Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The power of community outcry in city government decisions

Cheers to the unbelievable past 24 hours. Patricia Lancaster-- the eternal Miss Rubber Stamp to Shoya Boymelgreen, Robert Scarano, and every other greased-hair wannabe Michael Shvo developer in this fair city of ours-- has finally gotten her comeuppance. Today she issued her resignation in response to Mayor Bloomberg's mea culpa yesterday, recognizing that we shouldn't necessarily be proud of the recent performance by the Department of Buildings. Really? You're just realizing that NOW, Bloomie? Six years in??? Hmm. I wonder why.

Imagine, if you will, the reality of this fact-- Lancaster admitted that the planned development of 303 East 51st Street was approved "by mistake." Hmm. When most hard working Americans make a mistake, it's generally not that big a deal-- a forgotten phone message, an unpaid bill, missing a business meeting. In Lancaster's case-- let's put it this way-- a 43 story illegal building was approved for construction without question in complete violation of city zoning regulations. That's just a tiny bit of an oversight.

In Lancaster's six years of serving as the New York City Buildings Commissioner, her "watch" has warranted numerous deaths by illegal construction teams-- (yes, deaths)-- that blind eyes continued to avoid upon every new crane's erection in the city. No one really cares about an undocumented worker, right? It took a disaster of mega proportions to enact change; i.e., one falling on top of a tony Turtle Bay townhouse and a well-to-do established midtown condominium. Before that, calls to 311 were registered but not responded to numerous times for the thousands of violations across this city, as unrestrained "development" continues to change New York into Houston, Texas. Architectural, historic and artistic value be damned, let alone the legal realities.

Even though this is a tiny step, and far from a victory by any means, it gives me hope that for every action there is a reaction, and hopefully discipline. The word "no" has not been uttered in eons here in New York.

In honor of Lancaster's resignation, perhaps she should check out Michael Ingbar Gallery's hilarious named new show in Soho-- "Concrete Erections II: Only In New York." A title invoking both Cindy Adams and being d*&'ed over at the same time-- you have to love it, because what other city on earth would put up with this crap?

1 comment:

hr_g said...

If you bring the pitchforks I'll rally some torches!