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DeBlasio caught in the act

The Brooklyn Paper
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And this guy is going to be the public advocate?

This week, Councilman Bill DeBlasio agreed to withdraw an ill-advised attempt to hide a key land-use change from his Carroll Gardens constituents — but the backtrack came only after a reporter from this newspaper and the excellent neighborhood blog Pardon Me for Asking discovered DeBlasio’s secretive move on behalf of a politically connected private school.

Here’s what happened: Thanks to a quirk in city law, the front yards of houses on First through Fourth places in Carroll Gardens are actually mapped as part of the street, which is why houses on those blocks are set back so far from the roadway.

One of those “front yards” is actually a parking lot for the Hannah Senesh School, which wants to build a two-story addition on the land.

But the school can’t move forward unless the city administrative code is changed.

Enter Bill DeBlasio.

The councilman, who actually led the fight to protect such yards last year, considered slipping language into the administrative code that would have exempted the school’s parking lot.

Fortunately, he was caught.

The problem is not necessarily with Hannah Senesh’s desire to expand onto the lot. The problem is that the school’s first step towards doing so was to hire big bucks lobbyist Ken Fisher, a former councilman himself, and get the current officeholder to change a law without so much as a public hearing.

It also didn’t look good that a member of the school’s board contributed more than $700 to DeBlasio’s public advocate campaign this year.

The good news is that as a result of the public outrage over DeBlasio’s foiled effort, both the proposed change to the “front yards” code and the expansion plan itself will now be sent through the city’s rigorous public review process.

That debate will happen well after DeBlasio has ascended to the city’s second-highest elected office on Jan. 1 — the one that bears the name “public advocate.”

This troubling incident concerns us that he will not live up to it.

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Reader Feedback

al pankin from downtown says:
hopw did the private school wind up owning public property? how much did they pay? what type of school is it?
Dec. 10, 2009, 12:21 pm
deBlasi-NO from Brooklyn says:
I'm shocked -- SHOCKED -- that Bill deBlasio would stoop to such a thing.

Fasten your seat belts, New Yorkers -- the next four years are going to be a bumpy ride (unless you're a fatcat riding in a limousine).

Tell me again why people didn't vote for Norman Siegel for Public Advocate? Oh yeah, too much integrity
Dec. 10, 2009, 12:51 pm
Daniel Meeter from Windsor Terrace says:
And he's going to be our public advocate? Fox in the henhouse, maybe.
Dec. 10, 2009, 4:59 pm
Bob from Brooklyn Heights says:
The Brooklyn Paper is shocked … SHOCKED … that there's influence peddling here, there and everywhere.

P-L-E-A-S-E-!

If not Ken Fisher, who would you have had Hannah Senesh hire as its advocate — John Doe?

It's reasonable, and not a civic sin, that anyone with an interest to advance will hire the most competent and well-connected talent it can find and can afford.

There's plenty to object to in Hannah Senesh's expansion plan. But it is wrong to suggest that the school does not have the right to advance its cause as best it can.
Dec. 10, 2009, 11:26 pm
Publius from Bklyn Heights says:
Hypocrisy, thy name is Brooklyn Paper.

Kuntzman and the so-called "editorial board" had no problem with Fisher being paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to lobby for Two Trees (Brooklyn Paper's then landlord, which the "Paper" repeatedly failed to disclose) to jam Dock St/DUMBO down our throats.
Dec. 11, 2009, 9 am
Bob from Brooklyn Heights says:
The same applies to Two Trees -- they have a right to hire the most competent help. Opponents likewise.

While Publius points out an inconsistency in The Brooklyn Paper's approach to lobby-for-hire, the Paper's relationship to Two Trees as a tenant was hardly a secret, and was referenced in the Paper.
Dec. 11, 2009, 9:33 am
Jeffro from Boerum Hill says:
Competent help, eh?
Dec. 11, 2009, 9:47 am
d from ps says:
This paper is not democratic -- I made a comment here against the paper's viewpoint and it was deleted.
Dec. 12, 2009, 9:14 am
Gersh from Editor says:
Comments are only deleted if they violate the posting requirements below. That is the only reason.

GERSH KUNTZMAN
Editor
Dec. 12, 2009, 2:05 pm
p fg from fg says:
My comment was also deleted -- I stated that this paper unfairly represented that Carroll Gardens Association represents this community -------- it doesn't -- but they do represent this paper's biased viewpoints
Sept. 13, 2010, 4:01 pm

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