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Sometimes the Good Guys Win

Red Hook is a neighborhood in Brooklyn right on the water with an incredibly active port on the East River of New York City. Red Hook has a rich maritime tradition - the movie, “On the Waterfront,” was filmed there, and the docks still bustle with container cargo from dozens of large ships. One of the few industrial zones left in the City, many Brooklynites are fighting against high-end real estate developers who see luxury housing rather than shipping docks in Red Hook. Why waste their beautiful views with jobs? The Red Hook port is owned by the Port Authority, not by the City of New York. The city has tried to acquire the waterfront in Red Hook. City officials would like to see high-end real estate developed on the waterfront in Red Hook; in their minds, container shipping simpy doesn’t provide enough jobs. City officials may lose out to saner heads, particularly Congressman Jerry Nadler. Congressman Nadler would like to see the city’s economic base far more diversified than it is now. We are far too dependent upon Wall Street, and we are all too familiar with the fact that Wall Street is cyclical economy. Keeping the one remaining port in New York City has become a high priority to many in Brooklyn and to the Congressman. The Congressman has worked to change the view of local officials - “They are warming to maritime uses, I definitely feel that.” (1) Nadler sees the rapid growth in shipping industry throughout the world influencing city officials to recognize the need in the city to maintain and strengthen the city’s shipping industry. The Daily News issued a stinging editorial against the city’s handling of Red Hook’s docks: “If these geniuses had devoted as much energy to eliminating vermin as they have to getting rid of American Stevedoring Inc. (ASI), New York would be rat-free.” (2) A week earlier, 20 elected officals, including Reps. Jerry Nadler and Anthony Weiner, Senator Chuck Schumer, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and City Controller Bill Thompson, wrote to the Port Authority and Governor Spitzer who controls half of the votes on the Port Authority’s board urging that ASI get a 10 year lease. Several of these politicians are planning on running for mayor. With the changing political landscape, Congressman Nadler may yet win a 10-year struggle to make the city understand the importance of diversification. (1) Brown, Elliot. 11/1/07. In Shift, City is Promoting Expansion of Maritime Industry. New York Sun. (2) New York Daily News editorial, 10/7/07. A Waterfront that Works, page 40.

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