Part II of NYS Assembly & Carmen Arroyo's minutes on alienating our parks
This segment of the June 23, 2005 session on stealing our Macombs Dam Park is very illuminating. You can see what was really going on between the lines. You will see Carmen Arroyo’s inability to answer simple straightforward questions. You will see that she uses such answering-avoiding tactics as:
(1) saying how “amazed” that the questioner, Mr. Benjamin, didn’t already know the answer;
(2) saying that she couldn’t hear the question;
(3) repeating Tactic 1 where she is now “sorry” that the questioner didn’t already know the answer;
(4) getting help from J. Rivera, the boss of the Bronx Democratic political machine, who states that he has a document (a MOU) that would assure alleviate Mr Benjamin’s concerns but Rivera does NOT show the document and claims that everyone else –except for lonely Mr. Benjamin- of the Bronx delegation has a copy;
(5) being defensive and completely ignoring the questioner’s inquiry about the “operation of a local park for those residents who lose their park during the construction” by saying that “this is not one of those projects that people come from the outside, make the money and leave the community”;
(6) basically telling Mr. Benjamin to just trust whatever the boss (J. Rivera) wants after Mr. Benjamin persists in his concerns about what would happen to the running track, soccer, etc.
Without further delay, here’s a copy of the minutes:
MR. BENJAMIN: Thank you. Will the sponsor yield for a couple of questions, please?
MRS. ARROYO: Yes, Sir.
ACTING SPEAKER SWEENEY: The sponsor yields.
MR. BENJAMIN: Mrs. Arroyo, the plan for the Yankee Stadium, does that include provisions to involve minority and women-owned businesses to take part in the reconstruction of a new stadium?
MRS. ARROYO: Well, it’s amazing that you had not been part of the conversations. You have missed a lot of information. We have been working very hard to make sure that workers, business, and any enterprise that comes into the community, minority business and minority people, are involved.
MR. BENJAMIN: Is it also true, then, that there is an opportunity for there to be co-development by minority groups as well, and women-owned businesses?
MRS. ARROYO: Yes, Sir.
MR. BENJAMIN: Is that in writing, is there a memorandum of understanding for this project in regards to that?
MRS. ARROYO: I cannot hear him.
MR. BENJAMIN: Is there a memorandum of understanding, an MOU, in regards to the involvement of minority co-developers or the involvement of women- or minority-owned business?
MRS. ARROYO: You know, I feel so sorry that you missed our meetings and you have been participating because –
ACTING SPEAKER SWEENEY: Excuse me, Mrs Arroyo. Mr. Rivera, why do you rise?
MR. J. RIVERA: I rise because I believe my colleague, Michael Benjamin, is asking a very good question, one that I forgot to share with this entire body. Yes, Michael, we have a memorandum of understanding that calls for a similar, a similar plan that we had if we had built the Jets Stadium. The Yankees have committed themselves to working with us, the elected officials, the civic and the leaders from that immediate area of the Bronx, to ensure that women and African American and Hispanic have input in building the new project and rebuilding and building everything that will be part of the Yankee Village.
So, yes, we do have a memorandum of understanding and I’ll be glad to give you a copy because you might not have one, but the rest of the Bronx delegation, I believe, do have a copy that they have been working on.
MR. BENJAMIN: Thank you. I was away for family business.
I have a couple other questions, though. During the last 30 years George Steinbrenner being the Yankee owner, the Yankees have not had a reputation of being very friendly to their host community. I would like to know that during the construction of this project will there be an operation of a local park for those residents who lose their park during the construction?
MR. TOKASZ: I apologize for the interruption, Mr. Speaker. There will be an immediate meeting of the Committee on Ways and Means in the Speaker’s Conference Room, members of the Ways and Means Committee to the Speaker’s Conference Room, please.
ACTING SPEAKER SWEENEY: Ways and Means I the Speaker’s Conference Room now.
MRS. ARROYO: Yes, To Mr. Benjamin, respectfully, the delegation of the City Council, our delegation, the Congressmen, the Congress delegation and the Senate delegation, we are working together on this, and we are working together to represent the people that we have in our communities. And, all the effort that we are making is to make sure that they are going to be part of the project, that they are going to benefit from the project, and that this is not one of those projects that people come from the outside, make the money and leave the community.
MR. BENJAMIN: Thank you. The other question actually is during the construction of the stadium will there be opportunities for the public to still have a running track, to play soccer and all of the other activities that take place now in Macombs Dam Park, which will be the site for construction of the new stadium, what will happen in the meantime?
MRS ARROYO: Michael, I recommend to you take the package that Mr. Rivera is offering today because he has been a great leader on this, and look at the package and sit with us after this because you are going to be part of the Bronx when you see what this is we have been doing, and everything that you are asking for is there. And if it’s not there, I’m going to make sure that we work together to make it possible.
MR. BENJAMIN: I’m looking forward. This is about getting information on the public record, I’m only asking for information for the public record, that that continues to exist.
MRS. ARROYO: I understand that.
MR. BENJAMIN: On the bill, please.
ACTING SPEAKER SWEENEY: Mr. Benjamin on the bill.
MR. BENJAMIN: As a longtime, lifelong Bronx resident, I am proud of my borough. I’m, I guess, a Yankee fan. In 1977, I guess, the most embarrassing moment of my life was in October of 1977 in watching a Yankee game from my college dormitory. During a break in the action, ABC did an aerial shot of the Bronx, of the stadium, and in and around the area they pinpointed a number of fires that were taking place in 1977. to my horror and chagrin, Howard Cosell said, “The Bronx is burning,” and that because the resounding impression f the Bronx throughout our entire country in 1977.
After he said that, there were continuous knocks on my door from my college roommates who were asking, “Michael, is that your neighborhood on fire? Is your home being burned down?” so, it was extremely embarrassing and sad to me. But, in the last 30 years since that time, our borough has experienced a revitalization. Our population has risen to the point now, we have 11 strong members in the Bronx Assembly delegation.
I want to support this project and I will because it’s important that we continue to develop our borough, that we continue to have a revitalization, that we develop our waterfront, we provide great parks for our communities and that we provide jobs and opportunities for all of our people in Bronx County. And with that, I’ll be supporting the project. Thank you.
Well, well, well, folks, what was that all about? Why did Carmen Arroyo feel compelled to say “I recommend to you take the package that Mr. Rivera is offering today.” So who really put the “package” together? From the minutes don’t you get a feeling that Carmen Arroyo doesn’t know what she’s talking about? Is she some dumb patsy because the parks are in her district?
Nonetheless, Carmen Arroyo’s comment “this is not one of those projects that people come from the outside, make the money and leave the community” is very revealing. The more you dig deeper, the more you realize that yes, this is one of those projects that people come from the outside, make the money and leave the community. Just ask George Steinbrenner and Randy Levine. As Mr. Benjamin states for the record “during the last 30 years George Steinbrenner being the Yankee owner, the Yankees have not had a reputation of being very friendly to their host community.”
Now the Yankees are intent on stealing our Macombs & Mullaly parks and want taxpayers to pay for scattered, unnatural, unequal replacement parks on top of garages. This nonsense must stop now.