactly what occurred with this "CBA." Ratner never came to community. He went to a few groups who supported his project from day one and created a series of private contracts–thus creating the myths of the "Legally Binding, Landmark Atlantic Yards Community Benefits Agreement."

The idea that the community asked for decades of "interim surface parking" for 1,500 cars is to suggest something that is literally beyond belief. Furthermore the politicians expressing concerns about "Atlantic Yards" are accountable to all of their constituents, not just the 8 groups who signed the "CBA." Had those groups actually signed the "CBA" not just with Ratner, but also with city and state government, this all would be an entirely different story. But that didn't happen.It is important to note a few things.

The "CBA" group is represented by a PR firm hired by Forest City Ratner, and it looks like that firm is doing its job. Also, the "CBA" group has never held a public meeting to inform the broad community of their efforts, their agreement or the work they are doing, nor have they provided a forum for the broad community to communicate with those 8 "CBA" groups.

In other words, the "CBA" group has dismissed the "collective body," and worse yet, attacked a big segment of it for standing up for its rights.

Posted: 4.20.07

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Editorial: Gentrification’s Advance Guard


Editorial: Gentrification’s Advance Guard
Submitted by nyresident on April 24, 2007 - 12:10pm.--
April 24, 2007 - 12:10pm

For Young People On A Budget, The Best Place To Live May Be An Outer Borough
By Ben Muessig

Since I moved to Sunset Park, Brooklyn, I’ve fallen in love with my neighborhood. I savor the brownstone blocks, the buzzing Mexican barrio, the borough’s biggest Chinatown and the grassy park with its views of the Manhattan skyline. I feel at home in my neighborhood. Unfortunately, I am destroying it.

My roommate and I discovered Sunset Park after realizing we couldn’t afford to live in any of the neighborhoods we considered cool. In one weekend, we saw eight apartments. Some crawled with roaches and rodents, others had beautiful bay windows and hardwood floors. Late Sunday afternoon, we found it —a cozy two-bedroom in a four-unit row house near the park.

Rent here is cheap, and food is cheaper. Mexican restaurants, bakeries, record stores, ride services and travel agencies line Fifth Avenue, the main drag, and on warm Sundays, vendors clog the sidewalks, hawking tamales and bootleg DVDs. A few avenues away, Chinese groceries, fish markets, karaoke bars and banks stretch for a mile. There are no movie theaters, bookstores or coffee houses —the closest options are in the next neighborhood.

Waiting for the D train, I’m legitimately surprised to hear English. When I go out for dinner (Chinese or Mexican), I pass kids riding their bikes, men playing soccer in a dried-up kiddie pool, families picnicking on park benches and women working in sweatshops. In a New York that grows ever richer and ever poorer, Sunset Park is still a working class neighborhood. But if more people like my roommate and me move in, it won’t stay that way for long.

With the money my roommate earns lifeguarding, and the cash I saved interning, we can hardly cover rent and utilities, even with help from our parents. But as students seeking inexpensive living, our economic status differs greatly from that of our neighbors.
College students are the best gentrifiers. We move to neighborhoods with low rent and high crime rates. We feed the local economy with our parents’ money, but frequent bodegas only until a CVS opens.
The businesses we close make room for bars, coffee shops and ethnic restaurants that better fit our demographic. We invite our friends and our friends’ friends for parties; the next year, our friends and our friends’ friends move in.

Many of us relocate every year. Whenever one of us moves out, our landlords increase rent by more than 4 percent – the typical inflation rate. After a couple of years of collegiate immigration, longtime residents can’t afford to stay.
We pay half as much rent as our friends in Greenwich Village do. Our neighbors probably pay about half what we do. When we moved in, our building was the only space on the block that catered to college students. In the last eight months, three new condo buildings have sprouted from vacant lots, all inhabited by gentrifying students and expats from the nearest gentrified neighborhood, Park Slope.

Sunset Park is calm compared to how it was 20 years ago, when it earned its rough reputation. It still has its problems. Coming home from class, I pass rows of cars with smashed windows and missing stereos. I’d play more basketball in the park if the kids weren’t wearing gang colors.
These are the times when I’d like to see Sunset Park change. I want the drugs out of the park, the gangs off the streets and the sweatshops closed. If that makes me a gentrifier, I don’t feel bad about it.

Other times, I regret killing Sunset Park. I should support the community, but most local businesses don’t fulfill my needs. The movie rental shops don’t carry anything I want to see, so I rely on Netflix. I’ve tried to get my groceries from only local shops, but the two nearest bodegas don’t carry cheese or bread. I used to walk four blocks every morning to get the Times, but delivery is so much easier. A few times a week, I grab a torta or a banh mi, but giving service to restaurants isn’t the same as giving back to the community.

It’s easy to criticize the knockout punches of gentrification, like Whole Foods or Starbucks moving in. But the baby steps of gentrification are rarely criticized – often, they’re praised.

When young people (students) “revitalize” a neighborhood, we force out longtime residents. The new neighborhood becomes a destination. Ten years later, we mourn the death of this trendy, quaint, “authentic” neighborhood. No, gentrification doesn’t begin when big business dominates a neighborhood. Gentrification begins when students arrive.

Ben Muessig is a student at New York University
Brooklyn skyline seen from the FDR. AP Photo.




New York, NY 4/23/2007 2:18 AM GMT (TransWorldNews - Top Story)

MAY 9 – JUNE 2
NTAR Theatre, one of the US’ longest running Latino theaters producing plays in English, concludes its 41st season with the New York premiere of Marissa Chibas’ Daughter of a Cuban Revolutionary.

Directed by Mira Kingsley, this production about one of the most prominent and powerful families in Cuba will play a limited Off-Broadway run from May 9 – June 2 at the DR2 Theatre (103 East 15th Street).

Daughter of a Cuban Revolutionary is a co-production with the Center for New Performance at CalArts, and received its world premiere at REDCAT (the Roy and Edna Disney/Cal Arts Theater) in Los Angeles in January.

The official opening is set for Sunday, May 13 @ 8:00 PM. Daughter of a Cuban Revolutionary centers on three towering figures in the life of protean performer Marissa Chibas: her father, Raul Chibas, who co-wrote the manifesto for the Cuban revolution with Fidel Castro; her uncle, Eddy Chibas, the frontrunner for the Cuban presidency in 1951 before committing suicide during a live radio broadcast; and her mother, Dalia Chibas, Miss Cuba runner-up in 1959.

Their lives combine for what the LA Times described as a “tumultuous meeting of memory, history, and personality.”The design team includes Dan Evans (Scenic Design), Karen Murk (Costume Design), Rebecca M. K. Makus (Lighting Design), Colbert S. Davis IV (Sound Design) and Adam Flemming (Video Design).

Hailed by Variety as a “breathtakingly honest performer,” writer/ performer Marissa Chibas was last seen in the West Coast premiere of Sonia Flew at the Laguna Playhouse. She recently starred in the American premiere of The Keening, a one-woman play by Colombian playwright Umberto Dorado at the American Repertory Theater in Boston.

At the Mark Taper Forum, Ms. Chibas appeared in The Floating Island Plays by Eduardo Machado and The House of Bernarda Alba directed by Lisa Peterson. She played Edgar in the Center for New Theater at Cal Arts’ inaugural production of King Lear, directed by Travis Preston. Her American premieres include The Predator’s Ball at BAM, Democracy in America at the Yale Rep and Two Sisters and a Piano at the McCarter Theatre.

On Broadway, Ms. Chibas played opposite Sam Waterston in Abe Lincoln in Illinois, and was Nora in Brighton Beach Memoirs, directed by Gene Saks. Her New York premieres include Eric Overmeyer’s Dark Rapture (New York Stage and Film), A. R. Gurney’s Another Antigone (Playwright’s Horizons) Overtime (Manhattan Theater Club), Total Eclipse (Westside Arts Theater) and Hurricane (Classic Stage Company).

Ms. Chibas is the Head of the Acting Program at California Institute of the Arts.

Running in tandem with the show will be INTAR Theatre’s production of Suzan-Lori Parks’ 365 Days/365 Plays.

INTAR Theatre’s take on this national play festival, which is being created by INTAR’s Actors’ Collective, will be presented in the D-Lounge (in the basement of the DR2) at 9:30 PM – after the evening performances of Daughter of a Cuban Revolutionary – on Wednesday and Thursday, May 9 and 10, and Sunday, May 13.

Daughter of a Cuban Revolutionary will be INTAR’s last offering for the 2006—2007 Season.

INTAR’s 2007—2008 season will begin in September with a production of Pulitzer Prize-winner Maxwell Anderson’s rarely staged play, Night Over Taos, directed by award-winning actress and director Estelle Parsons. The play, which will be presented at Theater for the New City, is set in New Mexico in 1847 as the people of Taos take a stand against their land being ceded to the United States. This classical play explores cultural clashes with depth, and the story resonates with significant contemporary relevance.

Daughter of a Cuban Revolutionary plays Wednesday – Saturday at 8:00 PM from May 9 – June 2 at the DR2 Theatre (103 East 15th Street on Union Square).

NOTE: There will be an additional performance on Sunday, May 13 at 8:00 PM (Opening Night).