Here We Go… Bloomberg Bid for Third Term; Mayor Will Attempt to Overturn Term Limits

Mayor Bloomberg is expected to announce on Thursday his quest to overturn voted-in term limits in a bid for a third term, painting himself as indispensable to New York City. He gets away with so much, with no accountability or real criticism in the press or from other politicians, why not this?

Why not… ? because I think at last our CEO Mayor has overreached.

You’ve got to read the reader comments on the New York Times’ blog’s story. The Times can try to spin Mayor Bloomberg’s popularity any way they choose in article after article but when you get right down to it, most New Yorkers know the true deal with this Mayor and are extremely critical of him.

Fellow billionaire Ronald Lauder — who founded an organization called New Yorkers for Term Limits and took out newspaper ads a few weeks ago condemning any change in term limits — remarkably reversed course today. He now says he supports Bloomberg staying on as Mayor. Well, isn’t that convenient. Another great set of reader comments.

The New York Times larger story is here.

Contact Ronald Lauder and New Yorkers for Term Limits:

Their web site says: “Your feedback is important to us.”

Let Ronald Lauder know how you feel about this most blatant disregard of principle. With Lauder, a billionaire himself, Mayor Bloomberg clearly doesn’t have to buy him off but he can choose to reward him in other ways in their mutual circles. Only another wealthy man or organization could provide an obstacle to Mayor Bloomberg’s aims by, for example, taking out newspaper ads condemning his actions. With Lauder out of the way, who will do this? And if the New York daily newspapers all fall in line (it was reported recently that Bloomberg was meeting with their editorial boards about his third term quest), then … isn’t this just all so easy for CEO Bloomberg to pull this off?

Except … can the people be swayed? That will be the true test.

Contact New Yorkers for Term Limits via their Feedback form.

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Parks Department Needs to Cut $6.5 million from Budget – The Solution: Modify Washington Square Park Redesign

The New York Times on September 23rd reported that amidst the $1.5 billion budget cuts that Mayor Bloomberg “ordered” is a $6.5 million cut from the Parks Department. The cuts begin NOW in the current fiscal year which began July 1st and cover a two year period.

(No matter that, days prior, Mayor Bloomberg and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, said ‘not to worry” insuring us that they had “prepared” in advance for this downward turn in the financial sector.)

I have the perfect solution for Parks Commissioner Benepe. It seems to me that the answer lies in curtailing many of the unpopular aspects of the Washington Square Park “redesign.”

Already deemed high (based on the extensive unnecessary tweaking of the Park) at the projected $13 million cost, the budget for the project is now somewhere around $25-$30 million.

Here is an easy fix to the Parks Department’s dilemma of where to cut costs. It is the perfect way for the Parks Department to avoid firing workers and evade the further neglect of the parks themselves ** while ** providing the optimal opportunity to save face with the millions of New Yorkers and Village residents who, as they’ve learned of the City’s plan to overhaul this historic public space, ask themselves – WHY?

Voila! Instant easy fix. Let’s begin preparing the memo.

New York for Sale: Are Developers Overbuilding? – Event Oct. 20th Museum of the City of New York

On October 20th the Museum of the City of New York will be holding a panel “New York for Sale: Are Developers Overbuilding?

Hmmm.  Ya think?

The larger question — Is Mayor Bloomberg giving away our city to developers and his corporate friends via tax breaks and other perks thereby changing the character of the city at an overwhelming speed?

Description on the panel (where they get into this a bit while omitting the Mayor by name):

Neighborhood activists and preservationists claim that changes in zoning regulations and new construction are destroying the character of New York. Public officials and pro-development forces maintain that in order to compete with other global cities, New York must continue on its current course of development and that there are ways to do this sustainably.

Hope Cohen, deputy director of the Center for Rethinking Development in New York City, moderator.

Tom Angotti, director of Hunter College’s Center for Community Planning & Development and author of New York for Sale: Community Planning Confronts Global Real Estate

Yvonne Isaac, Vice President of Operations, Full Spectrum of NY

Steven Spinola, president, The Real Estate Board of New York

Scott Stringer, Manhattan Borough President

Monday, October 20th, 6:30 p.m. Reservations Required. $9 General Admission. $5 Museum members, seniors and students.

For more info, call 212.534.1672, ext. 3395 or visit the program page.

Location: 1220 Fifth Avenue at 103rd Street. (# 6 to 103rd St. or #2/3 trains to Central Pk N-110th)

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I learned of this event from another interesting site Community Based Planning.

New Posts Return Monday

Update 9/26: New posts resume Monday 9/29.  Takin’ a little breather to recharge.  But there’s lot more to come. !

9/24: New WSP Blog Posts return Friday 9/26. In the meantime, there are over 197 posts in the archives. Check ’em out —

Yankee Stadium and the Replacement Parks – Time and Cost Rise(Recycled Entry)

I’ve wanted to write more about Yankee Stadium (and I will). For the moment, here’s a still-relevant recycled post from May 25th: Time and Cost Rise for Yankee Stadium Parks in the South Bronx.

Excerpt:

The Bronx lost part of John Mullaly Park (18.5 acres) and ALL of Macombs Dam Park(28.4 acres). Yes. ALL. of. this. park. (and part of another) was given away in the Bronx so that the Yankees, a private corporation, could build their new stadium there. It tells you something about the climate in our city under CEO Mayor Bloomberg that this idea was initiated – and achieved.

As the [New York Times] article notes, “The stadium is being financed by the Yankees with city subsidies, while the eight new parks for the South Bronx, which range in size from .24 acre to 8.9 acres, are being paid for by the city.” (We give away 2 parks to a private corporation and the City pays to rebuild them.) The cost is now projected to be $174 million; the original estimate was $95.5 million.

[Timothy] Williams writes: “Some residents have been critical of the trade-off. While Macombs Dam and Mullaly Parks were almost contiguous stretches of grass and trees amid the concrete topography of the South Bronx, the replacement parks are small parcels scattered around the area. The sites include sports fields atop a planned stadium parking garage and a park along the Harlem River, which is on the opposite side of the Major Deegan Expressway.”

Read the full entry here.

Union Square Partnership’s Harvest Gala v. Citizen Chefs – Union Square Park 9/18

The people come marchin' to defend their Park

The people come marchin'

Thursday night. Union Square. The setting of Union Square Partnership’s Harvest in the Square, an annual gala held by the ubiquitous BID (Business Improvement District). Although their promotional materials stated the gala would inhabit the “west plaza” of Union Square Park, in reality, they took over half of the south plaza as well, including the area surrounding the George Washington Statue. Billed as the “premiere food and wine tasting event,” tickets ranged from $125 to $400 for VIP early bird event.

The BID — the ones who want to put a private exclusive restaurant in the historic Union Square Pavilion, thereby shutting off more public space — is led by Jennifer Falk. Falk previously worked for Mayor Bloomberg. (Funny how it’s just a game of musical chairs at times.) Co-chair of the BID is restauranteur Danny Meyer.

I don’t think they were prepared for the festive arrival of Reverend Billy and assorted citizen chef/passionate public space advocates who came out to chant their message and bang some pots and pans saying ‘no giveaway of our public space’ – as we watched our public space taken over by the BID for their harvest gala.

Police And Onlookers

Police And Onlookers

Reverend Billy was arrested as was another activist – I believe both charges were “disorderly conduct.” Reverend Billy was addressing the attendees of the gala through a megaphone about the takeover of our public space when he was escorted away. The other activist had the audacity? to crumple up a flyer and throw it over the fence. A random act of (at the most) littering somehow becomes “disorderly conduct.”

People sitting around Union Square all curiously watched and eagerly took flyers which stated “Parks for People – Not for Profit.” We’ve all gotten so buttoned-down in New York. How often do you see such a creative action? All too infrequently.

Oh, and yes, our NYC Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe, was there and addressed the crowd at the gala event. I think his speech may have been, um, overshadowed by the sound of the citizen chefs (and their pots, pans, and chants) however. All too fitting.

The BIDs in more recent years have gotten more sophisticated and yet wish to appear ‘just like us.’ A part of the community. The Union Square BID is a 501(c)3 non-profit — something we link with advocacy groups, not organizations trying to promote more shopping. Around Washington Square Park, the BID – previously known as The 8th Street BID – changed its name to the Village Alliance. Doesn’t that sound neighborly?

Rev Billy addresses Gala

Rev Billy addresses Gala

Photos: #1 and 2: Quilty; #3 and 4: Cathryn

Union Square update coming —

Union Square was the locale of some festive action last night opposite Union Square Partnership’s Harvest in the Square! Lots of citizen chefs, creative chants, pots, pans, and banging on them (our illustrious Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe was spotted speaking at this large takeover of our public space), and two arrests including Reverend Billy (not sure what the charges were – something to do with attempting to re-claim the right to speak out in a public place), as well as some ‘disruption’ inside the gala event. More Monday!

In the meantime, read about – and attend – Saturday’s Walking Tour below…

Walking Tour ! Washington Square Park — A guide to NYC’s Redesign of a Perfect Public Space — Saty September 20th

NYU Welcomes You to Their Park

NYU Welcomes You to Their Park

Don’t forget! Washington Square Park Blog hosts a Walking Tour of Washington Square Park this Saturday, September 20th, 1 p.m..

Learn what the redesign of this famous park (currently in progress) really means as well as some of the Park’s and neighborhood’s illustrious history. Come on out!
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WALKING TOUR: WASHINGTON SQUARE PARK: PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE — A Guide to New York City’s Redesign of a Perfect Public Space * Saturday, September 20th, 1 p.m.

Meet Up at Washington Square Arch, Washington Square North @ Fifth Avenue ; $5 donation

Recommended! by Time Out NY: “In the 1950s, Jane Jacobs helped keep cars out of Washington Square. But a new redesign – which will entail dismantling the fountain, removing the chess tables and cutting down decades-old trees – puts the beloved green space in jeopardy all over again.” 7/24/08

Trains: A,B,C,D,E,F to West 4th Street/Washington Square

Raindate: Saturday, September 27th, 1 p.m.

Co-presented with the Washington Square Community Improvement District.

The Community Improvement District(CID) is a new concept. We want our communities to be empowered to make decisions that are best for the community as a whole, not just (as the Business Improvement Districts – BIDs – are oriented to do) for real estate and business interests. The goal is quality of life as opposed to quantity of business. We believe that without community, there is no democracy.

At Washington Square Park, the neighborhood BIDS, along with NYU, the Tisch Family (Tisch Fountain, anyone?), and Mayor Bloomberg have played a role in a redesign plan that is destroying the very heart of this renowned park.

Come find out more — and maybe something you can do!

Tonite Thursday, September 18th, 6 p.m. At Union Square Park: “Citizen Chefs Cookin’ Up Change” and Harvest Gala : 2 divergent messages

CITIZEN CHEFS COOKING UP CHANGE!
to Keep Parks for People NOT for Profit

Thurs Sept 18, 6 pm * Union Square Park, NYC
Meet near George Washington Statue On Plaza, South end of the park (14th Street)

Union Square Not for Sale will provide chefs hats –
Bring your own pots & pans and something to bang with!
Come in costume if you like – black pants, white shirts, bow ties…
Bring a bike if you’d like to join the ChefBlock Bike Brigade

* KEEP UNION SQUARE PARK PUBLIC *
Info below from Union Square Not for Sale:

Context:
The Union Square Partnership is selling out one of our most important public spaces, the pavilion on the north side of Union Square, site of seminal speeches from Emma Goldman, Paul Robeson, Cesar Chavez, Dorothy Day and many many more AND one of the last remaining public assembly areas in the city. Tonight, they hold their yearly Harvest In the Square private gala in the park. Gather to say:

NO the Union Square Pavilion can not be an upscale restaurant
NO our precious public resources cannot be auctioned off to the highest bidder
NO to conditional anonymous donations and for-profit enterprise in our public parks
NO to Danny Meyer, Jennifer Falk and the Union Square Partnership takeover of this park

YES to transparency and full disclosure
YES to public spaces in public spaces
YES to community use in public parks

YES to public space, community, and democracy.

Without community space, there can be no democracy.

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My previous post 9/15 here elaborated on this event.

“One Web Day” At Washington Sq Park Monday, September 22nd

One Web Day will hold events at Washington Square Park Monday, September 22nd from 11:45 a.m. to 2 p.m. Events are being held in many cities across the U.S. and around the world.

According to Craig Newmark, founder of craigslist, “OneWebDay reminds us that the net really is a democratizing medium, that everyone gets a chance to participate. If you want, you can stick your neck out and speak truth to power.”

Events that day will feature: Moderator Sree Sreenivasan (Columbia Journalism & WNBC-TV), plus Tim Westergren (Pandora), Prof. Lawrence Lessig (Stanford), Craig Newmark (craigslist), Dharma Dailey (Ethos Group), City Councilwoman Hon. Gale A. Brewer, John Perry Barlow, Andrew Baron (Rocketboom), SJ Klein (OLPC), others.

It’s free! Location: “Teen Plaza” Southeast section of Washington Square Park (near Garibaldi Statue)

One Web Day says:

Who should attend: Anyone who likes the internet and its transformative effect on human lives

Purpose of this event: The theme this year: online participation in democracy. The internet is under pressure around the world – inadequate connectivity, censorship, and huge digital divides threaten its future. This rally is designed to raise awareness of these issues and to help us focus on how the internet has changed democratic involvement in America.

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To find out more, visit One Web Day. My opinion is that they need to consolidate the message a bit and get a pithier theme going – not to water it down but to make it clearer. It’s a great idea – promoting open source, making access for all, fighting corporate takeover and censorship, etc. etc. I’m sure they will have a big crowd!

p.s. While you’re marking your calendar, don’t forget the Walking Tour, A Guide to NYC’s Redesign of a Perfect Public Space, hosted by Washington Square Park Blog and Washington Square Community Improvement District this Saturday, September 20th, 1 p.m. at the Arch!