Dear Councilman Levin:
We know that it is premature to call you that. You still need to go through the general election and get sworn in. But we all know those are mere formalities. You won. Vito Lopez hooked you up every which way from Tuesday: the Zalmanite faction with Rabbi Niederman and UJO, the union endorsements, the Bushwick United Democratic Club. But it would be unfair to say that Lopez won the election for you. The other candidates sliced and diced themselves up to a fair-thee-well. All that, and good honest campaigning on your behalf, won the day. You are to be personally credited with running an honorable campaign. You never went negative. You never took a shot below the belt. That is why we said “we really want to like you.”
The question is, now what? We thought that we would give you a few suggestions for your new office:
1. Don’t move out of Greenpoint. We took you to task during the campaign for moving into the District immediately around the time you decided to run. The fact remains, however, that you moved to a hard-scrabble section — not the toney areas like Brooklyn Heights and Boerum Hill. Greenpoint needs you. Stay there. Live among the working-class people who you promised to help in your campaign. Live near the environmental challenges that define that community. Be one of the people.
2. Tackle Traffic & Residential Parking. You are probably in the best position to help advance legislation in both the council and Albany to get the ball rolling on real solutions to the traffic problems in Downtown Brooklyn. Get a residential parking program in place for Brooklyn Heights. Work to achieve traffic calming there and in Boerum Hill. If you get real results, the residents will realize that you are much more than Vito Lopez’s surrogate.
3. Don’t Fold On Atlantic Yards. You have the real opportunity to curb the excesses of Atlantic Yards. You should work with Lopez to make this happen. On December 31st, Ratner’s tax-free financing is going to go “poof.” You need to use that opportunity to force a re-orienting of the proposed arena so that eminent domain is not needed. You also need to bring about a contextual re-working of the plan to integrate it into the surrounding communities.
4. Keep Your Campaign Promises. You ran on the need for senior housing and early education. Both are desperately needed. Senior citizens cannot survive in this town living at the whim of private landlords. They deserve to grow old in dignity and security. Also, working families cannot make it without better childcare options. Families must survive on two incomes. Single-parent homes face even greater challenges. We need quality childcare and early education opportunities to make it.
We know that there are going to be a million “asks” from the Satmar community. They just got the Holy Grail – Broadway Triangle. Think about the rest of us. Focus on our issues and prove the doubters wrong about you. You will be doing yourself and us a big favor. Also, get your moral compass bronzed. We know you already have one but you’re gonna need it handy with where you’re going.
Good luck…and congrats.
Real Reform Brooklyn