Letters, Week of Dec. 27, 2012

Dissing of Durst is ‘disgraceful’    

To The Editor:
Re “Ditching Friends, Durst to pursue own Pier 40 plan” (news article, Dec. 20):

Tobi Bergman’s comments about Douglas Durst’s motives and his ability as the leader of a nonprofit organization are disgraceful. As Arthur Schwartz stated in the article, the Friends wouldn’t exist today were it not for Douglas’s leadership, generosity and passion for the Hudson River Park. Tobi is well aware, since he sat on the board of Friends, where, unlike other board members, he pushed his own agenda for Pier 40 rather than involve himself in the bigger issues related to the park as a whole.

The exit of Douglas Durst and Ben Korman from the Friends is a huge loss for the Friends; but I doubt that it will be a loss for the park. Friends was an advocacy group whose lawsuits and public support generated tens of millions of dollars for the park when the Hudson River Park Trust leadership was unable or unwilling to stand up to other city and state agencies that wanted to exploit the park for their own purpose.

Friends morphed into a fundraising group to try to find a less confrontational way to help the park. Many of us resigned from the Friends’ board to allow that to happen, but that obviously didn’t work. I wouldn’t be surprised if another advocacy group formed to protect the Hudson River Park from political appointees determined to dismantle it.

I’d like to suggest that Tobi and Trust President Madelyn Wils start their efforts to build residential housing in the Hudson River Park the day after the mayor announces the groundbreaking of residential development in Central Park.
Tom Fox

Fox was the first president of the Hudson River Park Conservancy (which completed the Hudson River Park’s concept and financial plan) from 1992-95; a member of the Hudson River Park Alliance (which supported the Hudson River Park’s founding legislation) from 1996-98; and a board of directors member of the Friends of Hudson River Park until 2011.

Durst is dedicated to park

To The Editor:
Re “Ditching Friends, Durst to pursue own Pier 40 plan” (news article, Dec. 20):

Contrary to Tobi Bergman’s characterization, Douglas Durst was never reluctant or ambivalent about his commitment to the Hudson River Park. I served for several years as co-chairperson with Douglas on the board of Friends of Hudson River Park, and was always impressed by his complete devotion to the best interests of the park, and also how he constantly encouraged ideas from other board members for the park’s best interests — including our refocused mission.

Douglas is personally retiring but never without energy or commitment to the park, which he so generously supported since its inception. While the park has been a major commitment, he and his family have also generously supported the arts and theater in New York. And he is one of the — if not the single most — responsible and environmentally enlightened developers in the city. While some of the Trust’s leaders may be pleased by Douglas and Ben Korman’s retirement from the board of the Friends, for many of us it is a really sad development.
Ross Graham

Graham was a board member of the Hudson River Park Conservancy, and is the citizen advocate (emeritus) board member on the Friends of Hudson River Park

A true community visionary

To The Editor:
Re “Ditching Friends, Durst to pursue own Pier 40 plan” (news article, Dec. 20):

It is unfortunate that Mr. Bergman chose to take such a low potshot at Douglas Durst. How uninformed and blatantly wrong. I have known Douglas as a nonprofit leader for more than two decades and can attest to his extraordinary leadership firsthand from my experience as executive director of the Roundabout Theatre Company! If it were not for Douglas’s counsel, I don’t know where our company would be right now. It certainly would not be the leader in the field we are today, making a demonstrable difference in countless lives of more than 1,000 artists and staff employed by our company each year, and in the lives of thousands of public school students and their teachers who participate in our arts programs in schools and our community at large.

I am grateful to know Douglas, to have benefited from his kindness, generosity and effectiveness as a member of our board of directors. It is rare to meet an individual such as Douglas who has a true, selfless commitment to improving the quality of life for all of us in New York City. From personal experience I can say (as can so many of us in New York City) he is a true environmental and community visionary.
Julia Levy

Levy is executive director, Roundabout Theatre Company

Ideas for curbing gun violence

To The Editor:
Re “Kurland announces her run, and says she gave up her gun” (news article, Dec. 20):

Whereas any fool with a gun can kill people by just pointing the gun and pulling the trigger; and thousands of innocent American kids and civilians have been gunned down by nut jobs with guns during the past year; and these deaths would not have happened if one or more persons had not transmitted the guns to the murderers.

Therefore, to minimize episodes of gun violence we propose the Transmission of Deadly Weapons Act as follows:

1. Gun dealers shall clearly etch their ID on the left side of gun barrels they sell, and clearly etch the ID of the buyer on the right side of the gun barrels.

2. Persons who sell or otherwise transmit deadly weapons such as guns to individuals

who then use said deadly guns to kill innocent people, shall be charged as accessories to the murders.

The U.S. Army taught me to kill people using handguns and rifles. It doesn’t take much skill; any fool can do it.

Also, bartenders who sell alcohol to persons who then cause a deadly incident should be at fault and liable to prosecution.
Cy Adler

Disarm the Board of Elections 

To The Editor:
Re “Kurland announces her run, and says she gave up her gun” (news article, Dec. 20):

Eric Tradd Schneiderman, in fact, was a deputy sheriff. I thought it was Upstate, but you are probably right. When he was running for Democratic district leader or state Senate, he explained in front of his home club (Community Free Democrats) about that job, and I seem to recollect that he really wasn’t a sheriff on patrol, but he said that he did some sort of “paperwork,” like crime analysis or devising programs.

Further, on the issue of guns, the New York City Board of Elections has employed for the past few years an armed guard at its headquarters, at 32-42 Broadway. Why? Thinking of Ron Kuby’s remarks in your article — why is someone with a gun needed? To safeguard records? To prevent fisticuffs at petition validity hearings before the commissioners?

The board never had an armed guard before — ever. Although during petition review and inspection periods, there is an New York Police Department cop — usually falling asleep — to stop someone from making off with an opponent’s designating petition, say.

So why the permanent Allied Barton company’s armed goon? Well, a few years ago, the board’s administrative manager, state Senator Bill Perkin’s wife, Pamela Green, received serious death threats. A proper N.Y.P.D. investigation found that the threats were indeed real, and came from an employee whom she disciplined on a minor issue. (There were recordings of telephone calls to her).

The employee was arrested, tried and convicted — and fired. At the time, the board hired the private armed guard to protect Pamela — and has kept the guard on since then. It’s a waste of taxpayers’ money. I objected to no avail at commissioners’ meetings. And I couldn’t get a copy of the contract from the city department which handles such matters. There is no need for an armed guard now.
Alan Flacks

Can anyone else run, please?

To The Editor:
Re “Kurland announces her run, and says she gave up her gun” (news article, Dec. 20):

Regarding your front-page piece on Ms. Kurland throwing her hat in the City Council race, I am quite amused by your friendly warning that she had better get her facts straight before commenting again. What does this mean? Are we to believe that being deliberately vague, unresponsive or misleading is proper for one who seeks to get the support of the voters?

As a longtime community activist and one quite familiar with Kurland’s public persona over the past several years, I can attest to the fact that she was much the same way in dealing with us. I found it frustrating — and in the end, after many long discussions, she could not find her way clear to assist us in any way when told there would be no photo-op! She has a long way to go to regain her credibility.

So far, I am unaware of anything she has accomplished other than showing up at rallies and shouting. Furthermore, she seemed entirely uninterested in the blatant violations that R.I.D. (Residents in Distress) brought to her attention on numerous occasions.

Chris Quinn has set the bar quite high, it’s true. But at this point, I would welcome a dedicated staffer from any office in our district to make a run for this seat instead.
Jessica Berk

Berk is a member, Christopher St. Partnership

Gun-control hypocrites 

To The Editor:
Re “Kurland announces her run, and says she gave up her gun” (news article, Dec. 20):

You cannot have any kind of handgun permit in the five boroughs of New York City without having a handgun serial number listed on the back of it. Therefore, if Kurland still is registered with New York Police Department as licensed to carry, she has a handgun listed on the back of that permit. If she has a permit without having an actual firearm, she is in violation of N.Y.P.D. regulations.

One thing is for sure, she is a hypocrite like Mayor Bloomberg and Chuck Shumer, who have armed guards but deny the rights of their citizens to enjoy the same level of protection themselves.
Glenn Herman

Herman is founder, New York City Guns

Stupid Santas! Bah, humbug!

To The Editor:
Re “Ban SantaCon! Inebriated St. Nicks out of control” (talking point, by Sarah Ferguson, Dec. 20):

Sarah, great piece. I’m so glad someone wrote about this obnoxious event. I was out last Saturday going to BETTY’s holiday show at Joe’s Pub. I walked from the far West Village to Lafayette St. in the East Village. I ran into stupid, drunken Santas all over the place, to the left of me and to the right of me. It was not a pleasant walk, and when I left the club, it was impossible to get a cab. The only people who benefit from this event are bar owners. It is not a cool cultural event like the Village Halloween Parade; it is just an excuse to get drunk, act out.

At least BETTY’s show was great and Kate Clinton was hilarious when she came onstage and ad-libbed about Christmas trees. She was killing time while we waited for Gloria Steinem (who could not get a cab) to arrive and read her top 10 list. She did finally get Downtown.
Kate Walter

‘Mommy, why is Santa drunk?’

To The Editor:
Re “Ban SantaCon! Inebriated St. Nicks out of control” (talking point, by Sarah Ferguson, Dec. 20):

Thank you to Sarah Ferguson for voicing what many of us have thought and felt for the past few years. Every year as I walk down the streets at this time and see the groups of inebriated young people in front of bars, puffing on cigarettes and carrying on loudly, I think of what a disillusionment this must be to young children who have pictures in their minds of Santa Claus. As her young son asked, “Why is Santa drunk?” I have wondered that same thing. Yes, it is definitely time to rethink this silly tradition and do away with it.
Linda Lusskin

Demands a G.L.W.D. do-over

To The Editor:
People who claim to have God on their side have a long history of pulling off wicked exploits. So it should come as no surprise that the dubious alliance of God’s Love We Deliver and Quinlan-Tavros Development managed to get Community Board 2 to pull a shameful switcheroo at its Dec. 20 board meeting.

Although the community board’s Land Use and Business Development Committee had voted nearly unanimously on Dec. 12 to reject the questionable air-rights transfer that G.L.W.D. and QT development need for QT to pull off its expanded, 14-story, luxury condo development scheme, sometime in the following week, in a closed-door meeting, a deal was cut.

C.B. 2’s Land Use Committee asks us to believe that they reversed their decision in exchange for concessions to the community that amount to a couple of trees planted on a landing, a handful of air conditioners and double-paned windows for the residents of 188 Sixth Ave. Such fables strain credulity. While images of smoke-filled rooms and envelopes stuffed with cash seem a bit banal, how else are we to explain such shenanigans?

Those of us who live in the South Village want answers: How do these deals that sell out our neighborhoods get cut? Where is the public process mandated by the Open Meetings Law? And where are our elected officials in this disgraceful parody of city planning and democratic governance?

More than 50 South Village neighbors and friends have called on C.B. 2 to re-hear this matter at the community board’s first meeting of the new year. We await their reply.

In the meantime, we wish our neighbors a holiday season filled with peace and light. Thanks to the actions of our community board, it may be the last one they enjoy with these amenities.
Micki McGee 

C.B. 2 delivered — for G.L.W.D.

To The Editor:
The role of Community Board 2 is to reflect the views of its constituents. Anything but that occurred on Thurs., Dec. 20, when the board approved a land use modification application for QT Development and God’s Love We Deliver known as a “minor modification”— a modification to God’s Love’s 1993 deed that would allow its rooftop property to be used as open space by a private developer.

However, the application for the modification, formerly inspected by the public and voted down by the board’s Land Use and Business Development Committee a week earlier on Dec. 16, was incredibly rewritten by members of the community board along with the developer in a private session behind closed doors! Can you imagine the shock and chagrin of my neighbors and me when we arrived at the full board meeting on Dec. 20, only to be told that the application from a week earlier had been retrofitted and that the Land Use Committee had reversed its position? The developer had added a clause in the application stating that they will plant a few more trees and install windows and air conditioners for one of the adjacent buildings. Wow! That is probably the equivalent of lunch money for their attorneys for one week and falls way short of the type of stipulations that need to be included in order for this type of “minor modification” to be approved. All this behind we the people’s backs.

Then enter Tom Duane, the original author of the 1993 deed for the G.L.W.D. property. Since a close confidante of Tom Duane had initially brought the “minor modification” to my attention and gave the neighborhood reason and encouragement to oppose it, I couldn’t imagine that Mr. Duane didn’t concur. What happened to make Duane practically come out of retirement to come down and urge the board to support the “minor modification”? More subterfuge in a week of subterfuge. Disgusting! C.B. 2 and Tom Duane should be ashamed of themselves in honoring developers, favors and big money ahead of the common people. Shame on you.

I appealed to the community board to consider the more than 300 rent-stabilized units directly and indirectly adjacent to the site and the huge consequences that adding another 18,000 square feet to this building would have for those people. It’s almost 30 percent more heft. But the fix was in. Our pleas fell on deaf ears.

G.L.W.D. has donors with the deepest pockets on planet Earth. This cynical line they spun that their mission is doomed unless they conspire with a major real estate developer to raise a measly few million dollars from the sale of their air rights is horrible. How dare they use people dying from AIDS and other illnesses as P.R. for their new real estate venture. I know many many people who have approached G.L.W.D. about quality-of-life issues, such as odor and trucking noise, only to be given a very cold shoulder.

Come spring, the heavy machinery will roll in and a giant development will proceed, towering above the little munchkins below, and once again “progress” in Manhattan will come at the expense of the common man. In this instance it will be most remarkable because of the huge population living directly adjacent to the site and the fact that their community representatives find it more agreeable to be “in” with the big money and developers than their own constituents.
Kenny Ross

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