Thursday, July 22, 2010

NYC Council Member Dan Garodnick takes Aim at Marx Brothers Place Constituents & Defeats Plan to Landmark MBP

It seems NYC Council Member Dan Garodnick must be working for somebody other than his constituents these days.

Following Monday's impressive 7-0 vote (with one abstention) by which Community Board 8's (CB8) Landmarks Committee decided to support the 93rd Street Beautification Association's Request (RFE) - asking the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission to extend the Carnegie Hill Historic District one block east so as to include the historically significant structures on Marx Brothers Place - Garodnick took it upon himself on Wednesday to contact Jane Parshall, Co-Chair, CB8 Landmarks Committee, saying that he had been sitting on a letter from the LPC - since May - in which the Commission had already rejected the Marx Brothers Place RFE.

Neither Parshall nor Garodnick bothered contacting the members of CB8's Landmarks Committee before the meeting or the members of the 93rd Street Beautification Association about this letter or about their intention to brandish the Garodnick letter prior to the full board vote - on Marx Brothers Place - at Wednesday's CB8 Meeting.

Garodnick - who did not attend the CB8 Meeting in person, but instead sent a representative - provided Parshall with 3 copies of the letter - a letter he had been sitting on for nearly two months - just in the nick of time for Wednesday's CB8 Full Board Meeting. Garodnick did not provide the 93rd Street Beautification Association with a copy of the letter, nor did he provide the Association with a heads up as to his intentions to drop the letter on the Full Board just before the vote on Marx Brothers Place.

Parshall - the one and only abstention from Monday's 7-0 vote - grabbed the Garodnick letter and ran with it. Visibly excited at the prospect of throwing a wrench into the vote, Parshall began her presentation by having her Co-Chair David Liston read the Garodnick letter to the Full CB8 Board from the podium on stage. Parshall chose to lead with this, blunting any opportunity for Landmarks Committee members to first tell their fellow Board Members the reasons they had voted to support the RFE and why the full Board should too.

As one might suspect, the dramatic reveal and recitation of the Garodnick letter had a very powerful impact on members of the Full Board who have never read the 93rd Street Beautification Association's RFE and who are unfamiliar with the unique and significant history of the block. So, once Liston finished reading the Garodnick letter from the podium, it was, of course, all about the letter. Marx Brothers Place had suddenly become an unspoken memory.

And so, without even the courtesy of a heads up to his own constituents, NYC Council Member Dan Garodnick successfully defeated Marx Brothers Place in one fell swoop - and sold out his constituents in the process.

The 93rd Street Beautification Association would like to thank CB8 Board Member Teri Slater who had the temerity to read Parshall the Riot Act for her blaring breach of protocol. Slater went on record saying that Parshall should never have presented the Garodnick letter - which could only serve to prejudice the CB8 Full Board vote on Marx Brothers Place. Adding that the letter from the LPC to Garodnick was premature - as it denies CB8 the opportunity to weigh in on an RFE in its own district - Slater said the letter should have been ignored.

While many members of the CB8 Landmarks Committee agreed with Slater, the full CB8 Board had already bought the Garodnick letter that Parshall was more than happy to sell to them.

On Monday, Parshall chose to abstain from voting on the Marx Brothers Place RFE saying that she has a conflict of interest: A wiser woman would have steered clear of the matter on Wednesday as well.

It is curious: Why would CM Garodnick have waited until after there was a successful Landmarks Committe vote (7-0 is nothing to sneeze at) before he finally shared a letter - that he sat on since May - and which he now claims he suddenly felt compelled to reveal?

There's a reason your mother told you to never trust a politician.