Sept. 30, 2020 Op-Ed By Ben Guttmann
There is a famous scene repeated in countless cartoons. The coyote chases the roadrunner off the cliff, hangs there for a moment in mid-air until he looks down, realizing that gravity is about to bring him to an unfortunate fate, and then he plummets – often with an anvil following shortly behind.
This is what it feels like in New York City at this precarious moment. We have not fallen yet, but with our footing gone, the danger comes once we look down.
The pandemic has pulled back the curtain and shown in cold daylight what is broken in this city.
One in five of us is jobless. One in three of our small businesses may be gone for good.
We have a housing crisis that has resulted in the highest homelessness since the Great Depression and prices that lock out my generation.
We readily give away a quarter of all the land in this city to dangerous, polluting vehicles while neglecting our crumbling public transportation infrastructure.
We have a bloated police force that too often views those it serves as antagonists. Inequality is deeper than ever. NYCHA is an afterthought. Storefronts are empty. Schools are packed. And this is all happening while the waters are rising around us.
These are big problems, and the times are tough. But I believe that the fight is worth it. This is why I’m running to represent District 26 in the New York City Council.
I have been an entrepreneur and champion of western Queens for nearly a decade, and I’ve seen first-hand how all of these challenges come to a head right here in our community.
As an outspoken progressive voice on Community Board 2, I’ve long been a thorn in the side of powerful interests.
This district, and the neighborhoods of Long Island City, Sunnyside, Woodside, and Astoria that comprise it, is where we can, and we must take a stand and build a better city.
We can reimagine our streetscape with pocket parks, micro mobility parking, safe pedestrian and cycling infrastructure, and non-gross garbage solutions.
We can allow retail and cultural institutions to use our streets, and disincentive storefront vacancies to bring back the vitality of our neighborhoods.
We can expand NYPD training and institute a residency requirement to improve our policing. We can equitably and inclusively build housing, schools, and transportation onto Sunnyside Yard, and urgently build resiliency around Newtown Creek.
We can even use existing rights of way to add new mass transit, and existing public land to add more green space – both desperately needed. These are all problems with solutions.
The hard truth is that the promise of New York is slipping away. The hard work is that we can fix it. This is why I’m joining the fight, and I hope you can join me.
Ben Guttmann is the co-founder and co-owner of Digital Natives, a Long Island City-based digital marketing agency. He is running for City Council in district 26 to represent Sunnyside, Woodside, Long Island City and parts of Astoria.
For more information Guttmann’s campaign visit: http://ben2021.com/