On June 26, 2018, the residents of the Ninth Congressional District had an opportunity to test leadership in Congress on criteria established by voters. Clarke won by a slim margin. Challenged again in 2020 she won again big time. Adem Bunkedekko was the closest rival, capturing 17% of the vote among four other bird-dogging candidates – all democrats.
Political leadership has gone to hell. New York leaders are useful when they respond to an urgent condition on a single issue. There is no outright fear for democracy, because better than most, they know it is practically gone. None of that is occurring. The only live-die-repeat is incumbency and the dead ones are the challengers.
Have a good long look at the candidates and their “watchers.” (See examples: Inside Elections, Sabato’s Crystal Ball.) Ballotpedia’s fine details are here. Money equals victory. A national watch group, Open Secrets has the data to prove it, including the outliers that illustrate exceptions. The deep end of the data pool is with reports at the New York State Board of Elections.
Leaders with skills in critical thinking, creativity, responsiveness, and obedience will do well. Proof of unselfish giving is through service that includes a record of judgments publicly specified with grace and dignity. After reviewing the public expressions of our federal leaders, are challenges within the party positive and optimistic? Does the officeholder or the challenger have a bias toward getting results? Finally, good leaders know how the practice of listening to be heard gets their constituents to help themselves do the hard stuff.
Adem Bunkeddeko He got more votes the second time, yet adding votes from the three additional not really serious, probably “bird-dog” candidates he would have still lost. Third time is the charm, I said. Off years are best. I hope a review of the loss will be written. Please drop the candidate a line at [email protected] and if you want to know more before you do that, visit Adem’s Website and extensive Facebook and Twitter accounts. He also has Instagram, and Snapchat if you must. If snail mail is your thing you can write them to this mailing address: Friends of Adem, P.O. Box 130-427, Brooklyn, NY 11213.
Yvette Clarke Drop the candidate a line on the federal website. She has FacebookTwitter and YouTube accounts. To write via snail mail the local address, 222 Lenox Road, Suites 1 & 2 Brooklyn, NY 11226 and a D.C. address, 2351 Rayburn HOB, Washington D.C. 20515. I would be very surprised if you get an answer beyond stat and pat.
The national Campaign Finance Institute confirms the long-term success of this legislation in its testimony to the NYC Campaign Finance Board in 2017. (The Act). After thirty years, the NYC CFB has protected voters. Perhaps the best example is NYC representatives sustain the “F” rating from the NRA in their demand for stringent legislation regarding the use and purchase of weapons for war. That is where the feds (your representatives in Congres) come into the picture to confront and confirm national policy.
In NYC the Campaign Finance Act has kept the local government on the side of working New Yorkers for the last three decades. A $6-to-$1 match of small donations turns a $100 donation into $700. The law has strict contribution limits and an outright ban on all corporate money and an excellent enforcement record.
Political Action Committees
The Political Action Committees (PAC) come into the picture today as a permanent part of federal election campaigns. They represent almost 40 percent of an elected candidate’s campaign funding. A challenger is far less likely to be supported by a PAC. The PAC phenomenon began in the 1950s, but since then their corrosive influences over Congressional Representatives reflect the concentration of wealth in the U.S. and the rule that corporations have a right to political speech as people, and that money is speech.
Unlike people, wealthy corporations can live forever. Corporate outfits such as the NRA and the Koch brothers have a large bag of political tricks designed by well-paid political operatives to protect specific interests, not including the bot/troll issues that confuse voters further. It was a sign of real trouble when New York’s Senator Chuck Schumer asked his constituents to help fight against Koch Brother attack ads against a fellow Senator, Joe Donnelly (D) from Indiana with a help him Keep His Seat! email blast.
Representative Government, Election Waves, and Money Three Republican Congressmembers (Faso, Tenney, Katco) in NYS may have “toss-up” elections in 2018. To keep things in perspective Faso’s 2016 spending was: $2,904,089, Tenney’s was $885,895, and Katco’s was $2,384,152. These races could contribute to a wave-election referendum on the chaos in the Executive Branch and the House of Representatives and shift as many as 25 seats to Democrats. (See NY Mag summary here). The 2018 mid-term election might have a single issue.
Peter King member of the Republican Party, is completing in his 14th term in Congress, having served since 1993 and he quits. Clarke has been their twelve years, and barely serves and runs on “good attendance” and perks from PACs.
I built playgrounds in the early 70s because it was my job. One of them was on the block bounded by Park Place and Sterling Place between Howard and Saratoga. It came to mind when Hilton Als said the word Brownsville as a place he knows. I was listening to parts of his essay “Homecoming” on the New Yorker Radio Hour (here) in June 2020 on a warm Sunday morning. If you don’t know his work you can get to know him, Shane McCrae and Michael R. Jackson (here).
The playground was made of 12×12 inch pressure treated Douglas Fir in lengths from three to eighteen feet. The photos will say everything. There still is a park there today, the timber is gone, there is a Head Start Center, a fire station/rescue, and new housing has replaced the tenements that Hilton described as burning.
When my work was almost done, the community was nearly gone. A better word would be deracinated. I was filling out a checklist on the steps when a young man just a few years younger than I walked straight toward with what I sensed as rage in every step and he had a knife he wanted me to see. I had no idea why he was so angry. I imagine he would be in his seventies today.
I was the one on the steps with new beginning thoughts. He was the one demanding to know why I was there, doing “stupid shit”, and I said it was to finish the playground and a place for community theater or shows, pointing to the trellis. The genius of rage came right up into my face at that moment. All he said was I was a lame, white motherfucker, it’s too late, too fuck’n late, and walked up the steps passed me.
The Genius of Rage
In his closing, Hilton read a portion of Homecoming essay saying, “and now it is happening to you,” and that is when that whole experience of Brownsville came rushing back into my life. I have both of their thoughts in my mind now, Hilton’s and the guy with the knife. It is still happening and it is too late.
This post is motivated by another place-based examination of community development. It is an experiment of mine in looking back at the history of Lincoln Square/Center as an attempt to compare it to the recent five-year build of City Center (here). I’m guessing, but I think the thread of it might be displacement as the transitional function of institutional racism, a cycle of recurrence that must be stopped.
Take a look at all of the “political clubs” in Brooklyn. Rarely are these outfits exposed as viable components of local leadership, merely those who have a detailed understanding of the inner workings, tips, and tricks of a Board of Elections system that needs to be Repealed and Replaced.
Congress Member for Life
Why did the founders make representatives every two years if we get them for life. I have a “legacy” representative in Congress with a “D” rating. So I supported an alternative candidate (Adem). I liked his candidacy for two congressional election cycles. He almost won the first time, got the “club” attention, and he got crushed the second time by an odd general consensus. An incumbent representative is the best option, or “hey, I might have a shot at this office”, leading to a primary election that is chock full of candidates. Either way, it is the ambiguity that assures the status quo.
There are nineteen political clubs in Brooklyn that attempt to decide what issues candidates can speak to with credibility. For the candidate, they will examine records of accomplishment of their opponent and coach on the hot buttons of the day (i.e., health care costs, immigration, DACA). The political clubs and their candidates are the up-from-the-grassroots owners of a process that makes the top-down discussion of congress members, senators, and judges come alive as constitutional actors. It is in these settings where ordinary people determine who runs and how. The analysis continues by district and office from local to federal that allows participants to compare incumbents to a challenger. But why are incumbents 98% successful in defeating possible challengers. Why is AOC the outlier? The answer is made obvious below. Review with the knowledge that there are over 300,000 registered voters in this CD9!
Why Does the Democratic Party Sustain Incumbency as a Priority? Is the System Broken? JUNE 23 Primary 2020 – In Brooklyn, a Primary Win is a Win in November.
Four Candidates Assures Incumbency
100.00% of precincts reporting (532?/?532) (source)
Once the choice of candidates for a political office or a judicial appointment is complete and aimed at the next election cycle, the value of local issues in the form of votes is exposed. An incumbency win is therefore easily recognized as a big money win on the issues and far less so on the issues affecting people’s lives. What do you think about 50% of every dollar you pay in federal taxes is paid to the military people, but the medical and science people have to fight for scraps in the battle for the other half? Are the big-money interests dangerous? Are they looking out for you?
A candidate does not have to be rich to be a leader, but improving the grassroots knowledge of the problems of wealth, power and government is a starting point of high value on every question related to the quality of public life. The cash from a PAC and other significant funding sources compare directly with vote capture and the percentage of contribution from ordinary citizens and public matching remains a token.
The capacity of civic engagement to get results is being pushed toward, well-known as well as unexpected breaking points. The big paying interests only have one interest in mind — to keep the government as a predictable entity, not an honest one, or fair or even one that cares. With this level of power, it is not possible to see a difference between the availability of cake and day-old bread. That is the terror of it.
To examine the building footprints in greater detail Google Map “Mandalay Bay & S. Las Vegas Blvd., Las Vegas, NV” for the City Center and “Columbus Circle, New York City.” The street grid and building footprints for City Center provide for massive building enclosures as compared to the pedestrian-oriented portion of Manhattan’s Lincoln Square just south of the famed Lincoln Center.
Robert Venturi once observed Las Vegas as the only uniquely American expression of architecture. No one ever says it is a product of thoughtful planning. In 2006, when MGM Mirage and partners decided to build City Center, Las Vegas, NV, the news in New York aptly described it as an entertainment-based retail project. A comparison with an older effort confirms why metaphor-desperate architecture critics get super busy; however, I think lousy planning is the more useful element to engage. Enter stage left, Lincoln Square, Center, and Circle.
A viewpoint for examining the similarities and differences from one other kind of uniqueness can be useful. America is not built on ancient traditions, universal religion, ethnicity, or race; its founders had the idea that a nation could be built on ideals. The principles of human dignity are given the highest value. Without the rigorous implementation of this core value, community development tends to fail this purpose. The question is not if the development practice in Lincoln Square, NYC, and City Center, Las Vegas was racist. The question is, how much racism is in play?
These two real estate investments are instructive of American urban development. They stand fifty years apart, but it might as well be five centuries regarding their exposure to values. Robert Moses broke ground on the Lincoln Center project with President Eisenhower. The biography of both patriarchs confirms a systemic racism component. Both believed Black people should be treated equally but did not think they were equal, and many of the policies and actions of both remain as proof.
Lincoln Square is an example of racialized architecture in New York City because its backdoor (parking/shipping) was placed on Amsterdam adjacent to public housing and the entry plaza favored the Broadway/Columbus intersection. This was a reasonable architectural decision for many reasons, however, one reason rarely, if ever mentioned is that architecture as a profession has no design solution for racism. They are subservient, the racism of their clients is included. The profession received clear notice of this problem in 1968 at their 100th convention (here).
Lincoln Center’s development is not as apparent as the proliferation of Confederate monuments from 1900 to through the 1920s, which continues through the 1950s. It was not used to support segregation with warlike intimidation. It found and developed rules of law to demolish a mostly Black neighborhood. The rise of the Civil Rights Movement pushes back, and Charlottesville’s Robert E. Lee Park is now Emancipation Park. A record of this effort is kept by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). On the other hand, the high culture of Lincoln Center uses the grade sheet of their traditions. As such, they seek to convert participants into high arts as their earnest effort to confront racism in order to claim success in their terms.
Lincoln Center represent issues that architectural design or sculpted monuments cannot handle, its creation was born of the slum clearance, race intimidation movement known as Urban Renewal. It developed through the redlined 50s and into the late 60s in NYC. The civil rights response pushes back but is compelled to accept reconciliation measures. Those who fought point rightly to these fruits. Reconciliation also occurs in the offerings of special district law in 1969. The roots of the Lincoln Square District can point, a bit remarkably to its transformation into a comprehensive inclusionary zoning law, albeit fifty years later. As a program, the special district design attacked the southern diaspora of poverty into the North with displacement strategies. As for tactics, restitution-like compromises such as the promise of affordable housing and well-funded ‘top-down” cultural services can be agreeable goals to the “fighters” and the losses, grave as they may be, deemed acceptable.
Understanding the rectitude of these programs provides the added depth needed to understand the term “systemic” in relationship to race and economic change. The displacement practice, once quoted to me once as, “you are free, just not here, because you can’t afford it,” continues to this day and well examined in a report from the University of Pennsylvania’s City Planning program (here). Displacement is a percentage game and if human dignity was the measure, the players on both sides are loosing. Penn’s work is an excellent update of a book by Chester Hartman, “Displacement: How to Fight It” developed with Dennis Keating and Richard LeGates (1981). The truth in both publications now decades apart is the displacement process has only changed on the margins. Therein lies the terror of it all.
A small portion of New York City (Map: CT 145) covers an area of eight typical city blocks just west of Central Park. It had a 2000 population of 4,500 people living in 2,900 housing units that sustains a low vacancy rate of about 2%. The land area is 60 acres to yield a residential density of 48,000 people per square mile. (Facts to be updated following 2020 Census – see below.)
The area includes the Fordham University Law School and it is just south of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, the Juilliard School, and a dozen other cultural miracles. It is not just a neighborhood composed of multiple story apartment buildings, it is a destination experience established by cultural centers, the splendor of Central Park’s open space, and the Time Warner 12-story, shopping “mall” without the standing auto-surround. The daytime population density can be doubled with ease, and well supported by a transit system at this location that can deliver 5,000 people per hour, 24/7/365.
The public goal (1969) of the Special Lincoln Square District is to enhance the area as an international center for the performing arts. To achieve this goal urban design along Broadway will follow street line rules. Arcades for interior urban-room retail and service facilities provide a compromise for regulation and limits on street-level uses. Supply-side development bonuses are through special permits that offer added square footage for housing rented at lower (but not low) rents governed by the rules of Inclusionary Housing R10. and subway improvements. The demand side bets on good shows, a friendly neighborhood, and a sincere hope that the NYC mass transit services do not collapse.
Lincoln Center is a life-long learning opportunity in community development. Despite a long history of cultural engagement efforts as compensation for a vast mid-50s clearance of thousands of families, a tabula rasa planning strategy, and elements such as the fortress edge at Amsterdam Avenue, the entire project remains an unfulfilled story of transitional urban power. Its future continues to be written for the success it still might get, not by crossing Amsterdam, but in recognizing how well the social fabric of this part of Manhattan is willing to attack its drift into a binary culture and ignore new opportunities that offer exceptional new levels of depth.
The comparison with another entertainment-retail center for the high-spend culture has America written all over it. It is instructive of the “binary-problem” and a warning of competing solely for the high-end. The City Center was a five-year design and build “hit”, not unlike graffiti, but way neat and well worth the time exploring innovations.
The $9+ Billion Las Vegas City Center (left to right): KPF’s Mandarin Hotel, (392) Libeskind, and Rockwell’s Crystal’s premium goods mall, Pelli’s Aria, (4,000) Helmut Jahn’s Veer, (335) Foster’s ill-fated Harmon. (demolition was in 2015) Also in the City Center, Rafael Viñoly Vara hotel and residences (1,495). A “who’s who” of architect high-end destination creation. The City Center project broke ground in 2006, and despite significant construction difficulties, including nine deaths in sixteen months, the new skyline hit the press in late 2009. The plan for this massive development was based on speed regardless of the human cost and a systemic “rent-comes-first” problem.
The entire project is symbolized by the demolition of Foster’s Harmon hotel, but like New York City’s development projects, the larger effort survived the 2008 recession. In Las Vegas, all bets are all on the black. Undeterred, billions spent in building the City Center out of nothing that can be remembered occurred even though Las Vegas sits amidst, the aridest desert on Earth. Most of the 2.6 million residents trust in the spin on Lake Mead as shrinking (or not) rejecting any notion of a prolonged era of despair due to the rains of 2016/17.
The fresh knowledge of anguish from the City Center project became available when the Las Vegas Sun received a Pulitzer Prize for uncovering the causes of construction deaths and lax regulatory assessments. The tragedy of a worker’s family is described (here). All of the stories by Las Vegas Sun for the 2009 Pulitzer Prize Winner in Public Service can be read (here), one-story points to NYC’s positive response to construction safety. Please read the work of Alexandra Berzon of the Sun who explored the pace, fear, and death and terror that accompanied the creation of City Center before taking in the five minutes on the spin on the final product in the following presentation.
All of Las Vegas began as a city of no rules sprawl. The property taken didn’t make the news. It produced thousands of hotel and residential condo-units spread through multiple structures on a 67-acre site. The Vara overlaps residence floors with a 1,500-room hotel. Regular housing is included in the Mandarin Oriental and a 37-floor twin tower. The housing and related residential accommodations combine a complex of hotels, shops, and gambling entertainment. Whether the housing is composed of permanent residents or time-shared ‘hotel-condo’ participants is of small consequence. The community with this density can resolve the service implications with reasonable ease based on density. That leaves median-income and whether racial and gender disparities are becoming dispositive.
Developing business models on the provision of unique destination-retail cultures (high or low) are coupled with a base of rental units, permanent, and condo-hotel housing. Development of this kind suggests the need for a comparison built on the demography of a place, before, during, and after. Such a comparison could yield measures by which the fast “time is money” impact of capital project disruptions that often lead to forced and economic displacement also provide proof of balance. There would be sufficient generational investment for those found in the wake of this harm that it will never occur to that household again. It would be a guarantee, a promise that the cycle of poverty ends with an emphasis on every child regardless of the cost.
The resident population of Las Vegas will be close to three million people in 2020, and prior to the 2020 pandemic, this city had 42.52 million visitors in 2019. There are just two “isms” that describe gambling in Vegas, “tourism” and “capitalism.”
The increased competition for gamblers as entertainment-based retail, comes clear in a joke you would not hear at City Center. “What is the difference between an online casino and a live casino? – When you lose online and cry, no one will laugh at you.” The enclosures of the modern casino encourage over-confidence, leading to the illusion of security. Our brains like this as a sense of pleasure and contributes to the idea that an educated guess can be precise. Illusions of control also negate outcomes of chance into more extreme emotions such as a “near win” means getting close to one.
To the visitor, the core illusion is gambling is a personal decision not influenced by the environment or knowledge of “the odds.” Both support and encourage the fantasy of winning and a sense of superiority despite a uniform failure (not-wining) rate. This phenomenon is well understood; however, the public policy allows gambling while discouraging it as a dangerous, potentially addictive practice.
A growing proportion of society participates in gambling. The economic impact occurs in every public jurisdiction. It is not treated as a preventable problem, but a percentage of the population issue, leaving it to post-trauma “hot-lines” to resolve. Proof of a high-quality education system will occur when the “casino” as a land-use disappears or when no one other than the fabled 1% gamble.
Every resident, business, and neighborhood in the nation has a census tract. The Bureau of the Census has made significant improvements in providing online access to data for the ordinary person and there are thousands of tables on who we are as a nation, city, state, county. The census tract is the “where” of this data and it adds knowledge. Knowing the actual condition of our lives yields an assessment of fitness and reasons for action based on comparisons. The first and most important bit of that knowledge is to know that the harsh gavel of the patriarchy used to hammer society into submission cannot be used to dismantle that house effectively, one must know how the house got there in the first place.
The creation of the structures you enter to live, work, shop or play must be safe structures. To assure these objectives, the regulations governing land use and the practice of architecture, engineering, and construction are strict. When errors are discoverer and repair is impossible, the building comes down as in the case of Foster’s building in Las Vegas. The structures also have social and economic impacts, but these products are not well regulated or measured. The ideals of the American Constitution demand fair measures of equal treatment under the law, of fair and just compensation and unfettered access to quality education, and a “we the people” promise of fairness in the pursuit of happiness.
Following you will find a glimpse of the 2010 data on two U.S. Census tracts illustrated in the description of these two locations. This glimpse will await the final publication of the 2020 Census. It can be said with fairness that both locations are products of a largely racist power structure focused solely on the flow of capital as exhibited by the value of the real estate. The fulfillment of America’s constitutional ideals is deemed irrelevant or at best, secondary to that flow of capital. Ironically, improving the flow of capital is touted as the best remedy to whatever set of problems a social justice agenda might present. The quality of life, therefore, becomes a material consequence of profit, and rightly so, until a tipping point occurs when the measure of quality lowers to an ability to subsist.
Population, Sex, and Race
Census Tract 145 Manhattan (2018 estimates) has a total population of 5,960. It is 64.4% White, Non-Hispanic, and 38% of the population 15 years and older have never married. Census Tract 68 Las Vegas (2018 estimates), has a total population of 5,077. The White, Non-Hispanic population is 23.2%, and 45% of the population 15 years and older have never married.
No doubt that urbanization has been a messy business. The rapid pace of development over the last couple of centuries has led directly to life-threatening conditions in a rush to mechanize every aspect of life. People were packed into camps to harvest forests of wood, mountains of granite, and every available mineral with trade value. For thousands of years, absolute command over the environment has been the central organizing force, from tribes roaming the prairies for fruits, grains, and meat to the construction of massive urban towers to sustain these endeavors across the globe. I am therefore comforted with the knowledge that it has only been fifty years since we noticed the mess and began efforts to make improvements.
Whenever infection has taken a life, it did it wherever people gather. In strict epidemiological terms, the more significant the diversity of people in a natural gathering area, the more likely the subtle protections of the human immune system will protect all. Concerning human medical history, this is relatively new data. Today, more people know the biology of DNA finds all humans to be identical. They are learning that physical differences are unique, beautiful, even exciting but fundamentally meaningless. In just the last few decades, this knowledge is filtering an entirely new value system into American culture and mostly in urban areas.
There is no stable connection between urban areas and coronavirus impacts. What is significant is how cities manage an infection with compact actions and resource preparedness. Dense cities such as Hong Kong, Seoul, Singapore, and Berlin have contained COVID-19 very well. Where greater preparedness is needed, suburban cities such as Detroit, Michigan, Macon, Georgia, and New Orleans, Louisiana, suffer right alongside dense areas like New York City with a similar impact.
In past attempts to solve urban social problems, the focus has been on eliminating inhumane physical conditions, it also had a tendency to place blame on people trapped in them. The effort to uproot the causes of their plight and poverty was intellectually criminal because good people did little on the larger issue. The failure to criticize the social and economic order as a principle reason continues to this day. It was fully expressed by the inhumanity of two world wars. The enormous successes of the nonviolent anti-war revolution for civil rights through the end of the 20th century reveal the courage of ordinary people. It also exposed an increasingly reactionary American culture due to the mere tinkerings from the top down on the edges of greatly needed reform.
Only recently, has relief from the view of urban life as unhealthy begun to fade. Hundreds of new and exhilarating urban places found expression in cities like New York throughout the country. For decades the history of urban success builds on the city’s capacity to identify and resolve the causes of potential disorder. These causes can be intense or subtle actions, but all are well-studied and tightly defined by deeply funded social science institutions and economists. Leadership and the flow of information in urban areas through interagency communication efforts allow course corrections and rapid policy changes in response to community demand. While many of the city’s top leaders have been taught hard lessons over the years, they remain well served by the deep structure of nonprofit city-wide and community-based institutions throughout the city. Without this structure, the distribution of essential resources during a city-wide emergency of any kind would be impossible to deploy.
The deep structure of urban governance produces trust in its diagnostic capacity for defining problems and then acting to get solutions. The city has taken its lessons in neighborhood economic disinvestment to create new kinds of banking institutions. Other social innovations help purge deterioration in rental housing before it spreads or in the case of the city’s public housing stock expose the failure of city and federal commitments in exquisite detail. Most recently, the city has focused on the depth of its communications resources to slow the spread of a pandemic with efficiency. Holes in its safety net are recognized with laser-like first responder precision and with this exposure repaired with the substantial institutional depth the city can muster.
Public institutions produce solutions to attacks on the quality of life by helping us to understand in highly sophisticated ways how and why we attack one another. The lessons through decades of urban crisis at various levels of impact continue to reveal the need to prevent and respond dramatically to the “tragedy of the commons” problems. The shared commons of the city are easily recognized by residents as our public health, education, open space, and transportation systems. On this point, there are futures all dense urban areas must carefully evaluate in the aftermath of every crisis.
Public Health and Education
There is no doubt, improvements in human health and education systems occur by fully defining the health concerns produced by commonly used environments. With this responsibility, a deepening in our common understanding of the issues depends enormously on the quality of public education. Today the practice of investment in health and education is grounded in policies to eliminate inequality and build better pathways to equity. We know as an undisputed fact this eliminates a long list of the health and economic disparities in life for all people. We have benefited from previous generations who also demanded reform with a noble cause. Nevertheless, we also know that many of the actions for transformation failed by forcing displacement and rehousing few. In the last fifty years of the 20th century, attempts to demolish homes, cultures, and the economies of entire neighborhoods produced a valuable urban institutional resistance defined by two words, “never again,” but as political leaders (as all of us) admitted to errors and vulnerability, the entire city learned to accept a new kind of strength.
Parks, open spaces, and transportation networks of the urban public realm are assets of the reform movements and business interests of previous generations. The so-called ‘lungs of the city,’ expressed by an extensive park system, and tree-lined streets are also like the city transportation infrastructure. Neither is a static or unchanging system, and both desperately need to improve as a safe, seamless, and unfragmented component of urban life. The well-tended park reminds us of the self-cleaning capacity of nature, the same role for mass transit can occur with the same principles of self-protection.
The Way Forward
The COVID-19 crisis offers many opportunities for reflection on the importance of national moral leadership and responsiveness, but there are more pressing issues. First, this recent crisis brings to the world a second major challenge to the quality of life on earth. Second, the vast landscape of human knowledge is at our fingertips. Third, this should make us all reasonably pleased, and this is why.
The science of geology states with confidence that the earth is about halfway through its 18 to 20 billion-year life cycle. For all the analysis of all the other “x-ologies,” we value; this alone should give people good reasons to take a deep breath and reflect.
New pathways for the growth of humanity in cities we are building all over the earth for the next few thousand years are here today, waiting for continuous improvements. Long waterfront parks will expand urban resilience as each reaches to extend its pleasures in an unfragmented, linked urban park system from the hills of the wilderness into the valleys of every neighborhood. All the massive structures constructed by our forebearers for public education and health await reinvestment and re-invention as centers for learning. We can make them all cleaner, brighter, and more beautiful than ever before. For access to these exciting new resources, we will move with confidence onto the swift, super-clean, and revitalized mass-transit system. Every crisis tells us just one thing, we have more work to do.
Geopolitical challenges such as a pandemic or the multiple impacts of climate change instruct the genius of humanity to bring about systemic change and to resist and reverse “them not us” policies and strategies. These are tests for leadership without national borders, that rage against the intolerant behaviors most likely to kill or hurt anyone at any time. Again, anyone at anytime.
Recognize human vulnerability as a powerful strength. It instructs societies on how to share a threat or resolve an issue. The logic that prevention comes at the cost of an ounce must also resist demands for buying pounds of warehouses to manage death. Science offers useful and lasting solutions to problems that often require decades of complex analysis. In the stirrings for a more robust form of global leadership, the nationalized political rush to cures and deficient reaction to climate change will cause death, and in the process, weaken the direction and leadership of science.
Finally, science belongs to us all. Darwin was a scientist without professional degrees; he was curious. That is all anyone needs. Significant global challenges, such as climate change and pandemics, are vast and complicated. What can one person or a small group of friends do? Here is a brief example.
Scientists will show you how inside of the big problems, there are hundreds of other smaller ones trying to get out. Those are the ones to work on, dig into, maybe even solve. The accelerated rate of species extinction puts human life in peril by our hand in hundreds of ways that can be reversed. The growth of citizen science through internet partnerships is the counterbalance. Sharing observations can connect our personal experience with the reality of all Earth’s life forms. Think of something in nature that you enjoy, and it can be anything, a particular kind of tree, or bees and butterflies, ferns, and orchids. There are billions of life form interdependencies between you, the future of your children, and the community that is not understood and need ordinary people to discover document, and recover the forgotten. To get started, have a look at these great ideas:
One argument often stuffed into questions on how to build common ground and a good society or even the capacity to sustain positive change in bad times is the proposition that logic with goodwill solves problems. Logic is science, goodwill, nothing but untrustworthy feelings that destroy the former.
American’s have simple-minded, or perhaps merely unexamined adolescent confidence about what and who we are among one another and in the world. The tension caused by this lack of examination may be psychological, political, or economic. The 19th century was said to be about Hope and the 20th c. of GreatExpectation. The paradox of this as a trend is how it tips the 21st century toward the claim of Despair.
We recognize in ourselves the hopeless questioning gaze in the distress of a suddenly wounded child. We also see that it is not a dishonest experience, but one capable of reversible insights regarding exuberant, competitive, playfulness of our growth into freedom. The principle that, it is only business or it is just politics, accepts harm without limits as mere spoils.
The day-to-day experience of our time has become distrustful, but not only of one another. We are becoming hostile toward human nature. We can see in ourselves and Nature a capacity for spreading acts of unrepairable self-affliction. Readily accepted public controls to reverse these conditions come with a moody resistance and feelings of repression that are irrational, empty of analysis, without one moment of reflection.
Because I just said that, I will “reflect” for a moment.
One cannot exhibit judgement if statistics dominate decisions, in this context true judgement is lost. Organisms need energy, water, shelter, and reproduction to exist in one of two places, some will travel thousands of miles across the earth to acquire resources, others will glue themselves to a rock to acquire needed resources. If an organism or a nation loses the mysticism and belief in a philosophy of hope and expectation in which each is born, the capacity to conduct strategy meaningfully evaporates into the dust of poor judgement.
I canceled the costly UNIX server, and collapsed everything (well almost) into one giant-f’n blog. It will take a while to get things organized with a new content management system. All of the thinking, writing, mine, yours and the people we read and respect are here some place. Thanks for the recommendations. The categories on Sampler1 read “my neighborhood” and “internet.”
The digital and the dense urban world have a unity of purpose. In this example, developed by the person (found here) you will find many of the officially named places drawn many sources. They are also the place names. In this case that would be a neighborhood. They are described in the multicolored map above. Click on one and a named place comes up. Follow the link to Reddit above and watch the magic begin with to happen with lots of new named places as each neighborhood area begins to fill up with place names among the Reddit participants. Here is an example:
The Hole is presented as a “small neighborhood in New York City between Brooklyn and Queens. It is a low-lying area, with a ground level that is 30 feet (9.1 m) lower than the surrounding area. The area suffers from frequent flooding. It has been described as a “lost neighborhood”, and like a border town from the Wild West.. If you’ve ever taken the S. Conduit to JFK, ‘The Hole” was on the right just before you entered the highway (BQE).
I have a great affection for the people there and how they decided to live. Many times their participation in community block events throughout Bed-Stuy, East New York and East Flatbush and much of the city introduced a close up experience with a horse and the men who road them for lots of kids. This is because of the men from the New York City Federation of Black Cowboys.
If you got into this little bit of history and what led to the displacement of this outfit by another you’ll recognize a seriously complex story of loss, sadness, race and privilege. Then again, you might come across this wonderful song because you were curious about “the hole.” That is what happened to me when I decided to do this post.
222 East 21st Street or 571 Ocean Avenue: In a brief look at past work of this developer and architect, there are concerns regarding the use of materials and the lack of detailing and the possibility that a brick façade and other contextual elements will be poorly done. If you are interested in doing some homework representing AKNA, use the Contact link.
Two reasons for compiling the following information for review so far:
Do whatever AKNA can do to assure the developer and architect will produce a development that meets or exceeds Quality Housing Standards. (see below)
Establish a relationship with city agencies (HPD, DoB, EPA) local organizations (FDC, CD14, CAMBA) and the City Council that will encourage this result. Why? The quality of the 21st facade should not be compromised.
Questions that need answers:
Who at HPD, DoB will be conducting reviews and inspections?
Will it be 80/20 Inclusionary Housing? The plan is for 115 Units.
What is the history and reputation of the Developer and the Architect?
The reported nine-story, 115-unit mixed-use building image is misleading. Nevertheless, the construction of new housing will begin in the near future on the East 21st Street through-lot between Church Avenue and Albemarle Road. (see YIMBY).
The project could encompass 102,800 square feet and rise 80 feet in height. The proposed community facility space provides for a floor area bonus and its 58-car parking garage meets the 50% minimum. The Real Deal notes that according to filed permits (building information system) for the project’s average apartment size of 712 square feet is indicative of rentals. The reported project height of nine stores exceeds limits defined by the R7A and may be presented this way to produce the appearance of a give back to community objections. (See R7A description below)
Nevertheless, the project could add about 300 new neighbors to the area and add density. The density issue triggers the attention of watchdog allies from the Flatbush Tenant Coalition, CAMBA, and other housing advocates regarding the enforcement of housing quality standards and the affordability of rental housing.
The site (picture above) is cited as a safety hazard. It contains the skeleton of an abandoned construction project. Complaints and violations date back 10 years and include rusted and leaning steel beams and structurally unsound fencing. Active violations include working without permits and other construction violations and according to Property Shark. The site is also described as a hazardous waste generator or transporter with a site address of 571 Ocean Avenue which would be the address and suggests the hazardous materials issue is not resolved. Contact Walter Hang of Toxics Targeting. A particular concern would be asbestos made airborne in site preparation.
Established in 1987, the intent of the Quality Housing Program is to maintain the architectural character of New York City neighborhoods. The program rules concern height, bulk, lot coverage, street line, and more. Quality Housing is mandatory in contextual R6-R10 districts, but only optional in non-contextual R6-R10 districts.
The contextual Quality Housing regulations are mandatory in this R7A district. Typically, they produce high lot coverage, seven- and eight-story apartment building, and blend with existing buildings in established neighborhoods. R7A districts are mapped along Prospect Park South and Ocean Parkway in Brooklyn, Jackson Heights in Queens, and in Harlem and along the avenues in the East Village in Manhattan. The floor area ratio (FAR) in R7A districts is 4.0. Above a base height of 40 to 65 feet, the building must set back to a depth of 10 feet on a wide street and 15 feet on a narrow street before rising to a maximum height of 80 feet. In order to preserve the traditional streetscape, the street wall of a new building can be no closer to the street line, than any building within 150 feet on the same block, but need not be farther than 15 feet. Buildings must have interior amenities for the residents pursuant to the Quality Housing Program. Off-street parking is not allowed in front of a building. Parking is required for 50% of all dwelling units.
Corridor Floor Area Deduction
Quality Housing grants two corridor deductions from the total floor area. Section 28-14 allows a 50% deduction of corridor floor area if there is a 20 square foot window in the corridor. Section 28-31 allows a 50% deduction if the dwelling units served by the corridor are less than the allowance in the section’s table. For instance, if a corridor serves 10 units or less, 50% of the corridor’s floor area is deductible offering some design flexibility trade-offs.
Recreational Floor Area Deduction
Quality Housing mandates the inclusion of recreational space as a percentage of residential floor area. For instance, R6 and R7 districts are required to include 3.3% of the residential floor area be recreational area. Section 28-21 states that no more than the required amount of recreational space in the table shall be excluded from the definition of floor area. Recreational areas can include space like gymnasiums, a popular building asset exempt from floor area.
Applicant Website is not good, and not much housing. The need is to see some of the projects first hand and find the GC that worked the buildings
SHIMING TAM S M TAM ARCHITECT, PLLC 5816 FORT HAMILTON PARKWAY M1 BROOKLYN NY 11219 S M TAM ARCHITECT, PLLC [email protected] Business Phone: 718-765-1122Business Fax: 718-765-0813
Bentley Zhao developed building
Zhao’s New Empire Real Estate Development also operates an EB-5 regional center By Will Parker | March 30, 2017, 8:30 AM Bentley Zhao andrendering for 2128 Ocean Avenue
Zhao filed an offering plan for a 56-unit condominium at 2128 Ocean Avenue in Sheepshead Bay, an application with the New York State Attorney General’s office shows. Zhao is shooting for a $43 million sellout at the 73,000-square-foot project, after buying the lot from Yu Xi-Liu last June for $3.9 million. The previous owners demolished a one-story garage at the site, but Zhao is yet to file new building permits.
New Empire is based in Sunset Park where Zhao also operates the New Empire EB-5 Regional Center from the company’s 3rd Avenue headquarters. The investment center’s website shows that the EB-5 portion of the 2128 Ocean Avenue’s capital stack is already fully funded. Details on the website reveal that unit sizes at the project will average 890 square feet and range from studios to three-bedrooms. In addition to EB-5 money, New Empire obtained an $18.5 million loan from Banco Popular North America in September.
Zhao’s ambitions and current portfolio go beyond South Brooklyn, however. New Empire is planning a 49-story condo tower at 131 East 47th Street in Manhattan, a 122-unit project. Demolition of 19th-century rowhouses at the site commenced last spring. SLCE Architects is designing the new building, which will be at least partly funded with EB-5. Gary Barnett’s Extell Development sold the site to Zhao for $81 million in 2015.
New Empire is also raising EB-5 funds for a 105-unit condo in Prospect Park South, dubbed “Ocean Tower,” for a condo at 269 4th Avenue in Park Slope and at a boutique, seven-unit build at 409 West 45th Street in Hell’s Kitchen.
If you have any questions please review these Frequently Asked Questions, the Glossary, or call the 311 Citizen Service Center by dialing 311 or (212) NEW YORK outside of New York City.
Issue: Children are not performing at grade level (Math & Language Arts (ELA). The implementation of state-wide school funding transparency with federal legislation incentives.
Response: The families of the Ninth CD hold a better life for their children in high esteem.
Will you introduce legislation to produce targeted federal support that help kids catch up to grade levels? Will you assure the expansion of pre-K services will continue?
New York City’s career academies and vocational training centers will continue to excell with increases federal matching funds.
Will you support funds for the addition of smaller, high-quality High Schools and more learning choices for our kids?
Will you support for New York State’s elimination of tuition for all two- and four-year colleges operated by the city and state will strengthen and support federal legislation that supports this initiative?
In 2001, Lynn and Philip Straus, gave a $7 million endowment to Bank Street, its largest private donation. Ongoing support includes an additional $5 million endowment aimed at improving the educational opportunities of children from low- and moderate income households. New York City is packed with universities and highly trained educational professionals. Several new schools have been built in the Ninth Congressional District.
Will you work to understand the education districts and these new schools that are part of CD9 and help identify their needs with these professionals? Will you get combinations of city, state and federal funds to close the edcation gap in these schools?
The health campus (below) in the Ninth Congressional District (below) is known to many as “Downstate”, but this location has a deeper and richer capacity for service. It has the infrastructure and location to become one of the world’s finest health care campuses
One out of three people in the Ninth Congressional District have jobs in education, health and social service industry. When health and social assistance services for low- and moderate-income is threatened by national and state policies – all of Brooklyn is under attack.
The health campus map (above) is known to many as “Downstate,” but this location is deeper and richer in its capacity. Downstate has a student body of nearly 1,800 and a staff and faculty community of about 8,000. No other organization in the entire state would be more informed regarding health issues. It maintains the Medical History Library.
It has the infrastructure and location to become one of the world’s finest health care campuses. The failure of federal leadership on health and social services traps CD9’s health professionals in a community where it is easy to blame the victims for the debt incurred by the “pounds of cure” called hospitals serving patients far too late in their health history. Funds for the “ounces of prevention” and that focused on the real health care needs in Brooklyn are cut far too easily.
The impetus and a national health care system will require a major change in public policy regarding health in communities of low- and moderate-income, especially in places with density and diversity like New York City. The question is simple.
How will you support “Medicare for All” legislation?
The developed world knows this is the way forward. Why doesn’t the United States understand? Comprehensive single-payer healthcare will bring stability to the Ninth Congressional District and start it on the path to community health, it will sustain good jobs and make health affordable.
For a draft of issues confronting the Ninth Congressional District review a slide presentation (here) and a draft paper on the issues (here).
The total estimated annual payroll for seven Congressional Districts with significant employment in health care and social assistance is just over $275 billion.
This draft was edited thanks to a little help (March 2018) This is a damn complicated issue.
A look at the details by Congressional District exposes weaknesses in the strategy of leaving the Affordable Care Act alone as a result of the failure of replace/repeal.
Nearly 22% of Velazquez’s (CD7), 27.6% of Jefferies (CD8) and 54% of Clarke’s (CD9) constituent payroll is the health care and social assistance, almost $6 billion. A reduction by a fraction of this can be devastating to the better jobs, more income strategy in NYC’s service economy environment. It is this part of the health care system that is broken and the debate to let the market drive the system vs. a broad national safety net in a single-payer design is designed to go on forever.
The seven districts covering all of Brooklyn includes Bay Ridge and all of Staten Island represented by the city’s only Republican. The table (above) also includes a bit of Queens (Meng). Maloney and Jerry Nadler also have small parts of Brooklyn, but larger parts of Manhattan, and therein lies a surprise.
Of the $275 billion in total income in these districts, 88.5% is in CD10 (Nadler) and CD12 (Maloney). The incomes of the households in these two districts dwarf the other five that cover most of Brooklyn. Maloney and Nadler represent 11% of the employment in the health and social assistance sector.
More work on this is needed regarding the impact on CD9 where over 50% of the community’s income is in the health sector and the majority of it is Medicaid.
So what, if a few people get stopped and if they refuse to respond to a lawful order to give up the data on their phones (little computers really). If you do, you can be detained for because you gave them reasonable suspicion. (Catch 22s are real.)
You say I’ll give my phone up with nothing to hide They might catch somebody that would blow up a car or something and kill me, members of my family or people I know. Even though, you know the odds of such an event are better on a lightning bolt. This is not a security vs. privacy issue this is a fear problem.
Remember, President Franklin D. Roosevelt said this is about “fear itself,” for many reasons. Fear is the main lever of Fascism because people in fear become its fulcrum. Fear is a lever that can destroy a country’s financial stability, and it is “nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”
Volunteer to summarize the following and to watch this issue over the next couple of years and join others who doing the same.
NBC News, “American citizens: US border agents can search your cell phone,” March 13, 2017. BuzzFeed, “New bill would outlaw warrantless phone searches at the border,” April 4, 2017. The Hill, “Border agents, demanded searches of US citizens’ phones: report,” March 13, 2017. NPR, “More travelers are being asked for their cell phones and passwords…” April 11, 2017. CNN, “Bill would stop warrantless border device searches of US citizens,” April 4, 2017.
All of this despite the Supreme Court June 25, 2014, unanimously ruling (9-0) that police may not search the cell phones of criminal suspects upon arrest without a warrant — a sweeping endorsement for privacy rights. Wallets, briefcases, and vehicles remain subject to limited examination by law enforcement. The C-22 here is clear, go “all the way” in the justice system on the one hand or handing it over for a data upload on the other.
In the House of Representatives Jared Polis (D), Denver CO was elected in 2008 and defeated a Republican incumbent and Blake Farenthold (R) defeated an incumbent Democrat in 2016. Both along with two Senators, Rand Paul, and Ron Wyden have introduced legislation that would require law enforcement to obtain a warrant before they can search your phone when you, (a citizen) enters the US.
The bill extends the privacy principles clarified in the Supreme Court decision Riley v. California. In that case, the High Court ruled that warrantless searches of electronic devices during an arrest are unconstitutional. Read the complete Protecting Data at the Border Act here, and a summary here. (both pdf).
It was a busy April morning in 2017 when three clean, Verizon Cable trucks rolled onto the Terraces with a bunch of scrappy linemen eager to drag us into the twenty-first century. Data-structure, Inc. was just leaving, and it seemed very appropriate to re-read their motto, “You deserve peace of mind.”
All of our right-of-way forms signed, our dedicated research, calls, and inquiries have become fruitful. We even discovered that William Freshwater is, in fact, a real person who is responsive and professional. With this arrival, we have a complete understanding of intent, even though Verizon, remains puzzled about the future of its technology. It’s OK, Verizon is big like the trucks they use to get the job done, it takes a while to get them rolling. The best metaphor for investments that really pay off.
Taking complete stock of the fiber-optic cable question is complicated. The initial assumption was Verizon would follow the old Cooper, and establish new household ports of extraordinary capacity, then the cap expenditure folks at Verizon began to anticipate technology changes upward of 5G of the wireless world.
The long line strategy is the build out to places like us. It will be useful for densification from wireline to wireless. We remain in your service as you ours. Until, of course we are not. Capitalism at its best.
Byers Engineering Company 285 Davidson Ave., Suite 203 Somerset, NJ 08873-4153
Survey visit “for right of way” occured again on August 20, 2015 with a drop by visit from Chris Wojtowicz of Byers Engineering He confirmed Verizon’s Engineer, Wasserman’s opinion that a Fiber line presented along the roof-top gutter was the best option. See image below as the best solution for the north and south side of Albemarle Terrace. One cable about the size of the pinky finger. Yea!
The AKNA IT Team has his phone and email address, and many months latter and…
in early March 2017, two Verizon technicians in white hard hats were walking the block. Excitedly I approached and said, Hey! Are you guys from Verizon FiOS. They smiled, and said yes. They were carrying drawings of the route around the building extensions at the back. On the south side of the Terrace they are called sun rooms.
The line drawn by the engineer’s appeared to be around each of the extensions and entering the block, reportedly from east to west via Fabco Shoe building. The blue line below shows a straight line below the second story gutter line that appeared many months ago to AKNA as the best way to go. We shall see.
I’ll believe it when I see it. Expectations are difficult to manage and different for everyone as everyone needs will vary. I found this presentation to be one the few YouTube presentations that describe the FiOS installation process in a pleasant way. If you come across any others that might be helpful, I’ll put them here.
We are all challenged in one way or another with a learning disability. It could be a place on the autism spectrum, or a kid that knows learning stuff is so easy, it doesn’t really matter that much.
When your are about to commit to tens of thousands of dollars over the next four to five years it is time to hone your consumer skills. Applications to a minimum of ten to twelve colleges (or alternatives) will be needed to get the best deal for your kid and thankfully the digital revolution has made it easy, maybe too easy. Like any other consumer function, higher education is as caveat emptor as any other buying experience. The questions regarding the choices available start with what would be best for your kid(s).
With acceptances, it is time to assess the offices in the university that realize the need for a learning differences center (often bundled with their office of disability services (ODS) programs. I don’t know your kid, I only know mine. Too make a final decision about which higher education experience is best and meet the family’s financial needs best it is time to ask yourself and your kid some questions. These are mine. I know you will find some of them useful
Based on the disability or learning difference, are there specific evaluations or test results that need to be submitted to become eligible to receive services?
How current should the documentation be?
What is the process for reviewing documentation and eligibility determination?
How many staff members are there in the ODS?
What are the main roles of the staff members?
What is their level of training?
Do staff members in the ODS have previous experience working with students with an area of need that is like my own?
If yes, what types of accommodations and services have been provided in the past?
How many students at the college receive assistance through the ODS?
What types of accommodations and services are provided directly through the ODS?
(e.g., extended time on tests, a distraction-free testing environment, the use of a calculator on tests, note taking assistance, audio books, adaptive or assistive technology resources, priority registration, professional tutoring, peer tutoring, study skills training, academic advising…).
Are there any unique or additional services offered through the ODS that students seem to find helpful?
Does the ODS offer a place for students to take exams or to study (e.g., a distraction-reduced environment or a place to finish exams when extra time is needed)?
If I am a student at the college, who would be my primary contact person in the ODS?
Would I have a separate advisor outside of the ODS
Are there any fees for the services that are offered by the ODS?
What types of general academic support services are available for all students on the campus?
Are there services provided to assist freshmen students with the transition from high school to college?
How are professors at the college notified about the academic accommodations for students with disabilities?
What provisions are in place in case an issue occurs with receiving accommodations?
What types of housing options or housing accommodations are available on campus?
What types of resources are available on the campus that may be helpful to me (e.g., health center, counseling services…)? Are there fees for any of the on-campus services?
What types of community resources are near the college that may be helpful for me (e.g., medical facilities, psychological services, consultants, specialists…)?
Is the ODS connected with any of these resources?
Are there any considerations that students with disabilities should know about regarding the admission process at the college?
Do you provide information about the graduation rate and/or the retention rate for students who are served by the ODS?
Are there provisions made for having to miss classes based on the nature of an incapacity or a medical condition?
Are substitutions available for required courses at the college if they are needed based on the nature of a disability (e.g., world language courses)?
Is there any additional information that you can share with me about the ODS at your college?
Ask yourself does my kid:
know how to use a washing machine?
clean the bathroom/toilet
consult the college’s website routinely – faculty and admin us this regularly
use his telephone for communication, banking, networks, other?
We live in a culture that embeds information, and where the most important things tend to go unsaid. All of us put information into machines that will retrieve data on practically anything imaginable from an alarm clock to an AI for more complex decision-making. Perhaps this will release the unsaid portions about the vital function of cities in human life.
A recent Rolling Stone article by Jeff Goodell (Flooded City) does not make this point directly but exhibits its results with great clarity. Goodell talks about flooding in New York involving high or low ground impacts with storm surge or microburst variables. The unsaid stuff defines a vast combination of intellectual and architectural ramparts outlined as plans in a series of locations throughout New York City.
A talking head presentation at the New America Civic Hall (9.15.16) proved to be very un-civic but managed to remain polite. All New Yorkers will look at a sea rise map, make a quick am “I in or out” assessment and log that in for a personal assessment of risk. Many of the people attending were either outside the lines. Those who were wet on the map and had an obvious self-interest with the prospect of land poverty, but could not express them over all the talk of the new walls, ramparts, bounded rationality and cognitive dissonance in the presentation about investments in resilience.
I have a suggestion on how to escape the Chicken Little problems the “flooded city” approach creates. The last half of the American century has offered two promises (maybe three). The first is the promise to eliminate disadvantage as discovered by the individual, the family, community, and nation. The American vocabulary, its literature, art, law, and architecture present an exquisite language born of the poetry and forums of each for change and communication. The framers of the Constitution strengthen us. We have been given the tools, created the space, and found ways to speak truth to power. We are skilled in the dialogue. We remain encouraged by each battle for social justice and civil society. We are routinely encouraged to confront the world’s history in ways that will keep that promise alive.
The second promise while not as refined, adds powerful new energy to the promise of eliminating disadvantage. It is the promise of sustainability. From the Club of Rome to its reflective twenty-five-year reunion at the Smithsonian, a more accurate word, Resilience, now communicates the correct challenge as well as imply a variety of post-trauma conditions. We now deploy resilience officers throughout the world, but their task is not to look at high water and low land. The resilience mission is different – find ways to draw a line in the sand. It matters far less about where there will be high water until we know how to draw that line in the sand. There is no crystal ball. Pointing to facts is all that can be done. Describe where a part of the sky has fallen. Right now that is more useful than why to avoid tragedy.
Historically, when it comes to a resilience challenge, there is the “duck and cover” hedge and the old MAD way. The worldview of mutually assured destruction is also composed of private investors who are very active in their demand for public dollars to drive down risk. We need a much broader outline of ways to invest publically in resilience that may come down to clearly explaining the difference between the circle and the grid in urban design as we see it in the national highway system and the urban crisis.
The content embedded in the promises leading to eliminating disadvantage through fairness and sustainability can help define the architecture presented as walls and ramparts that encircle something. In this design here is an inside and an outside. Without injecting these two promises into the process, the design of the walls and ramparts will do more damage than any violent fire or storm.
Future articles and public discussion should take a lesson from Elizabeth Kolbert. Her extraordinary review of the science of global change over the last half-billion years defines our entry into the Anthropocene epoch, the knowledge of which might save us all.
Elizabeth Kolbert is author of Pulitzer Prize-winning, The Sixth Extinction
The Isle de-Jean Charles
It is time to get dangerously practical about the local impact of global problems. I would apply the Isle de-Jean Charles Climate Change Refugees (video here) to a New York City example: The action taken in Louisiana occurred when they were down to the last two-percent of their land. (get the untold story on the 98%). Can New York or any other city afford to set that standard or hedge that bet, that way?
Un-rough the math here, $100 million in relocation funds for 20 households applied to the 35,000 families in let’s say, Canarsie, a neighborhood in Brooklyn. The bill would come to $175 billion. Resettlement at 20HH/year would take a millennium. At 500 HH/year, the cost would be $2.5 billion/year, and it would take 70 years. Buy the property, strip it of its toxins, wait for the ocean to come and you have an artificial reef over the foundations, counter the acidity and make seafood.
An investment of this kind protects the future. It would prevent the “land poverty” plan currently in play that will reflect the tragedy of the ramparts, not the water. For a place like Canarsie, or the Rockaways (the natural rampart), the test should be whether a quid pro quo is in place, or just another caveat emptor slap in the face, aimed at people of color.
Truth to power, you cannot get that pitiful amount today for a place like Canarsie. The policy for change remains in the MAD world of catastrophic resolution. The Chicken Little approach does not have a chance unless you do one simple thing. Put that line in the sand and be a little scary. Draw the wall, present its ramparts across the landscape of NYC or any other place on the planet, and have the courage to ask and answer two questions.
Who’s In? Who’s out? Straight up, without weapons, humans are not built to kill, no claws or fangs, but when one group of humans is forced to say to another group facing a life-threatening condition “you are not selected” now or even in the evolutionary sense, I do not know which group is worse off.
Rex L. Curry
A third promise awaits development given an implementation plan. The positive side of the formation of ramparts and walls is the opportunity to recognize a dense, contained urban life offering new forms of growth. The challenge is to put a stop to the grid humans have drawn on the earth. The grid is a symbol of the infinite. The sphere or circle is limited. The fuel of unlimited growth within this circle (ramparts and all) is to develop methods for all that enters the encircled urban world will leave in a non-toxic form. Today over 80% of what flows out is toxic.
Today the planners, engineers, architects, and climate scientists assess the impact of the sea rise, storm surges and microbursts pounding down the Hudson River Valley on the city’s property. The Flooded City article points out the big picture these professionals paint for owners and policymakers.
For example, a rise in sea level far less than a meter places 71,500 buildings and $100 billion of property in NYC’s high-risk flood zones. Sea rise is not a complex assessment. Remote earth sensing devices can measure elevation to less than a meter. Some devices calculate small fluctuations in gravitational forces, and for any area in question, can do so in real time. The ramparts and walls encircling vulnerable properties using these tools also exhibit a variety of wrongheaded priorities of great value for reforms and the discussion of fairness.
The below-ground world of tunnels and conduit (vehicles, gas, power, clean, gray and black water) of New York City is not climate proof. Given the positives of the walls and ramparts, the capacity to fragment infrastructure systems to function independently is implied, but the policy is dishonest unless the question “who is in and out” is answered.
Global processes are geologically instantaneous events in the context of the last half-billion years. They occur daily but remain well outside of human experience. We are unlikely to “duck and cover” or step back from the waves of an unobservable rise of the ocean at the base of a massive river basin. Creating the incentives to do so is the challenge of our time.
Nevertheless, insisting the acquisition and removal of toxins from NYC’s waterfront and flood-prone zones may be the best plan of action for no other reason that it will take a century to accomplish. The planning work as it stands today favors protecting property in the short term. It emanates from the boardrooms and public conferences in the old way. It is about producing jobs through relatively high yield, short-term investments under the heading of resiliency. The discussion of the chemical, biological, and most importantly, financial toxins encircled by these old ways requires a sharper focus by its critics.
Using this NYC Complaint LinkI requested help in contacting Verizon regarding service. I received the following letter. I am flabbergasted beyond belief.
Dear Mr. Curry,
The local team has confirmed that Verizon has obtained all the necessary rights of way and secured 53 permits to bring Fios service to your address. Design plans have been approved and submitted to Construction for scheduling.
Since you have already entered a request for Fios video service via www.verizon.com, you will be notified by e-mail when there is a milestone in Verizon’s efforts to deploy service to the building.
Residents of Albemarle Terrace and Kenmore Terrace Please Have a Look
You can check the status of your pending request online by following these steps:
Click on any of the FiOS Banner Ads (“Order Now” buttons) or Click on “Check Availability.”
Enter your address.
You’ll be asked to confirm your address after entering it (specific to the unit/floor in the building, based on Verizon’s records).
If the address entered (specific to the unit/floor) has a pending service request, the next screen will provide the following option “Show me the status of my request to have FIOS TV brought to my building.”
Check that box and hit continue, and you’ll be shown the status of the request.
Thank you and best regards, Verizon Video Service Request Team
Remember requesting service puts you in the position of evaluating/negotiating the cost not a commitment to purchase. Please make the request. This will not be over until it is and we have a choice.
THEN I GOT THIS:FROM THE FRIENDLY PEOPLE AT 311
311 confirmation response saying this complaint resolution is “cable not installed”, because the service was not installed as requested.
THEN I GOT THIS:
I am in receipt of your 311 Service Request # 1-1-1304140431, to New York City’s Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (“DoITT”), regarding the status for Verizon FiOS service at your residence.
This agency processed and forwarded you latest FiOS service request to our Verizon FiOS municipal contact requesting they look into your request and respond with a more accurate date for activation and installation of the service. Verizon responded with the following:
“Good morning Mr. Curry,
The local team has confirmed that Verizon has obtained all the necessary rights of way and secured 53 permits to bring Fios service to your address. Design plans have been approved and submitted to Construction for scheduling.
Since you have already entered a request for Fios video service via www.verizon.com, you will be notified by e-mail when there is a milestone in Verizon’s efforts to deploy service to the building. You can also check the status of your pending request online by following these steps:
Click on any of the FiOS Banner Ads (“Order Now” buttons) or Click on “Check Availability.”
Enter your address.
You’ll be asked to confirm your address after entering it (specific to the unit/floor in the building, based on Verizon’s records).
If the address entered (specific to the unit/floor) has a pending service request, the next screen will provide the following option “Show me the status of my request to have FIOS TV brought to my building.”
Check that box and hit continue, and you’ll be shown the status of the request.
Thank you and best regards,
Verizon Video Service Request Team
Peter J. Schwab Executive Director, Franchise Administration New York City Department of Information Technology & Telecommunication 2 MetroTech Center, 4th Floor Brooklyn, NY 11201
The Center for Responsive Politics keeps a record of corporate dollars for political representatives. The table and map (below) looks at the House of Representatives for Brooklyn and surroundings.
AKNA’s representative is Yvette Clarke (D-NY District 9, First elected 2006, election 2016 (won) next election November 6, 2018. She serves on two committees: Energy and Commerce and Small Business. She received $3,500 from Verizon and $4,000 from Cablevision Clarke’s total campaign contributions was $519,110. But a total of over $80,000 is from the communication and electronics sector. (Source)
The purpose of the money from Verizon and the others is obviously designed keep Clarke’s office away from Verizon. Is that why there is (no FiOS, bad cable and poor wireless service) in her district?
Yvette D. Clarke received 82% of campaign contributions ($537,295) from outside district. (Rank: 206 out of 421.)
]Yvette D. Clarke received 32% of campaign contributions ($211,772) from outside state. (Rank: 399 out of 421.)
For more information on government sources see Call to Action (service map) and Representatives for additional research on political leaders and other candidates for relevance.
Notes: In the 2014 Cycle, Senator Schumer received $5,000 from Verizon and Senator Gillibrand received $10,000 from Cable Vision. Congressman Joe Crowley (Queens District 14 Elected in 1998) received $35,700 from Verizon and Cablevision in 2014. Since the 1998 election he has received over $3million in total contributions. Crowley serves on the powerful Ways and Means Committee that determines all Federal methods for raising revenue. Some insight comes from the huge increase in contributions to members elsewhere: See Tweet re: Communications and Technology Subcommittee.
Disclosing: Broadband Internet providers gave, on average, 2.9 times more money ($67,272) to members of the Communications and Technology Subcommittee compared to members of the entire House of Representatives ($23,186).
The strike over the next few weeks is as good a reason to begin the clock on how long it will take to get high speed service following the completion of the AKNA end of the process. The main question is simple. How long will it take? The clock is ticking.
By The Associated Press: April 11, 2016, 3:42 P.M
NEW YORK — Unions representing more than 36,000 Verizon landline phone and cable workers are threatening a strike starting Wednesday morning if the company doesn’t agree to a new contract.
The unions, the Communications Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, say Verizon wants to freeze pensions, make layoffs easier and rely more on contract workers. Verizon says there are health care issues that need to be addressed for both retirees and workers as medical costs have grown, and it wants “greater flexibility” to manage its employees.
The latest contract had expired last August. Both sides say negotiations have been unsuccessful.
Verizon Communications Inc. says it has trained thousands of non-union employees to fill in if the strike takes place in nine Eastern states and Washington, D.C. The company had 178,000 employees as of December.
The last Verizon strike was in 2011 and lasted for two weeks.
Inside Information? In March 2016, the following letter portends the Verizon strike. Read it for the exquisite use political sentiment that suggests inaction on their part while pointing out their $39 billion profit.
“It is our understanding that the [CWA and IBEW] have offered to negotiate substantial savings in health care for the wireline workforce, but there are additional areas of concern for your workers, including job security, the treatment of sick and injured workers, pensions and the contracting out of work. While we recognize that changes in technology and customer preference have led to a decline in landline service, driving the need for some contract changes, we also want to be sure that Verizon preserves good, family-supporting jobs in our region.” Click to read.
VZ Engineering is known to be terrible and likely to be the only Incumbent Local Exchange Carrier (ILEC) that decides not to upgrade a single strand of wire and resist the placement of fiber. The proof is in, and 30% to 60% of the old network rots. Decades of unmaintained, old copper lies struggling to offer Digital Subscriber Line Access Multiplexers (DSLAM) and landline phone from the 1970s.
The Verizon business plan must, therefore, include selling these wrecked lines to other providers eager to serve this self-made vacuum. Verizon’s sale of the old stuff to Fairpoint in New England is a recent example of a local effort to sustain DSL cooper investment for the lack of an alternative. There would be life and speed in copper if kept dry and many long for POTS. That is a plain old telephone service network and and manly saw PANS, the pretty amazing new stuff, as distractions to the higher purposes of communication.
Historians may write it this way. The old technology was focused, and the com-network improved on a regular basis to sustain the win/win principle of Universal Service. When traded in for competition between long-distance carriers we lost it all, and for what? The 1984 breakup of Ma Bell produced a monster, the Com-Hydra.
Bottom line, the mountain of negative service problems throughout the Northeast makes one wonder if Verizon is an agent operating a cyber war strategy. Willing or unwilling, true or false, the national interest and security are not as threatened by the bad guy with an encrypted cell phone as it is by a very large local exchange carrier that is making our LFAs (franchise agreements) worthless. Shouldn’t I hear a bell ringing in every attorney general’s office in the Northeast?
Verizon aggressively seeks the wealthiest clients and government agencies. Verizon refused to replace copper service for many buildings inundated by hurricane flood waters in lower Manhattan, forcing owners and tenants to go months without service when the copper solution was a couple of weeks. Is the impossible, possible here? The neat thing about lures, like the old bait and switch, is the surprise. Right in your face they are promising a modern communications network and at the same time saying it will never happen. AT&T and CenturyLink, and so on, are similar, but only because they appear to be chasing the big VZ wireless-dog.
The following is provided as a musical interlude to provoke thought Use it to evaluate this question and decide on an action. Share it if you feel like doing so, and 2X speed is OK if rushed (the little gear bottom right).
A moment for thought is also offered (HERE) with a musical aid, and the Hydra image (above) and story is HERE.
Manhattan is a “playground” for wealth with an interest in keeping enough households to assure maintenance and basic services. It is called eighty-twenty. The building at 432 Park Avenue is its new beacon, sans the “twenty”. All 104 condos are sold, including the penthouse at $95 million. The lower cost units started at $7 million.
New York City’s building machine exhibition has begun. (Have a look http://432parkavenue.com). What do machines need? People to maintain them.
In October 2012, Aaron Betsky of Architect thought it oozed privilege and wealth, but it did so with, “elegance, borne out of its simplicity as much as its height, that make it clear that it is still possible to make a beautiful skyscraper.”
More about Aaron Betsky’s argument is in this 12min. video
432 Park Avenue is taller than One World Trade Centre by ten meters, discounting the height of its spire and it has started something that is much bigger than big buildings. It is the percentages.
“I see the Macklowe building down Park when I step out my front door at East 89th. In the morning, the pure square building, with its huge square windows, does have a Brutalist cast, but it also has a haunting aspect, like a painting by Giorgio de Chirico. The night is my favorite time, the deep blue of the protective film on the window glass giving the building a lonely, melancholy aspect as if it were the only one of its type on Park Avenue. Which, for the moment, it is.”
December 2012, the Real Estate Section of the New York Times
A machine city is a thing of parts designed and operated by people running corporations to fulfill functions. The fate of 36 East 57th St. next to 432 Park Avenue illustrates the function of density as a creator and destroyer of the city’s machine parts.
The difference in the photograph (top left) to the photo below illustrates the power of the 432 building (bottom). It displaced the little 36 building (middle photo) for $65 million. Its land area is just 5,020 sq. ft. The gross floor area of the building was just 77,500 square feet. A new building can be four times this amount but wait. The 432 building topped off at 96 stories in 2015. The lot area is 34,472 sq. ft. While the 432 lot is seven times larger than the 36 building, it produced a tenfold increase in gross floor area at 745,174 sq. ft.. Three hundred people in the building would make the density per square mile at just over 200,000 people. A density handled easily in New York. If density is not the problem, what is? Can you give me a twenty on that?
The $65M acquisition of the 36 building brings the cost of an acre in this part of Manhattan to $1.2 billion. The price is high, but it is an expense of an inconvenience adjacent to the extreme presented by 432 Park Avenue. The 21st century like every century before will consume everything in the 20th deemed unworthy of its history. The bar is set high and the demand for more feet, more stories, more rent, people, and machines to run them is clear.
The current resident community known as Turtle Bay and Midtown East responded with their own zoning initiative, but the issue is less about zoning that what the old zoning allowed developers to conceive and what it portends for the future of Manhattan. They hired consultants and produced detailed images and zoning text available (here). As the East River 50s Alliance, they resist the possibility of the following potential development scheme produced for them by Michael Kwartler & Associates (ESC). The 432 Park Ave. building is not pictured. It is on 57th Street and three blocks to the east (Third, Lexington and Park). The building’s Park Avenue address, when it is actually on 57th Street between Park and Madison is side story on corruption. You out there, any ideas?
Zoning and Height is Not the Right Question
The right question is why these new, enormously profitable buildings are not LEED Platinum and engaged in creating the demand for new industry, jobs and investment that address global warming issues, affordable housing. It just because of the condo loop-hole?
Require them to be sustainable (not just profitable). If they are not, the rest of the city will pay the price in more ways than one. Let someone count the way, to the depth and breadth a city’s heart can reach. As this neighborhood (wealthier than most NYC neighborhoods) confronts the Department of City Planning’s substantial zoning powers the entire question of unsustainable development is drowned and silenced by the litigiously dull, sad and excruciating weak arguments against the police power of zoning. The fear of building height or the effect of a building’s mass on the city is a fear of the unknown. It is composed of two main elements. The unknown of mass and the volume of people with money (m = ?V). It should be called the 80/20 problem in reverse.
Inclusionary zoning (IZ) is a tool developed in New York City’s never cold housing market for the production of workforce housing units. The deal is 80% market rate 20% affordable based on the chart below. This policy among others helps to assure an accessible labor force and economic diversity in close proximity. Rent is affordable if it is around one-third of a household’s income.
A family of four would pay around $2,300 a month if 33% income using this measure. Several adjustments are possible, but even this amount is less than the 2016 median rent in New York City at around $3,200 a month. Households that fit into the following income ranges meet the affordability thresholds for housing eligibility.
30% of AMI
50% of AMI
60% of AMI
tax credit max
The East River Alliance neighborhood has $109,000 median income which means a substantial portion of its 45,000 households can smell the hot spectre of displacement caused by dropping this new mass into their community. Being offered a lottery shot at long-term affordability is not a solution, it is a threat. It is not the buildings, it is the policy, stupid (love that line in all its forms).
If comments on this subject are of any interest the deep end stuff is here:
As we keep our fingers crossed about Verizon’s accountability to AKNA and NYC, please take a moment to add this squeak to our wheel. It only takes a minute to do this speed test recommended by the Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.
Why? The Office of the New York State Attorney General is investigating consumer Internet speeds. We encourage New Yorkers to test their broadband speed at home and submit the test to help our office determine what internet speeds consumers are receiving.
We are way below the speed promised, so it is really important to help this office. Eric is probably the best AG NYS has seen in a very long time. The top law enforcement officer of NYS will have a great deal to say about the Verizon’s franchise agreement if we help him do it….
On November 17, 2015, AKNA attended the FiOS Rollout Forum conducted by Common Cause NY led by Susan Lerner, and the Consumers Union led by Charles Bell.
Public forums are one of the ways to hold Verizon NY (VNY) and Verizon Communications, Inc. accountable to their franchise agreement with NYC in compliance with FCC regulations. This session made it quite clear that Verizon policies and practices are misleading thousands of families regarding the availability of FiOS and in the repair and retention of traditional landline services essential to many families. It is also very clear that pressure on Verizon from the public (us) through our elected representatives will help. See: (AKNA REPS) or below.
The forum highlighted how Verizon officials are telling many organized community groups and individual households that, “your area has one delay on the block entrance” and “when this is secured the cable will have a clear path to your area”. Then nothing happens. One building owner stated she contacted Verizon for service but following her request, she received a letter stating Verizon was in negotiations with the owner of the building and said but, “I am the owner, and they haven’t contacted me.”
Common Cause and Consumers Union are national organizations with millions of members. They will continue to gather information and educate the public on this important issue. They recommend that AKNA take actions to help keep our communication costs down and get higher quality service are as follows:
Sign and send Certificate of Proposed Work to Lourdes and then let AKNA know at: [email protected] or with any questions, or if you have not received it.
“Verizon is failing our community. Please find out what is going now in current negotiations between DoITT and Verizon. Please respond with your findings for publication in the AKNA web-log to: [email protected].”
#WAITING4FIOS In 2008, Verizon promised the people of New York City that it would wire all corners of the city with high speed fiber optic cable, bringing competition to internet, video and phone service in New York City in order to improve service and bring down prices. Verizon promised to make high speed reliable and affordable internet available to any New Yorker who wants it. Now, 7 years later, too many New Yorkers are still #WAITING4FIOS!
Verizon FiOS has heard the AKNA internet group’s pleas and is surveying our street for possible installation! You might be receiving a letter in the mail asking for Right of Way or Access to your home in order to commence with the installation. Here are some answers to common questions:
1. Granting Right of Way or Access does not require you to subscribe to FiOS service once it is installed. Rather, it gives you (and any future residents) the option to do so at any time in the future. You do not have to pay unless you choose to subscribe.
2. What is FiOS? FiOS is Verizon’s brand of fiber internet, which offers speeds up to 1000 mbps. For comparison, if you have Verizon DSL now, you’re getting between 3 – 15 mbps, which is 0.3% – 1.5% of fiber speeds. In real world terms, this means streaming video won’t stutter, websites will load almost instantaneously, and your internet connection will be more reliable. FiOS also offers TV service and land-line as part of bundle, but it routes all three services over one dataline.
3. We won’t know how they will run the fiber and get it into our homes, but Verizon requires Right of Way before its engineers can assess the site for installation strategies. Yes, this uncertainty is troublesome, but it is going to be less invasive than the gas-line installations of last year.
4. We’re not certain that we need unanimity, but it’s safe to assume so. For example, if I were to refuse ROW, and the fiber was running West to East (Flatbush to E 21st) then I would be foreclosing access to all houses East of me. There’s also the chance that if not enough people grant ROW/Access, then Verizon passes us over. If that is the case THERE WILL NOT BE A SECOND CHANCE for a long time.
5. Internet speed affects property value. Multiple articles and studies have been published to that effect:
6. Verizon will not be changing the existing telephone or cable wiring in your home. This merely puts a fiber terminal (a small metal box) in your house. If you choose Fiber service, it’s up to you to figure out how you want to send the signal around your home (Ethernet, WiFi, or over existing copper).
Please email Rex and/or Ian with any more questions you might have, look for updates on this site, and crossed fingers that the terraces enter the 21st century this year!