Friday, June 30, 2006

Drama at CB4, 6/7/6; Part 2: Beverly B, E, J, A

Drama at CB4, Beverly Beja, B, E, J, A episode

The Players:

Mr. Shipp--Acting Chairperson CB4

David Mojica--District Manager CB4

Ms. Mangual--Representative for the Bronx Borough President

Ms. Anita Antonetty--CB4 Recording Secretary

Beverly Beja, B, E, J, A--"Former" (according to Ms. Mangual) Municipal Services committee member, Housing and Land Use committee member, member of the Bronx Landmarks Task Force of Fernando Ferrer's office...

Lukas Herbert--CB4 Housing and Land Use Comittee, professional Urban Planner

In our last episode we saw Lukas Herbert enter the motion to REJECT the slate that was hand-picked by Carrion. Athough it was seconded, that motion didn't get very far (doesn't sound like Robert's Rules to us, but definitely par for the course). Assurances were made, however, that nominations from the floor would be accepted at the 6/27/6 CB4 meeting. That didn't happen, of course.

This episode will see the development of a real villain, Ms. Mangual, who is the representative of the BP. Notice her thuggish ways. Where on earth did she learn them? Whatever school she attended, she had a very good teacher!

NOW THE DRAMA (sorry, not much comedy this time, folks!):

Ms. Beverly Beja: I am a Municipal Services committee member, Housing and Land Use committee member, member of the Bronx Landmarks Task Force of Fernando Ferrer's office...

Ms. Mangual: Former, former.

Ms. Beja: I'm part of the 44th Precinct's council. Well, of course, former. Sorry that it's former the way things are looking right now because this is outrageous. I would like to know who is this Gloria Jean Benfield for the Housing and Land Use? Who is this? Who is this person? I mean that I know that Mary Blassingame has been the chair of the Housing Committee that has made such progress through the years that it is absolutely unbelievable. You mean to say Adolfo Carrion gave George Robinson a list of names?

Mr. Mojica: That's not true.

Ms. Beja: ...never heard of.

Mr. Shipp: No, we are not saying that.

Ms. Beja: He never heard of Mary Blassingame. Her name was not on there. What criteria? Again, you're not answering. You are avoiding. You are evasive. You're getting away from it. I mean what's going on in this community is an absolute disgrace on the community board.

Ms. Mangual: Who are you?

Ms. Beja: You want to know who I am? I am a community resident who has lived here when it was tops, when it went down, still here fighting for the community; vice president on the Committee to Make the Grand Concourse Grand Again. That's who I am, a person who cares about this community. I, all of a sudden, find a meeting was canceled. A meeting was canceled. Oh, John Shipp, who I love--no offence to John Shipp--is acting chair. Oh, what happened to Ade Rasul. Ade Rasul, who has worked in this community, who fights for the people of this community, all of a sudden he's terminated from a volunteer job because he didn't vote for the Yankee Stadium. This is just the beginning.

Ms. Antonetty: Actually, he did vote for the project. He just didn't deliver.

Mr. Shipp: Let one person speak.

Ms. Mangual: She's (Beja) out of order. She's out of order. You (Shipp) should not allow this to happen.

Ms. Antonetty: She's (Mangual) not running the meeting, he (Shipp) is.

Ms. Beja: It's not allowed? This is a democracy. This is a democracy.

Mr. Shipp: Let's hear one person.

Mr. Mojica: She (Beja) really is out of order.

Ms. Beja: Carrion is carrying on. He's going to find out a lot. He thinks this community is stupid, submissive, we don't care, and that we accept things the way they are. We are not. We are fighters. We are hard working people. We are intelligent people; and we will not have this done to people who love our community, who have been years in this community, who fight for the community. I looked at the list. I was presented with the list of people who were reappointed. People that I know, again, on committee after committee not fighting for themselves, not getting things for themselves, but for this community. They're not gone. Oh, look who's name is on. I was at the meetings she voted for the Yankee Stadium. Oh, I know that name she voted. How do I know? I was at the meetings. Where are my friends who opposed it? Why did we oppose it? To help our community. Asthma, the trees; My question is what's in it for Carrion to not only be in favor of the Yankee Stadium he has a right to be but then to get rid of everyone that didn't go along, that opposed it. Tell him that it's an absolute disgrace. If he thinks he's running for mayor, he doesn't know anything. You made the mistake; you asked us to identify ourselves I've identified myself.

Ms. Mangual: Yes, because I need to make my notes clear.

Ms. Beja: You make them very clear. The name is Beverly.

Ms. Mangual: And you, when someone speaks over here, they should identify themselves.

Ms. Beja: OK, we identified when we introduce ourselves.

Ms. Mangual: You never gave your name.

Ms. Antonetty: Yes, when she introduced herself.

Ms. Beja: The name is Beverly Beja; B, E, J, A.

Ms. Mangual: Thank you.

Ms. Beja: Put it down. Mark it down. Maybe he'll fire me from something, too.

Mr. Shipp. Thank you for your remarks.

Ms. Beja: It's outrageous, it's outrageous.

Mr. Shipp: Thank you for your remarks. Now, you have an opportunity, as we said before, on the 27th to come back, make the nominations from the floor, and have your vote. Thank you very much.

Ms. Antonetty: There's no motion on this item?

Mr. Shipp: No.

Mr. Herbert: A motion was asked for and now?

Ms. Antonetty: There's no motion as far as...

Mr. Shipp: You made a recommendation. You vote on the next meeting. You have your vote, then you have the nominations, and then we take them from the floor or whatever the Nomination Committee suggests.

Mr. Herbert: Did you not ask for a motion when I made my motion?

Mr. Shipp: We did. We cleared that.

Mr. Herbert: No, it wasn't made clear to me. If you could explain it to me, that would be fine.

Mr. Shipp: What we said was you made a recommendation, all right. After we had looked at the procedure, you made a recommendation because we said that you would be voting for your officers at the next meeting. So now what we would do at this time is decline the voting.

Mr. Herbert: OK.

Mr. Shipp: OK. All right, let's move on.

Drama at CB4, 6/7/6; Part 1: Lukas Herbert

Drama at CB4, Lukas Herbert and Betty Robinson Edition

The Players:

Mr. Shipp--Acting Chairperson CB4

Lukas Herbert--CB4 Housing and Land Use Comittee, professional Urban Planner

Mary Blassingame--CB4 Chairperson Housing and Land Use Committee

David Mojica--District Manager CB4

Ms. Mangual--Representative for the Bronx Borough President

Mr. George T. Robinson--CB4 Chairperson Health and Human Services Committee

Ms. D. Lee Ezell--CB4 Chairperson Municipal Services CommitteeMr. Shipp

Ms. Anita Antonetty--CB4 Recording Secretary

Bettty Robinson--Community resident

After the Nominating Committee makes their recommendations to the full board on candidates for elective office for its consideration at the June 6, 2006, General Board Meeting, Mr Shipp calls for a motion.


Mr. Shipp: Motion, please.

Mr. Lukas Herbert: I'd like to make a motion to reject this slate.

Mr. Shipp: Can I get a second.

Ms. Mary Blassingame: I second.

Mr. Ship: Moved and properly seconded. The motion was made that the names that were read that we accept that as the Nominating Committee has presented to you. Are there any questions?

Mr. Herbert: No, I made a motion to REJECT this slate.

Mr. Ship: Oh, you made a motion to reject it?

Mr. Herbert: Yes, that is correct.

Mr. Ship: I though you said ACCEPT it.

Mr. Herbert: No.

Mr. Mojica: He's (Herbert) making a recommendation.

Mr. Ship: You're making a recommendation. Are there any other questions? All in favor of a rejection of the nominating committee (recommendations) raise your hand. Only the members of the board may vote.

Ms. Mangual: Call their names out.

Mr. Shipp: Only members of the board.

Mr. Mojica: Can you hear that?

Mr. Mangual: Can I have the names, please?

Mr. Mojica: Will you repeat that?

Mr. Ship: Call your name out again. That's the best way we can get it.

Mr. Herbert: You want us to say our names? Lukas Herbert. I vote to reject the slate.

Mr. George T. Robinson: Oh, I thought you were rejecting the Nominating Committee.

Mr. Herbert: No, the slate.

Ms. D. Lee Ezell: I thought that happened in the June meeting.

Ms. Blassingame: Didn't he ask for a motion?

Mr. Shipp: We made a motion. Who second that motion?

Mr. Herbert: You asked for a motion. So I made a motion to reject the slate.

Mr. Shipp: You can make a recommendation, but you can't make a motion saying you rejected it reject it, all right?

Ms. Anita Antonetty: OK, so what's going on?

Mr. Shipp: He (Herbert) just made a recommendation.

Ms. Antonetty: OK, so what is the motion?

Mr Shipp: He made the motion to reject the nominating committee.

Ms. Antonetty: I understand what Lukas did, but you are saying that's a recommendation, that's a motion, that's not, it's not. I just need to get it clear because I have to put it in the minutes.

Mr. Shipp: It's a recommendation.

Mr. Herbert: Well you asked generically for a motion. I made a motion to reject the slate.

Ms. Antonetty: OK, I have that.

Mr. Shipp: He can make the motion, but it also can be voted down.

Mr. Herbert: I want to make a motion to reject the slate so that nominations can be taken from the floor.

Mr. Shipp: You can always get nominations from the floor. We are not excluding anyone from being nominated from the floor.

Mr. Herbert: OK.

Mr. Shipp: All right? That's clear. You can always make nominations from the floor.

Mr. Herbert: My understanding was that we had to vote the slate up or down.

Mr. Shipp: No, no.

Mr. Herbert: Oh, OK.

Ms. Antonetty: So, are you (Herbert) withdrawing (the motion)?

Mr. Shipp: Do you want to recall your motion?

Mr. Herbert: No.

Ms. Ezell: You (Shipp) don't have to accept it. You're chairing the meeting.

Mr. Mojica: You (Shipp) don't have to accept it. You don't have to recognize it.

Mr. Shipp: We can vote on this at the 27th, all right? This is the slate that was presented to you.

Mr. Herbert: Then what were you asking for a motion for, just curious.

Mr. Shipp: I was asking you to approve what we had done. OK now understand, let the record show that the motion, we will make the motion on the 27th, and they can nominate people from the floor. All right, so that's clear.

Ms. Mangual: Very clear.

Mr. Shipp: Very clear. All right, the next item on the agenda.

Ms. Antonetty: Wait a minute. We didn't finish.

Ms. Blassingame: Was there any criteria for the Nominating Committee in their selection. What was your criteria?

Mr. Shipp: Criteria was that we had many more names. The criteria was for us the best person to fill the position. That's the criteria.

Ms. Blassingame: Just for instance, I am the Housing and Land Use Committee chair; and we have had a successful committee. I just wanted to get some feeling of why my name wasn't nominated, and what was the criteria for removing my name from the nomination of Housing and Land Use one of the most active committees on the board.

Mr. Robinson: You know what it is, this slate that we voted on was really a slate that the Bronx Borough President sent us. Let's get this straight right now. OK. We have always have nominations of individuals who may not want to be there. We don't know that. That's just something that we had to work with, and that's what we did. And all we're doing is bringing that to you. And that does not mean that you cannot vote from the floor for someone to be the chair of a committee or whatever else it is OK. This whole situation is something that we had to work with. That's all that is, and we have to bring it to you. We're not the final say of this situation; the board members are. So that's all we did was bring the slate to you; and from there you want to vote for somebody, there's no problem. That's what it is.

Mr. Shipp: Yes.

Ms. Betty Robinson: Can I ask a question? Where did they get the names from?

Ms. Mangual: Is she a member? Is she a member? ¿Ella es miembro? Dile que no.

Mr. Mojica: He (Shipp) can entertain her (question).

Mr. Shipp: As I said before, you heard what I read. We had several names that we discussed.

Ms. Mangual: Excuse, excuse me Mr. Shipp. Can they identify themselves and tell me whether they are members or non members when they ask questions?

Mr. Shipp: Are they members of the board, you mean?

Ms. Mangual: The ones asking questions.

Mr. Shipp: The names that I called?

Ms. Mangual: No, no, no.

Ms. Robinson: I am asking a question.

Ms. Mangual: Excuse me.

Mr. Shipp: Oh, the questioners.

Ms. Mangual: Excuse me. May I speak?

Mr. Shipp: Are you (Ms. Robinson) a member of the board?

Ms. Robinson: Of the community, I am a member of the community. I live in the community.

Mr. Shipp: You are not of member of the board. You are a member of the community.

Ms. Robinson: I'm a member of the community. I live in the community. This is a community board, right?

Mr. Ship: That's right.

Ms. Robinson: OK so I am a member of the community. What I want to know is where did the names come from? Who recommended the names?

Mr. Shipp: As I said before, we discussed the names. The names came from all of us in the Nominating Committee and other people, all right. So someone has sent the name in; and so they recommended that person, what have you. And we put the name in.

Ms. Robinson: And what's the criteria? Is the criteria I like you so I put the name in?

Mr. Shipp: No, we looked at the seriousness of their being a member and what they've done and what they should do; and we decided that (way).

“Root of Boro Hall Corruption?” Riverdale Review 06/15/06

Root of Boro Hall Corruption?” Riverdale Review 06/15/06

Reprinted from the Opinions column in the Riverdale Review newspaper (Thursday, June 15, 2006 page 18):

During the past week, newspapers and voters across the City have become aware of something we have known for a long time: Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion, Jr. sees our Bronx community boards as nothing more than an extension of his own power.

The incident that has opened the eyes of the City’s reporters occurred last week, when members of Community Board #4 who opposed the plans to build a new Yankee Stadium were alerted that their services on that board would no longer be required.

You see, Carrion supported the plan. Despite this, Community Board # 4 felt that the plan lacked merit and real consideration for their community and voted against it.

This was unacceptable to Carrion. The Borough President made it clear in a recent radio interview that those who serve on community boards “need to understand, of course, who they’re appointed by and why.”

That understanding was never more clear than last week. Not only did Carrion eliminate board members for publicly voicing a different opinion than his own, he even removed longtime board chairman Ade Rasul, reportedly for failing to keep the board in line when the Yankee Stadium plan came up for a vote.

That Carrion has a vicious, unforgiving demeanor when it comes to Bronx community boards is no surprise to our readers, though the rest of the city may only just now be opening its eyes to the issue.

In 2002, Carrion denied reappointment to Community Board #12 to Mary Lauro, stating that she was “too controversial.” Lauro has been a leader in the fight against “hot sheet” motels in the Northeast Bronx, and has vocally criticized Carrion for his role in that problem.

Also in 2002, Carrion denied reappointment to Community Bard #7 to Alvin Gordon after Gordon wrote several letters to this newspaper criticizing the Borough President.

Gordon was dismissed from Community Board #7 after 20 years of service, and despite the fact that the board had 25 vacancies at the time.

We have offered plenty of criticism over the years to Carrion’s predecessor, Fernando Ferrer. But here is one issue where Ferrer never (with one notable exception) used the community boards as a means of ensuring that his own agenda, both in politics and policy, was able to sneak through with no questions asked.

In fact, Ferrer, in conjunction with local City Council members, made sure the Borough’s community boards were filled with qualified individuals, regardless of their political stripe. By packing the boards with his cronies and yes-men (including his campaign treasurer), Carrion reminds us of another former borough president: the disgraced Stanley Simon, who served jail time for using the borough president’s office for personal gain.

Carrion has famously announced his intentions to run for mayor in 2008, though the only poll to gauge that race shows that, as it stands right now, Carrion has no chance of taking that office, he is still considered a legitimate contender for the office since he is the highest profile Latino-elected official in the City.

We ask our readers this: if Carrion cannot deal with a little difference of opinion over one issue in The Bronx, how could he ever govern an entire city with eight million points of view?

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

"Rangers vs. Isles at Yankee Stadium?" amNY 06/28/06

Rangers vs. Isles at Yankee Stadium?
Newsday Staff Writer

June 27, 2006, 7:21 PM EDT

A Rangers-Islanders game in frosty Yankee Stadium in December or on New Year's Day? It's a possibility.

Preliminary discussions between NHL and Yankees executives, the two NHL teams, city officials and NBC -- which would televise the proposed Jan. 1 regular-season contest between the arch rivals -- began last week, according to numerous people with knowledge of the talks.

"Everybody likes the idea," said one person. "But there are some obstacles. The question is whether the stadium will be usable at that time of year for that purpose."

The NHL staged the only outdoor game in its history on Nov. 22, 2003, at Edmonton's Commonwealth Stadium, home of the Edmonton Eskimos football team, and wants to recapture that buzz with an outdoor game in the United States between U.S.-based teams. More than 56,000 fans bundled up in near-zero-degree weather -- doubling the record for the largest crowd to even watch an NHL game -- and saw the Montreal Canadiens edge the Edmonton Oilers 4-3.

"A request has been made to use the stadium for an NHL game in the 2006-2007 season," Yankees spokesman Rick Cerrone confirmed last night. "The matter is under discussion."

One NHL team executive said last night that dates in December also had been presented and might be more acceptable. NBC, however, which will be televising NFL games on Sunday night this season, is said to be seeking New Year's Day. It has the time available; the network does not televise college games on Jan. 1 anymore.

Yankee Stadium, which was built in 1923 and renovated in the mid-1970s, has hosted summer events for decades, but nothing in the winter since the NFL's New York Giants left in 1973. Yankees officials are examining whether the aging infrastructure -- water pipes, for example -- could handle the low temperatures and the logistics and feasibility of constructing an NHL-quality rink without damaging the infield.

The stadium has been used almost exclusively for baseball since 2001, though Billy Joel performed in August 1990 and U2 took the stage there in August 1992.

With next season's schedule due to be released in mid-July, league sources said it's unlikely there will be an outdoor game at any venue this season. "But schedules can always be changed," said a team executive.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has said that the league was indeed exploring the possibility of another outdoor game.

"Board changes in Bronx" Metro NY 06/28/06

Board changes in Bronx

by patrick arden / metro new york

JUN 28, 2006

MT. EDEN — Community Board 4 overwhelmingly approved last night a new executive board sponsored by Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion. The board’s previous meeting on June 6 was abruptly adjourned after members had introduced a motion to turn down Carrion’s slate.

Carrion had come under fire for dumping members who had voted against the Yankee Stadium plan, but he remained unapologetic, telling Metro, “My expectation is clear. The community boards are there to unfold the vision for a new Bronx.”

After a 23-3-1 vote, a public comment period followed, when a dozen people made impassioned speeches, each denouncing Carrion to the cheers of a crowd of 52. They were joined by several board members who had turned up late.

The new chairman is D. Lee Ezell, former head of the board’s municipal services committee. Ezell was a frequent pro-stadium speaker at public hearings.

“I tried to make them all,” she said, before turning to the gallery. “This makes me sad. I always said if you’re going to work the system, learn how the system works.”

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Save Our Parks press release

LOCAL RESIDENTS OPPOSE CARRION'S SILENCING OF COMMUNITY BOARD 4: Save Our Parks calls for silent protest; residents will hold signs with mouths taped shut.

Bronx, NY - June 27, 2006 - Local residents of the South Bronx, the nation's poorest congressional district, are outraged and will hold a silent protest to highlight Carrión's attempt to silence all opposition. Save Our Parks, a grass roots organization of South Bronx residents, shows support for Community Board 4 after Bronx Borough President Carrión attempts to remove and demote board members who supported the local community who are opposed to the destruction of Mullaly and McCombs Dam Parks to build of a new Yankee Stadium. Save Our Parks finds the Borough Presidents actions offensive and
suppressive of community involvement and concerns.

Mary Blassingame, member and Chairperson of the Housing and Landuse Committee of CB4 for over 21 years, notes "It is unprecedented for a borough president to take such sweeping action against a community board. Community Boards are supposed to be the representatives and advocates of the community interests and CB4 did just that by voting 16-8 against the Yankee Project - Carrión is atempting to dismantle the most basic role of community boards."

This outrage is the latest maneuver by the Borough President to silence objections within the South Bronx community to the
Yankee Stadium Project.

The Yankee Project would place a 140 foot tall, 14-story sports stadium and four parking garages with a capacity of 11,000 cars in the center of a residential community plagued by the highest asthma rates in the nation. The plan calls for the destruction of part of Mullaly Park and all of McComb's Dam Park, which contain 300 mature oak trees. This parkland would be replaced with pocket parks, park features with artificial turf built on top of car garages, and replacement parks up to ¾ of a mile away from its current location.

When: Tuesday, June 27, 2006 6pm

Where: In front of Community Board 4 Meeting: Bronx Lebanon Hospital, 1650 Grand Concourse

Visuals: Dozens of community residents with mouths taped shut holding signs

"Yankee Stadium Proves To Be Undoing of a Bronx Board" NY Sun 6/27/6

Yankee Stadium Proves To Be Undoing of a Bronx Board

June 27, 2006

Bronx Community Board 4 has in recent days become among the best known of the city's 62 community boards. This is the board that voted against the plan to build the new Yankee Stadium. These boards only have advisory power. But having the weight of these "official" representatives of the local neighborhoods behind a project can influence the higher officials who really make the decisions.

Tonight, at Bronx Lebanon Hospital on the Grand Concourse, the board will hold its final meeting before old terms expire and new ones begin. Fireworks are expected. The board that will be in place next week will look quite different from the one that will meet tonight. Members of the board who ignored the wishes of the Bronx president, Adolfo Carrion, have been removed, and new, presumably more pliable members will take their place.

It is the Yankee Stadium matter that has proven to be the undoing of the current board. All of those who voted against the plan and whose terms expire failed to win reappointment. Even the chair of the board, Ade Rasul, who actually voted for the Carrion-backed Stadium plan, was removed. It is said that Mr. Carrion was displeased that he couldn't keep the other members in line. Since the boards' powers are so limited, there is little precedent in the Bronx for such an approach. Usually board members who show up on a regular basis are retained without question.

The controversy over the board appointments has begun to seep from the immediate area into the citywide press. This is because Mr. Carrion is viewed as a potential candidate for higher office, perhaps even mayor. This has become the first widely publicized glimpse at Mr. Carrion in action.

To many of us in the Bronx, the idea of Mr. Carrion taking over City Hall is ludicrous. But Mr. Carrion has assumed the mantle of the city's leading Hispanic politico from his predecessor in borough hall, Fernando Ferrer. Yet while Mr. Ferrer was tolerant of opposing positions taken by his community board appointees, Mr. Carrion is not.

Each community board can have up to 50 members. Members serve for two years, with half of the board appointed or reappointed each year. All of the appointments are made by the borough president, although half are chosen from among nominees of City Council members. In most districts, the full complement of 50 is appointed. But in some neighborhoods, such as the area served by Community Board 4, finding people to serve in what is usually a thankless, often boring position for no pay is nearly impossible.

Mr. Carrion's "Memorial Day Massacre" has drawn additional criticism because Board 4 is down to only 39 members. Mr. Carrion could have added all of the new appointees without removing a single incumbent. Some of the axed members have served for decades.

Mr. Carrion has done this before. In 2002, he refused to reappoint Mary Lauro to Community Board 12 in the northeast Bronx. Ms. Lauro had blown the whistle on an episode in Mr. Carrion's career that continues to haunt him. In 2000, while Mr. Ferrer was still borough president, a rezoning plan for the Board 12 area was proposed by Mayor Giuliani, designed to limit the possibility of more "hot sheet motels" from being constructed. At the time there were 18 such establishments, viewed as hotbeds of prostitution and other crimes, within the area served by the board.

A small number of property owners, eager to keep the option to develop their properties for these motels open, hired an attorney named Linda Baldwin, then a law partner of Bronx Democratic boss Roberto Ramirez. Ms. Baldwin convinced the community board to narrowly reject the Giuliani plan to thwart the motels. It was Ms. Lauro who disclosed that Ms. Baldwin was also Mrs. Adolfo Carrion. Mr. Carrion, then a city council member, had received a $2,000 contribution from one of the property owners, Oscar Porcelli.

In Riverdale, Mr. Carrion packed the board with supporters and then contrived to have his campaign treasurer, Anthony Perez Cassino, made chairman. Mr. Cassino resigned his campaign post, but he remains board chairman. The perception grew that the road to approval of land use projects becomes smoother when the way is greased with campaign cash.

This kind of inside baseball rarely sees the light of day, particularly in a borough in which the district attorney has shown no inclination of investigating any Democratic machine loyalist. But the harsh light of a mayoral campaign is different. That is why there will be close attention paid to this final meeting of Community Board 4 tonight.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

A message from a Save Our Parks Blog reader

A reader of the blog writes in:


I found your blog while searching the Net. I live in Rhode Island, but have been a full-season ticket holder at Yankee Stadium for the past 11 years. I usually go to 45-50 games per year in the Bronx and have a few thoughts on this dilemma.

First off, since reading all the pros and cons of the new location (which I'm against, the current site should remain) I decided to go over to Macombs Dam Park and take "a look". Man, I have to tell you, there were so many people enjoying the park on a Sunday morning.

People were playing soccer, baseball, running and walking around the track. Some were just enjoying the weather, and I thought to myself, these people are really enjoying the "simple pleasures of life" and now I understood why so many are against the Stadium relocating to that site.

I have a website ( and have followed the progress of the new park for years now. What I can't understand is, with modern technology and many intelligent engineers and architects, why doesn't someone do a study on how the "old Stadium" could be ungraded while the Yankees continue to play there? This is what is being done to Fenway Park. Every year, the team does work on the park in the off-season, and it's working out well.

Yankee Stadium is such a historic and sacred site. I feel your group should really push to have the Stadium upgraded, rather than to remove the neighbors from the park they love.

Thank You,
Louis DiLullo

Friday, June 23, 2006

"Something special about playing at Yankee Stadium" Sun-Sentinel 6/23/6

Here's a little taste:

"Joe Borowski is the lone Marlin who played for the Yankees, and he acknowledges the uniqueness of the ballpark.

"You definitely get a historic, as well as awe-inspiring feeling knowing you're standing where Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio played," he said. "Then you look out on Monument Park. It's cool. It's definitely one of the places you want to go to as far as historic relevance."

"Added Willis: "Maybe one of the top three sports venues in all the world, I think. It's legendary. People that have never been to America know about Yankee Stadium. There's something about seeing the outside of the stadium from the subway and the 26 World Championships. That pretty much sums it up. It definitely has a little mystique."

Click the title to read the entire thing.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

"Carrión defends board firings" NY Daily News 6/21/6

Carrión defends board firings

Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrión yesterday defended firing and demoting members of a local community board that voted down the new Yankee Stadium plan, saying they just did not share his "vision."
He also blamed "advocates and activists from outside the area" for influencing Community Board 4 to vote against the plan, though the vote carried only advisory weight.

"My very clear expectation is that these appointees are there to carry out a vision for the borough president and the leadership of this borough, and that's simply what I expect," he said at a joint press conference with Mayor Bloomberg, who announced a new development initiative for the South Bronx.

Some critics have charged the firings could come back to haunt the term-limited Carrión when he faces tough campaigning - and questions about his leadership style - in his expected run for citywide office.

Bob Kappstatter

Originally published on June 21, 2006

Monday, June 19, 2006

"Bronx Board Is Shuffled After Rejecting New Stadium" NY Times 6/19/6

Bronx Board Is Shuffled After Rejecting New Stadium

Published: June 19, 2006

When a Bronx community board rejected the plan to build a new Yankee Stadium on land occupied by two neighborhood parks last year, the result was a surprising setback for Adolfo Carrión Jr., the Bronx borough president, who had been one of the new stadium's most ardent public supporters.

This month, seven months after that vote, Mr. Carrión has replaced or demoted several of the board members. Some say Mr. Carrión's motives are to get rid of board members who voted against the stadium.

Mr. Carrión has declined to say whether the dissenting votes were the reason the members were not reappointed, but several current and former members of the advisory panel have accused him of acting out of vindictiveness, saying he is discouraging community involvement and stifling debate — which they say are unattractive traits for a man who might run for mayor in 2009.

"It's called revenge," said Mary L. Blassingame, a board member who lost her position as chairwoman of the board's housing and land-use committee this month after 21 years. "This shows total disregard for the community."

The vote, though nonbinding, was particularly embarrassing for Mr. Carrión, board members said, because he had approved the appointments of each of the 39 board members and had directed a vigorous lobbying effort to win the vote on the stadium issue.

Mr. Carrión declined to comment for this article. But in a statement, Anne Fenton, a spokeswoman for Mr. Carrión, said, "The borough president along with his fellow elected officials oftentimes appoints new people to serve on their community board in an effort to expand community involvement."

Community boards are allowed to have as many as 50 members, all volunteers. They are picked by each borough president for two-year terms and act in an advisory capacity. If Mr. Carrión fills each of the vacant slots with new appointees, the board will have a total of 39 members. Some members say that if he wanted new voices represented on the panel, Community Board 4, he could have added members rather than replace existing ones.

Four members whose terms expired this month were not reappointed, including the board's chairman, Ade A. Rasul. All but Mr. Rasul had opposed the stadium project, which the board rejected in November. The vote was 16 to 8, with 5 abstentions; 10 members were not present during the vote.

Mr. Rasul, who did not return calls to his home last night, told colleagues that even though he voted for the new stadium, he was being removed because he had failed to deliver the board's vote for Mr. Carrión, according to current and former members of the community board.

Louise Williams, a former board member, was mailed a form letter signed by the borough president last month, telling her that she would not be reappointed after a single two-year term.

"You have to take a stand when injustice is being done, and I stood up and talked so now I'm off the board?" she said. "Adolfo Carrión is not thinking of the needs of the community."

The Yankees say they need a new ballpark because the current one is old and they need more of the lucrative luxury boxes that many teams now use to generate revenue. Despite the community board's opposition, the City Council approved the project in April.

The $800 million stadium is awaiting clearance from the National Park Service and, because of the bond financing involved, the Internal Revenue Service. It would sit on two popular parks across 161st Street from the current Yankee Stadium, which would be torn down and replaced by a new park. It is scheduled to be finished in 2009.

The plan encountered significant opposition in the High Bridge neighborhood, just north of the stadium, as residents complained about the loss of the parks and the potential increase in traffic and pollution in an area with high asthma rates.

The discord marked the second time in recent months that members of Community Board 4 had publicly criticized Mr. Carrión. In February, several board members said a community benefits agreement negotiated by Mr. Carrión with the Related Companies for a new shopping mall at the site of the Bronx Terminal Market had shortchanged Bronx residents.

Maria Simmons, who lives near Yankee Stadium, said she was circulating a letter that would eventually be sent to Mr. Carrión saying that his failure to reappoint the dissenting board members runs counter to the ideals of democracy. She said she wanted to get 5,000 signatures of Bronx residents on the letter before sending it.

"It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out what happened," she said. "With all due respect, what we want to communicate to him is, 'Don't play with people who put their trust in you.' "

Thursday, June 15, 2006

"Carrion: No payback for foes of stadium" Metro NY 06/15/06

Carrion: No payback for foes of stadium
Claims of revenge on Community Board 4 greatly exaggerated, Borough Pres. says

by patrick arden / metro new york

JUN 15, 2006

SOUTH BRONX — Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion yesterday dismissed the controversy over his removal of members on Community Board 4, which had voted down his new Yankee Stadium project last year by a two-to-one margin. Out of 19 members up for reappointment this month, only five people are staying on. At a raucous meeting last week, some board members said Carrion’s actions smacked of political payback.

“As borough president, I appoint members,” Carrion said. “My expectation is very clear. The community boards are there to unfold the vision for a new Bronx. I expect that they’re going to be very bullish about growth and opportunity, and when that doesn’t happen we change.”

Rubber stamp?

“He means we should have carried out his dictates,” replied stadium opponent Mary Blassingame, whose term on Community Board 4 doesn’t expire until next year but who nevertheless lost her spot as chair of the land-use committee, a position she’s held for 21 years. “You know, that stadium plan is a nightmare when you look at it. We have only a sliver of a park, and he wants to give it up, cut down 300 old-growth trees when we already have a high asthma rate. Plus it’s a sweetheart deal — he’s giving away the store.”

“The community board never said no to growth,” said remaining board member and urban planner Lukas Herbert. “We only said this project is garbage — give us another one. We would have preferred to see a new stadium on the same site or a renovation project. We only said no to giving the Yankees everything they want in return for a slush fund.”

Carrion had crafted a community partnership agreement with the Yankees that set up a panel to dole out $700,000 a year in grants to area nonprofits. The pact also reserved one-quarter of all stadium jobs for Bronx residents.

Mayor Carrion?

Blassingame guessed that Carrion now has his sights on higher office.

“The borough president did this to the community board because he hopes it will make him look stronger when he runs for mayor,” she speculated. “But he just lost a lot of votes. The board reflected the views of the majority of residents, and that’s why people are outraged. We’ve never had a borough president interfere with the community board so much. I don’t even know if his new slate is going to get approved by the remaining board members. It could be more embarrassing. He’s digging a hole for himself.”

Carrion said his motives were “simple.”

“People add all this mystery and intrigue, and there’s very little of it,” he said. “I’m looking for good people who will work hard and carry out a vision.”

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Yankees' lobbyists

Click on title to get a list of the Yankees' past and current lobbyists.

NOTE: The list does not include the Yankees' newest additions to bolster their faltering scheme to destroy the House-That-Ruth-Built and steal our children's playgrounds for a new taxpayer-subsidized stadium.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

"Bx. beep axes Yank plan foes" NY Daily News 06/13/06

Is Carrion afraid of democracy and common sense?

Bx. beep axes Yank plan foes


Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrión continues to show no mercy to opponents of the new Yankee Stadium plan.

Last month, Carrión sacked several members of Community Board 4 who opposed his wishes and voted against the plan for the new stadium, as well as the chairman of the board, presumably for not keeping his members in line.

Carrión's purge continued last week as a critic was ousted as chairwoman of a rebellious committee and other committee members were barred from taking her place.

Mary Blassingame, chairwoman of the housing and land use committee, was demoted for leading opposition to the controversial plan to locate the new stadium on two popular city parks.

Carrión earlier sacked four members of the board, which had voted, 16 to 8, to reject the plan.

Three of the ousted members - Gertrude Lane, Marie Stroud and Louise Williams - voted against the plan, but board Chairman Abe Rasul, who voted for it, was reportedly dumped for failing to deliver the board.

Board members are unpaid volunteers appointed by the borough president for two-year terms. Rasul and the three dissenters were the only members whose terms were up last month who were not reappointed.

Carrión declined to respond, other than to release a statement through a spokesman.

"The borough president, along with his fellow elected officials, oftentimes appoints new people to serve on the community boards in an effort to expand community involvement," it stated.

Bedlam broke out at the board's regular meeting last Tuesday when members rebelled against Blassingame being replaced with a board member who had never served on the land use and housing committee.

The committee had voted unanimously against the stadium plan, and board members charge current committee members were purposely barred from promotion to the committee chairmanship.

Certified city planner, stadium critic and committee member Lukas Herbert blasted Carrión - who often touts his own background in urban planning - for "steamrolling" the community with the stadium plan.

"If [Carrión] was acting like an urban planner, this whole process wouldn't have gone down like this," said Herbert. "Planners are supposed to go out of their way to include the community's views."

"Pollution plan may flush Yanks’ park" NY Metro 06/13/06

Pollution plan may flush Yanks’ park

by patrick arden / metro new york

JUN 13, 2006

SOUTH BRONX — The proposed new Yankee Stadium project could face another unforeseen hurdle when the city applies for a stormwater-discharge permit before beginning construction, warns Karen Argenti, the former chairperson of Bronx Community Board 7. “Once they ask for that permit, there should be a public review process under the state’s Environmental Justice and Permitting law,” she said.

Environmental concerns over stormwater discharged into the Harlem River could lead to a new public hearing on the proposed Yankee Stadium. (Photo: Bill Lyons/Metro)

In low-income communities like here — which also have a mostly “minority population” — the law “requires applicants for permits covered by the policy to actively seek public participation,” providing documents to community residents in Spanish as well as English. One of the permits cited is the “state pollutant discharge elimination system,” or SPDES permit. According to the Yankee Stadium Final Environmental Impact Statement, the city will require a “SPDES general permit for stormwater discharges associated with construction activities.”

Environmental concerns

The FEIS claims a similar permit won’t be required for the finished stadium, which will use existing sewers and “stormwater detention” tanks to handle excess rainwater, or for the waterfront replacement-parkland parcel, where water “may discharge directly into the Harlem River.”

“The community should get a chance to comment on whether this project should be allowed to discharge into the Harlem River,” said Argenti.

Argenti had educated herself on the adverse impact of stormwater when the city decided to build a water-filtration plant in Van Cortlandt Park.

She was approached this year by Highbridge residents concerned about the Yankee Stadium plan, so she read the FEIS. By taking away parkland and replacing it with artificial surfaces, she figured, the amount of rainwater would increase, overburdening the city’s outdated and overtaxed sewer system.

But the document dismisses such fears: “Potential adverse effects to water quality resulting from the discharge of stormwater ... would be minimized through implementation of a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan.”

Argenti has tried to get her hands on that plan.

She approached Stephen Venezia of the Environmental Protection Agency. “They’re required to have a stormwater plan,” said Venezia. But he hasn’t seen it. “Any construction of over an acre is required to follow [minimum federal] stormwater regulations,” he said. New York State is authorized to run the program, but the EPA still oversees it. At Argenti’s behest, Venezia is trying to get a copy of the stormwater plan. “I would think the state [Dept. of Environmental Conservation] would have it.”

But DEC spokesperson Maureen Wren hasn’t seen the plan either. “Generally speaking a discharge into a water body would require a SPDES permit,” she said, “though there are exceptions.”

‘Moving things around’

Janel Patterson, a spokesperson for the Economic Development Corporation, said the city hasn’t applied for the permit yet, and it’s still tinkering with the project’s stormwater plan.

“I’ve been told we’re still moving things around,” she said. She referred to chapter 12 of the FEIS, which reads, “The volume of stormwater from the proposed project would not have a significant adverse impact on the Harlem River or on the City’s combined sewer system.”

“I’m not an engineer, but the city already has a serious problem on its hands with its ancient combined sewer system,” said Basil Seggos, a legal investigator with the environmental group Riverkeeper. “It seems what they’re proposing will increase the amount of stormwater that’s being discharged into the river.”

Call to the bullpen

• The Yankees have hired two high-powered lobbyists to get their parkland-replacement plan approved by the National Park Service, the Washington Post reported last week. Former Republican Rep. Bill Paxon (the husband of ex-Rep. Susan Molinari) and former Interior Department official Michael G. Rossetti recently registered to lobby for “federal approvals necessary to complete stadium relocation."

"Yanks Muscling Up In Swing At New Park " NY Post 06/12/06

Yanks Muscling Up In Swing At New Park

By GEOFF EARLE Post Correspondent , NY Post

June 12, 2006 -- WASHINGTON - The Yankees have two new heavy hitters - a pair of Washington lobbyists drafted to help steamroll bureaucratic obstacles to the team's plan to build the latest incarnation of Yankee Stadium on city parkland that only the feds can unlock.

The big-bucks lobbyists will try to get fast federal approval for the project, even as community foes prepare to sue to block construction of the $800 million, 53,000-seat ballpark.

But a tangle of federal agencies could snarl the Yankees' plans. The National Park Service, which has refurbished city parks with taxpayer dollars, the Army Corps of Engineers, the IRS and landmark preservationists must agree to go along before the new House that Ruth Built can go up.

According to disclosure reports, the Yanks have hired former Rep. Bill Paxon (R-N.Y.), husband of former Rep. Susan Molinari (R-S.I.) and son-in-law of former Staten Island Borough President Guy Molinari. Paxon commands top dollar and represents a wealth of big corporate clients.

They've also signed Michael Rosetti, a Buffalo native who handled bitter land disputes as a lawyer for the federal Department of the Interior.

George Steinbrenner's team needs the feds to sign off on the project before it can break ground across the street from the current Yankee Stadium - atop Macombs Dam and John Mullaly parks, two longtime community staples.

Washington paid more than $400,000 to refurbish those parks in the 1970s - under a law that bars private developers from bulldozing them. They include several baseball diamonds and some of the South Bronx's few tennis courts.

While the law allows the Yanks to replace them with new parks, the replacements must sit nearby and must be worth at least as much as the old ones. The team's current replacement offer has activists fuming.

"This isn't going anywhere anytime soon, and the Yankees are fully aware of that," said Geoffrey Croft of New York City Park Advocates. "The land itself is not a good swap, because some [fields] are on top of parking garages. [And] five of the acres are a mile away from their existing place."

If the feds accept the swap, his group will sue, Croft vowed.

The Bronx Bombers are not exactly shaking in their cleats. "All of those [arguments] have been heard," said Yankee CEO Lonn Trost. "Votes were taken, and the new stadium has been approved by every process required."

The National Park Service fix insists its taking its role in the urban drama seriously. "Our job is not to delay a process but to simply protect the taxpayers, who put in around $400,000 back in the '70s to ensure some recreational opportunities," said spokesman Phil Sheridan.

The City Council authorized construction in April, but the Yankees' application for tax-free federal financing of construction bonds is still awaiting IRS approval - another issue that could require a political cleanup hitter.

"BX. Beep Decks Anti-Stadium Board" NY Post 06/12/06

BX. Beep Decks Anti-Stadium Board


June 12, 2006 -- Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrión is playing hardball with the community board that tried to block his pitch for a new Yankee Stadium.

Four of the nine members of Community Board 4, including its chair, are up for reappointment, a spokeswoman for Carrión noted.

And while Carrión isn't revealing his lineup shuffle, this may well be payback time for the board's November 2005 vote against plans to bulldoze two popular public parks in favor of the new stadium.

The only stadium supporter not reappointed is Chairman Ade Rasul, and that, board sources say, may be because he failed to persuade his colleagues to back the controversial project. Rasul did not return a call seeking comment.

Board sources say others denied reappointment include longtime members Gertrude Lane, Marie Stroud and Louise Williams, none of whom could be reached for comment.

The five reappointments are the fewest so far to any of the Bronx's 12 community boards. Eight members are returning to Community Board 5 and at least 10 to each of the rest.

Board members are volunteers assigned by the borough president to two-year terms. Community Board 4, bowing to residential pressure, voted 16-8 to reject the Yankees' plan. Five members abstained.

But the board's role is only advisory, and Carrión, the Planning Commission and the City Council ignored it and green-lighted the project.

Board member Tim Birkett suggested that Carrión, mentioned prominently as a possible 2009 mayoral candidate, was irked less by the vote than by some board members' threats to fight him politically.

Monday, June 12, 2006

"Stadium plan will destroy neighborhood " The Journal News 05/14/06

Stadium plan will destroy neighborhood

By HERBERT F. GELLER in The Journal News , May 14, 2006

Back in the 1930s, during the days of the Great Depression, I remember seeing the City of New York inspired by Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia's love of public parks and play spaces for children, building the Mullaly Playground in Macombs Dam Park. It had a wading pool, swings, slides, seesaws and later handball courts, where my father, fanatically devoted to that sport, often played with handball players of all ages.

Towering a few blocks away was the great Yankee Stadium, the pride of the Bronx, with stars like Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and later Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle playing for the team that has won the most world championships in baseball. Complementing the greatest ballfield in America were Joyce Kilmer Park, named after the author of "Trees," and Franz Sigel Park, on whose hill Washington and Rochambeau once stood deciding whether to attack British-held Manhattan or march 300 miles south to defeat Cornwallis in Yorktown, Va.

Now they want to destroy this great historic neighborhood centering around 161st Street, River Avenue, Jerome Avenue and the Concourse. They want to build a new Yankee Stadium in Macombs Dam Park only because George Steinbrenner wants to provide 60 luxury boxes for wealthy people. They want to eliminate 5,000 seats for ordinary people to accommodate those boxes. And, hidden in the statistics telling about the benefits of this project, is how much the taxpayers would have to pay for a new Yankee Stadium. I believe it will cost the city taxpayers at least several hundreds of millions of dollars.

In return for destroying Macombs Park and Mullaly Playground, the developers would provide a series of vest-pocket parks, including some on the top of parking garages. What about the people who live in the area that was my childhood home? Are they are going to lose any semblance of a community to a huge, exclusively commercial area? If children or adults want a playground or recreational area, will they be able to find one on top of a parking garage? What will happen when Yankee Stadium is torn down and replaced by a parking area? Will some of the ground be the site of tailgate parties, like the area around Shea Stadium that I've seen coated with barbecue ashes, cans, bottles and decaying food? Is that what George Steinbrenner is asking for?

Even though I have lived in northern Westchester for the past 50 years, I have many fond memories of Yankee Stadium, and not only involving baseball. I remember the Army-Navy games when cadets marched down 161st Street; and seeing President Harry Truman talking to the great Jim Thorpe in front of the now-vanished Concourse Plaza Hote; and the Joe Louis-Max Schmeling fight in 1938.

As for baseball in 1932, I actually caught a ball hit over the stadium. A friend and I with got the signatures of Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and the whole 1932 Yankee team. It would be worth a fortune now, but the other kid borrowed it from me. He moved away, and I never saw him or the ball again.

Many of the 1930s Yankees were part of our neighborhood. Pitcher Herb Pennock and other Yankees and their wives would sublet apartments at 923 Walton Ave. and other buildings around Joyce Kilmer Park during those years. And there was a famous steak restaurant on Cortlandt Avenue and 161st Street where the ball players ate and where I met and talked to Mickey Mantle and Enos Slaughter.

My parents, Sam and May Geller, loved that neighborhood because it had everything — a real family community and the feeling of living in a famous neighborhood engendered by Yankee Stadium, the Concourse Plaza Hotel and the Bronx County Courthouse. How will the people who now live there feel when they are surrounded by parking lots, garages and vest-pocket parks?

People of the Bronx, don't listen to the siren song of the developers and the big-usiness interests. Save Macombs Dam Park and the Mullaly Playground. Parks and other recreational areas belong to the people and should never be turned over to commercial interests. Preserve the historic stadium for future generations. As they did with the proposed West Side Stadium, reject the whole deal. We don't need the 60 luxury boxes.

Preserve the stadium as a place where the ordinary people of the Bronx can continue to watch their favorite team, the New York Yankees, continue to win world championships.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

"Hypocrisy Greed & Betrayal: Following Baseball’s Money Trail" Chris Chatham 05/22/03

Hypocrisy Greed & Betrayal: Following Baseball’s Money Trail
Chris Chatham (MLB Managing Editor), 5/22/2003

Last week Major League Baseball’s Political Action Committee’s (PAC) records of campaign donations became public for the first time.

The purpose of MLBPAC was to lobby for protect the infamous antitrust exemption which allows baseball to run their league any way it wants without the risk of being reprimanded on anti-trust laws that apply to every other business in this country. It is also the duty of the MLBPAC to lobby for the protection of their copyrights on the Internet.

Well after the records were released I took the liberty and searched into various government and public websites and have compiled a list of every elected official that received campaign donations from the MLBPAC along with other political action committees they have donated too.

The list includes 21 US Senators (13 Democrat 8 Republican) and 37 Representatives in the US House (19 Democrat 18 Republican). I also found 10 other political action committees that help out political candidates for both parties.

It’s only fair to let you all know that when the MLBPAC is lobbying in DC to congressional and senatorial candidates to give you the names of the candidates themselves.

Most of this money went to members of the House and Senate Judicial and Commerce Committees if not all of it.

But just like in all of politics when you follow the money trail you usually find a lot of hypocrisy.

Many of these active politicians were locked in on Bud Selig when he put the Minnesota Twins in front of the firing squad for contraction in late 2001. Legislation was introduced into the House (HR: 3288) late 2001 but it disappeared before it ever went to vote.

HR: 3288 Fairness in Antitrust in National Sports (FANS) Act of 2001. This bill would amend federal antitrust laws so that they would apply to Major League Baseball, which currently is the only sports association to enjoy an exemption from these laws

The bill was introduced by Minnesota Senators Mark Dayton (D) and the late Paul Wellstone (D) who were out to protect the Twins from no longer existing.

Those two senators were consistent. There was no direct money line between Major League Baseball and Senators Wellstone and Dayton. However there were other politicians that spoke out against the proposed contraction like Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-North Dakota) and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wisconsin) who in the end DID receive contributions from MLBPAC.

In fact I managed to look into some archived reports for some quotes about what they said about HR: 3288 and Commissioner Bud Selig.

On his government website Sensenbrenner stated that “…maybe the Supreme Court’s help in 1922 has outlived its usefulness and the market should be allowed to work in baseball like it has in the other major sports.”

Rep. James Sensenbrenner received $5,000 from MLBPAC on May 22nd 2002 via his campaign fund, the Sensenbrenner Committee. With that fat check Sensenbrenner joins Missouri Congressman and Presidential Candidate Dick Gephardt as the biggest beneficiaries from MLBPAC.

At this time we found that Gephardt was pretty consistent in his pro-Selig rhetoric. He’s been trying to find a way to get the pending new stadium for the St. Louis Cardinals to remain in downtown St. Louis.

Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND) told the Associated Press that Commissioner Selig would have a “big problem” with him if he continued to pursue the contraction of the Minnesota Twins in late 2001.

May 23rd 2002 Dorgan accepted a $1,000 donation from the MLBPAC. The first of what would be three $1,000 donations into the Friends of Byron Dorgan campaign fund.

He took a swing a Selig and now all of a sudden baseball is one of the “friends” of Byron Dorgan?

I thought so too. Kind of laughable isn’t it?

Senator Mike DeWine (R-Ohio) was also given $1,000 via Mike DeWine for US Senate fund and also got MLBPAC to donate an extra $3,000 to the Ohio’s 17 Star PAC which he’s affiliated with.

I’m not a hardcore political analyst but I believe that three grand was known as “soft money.” If I'm wrong then let me know. My email is at the end of this article.

Similar donations were given to Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-South Dakota). The “A Lot of People Supporting Tom Daschle” campaign received a cool grand from baseball on May 22nd 2002. He also managed to get another $1,000 check to the Dedicated Americans for the Senate and the House PAC (DASHPAC) which he is affiliated with.

On October 4th 2002 MLBPAC contributed $2,000 to the New Republican Majority Fund. Sen. Trent Lott (R-Mississippi) affiliates that PAC. Relax those select offensive comments he made happened two months after the transaction. Can’t nail anybody for that one.

What I did notice is that the third party PAC’s that took money from baseball didn’t give money to the controversial politicians on Capitol Hill.

Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Washington), Rep. David Bonior (D-Michigan) Rep. Mike Thompson (D-California); the three congressmen who flew to Baghdad prior to the war and ripped President Bush calling him a liar, didn’t get a direct line from MLBPAC nor did any of the other PAC’s it’s supported.

With the exception of Trent Lott (who once again, made those offensive statements after the donation date) there wasn’t anybody in DC that was extremely controversial for their words and actions were not given any money from baseball from direct or indirect parties. And if for whatever reason, somebody on the list did something that stupid chances are it happened after they took the money.

Now with all those things out of the way the single most outspoken politician about the baseball antitrust exemption was none other than Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Michigan). When the Twins were on the line this was the guy who seemingly stood up for the disgruntled fans of the game. He co-sponsored HR: 3288 with Senators Wellstone and Dayton.

He vowed to us all that he would do everything in his power to see that this does not happen and vowed to fight the antitrust exemption that Major League Baseball has.

In fact I have taken the liberty for you all of digging up a quote from the Associated Press archives about the contraction issue.

"This unprecedented decision is bad for the fans, bad for the players on the field and the workers and businesses at and around the stadium, bad for the minor league teams that will also be cut loose, and bad for the cities that will be forced into new and more costly bidding wars to avoid being dumped by baseball."

Here’s another one from the same article.

"Any time 30 of the wealthiest and most influential individuals get together behind closed doors and agree to reduce output, that cannot be a good thing for anyone but the monopolists. I will do everything in my power to see that this ill-considered decision does not stand, including introducing legislation to insure that the full weight of the antitrust laws applies to this anti-competitive decision."

I knew I recognized Conyers from somewhere when I went over the list of politicians. Then I remembered when I dug up some of this stuff. Who knows I might have actually praised the man in a previous column because of his hard stance.

Conyers wrote a letter to Commissioner Bud Selig asking him to step down in January 2002. A request that was quickly declined by Selig.

Well guess what folks? He too is on the MLBPAC list of donations. Just 6 months after writing that letter to Bud Selig a $1,000 was deposited into the Friends of John Conyers' campaign fund. Two months later another $2,000 went into that same campaign fund.

This was the biggest rebel to Bud Selig throughout this whole thing and now all of a sudden he’s on the MLBPAC payroll? Are you catching my drift Tiger fans?

For those who go to the ballpark and watch the Detroit Tigers play let me ask you this. What positive aspect of the antitrust exemption has affected you? In fact let me go a step further. Has the new Collective Bargaining Agreement helped the Tigers in any way shape or form?

Well, you elected him. I don’t live in Michigan nor have I ever been there but if a congressman from the State of Washington did this I’d have a problem. Fortunately for me the only politician out of the Pacific Northwest to accept donations was Sen. Gordon Smith (R-Oregon).

In other words, John Conyers pulled the wool over the eyes of his district and until now nobody ever knew or they just never cared. While digging up all this research I can now understand why people aren't going to the polls anymore.

I have two reasons why I grinded on all the public records online for you all.

1) Public Service

I figured since people from all walks of life were emailing me throughout the 2002 season with anti-Selig or MLB Boycott sites I knew that there was a boatload of people that were tired of it all and wanted the antitrust exemption to be revoked because of it. I’ve put some polls up on the message boards and so far people in favor of revoking it far outweigh the exemption’s support.

2) Major League Baseball Now Has A Clear Path To More Corruption.

They have just about all their tracks covered now. So in the future if the thought of screwing the State of Minnesota ever comes up again they'll have a bigger support-line from Capitol Hill.

The fact that the Minnesota Twins still haven’t gotten themselves a new stadium plan puts Commissioner Selig and the other owners in prime position to take another stab at moving the Twins out of Minneapolis one more time if they really wanted to.

There is nobody on Capitol Hill from Minnesota that received contributions from MLBPAC. However North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, and Ohio have gotten paid. Baseball fans in Minnesota find themselves boxed in by its neighboring states and by any other politician they would be counting on to fight for them.

In fact anybody on Capitol Hill that has any significant power is on this list.

If Portland Oregon doesn’t land the Expos in July then the next move by Portland officials would be to push extremely hard and land another existing team. That’s where the Minnesota Twins comes in. In fact the Twins might be a better offer than the Expos because they are young and they are amongst the best teams in the game.

Which explains why I saw Oregon Senator Gordon Smith’s name on the donations’ list. I had trouble figuring Smith out because if you revoke the exemption from baseball he could get a team into Oregon much easier. But he seems to be willing to play the political game with a commissioner whose testimoney to the government was contradicted by Forbes magazine.

To make things blunt for you. If Selig wants to get the Twins out of Minnesota, he can and he may do so in the next 12-24 months.

So now after all of these numbers we find out that the Twins are still in the fire pit and this time the people they once counted on are now on payroll for the MLBPAC.

Now we will find out how much pull the Minnesota Senators really have. Mark Dayton is the only sponsor of HR: 3288 left. His colleague from (Wellstone) Minnesota died tragically and John Conyers sold out and deceived us all.

Politics as usual and even baseball is included.

Questions? Comments? Do I Have Soft Money? Please contact Chris Chatham via email...

To view the list of Senators on MLBPAC's list Click Here

To view the list of Congressmen on MLBPAC's list Click Here

To view the list of other PAC's that baseball contributed to Click Here

Saturday, June 10, 2006

"New PAC gave to 65 congressional candidates" ESPN 05/13/06

New PAC gave to 65 congressional candidates

on ESPN via Associated Press, Tuesday, May 13, 2006

WASHINGTON -- Major League Baseball's political action committee contributed $108,000 to 65 congressional candidates last year, much of it to incumbents who sit on committees of strategic interest to the sport.

Federal Election Commission reports show that the PAC gave to 40 House candidates and 25 Senate candidates, about 60 percent to Democrats and 40 percent to Republicans. Baseball also contributed $170,000 in unregulated "soft money'' to the national parties in the last election, $95,000 to the Democrats, $75,000 to the GOP.

Baseball, the only sport with a PAC,(our emphasis) formed the committee last year, when the House and Senate judiciary committees were considering legislation that would partially rescind the sport's antitrust exemption. Among other things, that exemption has given baseball the authority to prevent teams from moving from city to city, as has happened in other sports.

Baseball lobbied to preserve the exemption and made contributions to committee members in both houses of Congress. It also dropped plans to eliminate two teams, the idea that sparked the bill. The legislation never made it out of committee.

The sport also is working to preserve its copyrights on the Internet, an issue that comes under the jurisdiction of the House and Senate commerce committees. Most of the PAC's contributions went to members who sit on either judiciary or commerce.

"We give to people who love the game, not only to people who serve on the (important) committees,'' said Lucy Calautti, baseball's Washington lobbyist. "We believe if they love the game, they will fight for our issues.''

Roger Noll, a Stanford University economics professor who has written about the economics of sports, said it's no surprise that baseball would take an active role in politics.

"Good grief, what does baseball do that doesn't have a strong public policy component?'' asked Noll, currently a visiting scholar at the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank.

Noll cited baseball's antitrust exemption, its ability to depreciate players' contracts as business expenses, and its use of tax-exempt bonds to finance stadium construction.

"A very significant fraction of the wealth of baseball owners -- probably more than half -- is attributable to favorable federal policies,'' Noll said.

Decisions on PAC donations are made by Calautti; William Schweitzer, who runs Washington's baseball office with her; and commissioner Bud Selig.

Calautti said the balance of contributions between Republicans and Democrats probably will even out over time.

Selig's predecessor, Fay Vincent, who was forced out as commissioner in 1992, said Congress has real power over the sport. He said Senate pressure in the 1980s led baseball to award expansion franchises to Denver and Miami in 1991.

He recalled that senators, especially from Colorado and Florida, threatened to push legislation to rescind baseball's antitrust exemption.

Vincent said he doesn't remember any talk, however, of forming a PAC when he was commissioner.

"I think I would have been negative about it,'' he said. "Baseball is to some extent a public trust. I think it would be hard for me to link the public dimension with the political process.''

Noll said it makes sense for baseball to make PAC contributions, which he likened to the price of admission to get access to lawmakers.

"Any industry that has any kind of dependence on government is pretty much forced to do what they're doing,'' he said. "Unfortunately, this has become the cost of doing business.''

Friday, June 09, 2006

"Bombers retain big guns for stadium lobby" The Crain's Insider, 6/6/6

The Yankees have hired Michael Rosetti and Bill Paxon of law firm Akin Gump Strauss Haur & Feld to lobby federal agencies for the approvals needed to build a Yankee Stadium.

Because federal money was used to repair Macombs Dam Park several years ago, the team must get an OK from the National Park Service to build the stadium on the park site. The Yankees must prove that they are replacing parkland with something of equal or fair market value and that the replacement facilities off reasonable equivalent recreational usefulness, say Micaela Birmingham, planning director for New Yorkers for Parks.

The Yankees had hoped to break ground on the stadium in April. Yankees President Randy Levine practices law in Akin Gump's midtown offices. Howard Rubenstein, a spokesman for the team, says the hire is part of an overall legal and public policy strategy.

"Muscling in on construction jobs; private minority unions" The Nation 07/13/92

Muscling in on construction jobs; private minority unions

by Elizabeth Kadetsky in The Nation, July 13, 1992

Hector Ocasio's voice pierces the mist on this bleak winter morning. A tableau of crumbling South Bronx brownstones spreads out in front of him as he confronts a band of immigrant construction workers, a thin veneer of plaster dust accentuating the whiteness of their faces. The immigrants brandish their tools, protecting jobs.

"I want my people on this job, that's all I want," Ocasio rants to a shivering construction supervisor. "You bring these guys from Long Island, from Portugal, you take money from the community and send it to some other country where they don't even speak English? What do we want?" Flanking Ocasio are forty-five guys - burly guys with hammers, black and Latino. "We don't want to kill and rob:" they respond in thundering unison. "All we want is a motherfucking job."

"Heyheyhey. We don't want no trouble:" the super says with fluttering hands and shaky breath. "All you want is for one guy? Send a guy tomorrow; well put a guy on. O.K.?"

Ocasio smooths his black hair as his partner, Tiger, leads the troop to a decrepit school bus emblazoned with the name United Hispanic Construction Workers. Beneath the name and stitched to members' company jackets is Malcolm X's slogan: "By Any Means Necessary."

"You gotta threaten them a little:" one member explains as we approach the bus, "or else you won't get a thing."

This school bus is one of close to forty like it that prowl low-income New York City neighborhoods in search of construction sites. The buses belong to minority groups, known as "coalitions:" that secure jobs with little more than a threatening demeanor and the argument that workers from the neighborhood deserve work on local construction sites - home to New York's only low-skill jobs that pay $ 30,000 or more a year. During a cyclical bust in which many of the city's construction unions claim 50 percent unemployment, competition for construction jobs is fierce to the point of violence. And, in an era when the loss of New York's manufacturing base has pushed uneducated workers into a shrinking number of unskilled industries, construction alone has maintained its share of jobs. That anomaly might help explain why foisting unwanted and often unskilled workers into construction jobs has become a violent affair. Coalitions were involved in 542 disruptions at construction sites in 1991 and have been the object of four full-scale government investigations into fraud, extortion and murder over the past decade.

Critics slam the coalitions as anything from "two-bit crumb bums who don't give a damn about civil rights reform" (an organized-crime investigator) to "a bunch of dope fiends who get paid $ 5 an hour to ride around in a bus all day" (a coalition leader speaking about a rival group) to "minorities just fighting other minorities" (a civil rights activist) to "a new type of mafia" (a contractor). But in the face of insidious racism in the construction industry, it's not government that's getting construction jobs for people of color, and it's certainly not New York's ethnic unions - it's coalitions. "Without the coalitions," says one job super for a major New York City construction company, "there wouldn't be any minorities in this industry."

Alfonso (Lucky) Rivera came to coalition work in 1972, after a representative of the mason tenders' union handed him a list of 200 construction sites and told him to find a job. Once Rivera had a job, the rep said, they'd let him in the union. "If I would've stayed with them I'd probably be on the corner homeless somewhere," says Rivera. He found nothing until he joined Black and Latin Economic Survival, a South Bronx coalition that now claims to have placed a total of 25,000 construction workers. Rivera eventually split from that group and founded his own, Positive Workforce (P.W.), out of an East Harlem storefront. He presides over a membership of 300 mostly young Latino men who, on this afternoon in Positive HQ, heed Rivera's orders to fetch statistics, serve soft drinks or quit smoking in the office. Rivera wears a red headband and loose fatigues tucked into combat boots A la Che Guevara. Among the objects surrounding him is a publicly displayed "shape board," which lists every member of the group in order of who's been riding the bus longest and, therefore, gets the next job. That is the kind of list minorities and dissidents within the notoriously corrupt construction unions have been unsuccessfully demanding for years; Local 17 of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Local 3 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers are both fending off appeals to the National Labor Relations Board from members who claim there is no list, only a corrupt system of favoritism.

Rivera runs an ersatz union. P.W. members pay $ 15-a-week dues - almost double the carpenters' dues, but in the end about the same since P.W. members pay only during the approximately two weeks a month they work. As in many unions, you have to know someone to get into P.W., though that doesn't keep 30 percent of its members from having prison records. And like the union locals, P.W. summons its strength from an intense and even sectarian ethnic identification. Rivera looks out for Puerto Ricans. "I would like to get more jobs for my guys," he says in explanation of an incident last summer that sent thirty-five workers to jail; a confrontation with the rival Black Economic Survival at a Staten Island construction site took on the character of a gang war between ethnic groups. "I don't blame Italians for doing what they do for their people, or the Irish for theirs. You got all kinds of racists, black racists, Spanish racists. I don't blame the unions. We're just playing the game the same way the unions have been doing it."

At Rivera's side, P.W. members sound like initiates paying tribute to their patriarch. "Lucky made me a man," says Martin, a round-faced 24-year-old chewing on a Tootsie Roll. "I was caught up in the oyster - hustling, dealing drugs. If it wasn't for Lucky I'd probably be in jail."

Mostly, the members applaud their newfound status as middle-class Americans. Many have even moved to the suburbs. "We have bank accounts, credit cards," Martin says. "We could never have done this alone."

For Lucky Rivera's proteges, that unique access to $ 30,000-a-year work outweighs the hazards of riding with a coalition. Death has been a distinct possibility since Positive member Rene Olmo met his at a South Bronx construction site in 1990. The group faced off against resentful Jamaican construction workers, one of whom pulled a gun.

Although he doesn't implicate Positive Workforce, the Manhattan D.a:s chief of investigations, Michael Cherkasky, says corruption in coalitions ranges from petty exploitation of workers to pervasive extortion victimizing "the highest level of general contractors." A 1982 mayoral study, Problems of Discrimination and Extortion in the Building Trades, reported that coalitions commonly extract "no show" positions paying $ 500 a week; Cherkasky suggests that over the past decade the price has risen to as much as $ 2,000. In 1989 the head of a Brooklyn-based coalition, United Tremont Trade, was convicted of using false Social Security numbers to cover up no-show jobs, and last year a leader of the Black and Puerto Rican Coalition pleaded guilty to the same charge.

The Mafia casts a shadow on every corner of New York's construction industry, and coalitions are not immune. In the 1981 Lilrex mob trial Black Economic Survival leader Moses Harris admitted that Vinnie (The Fatman) DiNapoli, a gangster who controlled the sheetrock industry, paid him $ 3,000 to keep away from his jobs; records from DiNapoli's 1981 federal trial show his companies regularly hired coalitions as "protection," paying out a total of $ 150,000. United Hispanic operates out of a storefront owned by an organization run by Father Gigi Gigante, a South Bronx priest, social worker and brother of convicted mobster Vinnie (The Chin) Gigante. A Brooklyn group, Akbar Community Service, has been linked to Salvatore (Sammy Bull) Gravano, John Gotti's disaffected underboss.

Not surprisingly, the spoils of such corruption feed a few hungry leaders and not necessarily their community-based work force. It is leaders and not workers who offset the rotting South Bronx streetscape outside, say, Black and Latin Economic Survival by driving up in BMWs and Jaguars. While the better coalitions secure union-scale work for their members, others exploit their workers as brazenly as they shake down contractors. Linda Hampton joined the South Bronx coalition United We Stand last summer after meeting its leader, Cutty Cunningham. "I've been through hell with that group," she says. "It's (United You Stand Alone,' and when you go out with them, it's (United We Stand Around:'" After riding the bus every day for more than a month, she was offered a position rehabilitating an abandoned Harlem tenement for $ 50 a day. It was better than the welfare she was on, so Hampton joined a ragtag crew of untrained workers and set about demolishing the building - by hand. There were no floor supports, no lights and no tools. "My friend had a bed-post and I had a hammer," she says. Hampton's salary was eventually skimmed down to $ 150 for her week's. labor.

Coalitions first materialized in the 1960s, when New York's sweeping urban renewal brought dozens of construction projects to the ghettos and alerted black and Latino radicals to the white face of the construction industry. Neighborhood-based coalitions began shutting down building sites by strong-arming workers, thus extracting jobs from contractors who stood to lose thousands of dollars for every fifteen minutes of lost time. White construction workers have fought this integration since 1963, when black pickets protesting the all-white construction crew at Harlem Hospital touched off racial clashes at construction sites throughout the city.

Although coalition-related violence today often engulfs splinter groups brawling among themselves, old-fashioned, black-white tension remains at a high pitch. "I keep my hammer close by," explains John, a white, Westchester-born member of Local 17 of the carpenters' union, whose connections got Him work at the height of the recession despite never having attended a union apprenticeship program. John fears losing his job to minority workers. Joey, a concrete worker, is unaware of how difficult it can be to join a union, let alone gain union employment. He wants to see coalition members get jobs the "hard" way. "A white guy gets on a job he's gotta go through the union, he's gotta go through a training program," complains. "If you're black all you gotta do is get on a bus and you've got a job." As one job supervisor aptly observes of coalitions' effect on white workers. "It's like invading people's houses."

The home is a fitting metaphor for an industry that has operated on the basis of family ties and ethnic cohesiveness since the nineteenth century. In New York, construction-union locals go by nationalities as well as numbers: There are Italian, Irish and Jewish locals in the carpenters' union, their leaders descending from old dynasties. The insider mentality might explain how during the 1980s, during the largest construction boom in New York City since the 1950s, black employment in the industry actually decreased almost 15 percent as unions imported white workers from out of state and even out of the country to fill excess jobs.

Many construction unions now operate under court orders to boost minority enrollment in apprenticeship programs - the outcome of forty years of bitterly resisted legal challenges in the case of Local 28 of the plumbers' union. But the percentage of minority apprentices shrank in the 1980s, and these who entered training programs overwhelmingly dropped out in the face of five-year curriculums that many critics deplore as unnecessarily long. In 1986 a total of 140 minorities completed construction apprentice programs in New York City; another 130 dropped out. Not that graduating into a union even guarantees employment: Testifying at 1990 hearings before the New York City Commission on Human Rights on discrimination in the construction industry, female and minority union members told of sitting endlessly on benches at hiring halls while white male workers returned from jobs and strolled right back out to work. Jim McNamara, a former investigator with the Labor Department, believes only 5 percent of active construction workers even go through union apprenticeship programs.

"People get work because there's a relationship," says Dan Gilroy, a union carpenter who is an editor of "Hard Hat News," a reformist newsletter. "The union hall in many unions is there to help families and friends get employment; anyone who's not a member of that group has a hard time."

Many locals go so far as to institutionalize father-to-son inheritance, even though a 1967 court decision against a Louisiana asbestos workers' local declared the practice illegal. Those locals accept only newcomers whom members refer, and members can recommend just one person in a lifetime. "Over half of our members are unemployed, so we're not gonna have nothing for maybe ten or twelve years," a clerk at Local 46 of the Metallic Lathers' Union tells me when I ask about work. "And besides," she says with a shrug, "you have to be sponsored by someone who's in the union who hasn't sponsored anybody else in his whole life."

Ironically, that exclusivity is precisely what has allowed the minority coalitions to thrive. New York City is home to a massive nonunion construction industry. Unlike the unions, open-shop companies have welcomed the minority work force - and its job services, the coalitions. But these contractors, like Linda Hampton's, often skimp on safety equipment and illegally undercut the union-scale wages required on government projects by the federal Davis-Bacon Act and the state's Labor Law 220. By paying as low as $ 4 an hour, they're able to underbid union contractors. Roy O'Kane of the carpenters' union has even suggested slashing his union's pay scale just to compete.

The explosion of nonunion work so distresses the carpenters' union that it sends workers from its massively unemployed ranks to picket nonunion sites. A carpenters' union picket consisting entirely of unemployed members of color illustrates organized labor's neglect of minorities: By ignoring the expanding minority work force, the unions have undercut their one legitimate source of power - controlling employers' access to labor. "This is the only way the union gives us some work, if we picket," says one sandwich-boarded protester, a man I'll call Thurston, who hasn't had a job in six months. "But we're not getting work, we're paying our dues, and the union keeps us out of work 'cause we're minority. I feel like cracking some heads."

Workers need legitimate organizations representing them in negotiations with legitimate companies, but in the absence of both, shady labor groups and substandard contractors will victimize them. Union reformers, civil rights activists and even the leaders of some union internationals recognize that the unions must welcome these workers before the tinderbox explodes. But decades of intransigence in the New York City locals underscore that they won't budge without government force.

The Dinkins administration, so lauded as the great black hope when it won power in 1989, has done nothing to resolve the problem. Two months of hearings before the Commission on Human Rights documented union discrimination so well that Commissioner Philip Rivera called Tommy Van Arsdale, head of the electrical workers' Local 3, a "bigot" to his face. But the commission's long-awaited recommendations have failed to. materialize as the budget crisis has exposed the agency's priorities. Numerous proposals from groups ranging from the Black Workers-Contractors Association to the Association for Union Democracy go nowhere: A city-run minority hiring hall could enable workers to bypass both the unions and the coalitions; a pending City Council bill could set aside city jobs for city residents; greater union surveillance could improve the treatment of women and minorities; dollars for-.housing could create construction jobs for everyone; and improved training in the city's vocational high schools could graduate skilled construction workers independent of the unions' apprenticeship programs.

Meanwhile, the city continues to award contracts to legitimate contractors that discriminate against minorities - and to illegitimate ones that exploit them. And it is unwilling to take on the unions, a ripe source of campaign funds and votes. A random scan of Dinkins's 1989 campaign records shows an up-to-the-limit contribution from the New York City District Council of Carpenters as well as lesser sums from other unions, including Local 3 of the electrical workers, the subject of twenty-three discrimination suits with the Human Rights Commission.

"This summer's gonna be hot and heavy," says a man I'll call Joseph, a job supervisor for a major New York City contractor who found his way into the construction industry through Harlem Fight Back, one of the few coalitions whose roots reach back to the civil rights movement and whose commitment to reform endures. Joseph coordinates hiring at a large job site in the Bronx, something that demands more and more of his time as the coalitions storming his gates become more desperate every year. "We need to put all the coalitions together so they don't have to squabble," he says. "And if you give a fair share of work to minorities it will cut down the power of the coalitions. But as long as money exists you're gonna have corruption. Ain't nothing gonna change - this is New York City. I envision this summer to be hell."

Thursday, June 08, 2006

"Carrion, Our Wayward Son" Power Plays 6/8/6

Carrion, Our Wayward Son
By Neil deMause | June 07, 2006

When Bronx Community Board 4 voted last November to oppose the city plan to drop a new Yankees stadium on top of Macombs Dam Park, providing the project's only speed bump on the fast track to approval, it seemed only a matter of time before Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion exacted his revenge for this act of insubordination. That time was last night, when community board members learned that Carrion had bounced board chair Ade Rasul and several other members, declining to reappoint them after their terms expired last month.

The actual list of those getting the axe is still a state secret--the borough president's office hasn't been willing to provide names, or even a total body count. But Carrion's slate of new committee chair nominees, which was the ostensible agenda for last night's meeting, left little doubt about the reasons behind the purge: For the board land-use committee, which had voted unanimously to oppose the stadium plan, Carrion picked a new chair who wasn't even on the committee. (Rasul, who had nominally supported the new-stadium plan, was apparently targeted for not whipping his troops into line.)

It was by all accounts a wild night in the Bronx, with shouting matches breaking out between longtime board members and Carrion community liaison Aurea Mangual. At one point, when Jim Fairbanks, chief of staff for Bronx councilmember Helen Diane Foster, demanded an explanation why Foster's recommended reappointments had been rejected, Mangual tore into him for disrespecting the borough president's office.

"This whole thing is truly shameful," says Lukas Herbert, a stadium opponent who survived the Tuesday night massacre thanks to being only halfway through a two-year appointment. "It's an unpaid advisory board where everyone's a volunteer, and some of these people have over 20 years of experience. To have the borough president kick them off the board simply over a one-issue disagreement is absolutely disgusting."

The next battle is likely to come on June 27, when the board meets again to take up Carrion's slate of committee chairs. Asked how he expects that to go over, Herbert quips: "They were taking names at this meeting [of those opposed to the slate]. I might be kicked off the board before then."

"Rumble in the Bronx" MetroNY 06/08/06

Rumble in the Bronx
Community Board 4 positions up in the air after raucous meeting; stadium concerns cited

by patrick arden / metro new york

JUN 8, 2006

BRONX — Community boards are considered the city’s most local form of government, where residents actually get a chance to weigh in on development matters.

Lukas Herbert, an urban planner for Westchester County who lives on Grand Concourse, thought his experience might benefit Community Board 4.

He joined the board’s housing and land-use committee, which considered in quick succession two of the largest projects ever to land in the South Bronx — the $400 million Gateway Mall at the Bronx Terminal Market and the $1.2 billion Yankee Stadium project.

The board approved the mall, but some members felt blindsided when the stadium plan was revealed. Last summer Mary Blassingame, the chair of the land-use committee, complained to Metro that “the projects are very much tied together.”

“The city needs to tell us what’s going on,” she said, “rather than giving us information piecemeal.”

The board rejected the Yankees’ plan by a two-to-one vote, though the decision was nonbinding. Going into last Tuesday night’s meeting, some members feared the vote mattered to Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion.

Blassingame learned she would no longer chair the housing and land-use committee. Out of the 19 members whose terms were expiring, only five will remain. Four of the six committees will have new chairs.

Herbert said members were anticipating a turnover in leadership when they received a letter saying two top members, chairperson Ade Rasul and youth and education chair Gertrude Lane, had lost bids to stay.

Rasul’s interim replacement, John Shipp, read a new slate of executive candidates. Herbert made a motion to reject it. Blassingame seconded.

“People started putting up their hands to vote,”said Anita Antonetty, the board’s recording secretary. “But then the borough president’s representative said that’s not good enough.”

“She yelled out, ‘I want names — give me your names,’” Herbert said.

“The representative of the borough president was on fire,” Antonetty said. “She was shouting people down.”

The vote was postponed until June 27.

Carrion spokesperson Anne Fenton said 10 members up for re-appointment simply didn’t apply.

That seemed unusual to Jim Fairbanks, the chief of staff for local City Councilwoman Helen Foster, who has been attending board meetings for 27 years.

“Normally people reapply, and we reappoint mostly everybody,” he said. “The city charter gives 100 percent appointment power to the borough president, but 50 percent he appoints based on the area council members’ recommendations to him.

“Our only criteria has been attendance — people can vote their conscience,” Fairbanks said. “People were upset after having served on the board for some time. Some stood up and said this was because of the way people voted on Yankee Stadium, but I don’t know how true it is — you’d have to ask the borough president.”

Boroughs by comparison

MANHATTAN — Borough President Scott Stringer has sought to avoid the appearance of political appointments to community boards by forming an independent panel to screen applications. The panel is made up of representatives from a range of good-government groups, including NYPIRG and the Citizens Union.

“Borough president Stringer felt there was simply too much politics involved in the appointment process,” said Joshua Bocian, Stringer’s director of community affairs. “A nonpartisan group looks at every new application to see whether candidates meet merit-based criteria.”

And re-appointments?

“Everybody currently on a board who wants to remain on a board is automatically granted an interview,” Bocian said. “That doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be reappointed. The final decision is always with the borough president.”