Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Politics as usual

In the wake of Chinatown's deadly accident that took the lives of two small children, State Senator Danny Squadron's press conference on the reopening of Park Row was postponed.

However, never one to miss an opportunity regardless how callous, Borough President Scott Stringer jumped in, taking political advantage of local tragedy to promote his "comprehensive traffic safety plan" that he apparently threw together the night before.

He presented the plan, needless to say, without first consulting the Chinatown community, the community that has been living and dealing for years with the most dangerous crossings in Manhattan. I guess there's no time to consult with the community when the press you've called are waiting for you with pens ready.

Yet Stringer did apparently have time to consult with Transportation Alternatives (quoted in his press release and mentioned in his speech), which just happens to be the only citizens' group in favor of the Chatham Square redesign, the redesign that all of Chinatown, including CBs 1,2 & 3 have rejected. Remember Stringer ran on a platform of community empowerment?

You'd think Transportation Alternatives would have asked Stringer, "What does the community think of your plan?" before signing on. A little more community sensitivity, TA.

Danny Squadron, the newly elected state senator who had planned the press conference before the accident occurred, and several Chinatown organizational spokespersons from CCBA, CCRC and former AAFE director Margaret Chin among others, managed to make the best of a sad and difficult moment. There was plenty of criticism for the Department of Transportation (a mayoral agency) and Squadron mentioned the continuing problem of the city's refusal to reopen Park Row.

Will the city return Park Row to the discussion? Does the city care what happens in Chinatown?

No comments: