It’s un-American! Judges turn park into a foreign car lot

The Brooklyn Paper
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It’s un-American!

Not only have state Supreme Court judges angered Downtowners by commandeering the northern part of Columbus Park for a private parking lot, but that parking lot is filled almost entirely with foreign cars, a Brooklyn Paper investigation reveals.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, 15 out of 16 cars parked in the judges’ temporary lot were made by non-American companies. The sole American car on the Cadman Plaza side of 360 Adams St. courthouse was a Ford Mustang convertible.

And the plethora of foreign cars was equally posh, ranging from German BMWs and Japanese Lexus sedans alongside more traditional Hondas, Toyotas, and Nissans. There was also a Swedish-built Volvo.

Looking out over the lot on Wednesday afternoon, a court officer laughed when he realized that more than 93 percent of the cars were not from the Detroit Big Three (soon to be Big Two).

“I guess that’s the state of America now — we buy foreign,” said the guard, who would not give his name.

Acting Administrative Judge Abe Gerges — who has long defended the judges’ right to seize parkland for their cars — defended the automotive choices of his taxpayer-paid employees.

“Judges are citizens of this country and city and state, and I’m certainly not going to dictate to anybody — whether a judge or a newspaper person” — what he or she should drive, said Gerges, who said he does not drive to work from his Brooklyn Heights home. “I think that they [judges] are entitled to buy whatever kind of car they want.”

The ad hoc foreign car dealership will remain in the northern part of Columbus Park for the next two months while workers install an entrance into the judge’s actual parking lot — itself part of Columbus Park, next to Borough Hall on Joralemon Street. That construction will prevent judges from using the bluestone-tiled pedstrian pathway next to Borough Hall as a driveway and an overflow lot.

The seizure of northern Columbus Park — between Montague Street and the General Post Office building — is particularly irksome for pedestrians who are forced to detour around it despite the plethora of walkable space between the cars.

Despite community pressure, Gerges has maintained that his judges need parking spaces inside Columbus Park to ensure their safety. But last week, a Daily News investigation found that roughly half of the cars parked in the temporary space are registered to secretaries, law clerks, court aides and others — not judges.

Of the 30 vehicles in the News report, 53 percent were registered to judges. That’s down from 60 percent when the News did the same analysis last March.

— with Evan Gardner and Emily Lavin

They’re foreigners

The list of cars in the judges’ temporary parking lot at the Adams Street courthouse on Wednesday speaks volumes about our civil servants’ buying habits:

American cars

Ford Mustang

Foreign cars

Toyota Camry, Honda Civic coupe, Honda CR-V, Volvo V70*, Toyota Celica, Lexus GS, Lexus LS, BMW 5 Series, Mercedes M-Class, Mercedes C-Class (3), Nissan Quest, Acura TL, Hyundai Sonata (3)

* Volvo is owned by Ford, though the car is Swedish made.

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Reader Feedback

al pankin from downtown says:
if the judges get chased out of the parking lot the city could turn the parking spaces into a city parking lot. then the city could park their toyota prius vehicles in the lot which are 100% foreign made. which is better? 93% or pick.
Oct. 16, 2008, 12:50 pm
honda guy from park slope says:
Many of the "foreign" cars are actually made in America while the "American" cars are made in Mexico or elsewhere. And Volvo is owned by Ford.
Oct. 16, 2008, 1:02 pm
workerbee from brooklyn heights says:
I think it's disgraceful that a bunch of lawmakers feel so entitled that they can rationalize commandeering an entire public plaza to park their cars. Emphasize the word 'public' here. What about us work-a-day slumping joe-schmoes who have to navigate around the beautiful plaza and are forced to forgo the benches in the sun every day just so the priviledged few have free parking steps from their work sites? Does anyone in New York just exist rather than try to get something for free? Once again, it's who you are that dictates your privileges in this great city.
Oct. 16, 2008, 6:11 pm
Ray says:
This is really disappointing. I believe that people who drive foreign cars lack integrity and put their own interests before their country and their fellow citizens.

I don't think that everyone who drives a foreign car is intentionally negligent. I think many of them are just misinformed. They don't realize that American cars have the same quality as foreign cars or the damage that they are doing to the American economy. Although you would think that anyone who was educated enough to qualify as a judge would be smart enough to understand the impact buying a foreign car has on the economy. And actually, these judges probably do understand --they just put their own interests before the people they swore to serve.
Oct. 17, 2008, 4:49 am
Steve from Bushwick says:
The question of parking on a public plaza is one thing. But don't blame the judges for the state of the American car industry. That has to do with some terrible decisions in Detroit, and the failure of a national health care system which would alleviate costs on industry. I've owned a Japanese car recently, and an American one, and the superiority of the Japanese was obvious.
Oct. 17, 2008, 8:02 am
Ray says:
"the superiority of the Japanese was obvious"? That's propaganda. I've owned only American cars and in my opinion, which is as valid and informed as yours, they are far superior to Japanese imports. The added bonus in driving American is that I don't have to apologetically plaster my rear window with American flags to affirm my patriotism or lower my tailgate to hide the Toyota emblem. My love of country is immediately evident.
Oct. 17, 2008, 9:09 am
toxic from says:

Read that then come back and tell us about how great American cars are, and how stupid those foreign buyers are.
Oct. 17, 2008, 10:39 am
Shield from Gowanus says:
If you're unhappy, call 311 and make a complaint against the Parks Department for taking away a public park and turning it into a parking lot.
Oct. 17, 2008, 11:03 am
Laura from The Heights says:
The lost park space is only temporary, and is while a parking lot elsewhere is being refurbished. It's a pain, and I don't see why they chose to take the PARK, but it's not permanent.
Oct. 18, 2008, 10:15 pm
Sarah from Downtown Brooklyn says:
I could care less what cars are being parked there - foreign or domestic. It's really annoying to have any cars there at all! I walk to work in Dumbo and it's irritating to have to detour around - especially when, as the article points out, there's plenty of space between the cars.

The park belongs to ALL the people of Brooklyn. Who the heck does this judge think he is?
Oct. 19, 2008, 7:49 am
Patrick Tolle from Fort Greene says:
I nearly stopped being a regular reader of The Brooklyn Paper because of this nasty piece of nativism. (I counted to ten, bit my fist and then took a couple of issues off).

The arguments to be made against this article are simple: Nationalism is always stupid. Nationalism caused two World Wars, the second of which had roughly 120 million casualties and ended with the two single greatest acts of violence in history: the a-bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. (Yes, yes, I know, the Holocaust - but that was not a single crime but a concatenation of millions of crimes). Never mind the other hundreds of millions of crimes against humanity perpetrated in the 20th century and beyond because of nationalism.

The last thing we need is for our community papers to endorse such a destructive point of view.

P.S. - Tom Gilbert is still a dork.
Nov. 17, 2008, 3:51 am
Angel from BayRidge says:
Have you seen where police officers are parking.They come to our blocks block streets parking double parking even parking on spots meant for tenants
March 5, 2010, 6:39 pm
sid from boerum hill says:
old story-many of the "foreign" cars are made in the USA. Camry's are made in Tenn.
July 27, 2012, 10:09 am

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