Friday, August 23, 2013

Following up on the debate

Last night at the debate, candidate Jennifer Rajkumar cited this article at City and State. Chin responded by dismissing it as "just a blog."

The piece explains that the "affordable commercial space" that First American International Bank promised Chin in exchange for de-landmarking 135 Bowery is a fiction. There's no category of "affordable commercial space" in law or city zoning or land use or regulation or legislation.

But we already knew that. When FAIB and Chin presented to the City Council this promise of affordable commercial space they produced no contract, no written agreement, no letter, no email, no paper trail, no evidence, no document whatsoever. And, btw, the Council Committee, chaired by Brad Lander, didn't even ask about it. In other words, this was a favor to the councilmember that the council members all understood as a favor to the bank -- best not ask questions, just look away and nod assent.

And what contract could there be? How could it be enforced? What measure of affordability? How much under market-rate? How do you negotiate a give-back without getting an enforceable contract? Or even any contract?? The whole transaction was a fabric of malfeasance and cronyism.

Barron's article describes FAIB as a "Chinatown bank." But as I recall, when the bank demolished 135 Bowery, its headquarters were located in Queens, not in Manhattan's Chinatown. At a moment when Chinatown is threatened by outside capital, that's an important detail. The fact that FAIB is moving into Chinatown should not deceive anyone into thinking that they are now integral to the community. Having promoted and won the Chinatown BID and now begun developing in Chinatown, FAIB looks like the spearhead of Chinatown gentrification, an outsider preying upon the built neighborhood and its community.

It always annoys me to hear challenger-candidates mouth the empty promise formulas "If you elect me..." or "You need a councilmember who will...". I mean, after you explain how the incumbent has failed to negotiate effectively, mouthing these formulas are kind of an insult to the audience's intelligence. But in this case, it really is true that Margaret did such a poor job negotiating this deal, that you want to hear someone say, "I know how to negotiate, and I will negotiate for you."


Anonymous said...

Chin's contributions from the First American International Bank show numerous individual donations, ranging from $10 to $1,250 and totaling over $5,000. Patick Yau, Chief "Executive" at FAIB, has given Chin $2,250. Almost all the FAIB $$ comes from contributors that list addresses outside of Manhattan, with most showing Flushing and Brooklyn.

You can find the info here at the NY Campaign Finance Bureau website:

Searching that NYC CFB website, it can also be seen that nearly 500 of Chin's 958 contributors show an address outside of Manhattan (and over half Chin's money comes from outside of Manhattan, as well).

That doesn't even touch on the $130,000 that REBNY / the Real Estate industry has spent to get Chin, their chosen candidate, re-elected.

Downtown Banker said...

Actually, the bank's USA headquarters may be in Queens, but its worldwide headquarters are in mainland China, adding insult to injury: that Chin would permit a bank in Communist China to demolish an historic American Federal 1817 landmark.

rob said...

@ Downtown Banker -- Your red-baiting, xenophobic comments offend me, the manager of this blog.

I do not censor comments here, but I ask you to keep bigotry out of my blog in future and I ask you to delete that one (7:42am).

Downtown Banker said...

@rob 7:53

"I don't censor.
But you ask your commenters to self-censor with the threat of total censorship in the future?

If there is talk of censorship here, you should self-censor your judgmental name-calling.

For example: I am Red-baiting. How?

China, an undemocratic state ruled by a single, permitted party - Communist Party - without elections and that prosecutes dissidents and minorities is not Red China? Please explain THAT one.
Sorry, calling it like it is, Red China, is not red-baiting. It is called the "truth". If you doubt, please tell us what color is the Chinese flag?

You continue: "xenophobic"

Really? Considering I have a green card, I find that very amusing

Revealing that the deceptively named, First American International Bank is actually based in mainland China is xenophobic? The dictionary says otherwise.

Bigotry? Wow!! It only gets better.

Please explain what bigotry do you see in my comment?

And on the topic of bigotry, why do you refer to those at the Chin-Rajkumar debates as "whites" and others as "Chinese"?
Define people by the color of their skin much?

Censorship in 3...,2..,1,

rob said...

As I said, I don't censor here.

The Chinese government does not appear to have much in common with "communism" except the word, but in any case, why would a communist regime destroying a historic townhouse be worse than say, a Community Development Financial Institution (like FAIB) or say, a bank like JP Morgan responsible for the London Whale? "Adding insult to injury...Communist China" -- that's the red-baiting comment. You seem to have confused "totalitarianism" with "communism." The latter means only labor owning the means of production. You forget that in 1817, the year of the construction of the townhouse, the United States allowed slavery, encoded in its constitution, and New York was a slave state until 1827. Human rights violations abound in our nation today, particularly in our incarceration policies. And the capitalist side of our economy is responsible for all manner of intended human violations from tobacco to fracking to Monsanto and pharmaceuticals...

rob said...

...btw, you've misunderstood my request that you self-censor. I certainly don't expect you to self-censor for my sake. My request is intended solely to repudiate your comments offensive to me, and wash my hands of any responsibility for your comments, since I do not censor here.

My request is a matter of maintaining my own reputation and integrity made in the clearest and strongest manner commensurate with the offensiveness of your comments. I don't expect any cooperation or self-censorship from you.

Downtown Banker said...

I respect you and your blog. I just do not see anything wrong with red-baiting - when it fits. To compare me to the likes of Joe McCarthy is absurd. Chinese leaders say it is a communist state, and who are you and I to disagree?

Moreover, I know the definition of communism, having read the Communist Manifesto, which was intriguing. You defined it succinctly.

However, as TS Elliot wrote: Between the dream and the reality, falls the shadow.

And as exemplary as Marx's workers Utopia may have been, communism in practice has proven a miserable failure.

Further, I do know the difference between communism and totalitarianism. If you would be so kind as to supply me of a communist government in practice that is not totalitarian, I would love to learn of it.

Anyway, not to worry. I've said my piece. Thank you for that.

rob said...

The Five Points Mission isn't near the Five Points; after 1920, the Bowery Bank headquarters was on 42nd Street. A name is just a name, which is why we have the expression "nominal" to distinguish mere names from real categories.

Brookhiser wrote a piece on Margaret years ago. It warns about her Maoist past, but doesn't mention one single policy position to complain about. In other words, he objects to her ideological associations regardless of any substance. Complaining about her associations without saying what's wrong with her specific policies *today*, is, to me, the definition of bigotry.

To me the only relevant matters are her policies. Bringing in past ideologies sounds like Glen Beck witch-hunting. When I see it, I wonder whether it's written by Margaret's own supporters to make her critics look bad. Attacks that highlight her left credentials or her ethnic background actually serves her, since it makes her opponents look like raving, rabid, racist Tea Partiers and xenophobic Birthers.

I don't judge people on their ideologies, but on their actions. Margaret's actions are not progressive enough for me. She's too close to developers and big business; she's promoting gentrification in Chinatown. That's what matters to me.

Downtown Banker said...

" It warns about her Maoist past, but doesn't mention one single policy position to complain about. "

The Brookhiser piece was exemplary because it revealed not only her Maoist past - which she denied vehemently - but in doing so it revealed more than her policy position: it revealed her character flaw of pathological lying.

It is a sad commentary of the Left that it took a conservative to reveal that.

He and others - specifically some moderate Dems in the Village - were excoriated back then by the Holier-Than-Thous as "red-baiting",since there was no documentation in 1992 to prove her links to CWP.

Only with Google has it been able to conclusively she served as their spokesperson.

What kind of person would lie about her past - to this day?
What kind of revolutionary who sought the violent armed overthrow of the capitalist system would bring her members to a KKK rally unarmed but threatening to kill them?

To know that fundamental character flaw back then is a lot more important on how she voted for the Chinatown BID today. Votes change; character does not.

So any reference to her Trot past is not red-baiting. It is revealing hidden secrets of history.

Isn't that a good thing? If you disagree, I have a lot of Eastern European friends who would disagree with you.

Finally as for YOUR definition of "bigotry", I couldn't find it in the OED or anywhere on Google, even under "solipsistic neologism".

However, my definition of "overly- judgmental, knee-jerk, epithet- hurler" matches the OED's.

Why is that, do you suppose?

rob said...

Look at her current policies -- that's what matters. Criticising ideology, or even criticising lying about ideology, presents a weak argument -- like attacking Clinton for lying about sex. Why not focus on the strong arguments against Margaret, her legislative actions?

Why even court the charge of red-baiting? Why talk about violent overthrow of the government when that's not an issue in the here and now?

Do you think the organizers of the Freedom Ride were irresponsible? Why bring up irrelevancies of the past?

Focus on her policies. There is no dearth of poor decisions, incompetent negotiations, current baggage, offensive inititatives and votes that will harm Chinatown and the rest of her district. Why risk yourself by going over the top, Downtown Banker, when the bucket is full already?

As for the definition of bigotry, look harder and you'll find my definition -- judging a person on the basis of association, not on the person's action. That was Brookhiser's piece.

But if you want to rail about "Communist China" and "violent overthrow of the capitalist system" and then express shock that she might not want to admit to her Maoist past -- it just makes you sound like a Tea Partier. In this town, it just doesn't seem like the most effective strategy to get people to agree with you about Chin. I know you feel strongly about these issues, but consider your audience.

Maybe I'm not expressing myself well. It's not about you -- your ideas are none of my affair. Getting people to understand what's wrong with Margaret is *important* to me, because I think she's harming the ordinary people of Chinatown, Chinatown labor, low-income tenants, small property owners, small businesses. To have an anti-communist or apparent anti-communist attacking her just brings sympathy for her in NYC. Does that make sense?

Downtown Banker said...

Yes, it makes sense.

Initially I never brought up her CWP past. Just that an overseas bank based in - OK - China, mainland China, Eed China - call it whatever, gave her money to destroy a US cultural treasure for their own financial gain

Some people think it is based in Queens. People should know it is based in a country who couldn't care less about our landmarks.

Moreover, I only brought up the CWP fiasco after Brookheiser was referenced. In fact, I agree with you that focusing on her looney past is not very effective and could seem mean-spirited.

But we agree that Chin does not serve the people well. So thank you for affording me the chance to express my opinion in that respect, even though my language you may have found offensive. It was not my intention to offend you or befoul your blog.

rob said...

Thanks. I have to correct myself. FAIB's NYC headquarters are in Brooklyn. It's its president who lives in Queens, as does the EO of CPLDC, the other exponent of the BID. Farming out Chinatown factionalism to Flushing doesn't seem to me the ideal solution.