Dec 062012

Saturday December 8th, at 11:30.

Councilman Vallone will be there, as will representatives from

We will post any updates to this as we hear of them.

We expect to get press coverage. Come out and show your support!

 Posted by at 11:50 pm

Legal Help Needed

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Dec 052012

Further investigation into the City Charter reveals that we may have a tough fight ahead of us. The Design Commission apparently has special rights that apply to its own public hearings, and is allowing what may be the minimal notice (3 days) within the bounds of the law as it applies exclusively to itself. The commission posts these notices and holds these hearings as closely around a weekend as possible, as if to minimize public awareness of what they are doing. This also constitutes an deliberate discouragement to public involvement, because each bulletin requests (but does not require) that members of the public submit a copy of written testimony 3 business days prior, which in almost all instances of these bulletins’ posting do not exist.

If you or someone you know is an attorney interested in helping the community find legal recourse either to contest the hearing or appeal the decision, we want to hear from you.Please contact:

 Posted by at 2:47 am
Dec 042012

From to the Mayor’s Office of Contract Services:

Pursuant to Sections 384, 824, 1301 (2)(g), 1301 (2)(I), 1806 (6)(j)and 1804 of the New York City Charter, and Section 5-358 of the Administrative Code, Public Hearings must be held to enable the Mayor’s Office to hear testimony regarding sales, dispositions, acquisitions, and leasing of Real Property of The City of New York.

The New York City Charter can be found here.

Section 384 (page 140): states:
“Disposal of property of the city. a. No real property of the
city may be sold, leased, exchanged or otherwise disposed of except with
the approval of the mayor and as may be provided by law unless such
power is expressly vested by law in another agency.
b. Except as otherwise specifically provided by law:
1. The mayor may authorize the sale or lease only for the highest
marketable price or rental, at public auction or by sealed bids and
after advertisement for at least thirty days in the City Record, of any
real property belonging to the city or any interest therein. No such
sale or lease shall be authorized until a public hearing has been held
with respect to such sale or lease after the publication of notice in
the City Record at least thirty days in advance of such hearing

Section 824 (page 208): states:
“Real property. With respect to real property, the commissioner
shall have the following powers and duties:
(a) to purchase, lease, condemn or otherwise acquire real property for
the city, subject to the approval of the mayor, and to sell, lease,
exchange or otherwise dispose of real property of the city, subject to
the requirements of section three hundred eighty-four and subject to
review and approval either pursuant to section one hundred ninety-five,
if applicable, or pursuant to sections one hundred ninety-seven-c and
one hundred ninety-seven-d. No such purchase, lease, condemnation or
other acquisition shall be authorized until a public hearing has been
held with respect to such acquisition after the publishing of notice in
the City Record at least ten days but not more than thirty days in
advance of such hearing

Section 1804. (page 288) states:
“Acquisitions of real property. No purchase, lease,
condemnation or other acquisition of real property by the department
shall be authorized until (1) a public hearing has been held with
respect to the acquisition after the publishing of notice in the City 10
Record at least thirty days in advance of such hearing

 Posted by at 8:02 pm
Nov 302012

We have recently received through Jon Torodash the following response from the Design Commission, by Executive Director Jackie Snyder:

Per standard procedure, the November 13th agenda was published three business days in advance of the public hearing. The agenda was also distributed to the community boards and the City Council.

Members of the public are always welcome to attend public hearings and testify. Written testimony is also accepted at any time. People are encouraged to submit their written testimony at least three days in advance, so staff, as a courtesy, can distribute it to Commissioners prior to the meeting.

If written testimony is received before a project is calendared, it is kept on file and circulated at the appropriate time. You can also contact the City agencies directly to ask when a project will be submitted. A directory of agency liaisons is available on the Design Commission Web site.

As we have already stated, there is publicly viewable digital evidence on that the Design Committee did not post 3 business days prior. In fact, they have been routinely altering the final version of the public hearing bulletin within 2 or even less than 1 business day of the meeting time for all of 2012 if not earlier. We will soon post a step by step guide on how you can inspect this for yourself. A fuller technical audit (we are looking into filing a request for information) may reveal that these last minute “edits” are in fact the first posting of these bulletins.

Secondly, the DCAS has already been contacted on this matter, as have city council members’ and other offices, and we are not aware of anyone receiving any indication about when this project was submitted.

We encourage you to contact the Design Commission and your councilperson to express your concern over this matter.

 Posted by at 10:45 am
Nov 282012

According to the NY Times, the Design Commission of New York will put the Triumph of Civic Virtue on “Long-term loan” to Green-Wood.

When it comes to public hearings The Design Commission says,

Members of the public are encouraged to arrive at least 45 minutes in advance of the estimated time; those who also plan to testify are encouraged to submit their testimony in writing at least three (3) business days in advance of the meeting date.


The Design Commission’s idea of a “public hearing”, is to post the final bulletin containing the items of the agenda usually just before the weekend (on a Thursday or Friday) preceding the Monday when the meeting actually takes place, so 3 business days do not even exist. has uncovered the following patterns between meeting and posting date:

Design Commission Public Hearing Date Final Version Posted
Tuesday, November 13th Friday, November 9th
Monday, October 22nd Friday, October 19th
Monday, September 10th Friday, September 7th
Monday, August 6th Friday, August 3rd
Monday, July 16th Friday, July 13th
Monday, June 25th Tuesday, June 19th
Monday, June 4th Monday, June 4th
Monday, May 14th Friday, May 11th
Monday, April 23th Friday, April 20th
Monday, April 2nd Friday, March 30th
Monday, March 12th Friday, March 9th
Tuesday, February 21st Friday, February 17th
Monday, January 30th Friday, January 27th
Monday, January 9th Friday, January 6th

In light of the difficulties Queens has had in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, thought it fair and decent to refrain from campaigning to those politicians and city agencies so that they could devote their energies to the ongoing cleanup.

The Design Commission’s “public hearings” however, exemplify a bureaucracy that disenfranchises the people of New York, a complete absence of civic virtue. will be looking into whether there is any legal action that can be taken. For now, we recommend that you phone, write, fax, and e-mail to the following points of contact to protest this outrage:

Design Commission
253 Broadway, Fifth Floor
Phone: 212-788-3071
Fax: 212-788-3086

Commissioners of the Design Commission we suggest you contact:

Jackie Snyder, Executive Director – as liaison to city hall for the Design Commission, Ms. Snyder has a history of diverting blame away from the Design Commission’s activities. Let her know you are not satisfied with this response.

Keri Butler, Director of Art & Conservation – should be looking into why Civic Virtue has been allowed to decay for years despite outreach efforts.

Dr. Mahnaz Ispahani Bartos – is the New York Public Library representative. Dr. Bartos’ institution benefits from having MacMonnies’ works.

Otis Pratt Pearsall – “A lawyer and preservationist for more than 40 years,” according to the Design Commission’s website. Mr. Pearsall serves on the boards of the Brooklyn Museum, Green-Wood and the New York Preservation Archive Project. It would be a fine thing for him to speak out against poaching Queens’ art.

Ann G. Tenenbaum – Representative from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, another institution which benefits from having MacMonnies’ works.

Kandace V. Simmons – Mayor Bloomberg’s representative who serves as his representative on the Public Design Commission of the City of New York. Tell her to inform her boss that the people of Queens need mayoral intervention in this matter.

 Posted by at 12:50 pm
Oct 282012

One of the statue’s advocates from the local community has posted a great rendition of the statue on our Facebook page juxtposing past and present:

As you can see, renewal will help the statue regain much of the nuanced detail of Civic Virtue’s hyperrealistic musculature and its pristine marble veneer.

Queens truly deserves MacMonnies’ work in its full glory sitting beside Borough Hall, as proof that we do indeed value civic virtue in this diverse and amazing borough.

Find out what you can do to help or reach out and ask us specifically!

 Posted by at 9:03 pm
Oct 192012

All Queens council members have received an e-mail message asking for a statement on the statue by the end of next week, October 26th. A statement – not funding, not a drafted proposal, not even a promise – just a statement.

Ignoring the statue and allowing further decay by equivocating is a convenient way to ignore the responsibility that comes with the office of the city council, and to effectively marginalize the people of Queens.

To put matters in perspective, efforts to have the statue restored have been unsuccessful for over ten years. Efforts toward decommission have been going on for over a year and a half. This is not a new issue, and a week should be more than sufficient time to issue a statement.

The people of Queens deserve to know where their representatives stand.

 Posted by at 5:26 pm
Oct 192012 would like to thank Ross Barkan and the Queens tribune for their publicity of this website. The Tribune has provided even-handed coverage of this issue in the past, and continues to helpfully inform the residents of Queens.

Spokesperson Dan Andrews’ comments in the article are worth noting, as this is the first we’ve heard about the MacMonnies family taking an active interest in having the statue moved to the Green-Wood cemetery. It may be the case that the family simply prioritizes the restoration issue over public ownership, and they believe, rightly, that it will sooner receive proper treatment in the cemetery. does not seek to antagonize either the Green-Wood cemetery or the MacMonnies family. We believe their interest reflects a respect for Frederick MacMonnies’ art that we share. The statue however, is and has always been the property of the public. Law, precedent, and the majority opinion of citizens is on our side with regard to preserving it under the parks department’s care in Kew Gardens, and we will continue to advocate for this.

 Posted by at 12:30 am
Sep 282012

Many have heard that the Triumph of Civic Virtue statue was recently scheduled to be sold to Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn.

This is not in fact the case. We received an e-mail from the Department of Citywide Administrative Services as follows:

Please be advised that the Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) is currently looking into conservation options for the statue. The City, as a policy, does not decommission or sell works of art. While no decision has been made at this point, DCAS understands the significance of this piece of art, and will work diligently towards an appropriate resolution.

Although this is a welcomed change of news from earlier stories this summer about the clandestine sale to the Green-Wood cemetery, it is far from a promise that decisions about the statue’s future will stop happening under bureaucratic obscurity.

One of the more recent pieces of coverage in the mainstream media can be found in the Wall Street Journal.

Note the comments of councilwoman Ferreras:

“For me, it’s a relief if the statue is being removed,” she said. “I think the cemetery is where it belongs. I guess, pun intended, it’s a dead issue for all the women of Queens who had to see it on a daily basis.”

“For me, it’s a relief” – This is not the language of a councilwoman working in the interest of the public; it evokes the satisfaction of a personal grudge, perhaps calculated to bring attention to the Committee on Women’s Issues she chairs.

With the many problems the women of Queens face day to day, is doubtful that the mislabeled sexism of the statue is anywhere on their radar. We would like to see Ferreras direct her efforts to genuinely pressing issues for women. None of the residents of Kew Gardens were eligible to vote on councilwoman Ferreras’ seat, and it is difficult to justify why she is trying to alter the character of a neighborhood outside of her district. Anthony Weiner continues (wisely) to keep his voice out of the media on this issue.

If you feel that the neighborhood of Kew Gardens deserves not to be harried by political meddling to remove its public art, click here to find out what can be done.

 Posted by at 11:10 am