Sunday, July 6, 2014

Chinatown Consolidated Benevolent Assoc. Formally withdraws from Chinatown Working Group



The much revered Chinatown Consolidated Benevolent Association, which represents numerous smaller family and merchant associations in Chinatown has formally withdrawn its membership and support from the Chinatown Working Group. In April of 2014 CCBA's Board of Directors voted NOT to support the CWG's plan, the formal withdrawal seems a logical and expected decision.


Though the boards of Chinatown Consolidated Benevolent Assoc. (CCBA) and its sister Organization Lin Sing Association deliberated over the merits of the plan submitted by the Pratt Group, (the planning agency tasked with formulating a plan to submit to the Department of City Planning, City Council and the Mayor), it was ultimately decided that for reasons that " the surveys were the unilateral product due to lack of communication, and did not reflect the true situation of Chinatown". This is after The Pratt Group and members of the Chinatown Working Group made a presentation to the Board of CCBA in June 2014 in an effort to iron out details and misconceptions they thought CCBA had with the plan.

 In short CCBA, Lin Sing Association and The Chinese Chamber of Commerce (all organizations that are over 100 years old in Chinatown), didn't have confidence in the surveys used to collect the "data" for the Chinatown Working Group's plan and they felt the list of properties included in the plan for special designation as historic and / or culturally significant was not necessary.

Surprisingly the Chair of the Chinatown Working Group had a flippant response to the ever growing number of long standing Chinatown groups withdrawing, he seemed to imply that "it doesn't matter" that these last three groups withdrew.

At what point then, does it matter, if more and more groups pull out of the Chinatown Working Group? What validity does the document hold if no stakeholders are supporting the plan?

So far the groups in Chinatown that have withdrawn from the Chinatown Working Group are:


  • Chatham Green Co Op
  • Chatham Towers Co Op
  • American Legion Hall
  • Chinatown Consolidated Benevolent Association
  • Lin Sing Association
  • Chinese Chamber of Commerce



A full translation of the World Journal Article :

社团退出华埠工作组
by 记者洪群超/纽约报导
                              Three Groups have withdrawn from the CWG
                                                         ------By Journalist HONG Chaoqun from New York

26日晚,纽约中华公所在常务议员会议中通过了中华公所、美东联成公所及中华总商会退出华埠工作小组的决定。中华公所主席伍锐贤表示,退出原因是与华埠工作小组理念相左,并对华埠工作小组委托普瑞特社区发展中心所做的华埠研究报告不满,认为是缺乏沟通的单方产物,不符合华埠情况。华埠工作小组共同主席王志杰回应,这三个社团已两、三年没有参加过会议,退出与否没有多大区别。

During the standing committee meeting of CCBA(Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association) on the evening of 26th this month, New York CCBA has passed the decision that CCBA, Lin Sing Association and China General Chamber of Commerce withdraw from the CWG. WU Ruixian, the president of CCBA, said it is the result of their different ideas with CWG and discontent for the Chinatown surveys made by the Pratt Center/Collective Partnership who is authorized by CWG. They believe that the surveys were the unilateral product due to lack of communication, and did not reflect the true situation of Chinatown. In response, WANG Zhijie, the president of CWG, said these three groups have not attended meeting for two to three years, and their withdrawal or not make no difference.

常务议员会议上,全体成员一致通过决定中华公所退出华埠工作小组,美东联成公所和中华总商会代表亦决定和中华公所同进退,共同退出。伍锐贤表示,华埠工作小组委托普瑞特社区发展中心(Pratt Center/Collective Partnership)进行的华埠共同研究计划没有和中华公所等社团进行充分沟通。美东联成公所主席萧贵源认为,华埠工作小组对华埠的具体情况不了解,所提计划未能照顾华埠切实利益。这三家侨团将在今(27日)下午2时30分在中华公所会议室召开记者会,希望告诉市府华埠发展真正的困难在哪里。

In the standing committee meeting, all member of the CCBA unanimously agree to withdraw from the CWG, Lin Sing Association and China General Chamber of Commerce followed suit. WU Ruixian said Pratt Center/Collective Partnership did not communicate with CCBA and other groups durning their Chinatown Collective Studies Project. XIAO Guiyuan, the president of Lin Sing Association, argued that the CWG did not fully understand the actual situation of Chinatown and thus can not take the practical benefit of Chinatown into account. In 2:30 p.m 27th this month, these three Chinese groups will hold a press conference in the meeting room of CCBA, aiming to told the real difficulties of Chinatown development to the municipal government.

2008年成立的华埠工作小组几经改组,内部分歧越来越大,其委托普瑞特社区发展中心所做的华埠研究报告在去年年底出台后即引发社区反对声,认为其中的土地使用规画(zoning)发展方向将限制华埠现行业主和小商家,阻碍华埠未来发展。华埠工作小组共同主席王志杰重申,华埠工作小组的成员由志愿者组成;对于任何计划,工作小组都乐于向社区进行解释,有问题可以提出来商讨,但「不参加会议」的做法对解决问题无济于事。

Since the establishment in 2008, the CWG has went through several reorganization which leads to increasing internal divergence. In the end of last year, the Chinatown surveys made by the Pratt Center/Collective Partnership who is entrusted by the CWG has generated discontent in the communities. The zoning in the plan was deemed to restrict the development of property owners and small tenants in Chinatown, and hinder the Chinatown development. WANG Zhijie, the president of the CWG has reiterated that all members of the CWG are volunteers; CWG is glad to explain any plans to the communities and all problems are open to discussion, but ‘refuse to attend the meeting’ is of no help to solving the problems.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Court House Plaza about to be closed to pedestrians?


updated photo april 11 2014 Worth St. and Mulberry

Around the time that Osama Bin Laden's son in law, Suleiman Abu Ghaith, was being tried at the Federal Court House on Worth and Mulberry Street, we noticed two small guard booths had sprung up. These two white low quality structures were placed at either end of a public plaza that sits between The Moynihan Court House and the back entrance to the U.S. Supreme Court building.




We can't help but think that the appearance of these two guard booths (currently unmanned) signify the eventual closing of the much-used public plaza that is home to Maya Lin's sculpture installation "Sounding Stones" created in 1996 - Commissioned by the US General Services Administration's Art in Architecture Program .


Lin says of the work  "I design works to create an intimate dialogue with the viewer, allowing a place of contemplation, sometimes an incorporation of history, always a reliance on time, memory, and a passage or journey. The relation between the viewer and the artwork does not require a knowledge of a specific language of forms, but instead relies on a direct empathetic response to the work. This experiential reading of the work, utilizing modulations in the light, sound, texture, materiality, subtle changes in height, depth, or grade, has helped define my work." 

If you ever had the pleasure to experience this sculpture as it was intended, before the barricades cordoned off the area around the sculptures, you would hear a wonderful gurgling noise from fountains within each stone. It seemed fitting that Lin's sculptures enticed the participant to walk up close, place their ear next to the holes and listen intently as this is what we're expected to do in a Court of law. Ironic then, that the whole auditory experience is removed from this piece by the placement of barricades, not to mention the obvious visual message that "security" trumps art in the eyes of Homeland Security.

How much do we have to give up in the name of "security"? To that extent just how effective are these measures anyway? Just last week a teenage boy was able to reach the top of the Freedom Tower ALONE.  A few years ago Police Headquarters was the sight of a mugging under non-functioning surveillance cameras. And in January a court officer was violently mugged on Court House property while she exited the building.

The closure of public plazas has done nothing to enhance the safety of residents and pedestrians, one can argue that in fact the lack of pedestrian activity makes the area prone to crime. 


When the Moynihan Court House was first opened there were lovely benches and trees immediately to the side of the court house which were designed for the public to use. The community used these inherently peaceful plazas to do tai chi and play chess. Sadly these benches and the stone sculptures are now off limits, and perhaps the entire thoroughfare will be closed. 
Updated April 11 2014, sculptures are now fully barricaded as are the benches, and trees.
click to enlarge photo
Updated April 11 2014
click to enlarge photo

FROM THE DOWNTOWN EXPRESS NEWSPAPER March 13th 2014:
Under Cover, March 13, 2014
March 13, 2014 | Filed under: Under Cover | Posted by: admin
TERROR TRIAL
Jan Lee, one of the Chinatown community leaders who has fought against many of Lower Manhattan’s post 9/11 street closures, tells us the Downtown federal trial of Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law,  doesn’t seem to have worsened the traffic problems, but it does appear to have prompted the installation of an unsightly new security booth that is so far not been operational.

The biggest problem with the booth, Lee said, is it gets in the way at the Worth St. public plaza outside the Moynihan Courthouse. He fears that the plaza may close again as it did for several years in the ‘00s, which would close a shortcut to the subways and mar Maya Lin’s sculptures, which have auditory sounds designed to be experienced up close.

Adding insult to injury, Lee said, the booth is the “cheapest-looking, Home Depot piece of [crap].”

UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE
Turns out that the fencing and barricades were placed there
for the building of an addition to the existing courthouse.
What that addition will function as has yet to be revealed, metal detectors? screening?
See photo below of the rendering of the addition to the building.








Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Chinatown's Garbage Juice - smell the progress

     
      It's July, we're in a heat wave. The stench rising from the streets and gutters of Chinatown is enough to make you lose your appetite. The kids going to and from Columbus Park are holding their noses while they squint their eyes nearly shut trying to avoid the sickeningly sour rotting smell that hangs in the summer air.

Despite efforts of restaurant owners diligently scrubbing their sidewalks every morning, the stink remains.
The stains from nightly drenchings marinate the porous cement and macadam until every pore is glazed over with a slick pungent goo.

It's garbage juice.

The garbage trucks that come around to pick up the black bags of food scraps from hundreds of restaurants, leave behind a toxic stew of fermented and rotting food mush as they crush and compact the bags in the back of their trucks with 15000 lbs of pressure. Every squeeze dribbles or vomits another load of who-knows-what.


The summer heat cooks the mess.



Stand too close to a garbage truck on its rounds and you'll be the unlucky recipient of a garbage juice shower as the muffled "pop" "pop" "pop" of black bags burst open and spray and arc of brown liquid.

There was a day when the City of New York would open fire hydrants, wash streets and even come around nightly with a street sweeper that wet down the streets while it scrubbed with hard rotary brushes every inch of gutter. No more.  There were promises of a "Cleaner Chinatown" , promises of a more "tourist-friendly" environment from millions of dollars taken from Chinatown itself, but frankly I can't see it, and I certainly don't smell it.

These days when a street sweeper comes around , it's as though the smell offends even the driver, he speeds through as fast as he can, rendering the machinery useless.

And so, Chinatown and its residents, its businesses ,the oh-so-precious tourists are left to slog through the choking mist of summer garbage juice long after the ruptured bags have been scurried away in the dark of night.

The mystery remains though, in the light of day. "What the **** is that smell!?!?"  you hear it over and over again.  Who else can be "blamed" but the Chinese walking in the street?


Mayor Bloomberg and his high and mighty Board of Health stand proudly on their pedestals for having "successfully" installed the letter grading system for "some" but not all food establishments (delis that cook and serve food are mysteriously exempt). Ironically they would FAIL their own grading criteria for providing a dangerous and toxic environment for the residents of Chinatown. It's simply, there is no adequate cleaning of City owned streets in all of Chinatown.

      So the next time you hear about how successful the "clean streets" program is, and how a Business Improvement District will "fast track" problems straight to City Hall,

walk through Chinatown in mid summer,

take a deep breath, (that's it both nostrils, no cheating)

 - and smell the progress.








Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Civic Center Residents Coalition Jan Lee on "the Races" 2013 - Downtown Express - Undercover


Under Cover, May 15, 2013 The Downtown Express
Jan Lee        Photo: CCRCNYC.com

Lee on the Races  
Chinatown leader Jan Lee has had his share of political fights with Margaret Chin over the years so we were surprised last week when he told us he hasn’t ruled out supporting her reelection bid to the City Council.
“Margaret and I are certainly cordial,” he told us, saying their disagreements have always been about issues. Lee, a founder of the Civic Center Residents Coalition, fought against the creation of the Chinatown Business Improvement District, which Chin strongly supported.
“We need to talk in a very candid way about the next four years on how she would improve,” Lee added.
His biggest concern is neighborhood traffic problems caused by several things including the security closure of Park Row. He said he has been dealing with family issues, but he hopes to be able to speak sometime soon with Chin and her Democratic primary opponent,Jenifer Rajkumar.
He has flirted in the past with running himself, but said he definitely will not be on the ballot this year.
In other races, Lee is backing Comptroller John Liu for mayor and Julie Menin for borough president.  He praised Liu’s work exposing the CityTime scandal, and Menin’s effort helping to get the Khalid Sheikh Mohammed trial moved out of Lower Manhattan.
“We really connected on that issue,” he said of Menin. “I find her to be a good problem solver and not just a complainer.”
Chin Notes  
Speaking of Councilmember Margaret Chin, we had been thinking she scheduled her announcement strategically around the time of Downtown Independent Democrats’ fundraiser in Battery Park City to lessen the chance of naysayers attending, but even Chin critic and D.I.D. veteran Sean Sweeney, who often ascribes ulterior motives to opponents, said there was nothing to the theory.
Sweeney said Chin showed up to the fundraiser right after the announcement and “she gave more [of a donation] than the average politician gave.”
He did take a dig at Chin, pointing out she did not win the Coalition for a District Alternative endorsement that she won four years ago. CoDA voted not to endorse, but its most powerful member, Councilmember Rosie Mendez,  is backing Chin.
Chin’s campaign spokesperson, Austin Finan, laughed at the notion that Chin is weaker without CoDA.  “Whatever makes them sleep at night,” he told us.
He said in addition to support from Assembly Speaker Shelly Silver and Cong. Nydia Velazquez, Chin will be getting nods from most if not all of the local elected officials.
“We’re stretching it out so to speak,” Finan said.
City Move  
A last quick one on Margaret Chin. Amy Varghese has just joined her staff as the new communications director. She replaces Kelly Magee, who is now working in the press office at the Dept. of Buildings.
Rockwell,  Imagination & Reality   
We were recalling the hoopla that began five years ago when renowned local architectDavid Rockwell started talking about designing — at no cost — a new Downtown playground with professional playmates (Rated G of course), a k a “play associates,” to help children interact with innovative, movable equipment.
We paid a visit the other day with a 3-year-old source close to UnderCover to see how the promise of Imagination Playground was holding up three years after opening.
The playmate at the Seaport park did not seem to do any sort of play facilitation, which seemed fine since perhaps it’s better for kids to, well, use their own imagination.
Rockwell’s large and light building blocks are more than a nice touch, although creativity apparently extends only so far since we were told to bring one of them back to the approved block play area.
Overall, the design puts the playground above most in the city, but what really sets it apart is the well-maintained bathroom and the extremely clean sandbox — no small measure considering pediatricians and public health experts will tell you that germ-wise, sandboxes are the most hazardous part of a playground.
Bike Monitors  
We noticed city Dept. of Transportation workers Tuesday holding up stop signs on the Ninth Ave. bike lane when the bike lights turned red. D.O.T.’s Scott Gastel said the rush hour program started last month and is part of the city’s effort to make sure things are safer when the new bike share program rolls out Memorial Day.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Chinese business owners left "post-storm aid meeting" with disappointment.


Chinese business owners left "post-storm aid meeting" with disappointment.
The government-held post-storm aid meeting was a great disappointment ;  Chinese business owners cried they "need subsidies not loans"
10th Nov 2012
Our reporter Jacky Wong in New York reports Sing Tao NY
Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Assoc. Mott st. 
Many politicians and representatives at all levels from government gathered in the auditorium of the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association yesterday (9th Nov), introduced various post-storm aid programs. The event attracted about 200 people from the business community to attend, however the aid is just low-interest loans rather than subsidies therefore many people felt disappointed. More importantly, the business owners pointed out the Chinatown economy has been barely breathing for 10 years, future is not guaranteed even they made through this time. Politicians and community agencies which taking government money need to produce a long-term rehabilitation plan.

Although the business owners have different backgrounds, but all have the same anger. The owner lady of Bayard Street Old Sichuan Mrs. Chu already became very impatient when listening to the loans introduction, at last she was the first who  shot. She pointed to the speakers on stage and yelled, "You talk a lot. But we don’t want loans. We need direct subsidies. Just like that after 911, each of our employees received 500 dollars. We all are realistic." Her argument won approvals from many business owners in the audience. In those, Chan Kin Yung said, "One needs to pay back the loans. Everybody wants direct subsidies. Another added, banking system in Chinatown reserves 60 hundred million cash for many years and the fund is sufficient. Government procedures for loan application are complicated. Who would take that difficulties rather than the easy approach?

Old Sichuan restaurant owner,  Mrs. Chu arguing with Councilmember Margaret Chin Sin Man

However, members of Congress Velazquez pushed the problem to the Republican Party, said that she had made a funding proposal in Congress but Republicans blocked it. She also said the new session will start next week, and she will once again raised the subsidy plan. Business owners are expected to be patient.

It is followed by the owner of Hong Kong Station Lai Chi Fung. He pointed out that losses made by the storm cannot be recovered, and Chinatown economy is stagnant as a pool of still water. What is the direction to go in future? Business owners still have to continue to pay rents, utilities and  labor. “What plans do the politicians, associations, community agencies and BID (Business Improvement District) have?” Although the City councilor Margaret Chin tried to take the question, she was unable to provide any actual answer because there are structural deadlocks in the Chinatown economy and it is not her expertise. Then business owners in the audience were getting more fierce. The owner of Mott Street Mottzar Kitchen couldn’t help shouted, "Otherwise no one will come to your meeting next time", meaning they all we have to close down.

Margaret Chin reminded the owners can come to her office if they need helps on the loan applications. To that, the owner of Man Yau Stationery Lee Kwok Wai expressed with his dissatisfaction, "If it is about to fill in the forms, we can do it on our own on Internet." Or it is even easier to have these information printed on the media. Because the losses including goods and profits are difficult to estimate, everyone wants to know the way to go on. He also hoped that, by this chance, the business owners are able to help each other and think about the future together.
The owner of Mottzar Kitchen Wong Suet Yu said, "if there is no plan, they have to close the business and then lots of people will become unemployed."


In fact, the storm matter indeed evoke people’s introspection about Chinatown economy. Issues such as transportation policies failed to attract tourists and housing policies crowding the middle class second-generation Chinese immigrants have cut these two upscale consumer groups. While other Chinese communities have been set up, the demands are diluted. However to solve these structural problems involves the interests of several large bodies in Chinatown. Just as what a community member Cheung Ying Ying said, “People holding vested interests don’t easily let go."

Many representatives from different community presented yesterday, including Director of the Business Improvement District Wellington Chen Jok Chow whose achievements only limited to street cleaning, Director of the Asian Americans for Equality Christopher Kui Yuen Yee who became a large landowner in Chinatown benefited from parity house policy, Chairman of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce Yue Kum Shan who claims himself representing the interests of the commercial sector but did nothing for years. The business owners’ views are worth to them to think about.



Sing Tao News - Translated article about Post Sandy Forum at Lin Sing Association


restaurant owner Wallace Lai ,HK Station

"After more than 10 years of restraint they now burst out; Chinatown business owners all rise up and howl after the storm"
08th Nov 2012
Our reporter Wong Dik in New York reports from Sing Tao NY

Improper policies made for Chinatown led to the barely breathing of economy for 10 years. Now it is stricken by the Northeast storm just right after the Storm Sandy. Difficult situations forced peoples’ anger exploded at an event in the Lin Sing Association yesterday (08th Nov), Chinatown business owners howled to the politicians and a representative from non-profit organization.

Yesterday, several business owners were invited to the Lin Sing Association. They expected that they will receive subsidies for their losses however the speakers just gave a bunch of empty words and hastily introduced the procedures of applying for loans and insurance claims on Internet.  The owner of Hong Kong Station (Wallace) Lai Chi Fung was the first to start revolt. He said angrily. "What’s the purpose of invitation? We can fill in the forms on Internet at home! What you these agencies can provide us? If it is wasting time, we’d rather go back and do more businesses!"

Lai Chi Fung couldn’t have sleep for days already. He came to blame with a pair eye bags which are large enough for shopping.  "Chinatown business owners are leading a very hard time after the storm and we have to continue to pay the rents, utilities and wages. The economy in Chinatown is so bad but community agencies are telling their own stories. How to revitalize the economy in Chinatown after all? Who can tell me! "

Lai Chi Fung’s comments are quite strong and the words go to the point. He won applause from everywhere at the scene. Consultant of the Lin Sing Association (Eddie) Chiu Man Sang who was one of the organizer originally had nothing to do with the matter however he had no choice but to meet the trick. He pointed out that it is a long-term problem in Chinatown and lots of other things are involved. But Lai Chi Fung was so aggressive. At last Eddie Chiu Man Sang was completely thrown off by the questions and exclaimed, "I have meetings with the government everyday. I will ask the mayor and governor to come." The business owners expected to receive subsidies at Lin Sing however they got the opposite of what they wanted therefore the atmosphere became more and more intense. Eddie Chiu Man Sang then simply and directly put that “The theme today is to send out blankets!" The boss of Shanghai Asian Manor pleaded with tactful words saying that it is a better choice for the community agencies to take some actual actions.

The Director of Human Resources Center Lee Hong Sing is the only representative from non-profitable organization, however finally he became the target of attacks for no reason. Facing attacks from the business owners, this gentleman was also struggling to cope. He claimed himself is a victim too because the Human Resources Center hotlines went dead. He also turned and threw the question to the ChinatownPartnership Local Development Corporation (CPLDC) saying that it is an organization established for economic development in Chinatown. When speaking about CPLDC, the owner of Man Yau Stationery Lee Kwok Wai whose shop in the Confucious Plaza was filled with pent-up anger. He complained, "We don’t’ want to listen to the truths and theories. Just tell us what we can do for you? And what you can do for us?"

The owner lady of Bayard Street Old Sichuan Mrs. Chu probably ate too much chili so she was especially fierce yesterday. She lashed out directly, "Loans are not what we want, we need direct subsidies, just like those after 911. This time it is even worse than 911. Where are Lau Sun Yat and Councilmember Margaret Chin? Why do politicians come for money for elections and they disappeared when we need helps?" It’s hard to tell for the past 40 years, but Margaret Chin indeed tried to fight for direct subsidies for owners of small businesses, even if there are no actual results. 14:00 today she will also work with other politicians for an aiding event held in the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent.

Finally, Mrs. Chu appeared to be helpless, and raised a suggestion with a no-harm-to try attitude, "Maybe one of you can give 500 dollars to each of our employees, 300 dollars will do anyway! Regretfully the speakers looked at each other and do not know what to do."
Menin’s telling her own story and people don’t bother to hear it


In fact, Julie Menin who is the former chairman of the First Community Board came to donate 500 blankets. She was running for the district head and originally intended to take this event to win people's hearts. However and to her surprise, she was lost to the bewilderment when the business owners threw their complaints in Chinese to her. 

Business owners sitting at the front were exasperated. The elders kept staring at the blankets behind the speakers because they actually came for the blankets.  Ng Aan Sim who is the owner of Amazing 66 Restaurant lost patience after sitting for a while. She kept showing the whites of eyes and finally threw a "Waste of time", left with the owner of the Red Egg David Wan each with a blanket under their arms. 

Some politicians, non-profit organizations and trade unions in Chinatown are still remained at the thoughts of civil rights movement in the 1960s, and not keeping up with the immigrants’ positive objectives of climbing the social ladder. Some of them were driven by the principle of “Weak forces demanding strong non-profitable policies”. As consequences, many wrong population, housing and economic policies were produced in the past 40 years which resulting in poverty and aging problems in Chinatown and therefore pulling out an endless stream of social and economic problems. These parties usually play the role of "A troop representing a just cause", but they sacrifice people’s benefits because the policies are only for their own institutional and political interests. Flushing and the 8th Avenue are also Chinese communities but their practices are widely divergent as they are helping Chinese immigrants to build up wealth. Even though the business owner spoke out of the topic and complained at a wrong event, but this outbreak tells that the business owners have long been aware of the facts thus became unbearable. It is worthy for the community agencies to ponder and introspect.

Ng Aan Sim  (rt) who is the owner of Amazing 66 Restaurant lost patience 
after sitting for a while.






Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Hurricane Sandy knocks out power but Community comes together to help at Hamilton Madison House


Hamilton Madison House and Two Bridges Neighborhood Council Board member Victor Papa (left)
Linnit Lawton, Chung Seto, Exec. Dir. HMH Mark Handelman

Hurricane Sandy dealt a devastating blow to New York City, especially in the Rockaways, Staten Island and Coney Island. An area very close to home, Knickerbocker Village on Monroe Street, a 600 unit housing project built in 1930 was also flooded plunging the entire complex (two city blocks square) into darkness on the night of the "superstorm". Shockingly, power and heat only returned to some residents last evening. Management from Knickerbocker, while touring the complex with Comptroller John Liu explained " water came rushing in and forced open a steel door (in one of the basements) , which pushed over filing cabinets, and the oil tank". It took many days to pump out tens of thousands of gallons of water from the basement rooms. The spilled oil created an environmental problem that also hampered repair efforts.



Repairing the boilers and power systems that keep Knickerbocker up and running smoothly proved to be a gargantuan task given the buildings antiquated infrastructure. Some of the parts needed are unique to the era and hard to locate, while a fire in an electrical room crippled repair efforts even further. 


In the meantime home bound senior citizens sat in the dark and cold waiting for help. They numbered at least  80+  people within the complex's labyrinth of hallways spread over two square blocks. Members of CAAAV, Coalition Against Anti-Asian Violence sprung into action almost immediately after the hurricane to run food donations up to home bound residents. 
Volunteers from Tzu Chi Buddhist organization launched an enormous campaign 
to aid as many residents effected by the storm as possible: 
Tzu Chi volunteers hand out goods with deep bow and respect. (Photo provided by Tzu Chi Foundation)
"On November 11, 400 Tzu Chi volunteers distributed cash cards, blankets and daily necessities to nearly 2,000 families in six districts in the greater New York area. The families are suffering from a shortage of power and water and freezing temperatures almost two weeks after the passage of Hurricane Sandy. The recipients were extremely moved by this generosity."

Immediately after the power returned to Alfred E. Smith projects at 50 Madison Street, Hamilton Madison House converted its gym into a commissary and warming center, as well as an information hub for FEMA, the Red Cross and donation distributions to the home bound in Knickerbocker.

On Sunday Nov. 11th about 35 volunteers from The Chinatown Community Young Lions spent the day at Hamilton Madison House translating, serving meals and going door to door with Red Cross nurses inside of Knickerbocker Village to assess health and nutritional needs of home bound seniors.


Photo: Jan Lee
Comptroller John Liu meeting with Knickerbocker Management
with Two Bridges Neighborhood Council and Hamilton Madison Board Member Victor Papa
Photo: Jan Lee

Some of the items that FEMA volunteers distributed from the central supply hub inside of Hamilton Madison House were: diapers, toilet paper, blankets, ready-to-eat meals, flashlights, pet food, bottled water, juice, canned foods, sanitary wipes and more. Lists, provided by Knickerbocker Village, were given to the volunteers from FEMA who methodically loaded up bags of items ready to deliver to individual home bound seniors within Knickerbocker. 
Comptroller John Liu serving meals to residents of Knickerbocker Village at Hamilton Madison House 50 Madison Street location. Donations of hot meals came from The Goya Corporation, The American Red Cross, Comptroller John Liu, Councilmember Margaret Chin, and Nydia Valazquez among many many others.
Hot meals arrive daily at Hamilton Madison with The Chinatown Community Young Lions and other volunteers at the ready to serve upwards of 800 meals a day.
Hamilton Madison House continues to coordinate hot meal donations even after most of the units in Knickerbocker Village have their power restored as of November 14th 2012, so residents can still get needed nutrition while they put their lives back together. Hamilton Madison House staff and administration complimented The Chinatown Community Young Lions on their efficiency, courtesy, and dedication in helping to serve those effected by the blackout.
Krissy Lew and Lucas Chang (son of Chinatown author Henry Chang)

For many of the C.C.Y.L. members it was their first time volunteering, no doubt this experience will have long lasting effects. CCYL Member Krissy Ann Lew said "Maybe I needed this experience just as much as they needed my help..... It was very eye opening and it made me realize the realities of life and appreciate things in my life much more than I use to and the feeling of helping people is amazing"

The Chinatown Community Young Lions are continuing their volunteer efforts at Hamilton Madison House daily, serving meals and assisting with Chinese translations for residents in the area wishing to get a hot meal while they recover from hurricane Sandy. "We are honored to be able to help our community in this way, some of our members live in Knickerbocker Village or have relatives or friends who are suffering right now, so our efforts are affecting people who are very close to us. We applaud all the groups who have come together to help" Director, CCYL Brandon Tom









Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Sing Tao Newspaper covergage of Superstorm Sandy - Could Chinatown Pharmacies do a better job??


Sing Tao Newspaper published an article that highlighted several individuals in Chinatown who braved the blackout and decided to open up shop to serve their community, while many others, despite medical obligations to serve their community remained shuttered. 
. We've provided the English translation of this article below.

他們擔心有些老人家沒有準備足夠藥物,因此決定繼續開業。
  本報記者王鏑紐約報道:近日華埠大停電,很多商家無法開店,但也有一些商店花盡心思繼續開門,為僑胞提供必需的日常服務,當中有不少感人情節,而且停電期間風雨無阻,贏得不少區內民眾的讚
  東百老匯永順酒家便是其中之一,老闆KK胡昨(2日)坦言,他原本只是不想浪費食物和減少損失,因此桑迪來襲的第一天就用發電機繼續營運,但是後來發現附近很多居民因為缺電生活狼狽不堪,因此索性借給其他人充手機,有些商家充電一次3元,但他就不收分文。KK說,「顧客都是這裡附近的居民,我們就當行個方便吧。」昨天更有一名西裔女士入來借電,手機充電後顯得感激不盡,即使兩人沒有多少共通的語言。
  僑胞黃立人說,大停電前他沒有任何準備,當天所有店舖都關門了,只有永順開張,「除了可以吃到燙口的熱叉燒米粉之外,與其他人一起也讓我心情也改善了很多。而且永順沒有漲價,十分難得。」還有一位的士司機則一邊吃著碟飯一邊說:「這次老闆是為人民服務。」KK胡笑說,「這次是很多人的功勞,其實我們的廚師也沒法上班,剛好附近有街坊懂得入廚,我們就請他們來幫助。還有很多客人都使用信用卡,小費給的不多,但是我們的企?也不計較,仍然緊守崗位,因為大家都明白這次的情況很特殊。」
  另一方面,東百老匯的福州大藥房也是一直開店,馮姓藥劑師指著門外的發電機說,「我們看到勿街、堅尼路等很多藥房都沒有開店,但是華埠有這麼多老人,如果大家少了心臟病、血壓藥後果難以想像,所以我就還想還是應該開門。」馮藥劑師坦言這幾天都沒有賺錢,但他說,這次就算是社區服務,只希望保老人家平安
  家有逾八旬母親的社區人士李卓勳嘆說,他很幸運在颶風來襲前做好準備,但他對於很多藥房關門實在感到失望,他指藥房是涉及性命的生意,藥房老闆身家豐裕,他們在華埠賺錢,但卻沒有這種意識。而且州長也簽署命令停電期間藥房可以發出小量處方藥,無須醫生紙。
  另一家位於包厘街的健康西藥房也是從停電開始每天12時至3時提供服務,負責人Amanda說,他們擔心有些老人家沒有準備足夠藥物,因此決定繼續開業,「不要說賺錢,賠本都要做吧。」事實上,參議員史葛靜助理張笑瑛到孔廈探訪耆老後也坦承,很多人反映他們藥物不足需要援助
  除此之外,停電也可見僑團的角色變化,僑團是華埠特色,先賢就是為瞭解決華僑移民的困窘而購買樓業成立僑團,雖然平時華埠僑團的活動眾多,但是今次大停電期間無論是中華公所、聯成公所、寧陽會館、福建同鄉會或其他僑團大多是重門深鎖,每天下班後從下城返回華埠陪伴雙親的一位李女士昨也漢說:「其實他們只要能開門給老人家聚在一起就是很好的服務,耆老可以互相緩解壓力,不過僑團雖然擁有豐富財力,但或者角色也正在逐漸改變。

What is particularly disappointing is that only two of 25 pharmacies in Chinatown decided to 
open up during the blackout to provide much needed medications to Chinatown residents.
For one, why are there so many pharmacies in Chinatown? and secondly, are there only two who will serve usduring disasters like Sandy? It's a sad commentary indeed that with all the money they make from the 
local community, that they can't support us, when even tofu sellers and fruit stands made the effort
to open up. 
Here is the article translated:

Moving Stories Happening In The Restaurant And Pharmacies
Moral Shop Owners Keep Their Doors open Against The Difficulty



(picture) Amanda Hon says, they worry that some elderly people didn’t prepare enough medicines, thus decided to continue the store’s operation.


Our reporter Wong Dik in New York reports: The recent blackout in Chinatown prevents lots of businesses from their normal operations, however there are also a number of ship-owners rack their brains continue to open their doors to provide necessary day-to-day services for local Chinese compatriots. Their benevolent acts are not stopped by either wind or rain in the power outage and there are many moving stories, which won praises from people in the area.

Wingsun Restaurant in East Broadway is one of the good ones. The restaurant owner KK Woo yesterday (2nd of Nov.) frankly commented, originally he just did not want to waste food and wished to reduce losses. So when the storm Sandy struck on the first day, the restaurant was still operating by using electricity generators. But later he found that many people in the neighborhood fell in embarrass situations because of the power shortage. Therefore he decided to open his door for others’ cell phone charging. Some shops charge 3 dollars for each charging but he doesn’t ask for a single cent. KK Woo said, "Customers are all people living nearby, so we just take it as providing convenience to the others." And yesterday there was a Spanish lady came for phone charging. When her cell phone fully charged, the lady was much grateful even though she did not have much common topics with the owner.

A Chinese compatriot Wong Lap Yan said, he didn’t get any prepare before the blackout. On the day that the storm arrived, all the shops were closed except Wingsun. "Besides there are hot Cha Siu Mai Fun available, staying with others makes my mood improved a lot. And the prices of food here remained, this is very precious." And a taxi driver, who having the rice served with meat and vegetables on top said: "The restaurant owner totally SERVES THE PEOPLE this time ". KK Woo smiled and said, "The credits go to many people this time. In fact, our chefs also cannot go to work. Fortunately there are neighbors know how to cook so we invite them come to help. Besides, many customers are using credit cards thus not giving many tips. It is not a big issue to our waiters and they still stick to their positions because we all understand that this situation is very special."

On the other hand, the Fook Chow Pharmacy locates in East Broadway continues its operation all along. Pharmacist Fung pointed at the generator outside the shop and said, "We see a lot of pharmacies in Mott Street and Canal Street are not opened. There are so many elderly people in Chinatown. If they are running out of medicines for heart disease and high blood pressure, the consequences are hard to imagine. So I think I should continue the business. " Pharmacist Fung spoke frankly, there is no profit in these days. And he said he takes it as community service this time and hopes the elderly are fine.



Mr. Lee Cheuk Fun whose mother over 80 living in the community sighed, luckily he has prepared before the hurricane came. He said it was disappointed that many pharmacies suspend their businesses. He pointed out that running pharmacies is a business involved in lives, owners of pharmacies make money in Chinatown and became wealthy however they don’t have the awareness of helping the residents even in the situation the governor signed the order to authorize pharmacies to sell small quantities of medicines to buyers without prescription presented.

Another pharmacy CTHC locates in the Bowery is open daily from 12:00 to 3:00 since the blackout. The shop owner Amanda Hon said, worrying about some elderly people who didn’t prepared enough medicines, she had decided to continue the shop’s operation. "Regardless the profit, I will continue to run the business even at a loss." In fact, Cheung Siu Ying who is the assistant to New York State Senator Daniel Squadron, admitted after her visited the elderly living in the Confucious Plaza, lots of people reflected that they don’t have enough reservations of medicines and in needs of assistance.

In addition, people can see the changes of roles of local Chinese associations from the accident. Chinese association is one of the main features in Chinatown. In order to solve the embarrassments of Chinese immigrants, the great and good of the past brought properties and established the associations. Usually there are many activities being held in the associations but this time during the power outage, no matter the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association, Lin Sing Association, Ning Yung Association, Fukien Benevolent Association or other Chinese associations, most of them close their heavy doors. Mrs. Lee who gets back to Chinatown everyday from her work in downtown Manhattan to accompany her parents also signed: "In fact, as long as they can open the door to provide a meeting place for the elderly, it is considered as a very good service, because old people can gather together to ease the pressure. Although the Chinese associations have extensive financial resources, their roles may be gradually changing. "