Adolfo the Beep has a posse

In the latest installment of democracy Bronx-style, about 200 people who showed up at the alloted 6 pm start time for last night’s Yankees stadium hearing found the doors barred, with staffers for Borough President Adolfo Carrion claiming the room was filled to capacity. Inside, though, there were still a couple of dozen empty seats – along with more than a hundred members of construction unions, who’d been bused in early to grab the available seating. Guess that’s one way to avoid being outnumbered 35 to 1.

As chants of “Let us in!” filtered in through two sets of closed glass doors, a parade of iron workers talked up the jobs that would be created in building the planned $800 million stadium. The few opponents to speak, meanwhile, addressed the usual community complaints – loss of public parkland, the addition of parking and loss of trees in the nation’s worst asthma neighborhood, and the question of what the Red Sox know that the Yankees don’t – but largely focused on the not-so-public process:

  • “We stacked this room with all people out of the area – our people are sitting outside in the cold, and nobody’s letting them in,” said Pasquale Canali, president of the 161st Street Merchants Association, to applause. “And this is what happened to this process from the beginning. The community was never involved, and that’s why we have all these problems. We love the Yankees, but we don’t want to take parkland for the benefit of a private corporation. A couple of weeks ago, after we voted down at the community board, I read in the newspaper that our vote didn’t mean nothing. What are we doing on the community board if our vote don’t mean nothing?”

  • “What just happened here today is a travesty,” said Majora Carter of Sustainable South Bronx. “There is not a single person here who is not interested in jobs. Believe me, we want them for our community. What we expect from you, and what we thought you were going to get, is someone who is going to take into consideration all of the planned projects that are happening here and that would not leave the community in the dirt.”

Back in the vestibule, meanwhile, Carrion’s director of constituent services, Benny Catala, was berating those demanding to be let in: “Anyone that causes a disturbance inside will be removed! The minute it becomes disorderly we will shut it down!”

None of this appears to be illegal – the ULURP land use process rules allow borough presidents to hold public hearings in a back room at Dominick’s if they want, though state open-meeting laws may beg to differ – it certainly didn’t win the soon-to-be-mayoral candidate Carrion any friends in his home borough. Okay, well, maybe one guy with an office there.

By the end of the evening, many of those outside, especially those with kids in tow, had given up and gone home; the rest had trickled into the hearing room as others left. Many made it in just in time to hear the meeting be called to a close promptly at 8 pm – leaving at least 20 to 30 people who’d signed up but hadn’t yet spoken, including some who’d signed up before the unions had even arrived. Deputy borough president Earl Brown acknowledged that they had taken speakers out of order. The reason? “We tried to make sure that we had people who spoke for and spoke against.”

Oh, and the borough president’s mystery five acres? They were never mentioned. Must be one of those things man was not meant to know.

LATE NOTE: Yankees president (and former deputy mayor under Rudy Giuliani) Randy Levine told the New York Post’s Bill Sanderson after the hearing: “As the process goes forward, it will become more and more clear that the people who speak in opposition are professional protesters.” Does that mean they can get health benefits?


5 comments on “Adolfo the Beep has a posse

  1. Carrion is such a putz. Not one of his requests, high school for sports or hotel, get into the Yankee plan yet he stands by Randy Levine. Amazing for how little -only a $250 contribution- Carrion will sell out his community. He must be the cheapest bang-for-the-dollar hooker the city has.

  2. Statement by Mr. IC Levenberg-Engel, President of B.C.E.Q.
    When it comes to Environmental Protection, no Politician is Perfect.
    BP Carrion has a better record than most. The NYLCV gives him high grades for his support of increased Public Access to the Waterfront & his Groundbreaking Advocacy of Greenroofing The Bronx.
    As a Biol.Teacher at BxScience, I was there when BPC came to the Reservoir and publicly supported our efforts to keep a Filtration Plant out of Jerome Park.
    To our dismay (despite the objections of our local assembly & councilmen) the NYS Assembly voted to alienate acres of Van Cortlandt Park for the Water Filtration Plant, in this case for Public Use.
    Now that same governmental body has again voted to alienate parkland. Why? Apparently to protect the BottomLine of a Private Commercial Enterprise.
    Of course we want Jobs & Economic Development for The Bronx!
    Of course we want the Yankees to stay in The Bronx!
    Surely an experienced City Planner such as our BxBP can negotiate a better way, right ?
    BCEQ believes that BPC is on the wrong side of this issue, i.e. Where to build the New Yankee Stadium.
    We are headed down a Scary Slippery Slope of Uncontrolled Park Alienation.
    If, as the Village Voice Newspaper intimates, “it’s already a done deal “, then BCEQ asks that … (a watchdog group of citizens be empowered to ensure that)
    the Environment of the Local Community is fairly compensated for its loss of Open Space.
    A Public Park is not equal to a Parking Lot, even with a Green Roof.

  3. I heard someone at Monday’s hearing say this as well, that the Village Voice had reported “it’s a done deal” – which alarmed me, since so far as I know I’m the only person to report on this for the Voice, and I’ve never said that.

  4. One has to at least appreciate Mr. Levine’s well-honed sense of irony. Calling the Bronx’s rightfully concerned citizens “professional protesters” after a meeting in which bussed-in union members were given preference in the “public” comment session is downright Steinbrennerian.

    At some point, average citizens – and not just the “pros” – are going to catch on to the game being played by developers and team owners and their getaway-car-driving political enablers, and the ensuing melee ain’t going to be pretty.