Opinion: End Toxic Discrimination

“Growing up in Brooklyn taught me one thing: how to work with the community,” Adam Victor assured a packed auditorium at a June 21st public meeting. The overflow crowd gathered at the Automotive High School in Greenpoint would have none of it, though. Mr. Victor, as well as his foes, clearly knew the spoils: yet another power plant along the North Brooklyn waterfront.

Mr. Victor, owner of the dubiously named Clean Point Energy company, offered one of the most bewildering Power Point presentations imaginable: a dizzying array of inscrutable charts and random statements, such as a new 1000-1500 megawatt steam and electricity generating power plant will actually “improve the area environmentally.” Sensitive to the needs of a blue-collar community now home to many artists, he spoke of new jobs, money for a community center, and, yes, “aesthetics.” Ever so generously, Victor even promised to sponsor a $100,000 prize for the best design for his proposed new plant.

As the local activists (see Bridget Terry’s report on page 3 of this issue) grilling him repeatedly exposed, Victor knows far more about dollars than environmental sense. A local landscape already populated with waste stations, power plants, a lingering oil spill, and all manner of city sludge hardly needs more electric power. What North Brooklyn does need, however, is more direct transmission of its political power. Time and again, local politicians have joined the neighborhood in stopping toxic threats, but these victories are by their very nature transient. When, for example, will Greenpoint be properly zoned for future inhabitance?

With the city elections fast approaching, locals here and elsewhere should select their allies carefully. Slickly packaged and far more polished, the leaders we will choose from may not be as cartoonish as Mr. Victor and company, so if we’re no vigilant, in the end we may again become, well, not winners.

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