Thursday, July 28, 2011

Comments from SoHo and Chinatown - Councilmember Chin in the Hot Seat

Several people have commented following the publishing of a Letter To The Editor - responding to comments made by Councilmember Margaret Chin in an article published on July 20th 2011 - Last Ditch Effort To Stop Chinatown BID - by Aline Reynolds.
Here are some of the comments:
Downtown Express - commenter: "Lives Here" says:
When the NYS / NYC BID laws were enacted in NYS / NYC 30 years ago the world was different and a BID was offered as a way to bolster stagnant commercial areas.  The way this BID law is now being used to divide NYC into fiefdoms is NOT what was intended.

Councilmember Chin has stooped to a low bow before the BID proponents.  She is claiming that those is opposition to the BID are doing so through intimidation, but that is far from the truth and a low blow unbecoming an elected representative.  But Chin seems to care little for facts or the truth when it comes to BIDs in her district.  Instead she sides with powerful real estate interests promoting these new BIDs, few of whom reside in her district, over her constituents who have spoken out loudly and clearly against BID plans and expansions.

If Councilmember Chin truly cared as she claims she does about small property owners, businesses and residents in these BID districts then why did she fail to get any protective language regarding budgets or assessments or expansions written into the BID District Plans?  Her word means little when the law grants power to those monied few who run a BID.  And when Chin is out of office then her assurances, promises and empty declarations will mean nothing.

As Chin herself has noted in regard to BID assessments, "an annual assessment would be double taxation."  Elected officials should stand up and reject these proposals, which will levy unnecessary taxes on small businesses and property owners.
Stop the Chinatown BID
Stop the SoHo BID
Stop the Expansion of the LES BID

commenter: Ingrid W.
The disgraceful response from Chin and her corporate supporters underlines why the Chinatown BID has to be defeated!

commenter: Lotus bud
If it is true that Wellington said, at the 6/23/10 BID meeting, that the BID petition should "target non profits [since they are exempt from the assessment fee] and $1.00 private residential owners" then there's a serious scandal that the news ought to cover.

A BID purports to justify itself as representative. If it targeted its petition, then it is not representative at all, but working as an advocate, and the public should know whom they are advocating for at the expense of the local community voice. Why wouldn't the BID trust the voices of all the local interests?

Margaret ought to be in the forefront of questioning the BID's methods. If not, she abrogates her sacred public trust.

commenter: Lora Tanenbaum
Kudo's to Jan Lee and his courageous group for revealing that the Emperor has no clothes. Chin should be ashamed, as should the Mayor's Office.   At all the community board meetings the board members were told that there had been a 95% return on the mailings and that 97 % of those returns had been in favor.  But the fact is only  24% of those who supposedly received ballots sent them in.  And even less said yes.  No proof of distribution of the ballots to all potential voters is necessary and no care need be taken that the respondent is entitled to cast the ballot. We know from the SoHo BID that many property owners never get ballots.  In sharp contrast, objectors must wait until the BID proposal passes council committee before they can file  formal objections, each of which must be notarized and contain a copy of the title deed to show proof of ownership.  Fair ?  Equal?  A resounding no.  The system is stacked in favor of BIDs.

Keep in mind that this isn't only about money.  Its about political power.  The Council Member, the Borough President, the Mayors Office and the Finance Department all have seats on the BID Boards.  The whole process basically privatizes public space, giving BID boards unequal control over what happens in the community.  Which is probably why non-resident, Steering Committee Member  Michael Salzhauer, whose Benjamin Partners real estate company owns real estate in the district, is so pro-BID.  His record of regularly mading political donations to Michelle Bachman, Allen West and the  Club for Growth PAC created by Pat Toomey clearly show a likely preference for privatization. 

But that begs the question of why does Margaret Chin?   

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