Will Rodriguez and Brewer Reappoint CB 12 Crank Jim “Honey Child” Berlin?

Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer can advance the goals of Vision Zero by retiring Jim Berlin from his CB 12 post.
Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer can advance the goals of Vision Zero in Upper Manhattan by retiring Jim Berlin from his CB 12 post.

City Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer can remove a barrier to safer streets in Upper Manhattan by relieving Jim Berlin of his spot on Community Board 12, which covers Washington Heights and Inwood.

As Stephen Miller reported Thursday, Berlin and fellow CB 12 member Anita Barberis voted against a DOT plan for protected bike lanes in Washington Heights that would connect the Hudson River Greenway and High Bridge Park. The DOT proposal comes ahead of the highly anticipated re-opening of the High Bridge, a car-free Harlem River span linking Manhattan and the Bronx that has been closed to the public for decades.

Washington Heights and Inwood have precious little bike infrastructure, and at present just one protected bike lane in the pipeline. Berlin can surely claim some credit for that. For years he has used his community board position to waylay projects, from bike and pedestrian infrastructure to a Greenmarket, that would improve safety and give locals the opportunity to see their streets used for something other than free vehicle storage.

Community board votes are supposed to be advisory, but DOT rarely implements a street safety project over a board’s objection. On Monday Berlin succeeded in goading the CB 12 transportation committee to pass a resolution calling for DOT to shorten the proposed protected bikeway on Edgecombe Avenue for the sake of a few free curbside parking spots.

“This is a working-class area,” Berlin said, according to DNAinfo. “People don’t have the luxury of riding their bike in the morning and leaving their Beamer at home.”

It’s possible Berlin is so out of touch that he doesn’t know 75 percent of households in the district don’t own a car, and that working-class households are even more likely to be car-free. But judging by his public antics, it’s more likely he doesn’t care. The majority of residents who attended Monday’s meeting came to show support for the DOT plan, and Berlin dismissed them — even addressing one plan proponent, a staffer for Council Member Mark Levine, as “honey child,” according to multiple sources.

Berlin was last appointed by Rodriguez, and his term expires next month. According to a press release from Brewer, the number of new applicants for Community Board 12 and neighboring Community Board 11 “more than doubled” compared to last year. For the sake of public safety and quality of life in Washington Heights and Inwood, Rodriguez and Brewer should make room for a fresh face by thanking Berlin for his service and sending him on his way.

  • SheRidesABike

    It’s worth noting that in 2009 the uptown complete streets group at the time sent a long letter to then BP Stringer detailing these same kinds of really disrespectful and unbecoming behaviors from Berlin and two other CB 12 T&T members. Rodriguez was copied on that, so he has in theory known for some time and had specific examples of incidents that happened over a series of meetings. These are not one-time having-an-off-day incidents for Berlin and Rodriguez knows or should know this so if he reappoints Berlin I really hope folks push back hard.

    The other 2 members who have been really rude in the past seem to have mellowed, for example, Anita’s stock response to any bike/ped stuff was for a time to simply abstain from all votes; perhaps that has changed since I left.

  • JudenChino

    I think the real question is why this Bozo is a CB member to begin with?

    Does he have political juice? Is he one of these people who’s the silent owner of like a ton of property? Not everyone spends all that time on the board solely for the public interest. Many of them have stakes. So please do some investigating and look into that.

    Because pressuring Ydanis and Brewer could be useful, or it could be fruitless, if, for example, Berlin is the chair of a bunch of foundations that happen to dispense grants throughout WaHi.

  • Joe R.

    It could be any one of the following reasons:

    1) He has substantial business interests in the area which could benefit from community board decisions.

    2) He has friends or family who have local businesses.

    3) He receives kickbacks from local businesses in return for community board decisions which might benefit them.

    4) He has dirt on Rodriguez and/or Brewer which he’ll make public if he isn’t appointed to the community board.

    5) He bribed Rodriguez and/or Brewer to be appointed to the community board.

    The old adage here is if something doesn’t make sense either follow the money or follow the stench. I suspect both are involved here. NYC politics greatly resembles that in the old USSR where you basically get things done by bribes, blackmail, or hoarding favors. The community boards, being solely appointed positions with no term limits, also happen to be the most ripe for corruption. I have the same gut feeling about Berlin I had about Bruno and Silver years before they were indicted-namely that he doesn’t belong anywhere outside of a jail cell, never mind in an influential position.

  • Lindsay Armstrong

    I was at the meeting and wanted to clarify that the stipulation that was added did not specifically recommend shortening the bike lane. The language that was discussed was for the DOT to make an effort to reduce the impact on parking. The idea of the DOT finding alternate spaces was mentioned and that’s something that has happened on past projects. Not offering any personal opinion on the rest, but I think it’s a worthwhile distinction as one phrasing gives the DOT much more wiggle room. We’ll see how the final resolution is presented at the full board meeting.

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