A Queens lawmaker needs to learn a lesson in Brooklyn−style respect, peeved borough officials said this week.
At issue is a letter sent by Councilmember John Liu on behalf of Soo Gil Choi, the owner of C&C Fish Market at 5812 Glenwood Road, to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA).
According to Dorothy Turano, the district manager of Community Board 18, whose district includes the market, Liu was beseeching the agency to attempt to move the B6 bus stop in front of Choi’s store because his customers were getting violations for parking too close to a bus stop.
Liu, Turano said, never bothered to alert the community board or local officials of the letter – a customary sign of respect if a lawmaker acts outside of his or her district.
“He overstepped his bounds,” Turano said. “In our board, we have the utmost respect for our elected officials. We’re not interested in circumventing anyone.”
In January, Turano said she received a copy of Liu’s letter from the MTA. She said she subsequently spoke to him about the matter. “I was incensed,” she recalled, adding that the Queens lawmaker did not win her over at the conversation’s close. The incident stuck with her: she mentioned it at the community board’s June 17 general meeting.
Liu, a candidate for city comptroller, called the situation a “routine matter.” “We sent a letter on behalf of a constituent of mine — the store owner lives in my district,” Liu said.
In letters of this nature, he said, colleagues are typically sent copies. “If that wasn’t done, it would have been an error,” he said.
Liu, who heads the Council’s Transportation Committee, said he most likely asked the MTA to look at whether the stop was placed in an optimal position. “I don’t know what the circumstances are there,” he said. “I wouldn’t have asked them to move the stop.”
As for his conversation with Turano, Liu said he doesn’t remember it. “I’m sure she is well intentioned, but I don’t recall a conversation,” he said.
Councilmember Lew Fidler, in whose district the store resides, said Liu’s conduct represents “somewhat of a breach of protocol.”
“It’s inappropriate,” Fidler said. “I certainly would have preferred hearing from him beforehand.
“When I get a request regarding a parking or traffic condition in someone else’s district, I don’t know what kind of implications it would have, so I refer it to that councilmember,” he added.
©2009 Community News Group
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