Brooklyn’s representative on the Planning Commission — whose business dealings with Bruce Ratner forced her to recuse herself from discussions on the largest development in Brooklyn’s history — will not be appointed to a second term.
Few, it seems, will miss Dolly Williams, who served on the Commission for five years. In the past few months, she’s been taken to task for everything from her investments to her driving habits.
Williams, a native Trinidadian and Park Slope resident, has lived in Brooklyn for 36 years. She owns a Gowanus-based contracting company worth millions of dollars.
But it was her link to Atlantic Yards that put her on the activists’ hit list. When The Brooklyn Paper uncovered her investment in the New Jersey Nets in 2005, she had to sit out a vote on the Atlantic Yards development, which includes a new arena for the basketball team.
At the time, many called for Williams’s resignation.
In February, Williams was barred from voting on an upcoming rezoning of the Gowanus Canal area because she owns land in the land under consideration.
Williams said that such high-profile recusals have not hindered her ability to serve.
“There are hundreds and hundreds of projects before us,” said Williams. “In my five years, I’ve recused myself maybe five times. I think most of the commissioners have at least done that. And I think we underestimate the ability of other commissioners to consider Brooklyn items.”
A Planning spokeswoman said that the Commission considers 500 cases a year, and confirmed that it is fairly commonplace for commissioners to occasionally recuse themselves.
Beyond Williams’s professional shortcomings, opponents also focussed on what they call her train wreck of a personal life. In July, for example, a blogger uploaded photos of Williams’s yellow Porsche — with its city placard prominently displayed in the front window — parked at a fire hydrant.
She had refused to talk about the issue, but this week told The Brooklyn Paper that the photos were “a “cheap shot.” She said she was parked in front of the hydrant for just five minutes, while she dropped off a gallon of milk at her grandson’s house.
She also denied a blogger’s report she had sideswiped a car in front of the Tea Lounge in Park Slope while appearing intoxicated.
“I never get into my car when I have a drink or two,” she told The Brooklyn Paper. “I have never gotten drunk in my life, come to think of it.” (She said she had merely “folded in” her side-view mirror, not damaged it in a crash.)
Even so, when Dan Finklestein, who circulated those reports, wrote to Borough President Markowitz asking him to “do the right thing,” he got the following reply:
“Thanks for bringing this to my attention and you can be assured that I ‘will do the right thing’ … Warmest wishes, Marty.”
No litany of complaints about Williams would be compete without reference to a widely blogged photo of her cheering on Atlantic Yards at a public hearing on the project in 2006. Though she rooted for Ratner then, she’s currently entangled in an ugly billing dispute with Ratner over a mall project in Harlem.
Williams told The Paper that she has served “proudly,” but expressed discontent that her term has been so rife with controversy.
“I have done my job legally, ethically and morally correct,” she said. “Some of the other commissioners are in the real-estate business, too.”