Letters, Week of June 28, 2012

Who would Jesus evict?

To The Editor:
Re “O.W.S. ‘Duarte 8’ are sentenced” (news article, June 21):

It is disappointing, but not surprising, to read that Trinity chose to prosecute Occupy Wall Street activists, with one protester sentenced to 45 days at Rikers, for “trespassing” on a vacant lot that Trinity got for free and is not currently using.

Retired Episcopal Bishop George Packard, who was the first to scale the fence and arrested on the preposterous charge of “trespassing” on his own denomination’s property, got it right when he addressed the Court: “Is [Trinity] a corporation worried about fiduciary interest or a portion of the Body of Christ?”

Unlike the other religions and denominations who legally purchased their land with the nickels and dimes of poor immigrants, Trinity got its land for free from the British, who stole it from the Dutch settlers under threat of massacre.

Further, in the early part of the 20th century, Trinity cruelly evicted thousands of impoverished tenants living in its residential properties on the Lower West Side in order to pave way for the many commercial buildings that are there now, the basis of
Trinitys enormous wealth.

At one time Trinity provided several houses of charity Downtown to provide aid to the poor, the downtrodden, the oppressed. Now it has none.

Trinity has now shown its true colors with its dispossession of the O.W.S. folk — who are fighting for social and economic justice — for the “crime” of occupying a vacant lot that Trinity got for free, and with one activist, Mark Adams, sentenced to 45 days in Rikers.

We wonder where Jesus will be this Sunday: in the front pew of Trinity or in the Rikers jail cell with Mark Adams?
Sean Sweeney

Better to go with the flow

To The Editor:
Re “Baldwin threatens Villager photog” (news brief, June 21):

You know, if Mr. Baldwin and his bride-to-be had just smiled and then ducked into a cab they would have had a much better photo on the cover of the paper. There are times that it is wiser to simply go along with events than to grow angry, get frustrated and then totally blow it.
Lawrence White

Big respect in the big house

 To The Editor:
Re “Living with Bill — the prisoner of Eighth Avenue” (Gay Pride section article, June 21):

Cullum was a remarkable figure at Lewisburg. He was at the same time highly visible and unintrusive, which is quite a trick. Everyone respected him, guards and inmates alike. He once walked into a housing unit where a new young gay inmate had been harassed and threatened by a group of faux-macho hard heads, screamed at them for five minutes, and they just stood there, hung their heads and took it. There were no more problems.

All those tough guys, with their swagger, their scowls, their talk and their bad attitude — every one of them knew that Cullum was stronger than any of them. I never heard anyone say a harsh word to him, and I knew a lot of people who would have had a much rougher trip without him. When he got out, he went right to work getting his life back on track, despite the encumbrances the prison system imposes on its clients in order to assure repeat business.

I would note, however, that Bill pursued no overt political agenda at Lewisburg, gay, left or otherwise. He instead focused on dignity, fairness, civility and respect — all commodities generally in short supply inside a jail or out; but all those there knew well that Bill offered them without qualification to anyone. I think the place might have been a lot more fractious without him, and certainly a lot less tolerable.
Burt Kozloff 

A climate of fear at N.Y.U.

To The Editor:
Re “N.Y.U. is risking its intellectual and fiscal health” (talking point, by An N.Y.U. Faculty Member, June 21):

It does not reflect well on a university when a faculty member fears retribution for speaking out. I am a faculty member at N.Y.U. School of Medicine, and in June of 2010 we did a survey of the tenured faculty and asked whether fear of retribution was a barrier to speaking out. There was an overall 56 percent response rate to the survey. A whopping 52 percent of those who took the survey indicated that they would hesitate to speak their mind for fear of retribution. And these are tenured faculty members!
Marie Monaco

Sexton as ‘academic Napoleon’

To The Editor:
Re “N.Y.U. is risking its intellectual and fiscal health” (talking point, by An N.Y.U. Faculty Member, June 21):

I applaud the N.Y.U. faculty for speaking out (whether anonymously or not) against the ridiculous and fiscally irresponsible 2031 plan. N.Y.U. could have chosen to be an asset and proud partner of preservation in Greenwich Village, but instead it has opted for being a scourge, a destroyer and a detriment to this community and to New York City.

Under John Sextons leadership, N.Y.U. has torn down historically important sites and imposed architecturally unsuitable buildings on the neighborhood. And now, it proposes not only to build more ugly and out-of-scale structures, but to endanger the health of Village residents (many of whom are the university’s own employees) for a 20-year construction period.

Sexton is no less than an academic Napoleon whose megalomania has been allowed to run rampant for the past 10 years. He must be stopped before he destroys the neighborhood and his own university. I urge all concerned New Yorkers, whether they be residents of Greenwich Village or not, to join us on the morning of Friday June 29 for a rally and City Council public hearing. This is our Battle of Waterloo — be there!
Marilyn Stults 

Stadium is still kicking around

To The Editor:
Re “Park act bill stalls even without O.K. for Pier 40 housing” (news article, June 21):

This summer the community as a whole needs to see a public presentation of an alternative for Pier 40 by Major League Soccer. It’s time that MLS come directly to the community with the plan for a soccer arena that we have been hearing so much positive buzz about economically, particularly regarding pier repair.

If the stadium plan is viable, and more low-rise than housing, and usable by the community for the majority of the year, as we’ve been hearing, this would allow the community to affirm our support for Assemblymember Glick’s respect for our opposition to housing on the pier. This would also allow us to respectfully pressure her with a consensus compromise solution for Pier 40.

Give us something to work with, MLS, so we can look at it, and if worthy, build a coalition to support it.
Patrick Shields

Boys and girls together

To The Editor:
Re “Helping girls gives rewards corporate world never did” (Volunteers section article, June 14):

I was very intrigued by your recent article about Mariana Salem and her volunteer work with the Lower Eastside Girls Club.

The Girls Club is a vital member of the Lower East Side community, and we at The Boys’ Club of New York salute their accomplishments.

However, I wanted to take a minute to correct an important inaccuracy in the article: It is not true that B.C.N.Y. chose not to merge with Boys & Girls Club of America in 1986.  As a matter of fact, B.C.N.Y., which was founded on the Lower East Side in 1876, was a charter member of B.G.C.A. for almost 20 years. B.C.N.Y.’s decision to maintain our historic commitment to serving the special needs of boys and young men proved to be distinct from the scope of B.G.C.A.’s mission, and in 2005 we amicably parted ways, although we remain mutually supportive and respectful of each other’s programming.

We don’t feel that our presence here on the Lower East Side puts girls at any disadvantage. Our current leadership is eager to begin discussions with the Girls Club regarding sharing resources and facilities, and developing some co-ed programming for teens. B.C.N.Y. has the utmost respect for the work of the Girls Club, and we are certain that our organizations can work together to benefit the boys and girls in our community.
Helen Frank
Frank is communications manager, Boys’ Club of New York

Angry Buddhist hits the streets

To The Editor:
On Fri., June 15, at 2:30 p.m., just as the crush hour began, N.Y.P.D. traffic agents completely blocked off Canal St. with barrels and cones to all vehicles exiting the Manhattan Bridge. All traffic was funneled up Chrystie St. and then onto Broome St. Broome was already choked from handling the entire volume of the Williamsburg Bridge.

Walking through Chinatown and Little Italy, every cross street stretching from the Bowery west was paralyzed. Delancey St. was completed gridlocked back over the Williamsburg Bridge. Road-raged drivers, stewing in their air-conditioned nightmare, completely ignored traffic signals, and pedestrians were fair game. This forced traffic pattern has been implemented on a regular basis for an indeterminate amount of time.

When I asked the traffic agents why the shutdown of Canal St., they laughed at me and said, “Who are you to ask?” They also refused to identify themselves or their commanding officer. They did threaten to have me arrested.  It’s a good thing I didn’t make any
furtive movements.

These traffic agents who were “just following orders” exemplify the arrogance of government under the Bloomberg regime. This tone begins at the top. Civil servants must be just that — civil.

The closure of Canal St. is complete madness.  Whoever is responsible at the Department of Transportation or N.Y.P.D. Traffic should be relieved of command. If this were done in the private sector, those responsible would be fired. D.O.T. and N.Y.P.D. Traffic’s policies in and around Soho during the Bloomberg years have been disastrous. The implementation of concrete islands for tour buses along Broadway, narrowing it to one lane has exacerbated traffic conditions terribly.

Commissioner Sadik-Khan missed the grand opportunity of installing protected bike lanes the length of Houston St. during its extensive reconstruction. And the wild, two-lane turn for cars from Lafayette onto Broome will ultimately lead to a pedestrian death.

How about a traffic agent at gridlocked Broadway and Broome? Why do all of our elected officials ignore Soho’s plight? Why do powerful Assembly Speaker Silver and Council Speaker Quinn look the other way? This was once a grand neighborhood. It has become an urban nightmare. I think of moving every day.
Carl Rosenstein, a.k.a. the Angry Buddhist

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