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Friday, March 28, 2014
Town & Village Writes a Press Release for CWCapital
There's no other way to look at it. This week's TOWN & VILLAGE (March 27, 2014) contains what can only be considered a press release for the new Public Safety office. Titled "New Command Center Offers Better Access to Public Safety," the lengthy article, which begins on the newspaper's front page and ends on the last, contains none of the objections that tenants have had about the new office and, furthermore, extends its scope to quality of life issues, implying that they are being dealt with efficiently by Public Safety. The numerous problems tenants have had with these quality of life issues, still viable to this day, are ignored by the lack of any challenge to the statements made by Public Safety Chief Bill McCellan, who is the main source of the quotes and information contained in the article, written by longtime TOWN & VILLAGE staffer and principal writer, Sabina Mollot. The fault is not McCellan's, who is just doing his PR job well, but the paper's, which should be handling the interview and the article with journalistic curiosity and integrity, and, perhaps, more extensive research. Just reading the TA Facebook, this blog and even PCVST's own Facebook, should alert anyone that there's trouble in the paradise that is presented in the article. It's rare for the newspaper (or anyone, in fact) to bring "truth to power" directly with the people who run this complex (CWCapital's spokesman Brian Moriarty and its Asset Manager Andrew Cain were also present at the interview), so the golden opportunity to do so was completely lost when it was determined by the paper and/or its writer to craft a press release for CWCapital, and nothing else.
The title of the article "New Command Center Offers Better Access to Public Safety" is itself a positive promotion of the new structure, as if somehow the previous location, just around the Oval island, was not access enough or that somehow, down through the decades, access to Public Safety (or Security, as it was once called) was a real problem that tenants were concerned about. Gee, I never remember tenants pleading for more access to Public Safety. Tenants were satisfied and felt secure with the Oval security booth that has had a presence, in various forms, once being a brick structure by the fountain. The only pleas I have heard or read about was for Public Safety to have "boots on the ground," officers walking the beat of Stuy Town and Peter Cooper Village, an issue I will get to soon.
The article starts off with by detailing the inside of the new Public Safety building and noting that "new HD monitors allow officers to see everything that the 1,200 surveillance cameras located throughout the complex see in high-definition quality." Kinda interesting that with all this HD surveillance, Public Safety still has problems stopping banned dog breeds being walked right in front of the Oval security booth.
McClellan informs his interviewer that, quoting the article, "residents have been giving overwhelmingly positive feedback about the department's more central location and the access to the officers." How many residents? Well, since the statement is so general, it could be two or three or maybe six. No mention of the residents who on the TA Facebook page and this blog have been decrying the new location as marring the Oval, as being unsightly and too intrusive in what once was a green, tranquil oasis. No mention of the distress and suffering the construction of the office caused to the residents who live around the new structure and their possible future distress as they live nearby an active large office ("open 24/7") sided by huge generators.
Then we arrive at the Quality of Life issues in the article. This is where blood started shooting out of my eyeballs and my mouth started to foam: "... while preventing and stopping crime is the top priority for the officers, mainly it is quality of life issues that they're responding to on a regular basis, such as loud parties and unregistered dogs." The dog issue is apparently mitigated because the blue registration tags are clearly visible, "eliminating the need to stop all dog owners as they walk through the grounds." Well, practically every time I'm out around the grounds I see unregistered dogs, so something is wrong. Perhaps "boots on the ground," particularly at points around the perimeters of PCVST where non-residents enter with their dogs to use the grounds as a toilet would be prudent. This advice has been given repeatedly, but never acted upon. I've no idea why.
Tenants who have to suffer from noisy neighbors and late-night partying may find great comfort that "McClellan himself will sometimes show up to the offending apartment with a member of the property's legal team when a noise issue is particularly serious and persisting." In other cases, I suppose, you are out of luck. (BTW, has anyone seen McClellan turn up in noise situations? I would assume this would be a very rare occurrence.)
The article continues to proclaim the advantages of all the security cameras about the complex (for which every resident is paying a MCI), but doesn't address one crucial question: Have these security cameras and their monitoring ever stopped a crime in progress? The answer seems to be, yes, maybe, perhaps, but maybe not, depends on the crime. I'd like to see the real figures, which one day should be asked of McClellan. My hunch is that the cameras around this complex have stopped very few crimes in progress. It's only after the fact, as evidence, that they can be important. (Which is why there is need of--boots on the ground.)
Probably the only good thing about the security monitoring system changing location and being so out in the open to passersby view is that now, unlike previously, the officers who staff the monitors won't be tempted to zero in on hot-babe sunbathers on the Oval or check out Craig's List.
In other places the article stresses that the welcome mat is open to residents to visit the new office and talk to the officers. I like this a lot. I wouldn't mind sharing some tea and biscuits with Chief Bill McClellan, who, as I learned in the article, was once commanding officer of the 71st Precinct in Crown Heights, an area that happens to be my old neighborhood. In between sips of Lipton Tea, I'd ask him, once again, why some banned dog breeds I see are actually registered PCVST dogs. I have a feeling I'd get the same non-answer as I did when I first asked him that question.
UPDATE 3/31: In case anyone wants to comment directly to T & V: