Call him brash, confident, conniving, abrasive, ambitious or all of the above, we got to know the real Anthony Weiner. And unfortunately the “real” Weiner is someone you would not want next to you in a foxhole as you are about to charge over the hill. When the going gets tough, Anthony Weiner is gone. He will do anything that is remotely advantageous for him and everyone else be damned. How do we know this? Are we being too political for a civic association? The answer is we live here. And when a Congressman comes here from the bowels of Brooklyn and outright lies to our neighborhood, we have an obligation to let everyone know the facts.
Anthony Weiner, has been traveling around the city spewing sound bites promoting himself for mayor of the City of New York. On the surface some of his rhetoric may sound plausible. Even his glib oneliners about the benefits of the Cross Harbor Tunnel can almost sound reasonable in Weiner-words. However few have gotten him to answer the real questions. How will it remove trucks from our streets? He can’t and won’t explain how.
Weiner’s wordplay spins into something like this, “I’ll do what it takes to get trucks off the road.” Rarely does Weiner get challenged especially on those inane debates that we all suffered through.
Since Weiner is our Congressman we have come to know him over the past three years. We learned the hard way that the truth and Anthony Weiner seldom cross paths. We have also witnessed first hand his prowess at doubletalk.
In 2003 he came to me asking for an issue that would get him established and known in this part of Queens. With the congressional redistricting that had just been implemented, Weiner was now our congressman and his district, once heavily based in Brooklyn, had essentially moved to Queens.
With the Elmhurst Gas Tanks in the forefront of the news at that time we did not hesitate to offer Weiner that important role. Weiner wanted to lead the fight on against the proposed development. At our first meeting at Our Lady of Hope Rectory, Weiner asked Keyspan officials to donate a small portion of the 6.5 acres for community use. He gave us little hope there was anything more we could do to prevent a large commercial development. We were pushing for a park but Weiner told us that was unlikely. Weiner did come to a JPCA Town Meeting to tell us that he would be there for us in the struggle. That was the last we saw of Anthony Weiner on the matter.
Without Weiner we put pressure on Keyspan with demonstrations, press releases, meetings etc., we uncovered a secret plan by Keyspan to sell the property before the agreed upon deadline for elected officials to try and raise public funds to purchase the land.
Months later in the 11th hour Mayor Bloomberg came to the rescue, stopping the Home Depot and he got Keyspan CFO Bob Catell to donate the land for a park. Of course Weiner resented this since he was already planning to challenge Bloomberg in the 2005 mayoral elections.
That’s Anthony Weiner
We should have learned at this point that Weiner was not to be trusted. It’s not like we didn’t have some signs prior to the Elmhurst Gas Tanks fight that when the going got tough, Weiner got up and left.
Back in 1999 the JPCA formed a noise task force to petition the state and federal governments to lessen the noise emanating from the LIE through Maspeth and Middle Village. During the LIE widening project the once quieter asphalt roadbed of the expressway was replaced with concrete that once car and truck wheels hit the concrete a horrible whining noise was the result. This became unbearable for those unfortunate enough to live within 4 blocks of the expressway. With Senator Serf Maltese Assemblywoman Marge Markey and Community Board 5 we asked for the state to either replace the roadbed with quieter asphalt or use a process called diamond grinding to make the road bed 30% quieter. We also asked for a soundbarrier on the southside of the LIE from 69th to 75th Streets.
The state did agree to diamond grind the area and install the soundbarrier. After all they were receiving federal funds and U.S. guidelines did have a provision that noise must be abated if federal dollars were used in a highway project.
However by 2003 the diamond grinding still hadn’t been done although the soundbarrier was about to be installed. In fact we helped select the pattern and color of the barrier.
With the soundbarrier on its way I called Congressman Weiner for help to pressure the state to make good on their promise to diamond grind the roadbed through Maspeth and Middle Village.
About a month later Jackie, an aid to Weiner, called me with what she said was “great news.” She said the state would not do the diamond grinding but that AW (that’s what staff calls Anthony Weiner) had convinced them to install the sound barriers. That’s when I hit the ceiling. I told her that if she recalled our conversation a month earlier, the sound barrier was already being installed, we needed Weiner’s help to secure the diamond grinding! She repeated that it was AW who got the sound barrier installed. Of course this was a lie since the contractor began working on the project 3 years earlier and by the time Weiner’s office got involved the barrier was half completed. I did tell Jackie that if AW tried to take credit for this one we would expose him as a fraud.
When I relayed the story to other elected officials the universal answer I got was: “that’s Anthony Weiner.”
It was after this incident that we began to have suspicions about Mr. Weiner. Everything we asked of his office seem to fall by the wayside. After Weiner himself called me to say that he was about to be appointed to the powerful Congressional Committee on Transportation I thought I had a perfect way to get the Grand Avenue/69th St.LIE area improved to help make the dangerous pedestrian crossing safer. The JPCA had just received a prestigious grant worth $37,000 to study unsafe areas of the community and make recommendation and develop a plan to address the problems. The plan that was developed by a panel of experts working on the project was truly remarkable. We turned it over to Congressman Weiner’s office to try and get federal funds for the implementation of some of the recommendations. That was 2003…we are still waiting.
The Double-Cross on the Tunnel
Instead Weiner just announced that he received $15 million for a Rockaway to Manhattan ferry. In the passage of the recent $286.4 billion highway and transit bill in Congress, Congressman Nadler secured $100 million for design of the Cross Harbor Tunnel. Weiner, after agreeing to support the tunnel, won the commuter ferry.
Last month Crain’s magazine commented on the Weiner Rockaway ferry pork project, “…Never mind that the three (ferry) boats required will cost more than that ($15 million) sum and that studies have shown that such a service would require huge subsidies. Both congressmen (Nadler and Weiner) can claim they are bringing home the bacon, but in fact they are endangering the city's economic future. These futile projects are taking away money desperately needed to fund the four major mass transit projects that offer the biggest gains for the city–the extension of the No. 7 line to the far West Side, the new rail link between downtown and JFK Airport, the Second Avenue Subway, and East Side access to bring the Long Island Rail Road to Grand Central Terminal.”
Since Congressman Weiner announced that he is a candidate for Mayor, he now says he is supporting the Cross Harbor Tunnel project because it will remove trucks off the roads in Queens. How’s that? Apparently Weiner did not read the Cross Harbor Tunnel Draft Environmental Impact Study (DEIS) produced by the NYC Economic Development Corporation. This pro-tunnel document admits that between 800-1400 trucks a day will be added to our community.
However we believe that it will add much more than that. The study says that 19 trains will use the tunnel each day, not counting trash-hauling trains, which could add significantly to that number. If the average train length is 30 boxcars and it takes approximately 240 trucks to unload each train then we are looking at 4500 more trucks a day into the area. And that’s not counting truck trips back and forth to the Maspeth intermodal and to warehouses. How are we getting less truck traffic Congressman Weiner? Like our billboard says, our area could get up to 16,000 more trucks a day!
If you bring truck loads on rail cars into a giant Maspeth Intermodal (train to truck transfer depot) the goods still must be trucked on from there using local expressways, boulevards and avenues. Containers then have to be unpacked and their contents warehoused, so their goods will have to be trucked again to warehouses and then delivered–resulting in more truck trips. Right now this process is working in Northern New Jersey and Pennsylvania where the massive warehouses are located. Weiner and his crony, Manhattan Congressman Jerrold Nadler, overlook 50 years of investment in warehousing and logistics centers in central and northern New Jersey out of which trucks daily distribute goods throughout the NY/NJ/CT region. These centers are convenient to the region's major ports, interstate highways, and railways. Why should they build expensive new duplicative facilities on very pricey New York City land? The answer is simple, they won’t. That’s a big reason why the Cross Harbor Tunnel won’t work.
New Yorkers should also be concerned about Congressman Weiner’s ethics. Even putting aside his numerous campaign violations and allegations of using Congressional funds to aid his mayoral campaign, Weiner is simply untrustworthy. On September 30, 2004 before 350 members of the Juniper Park Civic Association Weiner said, “”I think at the end of the day, there should be some proposal to get trucks off the road,” Weiner said. “I don't support this (Cross Harbor) plan.”
“I don’t want to alienate Nadler”
About a month later I asked Weiner for a letter demonstrating his opposition to the tunnel and intermodal. Weiner said he would not do it. “I don’t want to alienate other Congressman (meaning Nadler) and jeopardize my transportation projects… “anyway Bob, this Cross Harbor Tunnel will never be built,” he said.
When Mayor Mike Bloomberg visited the Juniper Park Civic Association Town Meeting at Our Lady of Hope Auditorium on March 3, 2005 to announce that the tunnel should not be built we were ecstatic. Instead of keeping quiet on the subject Congressman Weiner who wants the Mayor’s job blasted Bloomberg for “pandering” to the people of Maspeth. He also accused the mayor of flip-flopping on Cross Harbor. Wasn’t this the same Anthony Weiner who told us on September 30th that he was against the project? Suddenly Anthony Weiner came out of the closet on Cross Harbor. He saw an opening to attack the Mayor. Weiner was out there speaking of the great benefits of Cross Harbor. Despicable to say the least.
Weiner didn’t do his homework issues such as the Cross Harbor Intermodal in Maspeth, the Elmhurst Gas Tanks fight, The LIE sound reduction and the Maspeth/Grand Avenue truck problem to name a few. And certainly he missed the important briefing on dealing with the Juniper Park Civic Association. So far as our congressman he has done everything wrong.