Not since Robert Moses planned to construct a highway through the Greenwich Village has this special part of Manhattan been under so much threat.
Approximately 500 activists and residents of Greenwich Village turned out for a protest against the destructive expansion plans by New York University and other corrupt real estate developers -- and against their political enabler, New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn. Activists were getting ready to attend a Community Board 2 meeting, which was holding its final public hearing about NYU’s over-development plans. Speaker Quinn, in part, decides who serves on Community Board 2.
The constant over-development of Greenwich Village is uniting community members against the political enablers of corrupt real estate developers. This year alone saw a controversial application by the Rudin family to convert St. Vincent’s Hospital into a mega billion-dollar luxury condo and townhouse complex with no allocation for affordable housing. Now comes NYU, with its own irresponsible expansion plans that promise to shred the fabric of the fragile community feeling in Greenwich Village.
The hundreds of people who stood in line to get into the Community Board 2 meeting expressed support for the campaign to vote Speaker Quinn out of office. Activists distributed hundreds of flyers, until the entire supply of flyers was exhausted. Many people asked for additional flyers to distribute to their friends.
The type of people who attend community board meetings are politically aware, and it is the politically aware voter, who understands why Speaker Quinn must be voted out of public office. When asked after the protest whether the anti-Quinn activists had converted many people, one of the organisers remarked, "We didn't have to try too hard to deliver our message tonight, because the people we spoke with were already on our side. I think we energized them to spread the word about Christine Quinn and provided them with information to help them expose her corrupt support of real estate developers, like the Rudin family and NYU."
It is not just residents, who oppose the reckless NYU expansion plans, but also students, who fear that the billion-dollar expansion budget would result in a vicious cycle of tuition hikes, which, in turn, would lead to higher student loan burdens.
But not only is it the actual cost or the impact on the fragile neighborhood fabric of Greenwich Village that is uniting activists against the NYU expansion plans, but also the dangerous precedent that would be set. The community of Greenwich village, lead by urban activist Jane Jacobs, had decades ago fought and defeated Robert Moses's plan for the Lower Manhattan Expressway, which would have destroyed Greenwich Village and parts of SoHo. Look at how all these many decades later everybody is trying to "correct" the wrongful demolition of the old Penn Station ? What is the difference between Robert Moses back then and each of Bill Rudin and John Sexton today ? Mr. Rudin is the patriarch of the billionaire Rudin family, while Mr. Sexton is president of NYU. Not much, say the community.
And now, the community is beginning to see Speaker Quinn's true colours : She can easily be counted on to be the political enabler of every corrupt real estate developer. For example, she accepted $30,000 in political campaign donations from the Rudin family, all the while Speaker Quinn refuses to recuse herself from ramming the Rudin condo conversion deal through the governmental approval process.
The only thing that can undoubtedly stop corrupt real estate developers like NYU and the Rudin family, among others, and their political enablers, such as Speaker Quinn, would be when the courageous activists, who turned out tonight, join forces with the broader people-powered social movement spurned by a spontaneous popular uprising of regular, average folks, who are demanding a restoration of the democratic process. Stay tuned.