Lunar new year coalition says accord not reached

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Or so it seemed.

Representatives of The Lunar New Year Festival Committee, a coalition that claims to have organized the annual parade in downtown Flushing for the last two years, told a news conference Tuesday they had not reached agreement with the other group, the Lunar New Year Committee 2001. The officials also said the Police Department had erred in granting a parade permit last week to the latter group.

"We applied as early as possible," said Spring Wang, a Lunar New Year Festival Committee member. "We tried to work with them."

Adam Kim, executive vice president of the Korean American Association of Flushing and a Lunar New Year Committee 2001 member, said in December that the two groups had met to sort out their concerns and decided to work together.       But Chun Soo Pyun, a Lunar New Year Festival Committee member, said Tuesday that Kim had misspoken. Pyun said the Lunar New Year Committee 2001 members referred to themselves as "the contractor" and to his group as the "subcontractor," a statement Pyun said he considered insulting.

Kim did not return a phone call for comment as of Tuesday night.

Detective Steve Pohaliski, a community affairs officer of the 109th Precinct, said in an interview Tuesday that the precinct commander, Inspector James Waters, told him to issue the permit to the Lunar New Year Committee 2001, since it was the first to file on Sept. 25.

"We are mandated to file a request at least 60 days in advance," Pohaliski said, even though the precinct did not. "The inspector waited and waited for these groups to get together, but they never did. We had to submit one. That's the reason why we submitted the first."

Over the last couple of months, the rancor between the two committees seemed to intensify by the week, even though both groups had reiterated their desires for a harmonious parade.

A week after the Lunar New Year Festival Committee 2001 held its first news conference, the second coalition accused Adrian Joyce, then chairman of Community Board 7, of cavalierly choosing the committee he wanted to organize the parade. That coalition also called for his resignation, charging that Joyce was driving a wedge between the Korean and Chinese communities of Flushing.

At the Tuesday news conference, representatives of the Lunar New Year Festival Committee said the police "departed from last year's procedures requiring signatures of contending parties before issuing a permit." Wang, a coalition member, said she probably would not attend the parade this year and that her group might hold an alternative festival.

Coalition members also read aloud a list of eight "Rules of the Parade," which include directives calling on all organizations to march under a single banner along with the American flag, and banning displays of national or regional flags of other countries.

Pyun, another coalition representative, said Fred Fu, president of the Flushing Chinese Business Association and head of the Lunar New Year Committee 2001, had not agreed to the list.

But in an interview, Fu said he had agreed to these stipulations all along. "There's a lot of lying going on over there," he said. "We are not inviting any particular political party to join the parade. We welcome everybody."

In past years, the parade has been quite effective in stirring the political passions of Asian Americans, particularly those of Chinese- and Taiwanese background. Last year, for example, organizers scrambled to diffuse a potentially flammable situation when dignitaries from China and Taiwan both wanted to march in the parade. And, in 1998, when committee organizers dropped the word "Chinese" from the festival's original name, "The Chinese Lunar New Year Parade," Koreans marched en masse for the first time.

Posted 7:02 pm, October 10, 2011
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