January 29, 2013
Marc Bussanich and Joe Maniscalco
Environmental activists, union members and immigrant workers recently discussed at 32BJ SEIU’s offices the need for community and labor organizations to closely follow the money when the Senate authorizes billions for post-Sandy aid and to engage politicians and policy makers to shape the rebuilding process. (Watch video)
Eddie Bautista, Executive Director of the New York City Environmental Justice Alliance, said the organization was formed in the early 1990s to consolidate different groups fighting against environmental injustice on the city’s industrial waterfront under one umbrella organization.
Bautista noted that the city groups different industrial properties into six clusters—four in Brooklyn and one each in the Bronx and the north shore of Staten Island. Many of the group’s members live within the six clusters, which are areas also susceptible to strong storm surges that present a “clear and preset danger for multiple communities of color and low-income communities,” said Bautista.
Pat Simon of the Ocean Bay Community Development Corporation expressed concern that the commissions the city and state have formed for rebuilding so far seem only concerned with re-zoning and not rebuilding.
Bettina Damiani of Good Jobs NY said that hard-working New Yorkers will have to be vigilant on how post-Sandy aid is distributed. For example, after the tragedy of September 11, 2001, the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation was created to coordinate rebuilding. According to Damiani, Congress waived requirements for LMDC to hold public hearings.
“There have got to be public hearings before CDBG funds [federal funds for redevelopment] are allocated. They cannot, cannot, cannot go after the same process they did with Lower Manhattan money,” said Damiani.