Will the real Brooklynites please stand up?!
Brooklyn Paper Radio this week celebrated those native Kings Countians who stuck around as the better borough evolved over the decades, with help from a lifelong local who just released a book about how to survive — and thrive — in the city.
Park Slope born-and-bred Journalist Jake Dobkin, the co-founder of website Gothamist, joined co-hosts Anthony Rotunno and Johnny Kunen in studio to share tales from his new book “Ask A Native New Yorker,” which features dozens of Dobkin’s popular columns of the same name that his digital news site published over the past 16 years.
Dobkin framed the discussion by noting that he defines a native as someone born in the city, who chooses to live out the majority of his or her days in the five boroughs — and to die here, too.
“The natives are a very hearty species. Half of us are going to die in our apartments because we got a good deal,” he said.
There are various ways New Yorkers gird their loins for a lifetime of city living, but one thing that Dobkin, the Downtown born-and-bred Kunen — who is begrudgingly still considered a native despite defecting Brooklyn for Staten Island — and the non-native Rotunno — who spent the last decade living locally after growing up upstate — all agreed that true natives share is an ability to cope with change.
“I don’t ever want to be like those old cranky New Yorkers that think the city was so much better twenty years ago,” Dobkin said. “It’s ridiculous, the city has always been in flux — since the Dutch arrived and displaced the Native Americans, and then the English arrived and displaced the Dutch.”
During the broadcast, the trio honed in on one such looming change that could affect thousands of Brooklynites and countless more city dwellers — the implementation of a congestion-pricing toll levied on motorists who drive into a designated swath of Manhattan — which could become law as soon as April 1, if a provision calling for the scheme stays in the state budget that Gov. Cuomo must sign by then.
Advocates for congestion pricing — money raised from which would allegedly exclusively fund the beleaguered, state-run Metropolitan Transportation Authority — claim it the billions in annual revenue it generates will result in much needed upgrades to the city’s subway and rail systems, as well as new bus routes to better serve transit starved areas in Brooklyn and the outer boroughs, according to proponent Kate Slevin of the Regional Plan Assocation, who called in to discuss the proposal with our hosts and Dobkin.
Slevin’s independent organization, which monitors transit issues in the metropolitan area, is among dozens of like-minded groups that banded together form pro-congestion-pricing coalition Fix Our Transit. The collective’s experts claim that the scheme, if enacted, would only affect some 1.3 percent of Kings County commuters that currently drive into the special Manhattan district below 60th Street — but will annually rake in roughly a billion dollars that, when bonded, would amount to closer to $15 billion in funds for the authority each year, she said.
Still, motorists won’t be hit with any fees — which are not yet set, but Slevin estimated could cost around $6 per car — for years should Cuomo sign a budget authorizing congestion pricing, because state lawmakers would still need to flesh out the scheme’s specifics before it takes effect on city streets, she said.
But to hear our cohosts’ and Dobkin’s thoughts on the proposal, you’ll have to tune in to the whole show — which also features another appearance by Arts Editor Bill Roundy, who again shared some can’t-miss activities coming up in the borough of Kings.
So listen now! And don’t forget to stream the latest edition of our sister Power Women podcast when you’re done.
Brooklyn Paper Radio, recorded at our studio Downtown, debuts new episodes every Tuesday, and can be found, as always, on Brook