Friday, September 28, 2007

Second Stringer

We have certainly commented enough on the pusillanimity of Manhattan BP Stringer in regards to his obeisance to the Bloomberg-Bollinger axis. Stringer's failure of nerve here, gives a good deal of fuel to the fire for those who feel that the office of borough president is an unneeded anachronism. Stringer's failure doesn't bode well for his desire to eventually move up to any available city wide office. Not if leadership is seen as one of the necessary prerequisites of holding office at that level.

A couple of additional points are still important to make on the Stringer sycophancy. In the first place, given that he has now taken a position diametrically opposed to that of the community and its 197-a plan, it is incumbent upon him to remove himself from the board of the West Harlem LDC. His role as an honest broker has been vitiated. In addition Stringer, in the person of Anthony Borelli, his rep on the LDC, has been in the forefront of the efforts to remove Nick Sprayregen from said board-allegedly because of Nick's conflict of interest. At this writing there is no one with a greater conflict in the issue of the Columbia expansion than Stringer, regardless of the fact that he's an elected official.

On top of this it needs to be said that Stringer in all of his discussions with Sprayregen and his attorney Norman Siegal emphasized that he would never support the Columbia plan as long as the issue of eminent domain was still on the table. However, as soon as the "Stringer Plan" (kind of like the Marshall Plan-no?) was adopted by the mayor's folks Scott, jettisoned all of his faux principles in a rank display of narcissism. As Sprayregen e-mailed us: "I feel that what Mr. Stringer has done is a complete betrayal of the West Harlem community. For over two years, he has gone on the record, as well as repeatedly said to my attorney, Norman Siegel, as well as to members of the Coalition to Preserve Community, (CPC), that he would refuse to back the Columbia plan as long as eminent domain was being threatened. Moreover, with this decision, Mr. Stringer is putting his own future aspirations ahead of truly doing what is right for the community that he serves."

Sprayregen's comments drew a response from the BP's office, that claimed that the West Harlem landowner was, according to a Crain's In$ider report, "spreading misinformation." So Stringer is now denying the positions that he previously espoused to numerous people on the issue of eminent domain, a perfect example of situational ethics.

Which brings us to the unintended display of honesty at the Stringer/Bollinger press event the other day. When pressed on the relatively meager university offering of $20 million for a $6 billion development, Stringer defended his midwifery to AMNY: "Stringer says Columbia understands the needs and concerns of its neighbors in West Harlem. He says the package contained enough benefits for the neighborhood to win his blessing."

When we speak of unintended honesty we're obviously not referring to the first part of the Stringer remark-a hilarious act of toadying that is frankly embarrassing. It's the second piece of the statement-the remark that Columbia had provided "enough benefits" to "win his blessing, that moved us here. It did so because it revealed clearly just how little it takes to extirpate any moral sense in the BP. In fact a cursory analysis of the agreement here, leads us to observe that General Robert E. Lee negotiated a better deal at Appomattox.

CB9 Chair, Jordi Reyes-Montblanc gets this at a much more fundamental level. As he told the Spectator: "He said that $20 million was “not even a drop” when compared with the community’s housing needs, and that at least $500 million would be required to address them."
And this from this morning's Crain's: "However, LDC President Pat Jones calls the package “modest.”Her board continues to talk with school officials about affordable housing, education and employment."

So in the end, when faced with his first opportunity to move up to the majors, the Manhattan Borough President revealed that he is a second stringer, lacking strong leadership skills. Let's hope that he gets the proper challenge he deserves when he stands for re-election in 2009.