Monday, October 10, 2011

The relevance of the Bowery, the dishonesty of the NYTimes

The Times, reporting on efforts to preserve the Bowery, quotes Arun Bhati, the developer who demolished 35 Cooper Square, the 1825 townhouse, "Not all in this neighborhood are looking to preserve the past. Cities need to grow and make some changes to be relevant.”

Quite right, some just want to get rich on the destruction of history and character of New York. In quoting him, the NYTimes carefully hides the fact that he demolished a historical townhouse. Here's the full passage:

“Not all in this neighborhood are looking to preserve the past,” said Arun Bhati, a developer who owns a vacant lot at 35 Cooper Square, where an 1825 Federal house built by a descendant of Peter Stuyvesant was torn down this year, despite protests from preservationists. “Cities need to grow and make some changes to be relevant.”

Note the passive voice, "was torn down this year," not mentioning that Bhati himself tore it down turning it into that vacant lot he now owns.

To assess his quote, the reader needs to know that he demolished it himself for himself, not for the relevance of the city. Was he overwhelmed with petitions to "please demolish this 1825 townhouse so New York will be relevant"? Commercial developers demolish buildings with no regard for the relevance of the city, for its past or its future. The comment about relevance is a post factum excuse to pour perfume over his waste. He demolished the building for himself.

Meanwhile, the NYTimes turns him into a spokesperson for "the relevance of the city" by hiding his personal financial interest. Is this journalism, objective reporting, accuracy, information? It's journalistic fraud, and plain deceit. That's the New York Times I know. It's the Times acting as lickspittle for a developer. If you didn't already know this about the Times, now you do.

Am I the only person disgusted by it?
Compare the Bowery Alliance of Neighbors. They have no financial interest in the Bowery whatsoever. They want to preserve the Bowery because they know the history, appreciate it, and they love their New York. Even if you don't share their principles, you can't but recognize that their position is a principled position beyond any personal gain. It's not a self-serving motive, and they are not trying to hide their motives with lies and BS.

Which comes to my point. The neighborhood is now drawing people like Mr. Bhati, people who are there to prey upon the neighborhood for their personal, selfish gain, not for the benefit of anyone or anything else, relevant or irrelevant. They are there for themselves. They are not there to save the relevance of the city and certainly not for its history or its long-term commercial viability or its future. They are there for a fast buck today. What happens tomorrow? What do they care?

Same for the First American International Bank about to demolish 135 Bowery. In that case, the bank led Councilmember Chin by the nose who didn't even try to find a better deal for their air rights. This was a marriage of convenience -- for the bank, not for the neighborhood or for affordability. She could have gotten much more affordable spaces with the air rights shifted onto Chrystie Street if she exercised her vision, did her own work instead of doing the bank's work. Such a blatant case of the bank leading the elected official. This one belongs on a poster in Occupy Wall Street's Liberty Plaza. It's exemplary. That's relevant.


Anonymous said...

I so regret my vote for Councilmember Chin, and the next election can't come soon enough. Do I owe Gerson and apology or what?

rob said...

It's probably the 'or what'. Chin has been dubbed, by AAFE and minions, the "progressive candidate" on housing, although she hasn't yet delivered on any affordable housing in her term. So far it's all been catering to FAIT Bank. Where can you find a candidate who is both progressive but independent of the politically correct police? Only the reactionaries. At best, a Green might turn up on the ballot or some crazy libertarian in the Republican line. Too bad Billy Wharton doesn't live down here. A Socialist would be a step up from the Stalinists who run this place.

Anonymous said...

Chin is also running a smoke screen for nyu. And now she's tossing out negative words toward the Occupy Wall St. people. Issue after issue she is backing up big business over her voters. I'm so disgusted.