Left Behinds

The anti-andrewsullivan.com. Or, the Robin Hood (Maid Marian?) of bright pink Blogger blogs.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Links about crazy shit done by greedy people in Brooklyn

Via NoLandGrab, Will at onNYTurf describes how the MTA is now planning service cuts to close their deficit, in a year when they gave away $50 million in fare cuts to tourists, and are trying or tried to give away far more than that to the Jets and Bruce Ratner. Fun shit. Don't say we didn't warn you.

And via mole333 at the Daily Gotham, a New York Magazine article about Brooklyn arson fires that have, as mole333 put it, the "amazingly convenient result of helping developers":

The [Greenpoint Terminal Market] blaze was only one of the many, many “suspicious” fires to hit the Brooklyn development zones of late. Within three months, from December 7, 2005, to February 24, 2006, there were eleven such fires along Prospect Heights’ “Pacific Street Corridor,” formerly home to single-story factories and flat-fix establishments but now part of the realty zone sandwiched between the escalating rent sprawl of Williamsburg and Fort Greene and the proposed Atlantic Yards megaproject to the West.

Location, location, location. The proximity of the afflicted Prospect Heights addresses raises eyebrows: 1033 Pacific, 1084 Pacific, 1198 Pacific, 1440 Pacific. Other fires were around the corner, at 530 and 600 St. Marks Avenue. Two more occurred at 461 and 658 Park Place, with another at nearby 683 Dean Street.


Greed kills, children. People haven't just lost their homes in these fires; people have died. And remember how I said this kind of blatant bullshit can only be fought at the government level? Well fuck you very much, Mayor Mike.

No issue, however, raises the ire of activists like the mayor’s assault on the fire marshal’s office does. It is a fire marshal who figures out how a fire started and whether it was set on purpose. By law, no fire can be certified as an arson unless a marshal files a report saying it is.

“This job is not for everyone,” says one marshal. But for the meticulous few who, through copious interviews and analysis of factors like “accelerant residue” and “burn patterns,” determine whether fire was the result of an “incendiary” process, the job has deep rewards.

Ed Burke, who was a Brooklyn firefighter and spent eleven years as a fire marshal, says that what’s going on at his old job is “unbelievable … You think it can’t get worse, then it does.”

“When you hear Chief Fire Marshal Garcia in front of the City Council saying arsons are not up, I just have to laugh,” says Burke. “Of course arsons are not up. How could they be up when only a fire marshal can call a fire arson, and there aren’t any fire marshals? Back in the late eighties, around the time of the Happy Land fire, there were something like 400 marshals. In the middle nineties, we had 292. Now we’re down to 80, and 20 supervisors. That means that at any given time, you’ve got 35 or so guys actually working, and two of those are Scoppetta’s bodyguards. And only eight of them are in the field.

“We investigated every fire, from a garbage can in a project hallway to a brush fire in Staten Island. Now we don’t. They stopped investigating all car fires until people started screaming. If you once looked at 1,000 fires and now you look at 500 or 250, that knocks out three quarters of your potential arsons right there. It’s sick what they’re doing with those numbers.”

Another marshal, still on the job, says, “The department keeps saying, ‘We’re doing more with less,’ but they never say exactly how much less is less. At night, when most of the fires happen, we have exactly four fire marshals working.

“Four! Four guys, in two cars, for the whole city!

“I am not a conspiracy guy, but you can’t help thinking they made a conscious decision to get rid of us. It bothers me, because those fires on Pacific Street were extraordinary. In almost every case, you had doors kicked in and gasoline spread so flames immediately made their way up the staircase. Staircase fires are terrible. You can’t get out, people panic. The fire at 1033, where people died—we were late on that one. It had to do with our pagers. They suck. The mood here is very, very strained. It’s enough to make you cry.”

The repetitive profanity, incidentally, is because this shit makes me really, really fucking mad.


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