After Brooklyn Tea Party activists failed to get a response from Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz regarding the Sheepshead Bay mosque – primarily because it’s not in his district – the group fired off another open letter. This time their target is Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein, who represents the blocks around the proposed mosque site.
Much of the letter’s contents remain the same, though its tone is notably more aggressive. The author, Brooklyn Tea Party President John K. Press, points out the assemblywoman’s absence at the June 12 rally, and tries to head off a presumed response to “deny jurisdiction.”
There are a few new tactics recommended in this latest letter, too. The Tea Party is urging Assemblywoman Weinstein to publicize the “need to know about the foreign funding” so they can assure compliance with the Foreign Agents Registration Act, a 1938 statute that requires persons acting as agents of foreign principals to disclose the relationship. They’re also asking the local pol to put pressure on Community Board 15 (which has no say unless there is a request for variance or special permit), and to seek government relief by pursuing eminent domain on the property.
Here’s the full letter from the Brooklyn Tea Party to Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein:
From: John K. Press, Ph.D.
President of the Brooklyn Tea Party
To: Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein
Re: Proposed Voorhies Mosque, Brooklyn, NY
While we saw neither you nor your representatives when approximately 300 of your district’s residents gathered to protest the proposed building of a mosque at 2812 Voorhies Avenue, you have undoubtedly heard of the controversy.[i] Along with this enormous project destroying the residential nature of this community and making families flee,[ii] the residents of your district also have extraordinary concerns.[iii]
According to the Anti-Defamation League, the developer of this Mosque, the Muslim American Society (MAS), “has a troubling history of associations with radical organizations and individuals that promote terrorism, anti-Semitism and reject Israel’s right to exist.” Furthermore, “MAS-affiliated Web sites have featured articles advocating jihad and suicide martyrdom.” And the ADL has stated that MAS is, “the leading American Muslim organization organizing anti-Israel activity in the U.S.”[iv] A major officer in the MAS called the Jews, “the primary historical and religious example of those who “take the wrong path.”[v]
Our Community Board makes recommendations to The Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA). The BSA’s Chair, Meenakshi Srinivasan, has promised to render, “decisions that respect the character and context of neighborhoods.”[vi] A large proportion of the residents on Voorhies Avenue are Jewish. Having an organization that preaches hate against Jews move into the neighborhood would greatly disrupt the neighborhood character and quality of life for the current residents. Please try to persuade our Community Board to recommend that the BSA lives up to their Chair’s words.
Recently the Staten Island Roman Catholic Church’s board, which includes Archbishop Timothy Dolan, decided not to sell property the MAS wanted to turn into a mosque for the same reasons we are asking you to stop this development. They did this after looking over the very same information about the MAS that I have attached to this letter.[vii] And, echoing that which Ms. Srinivasan sees as her mandate, Rev. Keith Fennessy, said the sale “would not serve the needs of the parish.” Please, as the Catholic hierarchy did, take the attached information and needs of your community seriously.[viii]
Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz’s staffer claimed that he doesn’t consider the residents five blocks outside of his district’s boundaries “his community.” The staffer said Cymbrowitz is not dedicated to “what’s happening in other places.”[ix] And while you cannot disavow a connection to the community, you may deny jurisdiction. But, when the MTA tried to enact unfavorable changes to the B train, you wisely convened elected officials to demand research into alternatives before deciding on a plan. You did so because, even though you knew you had no official authority, you knew you had great influence.[x] We implore you to continue to speak to issues that matter deeply to those you represent, without excuses.
We request that you also step into this process in any way you can in order to slow down the permit granting process. Perhaps you can publicize that you need to know about the foreign funding, so that we can make sure the developers are complying with the Foreign Agents Registration Act.[xi] Perhaps you can stall by looking into Republican gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino’s suggestion to stop the Ground Zero mega-mosque via eminent domain. You could attempt to get our Community Board to express your community’s concerns to the BSA.
Any tactic publically taken will allow you time to review the literature on the MAS. And, if the concerns about the MAS prove baseless, and all of the residents’ concerns about traffic, parking, and noise get addressed, we can then fully embrace our new neighbor without apprehension.
We have attached hard-copy documentation to this petition. In addition here are just two samples of internet documentation that cause many of our members to be concerned about the MAS; We can offer you many others on request:
Please do not shirk your responsibility to listen to, and act upon, the concerns of your community. Failure to address both the issues at hand and the people who have elected you will cause us to doubt that we do, indeed, have responsive and effective representation.
This Letter represents an official position of the Brooklyn Tea Party, and we can assure you that it conveys the sentiments of many people in your district.
John K. Press, Ph.D.
President – The Brooklyn Tea Party