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A full year after the debacle known only as “woodchip-gate”, GBCares continues to blame this site and its visitors for all of its problems. But, the truth is literally in the details.
In an article called “Weekly Community Service Suspended Until Further Notice”, which GBCares released in their newsletter, they outlined their story, starring a jealous city agency, and a “careless weblog attack”.
Strap in kids!
Weekly Community Service Program
“SUSPENDED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE”
GB Cares has suspended our community service (CS) program with the Brooklyn DA’s office, including the
weekly parkland maintenance and improvements. Unfortunately, we are one of the victims of a careless local weblog that decided to create a controversy with a very successful clean up and wood chip recycling project coordinated by our organization and supported in writing by Public School 277, All American Soccer, Resurrection Softball, Knights of Columbus #5989, The Cort Club, AOH, and the VFW Post 107. The weblog and its negative anonymous commenters’ attacks on our organization, board members and many others in the community is an embarrassment for all that love and care about our neighborhood, and volunteer time to make a positive difference. This has caused a ripple effect of causing other problems for our organization, a lower level of interest from volunteers, and compounded the problems of working within the bureaucracy of government agencies.
Right off the bat, the victim card – actually, the entire victim deck is played. GBCares was the little weakling victimized by this weblog. Although we are not sure what a weblog is, it’s obvious they took steps to not mention Gerritsenbeach.net by name which is strange because they had no problem mentioning the website and me by name on their website and press releases. But apparently, the site is the bully.
This bullying weblog would like to civilly point out that, despite all the notes of support and approval, I don’t see that the successful cleanup was an approved Parks project….
This bullying weblog would also like to nicely point out that said supporting groups were only asked to write a letter of support after Parks told GBCares to stop working on the parkland.
This bullying weblog would also like to politely express that it’s been a full year now since GBCares suspended the community service program. Oh, and not to be rude, this bullying weblog would also care to share with you all that the community service program has nothing to do with NYC Parks request for written approval of GBCares projects. This was an internal decision, which they explain below.
Here is my final editorial on the woodchips matter. These comments are directed by a certain someone who has a vendetta against me and this site: Enough is enough. It’s been a year already. Grow up and move on. People are tired of reading about this and I’m very tired of writing about it.
But, back to this interesting work of fiction:
Our current problems with NYC Parks started in April of 2009 when new and inexperienced, Park Manager Alex Mezzatesta demanded we stop all major projects and prohibited the use any power equipment or vehicles on the Parkland (try mowing the baseball and soccer fields with a push mower). We explained the activities had always been done with the full knowledge and cooperation of the Parks Department and staff, and that together we accomplished so much over the last decade. He did not seem to be knowledgeable about our activities and successes. So we invited him to visit our storage containers to show him the equipment and supplies we have, and loaned to Parks Department when requested in the past. He was also given copies of old newsletters for background and the 2009 newsletter that was a review of GBC activities that happened in 2008. We hoped he would get a better understand-ing of the thousands of man hours that support the Parks Department each year. He seemed annoyed that we had a better set up of tools and equipment then the Parks Department had for the entire district. We explained it took us over a decade to be as organized and well equipped as we are now, but unfortunately jealousy and closed- mindedness apparently kept him from seeing the larger picture and the benefits to Gerritsen Beach that the Parks Department just cannot provide.
This is where things get weird. (I know, some of you are saying NOW it’s weird?)
Talk about throwing someone under a bus! This is surely not the way to win friends and influence people in the parks department! Giving old newsletters to the park manager to get him to reinstate things is just not a good idea. Calling him ungrateful, jealous and closed-minded, is not going to get you anywhere.
Wouldn’t it have been better to have given him an approval letter from Parks? Maybe, if the letter didn’t exist put him in contact with a higher-up in Parks with knowledge of the “approved” program?
Wait, I’m bullying again, aren’t I.
Ladies and gentlemen: having the full knowledge and cooperation of Parks is one thing – having Parks turn a blind eye on our community is another. Bottom line: if everything was done with any type of knowledge , none of this would of ever been a problem for the organization.
Back to FantasyLand – now attacking the good commenters that frequent this here bully weblog:
On April 8, 2009 we sent a letter to NYC Parks Department to request re-approval and support for the 46 projects and regular activities performed by GBC on the Parkland. Since we still had verbal permission to pick up garbage and empty the garbage cans we continued with the weekly CS program workers. Then the weblog and its anonymous commenters made entirely baseless claims accusing GB Cares and some of the volunteers of criminal and illegal activities. According to the weblog it was illegal to have the community service workers in the Park. Our Board of Director had many concerns and questions that lead us to have meetings to discuss the concerns with NYC Parks Commissioner Julius Spiegel, Councilman Lew Fidler, and a partner from a large law firm that helps GB Cares with legal issues. On a May 17, 2009 conference call with Commissioner Spiegel he did not have a problem with the community service program workers. We requested something in writing, and sent a request for approval specifically for the community service program on June 8, 2009, with a reminder that we were still waiting for the response to the request for re-approval of the projects and activities that was sent on April 8th. We are still waiting for a signed response from NYC Parks Department for both letters. We have received written approval of many of our activities but the approval was not signed, and everyone knows that an unsigned letter is nearly worthless. To protect our members, volunteers and organization it was decided we would push for a signed approval letter.
Hopefully this is a honest mistake, but it does beg the question: If the woodchip story came out April 18th, 2009, how can you ask for “re-approval” of shut down projects ten days before on April 8th 2009? Their timeline is all screwy. (I know, JUST the timeline is all screwy?)
Back to the criminal accusations: Wait, what accusations? No one made accusations! No author ever said anything like that! As stated above, even the Parks Commissioner didn’t have a problem with the community service program! And rightly so! It’s a great program , And this nonsense about an unsigned letter, they did receive an approval letter, it was their OWN choice not to act on it, so I don’t see what that has to do with anything.
Then we had questions about insurance coverage for the CS workers assigned by the DA’s office, volunteer supervisors running the program, and anyone that may need the coverage from an injury related to our activities. The DA’s office verbally explained coverage would be there when needed, but again, they refused to provide anything in writing. The NYC Parks Department wants everyone to sign a waiver of liability through the Partnership with Parks program. This waiver would have the CS workers and volunteers waive any rights to medical coverage, or other compensation, in the event of an injury in any park. This is also unacceptable to GBC. As part of the grant process from NYC GBC purchases a policy that covers the programs and activities funded through a NYC Council grant. Once again, the Council verbally assured us that the programs written into, and covered, by the NYC grant will be insured, but they refused to provide any documentation or specific details of who and what is insured. With these concerns in mind the GBC Board decided to make sure we have insurance coverage by purchasing an addi- tional policy for our events and activities. Unfortunately we could not find an insurance company that would also cover the CS program and workers for a reasonable fee.
Finally, some semblance of logic! It’s an issue of money and insurance! All that other blather about bullying weblogs and out of control commenters was a red herring. See, it just took a little bit of critical reading skills to get to the REAL reason why the program is suspended.
Maybe the scapegoating will end. But I doubt it.
Apparently, this matter will now be taken up with Parks again. I assume an “understanding” will be reached eventually. So we’ll wait and see what else we can get blamed for in the future.