Letters, Week of April 19, 2012

Always follow the money

To The Editor:
Re “Nonprofits don’t know best” (letter, by Elaine Hudson, April 12):

Elaine Hudson’s excellent letter regarding N.Y.U.’s support from the directors of several nonprofit organziations neglects to note that five out of six of these nonprofits are frequent and regular recipients of cash or other financial remuneration from N.Y.U. via its Community Fund. How’s that for conflict of interest?

So, the nonprofits’ praise of N.Y.U. expansionism is not really a spontaneous burst of support for N.Y.U.’s grandiose scheme. It appears to be a favor granted for money given, a venal quid pro quo.
Sean Sweeney

Indians will be fine, dam it

To The Editor:
Re “Tribeca Film Festival: ‘Xingu’ ” (arts, April 12):

Sorry to correct you last paragraph. The Villas Boas saga has become part of the Brazilian government policy regarding the country’s indigenous peoples. For this reason, the Belo Monte Hydropower Dam will not affect the 122 Indians living along the 62-mile stretch we call “The Xingu Big Bend.” This part of the river will not dry and fish and river transportation will be preserved.

By the way, as opposed to other countries in the Americas, Indian extermination was never a government policy in Brazil, as you have probably concluded after watching the movie “Xingu.”
Joao Pimentel 
Pimental is director for institutional relations for Norte Energia, which is building the Belo Monte Hydropower Dam

MLS pier plan is the one

To The Editor:
Re “Pro soccer is making a pitch for stadium on park’s Pier 40” (news article, April 12):

I’ve been making the case for Major League Soccer as the ideal Pier 40 solution for years. As a soccer fan and lifetime player, several things I know for certain. Soccer fans in urban areas, like London, take all forms of public transportation and walk to matches. There is no outrageous car influx.

The early, provocative and inflammatory rhetoric about drunk fans and hooliganism is unwarranted and false. Hooliganism happens in the NBA, NFL and NHL, both on and off the court and ice, but not in soccer. The U.S. has had a World Cup and 17 years of professional play without incident, and U.S. soccer fans pride themselves on fair play and good behavior. Ask any Pier 40 soccer parent. We’re not that kind of soccer culture here.

MLS knows well that the fields and new public space for the pier are sacrosanct because we knowledgeable soccer fans from the Village have let them know it in no uncertain terms.

Arthur Schwartz, you cannot just focus on a single subway stop as a way to say no. This stadium would be fed by the Chambers, W. Fourth, Houston and Canal St. stations, the PATH and by walking. I live four blocks away and I would do anything for season tickets.

Assemblymember Glick, a thousand Pier 40 soccer parents and a lot of others are willing to sit down and help you better understand the culture of soccer. Having the first New York City soccer team here would be a typically anti-establishment, Village decision, on top of everything else. This is a league that understands what it’s like to be belittled by old-guard, NFL-type Americans.

This is the perfect partner at the perfect time. I hope the Village can come to understand that MLS is listening to our concerns, and will adjust to our concerns, and contribute to public space, unlike some real estate behemoth. This must be addressed thoughtfully. If there must be a commercial partner for the pier, I know that you can count MLS as cooperative to Village concerns.

I have been all over the world to World Cups, and U.S. fans (including New York City fans I encountered in Germany and South Africa) have always represented our country thoughtfully.

Enough with the false, pre-manufactured responses already. Pier 40 must be completed. It’s been too many years, and this is the one.
Patrick Shields 
Shields is a member, Bedford Downing Block Association, a U.S. Soccer Federation Founding Fan and a Pier 40 user

N.Y.U. ‘compromise’ is a joke

To The Editor:
Re “N.Y.U. scales back its superblocks plan 17 percent” (news article, April 12):

The Stringer/Sexton plan is an April Fool’s joke, right? Or maybe they think we are all fools here in the Village. The giveback is a pittance. Come now, to get zoning changed to commercial so that New York University can usurp retail space for its own profit is praiseworthy? To give nontaxpaying N.Y.U. such rights is purely a political ploy by Stringer and Sexton.

So Mrs. Chin, Ms. Quinn and even Mrs. Burden ought to recognize what is in the interest of the community and not of the political forces attempting to shape a historic district into an N.Y.U. satellite. Do they represent us or the campaign financiers?

Thank goodness for Berman and Glick!
Sylvia Rackow

Would dogs be landmarked, too?

To The Editor:

Re “N.Y.U. scales back its superblocks plan 17 percent” (news article, April 12):

Putting the Mercer-Houston Dog Run near 110 Bleecker St. would be placing it on landmarked property! It should stay on Mercer St. and the proposed hotel should be deleted.
Pau Rackow

N.Y.U. prez was really smiling

To The Editor:
Re “N.Y.U. scales back its superblocks plan 17 percent” (news article, April 12):

What’s the expression? A picture says a thousand words. Well your front-page photo in last week’s issue speaks volumes.

Stringer, you must have really given Sexton a really, really good time, if you know what I mean. Too bad you screwed the community.
Leslye Alexander 

Universities as developers

To The Editor:
Re “N.Y.U. scales back its superblocks plan 17 percent” (news article, April 12):

The recent rally on the steps of City Hall, called to sway the Manhattan borough president to oppose the N.Y.U. Greenwich Village takeover, was a lesson in politics that everyone understood except the politician the rally was trying to reach.

Borough President Scott Stringer and his chutzpah impressed me, almost as much as his personable, sensitive manner when he came to present himself in front of the Manhattan Neighborhood Council in 1998. As he was calmly walking away from the rally without deigning to give us a glance, I caught up with him and reminded him of that meeting. Back then, as a rookie community activist, I was captivated and thought, “We need more people like him in government.”

Down the steps of City Hall in 2012, he told me to my face he hadn’t been invited to the rally — even as I was cordially inviting him to address the crowd. I doubt G.V.S.H.P.’s Andrew Berman would have forgotten to invite the man the entire event was designed to reach. Stringer told me to call his office. And that’s what the entire community should do: Give his staff an earful of why he is doing Manhattan no good.

The puerile ploy of presenting a humongous plan that has been “scaled back” is nakedly transparent: Present something so absurd that even opportunistic politicians feel squeamish about endorsing it, then “scale it back,” in concert with said politicians, who will appear to assuage community outrage and claim, “Everybody wins!” Wrong. N.Y.U. wins, everybody else loses.

It’s time to start considering candidates for mayor. Do we need the likes of Stringer and Christine Quinn, unfit for higher office if all they can see is tax revenue and economic activity? What will this plan do to the people who should actually benefit from increased tax revenue and economic activity? It will displace them or further limit open space for those remaining, in violation and negation of the covenants that allowed the increased development privileges in the 1960s; while further increasing privileges and benefits to a mega-corporation that cares nothing for human beings, including those that keep it running, who are actively agitating against this plan. And N.Y.U. pays no taxes, because of all the good it does the community… .

It’s time for someone (hopefully, more than one!) to step into the mayoral election who can guarantee enforcement of the laws and preservation of what’s left of the social contract, to help the survival of residential communities across the five boroughs, without privileging entities that have done little or nothing to warrant their inflated status, and that use it at every chance to extort more and more privilege. This modus operandi is outrageous and needs to be reformed.

The “prestigious” higher education institutions have fallen into the hands of trustees and executives who are turning them into development corporations with nontaxable revenue, peripherally involved in the education of the overclass that can afford tuition, while also kicking in generous donations for more development. While this plays well in Cambridge, Massachusetts, or Stanford, California — company towns for the universities that made them famous — I wonder if conceding unprecedented privilege to our local equivalents is a viable development model for the entire city, not to mention areas of global historical, artistic and cultural interest, such as Greenwich Village and Harlem.

I think we, The People, the community, the city and the nation at large, need to have a comprehensive debate concerning present plans and the scope of the laws granting these cash-generating behemoths nontaxable status. That alone will suddenly make them reconsider plans for world — or even just Greenwich Village — domination.

For the record, I’m an alumnus of N.Y.U.’s Tisch School of Arts, Class of of ’85, thanks to a tuition scholarship that, at today’s rates, increased tenfold, would still leave tuition out of reach of students of comparable talent and economic background. I’ve been free of student-loan debt since 2005.
Sante Scardillo,
Scardillo is a member, Little Italy Neighbors Association

Mistake to muzzle Sweeney

To The Editor:
Re “It’s on” (Scoopy’s Notebook, April 5):

People can and will disagree with Sean Sweeney on any number of issues. But the idea that he should not be on a community board is frankly absurd — and fails to understand the concept of a community board. It is beyond dispute that Sweeney speaks for a great many residents of Soho. His voice is a significant one in Lower Manhattan and clearly deserves to be included in community board debates. Attempting to silence him over one issue is  undemocratic and foolish.

I’m glad Borough President Stringer had the good sense to rectify this mistake.
Paul Newell
Newell is Democratic district leader, 64th Assembly District, Part C

The mature response — run!!!

To The Editor:
Re “Time to stand our ground” (letter, by Jerry The Peddler, April 12):

Jerry The Peddler states, “…rather than run like a coward and risk my life waiting for the cops, I have a moral obligation to stand my ground and defend myself.”

I do not believe it is cowardly to run (walk, hop, skip) away from a situation that is escalating. If moving away defuses a situation and prevents it from flaring, I wouldn’t label that “cowardice.” Rather, it is being the bigger, more mature person.

What frightens me is the idea that anyone can walk around with a loaded gun and become a self-appointed marshal. Why not let the police do their job — the job they were trained to do?

P.S., I do believe in self-defense when absolutely necessary.
Michael Gottlieb



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