February 11, 2023
Samir, my angel: my post about you getting a new job at Open New York was more about you getting a new job at Open New York than it was about your ability as a baker.
The point of my most recent post seems to have flown right over your head.
It wasn’t about the cookies, your leftover cookies, which lay stacked in your pink-lidded plastic container. I am sure they were delicious: cronyism generally is to the person who benefits from it.
My post was instead about how you had whined to me on that January morning about your unfortunate circumstances as an unemployed person while the likelihood instead is that you probably already knew that very morning that you were either on the short list for this new role at ONY or that you had gotten the job.
You were also that morning likely looking forward to your impending vacation to India while you cried poverty to me.
I wonder if you can understand that your pronounced level of comfort (high paying income opportunities, international travel) is not a place where most of your ONY opponents inhabit.
I don’t begrudge you your ability to earn a lot of money at a job you adore with fun friends you’ve known for years. But that’s a situation in which so few city residents and workers find themselves: so few of your New York neighbors have employment situations such as yours.
So now that you have this dream job, I wonder if you would be, um, open to speaking to the people and organizations which have been fighting for years to protect rent controls, maintain public housing and explore alternative housing solutions, like community land trusts, office-to-residential conversions and social housing.
During those years of fighting for fair housing and to even stay housed themselves, these people, me included, were called nimbies, vacancy truthers and brain damaged millionaire homeowners by ONY members.
You called me a “racist” that morning when I told you how professionally you presented and that you would likely get another job very soon.
And I mean, dang, how right I was, no?
But were you right, Samir? Was I “racist” towards you?
I don’t believe I was. I had kept telling you over and over that you would be fine and would land on your feet, it’s all on video: how was that “racist?”
Seriously, Samir: how was that racist?
And wouldn’t my “racism” have been on full display during our entire discourse? Wouldn’t the video have shown that?
When I was interviewed by Bridget Read (whose Curbed piece from this past week about an Open New York happy hour somehow neglected to reflect news of you having been hired), I relayed to her I’m still waiting to hear back from Annemarie Gray and that I welcome yimby/anti-yimby dialogue.
I wonder if you all do, as a group, maybe as individuals, welcome dialogue. I wonder if any of you would be open to that idea.
I wonder if you’re open to building a bridge instead of assigning a false narrative.
A town hall of Open New York and their opponents could be so clarifying to New York City residents: an opportunity for dialogue between both sides in this polarizing housing war.
Would Open New York be open to that?
Are any of you open to any discourse?
Wouldn’t it be useful to start some form of communication, or bridge building, or even just a simple hashing out between yimbys and the people who have issues with yimbys?
You’re part of this new chapter at Open New York, Samir, right? “Not All Yimbys,” right?
Then talk to people.
It doesn’t have to be with me, “the racist.”
But how about talking with some housing groups, some tenant groups, some neighborhood groups? Just open the door.
And how about showing your financials? Open New York is legally obligated as a nonprofit to be transparent, at the very least, about its received donations and doled out staff salaries: residents of NYC have been wondering about Open New York’s 990 form(s) for years now; I mentioned that very absence some three years ago when I wrote “Open Your Eyes to Open New York.”
Your own salary should be made public. So should Annemarie’s, and Asia’s, and Logan’s and Andrew’s. Open that up, it’s the law, make that information, your 990 forms (years of them at this point) public by opening your books.
And then, after you share the 990 forms which you are legally required to publicly post, how about opening a door?
Open a door, Open New York, by talking to New Yorkers. Not by talking to other yimbys at the pizza party but by talking to other New Yorkers who take issue with your organization and movement.
You claim you care about this city, then open yourselves up. Prove it. Prove your openness, Open New York.
You relayed to Curbed that you’re doing a “Not All Yimbys rebrand.”
Then show your work.
Prove your efforts with your neighbors, with your opponents, with us.
Your motto is “won’t you be our neighbor?”
Then demonstrate that.
Be a neighbor and open up.
Open up, Open New York.
Open your ears, open your minds and listen to others: open up, Open New York.
New Yorkers deserve that from every single one of you.
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