2009-09-11 / Top Stories

Politician-Sponsored Event Turns Out Of Control

By Miriam Rosenberg

This is just some of the debris the Parks Department had to clean up after the event sponsored by Assemblywoman Michele Titus and City Council candidate Jacques Leandre. Photos courtesy of Fred Gress. This is just some of the debris the Parks Department had to clean up after the event sponsored by Assemblywoman Michele Titus and City Council candidate Jacques Leandre. Photos courtesy of Fred Gress. Assemblywoman Michele Titus and City Council hopeful Jacques Leandre have come under attack for incidents that occurred during a family day they sponsored in Rosedale late last month.

The 3rd Annual Rosedale Family Day Picnic, held at Brookville Park, turned the park into a debris field that included empty bottles of hard liquor, according to Fred Gress, the president of the Queens Coalition of Parks and Green Spaces.

"I've lived by the park for 46 years, my whole life, and I have never seen a park left in such disarray," said Gress, who provided The Wave with photos of the trash left for cleanup by Parks' staff.

Queens Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski said on Wednesday that Parks' staff at Brookville Park on August 22 saw several violations associated with the event that are not condoned on Parks' property.

Workers hold up one of the banners found during the cleanup of trash left by those who were part of Rosedale Family Day last month. Workers hold up one of the banners found during the cleanup of trash left by those who were part of Rosedale Family Day last month. "The most egregious was alcohol with the beverages served," said Lewandowski. "There was amplified sound [which was not permitted] and a number of signs and banners."

She added that "the group failed to comply" when those running the event were approached by Parks' staff to correct the problems.

Lewandowski continued, "Unfortunately, the park was trashed by the next morning. They took no effort to clean up after themselves."

The commissioner also said that Parks kept the cleaning bond of $300 put up by the applicant when the permit was obtained. In total, it cost $900 to clean the park of garbage left.

"We sent the applicant a bill for charges for staff and cleanup," said Lewandowski.

Lewandowski couldn't confirm what time those who attended the picnic actually left.

"From what our staff said, the same group from the day lingered into the evening," she said. "Clearly people from the afternoon were not leaving."

Gress said his organization invited Titus and Leandre to meet with them last week.According to Gress, Titus and Leandre indicated that people were well behaved and there was no mess while they were there. He said both denied any responsibility for what evolved at the picnic that was to run from noon to 7 p.m., but that Gress said ended at 2 a.m.

"Titus said that, maybe, vandals came between 2 [a.m.] and when Parks showed up to clean," said Gress. "I expect her to deny any responsibility. Despite photos and witnesses, Titus called people liars.

"I'm short of filing a complaint with the State Assembly Ethics Committee. Titus was on the cell phone during the meeting. It was insulting for them to call us liars."

Titus told The Wave that the reports of what happened at the picnic were "an irresponsible story."

She denied reports of any alcohol being served, stating, there was not an open bar for ladies."

Titus said the event offered, among other things, free food and rides for children.

She called it deplorable the way Parks Department staff found the park the next day. Yet, she denies those at the picnic had anything to do with it.

"The event didn't go on until 2," said Titus. "People left, the latest, at 7. I was there with my children. I saw people leaving."

Councilman James Sanders Jr., whose job Leandre hopes to win, said he received numerous calls the day following the picnic.

"I received calls saying there was rampant drug use and alcohol in the park. It seemed legalized," said Sanders. "I was told a person passed out, alcohol bottles were being thrown and there was an attempt to have under clad women parade across the stage."

Titus believes the trash found in the park was part of something that "had to have happened after our event was over." She added that it is a community park and there were other things going on besides Rosedale Family Day.

Lewandowski said the permit holder would be held responsible.

Titus, who said there were several co-sponsors, said she was the permit holder. Yet, the commissioner said the permit was Eric DeBerry, Titus' husband.

Lewandowski told The Wave that she felt "the applicant allowed the event to become uncontrollable."

"We assumed it would be a nice harmonious family event. The applicant took advantage of the public."

Jacques Leandre did not respond to requests for comment for this story.

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