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District 38
Red Hook, South Park Slope, Sunset Park
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Campaign 2002




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DEBATE TRANSCRIPT

Transcript of a forum held on October, 28, 2002 where candidates for City Council district 38 met to discuss their visions for Southwest Brooklyn. The candidates who participated: Sara Gonzalez, Edward Rodriguez, and George Martinez.

OPENING STATEMENTS

Sara Gonzalez: First of all, good evening and thank you for having me. It's a real pleasure to be here. I've been in the community for 52 years. I came to Sunset Park when I was a year old. I've worked for 30 years as a civic activist. I started with youth originally. I did a lot of work with HIV/AIDS. I've been able to do a lot of work with job development, with high schools, so I've been involved and I'm an administrator today. I'm an executive director. I attended all district schools, public schools, and I did attend Columbia on a scholarship that I got in1997 for my community work, which is from Citibank. I received the $10,000, the graduate School of Business. I graduated from Staten Island College. I just wanted to clarify that. It's really important for me that we're represented appropriately.

I've done a lot of civic work and I'm also the chairperson of a Community Board. And as such I've been at the forefront of all the issues. Every issue that affects our lives I have dealt with. I have taken out of my life and I always work for involvement in the community board as well, other boards like Salvation Army, so I have always been involved. It's something that has been a part of me. I have not worked for money; I've always volunteered to get programs off the ground. As a matter of fact there are several sponsors here that I have worked with. So that's really important to me that you know that I have a history and that I would be the best candidate and I think the best person for this election. Thank you.

Edward Rodriguez: Good evening and thank you for coming here. My name is Eddie Rodriguez. I'm president of the Community District School board 15, actually I was president till a couple weeks ago. I didn't seek reelection, but the past couple years I have been president of the community school board and a member of the school board for almost 4 years. I'm also Assistant Attorney General at the Office of the Attorney General of the State of New York. I have a very busy professional life as assistant Attorney General representing the interests of New Yorkers in federal and state courts, mostly federal practice. Despite the busy schedule that I have as a professional, I've spent a great deal of my own time working to improve the quality of education in the District 15. The District 15 encompasses all of the neighborhoods in the 38 council district. We've done some very important work in District 15. For those of you who've been reading the newspapers by chance you'll find it's sited his vision for improving schools. In fact, District 15 has been leading the way, in that way, with respect to that vision. We reduced class size in 1st grade; I authored and passed the resolution establishing the first school day pre-K program in the city. I replaced that program in Sunset Park with one of the neediest communities in the city. Most of the children in that particular school are immigrant kids, mostly Mexican immigrants.

I wasn't born and raised in this community, I'll admit that. I was born in Spanish Harlem, raised in the Bronx. My mom's a seamstress and my dad growing up was a delivery truck driver. I'm intimately familiar with the issues of this community, the Latino community, the working class community, Given that my struggles have been the same as everyone else in this room. We're the working class members. In any event, I'm sure that there are lots of questions to be answered and I look forward to answering them. Thank you.

George Martinez: Good evening. My name is George Martinez and I'm proud to say that I am born and raised in this district. My family is from Red Hook and I did go to schools in Park Slope and I do live in Sunset Park and as a lifelong community resident, I know where the community was, where it is now, where its headed, and I believe we're moving in the wrong direction in a lot of ways. I believe that so strongly that I'm the only Democrat to challenge the former council member Angel Rodriguez last year when he was going to be the next Speaker of the City Council. I was told "you are drunk or crazy, you will lose, you are destroying your political future." A) I wasn't running to build a political future, B) I was not running against Angel Rodriguez, I was running for the issues that were important in my community, that were not getting talked about, that if I didn't run, would not have been talked about. First, responsible economic and community development. I look forward to getting into that topic, particularly when it comes to the waterfront issues. Second, a reinvestment in our public education. Well I'm not an educational bureaucrat, granted. I'm a teacher, I've been for the past 5 years a college professor that the City University of New York and now I'm teaching political science at Hunter College, I mean at Pace University. I've also worked with the police athletic league, teaching literacy programs, over 32,000 kids every day and we closed the streets off in the summertime, some of you are familiar with what we call the program the summer play streets program. We closed 61st Street off between 5th and 4th avenue in Sunset park, in Redhook East we have a program behind that building as well. Those are some of the things that I've done here in this community.

But I believe that this election is pivotal, pivotal for the direction and the future of our community. And as our community goes, make no mistake about it, so does the rest of Brooklyn because we have the most valuable resource that everyone in the city notices, but this is the opportunity to shape that direction, and that resource is our waterfront. Very important issues, this is a critical election, and as the newly elected state committeeman from the 51st assembly district, I am proud to be here continuing to serve and I look forward to potentially becoming our district's next city council member. Thank you.

MODERATOR: The first topic has to do with affordable housing and displacement. Our community is experiencing an affordable housing crisis, with skyrocketing rents that many people cannot afford. Would you support the Community Stability Small Homeowner Tax Credit to provide a tax break to small homeowners who rent apartments to low income tenants at a below market rates?

Mr. Martinez: Sounds like a good idea, so I would support that, but I think there are some other things in terms of what that means in terms of the funding coming into the city. I also think you need to strengthen and return to our rent stabilization law. That's an important issue that's not on the table today, it hasn't been talked about, and I think we need to move back there as well. I also support local site control for non- profit organizations that are going to be working for local developers building affordable housing constructions that will be implemented and utilizing the policy proposal as Michelle mentioned and I think that if some things going on in Red Hook right now that I've actually advocated for at the 5th Avenue Committee with local development are working on. So I would be supportive of that, I think we need to move forward in addition to making sure that we have our rent stabilization laws in place and giving site control to local nonprofit organizations working with housing developments.

Mr. Rodriguez: I would absolutely support that tax credit. It's essential to the proposition. It's been supported by a number of progressive Democrats throughout the city and in this borough. I'm fortunate enough to have been endorsed by a number of those officials, including David Yassky and Bill DeBlasio, whom I know signed onto, basically a contract holding them to that. I know that James Brennan and Felix Ortiz are also supportive of that legislation. I'm glad that they've endorsed my candidacy, as they understand that I will champion that type of legislation, particularly as it affects working class and middle class folks who want to ensure the continuity of people residing where they've grown up and where they've raised their families, and that this makes sense.

Ms. Gonzalez: I definitely support that. First of all, my experience has been in placing people in housing, people who have been displaced--that's my work most of my life. I would definitely make the social worker happier, that's for sure. Because at least we know that these people have a permanent home, and we need to work with them, and I will definitely support it.

MODERATOR: Let me move on to zoning issues. I think for some people, this is certainly the meat and potatoes of housing and land use issues in the city of New York. There is an effort at rezoning of Park Slope from Union St. to 15th St. Among other things, the proposal would increase the allowable building height on 4th Ave. from six stories to twelve stories. Some community members are calling for inclusionary zoning, which would give developers either an incentive or a requirement to include a percentage of affordable housing in these new, taller developments. So far, city planning has refused to consider these new inclusionary proposals. Would you pressure City Planning to include inclusionary zoning on 4th Ave?

Mr. Rodriguez: I would absolutely encourage and if not fight with, City Planning to ensure that any developers who come into this community to make a buck, make a commitment to people and to this city, and to this community for affordable housing. The fact is, at the federal level, there's proposed legislation that would have 50% market rate, 30% middle class--whatever the ratio, the fact is we need mixed housing in this community. I myself have worked very hard to ensure that our schools become more diverse. If we have a more diverse community, particularly with new developments, we're better off as a community and better off as a society.

Ms. Gonzalez: I also would support it. What's really important to me is that we bring it back to the community. I think the community has to be involved in deciding what's going to happen here. I would work very closely with the community, bring it to City Council, and of course, [inaudible]. We definitely need more housing. Everyone needs to get their share, especially when families who pay at least $1500 for an apartment. If there are any zoning changes, we have to go to the community.

Mr. Martinez: I would support putting pressure on developers for creating this new, taller housing. But, the reality is, everybody talks about creating affordable housing, and it never happens. It doesn't happen, one, because we don't have the proactive political leadership exercising the power of the city council's oversight power. That's one thing: you need to actually make sure that the construction is being developed in a way that, after the fact, can actually go to residents who, we talked about up front. The fact is, cost overruns tend to prohibit landlords from actually doing it. So, we say up front: "Here's the plans, 80-20"--never happens. The real question is, where do we draw the line to terms of zoning variances on our waterfront. Because if we talk about affordable housing on 4th Ave., but we have a Battery Park City on our waterfront in Red Hook and Sunset Park, it just won't matter. The affordable housing will not be there for folks who live in the community now.

Mr. Rodriguez: The real question is, where is the line in the sand in terms of our waterfront. Affordable housing on our waterfront open access, then we can, inside of the community talk about affordable housing construction and development. The City Council doesn't have any role in that, but one thing we should do and we must do, is support our state legislators to ensure that the commuter tax is restored. The fact is, the city, for a very long time, been getting the shaft, both with respect to the education budget, with respect to the commuter tax; people come here and work in the city and use our services and use the police and fire department, they need to pay their fair share. I also advocate for progressive taxation. The fact is, the wealthiest New Yorkers need to pay a more equitable share of taxes. And so that's something we need to consider very quickly, and I hope to join the progressive wing of the council to champion that cause. We also need to consider the stock transfer tax, for individuals who trade stocks and currently aren't taxed on it. These are all items that we need to address, I'm a progressive Democrat, I've been endorsed by progressive democrats, the New York Times endorsed me, particularly for my position on these issues, and I expect to be a voice in the city council to make sure that Mayor Bloomberg, who seems to want to protect his wealthy friends on the Upper East Side, gets the message loud and clear, we need to protect the most vulnerable people in the city first to make sure that they aren't burdened with this economic crisis, and so I would definitely make sure that cuts to senior services and to public education are protected at all costs.

Mr. Martinez: I'm glad to see that some of the issues I've been talking about have actually seeped their way into the discourse of the conversation. First we need to start off, obviously, by lobbying our state legislature, particularly in the Senate. We know we can move a commuter tax in the Assembly, but it takes the Senate to really close the deal. And so I'm proud to be endorsed the by the Deputy Minority Leader Senator David Paterson, and we can work forward on that issue as well. Commuter tax and critical stop outsourcing our city's services. Traffic enforcement agency, for example, has given up the power of direct authority, which means what you see at night time, or you wake up real early in the morning and you tend to see these private tow trucks, driving through your street. Well, that's "out-sourcing", and the city's losing millions and millions of dollars a year on that. The one specific policy proposal, in addition to personal income tax, is the tax on the transfer of stocks, roughly estimated at over $8.3 billion a year. Now that has to be funded and moved by the state, obviously. But I think we can both split that difference, now we're talking about, instead of a $ 6 billion shortfall, a $ 2 billion shortfall for the city. Four billion for the state, 4 billion for the city, now we're really moving to a place where we can, as a state and a city get out of our bind, together. I think those are some of the ideas we should be looking at, advocating, and working toward.

MODERATOR: I think its really easy when you're talking to a bunch of Democrats to ask about taxes. The other part of the question, would there be any sort of cuts to services?

Ms. Gonzalez: Well, it certainly wouldn't be education or any services like that. Any cuts, I would really have to look at it, but definitely no education cuts. Our libraries are important, our children are important, and homelessness, social services, we need to look at that. Possibility to look at the welfare program, that's something that we could, at some point, look at.

Mr. Rodriguez: Well, like I said, we need to make sure the most vulnerable people in our society, our seniors and our children, are protected from budget cuts, but the fact is that some cuts need to be made. One of the things we need to work on very quickly and very powerfully, is making sure that the most vulnerable aren't the first sources of raising revenue, we need to make sure that we look at progressive taxation at a source of closing the deficit, but again, everything is going to be on the table, but we have to protect our most vulnerable people in this city, first and foremost.

Mr. Martinez: As one of those most vulnerable--I'm a teacher, we don't get paid a lot--I don't have health insurance. I'm praying not to get sick before November 5th. But, the reality is, tough decisions are being made. We're going to bump heads very strongly in the City Council. The mayor has already proposed a 7 percent reduction in all city services. He's already aggressively lobbying for a subway fare increase. So first of all, we have to identify what the mayor is seeking to cut, figure out ways in which we can move some of the money we just saved, and how to begin to say "these things are off of the table." We cannot allow, and it's disrespectful to child daycare workers, who get paid $5.50 an hour to take care of 60,000 kids a day. The city won't even come to the table to have a discussion about contract negotiations. There is money in the budget if we just go after it and find it. Close some of these corporate tax loopholes. These big corporations have been threatening to leave New York City for generations, and have never left. Let's close some of these gaps, and bring the money back. And if we're going to make cuts, let's do them in a way that at least we provide support for the folks who are going to be injured by the cuts. We need to go to City Hall and bump heads with the mayor on this issue.

MODERATOR: If we were to pursue tax increases, we would need support from the mayor and the governor. What actions would each of you take to persuade those two elected officials?

Ms. Gonzalez: Well, as a councilperson, I would support and look for the support of my colleagues. That's the beginning; there has to be strength in that. And lobbying, and fight. That's the bottom line, you have to be able to articulate There are many council people, we're not alone, so we'll do it together.

Mr. Rodriguez: Well, again, obviously if elected I would work with my colleagues in the progressive wing of the City Council to ensure that the voices of working class people are heard in this discussion. If the mayor doesn't want to listen, we can take it to the streets. The fact is, this is the mayor who wanted to make $400 million in cuts to public education. District 15 was at the forefront. Parents from the district marched to the Brooklyn Bridge; I was proud to join them, and to help organize them, so that we could throw pennies at City Hall. Because people are willing to pay pennies a day to ensure that we have after-school programs. People are willing to pay a little more if we have a focused tax, so that we can continue funding the most important services. And I'm sure that people are willing to pay to make sure that the most vulnerable people are taken care of in these difficult times.

Mr. Martinez: You get it done by organizing inside and outside. We don't have to take it to the streets; we're already in the streets. And as people who are in the streets, we need to know that elected officials, community-based organizations, local non-profits, community boards, etc., are coalescing into a community coalition that can prevent the communities, particularly the 38th district, from getting stepped on, stepped over, and sold out as has been happening. But it's going to take not only leadership internally, but also citywide networks. My colleagues alluded to that. It's going to take knowing folks, being able to organize, and educating folks. I've had the opportunity over the last year to be able to educate many members, in fact even in the mayor's policy shop. A lot of old Democrats are in Mayor Bloomberg's policy shop. A lot of CUNY people. I've been able to educate them on the needs specific to this district because, quite frankly, they have no clue. I've been endorsed by the majority leader of the City Council. That's the kind of internal connections and network, coupled with Fernando Ferrer, and the leadership he's provided on affordable housing. The best model this city has ever seen on affordable housing was articulated last year by Fernando Ferrer. Those connections with the vibrant political leadership in the community can really go to bare fruit for the community.

MODERATOR: How do you think we can not only punish offenders, but better prevent crime, and through rehabilitation and early intervention, prevent people from committing crimes?

Mr. Martinez: This is actually right up my alley because I have a non-profit organization that is this year's Union Square Award recipient for grass-roots activism. Part of what we were doing relates directly on this question. First of all, I've been an opponent of the death penalty. I've been an opponent of the Rockefeller Drug Laws. Part of the organization called Drop the Rock, critical, very important , for criminalizing people for small drug offenses, when we should be giving them the support and access to be able to move themselves off the streets into other places. Our district is right now known for porn shops, power plants and prisons, all on 3rd Avenue. It's a great tour down 3rd Avenue, can't miss em all. From the porn shops to the power plants to the prisons, it's a wonderful, eclectic mix of something horrible. And I want to make sure that we have the cycle that tends to circle in our district, broken. Every ten years it seems like we have a re-emergence of heavy drug use, a re-emergence of prostitution and other things that, and gangs that are coming back right now. We want to make sure, and I want to, as the councilman, make sure that we are providing strong community support, networks for our young people., which means, A) doing aggressive internship programs with the young people in the community, both high school and college age, to make sure that they're going into the community, doing community service. Working, for example, for our seniors, giving our seniors the ability to mentor our young people. But if we don't go into elementary schools with this message, we're going to miss them by the time they're high school students. My non-profit organization is mentioned in the bulletin, and I'm happy for that, is a non-profit organization geared around young artists of color who have the capacity to use art to educate young people. We're doing a national spoken word tour, called "Lyrics on Lockdown", slamming, poetry slamming, the prison industrial complex. We go into prisons, to make sure that when kids get out they have alternatives.

Mr. Rodriguez: The Rockefeller Drug Laws affect communities of color disproportionately, and poor communities generally. I'm totally opposed to them and we need to work to make sure, first and foremost, that our schools have great academic rigor, as a former middle school teacher myself, on the Upper West Side, where I served a mainly Dominican and Mexican population, I see first-hand the proliferation of gang activity even in our middle school. We have a lot of work to do. If elected to city council, what I'd like to do is continue leading by example., I think we need to expand these type of programs so that our young people have places to go. But I'll tell you this, look, government can't solve every problem, its up to each and every one of us to play a role. People have to step up. Instead of talking about it, you have to be about it. That is what, I know my leadership will be about. I'm sure I will have a very busy schedule if elected to City Council, just as I do as assistant an attorney general and president of the school board. But I take the time to ensure that what I talk about is what I am about. And I would hope that young people, young professionals artists and others in the community will do the same. I'll be sure to that one of my staff members, hopefully, if elected, will dedicate their time to expand volunteerism programs in the community.

Ms. Gonzalez: Volunteer work, that's very important, that's one of the things that I really cherish that I've done and I've taught my children. You know why? Prevention starts at birth. We have to bring back preventive / parental skills. We have to empower the PTAs. We have to work with the parents, we have to make sure that these children are beginning and ending in a positive way. We have to work with churches in our community, we have to encourage them to continue the after school programs that they have as well, we need to work with the community and then do more. And it's important that we look at the actions of our children. That we teach them. And I believe in my heart that that's the only way it's going to work. Prevention. Prevention at birth. After school programs, parental skills need to be taught. I've worked with gangs, from the 1970's. I saw a lot of young people die. But I also saw a lot of young people who are today productive people because someone unique did that, a volunteer, a person like myself. So again, prevention begins at home and begins at birth. And let me tell you something, even as a city council person, as an elected person, I will to strengthen those community places, especially the community boards, especially community based programs that continue to serve society. That's what we need to do.

MODERATOR: The other issue in relation to criminal justice is often police community relations. We have two sets of feelings. Some people often feel under served by police departments. And other people are often afraid of the police themselves and won't go out and seek assistance, even when they or their families need it. How can we address it? How can we address the opposite needs within the various communities in the district?

Ms. Gonzalez: First of all, not too long ago I attended a training at Queens Borough College where I was one of the community people chosen to work on this particular workshop, where police officers were able to express themselves, how they felt about the community and how the community and how the community saw them and perceived them. And in turn we were able to express ourselves as to how we saw police officers, and how I was taught as young girl on 54th St., that I didn't have to be afraid of police officers. So its really important that we train people and that we let people know in a community forum that the police are not the enemy, that the police also serve, they're going to do their job and they need to be respected. And now we have more community forums, more people involved where they meet, its police officers and civilians. Its important that we put the two bodies together and its helpful to understand each other. That's what I believe needs to happen. That's what I believe happens in Sunset Park. And we definitely need to look back and say, you know what, we need that police officer on the beat again. We need to be able to have faith and be able to say, you know, there's a little bit of drug dealing going on over there, not to be afraid to report at the block association. So I truly believe that there's two sides to everything and we need to continue to work together and teach each other.

Mr. Rodriguez: The fact is we need more community police, we need police actually preventing crimes as opposed to solving it. It just makes sense. We have too many police officers, unfortunately, who sit behind their desks, and are getting paid to do things that they weren't trained to do. We should get cops out on the beat so that they can participate in the community and understand what the community is so that residents can feel comfortable approaching them and feel supportive. We also need to strengthen the Civilian Complaint Review Board, make sure that the body has teeth, the fact is that's the only body in which people can report police abuse, but unfortunately its been watered down so significantly during the Giuliani administration, that we really need to revisit the composition of the CCRB and ensure that it has teeth, that that body will discipline those police officers, who, unfortunately, do not take their charge seriously enough and respect their community.

Mr. Martinez: Part of the issue is, it'd be amazing if we could actually have police officers, as an entire organization, seeking to prevent crimes, but the reality is they're not in power to prevent crimes. They're there to investigate after the act. And often times the fundamental component of the question is, what happens to you if you are, for example, George Martinez at 16 years old and you did nothing wrong but you are accused of a crime you didn't commit. And so you're laying on the floor in the cell on Rikers Island for five days. A lot our young people in the community are criminalized.

MODERATOR: The next issue is something again that the candidates have talked about, and that is the issue of economic development. Certainly in the district there are many, many opportunities for economic development. There are areas that have significant and longstanding commercial areas we have longstanding factory areas and industrial areas, and we have many organizations whose sole purpose is supporting those organizations. And what we'd like to know is, what is your position for economic development in our community? How would you address the displacement of many manufacturers and other small businesses by rising rent and property value incentives, and luxury property conversions?

Mr. Martinez: It's interesting, over the past few weeks I've gotten calls from people I never would have thought of, people who want to know more about this campaign, developers, bankers, industrialists, all sorts of folks. I'm proud to be participating in the Campaign Finance Board Program, because people can go onto the web site, or call, and figure out who it is that's been contributing to my campaign. That's the first step. Transparency in government and making sure that you are accessible and open to people so that people know that what you're about is very, very important, you need to hold your elected officials accountable, in that respect, so that you know which special interests are basically puppeteering the elected officials. In my case I'm glad that I have a lot of friends who are young attorneys and other friends and go to the CFB program's web site to see whose been contributing to my campaign. With respect to economic development, we need to make sure the community has a voice in the process. There's a great deal of potential. The community in the past, of course, has been duped. And we need to make sure that the next elected official is someone who is open, who is fair, who can be trustworthy, and who participates in a good government program like the CFB program.

Ms. Gonzalez: I just want to say to you that economic development for me, right away, bells go off. During my campaigning a lot of people that have businesses in all different areas, I went to Carroll Gardens, different places, 5th Avenue, the hardware store. Their first question to me was, "My business is really dying, Sarah, what am I going to do.? I tried to get a loan, they won't give me a loan." I think it's really important that we look at that, and if I get into City Council, one of my recommendations would be to try to find institutions and locate these loans that these individuals need. That's really important. And working with community based organizations that are able to work with people to do this. Another area will be that if you do get your businesses up and going, you have job creation, there will be more jobs. And when I think about affordable housing, and developers coming in and giving them that tax break you were talking about earlier, then again we're going to be able to allow that person whose paying $1,500 rent, now they can go shopping with the other $200 and buy their children clothing, so that's going to boost up the economy, I can think of a lot of different ways. I've been working on a plan that will hopefully bring the revitalization of the waterfront, with job creation, in return, will help the economy.

Mr. Martinez: A couple of different points first of all, small businesses employ most of the people in New York City, everyone knows that. As councilman, we're going to create the small business support network, to make sure that our small businesses have the technical assistance in this district to be able to grow, and continue to grow and prosper, which includes making sure that they have access to technical support in terms of online. I see Sunset Park 5th Avenue as Sunset Park U.S.A. an online community. This way we can not only do commerce locally, but we can move our community out. But its amazing to hear that the conversation doesn't go to where it really needs to be. The conversation about economic development, if we're not talking about the waterfront, we're just not talking. And it's amazing that that can be really just overlooked. Right now in Red Hook, and parts of Sunset Park, we have an empowerment zone, which means there is federal and state money, particularly state money, for businesses, like manufacturing and other businesses to stay in the district. Zoning variances are threatening our economic base. Their businesses are ready to move to Mount Vernon, because their no zoning variance threatening up there, and because they also have an empowerment zone. I think we need to make sure that we keep our manufacturing base, and right now, before community board 6, which overlaps our district, there's a proposal to change the Mercedes Benz building on the waterfront and commerce to luxury housing. We're not talking about what's happening in that building, what's happening with the Fairway last year, when I opposed Councilman Rodriguez, we're just not talking about the conversation and I'm directly opposed to this zoning variance, that's going to whittle away our economic base.

MODERATOR: I think the other side of the coin, when it comes to economic development, is really about connecting folks who need jobs to jobs. We have about a 20 percent unemployment rate in the district, which obviously is higher than other parts of New York City. And what would you do as a city council person so that the residents in the district would take advantage of the economic development programs so that they could find good jobs, hopefully living wage jobs?

Ms. Gonzalez: I think about that fact that there are a lot of people that lost jobs because of 9/11, but even prior to that, there were people who just did not have the appropriate training. So I would like to look at re-training. Never mind beginners, just re-training people that really need to learn technology, to be under a vessel that they can be able to be marketable. That's very important. We need to look at that. Also with that I would consider education, dealing with young people, getting them to environments where they can finish school, so that we don't have this problem ten years from now, that's another area we need to look at. But especially with the businesses, I always go back to the businesses if we could up the businesses, we are going to bring more jobs to our district, the entire district.

Mr. Rodriguez: A lot of people want to use catch phrases like a "working waterfront". The fact is that if there is a working waterfront, and the people in that community can't work in the jobs that are being created, then its not working for us. And the first thing we need to make sure is that the employers who come into the area make a commitment to either employ people in the community for jobs, or, if there's a disconnect with respect to skill sets, that they have apprenticeship programs so that people from our communities can have access to those jobs sooner rather than later. That's very important, and that's very key. A working waterfront without our people working I those jobs makes no sense. Also, in the City Council, I'll make sure to tackle the issue of affirmative action in minority contracting. The fact is that during the Giuliani administration the affirmative action program for minority contractors was, not only dwindled, but was totally eradicated. It was eradicated, and its something that we need to work to rebuild. The fact is that women owned and minority owned businesses need to have a fair share of the jobs that are out there in city government. So, again, it will be a two-pronged approach one making sure that government is responsive to the needs for jobs in our communities, and two, that the private sector employers that come into our community actually employ the people in our community, period.

Mr. Martinez: Lets take a tour of Red Hook. Lets start down at Red Hook and work our way up. The reality is that we have a working waterfront. The reality is there are organizations like the South Brooklyn Local Development Corp. that actively place people in jobs within the district. The reality is that most big businesses, corporations, like manufacturing jobs, transportation jobs, Snapple, for example, if you drink Snapple anywhere in Brooklyn, it was delivered from Red Hook. The reality is most of these businesses already hire locally. Last year, when I challenged the former councilman Rodriguez, I stood toe to toe, on opposite sides of one singular issue. There were many issues, but there was one that was pivotal, bringing 300 jobs, union, living wage paying jobs to Red Hook, to our waterfront. Now if you have waterfront that has jobs with public access, that's a working waterfront. That's going to happen in the next year and a half. We also, part of what you do is, yeah, well, they're going to come in and they're going to tell you we have commitments on the table, on the public record, cause we were at the borough board meetings, we were at the city planning meetings, we were there, I was there testifying, we have commitments to hire, initially, off the bat, 50 percent of the employees from the neighborhood, moving to 75 percent moving to management level positions. That's the sort of working waterfront that I envision, and that's the sort of working waterfront that people in the district want. We don't want the revitalization of third Avenue when it means porn shops and power plants. That's not the jobs we need. We have already been on that front line and we're going to continue doing it.

--Posted 11/04/02

 








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