Railroaded! Streetcar’s promo video misquotes activist

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An opponent of the mayor’s proposed streetcar system who publicly criticized the plan says that the city used his critique out of context in a promotional video — making it look like he supported the very plan he is fighting against.

Over the summer, the Economic Development Corporation asked residents to help plan the trolley’s Sunset Park-to-Queens route, and it later produced a publicity film using footage from the meetings. The video quotes longtime Sunset Park community leader Bob Bernard as saying the project “made potential open up for this community,” but Bernard says an unscrupulous editor cut him off just before he could finish his thought — that the potential for bad outweighs the potential for good.

“If you look at this thing, it’s clear I’m being misquoted from my body language and tone,” said Bernard who looks unnerved in the clip and is clearly cut off mid-sentence. “I’m against what they’re proposing. And you would have heard that if they used the full quote, because I said there is potential for good, but I also said that there is more potential for bad than good with this project.”

The five-second sound bite was snipped from a roughly 20-second critique where Bernard explained that the streetcar — dubbed the “BQX” — would lead to jacked-up rents and locals’ displacement.

The film was published online on Nov. 3, but Bernard wasn’t even aware he was featured in it until recently. Members of Sunset Park social-justice group Uprose who were at the June meeting later saw the video and alerted Bernard, a former director of the Fifth Avenue Business Improvement District, that he was taken out of context. One activist called out the Economic Development Corporation at a contentious Dec. 12 meeting, alleging the agency cherry-picked quotes to suit its needs.

“He is adamantly against the BQX, and he was making a long point about why this is a problem,” said Uprose organizer Ana Orozco. “However the EDC used it to promote the BQX, so what is the point of these visioning sessions? What is the point of these feasibility studies if they’re supposed to be neutral and the city comes away from them saying, ‘Yay the community loved it — next meeting.’ ”

Officials could not explain the error but agreed that it should be corrected.

“You’re right, it should be accurate, but I’m sorry I can’t speak to the specifics of that situation,” said Adam Giambrone, who was hired by the city to head the streetcar system’s design.

It is apparently not the first suspect promotional video for the contentious project.

The cadre of waterfront developers pushing the plan paid hipster media company Vice to produce a trolley-boosting video that featured Brooklyn-born hip-hop artist Talib Kweli in the spring. But a spokeswoman for the artist later told blog Patch that Kweli was not aware of the proposal’s finer points and was not sure whether he supported the plan as proposed or simply the broad notion of improving Brooklyn transit.

Here's the full video — Bernard's comments are at 1:10

Reach reporter Caroline Spivack at or by calling (718) 260–2523. Follow her on Twitter @carolinespivack.
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

best plan ever from Brooklyn says:
Nevermind this hype on why the BQX came about. It was a great thing when it was grass roots, and still is, even though it took money to motivate NYC (as it usually does).

The transportation starved areas would finally get much needed CLEAN transport. No more sobbing about the unreliable carbon spewing buse. As a "dedicated" service, there would be intersection priority over free-roving rubber tires.

All will benefit, especially blue collar workers and folks in public housing that have to navigate our heavily overcrowded systems.

A new and better option for everybody!

(no nimby's thank you)
Dec. 14, 2016, 8:35 am
Pedro Valdez Rivera Jr. from BS, BK, NY, US says:
BQX Streetcar Proposal = Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars in Campaign Contributions from the Real Estate Developers along the proposed route to Mayor Bill de Blasio's Reelection Campaign Coffers = Full speed ahead on the project = Higher costs of living along the route = Higher amount of displacement and homelessness = Higher operating expenses everywhere. It is a direct correlation there.
Dec. 14, 2016, 11:28 am
Tyler from pps says:
So, Pedro.... keep the neighborhoods as crappy and inaccessible as possible. That's your "anti-gentrification" strategy?
Dec. 14, 2016, 1:01 pm
Pedro Valdez Rivera Jr. from BS, BK, NY, US says:
Nope Tyler. I learned it from reliable sources such as the most recent investigative probe from the New York Daily News on the connection between the BQX and the donations that de Blasio have been receiving to this day. I will not be surprised that this issue could be one of the major issues for the next year's mayoral election. Don't assume that I'm the only one that this will going to happen: I learned it from experience since the day I was born in Williamsburg until moving to Bed-Stuy recently. Thousands of New Yorkers said that this is a waste of money and resources. I'm 25 years old and I'm a believer in the outer circle, not the inner circle like the establishment.
Dec. 14, 2016, 3:46 pm
Linda from Sunset Park says:
I don't know the situation in Red Hook or any of the other neighborhoods this will pass through but this isn't a good idea for Sunset Park. It'll be going along 3rd Avenue. An extremely heavily congested commercial route. Third avenue has 3 lanes going in each direction. Take one away for this in each direction and traffic will be worse than ever. These trucks already spill over into the other avenues and streets in the neighborhood. The streets in this neighborhood are regularly developing sinkholes from the beating they take. I don't know if you're also aware that our politicians have arranged to have something like an additional 70,000 trucks per year hitting our streets in the not too distant future. We also have a recycling plant, among other things, in the neighborhood that brings trucks from most of Brooklyn rambling down our streets. Sunset Park is not inaccessible. We have bus lines on 3rd and 5th Avenue and a subway line for the entire length of 4th Avenue. Are you also aware that this will be paid for by raising the real estate taxes of those who live near it? It is also being put in a flood plain. Very poor planning. I believe there are also two sections that will have to have bridges or overpasses built to accommodate it. And they haven't even designed the streetcars that will be used on these lines yet. Like Pedro above also points out, this isn't something that was dreamed up to help the people. It all has to do with politicians, donations, developers and $$. It's not such a new and better option for all.
Dec. 14, 2016, 10:19 pm
Rob from Sunset Park says:
Garbage! We don't need this and we don't want it.
Dec. 15, 2016, 10:58 am
everyone can ride from the line says:
We can all ride the line. If your not smart enough to get onboard, that's your loss.

For the rest of us, we want a winning line and the BQX is the best we heard of in the history of the city. A chance at civility from the mad chaos we have everywhere else.

Money's behind everything, the good and the bad, and the BQX is as good as it gets until we grow wings.

Ding, ding!
Dec. 15, 2016, 11:32 am
Linda from Sunset Park says:
The "best we head of in the history of the city", really? Not a single comment, solution or rebuttal about any of the points I made above, explaining how I might be mistaken about the problems I mentioned? Like I said, I don't know the situation in Red Hook or the other places this will ride through. But for Sunset Park, this idea is a disaster. Aside from the flood plain, taxes going up, enough mass transit already in the area, do ONE thing and then come back and tell me about not being smart enough to get on board. Come through 3rd Avenue during any morning or evening rush hour and picture it with one less lane on each side.
Dec. 15, 2016, 12:16 pm
Linda from Sunset Park says:
Dec. 15, 2016, 12:40 pm
Tyler from pps says:
Linda -- More lanes is not necessarily equal to greater capacity or "throughput." This has been proven many times in this city and in many other cities. Configuration and the 'regularizing' of traffic patterns often has a much greater impact.

For example, there is "one less lane on each side" on Ocean Avenue... 4 lanes to 2, plus turning lanes at intersections. This was a "road diet" that everyone was freaking out about, but it has proven to make traffic flow smoother, more predictably and more safely.
Dec. 16, 2016, 12:34 pm

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