Everyday People's Last Hope

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[Word On The Street]


Craig Schley, executive director of VOTE (Voices of the Everyday) PEOPLE has been politically minded, since elementary school, where he was a clear minority and first began to understand how majority rules.

Schley is putting his majority rule understanding to good use in attempting to block the rezoning of 125th Street, which was thought to be all but over with the City Counsel voting 47 to 2 in favor of rezoning last week.

As a one-time political strategist for Felipe Luciano, who was one the original young lords and the last poets, Schley and VOTE PEOPLE pursued a legal strategy which still has a fighting chance. Others have sought to stop the rezoning by street protests and meetings where Harlemites merely vented frustration.

At about 4pm on Tuesday, April 30 VOTE PEOPLE filed a lawsuit in Manhattan Supreme Court -docket no. 106025/08- and an application for a temporary restraining order attempting to either prevent or prohibit the effect of the City Council's vote.

The next day at 9:30 a.m., a few hours before the Council vote, State Supreme Court Judge Nicholas Figueroa heard and denied arguments from special counsel Michael S. Hiller of Weiss & Hiller. Judge Figueroa's decision was not in writing at press time.

Hiller argued that community boards 10 and 11 never gave any notice whatsoever to local residents and that community board 9 gave notice, but failed to list rezoning as an agenda item.

Although the City claimed it had done "extensive public outreach," Hiller, after the proceeding, pointed out that the City Law Department never denied that the community boards 10 and 11 gave no notice and that community board 9 never listed rezoning as an agenda item on the notice it did give.

Judge Figueroa did ask attorney Hiller if he had "seen the notice." The notice was not produced by either side.

In response to Hiller's myriad of criticisms, the City Law Department said mailings are required "only for property acquisitions." The City claimed that there were numerous meetings and hearings.

However, Hiller, after the proceeding, pointed out that "if a few people show up at a meeting, that doesn't mean that the vast majority had notice."

Perhaps indicating the City's true secretive spirit, Hiller noted that after failing to give notice and holding a hearing, community board 9 then sent letters to businesses saying "You're out of business."

The City's proposal uses what is called the Area Median Income (ami) to calculate that 1,785, of 3,858, units would be affordable, however VOTE PEOPLE's calculations, using HUD's ami  for New York City, landed the ami calculation to be roughly $71,300.

A calculation by zip code instead of by City, could yield area median incomes to be as low as $17,000. The City's rezoning plan never defined whose ami it intends to use, or how it intends to calculate the ami. So the question remains; affordable to whom?

After the proceeding, VOTE PEOPLE filed an appeal of Judge Figueroa's denial of the temporary restraining Order.

Final papers are scheduled to be filed Tuesday, May 6 in the Appellate Division. The Appellate Division, if papers are filed on schedule, will probably decide the issue by Wednesday.


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Also visit out sister publications Harlem Business News www.harlembusinessnews.com publications and The Groove Music magazine www.thegroovemag.com


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