Letters, Week of February 23 – 29, 2012

Still more bigoted claims?

 To The Editor:
Re “C.B. 2 O.K.’s full length for Gennaro Feast; Mall on tap” (news article, Feb. 16):

As a leader in the Italian-American community, I am once again appalled at the bigoted, unsubstantiated claims by Kim Martin, that those who spoke out against the feast or the mall were being threatened or bullied. I would hope that anyone who was threatened would have filed a report with the police and had the person committing such an act arrested.

However, it is typical of Martin and others like her, when they have a disagreement with an Italian-American, or with Italian-Americans as a group, to use such language. There is no room in our community for people who negatively stereotype others, and I wish Ms. Martin would stop.

I, along with the other members of the Italian-American community, will continue working with those in the community that have legitimate issues that need to be addressed. I look forward to working with Community Board 2, Councilmember Chin and SAPO (the Mayor’s Street Activities Permit Office) to have two great events in Little Italy once again this year.
John A. Fratta

N.Y.U. risks rotting the core

To The Editor:
Re “N.Y.U. has a right to build, but must scale back plan” (editorial, Feb. 9):

Yes, N.Y.U. has a right to build. And we have existing zoning laws to cover what it may build on land it does own. But the university seeks to control land it does not own as well, land that belongs to the public. It also wants to change the zoning designation of the superblocks, the city zoning law text and even to get additional waivers beyond that. These are changes that may well set a precedent for the rest of the city — so be careful what you ask for.

“Half?” Why are you expecting N.Y.U. to have a change of heart, when for more than a year as it developed this plan, it refused to yield to the community by even a fraction. When it gave up on the “pinwheel” hotel, it was only because of the embarrassment to N.Y.U. by I.M. Pei’s public rejection of the proposal — not because of any compromise with the community.

The superblocks’ existing zoning is a restriction on development agreed to first in the 1950s and again in the ’70s. Why would a deed restriction on land transferred to the city for a public school now in 2012 have any more meaning than the existing deed restriction on the superblocks created in past agreements? What happened to “a deal’s a deal”? Should past agreements be thrown out each time N.Y.U. wants more?

The wide support for the plan at the city level offers an opportunity to spread N.Y.U.’s growth throughout the city more widely. Opposition to this plan does not reduce the possibilities for job growth. On the contrary, it has the potential to spread jobs throughout the city. And the university’s strength would not be diminished by such a spread; rather, it would enhance it. Consider the fact that N.Y.U. thrives now and is in several locations around this and other cities. Perhaps that’s precisely why it is thriving.

N.Y.U.’s need to expand should not be fulfilled in its core. Expansion there will only serve to rot the core.
Jeffrey Rowland

Behemoth is back for more

 To The Editor:
Re “N.Y.U. has a right to build, but must scale back plan” (editorial, Feb. 9):

N.Y.U. has always had one plan: world domination. Witness the recent expansions in Asia and the Arabian Peninsula, similar to those of banks, luxury-goods purveyors and other multinationals.

Regarding N.Y.U.’s “new plans,” this newspaper’s editorial board has chosen to fall on the wrong side of history.

There are several questions that must be asked. Why does a corporate behemoth with a “yearly membership” tag of $60,000 per student continue to pay no taxes? What is the community at large receiving (other than false and broken promises) for the privilege of hosting this voracious developer in its midst? Education? It’s only for the cast that can afford such tuition: transient scions of the global 1 percent — actually, much less than 1 percent.

Students educated at N.Y.U. don’t stay in the community. I am a notable exception, but I was here before studying there. Most only milk the area for its cultural worth, burden it with their carousing and leave with their degrees. If their rich families are socked with hundreds of thousands of dollars in costs, it’s no biggie.

N.Y.U.’s only concern is self-aggrandizement. How great to be part of it, if you are an administrator, tenured faculty or a rich student whose family can pay the ticket. Meanwhile, the university’s promises to the community remain undelivered, as your recent reprint of then-Councilmember Carol Greitzer’s 1970 talking point made clear; the promise (now rehashed and much-reduced) of a school was made to obtain a variance to allow the Coles gym/Silver Towers superblock to be developed.

Now the behemoth is back for more, with more promises that are instrumental to getting its way; it’s nothing but lip service.

If Bloomberg and his henchmen intend to deliver a large chunk of Downtown’s most vital area to a questionable entity, let them try to override the community’s opposition.
Sante Scardillo,
Scardillo is a member, Little Italy Neighbors Association, and a graduate of N.Y.U.’s Tisch School of the Arts (Class of ’85)

Don’t leave it up to S.C.A.!

To The Editor:
Re “N.Y.U. rep says they’ll give land, not cash, for a school” (news article, Feb. 9):

In your article on N.Y.U.’s promise of public school construction, you mention that “the plan for the entire building is driven by S.C.A. [School Construction Authority] action.”

It is this element of the situation that makes local parents the most skeptical. It is precisely S.C.A. inaction that has led to the present school overcrowding crisis — the failure of the authority’s models for predicting enrollment growth and its unwillingness to accommodate enrollment growth when it occurs.

The Village needs N.Y.U. to advocate for a school and actively to generate it, not simply to acquiesce in it. Otherwise, we are confident that no school will be built and the land will revert to N.Y.U. for its own purposes. Was that the intention all along? Observers recall that N.Y.U. simply reneged on its 1963 promise to build a school when it bent the rules to acquire the superblocks in the first place. This time, perhaps S.C.A. will give N.Y.U. cover.
Ann Kjellberg

Cops and cannabis issue

To The Editor:
Re “Killed over a bag of weed” (letter, by Jerry The Peddler, Feb. 9):

Police are people in a position of trust and should not be perpetuating cannabis (marijuana) prohibition or condoning shooting teenagers over a bag of weed. Police and their unions are to be disrespected if they continue to lobby to cage responsible adults who choose to use the extremely popular, relatively safe God-given plant (see the first page of the Bible) cannabis.
Stan White

Steeples connection

To The Editor:
Re “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: A look at St. Brigid’s rehab” (news article, Feb. 16):

I grew up in St. Brigid’s and also was married there. I’m happy to say that I have years of photos of the original church and so many memories of going there and also of being taught catechism by the nuns.

I hope that it will be possible to see the refurbished church, but I now live in Kentucky and age is creeping up. I was thrilled to see that maybe new steeples for the church will be made in Kentucky and shipped to New York City. I’ll still have a connection.
Joyce Sloan

Hashing out the facts

To The Editor:
Re “Rosalind was in the mix” (letter, by Eddie Woods, Feb. 2):

After decades of misleading information, the facts have finally come to the surface.

Subsequent to his letter in The Villager, Eddie Woods confessed to me in an e-mail that he, too, was told by Ira Cohen that Ira had written “The Hashish Cookbook.” But Eddie knew that this was not true. However, Eddie would only tell me that the author was a woman by the name of Rosalind.

I felt that the woman author should be recognized, her full name should be known, and I wanted the facts to be correct in the soon-to-be-released book that I’m editing and in which Ira is included, “Jews: A People’s History of the Lower East Side.” After many e-mails back and forth with Eddie, he finally sent me the following information:

“Ira Cohen published ‘The Hashish Cookbook’ (NYC, 1966) under the Gnaoua Press imprint and managed to sell 10,000 copies in six weeks. The book was written in Tangier (at Brion Gysin’s suggestion) by Ira’s then-girlfriend, Rosalind Schwartz, using the pseudonym Panama Rose. Over the years, for whatever reasons, Ira came to be identified as the author. He was not.”
Clayton Patterson

E-mail letters, not longer than 250 words in length, to lincoln@thevillager.com or fax to 212-229-2790 or mail to The Villager, Letters to the Editor, 515 Canal St., Suite 1C, NY, NY 10013. Please include phone number for confirmation purposes. The Villager reserves the right to edit letters for space, grammar, clarity and libel. The Villager does not publish anonymous letters.

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