Political opponents talking trash
By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Political campaigns are often full of trash talk, but in one Brooklyn City Council race, it’s literally true.
The controversy over the city’s plans to build a trash compacting plant on the Gravesend waterfront has suddenly become a hot button issue in the race between Democratic incumbent Vincent Gentile and his Republican-Conservative challenger John Quaglione in the 43rd Council District (Bay Ridge-Dyker Heights-Bensonhurst).
Both men are opposed to the construction of the plant and both spoke at a protest rally organized by Assemblyman Bill Colton (Gravesend-Bensonhurst) on Sunday.
But Quaglione is trying to use a vote Gentile cast seven years ago against him.
Gentile voted in favor of the proposal to build the plant when it originally came before the City Council in 2006. The Gravesend Bay plant, to be constructed on the waterfront on Bay 41st Street, is part of a larger proposal by the Bloomberg Administration’s called the Solid Waste Management Plan. The goal, officials said, was to change the way the city disposes of its trash. Under the plan, trash plants, called marine transfer stations, are to be constructed at several waterfront locations around the city.
Quaglione was quick to jump on the fact the Gentile originally supported the Gravesend trash plant, charging the incumbent with being a flip-flopper on an issue of vital importance to the residents of southern Brooklyn.
“I don’t understand how in his right mind, he could even show up at a rally, and better yet, address the audience as though he is on their side and against it,” Quaglione said.
“Flip flopping on this issue is a failure of character, and if the plan goes through, Mr. Gentile will have to explain why the people of Southwest Brooklyn must face a new series of serious quality of life and health concerns. I have and remain opposed to this plan, and look forward to working with Assemblyman Bill Colton and others to stop this before it is too late,” Quaglione said.
Gentile denied that he was a flip-flopper. His change of heart came, he said, after new information about the proposed trash plant came to light. That information was not available when the Solid Waste Management Plan came up for a vote in the council seven years ago, he said.
“I was compelled to reexamine the plan to build a waste transfer station at Bay 41st near Gravesend Bay after reviewing startling new information uncovered by my friend and colleague Assemblyman Colton,” Gentile said.
If he knew then what he knows now about the environmental dangers the plant would cause, he would have voted differently, he said.
“I would not support any plan that would put our health, quality of life or environment at risk,” Gentile added.
The Solid Waste Management Plan was supported by an overwhelming majority of City Council members. Only four members voted against it.