Tuesday, September 17, 2013

[Updated] CB3 member David McWater charges resident during contentious liquor-license meeting

An ugly scene reportedly played out during last night's CB3/SLA committee meeting between board member David McWater and neighborhood group the LES Dwellers.

BoweryBoogie and The Lo-Down were both in attendance and witnessed what transpired. After a pitch by applicants hoping to take over the Gallery Bar space on Orchard Street, McWater made his first appearance at the meeting.

That's when Sara Romanoski, part of the Dwellers group (and director of the East Village Community Coalition), noted that he arrived "just in time to support Darin Rubell, a current co-owner of the Gallery Bar space," as The Lo-Down put it. (McWater sold Nice Guy Eddie's to Rubell, who turned the space into Boulton & Watt.)

The comment caused him to reportedly leap out of his chair and come face-to-face with Romanoski. Per BoweryBoogie: "Those pushed buttons resulted in constant verbal attacks between the two parties, and near fisticuffs after McWater charged Romanoski (Ed. note: CB3 needs to address this issue, stat)."

An EVG reader in attendance last night told us this in an email: "His behavior was outrageous, [he] reduced her to tears." (The reader said that McWater later apologized to Romanoski outside.)

The Lo-Down spoke with McWater by phone after the meeting. "McWater told us he was angered by the insinuation that he’s somehow corrupt and argued that the Dwellers went on a personal attack against him. In our conversation and during the hearing, McWater said he was late due to another meeting concerning an important land use issue."

Read the full coverage at BoweryBoogie (who has video of the aftermath) ... and The Lo-Down.

Updated 3:04 pm

Gothamist has a lot more on the meeting. According to a video that Gothamist has posted, "things escalated quickly, with McWater vowing to 'bury' Aaron Sosnick of the East Village Community Coalition."

[Photo via BoweryBoogie]


Brian Van said...

All of these people need to cool down immediately.

The reason why the CB process in this district is mocked so much is because of how they handle it. Every other district has similar issues and similar review requirements, and none of the other boards have such consistent disruptions and hostility. McWater shouldn't have reacted like that (if he'd actually struck someone I'd say throw him off the board), but Romanoski shouldn't have made the comment aloud. It's disrespectful, petty and embarrassing to the entire district.

The thing is, they'll never learn. There will always be these turf wars, especially over something as tiny and innocuous as the Gallery Bar space (far from being the most disruptive venue on that one block, even). Everyone down there thinks they're a victim of gentrification. The LES has been like this now for almost a decade... it's disingenuous to act like drawing a line in the sand now is going to do anything. Forget trying to "clean it up" NIMBY style. Just keep the quiet blocks quiet, and make reasonable demands of new operators on the busy streets by smart use of license stipulations and nuisance monitoring.

Something to consider, Manhattan CBs 1,2,4,5,6,7,8 all don't have a problem with this. Maybe the presence of bars and overnight visitor traffic isn't the problem. Maybe this board and this community, and the atmosphere they encourage, is the problem.

nygrum p said...

You mean the way these carpetbaggers came into the LES and replaced one barely liveable neighborhood with another, and this CB3 member is part of the cabal making huge profits selling legal drugs. OF COURSE THEY DON'T REPRESENT RESIDENTS - they work for Bloomie. My block is unliveable thanks to these turds. I know what you're sayingy 'why don't you move because those drug profits are going to happen no matter what. residents don't count, only profit makers.'

Anonymous said...

Business owners whose only pursuit is profit and do not live in the community should have no say in community affairs. Want to open a new bar? Live above it, full-time. Otherwise don't complain about NIMBYs. McWater needs to go.

Anonymous said...

Brian Van, you make a very wise statement. The NIMBY problem in our CB is dreadful. Of course, Mr. McWater should not have reacted as he did, but he was sorely provoked.

Anonymous said...

From Brian:
"Just keep the quiet blocks quiet, and make reasonable demands of new operators on the busy streets by smart use of license stipulations and nuisance monitoring."

Gotta disagree with Brian's pollyanna statement. We tried stipulations, like for a decade. Bars sign stipulations and ignore them.
No new bars, we have 100+ to deal with here in Hell Square. Over saturated!

Anonymous said...

CB3 Chair Gigi Lee needs to address McWater's behavior immediately. This is not the first time he has engaged in bullying tactics to stifle opinions with with he disagrees. If Lee is incapable of running a board with a minimum of decorum, she should resign. The board takes its direction from the top.

Anonymous said...

The incident as reported by The Lo Down is not accurate. The Bowery Boogie a bit more factual. I was in attendance and from my vantage point front row. The statement about arriving in time for the vote was retracted several times but what was not retracted was the point that Mcwater had a direct financial relationship to the seller of the asset after selling Nice Guy Eddie to him. The opposition was wanting to point out a a vote in favor could be a conflict of interest. Mcwater was agitated not willing to accept the retraction. The conversation moved on with a few volleys back and forth btw the opposition and Mcwater...Mcwater going off about a woman named Marcia Lemons and that the Board can't cede power to Dwellers yada yada.....minute to 3 minutes lapses then Mcwater jumps out of his chair and gets into the woman's face screaming a shield of people jumped in front of her pushing him away. The older woman who runs the show started telling the people protecting her to stop. she made the situation worst by directing her annoyance at the victim and the people trying to stop his attack - she looked like she was protecting him instead of not asking Mcwater to leave the situation. Another woman shouts at her to stop him from yelling and being aggressive do something about him. The crazy thing is that this being reported as if it was a comment was made and then the incident. What about all the the time in between and all the crazy things this unhinged man said? Perhaps it was not appropriate to imply he came in for this vote but it was not inappropriate to mention the personal financial relationship btw Mcwater and the current owner. But regardless, no one has a right to get out of chair and get into someone's face screaming threats, and it looks especially bad when a very large man attacks a woman. The person who deserves credit and isn't being mentioned is the chair woman. She told him to stop, told him he was held to a higher standard. McWater needs to go. He is a bully always has been. The sad thing is there are really smart caring people on that board but people like him and the other bar owner, and the main woman who runs the show on the side really make CB3 look like a joke. The opposition came with facts about both of their cases. Real facts that would make approving a hard sell but people with personal agendas on the board made the place a 3 ring circus.

Anonymous said...

Brian Van,
Hear hear! Well spoken.

bowery boy said...

"Every other district has similar issues"
That is just factually not true. It's not.

Also, if you've been to even a couple of these meetings where this man attended, you are not surprised that something like this happened. Seriously, no one is surprised. This was going to happen; it was just a matter of time. And no one will be surprised if next time something worse happens. yes?

Anonymous said...

"I don’t even care about liquor licenses anymore." -- David McWater quoted in the Gothamist

Then why is he even on this SLA committee? He should man up and step down.

Anonymous said...

CB3 has to do something about this. Were the police called? Can this woman file a complaint against this man, or get a restraining order? It is terrifying to think someone can get up in your face at a public meeting with no consequences. This man needs to be banned, and he should also be required to get anger management counseling.

Anonymous said...

Bury? Is McWater channeling Khruschev?

Shawn said...

Aaron Sosnick is a gem of a human being and one of the reasons the East Village is still holding on to whatever it has left. Mr. McWater saying "I'm going to bury you" is a threat. A personal threat. Dismissal from the board can be the only logical outcome.

Scott Stringer? Gale Brewer? Remove David McWater immediately.

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Seriously, how do we get McWater off the board? His behavior & his "relationships" are unacceptable.

Anonymous said...

If he indeed has financial ties to the applicant and was participating in the discussion and not disclosed then he should be reported to the Conflict of Interest Board (COIB):


His bullying behaviour should be sent to all represented officals and local TV stations below. The press can then ask why Stringer does not remove him and COIB does nothing.

Perhaps even sending to



Anonymous said...

I don't know what is more upsetting watching a 300 lb bull of a man charge a woman or watch Ariel Palitz hold Mcwaters hand after he attacked someone? Please remove Mcwater from the CB. (and her too). Clean house Gale Brewer.

Anonymous said...

Scott Stringer ignored residents who asked for McWater to be removed or at least investigated for conflict of interest. Stringer did not reply to emails or letters. Let's hope Gale Brewer is a better public servant and investigates this incident and McWaters ownership of bars that had underage drinking violations.
Sorry he feels like he "did so much for those people", but if you go into volunteer work expecting to get public recognition or a reward in this life, you are doing it for the wrong reason.

Anonymous said...

Anon @11:34 - I don't think it is possible to agree with a comment any more! WELL SAID!!!

robert said...

"He can't be talking to a woman like that." But if it were a man, it would be ok for him to talk to him like that? SMH

Anonymous said...

Someone speaking out to a member who has personal and conflict of interest is "disrespectful, petty and embarrassing to the entire district", yet if a bar owner trying to get a liquor license disrepecting and bullying someone who is merely speaking against the application, that's acceptable? http://evgrieve.com/2013/04/report-ditch-kills-team-scrap-plans-to.html

Talk about hypocricy, petty, and disrepectful. We get it, you'd want the EV to be filled with just bars.

(hope the blogger publishes this, if not, she or he is as guilty to having double standards for the bar)

Anonymous said...

Van, you are the most balanced and thoughtful person to post. I agree gallery bar was not run badly. The point most people have no clue about is what it is like to be slandered in public; it is terribly demeaning and infuriating. Romanowski ripped into him unfairly and that was the source of the trouble, then McWater lost his cool. While all these CB members should be acknowledged for their volunteerism McWater has accomplished more good for the neighborhood than all of rest of them put together. How about 500 below market units in SPURA or down zoning the whole neighborhood. These are changes that will permanently protect the fabric.

Brian Van said...

To the people who have claimed it wasn't accurate that liquor license issues affect all the districts:

They have contentious licensing issues all the way up in Inwood, and as far south as the Battery. CBs 1-8 all have busy nightclubs and hundreds of bars in them. CB9 has to deal with bars hovering around Columbia. Central Harlem/CB10 has tons of new bars and restaurants opening up in what is mostly residential zoning. CB11 is maybe the only affordable place left on the island to open a bar. Community boards in Brooklyn and western Queens are dealing heavily with operating issues as restaurants, bars, and yuppies move in.

So, no, CB3 is not unique in its challenges. It is only unique in its temperament.


I think McWaters should be removed from the board if he does anything like this again. Then again, in all the commenters on all the articles about this (which honestly are probably the same 3 commenters in the LES Dwellers), it seems like a lot of the opposition to his presence on the board is long-standing and baseless. He has no conflict of interest for being on the board if he once owned a bar. I know the rules about community board service, and there's nothing in there about that... as a matter of fact, activists are welcome to apply. If one of them just happens not to agree with your politics, tough shit, get over it. Maybe it's your turn to volunteer for a public member spot... look it up.

Anonymous said...

Brian, you still did not address of how much of a hypocrite you are. Anything for a bar owner is fine with you. And no you do not make a sound judgement. You talk the talk, but you do do not walk the walk. But I doubt that Grieve will publish this because of "commentary that is intended to "flame" or attack, that contains violence, potential libel and the like will not be published. ", which you have been doing for quite some time but Grieve have been letting through, but the rebuttals against you , he or she does not let through. So enjoy.

Anonymous said...

Brian - McWater has earned the criticism that he gets. This is not an isolated incident. Yes, the criticism is long-standing but that is because he has acted hostile on many occasions for years. He is very disrespectful not only residents but applicants as well. It's uncomfortable for all involved. Imagine you're a hard working honest chef who wants to offer wine with your legitimate restaurant and you have to witness this behavior from someone who can help determine your financial future ? Picture Mario Batali waiting to be heard after an incident like this. David & Ariel must go.

Signed, NOT a member of LES Dwellers

bow boy said...

"So, no, CB3 is not unique in its challenges."

I'm sorry, but yes it is. All CB's have these issues, but no Board has the volume of issues that CB3 has, nor the residential tenement density, and that combo makes it different than any other board. The only zip code with more liq' licenses than CB3 is in Vegas on the Strip.

The problem here is definitely unique, but unfortunely, the folks at CB3 do not conduct its business as such (i.e. CB2 has 2 SLA com' meetings per month, so that residents have a better chance to do their part - show up - without having to sit around all night, which builds tension and resentment and is not good for any side.)

Anonymous said...

I don't care what led up to it, but he was completely out of line and should not be in any position of authority. If he can't stay cool under pressure (or provocation as the case may be) then he shouldn't be making decisions for the rest of us. I want people who are more stable than me to be in charge, not less!

Anonymous said...

Brian Van trolls. He speaks out of his *** No point reading anything he writes. CB3 is unique because of the District Manager Susan. She pulls the strings of certain board members jerking them this way and that. She shouldn't tell members how to vote or make deals with businesses owners, but she does. This is not her job. She is the reason things are so bad and the really good people on that board can't make a difference because they are not playing by her rules so she sends them to Siberia. CB3 is a broken machine and David McWater is a part of the old machine, and he won't be punished because of the way CB3 is run by her. He should go but don't hold your breath. This is more of the same from him. He will keep doing this until she goes. CB3 is corrupt and board needs to be cleaned. The community doesn't trust them which is really sad because there are some really good people on it. New borough president coming so maybe Gale Brewer will fix the broken machine?

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I'll throw my two cents in. Yes, McWater has done a lot for the EV. And he's hot-headed and immature. Not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but he understands how to get stuff done in this city so it will stick, unlike the many even duller knives and less adult types that show up at CB3 meetings.

Clearly the chairperson lost control of the meeting. Some reflection is due there, chairperson.

And "bury" Aaron Sosnick? Hahahahahahaha.

Anonymous said...

The chairwoman is so bad and dumb and like others have said Susan meddles in everything. Just an enormous mess of a board and process. David's a hothead, but at least he and Ariel balance the insane anti-business leanings of everyone else and sometimes even manage to speed things along so the meetings end before 1 am.