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Patricia Dorfman, Long-Time Activist, Named ‘Sunnysider of the Year’ by Chamber of Commerce

Patricia Dorfman (Photo: Chamber of Commerce)

March 17, 2019 By Christian Murray

The Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce has named Patricia Dorfman, a long-time civic activist and artist, as the 2019 Sunnysider of the Year.

The award, officially called the Luke Adams Sunnysider of the Year Award, is handed out each year to an “individual who embodies the spirit of community and commitment to Sunnyside.”

This will be the ninth year that the chamber has given out the award. It was first given to the late Luke Adams, a longtime business owner and civic leader, in 2011 and was named after him.

Last year, Tony Tang, the owner of the UPS store on Queens Boulevard, was the recipient.

Dorfman, a long-time Sunnyside Gardens resident who hails from Alabama, is best known for her recent work as the executive director of Queens Streets for All, an advocacy group that is critical of the DOT for removing a car lane at the eastern end of Skillman Avenue and for reducing the number of parking spaces on Skillman and 43rd Avenues.

Dorfman, who until recently was the executive director of the chamber, founded Sunnyside Artists in 2007, which has an annual art fairs at the Queens of Angels parish center. She is also a founding member of Access Queens, an advocacy group dedicated to holding the MTA accountable for its checkered subway service.

She has also been an advocate of the Small Business Jobs Survival Act, a bill that’s before the city council that would introduce a form of commercial rent control.

Dorfman has also spearheaded many local initiatives, including the successful restoration of the historic names on local streets and train stations—such as the Bliss, Lowery and Rawson Street stations. She also advocated for the landmarking of Sunnyside Gardens, which went into effect in 2007.

Dorfman was a writer for the Woodside Herald for 18 years, and recently founded a local publication called “Small Town Confidential.” She is a member of Young Israel, a synagogue located on 43rd Avenue, and the Kiwanis of Sunnyside.

This year, the chamber has introduced a new category of awards, known as Queens Rising Stars.

Eric Barthels (Photo: Chamber of Commerce)

Eric Barthels, the owner of Cooldown Juice on Skillman Avenue, and Roque Rodriguez, co-founder of Suryaside Yoga, a yoga studio located on Skillman Avenue, are the recipients.

Barthels, a longtime Sunnyside resident, is an active member of Queens Streets for All and The Skillman Project, a group dedicated to improving businesses along the commercial strip. He also helped the employees of the businesses that were destroyed in the fire on Queens Boulevard in December.

Meanwhile, Rodriguez is a member of the Skillman Project and Queens Streets for All, and was an organizer for the Skillman Holiday lights event and the Sunnyside Fire Relief Fundraiser.

He has partnered with Jacob Riis in Queensbridge to bring free yoga programs to residents of Queensbridge Houses, and has been working with Liberation Prison Yoga to bring yoga to the inmates and staff at Rikers Island.

The chamber will be celebrating Dorfman, Barthels and Rodriguez on April 2, at its annual awards dinner. The event is being held at Tangra, an Asian-fusion restaurant located at 39-23 Queens Blvd.

Tickets can be purchased online at https://squareup.com/store/sunnyside-chamber) or by contacting [email protected]

Rogue Rodriquez (Photo: Chamber of Commerce)

 

email the author: [email protected]

84 Comments

Fletcher Bardsley

Congratulations, Patricia! I’m proud to know you and husband Richard! See you both at the award ceremony April 2!

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Jaded neighbor

You are clearly a true friend. I hope you enjoy the ceremony, as hollow and inappropriate as the award really is. It has been a bad year for Pat and she’s made more enemies than anything else and turned young people away from our small businesses. I went to the first rally, but honestly, the parking hasn’t been any worse. It’s time to stop.

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Fletcher

You wrote, “You are clearly a true friend. I hope you enjoy the ceremony, as hollow and inappropriate as the award really is. It has been a bad year for Pat and she’s made more enemies than anything else and turned young people away from our small businesses.”

Thank you for your kind words!

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Love and Respect to Pat Dorman!

This was a peaceful neighborhood until 10 years ago. The negative comments about a woman who is beloved by many, many, many Long-time residents who have loved living here for decades and decades—before people who needed it to be hip, thank you—know and deeply appreciate her work and her point of view. Those who need to criticize should really just live and let live rather than trying viciously to destroy people who welcomed you to this place. When did society forget to respect people with experience in favor of lauding neophytes pushing unproven ideas? Sad.

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Speak for yourself

This IS a peaceful neighborhood but for the angry mob Pat has stirred up. The generation coming up from behind would live and let live if she had stuck to her day job and embraced the next generation of civic leaders. Instead she all but tried to change the wording on the Sunnyside Arch to NIMBY-SIDE and continues running an online hate campaign trying to erase more numerous and better organized locally based supporters of PROVEN safety improvements from civic discourse.

Patricia Dorfman’s actions and her behavior during the last 16 months have been awful and completely harmful and injurious to this community. Her words are all in print, her facebook profile is public: go see for yourselves!

The way Pat allowed her activism to mar her tenure at the Chamber, and now the way the Chamber is celebrating her activism in a desperate attempt for relevance is a perfect picture of exactly what is wrong with civic life in Sunnyside. It’s based on personality, not competence, politics, not achievements (all while the BID continues putting them to shame). Pat was not qualified to run the Chamber and is certainly way out of her depth as a civic-activist.

Just go on over to Queens Streets public facebook page to see how last month they posted links to anti-Vision Zero opinion articles with extreme, arguably violent headlines like “Vision Zero is a public safety menace” “The war over Vision Zero and road diets is only beginning.” This is extreme and violent stuff. Sure you could say Pat had nothing to do with that, but as the Exec. Director, even of a fake organization, the buck stops with her. And for the record, Patricia Dorfman invited the troll of an author to pen a similarly ignorant editorial for the disgraceful Small Town Confidential, which serves as a mouthpiece for ignorance and misunderstanding.

At the moment, you can be sure than many residents, old and new (if that even mattered), would give Patricia Dorfman the razzie for worst person in the neighborhood. She has lost all credibility and is a pariah at this point, erasing any and all previous achievements at petitioning.

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Jasper McGonnary

She was 100% correct about the road diet/poorly thought out bike lanes. What exactly have you done for Sunnyside, what have you added to our community? Well, besides hiding behind a lame moniker and whining? Grow up and grow some ‘nads, sonny.

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Opinions are not facts

No she was not. The whole uproarious movement she tried to start was exactly about loudly expressing incorrect opinion over fact. She clearly lost that argument handily, no contest. Now she’s trying to make a contest by running an extremist movement? It’s not normal and should not happen here. Her neighbors are telling her to stop.

In the real world, opinions or tenure in a neighborhood do not supersede fact.

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El loco

Wow, I bet that was the first time in ages you were able to use the word “uproarious.”

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Fletcher Bardsley

You wrote, “She has lost all credibility and is a pariah at this point.”

Well, that isn’t true at all. Not a whit of it.

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David

Isn’t it strange how drastically different the Facebook comments are to the SP comments? I’m always shocked at how many frightened trolls post on this site. Are y’all just scared to show your profile or are you exclusive to specific neighborhood websites? Lol.

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Johnny O'Hara

These losers would never post with a real name. Cardboard tough guys in mommy’s basement.

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Young people no longer use Facebook

True story. The platform has skewed older in recent years.

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Verdaddy

She is a great advocate for the cars-are-more-important-than-people crowd, but in no way is she doing anything to make life better for the HUMANS in Sunnyside. What an outrage that when an illegally parked CAR blocked a fire truck she blamed it on the bike lanes. Bike lanes are stripes of paint. They don’t block things. Cars block things.

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Ticket the bikers

and bikers go thru red lights 90% of the time. Dangerous activity that will eventually get someone killed. When that happens will there be an equally silly overreaction in getting rid of the bike lanes? Pay attention and no one gets hurt. It’s simple.

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VelvetKnight

Ok, but what does that have to do with a shrug button?

Regardless, if you think bikers break traffic laws and don’t pay attention you should see how pedestrians behave. Also, if you think bikes are dangerous I’ve got some really bad news for you about cars.

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Wake up, Schwinn boy

Velvetta, I drive in and out of the city everyday. If cars disobeyed the rules of the road in the same way that bikers do there would be chaos. You haven’t a clue.

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VelvetKnight

I don’t need a “clue,” I have facts. In NYC between 2002-2016 bikes killed 10 pedestrians (less than 1/year) and cars killed 2,345 (average of 156/year). I’m not sure how you look at those numbers and think bikes are more dangerous.

But hey, you nailed me real good with the name-calling. I guess that beats obvious and easily Google-able facts, huh?

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Innaccurate appreciation of scale and lost opportunities

Not really sure why this happens, though I could venture a cynical guess, but most people take for granted the minute by minute car-nage on our streets (-pun intended).

Cars hit each other about five times every hour in this city. They hit a cyclist about once every two hours. They hit a pedestrian just over once an hour. In 2013, the year before Vision Zero, there were 299 road deaths in NYC. Last year, the fifth anniversary, there were 202, an almost 33% drop.

It’s so tiresome to see people act as though cyclists are somehow the most dangerous users of the road, when you usually don’t need to stand at a dangerous corner for more than one or two light cycles to see reckless drivers run a red or fail to yield. Those infractions, thousands per hour, are what lead to road deaths. And slowing vehicle speeds, as the redesign on our avenues has done almost clinically, is the best thing that could happen here.

We now have a 20mph speed limit that is followed, not by will, but by design. From the pedestrian experience, it certainly feels like more of a neighborhood and a walkable community no longer dissected by two speedways. Now if only we could do something to calm traffic along our stretch of Queens Boulevard and Greenpoint Avenue to the East, maybe we could even cease talking about “the north side” as if it were some kind of island separate from the “the south side.”

Imagine how amazing it would be for the business community if we were, through safe streets initiatives, to unify our otherwise eminently walkable community? If the businesses on Skillman drew from a larger radius instead of just the north side? What kind of leadership do we have at our local chamber of commerce that doesn’t see the upside to increasing the size of their market? What agenda do they have? Who do they value? We are seeing all of the wrong answers through this award.

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Dear Boss

Nooo. The bike Lanes make the rest of the street just out even further and now our fire trucks from 51street have to stop and back up a few times just to make a left onto skillman.

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Optics

Pat has certainly done a lot of good for the neighborhood, but Small Town Confidential is a nasty little paper that makes me feel bad about my community.

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This is NOT a small town

Agreed on STC. It’s a real horror show.

A few ideas for better names:
Unpopular Opinions (best kept) Confidential
Inexperts on the Issues
Sunnyside’s Thanksgiving Table Rants after a couple of bottles from Lowery’s
Untruths’R’Us
Ignorance on Bliss
Unfresh’N’Save Us
Sunnyside Pests
Archie Bunker Lives

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VelvetKnight

I think “Confidential” is a pretty good name because apparently its existence is meant to be a secret.

I literally never heard of this “paper” before reading this article despite being a 10 year resident, and following several Sunnyside FB groups where Dorfman is active.

Most amazingly, I couldn’t find it with a Google search, and I’m a research-junky. I finally found it by following the link to the Facebook page, scrolling down, and eventually seeing another link to the “paper” itself. Do you have any idea how hard it is NOT to come up in a Google search these days? 😂

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Fletcher Bardsley

You wrote, “I think ‘Confidential’ is a pretty good name because apparently its existence is meant to be a secret. I literally never heard of this ‘paper’ before reading this article despite being a 10 year resident, and following several Sunnyside FB groups where Dorfman is active. Most amazingly, I couldn’t find it with a Google search, and I’m a research-junky.”

Small Town Confidential is new – the current issue is only the fourth or fifth one. And, Patricia and husband Richard are 20-year residents of Sunnyside. (And, neither of them are self-congratulatory or snide people, as you are being.)

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VelvetKnight

4-5 issues is more than enough time to let people in the neighborhood know about a “neighborhood paper” and put it somewhere Google can find it. And that goes double for posting on social media where she’s actually active. IF that’s what she wants.

There are only two logical explanations for why I never heard of it before, and its being virtually un-findable once I did:
A) she has no idea how to promote it
B) she intended it to only being read by pre-selected people and doesn’t want it found, making the word “confidential” accurate—as I suggested.

As for your characterization of her, based on what I’ve seen so far I disagree with your assessment (I don’t know anything about her husband). But you’re welcome to your opinion.

(btw, YOUR COMMENT is currently Googleable, despite being only a couple of days old, and I’m assuming you made no effort to promote it)

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Gary Kazanjian

Thank you SO MUCH for your further – and prolonged – effort to badmouth and disparage Patricia Dorfman! Your dedication and perseverance are recognized!

The price is wrong

We should all remember that before Queens Streets for All existed, Patricia Dorfman was the president of the Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce. During this time, the chamber arguably misused its resources to print out thousands of flyers to spread confusion, anger, and fear about the proposed safety plan for Skillman and 43rd Avenues and its specific impacts on parking in the north side of Sunnyside and west corner of Woodside.

Seemingly aware that this kind of activity stretched the narrow bounds of Chamber’s mission, Patricia resigned her post in order to go full time against the safety plan, with a disingenuous rebrand as Queens Streets for All. Throughout this poorly organized effort, the Chamber, the Skillman Project, and the nascent Queens Streets movement sought to other-ize local plan supporters in a failed attempt to project a unified opposition. This high stakes amateur political theater was done for an audience of two: first and most importantly, the community board, and second to manipulate our supportive council member into vetoing the plan via their rejection. All of the planning of this effort is publicly viewable on the facebook comments to Sunnyside Post articles from late 2017. Honestly, the effort would have worked, but for the hubris displayed by the group’s truth bending organizers. The political establishment did not fold in the face of such vehement buffoonery by this anti-expert group.

While the group initially expressed anger over losing the argument on street safety, and all of the parking spots along with it, Queens Streets rhetoric has grown increasingly extreme in recent months which have seen violence, harassment, and threats carried out in its name by its supporters. It has been a shambles since day one, and certainly not worthy of even this most minor token of praise.

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Fletcher Bardsley

I’ve known Patricia Dorfman since 1985. You aren’t describing Pat and her motives, you’re visiting some whole other person and behavior on her. You make her seem like Dick Cheney. She’s nothing like what you’re describing. Wow.

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The price is wrong

I have known her for about half as long. Far from being about her personality or motivations, my comments listed only the results of her ineptly organized campaign.

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Jerry

All Pat has done is try to do good for Sunnyside without asking anything in return and all of you morons hiding behind your computers are ripping into her. You are all gutless. She deserves that award and Sunnyside should be proud of her! Get off your buts and do something for your neighborhood. We love you Pat.

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Chris Froome

what a thankless job she has she deserves our respect lol she just hate posts pics of bike lanes on her silly page now to rile up her cranky base.

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Immoral society

Dorfman is trying her best to promote pollution and increase global warming by way of example. On behalf of the sunnyside community, we would like to ask Dorfman to leave. And take your fake award with you.

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Fletcher Bardsley

You wrote, “Dorfman is trying her best to promote pollution and increase global warming by way of example.”

What an absurd thing to say.

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Keep it classy, SCoC

While unsurprising considering the deep connection between the Sunnyside Chamber and the maniacal Queens Streets group, hopefully the silver lining from this will be that the Chamber finally lose their status as a 501 c(3) non-profit aimed at business promotion after backing a ridiculous sideshow that has inspired criminal mischief in our community.

It’s a pity too, that in one of the most progressive parts of Queens, we have this completely regressive clique of self-styled community activists trying desperately to roll back the clock.

What a reprehensible group of people honoring equally vile characters who do not represent our community, our city, or our values. DA reps take note of the statements at the gala, then throw the book at these jokers!

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Not buying it

Still don’t buy the tacks story. Fake news. Planted by the miscreants @ transportation alternatives looking for sympathy. News flash MOST people in Sunnyside didn’t want the bike lanes, poorly planned/placed.

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40,000 jobs lost

One if the most progressive parts of Queens? Where do you get that from? This is the area that rejected Amazon. I don’t call that very progressive.

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VelvetKnight

I’ve never seen any separation between Queens Streets for “All” and the Chamber of Commerce. It’s literally the reason I decided against joining.

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Nope

Dont like her or her close minded newspaper. Its a quick switch from someone who wants to help all into someone totally self serving. Queens streets for all? Please…

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Can't wait to go biking when it's warm

Is it odd that I like to laugh at the comments on these articles. I don’t take them seriously at all. I appreciate the reliable cynical reactions, even when somebody is just being congratulated. It feels like reading the rants on Craigslist or maybe seeing 30 seconds of Family Guy. Congratulations Pat. I know you trying to do your best for the neighborhood. To the nut jobs, thanks for the memories.

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El loco

Sunnyside is a mess now and these idiots are patting themselves on the back. Great!

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Ingrid

Dorfman should win an award for NIMBY hypocrisy. She benefits personally from the changes to the neighborhood which sent the value of her home over $1 million while trying to block affordable housing/density that would increase foot traffic that is desperately needed to keep alive the small businesses she purports to want to help.

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LIC Direct

Ingrid: You hit the nail on the head. These are the same people (Dorfman) (Lisa Deller) who shut down along with Jimmy Van Bramer the Phipps Affordable Housing project on Barnett Avenue. These hipocrites all sit on the community board, appointed by JVB.

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Dear Boss

If affordable housing means project apartments with more parking spaces than metro North train stations in northern Westchester, then yeah. No thanks.

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sunnyside lane lover

Pat and the Chamber were so busy worrying about bike lanes they overlooked the dozens of empty storefronts and struggling businesses they’re supposed to represent. Meanwhile since the lanes have gone in, restaurants and bars on Skillman and 43rd are full with wait times on the weekends.

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Bike Lane

Are there any studies of the bike lanes? How many bikes use it per day, etc? The impact on parking and businesses. An impartial study with verifiable data. Not just some political BS.

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VelvetKnight

There have been studies proving this style of street design makes streets safer for bikes, cars and pedestrians (especially pedestrians). Also showing that traffic flow has been virtually unaffected and even increased in some places. But that hasn’t stopped the anti-bike activists from claiming the opposite on both counts.

As far as I know there hasn’t been one studying the positive or negative effects on businesses, but again that hasn’t stopped the anti-bike people from insisting that it does hurt businesses.

All we get is anecdotes like Ben’s Best who blamed the bike lanes, but then we found out that they also had rising rent, rising beef prices, and changing demographics which had their sales dropping for years. Not so simple or objective after all. But people still believe it.

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Dear Boss

How many bike riders use it appropriately should be the question.

Seriously, .01%.

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Dear Boss

The people down voting me have obviously never been knocked down by a bike rider.

Or you are a bike rider and think you fart ice cream cones and glitter rainbows.

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Fan of dough boy park

Yes, bicycles brought them in, especially during the winter, marauding bands of bicyclists have discovered Skillman. Did you know every time a bell rings a bicyclist gets to ignore every traffic law?

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Dear Boss

Listen, double standard… When the bicyclists realize they are in fact operators of vehicles,. then you can ask those questions. Most don’t even ride on the street!

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John O'Reilly

Congratulations to Patricia Dorfman! She truly cares about Sunnyside and her actions to benefit the community make Ms. Dorfman the ideal candidate for this award.

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bxgrl

I knew some folks would find fault with this. They can’t help themselves, poor negative people. They’re not happy unless they’re unhappy with SOMETHING. Pathetic.

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VelvetKnight

It’s almost as if some folks don’t like being told, “My parking space is more important than your life.”

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Pat Dorfman is the worst

Pat is truly deserving. Everyone who criticizes her is an idiot. Rick Duro is a great guy. I’m sure if the dogs in Sunnyside could vote he would win.
But they can’t so he won’t.

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RD

I win everyday @ the dog run, all the happy dogs/owners, that’s the best award there could ever be. Congrats, Pat. Well earned.

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Jim

I bet the guy doing yoga will get the award next year. If love to push him. I hate all these people.

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El loco

What a fraud! It’s not what you know it’s who you know in this neighborhood I’m sure there are much more qualified people than this woman. What an outrage. I would have voted for Rick Duro for the tremendous work he has done with dogs and squirrels in our neighborhood. I think that the city council needs to investigate this issue but I’m sure JVB would quash it. Ridiculous.

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RD

Thanks for the kudos. There are certainly enough nuts on this message board to keep all Sunnyside Squirrels happy.

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Sunnysider

Yeah because none of the other “activists” in favor of the bike lanes are actually Sunnyside residents.

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Mrs. Garrett

Very true – thank you. The three bike riders love the lanes the rest of us hate them. There is nothing “progressive” about this abuse of our small neighborhood by self-entitled twerps who think they are going into the Grand Prix of bike riding. #transportationalternativesisthuggish

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Ms. Geriatric

Ms. Geriatric do you check under your bed for bike lanes at night in the nursing home before you go to sleep?

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Mrs. Garrett

Young whipper snapper – you are so clever; have your mom check your homework! Now excuse me while I watch Matlock. #lovethatandygriffith!

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The naked truth

The above exchange perfectly encapsulates Patricia Dorfman’s legacy. Hatred of the bike lanes, those who use them, and those who support them are fine here. Her personal resentment of safety activists has led to the moral deterioration of her neighborhood.

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Mrs. Garrett

“moral deterioration”? That was caused by the transportation alternatives people who do not even live her but loooove that “green new {stupid] deal”.

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