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The Downtown Flushing Transit Hub Business Improvement District has run advertising for a new executive director that lists preferred skills for applicants, including knowledge of English and Mandarin Chinese — not Korean. Is this BID defined by geography or ethnicity? Whom does it intend to serve? Is it actually the Chinese Flushing BID? Does this mean no Koreans need apply?
This is a revealing detail and takes on special significance in light of the battle within the BID over politically connected developer Michael Lee’s Flushing Commons project. It is being developed by TDC, a subsidiary of F&T Group, with offices in Shanghai and New York. Lee is F&T Group’s chairman and CEO.
Mabel Law, the previous BID executive director, left in the midst of the BID’s internal war over Flushing Commons and joined the staff of city Controller John Liu. Until January, Liu was Flushing’s city councilman and opposed the Commons project. Now Lee’s friend, Republican Peter Koo, is councilman and it is green lighted all the way.
And the previous head of the BID, Jim Gerson, is said to have been forced out by Michael Meyer, president of TDC, because Gerson opposed Flushing Commons.
The Korean owners of small businesses along Union Street resisted Flushing Commons. Many believe that first the construction and then the businesses in the Commons will destroy their livelihoods.
Some have said there is a deliberate plan to eliminate the last Korean businesses from downtown Flushing and make it a mono-cultural business environment, though this has been dismissed as paranoia.
Yet here is the BID asking for proficiency in Chinese without also or alternatively Korean in its executive director. Is that because it does not intend for there to be any Korean business owners with whom to communicate?
And all this leaves out the larger picture, which is that Latinos, African Americans and all other ethnic groups seem to be virtually excluded from opening businesses in Flushing — and the BID is not going to organize any programs to help them, either.
One must ask again, whom does this BID intend to serve?
©2010 Community Newspaper Group
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