Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Congresswoman Yvette Clarke Still Straddling The Fence Regarding Gowanus Superfund

Monday night at Christ Church

Congresswoman Yvette Clarke

Cobble Hill Association President Roy Sloane

Yvette Clarke with her local representative Deanna Bitetti (left)
Gowanus Resident and Pro-Superfund activist Betty Lester

For its first Community Roundtable with our local elected officials, the Cobble Hill Association
hosted Congresswoman Yvette Clarke on Monday evening at the Christ Church on Clinton Street.

After an introduction by Roy Sloane, president of the Cobble Hill Association, Ms. Clarke spoke at length about the nearly $38 million in federal appropriations dollars for the 11th Congressional District of New York, which she has been able to secure. She also updated the community on her work on the various House committees and sub-committees she has been assigned to.

On her work on the Health Care Reform Committee, she stated that she is not encouraged by the plan proposed by the Senate, because it lacks a public option. She also feels that the proposal does not put enough emphasis on preventive care, and would leave the system open to runaway cost. "It baffles me how they expect to contain cost. The Senate left the door open for the 'wolves' to continue feeding the way they have."

On the economy and on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Clarke talked about the need to stabilize and strengthen local businesses, the staggering unemployment rate and the proposed measures to spur the creation of new jobs.

On Homeland Security, and the recent breaches in airline security, she explained that bureaucracy is very slow to change and that we must be "more dynamic in the use of tools put in place to keep us safe."

On education, she is in favor of expanding programs in early childhood development and in investing to bolster college access to students. We need to "improve productivity for the future by investing in our children."

Congresswoman Clarke also spoke about the Environmental Protection Agency's proposal to place the highly toxic Gowanus Canal on its list of Superfund Sites. (See video)
After more than eight months of her staff's claim of due-diligence and New York City's opposing plans for cleaning the Gowanus Canal, our Congresswoman has managed to reach no decision. She merely hides behind the tired claim that the Superfund does not have enough money, while admitting that the city has even less. What can she be thinking?

Claiming that "she saw no integrity in the EPA process because it is not funded" and that "the EPA has not connected the dots" to make her support the Superfund listing, Ms. Clarke clearly angered and exasperated many in the audience, including me.
It was frankly baffling how Ms. Clarke intends to continue straddling the fence on this issue, when most of our other local officials, including Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez, have come out in support for the Superfund listing. Explaining away her indecision by claiming that "I am a conflict resolution person" is frankly amateurish.

If this is an example of her abilities in representing her constituents then we can do better.

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Anonymous said...

I wish Major Owens would come out of retirement.

Congresswoman Clarke is either ill informed about the Superfund process or thinks her constituents are. Superfund is premised on the idea that polluters should be held accountable rather than tax payers. The EPA is experienced in identifying PRP's and yes, even getting PRP's to contribute financially. What Clarke failed to mention is that if a PRP litigates and loses the EPA is entitled to treble damages which is a powerful tool that only the EPA has.

Congresswoman Clarke's comment that she has requested that the EPA "connect the dots" borders on the Palinesque with its lack of specificity. I am not sure even the Congresswoman what dots needs

Congresswoman Clarke has had ample time to have any questions she might have answered. For her not to have a position or even issue a statement after nine months is unacceptable. Katia, you are absolutely right: the community deserves better.

Anonymous said...

THUNK. That sound you hear is the heads of the EPA employees hitting their desks after watching that video.

Superfund NOW!

Anonymous said...

Very pathetic. Does not look like big turn out for her. Love Ms. Velazquez. She is a true leader.

Anonymous said...

The congresswoman should support this and every Superfund designation.

How dare she ask that EPA provide information on how they will finance their program? The Superfund tool is NOT known for cleaning sites - it's known for delaying development and that's what we want!

Superfund NOW!