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Congressman, I Believe… A Response To Jerrold Nadler


I believe that G-d wants us to do the right thing, even when faced with determined opposition.  I believe that our community is perhaps the most giving and vibrant in the world.  And I believe in vigorously representing and protecting my constituents – all my constituents, Congressman Nadler.

Reading the congressman’s Op-Ed on the Cross Harbor Rail Tunnel (“Real Solutions Vs. Doomsday Scenarios,” Jewish Press, Feb. 11). I was overjoyed. You see, Mr. Nadler had told me – told everyone who called his office, really – that Cross Harbor was a done deal, that this freight fiasco was going to happen. Nothing could be done to stop it. Get on board now, he would proclaim, and take credit for bringing some money to your community. We’ll hold a joint press conference!

Now I know the truth. Congressman Nadler is scared. Scared that his thirty years of freight train dreams (our freight train nightmare) will go up in smoke at the hands of a community he has taken for granted. So scared, in fact, that he flanked himself with 200 Teamsters at a public hearing in Midwood last week. It did him no good; our community outnumbered, outlasted, and out-lobbied the congressman’s hired guns, nary a one a local resident. The members of our community remained when all but a handful of the laborers had left. And we let him know how we view betrayal; we let him know how we feel about a freight railroad running through the heart of Brooklyn.

So scared, in fact, is Mr. Nadler that he felt compelled to attack me in the pages of The Jewish Press. (Thanks for the attention, Congressman).

“In conjuring up an imaginary crisis, the councilman opposes a necessary solution to real problems,” he wrote. My answer is simple: If our esteemed congressman, who calls Manhattan home, lived and grew up (as I did) alongside this railroad – raised his children alongside this railroad, watched them play alongside this railroad, sent them to school alongside this railroad – he would understand that this crisis is indeed very real (and perhaps be less inclined to call us “hysterical”).

So scared, in fact, is the congressman that I am told he no longer takes calls on the railroad from anyone outside his district. Call him anyway: 212-367-7350. A true public servant owes it to all New Yorkers, and indeed all Americans, to explain his position on a project of which he is the progenitor – the prime kveller. And the Railroads Subcommittee member should have the guts to fess up on his position and rationale, not just refer you to a neighboring member of Congress.

So scared, in fact, is Congressman Nadler that he has stopped arguing this freight project on its merits, instead throwing the threat of terror into his chulent of weak arguments. “It would be a challenge to prevent starvation,” he wrote, “if the [George Washington] Bridge were closed even temporarily.” Now who’s making “doomsday predictions”? What a shame to exploit the tragedy of 9/11 for the sake of a freight train.

Congressman Nadler’s “doomsday predictions” are meant to intimidate our powerful voice into silence. We must deal with the emergency facing us today by stopping Cross Harbor in its tracks, as we would any project destined to devastate our community without guaranteeing the necessary protections.

“Perhaps,” wrote the congressman, we can “even cover completely some segments of the line.” Perhaps?! If Mr. Nadler made representing his Brooklyn constituents the priority he makes representing his Manhattan environmentalists, covering Segment Two – the segment that runs from Boro Park to Brooklyn College – would be a prerequisite, and guaranteed in writing.

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Congressman Nadler is scared. Scared that his thirty years of freight train dreams (our freight train nightmare) will go up in smoke at the hands of a community he has taken for granted.

While people around me dove for cover, ran frantically and crawled helplessly in hopes of escaping, I froze for a moment, trying to make sense of the state of panic that had abruptly seized the room.

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