The MANY Fools of East New York!
So many fools live in the 42nd Council District. As you read the below post, you must keep in mind today’s date is April 1st. You’ll understand it better. It's very long but blame that on the subject not the writer. And please...don’t read the below alone. It pretty scary, and may damage you worse than watching Katie Couric's interview with Sarah Palin.Remind yourself after each paragraph that this is not real, much like these fools thought, so many years ago.
It’s 2002 all over again, and Councilman Barron has just taken office. Realizing that his district is in more crises than can be counted, he throws his support behind newly minted Council Speaker Gifford. He also sits down with his colleagues that are part of the Brooklyn delegation, and, using techniques that he taught countless others in his “Dynamics of Leadership”, forges a powerful coalition between the council members of east and central Brooklyn, focusing on the common issues and how much they can accomplish together through a united front. Barron also reaches out to other colleagues from the other boroughs to insure that east and central Brooklyn’s priorities are respected and that equal respect will be show for their priorities in return.
Barron emerges as the leader of this coalition, and gets to work on issues pressing his district.
One of the most pressing issues of Barron’s district is the conditions of the busy streets, avenues, and boulevards of the area. They're a crumbling mess. DOT lays a thin layer of asphalt over the sinkholes and major indentations, only to make matters worse. Barron realizes that the asphalt allocation formula that the DOT uses is a joke, but before going after the DOT on this issue, he calls his council coalition together to see if they share common cause. They do, so they meet with the Speaker fight for capital funds to do the major reconstruction. They set up a plan to have the major avenues repaired in 4-6 years, while working on legislation that forces more accountability from the DOT. Barron is cheered in the chambers for championing this cause.
Housing and Economic Development
Barron, recognizing that he wields tremendous influence and control over land use, hosts a community development roundtable. He invites community development corporations from the entire district, locks himself in a room with them and states, “We’re not leaving this room until we create a development strategy that creates affordable housing, new commercial and retail strips, and respect for the few green spaces we have in the district. I won’t interfere with your work as long as you follow two simple rules: No grandstanding and no stonewalling. Check your egos at the door!”
So Barron does exactly that; he locks the door but sits outside the room because he understands that although he knows absolutely nothing about community development, he did what a true leader does: gets the best minds of the community on that subject together and uses the influence of his office to get them to work under a single agenda. He learned that part of being a leader in the "Dynamics of Leadership" workshop that he himself does.
The end result is astonishing. The developers craft a makeshift plan that, if implemented properly with support on the city, state, and federal levels, can create thousands of new, affordable houses and apartments. It will also create thousands of new jobs, thanks to a smart plan of that includes new retail and commercial strips along the avenues that are scheduled for reconstruction. But Barron sweats a bit, knowing that his past relationships with state and federal counterparts have been contentious (at best).
Barron calls his fellow elected officials in the state and federal branches of government. He hosts a breakfast and invites the press. He openly apologizes for past differences and humbly asks for their assistance to implement the developer’s plans. He knows that true leadership is service, thanks to "They Dynamics of Leadership" business he started. He knows that the developers’ workplan is massive, even lofty, and needs major dollars that can only come from the state and federal budgets. After a few compromises with these state and federal reps, they do a joint press conference announcing support for the workplan. He doesn't mind the compromises because that's what good leaders do, they don't expect things to be "my way or the highway" but instead know they have to give to get.
Green space is a premium in the 42nd district, and all of them are over utilized. His predecessor, former Councilwoman Priscilla Wooten, crossed party lines to secure capital funds for the renovation of Gershwin Park. As the renovation gets underway, a woman approaches him and says, “Thank you Charles Barron for getting the money to fix this park. I’ve been coming here for years and can’t wait to see it fixed up right!”
Barron kindly corrects the woman, saying, “Ma’am, I wish I could take credit for this, but the funds were secured by the previous council member, Priscilla Wooten. But you can be sure that, on my watch, I’ll keep fighting for better green space and funds to keep this park looking good for years to come.”
As Barron walks away he frowns and thinks to himself, “That was pretty strange, someone giving me credit for something I didn’t do. What kind of a person do my constituents think I am?”
He walks back to his office and thinks to himself, “We should have a contest to rename that park. I’ll use my newsletter and community meetings to promote the contest, and offer some kind of prize. We can get the top five names and let the whole district vote. That sure is better than me picking the first name that comes to mind. I’m a public servant, not big daddy Barron.”
The new retail strips are in place and Barron worked closely with the city’s Department of Small Business Services to provide training and technical assistance to the owners, as well as leveraging discretionary funds to create a media campaign whose slogan “Hire local, Hire ENY!” begins to catch on. He once again taps into his “Dynamics of Leadership” company-founder training to create a strategy to address a potential local injustice.
First he uses the power of his district newsletter to highlight the new businesses that are hiring from the neighborhood, asking his constituents to support them because they believe in keeping dollars in the community. Next, he uses his organizing skills to stage a massive protest at several of the larger new businesses that have brought in outsiders for their highest paying jobs. The media gets wind of this, giving Barron full court press, and the story has legs for several days. The medium and small sized new businesses, fearing they’ll be next, quickly revamp their hiring and begin to hire locally.
Crime and Policing
While Barron has been at work trying to fix roads and create new homes, businesses, and jobs, the crime rate has been dropping in the district, thanks to the work of the NYPD, District Attorney and US Attorney’s office, and hard working citizens of the area. Barron knows that good community-police relationships are essential to any community’s well-being, but in the post-9/11 climate he knows that community policing is out the door in favor of more aggressive, invasive police tactics. He recognizes that he is a sole voice, so he once again taps into the powerful relationships of the city council, relationships that he worked hard on to forge and maintain, to sponsor legislation that does three things:
Barron calls a press conference in front of the local police precinct openly declaring a partnership with local police. In his official press statement, he says, “As an elected official it would be irresponsible of me to vilify instead of partnering with the police. It boils down to this: Imagine someone breaking into your home trying to do you harm. When you call 9-1-1 you need to do it with complete confidence that you want the police to come quickly and help you. As a public figure I fully understand that if I don’t partner with the police and attack them instead, you might hesitate to make that phone call to them when you need them. Surely I don’t want that on my conscious! I’ll work closely with the commanding officer to weed out the bad apples in the police department so that you can pick up your phone and call for help with the complete confidence that the police are there to protect and serve you. I want you to make that phone call!”
Barron, working with groups from all over including those representing African nations, gets a call asking if he would sponsor a reception in the chambers for a head of state that believes strongly in Africa for Africans. Barron, the smart fellow that he is, calls Amnesty International, other groups, causes, persons, and even does a Google search on the man. It turns out this head of state is a known dictator and murderer. The esteemed councilman is horrified when he reads about the human rights atrocities done by this so-called leader, and he sure knows what it means to be a leader, because he is the president and founder of the Dynamics of Leadership.
He gets up in front of his colleagues and says, “my friends and fellow council members, a true leader is one that embraces the call of service. I was called by a head of state recently to sponsor him in our chambers. I’m here today to tell you that I’ll be happy to do that, WHEN HELL FREEZES OVER! Instead, I call upon you all today to CONDEMN this man for his atrocities, to vote unanimously regardless of your color or creed, as some things in life are more important. We are a country founded on life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Let us also pray for those that have lost their lives as a result of this man, and let us pass a resolution stating that we wish the US Senate and House of Representatives, whom we value as esteemed colleagues, to pass a similar resolution.”
Barron, as chair of the Higher Education committee, works with his committee to leverage the powerful relationships he’s established on the state and federal levels to secure capital funds to build a shiny new CUNY school right in his district, on land reclaimed from the old landfills and swamps. He works closely with the CUNY board of trustees to insure that underprivileged youth of his area are given their fair share of seats at CUNY schools, and as for admissions into the new CUNY school, they’re given preferential treatment, based solely on zip codes. Barron, at a joint press conference with the CUNY trustees, states, “East New York’s community district has the highest percentage of persons under the age of 18 than any other community district in the city. That means thousands of persons come of age every year in my district, and they should not have to travel miles and miles away to attend college. We’ve reconstructed our roads, built new houses and businesses. Now it’s time for East New York to provide higher education opportunities for these young adults to see them excel.”
Speaking of youth services, Barron now works closely with the DYCD and the Parks Department to create an East New York Recreational Center, similar to the Brownsville Recreational Center and others like it around the city. The facility is built on the site formerly known as the Schwartz Center, which before that was a traffic court building. The building was almost considered as a police training facility since it was city-owned, but Barron, realizing that the city was in the best position to address this issue, worked closely with the Bloomberg administration and his colleagues in the surrounding council districts to find a more suitable place for the police to do its work than a decrepit money pit requiring millions of tax-payer dollars just to keep the roof from caving in on the young police trainees.
It’s 2008 and it’s a whopper of an election year. The country is on the verge of electing its first African-American president. In his endorsement speech, Barron says, “If you vote for Barrack Obama, vote for him because he stands for the best ideals of an enlightened modern society. Vote for him because he is smart and knowledgeable and a scholar in his own right. Vote for him because no matter what the race, religion, ethnicity, gender, age, or sexual preference, he inspires hope, and makes us proud to be an American in a world that has, under the Bush administration, turned against us. Vote for him because of these and many other inspirational reasons, but do not vote for him simply because he is the black candidate. Vote for him because he is the best candidate.”
After the event, when approached by congressional candidate Kevin Powell for an endorsement, he’s overheard by the press saying, “WHAT??? Are you kidding me? You’re a woman beater! What am I saying to the women of my district by endorsing you? Like I truly give a damn if all these celebrities endorsed you! They don’t live in my district, and they don’t speak for the women in my district. You are not leadership material, and I know what a leader is because I’m the President and CEO of the Dynamics of Leadership. Get lost!”
Meanwhile, during the months leading up to the general election, Barron gets wind of a plot by the mayor to push through an extension of term limits. The excuse given by the mayor is the stewardship needed to get through the fiscal storm engulfing the city, an argument that no one buys. Barron votes “no” but unfortunately the extension of term limits succeeds. Barron, disgusted, decides not to run for a third term, stating, “the voters of the city said YES to term limits. Who am I to go against the will of the voters? But the resolution did pass and yes, I have the opportunity to run for the third term, but I refuse to. You see, I’m a real leader and the best leaders are servants to their people, not the other way around. I learned that in the Dynamics of Leadership, the company I founded and am president of.”
A few months later, as the citywide races heat up, one race in particular catches the attention of some people, because, as with many candidates, this candidate is featuring his family in all his ads and TV commercials. The problem for some people is that the candidate is white, his wife is black, and his children are mulatto. Barron, appearing before a local church at Sunday service, speaks about the importance of civic participation, saying, “Regardless of who you’re going to vote for, just make sure you VOTE. That is the most important thing. The more we vote, the more things change for the better.”
A young man stops him after the service and says, “there were a thousand people attending that service. You had a chance to SLAM that white candidate for showing his black wife and kids in his ads. Why didn’t you say anything? What kind of black man are you??????”
Barron is offended, but stays calm and tells the young man, “Love is colorblind. Focus on what he can do, not what color each member of his family is. Look around you, young brother! We still have big problems to fix, and instead of wanting me to address those problems you want to focus on something as silly as a white guy that married a black woman? That’s not leadership and I should know, I’m president and founder of the Dynamics of Leadership.”
The pastor, inspired by Barron’s words to the congregation and also hearing about his caring reprimand to the young brother, invites the councilman back, saying, “when elected officials use the pulpit to promote community empowerment and not self-serving agendas, that’s a true leader, and you embody what we stand for. You’re welcome back to speak to the congregation any time you want, especially Sundays! That’s when you can reach the most people to take a stand against injustice and for empowerment. Say, Councilman, if you don't mind me asking, where did you learn to be such a good leader?”
Barron of course tells him of the Dynamics of Leadership.
Your spouse wakes you up. You were asleep the whole time and had been screaming, to boot. It was a nightmare, like the kind you remember from the old Twilight Zone episodes, showing you a window into the world that could have been had you only done something different!
But none of the above is based on reality, other than the Dynamics of Leadership part. Here’s the reality:
Does Barron understand how severely he’s damaged the community? Does he even care that it may take over a decade to undo the harm he’s caused?
Today, on April Fools Day, let’s remember that those in the 42nd council district that keep voting to keep this idiot in office are the true fools. Take a bow for your contribution to the community.
Wiping away the bulls—t of the community
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