The Newtown Pentacle

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Archive for July 24th, 2018

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Who wouldn’t want to live in Queens Plaza, that’s the question.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Probably the most unwelcoming place on the planet, an area which is frankly antithetical to human life, Queens Plaza has nevertheless become a hub of residential development in recent years. You’ve got the 24/7 vehicle traffic spilling angry motorists on and off of the Queensboro Bridge, a complex of elevated subway lines above (the steel rafters are infested with vampires, but that’s a whole other story) and a complex of underground subway lines below. The sidewalks have become nonexistent due to the exigent needs of the construction industry, and there are thousands upon thousands of residential units opening within the new and quite banal glass boxes that soar twenty and thirty stories above the traffic choked streets.

The political class in Western Queens loved all of this “growth” as it meant campaign donations from banks and real estate interests flowed freely into their reelection accounts, and then they also got to talk about “affordable” housing as if it was actually “affordable” while insisting that the real estate people hand out a token number of plum development jobs to friendly construction unions.  This caused even more campaign donations to manifest from cultic eidolons like the Working Families Party and the trade unions. Since the Democrats of Queens generally run unopposed by other parties, the cash they didn’t have to spend during the elections then allowed them to use these campaign donations as slush funds to curry favor with, and financially support, weaker candidates in districts that enjoy actual elections. The whole time, these elected officials referred to themselves in glowing terms as “progressives,” which is a term that they don’t seem to have ever looked up in a dictionary.

There are no food markets, bodegas, coffee shops, parking lots, nearby schools, or hospitals on the construction schedule… but there’s lots of noisy traffic if that’s your bag… Just imagine if you had an emergency and you needed to wait for an ambulance to navigate through rush hour traffic at Queens Plaza. You won’t see a lot of municipal investment here in Queens Plaza or LIC as a whole, except for tax abatements and City subsidies encouraging the growth of more tower apartment buildings, as the political class is averse to being perceived as having “increased government spending.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The bought and sold politicians of Western Queens are in a tizzy at the moment. First Marge Markey, then Liz Crowley – and even Joe Crowley – have been seen applying for benefits at the unemployment office. They’re the first.

Comical just desserts have been served by the electorate to the “growth at any cost” crowd, as election results for Boss Crowley’s downfall have shown that he lost to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez not because of some demographic change amongst the burgeoning Latino population or the “I want to help POC” crowd who wanted “one of their own,” rather it was the overwhelmingly wealthy Caucasian and Asian gentrifier crowd that are moving into the tower buildings in places like Queens Plaza and Court Square who booted him out. Markey and Liz Crowley lost their jobs because they sided with City Hall against their own communities.

The body politic is changing in Queens, and for those politicians who used to count on incumbent victories due to low voter turnout and the affections of the party faithful, a chill is in the air. As I’ve often said to these elected officials “how do you know that these rich people from the Midwest are Democrats?” “Aren’t you concerned that you’re unintentionally shifting the electorate to the right, since the demographics and politics of the moneyed people who can afford $3,000 for a studio apartment are very, very different than those of the people you’re claiming to represent?”

They don’t teach that in politics school, apparently.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The thing is, a humble narrator watches all of this dispassionately. He rages against the sophists and the connected, is rude to the mid level representatives of “the powers that be,” and enjoys popping the egomaniacal balloons arrayed at political events. Ultimately, it’s all wasted effort.

The reality of things is that while all of this extra inventory of apartments has been created over the last twenty years, rent has gone up all over the City and that homelessness is now approaching levels not seen since the Hooverville’s of the Great Depression. Job creation and sustainability is not on the syllabus offered by these so called progressives, except for themselves and their staffs. These progressives close hospitals and nursing homes rather than open them, allowing their donors in the real estate industrial complex to then convert the structures to bespoke luxury condos with some token “affordable” component which no NYPD or even Teachers Union employee could afford to live in. 

Growth, unchecked, is called Cancer.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

July 24, 2018 at 11:00 am

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