Dear Mr. Holden,
I appreciate your reaching out to me in order to work collaboratively with your civic association and help ensure that your community concerns are heard and addressed by the City. As the new Commissioner of the Mayor’s Community Affairs Unit, I have often voiced my view that my office’s relationship with community groups is a partnership. We rely on active and engaged community members like you to let us know about concerns of their neighborhoods, and be our partners in conducting outreach and finding pragmatic solutions to those concerns.
To that end, we approach all of our constituents with a level of courtesy and professionalism that reflects our role as City employees and representatives of the Mayor. The only thing we ask is that same courtesy and professional be returned, no matter how contentious the issue. Regardless of where we stand politically, we deal with one another and our constituents as rational and empathetic human beings. It is this personal touch and understanding that makes the people on my staff such phenomenal assets to the City.
One such person is Mathew Gorton, whom I believe you worked with on several issues concerning your community. While we were sad to see Matt leave, we were thrilled to be able to promote him to Legislative Affairs and see him continue his excellent work.
I have a new staff member, Jennifer Manley, who covers your district. Both Jennifer and I are ready and willing to work with you. However, I cannot make any commitments to meet with you or your group based upon your track record of treating your partners without any level of respect.
I was beyond disturbed to see a photograph on the front page of the Queens Tribune depicting a rally organized by your group during which a gentleman held a poster with a hangman’s noose (“reserved for”) Matt Gorton. (To be fair, Matt was in good company of the Mayor and the Deputy Mayor). Whether or not the poster was officially sanctioned by the Juniper Park Civic Association, your allowing it at your rally was at best A FAILURE OF LEADERSHIP AND AT WORSE AN ENDORSEMENT OF THREATENING AND VIOLENT TACTICS.
I understand a community fighting for what they hold dear to them – what I do not understand and can’t accept, is this reduction of civil discourse to a crude personal attack. I certainly did not appreciate seeing what could be perceived as a death threat against one of my staff splashed across the front page of the paper. And neither did anyone else at City Hall.
As I said, we are happy to come to the table. But we will only do that with the understanding across from us there will be a group of mature adults whose goals are to improve their community through productive dialogue and work, not to stage cheap political stunts, such as the aforementioned poster, for a shot at the papers.
If you are willing to work with us under these conditions I’ve asked for, I would appreciate a PUBLIC APOLOGY to Matt and the others featured on that poster, including the Mayor and Deputy Mayor. THERE ARE LINES, EVEN IN THE POLITICAL ARENA, AND YOUR GROUP HAS CERTAINLY CROSSED ONE.
We certainly wouldn’t one misguided judgment to prevent our working together for the betterment of the community. However, we need a sign of good faith that you and your group are ready to move forward with us in the spirit of mutual respect. An apology would be that sign. I don’t think it’s too much to ask you to put your best foot forward with regard to future dealings with my office.
This is a great letter but unfortunately it is hard to teach an unleashed old dog new tricks. To ask Bob Holden and the JPCA leadership to act with courtesy, respect and professionalism is like asking Larry Flint to start publishing children’s books. Bob Holden and his cronies only know how to operate by attacking individuals and using deplorable tactics. They have made many misguided judgments and have alienated so many because of their shameful devices.
It should be interesting to see if Bob complies with the Mayor’s reasonable request for an apology. Stay tuned.
We would also hope the JPCA starts apologizing to the hundreds of other people they have offended in the past!
Once again the Juniper Park Civic Association leadership has failed their community!
*Please click on the images below to view the actual letter which was sent to the JPCA.