If you really want to see how the Bloomberg administration operates, look at what they're doing to the people of Willets Point in Queens. Blighting through neglect, land grabbing, baiting and switching. Lies and more lies. In the end, dozens of working class people, mostly Latinos, are about to lose their thriving businesses--and not for the affordable housing once promised. What is the City putting in? The biggest shopping mall in town.
Watch the whole story in this new short film:
The final vote on the Willets Point plan will be this week, on October 9. Please don't let these people be ignored. Call or email Council Member Julissa Ferreras at (718) 651-1917 and tell her to vote no on Bloomberg's inhumane project that hundreds of locals are protesting against.
I first visited the Iron Triangle, as the section of auto body shops is called, years ago, when a friend introduced me to it. We were seeing the Mets at Shea and wanted to get something to eat before the game. We went to the one of the little places that serve the auto workers and their customers, and filled up on big plates of chicken, rice, and beans.
I went back in 2007 to interview the Bonos, makers of sawdust for three generations. Since then, every now and then, I try to get up to Willets Point and went recently. When you arrive at the edge of the Iron Triangle, just across the street from the slick new Citibank baseball stadium, you feel like you're passing through a portal, from one world to another, starkly different.
It looks like a post-apocalyptic landscape, its roads ruined and filled with dirty water, ever since the City stopped providing maintenance services in a blatant act of blighting. The wind blows differently here. You feel how faraway you are from the city proper, like you're on the edge of the known continent.
You walk past tremendous pillars made of rubber tires, dozens of car doors stacked like upright files, walls hung with hundreds of shiny hubcaps. From the open garages come the sounds of salsa music and barking dogs. People from all over town bring their cars for new tires, new brake lights, new mufflers.
The Iron Triangle supports thousands of people, and not just the mechanics and their families. It sustains a sub-economy within it. People set up grills on the street, cooking meat to sell with beans and rice. One woman goes around hawking bootleg DVDs. A man pulls a rickety shopping cart, filling it with scrap donated by the mechanics. A Mr. Softee truck circles endlessly.
You might not like the Iron Triangle. It's dirty and cluttered, and it feels Third World. But it's a real place, where people own their own businesses and do what they need to support themselves and their families. Don't let Bloomberg just steal it away. Don't let him put up yet another glassy "neighborhood." Call or email Council Member Julissa Ferreras at (718) 651-1917 and tell her to vote no.
The Iron Triangle