Friday, November 18, 2005

Last night's "town hall" (ha!) meeting

The following is from Field of Schemes. Click the title to read it with hyperlinks.

November 18, 2005

Bronx Jeers IV: A New Hope?

Stop me if you've heard this before: Representatives of the New York Yankees and city officials traveled to the South Bronx last night to present their stadium plans to local residents, and were met by an angry throng intent on telling them where to stick their blueprints. The "town meeting" called by Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion was slated to run from 6 to 8 pm, but it was 7:35 by the time the assembled suits had put away their Powerpoint presentations and the floor was opened for questions - by which time the commandeered high school gym was filled with shouts, jeers, and chants of "Let the community speak!" and (to Carrion) "You work for us!" As the boro prez slowly picked through the submitted questions - all speakers had to fill out a form stating name, affiliation, and question topic, and Carrion's eyesight conveniently failed at least once when an anti-stadium activist was next on the queue - things only got rowdier, both in the crowd and on the dias. Some highlights:

An older Bronx resident named Alberta Hunter (no, not that one) asking with polite puzzlement: "Why are they suggesting such a crazy idea as this?"

A hapless presenter from developer Tishman Speyer, trying to placate the crowd by paging through a slide show of stadium renderings and murmuring, "See the trees?" while trying to ignore the catcalls around her.

Carrion waxing poetic about the virtues of a new high school, hotel, and convention center, declaring, "the stadium is really not the centerpiece" of the plan - while standing in front of a planning mockup containing no school, no hotel, and no convention center, only a stadium.

Yankees president (and former city deputy mayor) Randy Levine insisting, "We love the present Yankee Stadium," but "it's not going to last ten years" - conveniently ignoring the findings of the city's own buildings commissioner in 1998 that "there's no reason why Yankee Stadium can't be around for another 75 years if it's maintained properly." (Levine later topped himself by shouting out to the crowd: "Shouting out things as if they're facts doesn't help!")

Greg Bell of Bronx Voices for Equal Inclusion demanding, "What do we have to do to get it through to the borough president, to Mr. Levine, to economic development agency of the city of New York, and to the parks department, that we don't want it? ... The Yankees can take the engineers and technology available and put it south and west, as recommended by your community board" - and receiving a standing ovation.

As the evening deteriorated, Carrion transmogrified from high-school principal to, well, spitting, out-of-control high school principal: When one longtime local resident accused him of selling out his community to "big money," the boro prez angrily snapped, "Anybody who questions my integrity..." before being drowned out by boos. At another point, he lectured the peanut gallery, "The purpose of a public hearing is for people to ask questions!" Shortly thereafter, he called the proceedings to a close and fled the podium, clutching the sign-in sheets of at least twenty audience members who had yet to speak.


If you weren't there, you missed a great show. The gym was packed. "Bronx cheer" took on a new meaning that night. Randy Levine implied that it was Carrion's idea to give away the public parkland to the Yankees. Carrion tried in vain to screen out known opponents but failed because everyone there attacked his "crazy idea" to steal public parks for a private enterprise. Levine and the city had no idea that nearby PS 114 would be impacted by a stadium. Levine came across as very arrogant and stupid while Carrion was a sweating smirking brown-noser.
Posted by: Isby at November 18, 2005 01:38 PM


At 9:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

the media silence on this meeting was deafening. Did a single newspaper cover it?

At 9:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Times city section has a story on it tomorrow, but it's online now

At 11:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is it a "town hall" meeting if only 8 to 10 "townies" are given the opportunity to speak. Boggles the mind. The Yankees and the carpetbagger--oops, Borough President--burned up most of the time spinning their versions of the truth and then they opened the floor to speak. And who spoke? Lydia, Kitty, Geoffrey, Greg, Denai, Ana, the woman from the community board, the elderly lady who said she doesn't have time to wait for a new park as she was so advanced in age...who else? I count 8, maybe 9. Correct me if I am wrong, by all means.


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