nochinatownbid.org

Video - Chinatown Property Owners shut out of Council Hearing!




About forty property owners patiently waited outside 250 Broadway on May 26th to testify against the formation of a Chinatown Business Improvement District. It was the last chance for the public to testify in person if they supported or opposed the Chinatown BID's formation.

As the last few Chinatown Partnership Local Development (the entity formed by Councilmember Margaret Chin as a pre-cursor to a BID) employees in yellow work jackets passed through the metal detectors to go upstairs to the 16th floor hearing room, the remaining people on line, most of them Chinatown property owners were told the hearing was closed. The video of what happened is posted here.Chairman of the Finance committee that "those people who are scheduled to testify are being allowed up, if you are scheduled to testify...There IS a list, I told the finance chairman 'are you taking testimony?' he said 'only the people who are scheduled to testify'" explained the Sargent at Arms. "So this was preset with the committee lawyers..... You guys didn't get on that list, then you guys messed up." he added.
 
The Chairman of the Finance committee sent a clear message that the Finance Committee, its legal advisors and Councilmember Chin have taken "preset" lists of people to testify and closed out the rest of the opposition. Unfortunately upon hearing the news that the hearing was "closed for the rest of the day" many property owners left feeling angered, betrayed and unsure of what the point of the hearing was anyway.
On a side note, I was allowed to testify because the Sargent at Arms returned to the sidewalk about 25 min's after our initial encounter and told me that I alone would be allowed up, and that I should bring whatever written testimony of others up to the hearing. After I testified about twenty minutes later, only two other opposition representatives were allowed to come up the hearing to testify, followed by two groups of five at 25 minute intervals. No one I spoke to was vetted through a "preset list" before they testified. 
The paid employees of the Chinatown Partnership who were not testifying did not relinquish their seats at the hearing. 
Two hours into the hearing an adjacent room was opened up and more seats became available, but by then many of the opposition members, none of whom were told to wait downstairs, had left. 
Transcripts of all hearings are available by contacting the City Council.
 


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