Friday, June 26, 2009

Related's Revolutionary Guard

The Bronx News Network has some very good coverage of Tuesday's Kingsbridge Armory hearing-particularly concerning the goonish actions of the Negative Workforce crew: "The evening started out with a bang as about a hundred or so construction union guys, mostly from Positive Workforce, a big supporter of the Armory's designated developer, the Related Companies, literally bum rushed past cops and security guards into the dining room and installed themselves as a backdrop to all the night's speakers.Several attendees were startled by their aggressiveness, others felt intimidated. Their message throughout the night was clear: build at the Armory now."

Lacking any real community support, Related-kind of like the ayatollahs in Iran-are utilizing paid intimidators-who, by the way, aren't union folks at all-to threaten their regime's opponents. And, as BNN explains, they have gotten an assist from the CB itself: "The hearing began with a round of "special" speakers (I think because they were disabled, they were allowed to speak first) from Co-op City who praised the project because of its apparent similarities to the Bay Plaza mall, which they think added to their part of the Bronx. It seemed kind of random."

On the contrary, there was method to the supposed randomness; and the speakers, disabled or not, had no special role to play in Tuesday's hearing-aside from acting to dilute the opposition's objections. But BNN did highlight the fact that almost all of the speakers-aside from the goon squad-were opposed to Related's project in one form or another: "Related's presentation was followed by essentially three kinds of public testimony: KARA representatives (lots of them, they dominated the hearing, no question) who told Board members to vote no on the project unless Related signed a Community Benefits Agreement, which would include union protections, living wage job requirements (which Related says is a non-starter) and free or affordable recreation space; representatives from Morton Williams who were adamantly opposed to the supermarket idea for obvious reasons; and construction workers from Positive Workforce who supported the project wholeheartedly."

We still maintain that the entire episode was illegal; since the lockout prevented a legitimate public hearing from taking place. But kudos to BNN for accurately depicting the questionable community board tactics as well as the chaotic nature of the hearing.