Friday, August 23, 2013

Chin-Rajkumar debate

I attended the Chin-Rajkumar (Council District 1) debate last night. Although the audience, mostly white, seemed to be evenly divided between the two candidates, I was struck by the aggressiveness of the Chin supporters, who heckled, yelling insults, sometimes gratuitous insults. Don't get me wrong, the Rajkumar crowd booed Margaret a couple of times too, but no verbal abuse that I heard.

A friend tells me that Christine Quinn's crowd behaved with similar aggressiveness at a mayoral debate the night before, more aggressive than the other candidates' people. Quinn and Chin are both incumbents, both carrying a lot of baggage and a lot of negatives. They are both supported by big real estate money, viewed by the public as its enemy. I wonder if those negatives have put their supporters on the defensive. The worse the candidate looks, the more her supporters will lash out? People are never more vicious than when they sense they are wrong.

Chin has a lot to answer for in public: promoting the Chinatown BID that serves big businesses and big developers, despite widespread local Chinatown opposition; supporting the NYU plan (albeit with a 25% reduction) despite pretty much universal opposition from her constituency except NYU's president; de-landmarking 135 Bowery to let First American International Bank demolish it -- the very same Queens bank that promoted the BID and contributes to her campaign; supporting a SoHo BID that is also widely opposed by the local constituency; initiating a bunch of absurdly draconian bills that luckily have gone nowhere -- steep, punitive fines on street food vendors, for example, that benefit established businesses and harm the immigrant little guy getting a first start. It's been a record of one slap in the face of her constituency after another. You'd think her opponents would be the ones heckling, yelling and threatening.

Rajkumar has one negative that I can see: she doesn't have a legislative track record. Chin makes a big deal of her lack of legislative experience, but really now, City Council is a first job -- there's no legislative job below it where you can acquire experience. Chin didn't have legislative experience before she was elected either. I have not seen Chin address Rajkumar's work as a civil rights public interest lawyer. That's her record. Chin ignores Rajkumar's civil rights record entirely. Attacking her for not having experience in the job that she's seeking to get experience in is the kind of comical cheap shot you use when you have nothing substantive to say.

Chin also points out that Rajkumar never attended SPURA meetings. But did Chin attend the meetings prior to becoming Councilmember? I never saw her there when I went to the meetings before she was elected. I'm told she attended five meetings in a three-year monthly process. I'm guessing all of them were after she was elected as councilmember.

The loudest commotion occurred when Rajkumar criticised Chin for initiating a bill to jail tourists who buy knock-off goods. The audience seemed to go wild with anger. I can see the virtue of burdening the demand, though jailing tourists seems extreme. But why did the audience respond to this issue? Do they resent tourists for encouraging a blackmarket? Gang violence has subsided in Chinatown. Is there more trouble under the surface?

With all the predictabilities in a debate, that response to the knock-off bill was the most alarming moment of the evening. The blackmarket, its potential for violence, its human smuggling and the desperation it brings, its secrecy and dangers, its exploitation, are still feared and hated in Chinatown.


Bowery Boy said...

No one is in favor of the blackmarket retail industry, so maybe that's a reason for the loud response. Rajkumar's point was that there must be a smarter way to go after illegal handbags, and Chin's bill is going nowhere because her fellow councilmembers overwhelming laugh at it. Chin is wasting her time and taxpayer's money.

What got to me at the debate was Chin's statement that she sent her assistant to look 135 Bowery, and the person reported that the building looked bad. What can an untrained assistant tell from that? It's ludicris.

The point is that the Landmarks Perservation Commission did a thorough review of this 200 year old building, and they are the ones with the expertise (and a hard nut to crack). They did their review at a great expense to the taxpayer, and they found it to be worthy. They designated it a landmark, and then Chin reversed them, completely wasting a big chunk of our tax dollars.

I'm furious about these kinds of senseless wasted tax dollars that she pulled just to apease her Chinatown BID fundraising chairman. And there's so much more, so I'm happy to buy a drink and discuss this with any person who thinks that Ms. Chin (not a bad person) deserves to be re-elected.

NYU fighter said...

"(albeit with a 25% reduction)"

That was one of many Chin lies last night. I am involved with some familiarity regarding the NYU issue.

The reduction was 18%, not 25%. Considerable difference.

I am also privy to Boro Pres. Scott Stringer's role.
He squeezed as much as he could from NYU, with the expectation that Chin would continue to squeeze more. I can tell you with certainty that he was really, really upset how Chin screwed up so badly.

In last week's Villager in a story on Sophie Gerson, Alan Gerson also criticized Chin's handling of NYU, as did Chin's Council colleagues, Jenifer Lappin and Robert Jackson, who "pointed the finger of blame clearly at Chin", as the Villager reported.

Whatever said...

"supporting a SoHo BID that is also widely opposed by the local constituency"

Really??? They received a total of 9 objections after the council hearing, and supposedly 2 of them were duplicates! The thought that the SOHO BID is widely opposed by the locals is a total myth.

Anonymous said...

BID Law, which is a BUSINESS oriented law, only allows property owners to object. Resident non-owners are left out of the picture. So the BID Plan for SoHo, where there is a long time existing residential community, is faulty from the start.

SoHo United Againt Chin/REBNY BID said...

"The thought that the SOHO BID is widely opposed by the locals is a total myth."

Are you out of your mind?
Please supply references for your ludicrous assertion.

Failure to do so, will reveal you as a shill for Chin.

We all await your reply, Margaret.

Anonymous said...

Chin FAILED to negotiate any proper protections for residents around the NYU site (now known locally as Chin-NYU). Columbia University agreed to very stringent and proper protections during the huge development project going on uptown, and that project is not nestled within & alongside two very large residential buildings, as is the plan for Chin-NYU.

Instead, Chin-NYU is telling residents to shut their windows to keep out the dust, turn on their air conditioners to combat the noise and, basically, to shut up & get over it.

And Chin claims she's a protector of NYC's middle class?

Chin, with her REBNY PAC $$ and back room deals, is a disgrace to the progressive political tradition of Greenwich Village and nearby neighborhoods. That Council District 1, the core of downtown NYC, should have such a hypocritical and dishonest broker as our representative, is a crying shame.

Throw the Bum Out!!

Vote for Jenifer Rajkumar on September 10!!

rob said...

Although I believe that Margaret's program for Chinatown in particular will harm the ordinary residents of Chinatown more than it will ever benefit them -- if it will ever benefit them -- I would not describe her as a "bum."

I know it's just a political colloquialism, but I hope we can stick to the issues here on my blog and keep the rhetoric within the general pale of civility. (Forgive my fastidiousness.)