Monday, August 29, 2011

City Council Finance Committee tries for another Hearing on the Chinatown B.I.D. SEPT. 7th '11

Councilmember Margaret Chin has sent out a notice to an undetermined number of property owners in Chinatown announcing another hearing by the Finance Committee of the City Council chaired by Councilmember Dominic Recchia, about the Chinatown Business Improvement District, on September 7th at 12:pm at Emigrant Savings Bank49-51 Chambers Street.
Councilmember Margaret Chin

This time Councilmember Chin, who is of Chinese descent and has a history in Chinatown in one form or another over the last forty years, decided to translate the notice into Chinese (on the back of the notice) and sent a notice directly from her office.

A previous one sheet notice was sent to some property owners and residential tenants in Chinatown by the Chinatown Partnership LDC (not by Chin's office) about the May 26th Finance Committee hearing on the BID. That notice was sent on May 13th, but had no Chinese translation, a point that was raised by Councilmember Reyna at the hearing. Although Wellington Chen claims" it cannot be bi-lingual because the law says it can only be one piece, double-sided, in English" and therefore didn't allow for additional pages for Chinese translation, we could not find anywhere in the BID law that notices of finance committee hearings mailed to property owners must be this way. We must find, therefore, that this omission was a deliberate attempt to ensure the least possible number of property owners attending the hearing of May 26th.

A Chinatown property owner reported that she spoke to Tanisha Edwards, Counsel for the City Council, regarding this hearing on September 7th and this is what she said: "Spoke briefly to Tanisha Edwards, counsel for Finance Committee of the City Council. She said that they will expect everyone who wanted to speak will have a chance to do so at this meeting. There will be 200 seats at the Emigrant Savings Bank auditorium. When I asked how early will we have to show up to get in to speak she said the speakers will start at 12:01pm sharp and there would be no problem. When I referred to that other meeting, she insisted it would not be a problem. "This is an oversight meeting so we want to hear from everyone." I plan to bother her one more time asking if we had to register ahead of time. "

The last hearing on the Chinatown BID by the Finance Committee was a total fiasco which included Chinatown property owners being shut out of the hearing at 250 Broadway. After building security told property owners who were waiting to be checked into the building that the hearing was "closed for the day," a spokesman for the City Council told the property owners that a special list existed for speakers to register in advance, and that speakers would have to be cleared with the Council attorneys. The Sargent at Arms for the City Council berated property owners for "messing up". This has yet to be determined, whether a special list of speakers indeed exists. Normally anyone wishing to testify at an open hearing does not have to pre-register or check in with the Councilmembers with an attendance list. A favorite tactic of the Chinatown Partnership, the entity pushing to form the BID, is to pack the room with paid CPLDC employees and non-testifying "supporters" from community boards and other BIDs so that there is no room for property owners. Likely this tactic will be futile this time around.

Perhaps realizing the implications of shutting out legitimate discourse and dialogue opposing the Chinatown BID, the City Council Finance Committee and Councilmember Margaret Chin have scheduled this additional "exploratory" hearing on the BID.

What: City Council Finance Committee Exploratory hearing on the Chinatown B.I.D.
Where: Emigrant Savings Bank 49-51 Chambers Street Manhattan
Time: 12:pm noon
When: September 7th
ATTENDEES MUST ARRIVE NO LATER THAN 11:AM, speakers must sign up immediately to fill out speaker cards.

Questions: Property Tax Payers Corp. / No Chinatown BID: 917-710-7503 Jan Lee
Margaret Chin's office: 212 788-7259

IF YOU CANNOT ATTEND, you may FAX your statement about the Chinatown BID to Tanisha Edwards at:

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