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BatteryPark.TV has long criticized the extreme bias of the local advertising flier called the Broadsheet (BS), published by Robert Simko. Mr. Simko’s personal income is derived from the advertising revenue of the BS, and significant portions of that come from entities which the BS should be reporting on in an unbiased fashion.
Over that several weeks, as former State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has become embroiled in scandal after being arrested by the Department of Justice for alleged kickbacks and corruption, then was forced out of his Speaker position, the BS has been quiet. Why might that be?
The BS long ago became a arm of propaganda for the Downtown establishment, and the King of that establishment was Shelly Silver. Advertisers placed ads in the BS as roundabout ways to fund the cause, much like political donors giving to PACs after they have max’d out their campaign donation limits. The last thing that the BS could do was to pile on Mr. Silver with negative press.
Today, in what is the worst case of propaganda ever produced by the BS, the lead article by Matt Fenton praised Shelly Silver for his decades of service. Mr. Fenton wrote, “When a community’s patron and defender becomes an embattled defendant, a few words of reckoning are in order. (Silver’s service) translated into enormous benefits for his constituency…”He helped get five new schools built, saved a sixth, built us a community center, saved another community center, and got many, many other things this community desperately needed,” observes Paul Hovitz, co-chair of the Youth and Education Committee of Community Board 1 (CB1), who has known Mr. Silver for 22 years. “He was indispensable in getting P.S. 89/I.S. 289 built in Battery Park City in 1997,” recalls Mr. Hovitz. Then, following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, “he helped raise $17 million in capital funds from corporate donors to open Millennium High School in the Financial District. This was a moment when the eyes of the nation and the world were on Lower Manhattan, and it was the first time that a community has raised this kind of money to open a new school.”.
The big urban myth about Shelly Silver is that he was a rainmaker when it came to building new schools. In fact, he has done nothing to build new schools that would alleviate the crisis of school overcrowding leading every year to long waitlists to get into kindergarten. His “overcrowding task force” was a charade and accomplished nothing.
The BS article goes, “He helped build the Downtown Community Center,” says Bob Townley, executive director of Manhattan Youth, which is headquartered in the Warren Street facility that opened in 2008. (Last year, Mr. Silver also intervened to stop a Battery Park City Authority plan to close another community center, this one located in Stuyvesant High School.) “Shelly also built ballfields, parks, and hospitals,” Mr. Townley continues….Downtown may never have another leader as helpful as Shelly Silver,” says Mr. Townley. “He has a legacy that cannot be disputed..”
The BS makes no mention of the fact that Mr. Townley has profited sweetly from the largess of cash sent his way by Shelly Silver. Townley his community center have reaped millions in state and city “grants”. Recall, one of the reasons Mr. Silver was arrested by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara was because he was allegedly sending kickbacks to a prominent doctor in the form of “state research grants” in exchange for the doctor sending asbestos lung cancer patients to Silver’s persona injury law firm.
Of note, all of the people quoted in the BS article are CB1 members who have served for decades. It is time to clean house at the CB1.
Finally, the BS article states, “The future of Lower Manhattan is going to be very different without him as Speaker,” says Mr. Hovitz. “Losing Sheldon Silver is going to be a body blow to this community.””
That might be the only accurate statement on the entire BS propaganda piece. All of the people quoted in the article have just lost their enabler, their key sponsor, Shelly Silver. They seem to be in the denial stage of grief, not realizing that ongoing federal investigations might ensnare them too.
(We called Mr. Simko of the BS and he promptly hung up the phone on us.)