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.
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.