The Role of PPEN and PLGNA Non-Profits, Selling Out the Community"
As you know, one of MTOPP’s job has been to uncover all that is hidden in this community concerning this whole rezoning issue and it has and continues to be Borough President Eric Adams, emphasis to try and deliver our community to Developers through, a rezoning process with the Department of City Planning, “DCP” just like, East New York, Harlem, Jerome Ave in the Bronx and every other community of color that developers have their eyes on to make money.
Two years ago, Community Board 9 requested that City Planning do a study of our community and that letter basically gave them the keys to this community. However, it was important that at least one community group be sponsoring this request otherwise it would not “appear” to be a community generated request.
According to the minutes of CB9’s March 2014, where the letter was approved Prospect Park East Network “PPEN”, was that organization. However, what we found out via our investigation is that all along, despite these members talking about how they didn’t want development because of the increase density, or high rises that they were busy sending letters to “ DCP”, approving of this letter that would have gotten us high rise development.
On April 23, 2014, a letter from PPEN to “DCP”stated that “PPEN supports the CB9 resolution… and that the amendment should be adopted as soon as possible.”
On May 28, 2014 the Department of City Planning responded to PPEN and basically told them that if they wanted to get protection for those small areas they would have to have an “area-wide rezoning”, analyze the existing, “built context” “building form”, “land use” and “housing goals” and the need for “more affordable housing”
In response On May 31, 2014, PPEN sent another letter to “DCP”and this time they specifically talked about protecting “Two Blocks” and for the first time suggested that “more affordable housing” could be one of the goals of this rezoning. (By the way these two blocks are where Quest Fanning, President of PLGNA, father's backyard resides.) Thus it was clear that Quest Fanning had no problem with giving up our back yards to save his father’s. The type of scenario that DCP loves to play on with communities. We will protect this if you give us that!
Now MTOPP has already shown via video, that this letter would have given up the entire Community for up zoning on every major Ave and it seemed that the only area that PPEN cared about was those two blocks on Flatbush! What a trade off!
They were now willing to discuss the “creation of affordable housing” and they already knew that Empire Blvd was slated for serious up zoning - ideal for the creation of “affordable” housing, to justify giving them Empire Blvd, which in the end would have never gotten any affordable housing on it just 25+ stories, just like the Cadman Plaza Library.
As you might already know, MTOPP was able to organize the people and we stopped this letter from being acted upon by “DCP”. However, On November 6, 2014 PPEN again wrote a letter to Community Board 9 expressing their approval of the rezoning letter request and even stated that they had a 1,500 person signed petition that supported development in our community.
I know I was one of those people who signed the aforementioned petition and as far I can recall there was nothing in it that talked about supporting development “responsible or otherwise” and there was no mention of it supporting the rezoning letter.
What these series of letters shows is that whole time the community was fighting hard to stop a letter that would have placed us in the same position that, East New York is now in, PPEN, the entire time was supporting it, not up front, but behind closed doors with these letters.
After November 18, 2014, when it was declared that we had won and the letter was rescinded by the CB9 Board, PPEN basically died out and their members dispersed.
Deal with the Devil
Then all of sudden on May 22, 2015 PPEN were summons to Borough President Eric Adams’
Office and sat down with him and the local Council people and was given funding for a “community base study” who’s emphasis was on the “creation of affordable housing”.
The idea was now PPEN was going to be an advocacy group working for tenants rights and then position themselves to push for a rezoning who’s emphasis was going to be on creating affordable housing in the 2nd most affordable community in Brooklyn, completely ignoring the fact that Luxury development that would arise from increase heights in our community will destroy this affordable community!
However, PPEN has never done any tenant advocacy group work, so they approached UHAB, a member of Leticia James Worst Landlord List, via Crown Heights Tenant Union "CHTU" that was created by UHAB, to help them organize and give them some “legitimacy” to being a tenant advocacy group. UHAB is also funded by The City and our local politicians use them for photo opps, when they do tenant actions.
In November 2, 2015, PPEN/PLGNA came to the community to described all of the money they were getting from the local politicians and they stated that they had hired two For profit organizations; Look out Hill Public Policy Associates and The Collective for Community, Culture and Environment, to accomplish their goals of creating a “study”.
Their parameters included things that the DCP letter dated May 28, 2014, stated they needed in order for DCP to do a rezoning study, and there was a heighten emphasis on “housing” advocacy to which they were now professing to be. The physical parameters were the same as was identified at CB9 from Eastern Parkway to Clarkson and From the Park/Garden to East New York Ave. These parameters overstepped their boundaries as a community base group in that it included Crown Heights, to which they have no domain over either socially or physically but they felt they had the right to include it. However it did not include the Jewish Community!
For the past two years MTOPP in this community have been fighting against a rezoning, CHTU has never entered into supporting our efforts officially. At one point when we started the Empire Study Group, a member came to the initial meeting and we added CHTU onto our list of supporters, but we were told to take them off, because they had not decided to support our efforts and they never did.
Now PLGNA and PPEN made the claim this new study, supported and paid for by our local politicians was to counter balance the rezoning request that their President Quest Fanning had actually supported and voted for and which now shows they were supporting all along!!! CHTU now states it wants to get into the game of rezoning and have a seat at the table!
The scam is the following "Well Department of City Planning is going to do a study, no matter what, so we should be sitting at the table to make sure we get ours!" But what they are actually doing is pushing to get a "study" to give to City Planning and to which their side deals have already been done and the rest of the community will be screwed, just like East New York, and every other community of color that has been involved with a rezoning study with the Department of City Planning.
Why because regardless of who begins a study, the final outcome is completely and wholly up to the Department of City Planning. Community Boards and Community groups and non-profits are all just advisory with no power! They are only needed to start the ball rolling!
And that is what PLGNA, PPEN and CHTU/UHAB want. They want to start the ball rolling!
The Money Trail
PPEN in order to received this money had to have a non-profit in good standing and so PLGNA, Prospect Lefferts Garden Neighborhood Assn, who's President is Quest Fanning, who is also a member of PPEN,was used to secure the funds.
$8,000 from Assemblywoman Diana Richardson
$5,000 has been earmarked from Councilman Mathieu Eugene
$2000 has been earmarked from Councilwoman, Lauri Cumbo.
$1,500 from Borough President Eric Adams private non-profit “One Brooklyn”
The monies from the council people are coming from what is known as Discretionary Funding from the City and is given as an reimbursement process, according to Councilman Eugene Mathieu that Empire Study group met with In January 2016, to discuss this funding.
According to the Discretionary Funding Policies and Procedures, New York City Council pamphlet dated February 2013 Page 3, it states that “For-profit entities may not receive (their emphasis) discretionary funds unless it is a subcontract, however, the For-profit must be only an ancillary part of the program, to be funded and not the primary basis for the discretionary award!
Now according to the Pamphlet that was released by PPEN/PLGNA, The entire project was for the creation of a rezoning study, to which they have no expertise and that the entire project was going to be completed by both of these “for-profit organizations.”
What this means is that if PLGNA decides to request reimbursement, for these funds and has used these for-profits organizations, then they can be charged with misappropriation of funds.
If they choose to not request the funds and decide to pay out of pocket, for what they have already spent and the last time we met, in the end of December, they were well on their way to almost completing the study,then this study will first not have any support from the community
which was demonstrated at the meeting that was held on December 28, 2015 at the Brooklyn Public Library, where community groups who would most be affected by their rezoning study stated very clearly that they did not support PLGNA's behavior, intentions or rezoning study, and second, is now completely funded by private entities.
They lost their funding from Assemblywoman Diana Richardson, when MTOPP exposed the fact that State money was being used to fund a city project, which it can't do, and the only funding source left is Borough President Eric Adams Private Non-profit organization "One Brooklyn".
MTOPP will take acceptation to the idea of Borough President, Eric Adams then using the PLGNA study as a community Base study and will do all that is within its power both legally and politically to stop a rezoning request to be given to DCP to again to rezone our community.
As you can see, Non-profits have been the key to the success of rezoning in a lot of our communities. They are supported by local politicians and yet they appear to the community as friends and fighters for the residents. They apply band-aid kind of support, but no real empowerment and when the time comes they gladly sell out the community for back room deals.
They help to organize the people to resist a rezoning by engaging in tactics that will prove completely ineffective, "the creation of an alternative study". By this they use the power of resistance to funnel the energy into creating a document, which they know will lead to it being thrown in the garbage. The Politicians pay for the documents to be created, showing the community how they are actually supporting them, and will even stand up in the end and say they don't support the City Planning rezoning but there is nothing they can do, because the community is just advisory.
This has been done time and time again, community after community, rezoning after rezoning, especially in communities of color where resistance is strong. The for-profits work hard at creating a rezoning document, then they walk away from the rezoning with money in their pockets and a community left dis-empowered and broken.
The whole time the community residents could have been engaged in true strategies that might have gotten them some concessions, they worked on a document that produced no results! Now these same for profit organizations have come into our community and said the same thing. "Oh but you must be sitting at the table when a rezoning happens." But they never can produce any evidence where that strategy has worked!
MTOPP is committee to stopping these types of scams right in their tracks. We will continue to expose these groups for exactly what they are opportunist who are only thinking about themselves.