We received a larger than normal amount of feedback from our May edition. We published much of it in the paper. Here is what we published:
Thinks we’re peachy keen!
Hi – I just wanted to say thank you so much for the great articles –in this issue in particular…which deal with some very tough and contentious neighborhood issues. For those of us concerned about the CDF, and all of the weird and underhanded dealings…it’s appreciated to have everything laid out in an understandable, cohesive way. It took guts to do,…and we can’t thank you enough!! Thanks. Your current issue is fantastic Proud of you guys. Great newspaper. – Alexandra Grablewski
Welcome back library!
On October 29, 2012 Red Hook had suffered a very bad Hurricane called Sandy, and the storm itself wasn’t long at all but the aftermath felt like we were just went through a boxing match with this Hurricane Sandy and Sandy was left standing. We lost a lot in Red Hook and some of the places were Fairway, a senior center and the Red Hook Library.
When the doors of the Red Hook Library was closed for months it felt like Red Hook had a big frown on its face and like crying for there wasn’t any life in the air. Red Hook isn’t a big area in the first place to do things and just to stay out of harms way, and there also isn’t too many places one can go to and make bonds with people and ask the person by name for help instead of saying excuse me but can you please help me, but in the Red Hook Library one can find all of that you can make bonds with the librarians and they will help you in any assignment you might have or if you have paper work or books you might need to look up they are there to help you and after while the Red Hook Library really starts to feel like your home away from home.
When the library was closed and we had the mobile van come around I tried my best to hand out flyers and get the word out about what’s going on with the library. Now that the doors are open again you can feel and see a difference in Red Hook for you can see that Red Hook is starting to smile again for we are starting to come alive again better and stronger and you can feel it for the air is starting to feel friendlier again and not so fridget and scared for there is nothing like having the Red Hook Library open and striving to serve the community once again. – Lisa Gonzalez
No NY Times
You know you’ve done something write [sic] when the local paper comes after you for PRODUCING A PLAY. I guess I can join the ranks of every artist I’ve ever respected for creating controversy. What was it Albert Einstein said about certain spirits encountering violent opposition from mediocre minds. Not saying I’m so great a spirit (probably fishing). The Red Hook Star-Revue is no New York Times and for their questionable journalistic practices are not anyone’s first choice for news. I’m posting this to help them out. From what I gather, reposting this may actually be doubling their circulation. I totally understand the outrage at George and Kimberly and it’s upsetting to feel like I am suddenly forced into position against people in my community. I have to remind myself that it’s not so much that they are behaving in a way I consider foolish, it’s that George is intentionally sending a message through his paper that anyone who disagrees with him will become an target and that he fully intends to use his privileged position as owner of a newspaper (however questionable that status of that paper may be amongst some people now) to defame them. I don’t need a pity party or anything like that, but to think that the time I could be working on something to benefit my community—an event that brings people together, reading up on an issue that impacts my neighbors, offering free workshops for community youth—I’m spending trying to put out fires that George has been carelessly starting in a neighborhood that has enough fires to put out.
It just seems so selfish an anti-community. We have enough people crapping on us. Really George Fiala and Kimberly Price and Red Hook Star-Revue…enough!
I’m also aware that sometimes people take pleasure in causing strife and getting to be at the center of something that otherwise they wouldn’t be able to play any role in or effect in any way. I’m happy to move on if you guys are. Reg Flowers
Greetings, I’d like to try to clarify some of the misinformation in The Red Hook Star Revue’s article “GBX’s win at all cost strategy backfires”, that to me seems like the result of irresponsible and lazy journalism.
Before The Red Hook Star Revue or anyone else labels me as a shadowy operative of some vested interest, let me first make it clear where I stand on the Gowanus Bay Terminal (GBX) controversy; I am not a member of No Toxic Red Hook, nor am I with the GBX camp. To be very short, although I am against the creation of a Confined Disposal Facility (CDF) in Red Hook, I was also quickly turned off by the knee-jerk NIMBY-ism I sensed from many who opposed it.
Now that that is out of the way, I am writing to address the insinuation made by The Red Hook Star Revue that Reg Flowers has been secretly working for Quadrozzi to galvanize support for the “Red Hook Option.” As your main evidence for this claim, you present RedHookVision.com, a website that Reg Flowers created in the Spring of 2012, not long after folks in the neighborhood first began to get wind of the possibility that Quadrozzi could fill in some of the underwater land with the material the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would be dredging from the canal.
I first found out about the GBX and their plans for the dredged material in the Spring of 2012 through Occupy Red Hook. I and other group members, although we knew few details about the plan at that point, thought it seemed like an excellent opportunity for ourselves and other community members to engage in a visioning project of what our waterfront might be used for. It is very important to note here is that it was understood (by members of Occupy Red Hook, at least), that Quadrozzi was in support of a participatory process to guide the decision of what would be done with this space regardless of whether or not he received the dredged material to fill in his underwater property.
During that spring, a number of community leaders, some of whom were members of Occupy Red Hook, were approached by GBX and told about their hopes for the space. Some shared with us what they knew, but aside from mentioning a possible park and some creative uses for Quadrozzi’s ship, the M/V LouJaine, there wasn’t much detail. This was long before the EPA’s plan was released so by that point we had very little understanding of what was actually being proposed. Although we had little information about the plan at the time, we thought it would be beneficial for us to start to brainstorm ideas for this space (with or without a Confined Disposal Facility), and to use that discussion as a catalyst for folks in the community to think about what they would like for the future for Red Hook as a whole. We imagined by being proactive about this visioning process, we might be able to develop some interesting and thoughtful proposals that we could eventually bring to the table down the road.
As a result of those discussions, Reg Flowers created the RedHookVision website, which he hoped would become a place where visions for Red Hook’s waterfront might be shared. Additionally, I facilitated an Occupy Red Hook meeting on July 5th, 2012, during which we discussed the Gowanus Bay Terminal. Both Matt Graber and Abby Savitch-Lew of The Red Hook Star Revue were in attendance, and the majority of the meeting involved Graber and Savitch-Lew answering our questions about the EPA’s plan and GBX’s hopes. Not long after that meeting, Occupy Red Hook dissolved, and with it our plans for developing ideas for this waterfront space. As one can easily see from visiting the Red Hook Vision website, not much has changed on it since it was first created. For instance, the most recent letter posted on the website from the EPA on the status of the project is dated May 2, 2012.
The point is that the creation of the RedHookVision website and Occupy Red Hook’s visioning discussions were not intended to galvanize support for or against the “Red Hook Option,” nor were they coordinated with the folks from GBX. They were guided by our shared belief that community members should have a voice in the direction of their neighborhood’s development, and our understanding that GBX—with or without a CDF—was an opportunity to engage community members in what the renowned activist and philosopher Grace Lee Boggs calls “visionary organizing.”
The Red Hook Star Revue also claims that the April 16th community meeting, held by Reg, was an underhanded ploy to garner support for the “Red Hook Option.” This is, at best, a misguided conclusion based on flimsy evidence. As anyone could clearly observe at any of the community meetings regarding the EPA plan, there was an incredible amount of misunderstanding of the proposal due to misinformation. For instance, it was clear that many people were unaware that the EPA’s proposal included not only the option of a confined disposal facility on Quadrozzi’s property, but also included a completely separate option of a temporary dewatering plant along the Red Hook stretch of the canal. The April 16th community meeting was designed to be an opportunity for folks to ask questions and get clarification on such issues before the end of the comment period.
If anyone knows Reg or has seen him facilitate a community meeting, they know how important it is to him as a facilitator that as many voices are heard as possible. The Red Hook Star Review asserts that Reg Flowers was left unsmiling due to the many comments in opposition to the Red Hook Option. I, too, was also left unsmiling, as were many others I spoke to after that meeting. This was not so much due to the content of what people actually said, but due to people’s behavior. I, for one, was thoroughly disgusted by what I saw at that meeting at South Brooklyn High School; the disrespect towards the facilitator, to the representatives of the EPA, and to people whose viewpoints went counter to the majority in the room, was immature and shameful at best. Is it really a surprise that the facilitator was left unsmiling after being shouted down for trying to follow some sort of fair process? Or after individuals managed to jump the stack of folks waiting to speak, just because they were the loudest and most relentlessly obnoxious?
Additionally, The Red Hook Star Revue suggests that the Falconworks production of Henrik Ibsen’s “Enemy of the People” (of which I was a part) was just another ploy by Reg and Quadrozzi to promote the “Red Hook Option.” If anyone from the Red Hook Star Revue had actually come to see the play, they would have found that the play was not in any way presented as being in support or against the “Red Hook Option.” Amongst the cast there was a diversity of viewpoints regarding the EPA proposal and the “Red Hook Option,” and judging from what I heard during the talk-backs following each performance, it was not received by audience members as being clearly in favor of any particular side. For me at least, the play was more a commentary on how authority, fear, and ignorance so often silence minority viewpoints, prevent important truths from being brought to light, and shut down dialogue. The play, being on Quadrozzi’s property, also provided an opportunity for folks from the community to engage with this space in a way few had been unable to do previously.
I applaud journalists who call out people for being dishonest, who uncover hidden truths, and who confront those in power. Unfortunately, that’s not what the Red Hook Star Revue did in this case; it presented a misleading case against an individual based upon hunches, not actual evidence. That is not journalism. It makes me wonder if the Red Hook Star Revue ever asked for a comment from Reg Flowers following that meeting or regarding the RedHookVision website.
Just like Hector Amistad, the editor of The People’s Messenger in the Falconworks version of Enemy of the People, The Red Hook Star Revue’s behavior has been “damnably shameful.” Oh that’s right, I forgot—you didn’t come to see the play. Warm regards – Corbin Laedlein
Editor’s note – Our regular theater reviewer, Brian Clancy not only was at a performance but spoke to Mr. Flowers afterwards, identifying himself as a reviewer for the paper. His review appears this issue.
Response from Occupier
I was at the Occupy Red Hook meeting you mentioned. I recall a discussion about possible uses for a community shared space, a space that could hold a theater and a catering hall. I was told there might be room for ‘experimental’ housing. Now, I know Falconworks could benefit from a theater, and some of their friends (our neighbors) are caterers, and at the time I was living in an ‘experimental’ structure… So it did seem fishy to me. I didn’t think freedom to continue squatting on a brown field was much incentive to join their apparent view point. .. And between that and the group’s unwillingness to associate with other occupiers, as well ORHs tendency to question me as a potential bomb thrower, I left. ORH had two more meetings.
I haven’t picked up the paper yet, but I would suggest that the core group of ORH was always a stalking horse for the establishment. Reg first and foremost, as he was the RHI employee to start ORH and record the meetings, and underline projects without group consensus, and divvy out punishment for opposition. And not too long ago, my last communication with the group was an invitation for me commit a crime that I had avoided and still avoid, even though I’ve been severely underemployed and am homeless… It’s business as usual, and that’s why I speak out from time to time. That’s also why I sleep on streets with cameras.
Just got back last night and read the article. It doesn’t mention you [Corbin]. Why you’re tying yourself to jerks I have never understood. You could be doing so much more. Either way, what I said still stands, even if it doesn’t appear on fb open to everyone. Furthermore, Reg’s silkscreen guy threatened me the other day, and then again. Reg’s groupies at Hope & Anchor still have me banned for opposition, and I think the case the paper put forth was right on! Shadowy stuff is going on. I say. Again, you can be better than that.
That article was right. Organizers are not always doing so for the good of the community… And I had expected better from you all. – Tucker Sabath
They were late to the game because they realized too late that the “Back” now has political power that threatens their strangle hold on the neighborhood. Their opposition to the CDF has nothing to do with the project itself, and everything to do with a knee-jerk reaction to realizing that there are other residents of Red Hook getting things done without them. It’s really sad that Ray Hall and his cronies chose to play the “race card” on this one. – FrontBackWhoCares
Missed the real story
I’m disheartened that the reporter of this article chose to focus on the quarrels between local personalities instead of reporting on the consequences of the EPA’s full plan for the Red Hook portion of the Gowanus clean up. I would have hoped to read a report by the Star-Revue detailing the numerous health and environmental risks posed by both the CDF and the dewatering facility (the latter of which will be constructed in Red Hook since we unwisely spent the bulk of EPA meetings only speaking out against the CDF). The Star-Revue missed the real story here, and sadly, it looks as though Red Hook will be the site of yet another environmental injustice. – C.Nash
Editor’s note – We wrote an editorial that mentioned many of the environmental points back in our March 27th issue. It can be seen on our blog: http://www.redhookstar.wordpress.com. Just click on the Gowanus Canal category.
Missed the point?
Finally the Red Hook Star Review is being honest that the real opposition to the CDF was that it would benefit John Quadrozzi, not that it is toxic. If we had started with this conversation in the first place, we might have had some very different community meetings. Now that the comment period is over, this article calls the mud at the bottom of the Gowanus a “public good” and compares the potential landfill that would come of it to the landfill at Battery Park City (a place I hate, but that’s a different story).
The issue of whether this landfill should benefit a private citizen and how that would work – what limits there should be on the use of that land, for example – were never fully discussed. How we as a community could possibly benefit from the project was never discussed because we acted as if the EPA was trying to take advantage of us rather than negotiating with them to get what would benefit the community most.
Reg Flowers is now publicly insulted because he refused to take a stand against the CDF. He never once advocated for or against it, either. Reg Flowers, a person who has devoted his life to facilitating dialogue is called out for not taking a side. It’s just stunning that everyone has missed the point.
I feel strongly that our community has been manipulated into thinking they are standing up to pollution. CDF or no CDF, that is not a step forward for Red Hook.
Should you care to take a stand against pollution in Red Hook, I suggest you start with http://aviewfromthehook.blogspot.com/ and complain to the city that the Port Authority has not converted the pier 11 to a cold ironing port yet.
Another step would be to ask the EPA, most effective agency for remediating toxic material, to clean the ballfields and Valentino pier of PCPs and lead. Had we all gone into this with clear and open minds, we might have found a way to get a new public park and get the EPA to do both those things. Instead, some of the most devoted and civic-minded citizens of Red Hook thought it was their civic duty to go yell at the EPA.- Stephanie Batchelder
Editor’s Note – The EPA is neutral as to whether the CDF is built or not. In fact, as mentioned in the article, they almost wish they hadn’t brought it up. It was always just an option, subject to community approval.
Just an honest guy
Funny how you give props to Reg Flowers for the wonderful work he’s done with youth and Red Hook, then back hand him again with your claims he’s choosing sides. Reg is an honest person who works hard to do good for everyone. Crossing the aisle to get to know the other side and their intention, and open the conversation up more is not choosing sides. Shame on you, once again.
You may not have chosen the players, but you chose your words and pinned those words against someone who’s been a strong supporter of both his community and of your paper. You can say you’re hopeful for all the good things Reg is wanting to do… but I don’t see any sort of apology or recognition for the foul light you tried to shine on him. Reg is fortunate to have many friends and neighbors who saw through it, but he’s still owed an apology by your newspaper.- Allison
CDF Reduces Pollution
The intent of the CDS [sic] was first most about environment and health. Keeping local dredged material local substantially reduces the carbon foot print for the work and that is good for Red Hook residents. Given the impact of climate change on Red Hook, that alone is a significant thing.
And the community can only direct a plan if they participate. The EPA presented this plan in Red Hook more than a year ago. It presented it to the CAG in 2010. The Army Corp had an earlier plan for a CDF in the 4th st turning basin.
But at a recent CAG meeting, a gentleman from NJ showed up, eager to have the Gowanus dredge material. It’s a free give away to someone, but it just won’t be to anyone undertaking any economic activity in Red Hook. – Go Figure
An appalling display of the most jaundiced of “journalism”…
Weaving facts and myth to engage in an deceitful ad hominem personal attack on someone who contributes so much to our community is really reprehensible….
I don’t suppose the Star-Revue actually had the courage to attend the production, any more than they had the courage to actually speak to Reg, or attempt to verify any of their misinformation. Too bad, something might have been learned….
I really reject the personal level that much of this CDF conversation has sunk to, and think its [sic] really sad when we can’t engage in civil discourse, but for the “press” to do the same really is disgusting.
I hope no one is fooled by thinking this article is about the EPA issues we are dealing with, when it is really about character assassination. Shameful!
Reg, the show was spectacular, and your ongoing contribution to the community is profound. Please do not be discouraged by the ignorance and hate, those that love and appreciate you far outnumber the detractors! – Monica Byrne
No Opinions… Please!
Oy vey, Kimberly is on some high horse writing editorials now.
She states “Since Sandy and before, Red Hook speaks with one voice”
For one thing, WRONG. No community speaks with one voice. It is the diversity of voices that makes up a neighborhood. What’s more, I don’t believe Kimberly actually lives in Red Hook. She had the balls to write a response to a NY Times piece right after Sandy. She criticized them for using the term “victim,” saying that we are not victims, but survivors. Hell, I’ll call myself a victim! The Star Revue building had power and heat, yet sat unused after the storm. You’d think they could have offered the place for people to warm up or even sleep there. I know this because I went up there to see if they could pay me for writing for them, and they tried to weasel their way out of it.
Ok- got a little off topic, but I’m glad Reg finally outed these jerks. – Mollie Dash
Editor’s note – While the two co-publishers are like-minded on this particular issue, the editorial in question was written by reporter George Fiala
On to our LICH coverage
Amazing piece of work that should be sent to every major news outlet in this city! Congratulations & thank you to Ms. Kimberly Gail Price! – Julie
SUNY’s Spending Spree
In explaining why brand new computers delivered to LICH where immediately diverted to Downstate, SUNY spokesperson Steve Greenburg says that “anything that is part of LICH belongs to SUNY.” EXCEPT the bill to pay for it. That belongs to LICH even though Downstate got the goods. It’s as if Downstate stole LICH’s credit card & is on a spending spree for themselves running up the bill that LICH has to pay. Did he mention that over $3 mil worth of meds were discovered to have been to charged to LICH – but were meds that are not even used at LICH? It was Downstate’s order for their pharmacy & it was charged to LICH. How many more million$ have been padded onto LICH’s expense spread sheets to make it look like its LICH that is the one bleeding money? – Nic
Any politicians or leaders hiding behind such an unscrupulous and scandalous act will sooner or later regret this. It will be better for them and for Brooklynites to save LICH now. – May Ng