“Truth is like the Sun. You can shut it out for a time but it ain’t goin’ away.”
— Elvis Presley
So, in my demented idealism, having fervently believed that the political process can make a difference I started out twenty years ago trying to do something about the dangerous traffic conditions in SoHo. I fully understand that getting to New Jersey is important. Especially, if you live there. And, I also understand that pedestrians are an interference for cars as well as bicycles. Further, I understand that West Broadway, Broome Street, Watts Street, Prince Street, Spring Street and parts of Houston Street are great places for tourists to be entertained and fed. But, there are people in SoHo who depend on their legs and feet to carry them, including tourists who luckily find parking spaces and then have the same problem trying not to be hit by a speeding Porche.
No one wants to get hit, hurt, or killed crossing the street — even if the Traffic guards ARE too busy directing vehicles to New Jersey and practically finding crosswalks irrelevant. Canal Street and Varick Street between Canal and Watts are just such a location. This has added to the extension of Chinatown so as to be renamed SoHo South or Chinatown North. We can thank the developers who have stacked the Planning Board for that. I won’t even attempt to defend the fact that Art and Artists for the success of SoHo because they’re long gone. What is left are condos, vacant stores and restaurants who have extended their rentals to what used to be parking spaces.
The point of this is that after being hit by several vehicles that have eliminated crosswalks and Traffic Agents who clearly are so overworked that pedestrians are their least concern, I’ve had to make the choice about HOW SERIOUS my wound was. Do I go to a hospital, a doctor, or a radiologist? Do I call the police? Or, do I forget it because everyone is going to be annoyed because I’m still walking. I’m not dead. So, how bad could it be? The car took off to New Jersey, the Traffic cop was busy with traffic and he doesn’t give out tickets or report accidents. What do I want from him? I’m annoying him. As I drag my left leg along hoping that the pain will subside I called the police but they can’t get through and the three cop cars with sirens were headed to dinner or mabe a murder. Calling in a report got me two guys showing up 5 hours later in my apartment. Apparently, I could walk, so what’s the problem? The fact that the car that hit me this time (since the previous time I was hit the car was from Georgia and presented insurmountable problems for NYPD and Georgia), did not leave me with crippling damage. The time before that I tapped on the rear of the car on line along Varick Street and the driver got out and started screaming at me for touching his car.
I contacted Shirley Secunda, the Chair of The Traffic and Transportation Committee on Board #2 and let her know what was going on downtown in my article and a letter — I mean further downtown below Greenwich Village where real damage is being done and where the developers are no longer satisfied with artists and condos. Now, they want to build the new election catchword for politicians — affordable housing. It doesn’t matter that the warehouses that artists managed to eke out an existence in, charged fixture fees and they got bought out by owner-developers who made a fortune on their backs. Now, the jealousy of REALLY big money is dangling the prospects of windfalls courtesy of the Planning Commission who is causing the developers to salivate by pushing the affordable housing button. Of course, no one ever tells the truth about real affordable housing. The most recent building in SoHo that pushed that concept, 111 Varick Street, finally has a waiting list that could put you on the street or living in your car before you got an apartment. And, then there’s the fiction that HPD comes running when rent-stabilized apartments have a problem. In my building, operated by criminals, not even 311 will accept a heat complaint because the HPD complaint system is so fucked up. When I finally sent a letter to HPD an inspector came around — two weeks later. There was heat by then because they called the landlord before heading over. No violation. Imagine how much time these new developers will devote to helping tenants in the affordable housing units once the condo units are sold in the SoHo-NoHo rezoning?
Secunda is a nice person. I knew her on Community Board #2. We were there together when Bob Rinaolo was arranging for his people to get liquor licenses and pushing members to vote in favor of his parcel for a local nursing home for $5 mil. I don’t know the new Chair of the Board Jeannine Kiely but I can say that the Board meets periodically with the DOT. The presentations and reports they review involved groins, curbs, traffic plans. The same ones that the DOT has been pushing down our throats for the last 20 years I’ve been writing about it.
Nothing about enforcement and the fact that people are being hurt and killed is in those reports. No one gives a shit. After twenty years of writing about it I can say that with certainty.
I sued the City to get their attention because the Community Board is nothing more than a repository of political bodies in return for campaign donations and fealty unless you still believe a politician is going to help you without campaign checks. (with a few notable exceptions like Schumer and Hoylman). And, you know what? I got to have a PRE deposition called a 50-H hearing that Mayor de Blasio arranged. Well, maybe not personally.
A pleasant woman got on the zoom call, told me that she occasionally shops at Gouret Garage and asked me about my latest unfortunate experience of being hit by a car that had no insurance, no registration and a phony license. You know, a Hit & Run in disguise. The 50-H hearing, conducted by Kathy Fata of Colón & Peguero LLP, was instructive. First of all, there were to be no notes, no recordings and no testifying. She questioned and I answered. She asked me why I crossed the street, did I go in front of the car or behind the car that hit me. I thought that the fact that I was in a crosswalk and the car rammed me was fairly obvious. She asked me how I was. Not like, how was I, but like what was damaged and did I go to a hospital and call the police. She didn’t really give a shit how I really was. But, then it got better. Did I owe any taxes? Do I have a tax bill with the City? Obviously, she was figuring that if I ever got a payoff for their fucking all of us over in SoHo they’d want to be able to claw it back before I ever saw a check.
Then she quickly moved on to whether I had a criminal history. Because you know when you’re a felon you deserve to be hit by a car. And, I was starting to get excited. About the fact that I wrote about corruption in the Town of Southampton where all of the Swells and Wall Streeters hide out — and the Hamptons D.A.s office where I was asked to accept 44 felonies as a result of my articles about racism and political payoffs by D.A. Thomas Spota (who was just incarcerated for witness tampering, essentially prosecuting opponents and journalists, obstruction of justice, and operating a pay-to-play legal system) — otherwise the D.A. would destroy my family.
Which he did anyway.
Fata didn’t want to hear about any of that. In fact the 50-H hearing was a fraud. It was a way of getting info to use against the plaintiff — a fishing expedition to be used so that the Truth never comes out.
Neither the City nor any of the elected officials give a shit.
Look for my first book coming out in 2022.