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CB3 Approves Terror Trial Resolution

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Moynihan Federal Courthouse

This week Community Board 3 went on the record officially opposing the Obama Adminsitration’s decision to hold the upcoming 9/11 terror trials in Lower Manhattan.  In approving a resolution Tuesday night urging the Justice Department to find a new trial venue, CB3 joined Community Board 1, which passed a similar resolution last month.  The vote itself was fairly routine. The debate leading up to it to it was not.

No one anticipated the controversy would still be raging on, weeks after the Administration signaled its intention to shift the trials elsewhere. But residents downtown remain in limbo, waiting for an official announcement from the White House. This reality may have magnified tensions between the leadership of CB3 and a group of neighborhood activists leading the charge against the trials. Tuesday night, those tensions rose to the surface.

During the public speaking session, Jan Lee of the Civic Center Residents Coalition said he was pleased the resolution was being considered, but he was incredulous it took CB3 more than a month to follow CB1’s lead. Repeating allegations made on his blog, Lee accused CB3 Chair Dominic Pisciotta of failing to stand by the community in Chinatown.”You did not have out backs,” he said.

In a measured response, Pisciotta said he had been in regular contact with CB1 Chair Julie Menin, that he’d attended key meetings in which the issue was discussed and that (based on the Administration’s initial signals) a CB3 resolution did not seem necessary.  He added, “It’s ridiculous to suggest I wasn’t concerned about the situation.”

But another community board member, David McWater, had a whole lot more to say about the matter. Yelling at Lee, he asserted it was outrageous to be “picking on Dominic… It’s just horrible.” McWater, a former CB3 chair, said “community boards are cumbersome things” comprised of volunteers. “Elected officials should have been on the forefront of this fight and they weren’t.” McWater said Julie Menin “did an amazing thing” in leading the charge against the trials. He blasted Lee as an opportunist, saying “I don’t know what your agenda is.”  He added that CB3 had come to Chinatown’s aid many times in the past and that it was unfair to suggest otherwise.

Lee countered that he had no agenda other than to help his community.  He suggested the issue (CB3’s advocacy for Chinatown) had been simmering beneath the surface for quite some time — and he was glad it was finally being discussed.

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  1. If Jan Lee had not exposed the CB3 leadership for being AWOL since November regarding the issue of the terror trials location in CB3, I bet this CB3 copy of the CB1 resolution would not even have been on the CB3 agenda!

    David McWater claims the Federal Courthouse is in CB1 when, in fact, it is LOCATED WITHIN THE BOUNDARY OF CB3.

    McWater has obviously not been counting the increasing number of electeds** who now oppose the terror trial location (see below).

    The ONLY agenda Jan Lee has is surviving the onslaught of post-9/11 security measures on our neighborhood for 9 nine years, and warding off the even more EXTREME security measures proposed by Police Commissioner Ray Kelly which would ruin the lives of anyone living or working near the Courthouse for years. That’s the same agenda for all of the volunteer activists opposing the present proposed terror trial location. The activists downtown who oppose the terror trial location do not want this to happen to ANY residential neighborhood – again.


    Rep. Nydia Velázquez , Rep. Jerrold Nadler, State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, State Senator Daniel Squadron, New York City Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, and Councilmember Margaret Chin, Mayor Bloomberg. And, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and Sen. Chuck Schumer have both made public statements calling for alternative locations for the trials.

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