A short time back I took City Councilmembers Steve Levin and Brad Lander to task for, what seemed at the time, a casual decision to defund the Doe Fund's clean up efforts in Park Slope. I particularly took them to task for misleading statements and for denigrating the Doe Fund overall, which I found difficult to stomach because the Doe Fund is one of the most successful (among the ONLY successful) organizations for reducing recidivism among parolees.
Steve Levin has shown no interest in this issue...or any issue in the district from what I can tell. I guess as long as he has the backing of corrupt Party Boss Vito Lopez (his mentor) he feels he can cruise along with no problem...particularly since he also managed to get the formerly decent Working Families Party backing him as well, creating a nasty and disgusting alliance between the Vito Lopez machine and a Working Families party that at BEST skirted the law, and in reality had to scramble to avoid prosecution after breaking some campaign finance laws for the likes of Steve Levin.
But Brad Lander, who I have had some serious disagreements with, seems different than Steve "Vito's Kid" Levin. Brad Lander HAS been involved with the community, even if I disagree with him on the Doe Fund's role in the community, and he took the time to respond to my article taking him to task.
Let me begin by reviewing what I wrote before, then quoting Councilmember Brad Lander responding to my article, then giving something of a rebuttal from myself and giving a different opinion from Councilmember Daniel Dromm. read more »
I want to preface this article by saying that Councilmember Brad Lander has been doing some good things recently which I want to acknowledge before I lay into him on this issue. In particular I want to re-emphasize the good work Brad Lander has been doing with the Center for Anti-violence Education (which my wife teaches at) to get self-defense classes for women in the areas where there have been a spate of assaults on women. I should note fellow Councilmember Steve Levin has NOT been involved in helping the community on this issue. Councilmembers Brad Lander, Sara Gonzalez, Tish James have and they deserve credit for it.
But there is another issue where Brad Lander and Steve Levin have made, in my mind, a serious error.
It all started with my building's resident Yenta (by her own admission) asking me why 7th Ave is no longer being cleaned up. Until recently, she observed, men in blue outfits (a collaboration between the city and the Doe Fund aimed to help the homeless and parolees transition back into society and employment) would help the city empty the garbage and clean the streets. Recently those blue-uniformed men disappeared from 7th Avenue and in their place garbage piled up everywhere adding to what my wife already referred to as the "7th Ave. Stink." I have to say 7th Ave. smells worse on average than any other street I personally walk down in Brooklyn or Manhattan. And now that the Doe Fund people have disappeared from 7th Ave. the stink is getting worse.
To me this is not, however, primarily about the cleanliness of our neighborhood. It is about a program that is one of the most successful in the nation in getting homeless and parolees back into society. Here is the description of the Doe Fund from their website:
Ready, Willing & Able is The Doe Fund's holistic, residential, work and job skills training program which helps homeless individuals in their efforts to become self-sufficient, contributing members of society. Ready, Willing & Able has helped more than 4,500 men and women become drug-free, secure full-time employment, and obtain their own self-supported housing. The program targets the segment of the homeless population considered the hardest to serve: single, able-bodied adults, the majority of whom have histories of incarceration and substance abuse. Criteria for acceptance into the program is that the applicant be ready, willing and able, both physically and mentally, to work and maintain a drug-free lifestyle.
Folks, this kind of program saves taxpayers money in the long run. Like vaccinations and education, programs like this are one of the best investments society can make with taxpayer money. And, like cutting education, cutting this program is one of the dumbest moves a government can make because it will COST us all money in the long run. read more »