Tag Archives: Politics

World Trade Center bombing scene in 1993

Homeland Security Cuts to Lower Manhattan Lambasted

World Trade Center bombing scene in 1993
World Trade Center bombing scene in 1993 (Credit: Stevenspak.com)

As Lower Manhattan is the only United States community to become victims of 2 terrorist attacks, Homeland Security funding cuts to our neighborhood makes little to no sense.

In light of yesterday’s admission from Feisal Shahzad proclaiming his intent to bomb the Ground Zero and/or the World Financial Center, it’s quite clear our community still stands to be a target even a decade after the 9/11 terror attacks.

In response to the continued Homeland Security cuts, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer and Chairperson of Community Board 1 Julie Menin have joined forces to make a public outry against the cuts.

According to an article published in this week’s Downtown Express the pair asks, “Why does New York City, one of the top terrorist targets in the world, continue each year to face cuts to its homeland security funding? Just this year, the Obama Administration, several days after the attempted plot to bomb Times Square, cut New York City’s transit security by 27% and its port security by 25%.  While the Administration argued that the $53 million in budget cuts to the city’s homeland security funding would be made up by stimulus dollars, those are one-shot funds. When the stimulus money runs out in two years, replacing those missing dollars will be a Herculean task.”

Both claim that controversy surrounding the Park51 Islamic community center has taken away the focus and concentration towards general safety in our area.

“Instead of arguing about the precise location of the Islamic center, why don’t we put aside our differences and focus on the common goal of keeping our children and all of us safe?” asks Stringer and Menin.

We can’t help but agree. The rest of the article can be read here.

Governor David Paterson

Governor Paterson Offers Relocation of Ground Zero Mosque

Governor David Paterson
Governor David Paterson

The Associated Press is reporting that the Governor has offered state help to help the developers of the Park51 mosque if they are willing to relocate the project away from the surrounding Ground Zero area.

According to the report, Governor Paterson was quoted in a press conference today saying, “I think it’s rather clear that building a center there meets all the requirements, but it does seem to ignite an immense amount of anxiety among the citizen of New York and people everywhere, and I think not without cause.”

“I am very sensitive to the desire of those who are adamant against it to see something else worked out. We are really suffering in many respects — impassioned feelings were bound to emerge from a mosque just a couple of blocks from where nearly 3,000 people died at the hands of Muslim extremists.”

There was no comment yet from the developers of the project as well as from Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

According to the rest of the report, a recent Marist College poll released today found that 53 percent of New York City voters polled oppose the construction of the Ground Zero site, with only 34 percent favoring the developers plan.

Sarah Palin Refudiates Ground Zero Mosque

Sarah Palin “Refudiates” Ground Zero Mosque on Twitter

Sarah Palin Refudiates Ground Zero Mosque
Sarah Palin Refudiates Ground Zero Mosque

Remarkably silent on her Twitter account after news of her daughter Bristol Palin’s engagement to ex-boyfriend and family nemesis Levi Johnston — America’s favorite soccer mom, Sarah Palin seems to have broken her silence on behalf of 9/11 families and opponents of the Ground Zero mosque at the World Trade Center site.

In a series of Twitter comments, Palin tweets:

“Peaceful New Yorkers, pls refute the Ground Zero mosque plan if you believe catastrophic pain caused @ Twin Towers site is too raw, too real”

“Ground Zero Mosque supporters: doesn’t it stab you in the heart, as it does ours throughout the heartland? Peaceful Muslims, pls refudiate”

“Peace-seeking Muslims, pls understand, Ground Zero mosque is UNNECESSARY provocation; it stabs hearts. Pls reject it in interest of healing”

Upon the news of her tweets, Palin was instantly mocked for using a word not in the English vocabulary, “refudiate.” Palin has since deleted that post and made light of her grasp of the English language.

“Refudiate,” “misunderestimate,” “wee-wee’d up.” English is a living language. Shakespeare liked to coin new words too. Got to celebrate it!”

It is clear that not all politicians are celebrating the momentum that the Cordoba Initiative’s Park 51 mosque is receiving. Sarah Palin joins Rick Lazio as the most vocal political opponents of the mosque, where as other politicians including current New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is a strong advocate for the building of the mosque. Another strong advocate is our Community Board who oversees development in Battery Park City and at the World Trade Center site.

The current developer of Park 51 Sharif El-Gamal sees the mosque not only as a community center near Ground Zero, but as a future tourist attraction as well. El-Gamal was quoted in a recent Wall Street Journal article that he hopes that when tour buses come through the area, the mosque will become a monument as significant as the Empire State Building.

Battery Park City parking changes

City Considers Parking Regulation Changes Downtown

Battery Park City parking changes
Street spaces are coming! Street spaces are coming! (Flickr/nyctaxiphoto)

Fed up with the serious lack of parking spaces anywhere below Canal Street? Pretty soon you might — just might — have a reason to dance a jig and thank your lucky stars. The Department of Transportation (DOT) is looking to change street parking regulations in Lower Manhattan, beginning with Tribeca.

At a recent meeting of Tribeca’s Community Board 1, DOT spokeswoman Suchi Sanagavarapu announced the plans, admitting that the regulations governing street parking in Tribeca were devised when the area was an industrial and commercial hub… and do not reflect the neighborhood’s current residential state.
“Our regulations have definitely not kept up, and we’ve been hearing about it from the community for years now,” Sanagavarapu confessed. “There seems to be a mismatch in terms of what the current land uses are versus what the current parking regulations are.”

Continue reading City Considers Parking Regulation Changes Downtown

Governor David Paterson

Gov. Paterson to Gut Lower Manhattan Development Corp.

Fed up with ineptitude, D. Patz will LMDC heads roll this summer.
David Paterson

David Paterson doesn’t like ineptitude. In fact, he abhors it so much that he’s going to go ahead and  gut the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. (LMDC) this summer.

According to the New York Post, Gov. Paterson will slash the 35-person staff — which reaps a combined annual salary of around $3 million — down to a crew of just five. The reason for this drastic measure: The LMDC hasn’t doled out $540 million of the $3 billion in federal funds it was created to dispense, and it has yet to carry out one of its primary duties, the demolition of the former Deutsche Bank building.

The LMDC’s critics, which not so shockingly include one of its own board members, say the corporation has devolved into a money-sucking bureaucracy with only one goal in mind: to justify its own preservation.

Gov. Paterson hopes that this slash-and-burn will jolt the corporation into action, compelling those still left standing after the shakeup to put the remaining Congress-allocated cash to good use in the rejuvenation of Lower Manhattan. This includes paying off cost overruns of the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, funding a planned performing-arts center, and giving money to non-profit groups and small businesses.

In fact, the LMDC still has $4 million in its coffers that is supposed to be dispensed in $25,000 increments as grants to local small businesses. And, according to a recent Community Board 1 survey, a whopping 66 percent of local small business owners didn’t even know they were eligible for these grants.

Sounds like the LMDC still has a whole lot of work to do — and pretty soon it’ll have 30 fewer people to do it.

Opponents of the Park51 mosque are found nationwide.

1,000 Gather to Protest Ground Zero Mosque

Mosque Protest
These New Yorkers aren't too pleased with the plans.

Unless you’ve been completely cut off from the outside world for the past couple of months, you’ve probably heard that there are plans to construct a mosque just steps from Ground Zero. Also probably on your radar: A lot of people aren’t too happy about it.

Proof of this was on display Sunday, when more than 1,000 protesters gathered on the corner of Church and Liberty Streets to rail against plans to construct a mosque and Islamic cultural/community center on Park Place, a mere two blocks from the World Trade Center site.

According to the Tribeca Tribune, during the three-hour demonstration, organized by Stop Islamization of America (SIOA), protesters endured 90-degree temps to listen to speakers — from family members of 9/11 victims to a former Muslim woman — denounce not only the construction plans… but often Islam itself.

The signs the protesters, most of them middle-aged or older, waved also bashed the religion. One read, “All I need to know about Islam, I learned on 9/11.” Another said, “You can build a mosque at Ground Zero when we can build a synagogue in Mecca.”

But the Cordoba Initiative, the Muslim group dedicated to fostering better relationships between New York City’s Muslim and non-Muslim communities, feels that this is exactly why a mosque and educational/cultural center would be so beneficial at 45 Park Place, a location it owns and plans to name Cordoba House when building is complete. The Cordoba Initiative opposes the radical Islam responsible for the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and wants the opportunity to teach people the difference between those extremist violent sects and the vast, peaceful majority of Muslims.

The protesters who gathered on Sunday, however, remain unswayed. Their feeling is that there are plenty of mosques in New York already, and they believe it is inappropriate to build another one so close to the site of 9/11 devastation.

One protester, Joyce Boland, whose son died in the Sept. 11 attacks, told the Tribune: “I don’t think that a mosque should go up to loom over his grave, when they were responsible for what happened.”

While no violence erupted during the protest, there was definitely some pretty palpable hostility. An Arab-American TV crew, who were later revealed to be there to protest the mosque, had to be removed from the crowd by a police escort when protesters became agitated by their presence.

What is your feeling on the situation? Are those opposed to the mosque being to narrow-minded? Would a mosque near Ground Zero be a positive step in defusing prejudices toward Islam that were ingrained on the hearts and minds of many Americans on Sept. 11, 2001? Or is it just too soon and too close for comfort?

Fed up with ineptitude, D.Patz will let heads roll this summer.

David Paterson Appoints Anthony Notaro to BPC Authority

Governor give community leader the nod.
Governor gives community leader the nod.

The Battery Park City Authority board is getting some fresh blood. Gov. David Paterson has appointed community leader Anthony Notaro to the seven-member board that manages BPC’s 92 acres and its $29 million annual budget.

Because Notaro is a longtime resident with deep ties to Battery Park City — he helped found the Certified Emergency Response Team, is president of the First Precinct Community Council AND is a Community Board 1 member — his presence on the board will give BPC residents a stronger say in decisions that affect their neighborhood.

In a statement to the press, State Sen. Daniel Squadron, who championed Notaro for the role, said: “The Battery Park City community has advocated for years to add more residents to the BPCA board. Anthony will bring an important perspective to help the board better understand the particular needs and concerns of Battery Park City residents.”

Now let’s just hope Mayor Bloomberg doesn’t dissolve the Authority altogether, and everything will be just peachy.

Chairman Thompson’s Post Uncertain With NYC Bid on BPC

William Thompson Chairman of the Battery Park City Authority
William Thompson is the current Chairman of the Battery Park City Authority

That which the governor giveth, the mayor can taketh away. At least that’s the case for the Battery Park City Authority, which is facing a potential takeover at the hands of New York City.

It’s only been a month since William Thompson was appointed as Chairman of the Battery Park City Authority, but his days are already numbered. Ironically, his fate is in the hands of the same man who took away his shot at being Mayor, Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

According to the New York Daily News, Thompson said, “It’s not like I’m getting paid a lot in this job. If that happens in the end, so be it.”

Battery Park City has recently been under the scrutiny of New York City’s comptroller John Liu to start determining whether a takeover of the neighborhood is a financially viable step for the city, after similar and recent acquisitions of both Brooklyn Bridge park and Governor’s Island…

Historically, the city has had the option to take over Battery Park City for a mere dollar. Yet, behind that dollar comes great fiscal responsibilities — including assuming the Authority’s $1-billion-dollar debt, as well as the burden of keeping up the same impeccable park maintenance and services (events, art installations, etc.) to which residents have become accustomed.

The decision ultimately lies solely in the hands of both the mayor and comptroller. Liu has been quoted in several news outlets saying that he takes this decision seriously and would want to hear from the residents of Battery Park City before making a decision.

Longtime Battery Park City advocate, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, was also quoted in the article saying, “I’m not for it. I’m not against it. I’m cautioning at this point.”

If anything, Thompson’s announcement that he’s taking a new corporate job hints that he’s hedging his bets. Although Thompson and Bloomberg have a history as political rivals, they’ve also collaborated in the past, working together as comptroller and mayor for several years. While the decision about the Battery Park City Authority’s fate is far from final, the outcome is something neighborhood residents and property owners need to monitor vigilantly.

Art Vendor Restrictions Affect Battery Park

Art Vendors Face Eviction from Battery Park

Art Vendor Restrictions Affect Battery Park
Art Vendor Restrictions Affect Battery Park

New York City has recently announced a proposal to limit the number of art vendors in city parks and public spaces. And Battery Park likely won’t escape the effects of these plans, which some are calling Bloomberg’s attempt to privatize public space.

The proposed restrictions would supposedly ease congestion in heavily trafficked areas, including Union Square, Central Park, the High Line and Battery Park. Last Friday a public hearing was held to hear the opinions of art vendors, their critics and their staunch advocates. According to the New York Times, the protest had some of the best looking signs you’d ever seen.

So we decided to check out the congestion ourselves. During a leisurely walk through Battery Park today, we counted north of 30 different art vendors. However, they seemed evenly dispersed amid the nearly 25 acres of land. The restrictions, should they be approved, would allow only nine vendors along the perimeter of the park between Pearl Street and West Street.

Here’s a quick look at the numbers based on the proposed restrictions:
Battery Park: 25 Acres | 9 Vendors
Union Square: 3.59 Acres | 18 Vendors
High Line: 2.15 Acres | 8 Vendors

Art Vendor in Battery Park
Art Vendor in Battery Park

If you do the math, or simply go for a stroll through Battery Park, it is painfully obvious that the the BP art vendors would be getting one helluva raw deal. For starters, the vendors don’t even come close to creating congestion on a weekday. And, while Battery Park could easily engulf both Union Square and the High Line combined, it would be allowed fewer than half as many vendors as Union Square should the proposal come to fruition.

We spoke with Asif Javed, an art vendor who has been selling his photography in the park for nearly 10 years, to get his take on the matter. For his part, Javed believes that the legislation should not be aimed towards the art vendors: “[The rules] are aimed at those people who are selling 9-11 disaster books on the streets who make congestion.”
It’s quite clear speaking with Javed that the situation in Battery Park would be dire should 35 to 50 art sellers have to pack up shop and move elsewhere. Since most vendors work solo, coming to a decision on who gets to stay and who gets the boot would be difficult indeed. “It’s going to be a big chaos,” warns Javed. “It’s my work. I don’t want to lose this job! Unemployment is already at 9 point something percent and going up. [Deciding] is going to be a big mess, and I don’t think we can manage it.”
Javed seems hopeful that a resolution will be found as art vendors have faced similar issues in past years. “Last year, the same thing happened. [The City] was against us, and we beat the city. We’ll take it to court again. Our leader Robert Lederman is already working with our lawyers and legislatures. We are hoping the mayor will reconsider.”
Javed says that he and his colleagues are hoping for an opportunity for discourse with legislators. “If we sat down with administrators we could come up with a solution for this problem easily.” Let’s hope that happens.