NY Post Op-Ed: Get a spine, (Christine) Quinn

Christine Quinn 2009 Ribbon Cutting Ceremony WSP Phase I

An Op-Ed worth reading in today’s New York Post by Michael Goodwin on Christine Quinn, New York City Council Speaker, her run for Mayor 2013 (fingers crossed that Mike Bloomberg will be ready to vacate the office by then!), and the lack of oversight by the City Council under her watch:

The council speaker is trying desperately to be all things to all people. She believes she can become the next mayor by splitting all the babies in half.

Stop-and-frisk, wage mandates, economic development, education, union power, taxing and spending — she tries always to thread the needle between competing interests. Only on gay rights is she consistently principled, although her overreach in trying to close down the Chick-fil-A store at NYU revealed a militant streak.

As unappealing as her behavior in that incident was, her approach to other policies isn’t much better. Quinn is no Bill Clinton when it comes to triangulating. Her “third way” is mostly a ham-handed effort to simultaneously pander to opposites.

Thus, she wants the business community to believe she shares its concerns about wage and sick-leave laws, while telling the unions her heart is with them on the same issues. She collected money from both sides, and both now demand their piece of flesh.

Whatever she decides, her formula for governing is doomed to fail because there is no clear guiding principle. If she were to use that calculating, transactional approach as mayor, City Hall would resemble an auction house, with all bidders assuming they would get something for their money. Prosecutors and newspapers would have a field day.

Quinn has been able to get by up to now because she is hiding under the wings of Mayor Bloomberg. His power and money shelter her, and she has repaid him by acting more as a deputy mayor than the head of the legislative branch. He owes her for that, and for organizing the votes that allowed them both a third term.

It is worth noting that, of the big scandals involving Bloomberg’s contracts on technology and other private vendors, none was uncovered by the City Council. Agency oversight has rarely been strong in the council, but under Quinn, it is an oxymoron.

At heart, Quinn is not a reformer. She is a creature of the clubhouse and advocacy worlds, with taxpayer cash and special-interest logrolling the coins of her realm.

If you missed the recent New York Times piece on Ms. Quinn’s home life on weekends in Bradley Beach, New Jersey, it’s worth reading more for its puff piece quality than anything else. (I’ll add link in later.)

Central Park Bethesda Fountain Off Limits Now to Performance; Designated “Quiet Zone” Where Musicians are Issued Summonses and Risk Arrest

Central Park Bethesda Fountain

The New York Post reported May 29th on the decision to designate Central Park’s Bethesda Fountain a “Quiet Zone,” putting an end to music performances there and issuing summons to those who defy this. The organization pulling the strings behind this decision is the Central Park Conservancy, the private entity entrusted with the care of this 843 acre public park. This is what happens when a private corporation runs a public park. This clearly has also been condoned by the city’s Parks Department under Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe who was appointed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Both Bloomberg and Benepe are big proponents of privatization. (The Mayor also lives near by). A spokesperson from the Conservancy told the Post, “The fountain is a place for quiet reflection.”

From the article at The New York Post:

City officials began blitzing street musicians with nuisance summonses and posted a “Quiet Zone” sign last week at the beloved Bethesda Fountain in Central Park, where virtuoso performers have been making beautiful music together for over a century.

On weekends, baritone John Boyd, 48, would belt out spirituals backed by a choir including six of his nine children and fellow classical buskers. But two months ago, Parks police descended on the Bethesda Terrace arcade with a message: Muzzle the music.

Last week, they posted a Quiet Zone sign banning Boyd and other serious musicians from playing in the arcade where world-class performers offer their talents for free to ordinary New Yorkers. …

After being hit with five summonses totaling $2,300, the former choir director from Detroit was arrested by Parks cops Wednesday and hauled in handcuffs to the Central Park police station.

“I have a right to free speech,” said Boyd. “When I sing, it is expressing what I believe in. I told them, ‘You are not chasing me away.’ ”

On Friday, passer-by Rhonda Liss, 63, of Yonkers, asked Boyd if she could join him in an impromptu duet.

“You have such a beautiful voice,” said Liss, a onetime Met opera singer and “Phantom of the Opera” cast member in Toronto. The pair tossed off a jazzy rendition of “My Favorite Things.”

“Is this what they want to arrest people for — singing joy to the people?” she asked incredulously.

When asked about the music crackdown, a spokesman for the Central Park Conservancy, the cash-flush nonprofit that runs the park for the city, said: “The fountain is a place for quiet reflection.”

Interesting thread of comments at the Post site. One commenter says, “Bloomberg should be hauled in front of a court for the crime of destroying the soul of New York City.”

NY Post Reports New Washington Square “Coalition” comprised of anonymous wealthy donors and NYU. Privatization of Park begins?

In today’s New York Post, we’re informed of a new “coalition:”  “The Coalition for a Better Washington Square Park.”  

The name and article bring up a lot of questions:  Who doesn’t want a better Washington Square Park but who decides what’s “better?”  … The people who wanted the fountain aligned and plaza leveled and trees cut down?  The people who are concerned about their real estate values?  People who have money to throw around and yet won’t reveal who they are?  

The article reveals that the new “coalition’s” goal is “beefed up security” at the Park made up of “off duty NYPD cops” to rid the park of “druggies and lowlifes.”  Yet, the individual people in the group – the ones funding it – won’t reveal who they are except for front man, neighborhood resident and sometime agitator, Gil Horowitz.  

I’ve noted a lot of police at the park since it reopened and they basically have nothing to do.  The Parks Department has explained at length to those who are concerned why it is difficult to curtail any questionable pot dealings in the park so why would NYPD “off duty” cops make the park anything but more… policed?

What we do know is that NYU is involved so an alarm bell goes off right there as to this new group’s intentions.

A step towards further privatization, perhaps?

From the article in New York Post:

Washington Square Park tokers, beware!

A group of “wealthy, high-level” Greenwich Village residents plans to hire a security force of off-duty NYPD cops to keep the refurbished bohemian playpen from returning to its bad old days as an open-air drug market, The Post has learned.

“The Coalition for a Better Washington Square Park” — which is made up of area co-op boards and NYU — says it wants to protect the great strides made there, including a multimillion-dollar face lift paid for, in part, by the Tisch family.

“There are wealthy New Yorkers that are public-minded,” said coalition founder Dr. Gil Horowitz, a longtime parkgoer and resident of lower Fifth Avenue. “We have brought together some very high-level people in order to get this done.”

Washington Sq Pk Turned Upside Down

Washington Sq Pk Turned Upside Down

And then this:

The powerbroker donors have thus far opted for anonymity.

“We just want people to respect the investments made in the park,” said Adelaide Polsinelli of the Presidents Roundtable, a coalition of Village locals.

Whose investments?  The Tisch Family? NYU?  The local Business Improvement District?

At least the story gets another viewpoint in there from lawyer Ron Kuby:

But longtime Village resident, lawyer Ron Kuby, expressed concern.

“I think the rich folk who are sponsoring this want to change the character of the park from the free-wheeling street-theater scene to something that resembles their backyard terraces,” he said.

Let’s stop this before it begins. Ideas, anyone?

Time Magazine Believes Mayor Bloomberg’s Tree Hype

Does all the media believe Mayor Bloomberg’s “I’m a tree hugger” spin?

According to Thursday’s (5-1) New York Post, Time Magazine will include Mayor Bloomberg in their 100 Most Influential People In the World issue coming out May 2nd. Time asked Mayor Bloomberg to pose on a tree branch outside of City Hall (which he was more than happy to do clearly, via a cherry picker which lifted him up to that branch) to “illustrate his commitment to environmental issues.” What’s more… Robert Kennedy Jr. wrote the accompanying piece! It’s a bit troubling when the “experts” don’t look beyond the p.r. to get the real story.

For a refresher on the destruction of our City’s trees under Mayor Bloomberg and NYC Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe, click here.

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Coming up — Part II of my conversation with Parks Commissioner Benepe: what he thinks about community input, and some confusion on his part about the fact that neither district Community Board has “approved” his plans for the redesigns of Washington Square Park and Union Square Park, more.