Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Out of Their League

The NY Daily News' Adam Lisberg has done a good job at outing the supine relationship of Al Sharpton with Mike Bloomberg-a kind of rent-a-rabble rouser concept. The Sharpton pimping of Bloomberg's political ride-something that we have already highlighted (along with Wayne Barrett)-should be seen as just a tip of the ice berg. Put simply: Sharpton ain't the only one on the tab. But to understand this, in all of its manifold manifestations, you need to be able to understand the dog that didn't bark phenomenon.

The term comes from the Sherlock Holmes mystery, "Silver Blade." Here's the relevant passage:

"Gregory : "Is there any other point to which you would wish to draw my attention?"

Holmes: "To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time."

Gregory: "The dog did nothing in the night-time."

Holmes: "That was the curious incident."

He (Sherlock Holmes) was referring to the fact that a watch dog didn't bark and wake the family, which implied that the villain was someone familiar to the dog. And so it goes with Rev. Al-who stands by with lockjaw when the Times runs a story about how the Bloomberg administration is actually whiter than the Giuliani regime. The fact that this mutt doesn't bark bespeaks of an unseemly familiarity-one could say intimacy-between the mayor and the erstwhile racial arsonist.

But, as we have said, Sharpton is no anomaly-and we believe that a number of environmental groups are in the Sharpton barkless category (although less exalted on the Bloomberg food chain perhaps). Which gets us, in round about fashion, to the case of the NY League of Conservation Voters-and an exchange we had with the inimitable Liz Benjamin who questioned whether we had the goods on the League. Alas, no smoking gun, but a pattern of behavior that should prompt the Lisbergs, Barbaros, and Barretts-of the press world (not to mention Liz herself) to do a little digging (and we place the Environmental Defense Fund in this category as well)

But back to the no-bark scenario. As we have been pointing out, the Bloombergistas have been speaking out of both sides of their mouths when it comes to sustainability-a concept that is expressed eloquently in the Magnum Opus called PlaNYC 2030. So, while the mayor's minions are waxing rhapsodic about sustainability and reducing the city's carbon footprint, they are at the same time undermining the entire concept with a mega development philosophy that runs diametrically opposed to the very concept of  sustainability-as we have said here and here.

And, as a result of this policy, our air quality stinks-as the city's own Department of Health survey revealed last week. As we opined at the time: "In the face of all of this smog, the mayor is driving forward-now last seen promoting the traffic nightmare Wal-Mart at the Gateway Mall off of the Belt Parkway in Brooklyn. As we said a few month ago: "It is now the right time to call out the mayor on his two faced sustainability policy-and the best way of doing that is for the state legislature-along with the city council-to hold joint traffic and environmental impact hearings on PLaNYC 2030; with the Gateway Mall acting as the star witness to the mayor's blatant hypocrisy."

And, it is in the plan to develop Willets Point, that the mayor's violation of sustainability principles is manifested so starkly-a plan that the League (and EDF) endorsed-indefensibly-as a model of sustainability. Perhaps the two organizations were simply beguiled by the mayor's rhetoric; after all, contrary to any sense of reality, that's exactly how EDC marketed the project. But, more likely in our view, their sanguine outlook on the Willets Point extreme makeover was a consequence of less noble motivations-and, like the Revenue Al, the Bloomberg cash nexus lies at the root of this environmental lap dog that didn't bark.

In any case, the League, as well as EDF have been called out by Brian Ketcham-a man whose forty years of environmental advocacy is beyond reproach. Ketcham details just how damaging the Willets Point development will be-and how it puts the lie to any sane concept of sustainability. Other environmental groups like the NRDC and the Sierra Club, have begun to raise questions about the Willets Point plan-barking if you will-but these two groups remain mum.

Which brings us to the continued posturing of the League which, as Liz points out, is busy anointing candidates with its esteemed environmental laurels. Before anyone takes the League's accolades, however, it would be useful to determine to what extent it no longer is a principled and autonomous environmental advocate-and if it is remaining silent on Willets Point because of the support given to it by the mayor, it defaults on its ability to anoint anyone for environmental purity.

As in all things political, it is essential to follow the Golden Rule here: he who has the gold, rules.