In the last few months, I have been able to write about issues that would have been difficult to convince the daily citywide papers to publish. I have often been frustrated, after working for weeks on a story with a journalist, to suddenly, without explanation, have the story axed by their editor. The freedom to write about anything and the encouragement from the editors at the WG News+Arts has been tremendous. It has helped get important issues into the major dailies, including the New York Post and The Wall Street Journal; and online magazines including Curbed, Brownstoner, Gothamist, and The Huffington Post.
Our story on the problems regarding the construction at Northside Piers was picked up by the Post, and the result was that it opened a dialogue between the developers, the Toll Brothers, and the building’s board and residents. We suspect that it had larger ramifications, including possibly sparking a national class action law suit. I will be doing a follow-up story on this in the coming months and I hope to have good news to report.
Another way to get stories into the press, I’ve learned, is to cite celebrities. In a recent story published here on the WG, I wrote about Yankee third baseman Alex Rodriguez, who received a huge 421a tax break on his multimillion dollar condo. That story was picked up, with my blessings, by the Daily News, where it ran not just as a story, but a cover story. And our report on Mayor Bloomberg’s failures in his third term was picked up by the Wall Street Journal. Several other WG stories also sparked coverage elsewhere, including our piece about the discovery of promises, but no guarantees, for affordable housing with the vote in City Council regarding the Domino Sugar factory, and the approval of a zoning change in order to build market rate housing. That was snatched up on the internet and appeared on the New York Observerwebsite. It shows you the importance of local papers like theWG News+Arts. It’s great to know we are making a difference. Even in tough economic times the WG continues to grow and deliver ground-breaking journalism.
New School Chancellor, Same Mayoral Policies
Many are celebrating the recent decision by Mayor Bloomberg to replace the city’s school commissioner, Cathie Black, with Deputy Mayor for Education Dennis Walcott. One would think I’m happy with the decision because, in one of my recent columns, I wrote about my concerns regarding her appointment as chancellor.
But the truth is that replacing Ms. Black does little to change the way our kids are educated. Mr. Walcott is an equal advocate for all the same policies that cause grave concerns for parents, including the practice of teaching to tests, the policy of “Last in First Out” as a way to get rid of teachers based on their tenure, and favoring charter schools over public schools, with the end goal to privatize the whole educational system, with bankers controlling the schools. So don’t expect any changes to the Bloomberg school agenda. What Mr. Walcott might do better than Ms. Black is grease the skids for the Mayor’s agenda.
MTA Going Away, Making Way for Open Space
The MTA has finally agreed to move transit buses from a Commercial Street lot in Greenpoint to make way for a park (the site was designated for that purpose in 2005). Congratulations to City Council Member Stephen Levin for making this a reality after former Council Member David Yassky failed to secure the site. District Leader Lincoln Restler also held a rally at the mta site two months ago and deserves thanks for keeping the issue in the spotlight.
The residents of Williamsburg and Greenpoint continue to be some of the most underserved regarding open space. This is a great step in meeting our community’s needs. But much still needs to be done!
Still on fire