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We were pleased that City Limits recognized the importance of the eviction case brought by Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizens Council (RBSCC) against Brooklyn Cooperative Federal Credit Union by running the Sept. 19 story, “Battle in Bushwick: Nonprofits Spar Over Office Space.” However, we were disappointed to find that the story contained both factual errors and statements designed to hide the truth, both of which served to distract the reader from the most important questions at hand.

In the first place, you quote Scott Short of RBSCC as saying: “We scouted locations and referred them (the credit union) to brokers but they weren’t able to make a deal. They weren’t satisfied.” This is not true. RBSCC never referred anyone at the credit union to any brokers. And if RBSCC scouted locations for the credit union, no one at the agency ever communicated as much to anyone at the credit union.

Secondly, in reference to our claim that RBSCC’s unwillingness to allow the credit union the time it needs to complete renovation of its new office could be motivated by the credit union’s growth as an autonomous community development organization, you quote Mr. Short as saying: “It was always our intention, and always our hope that the credit union would become financially independent. We’re glad that they’re on their own.” But financial independence is not the issue. Political independence is. In fact, management at RBSCC engineered attempts to win control of the credit union’s board by running its own employees for positions on that board in both 2003 and 2004. Both attempts failed. The first notice to vacate its offices at 1475 Myrtle Avenue that the credit union received from RBSCC came in the month following the second failed attempt.

Finally, you quote Mr. Short as saying: “It’s very frustrating that a stubborn group could threaten to undo [this] development.” The truth is that the group Mr. Short is referring to is a small community development credit union that has invested a very large amount of money and time into finding, securing, and renovating a new office space, all in order to accommodate the development plans of Mr. Short’s employer, RBSCC.

The really important questions are: Who has made the decision, if such a decision has been made at all, that RBSCC’s tax credit funding would be jeopardized by allowing the credit union the three more months it needs to complete renovation of its new offices? And if such a decision has been made, is the decision-maker aware that immediate eviction of the credit union would harm an important community development financial institution? It is regretful that your story did not get answers to these questions. We hope you will make an effort to do so.

Jack Lawson
Manager and Financial Officer
Brooklyn Cooperative Federal Credit Union

City Limits responds: Mr. Short has since clarified his comments. He recalls referring brokers to the credit union, rather than contacting the credit union himself.