Letters, Week of June 13, 2013

Lucky no one’s been killed

To The Editor:
Re “‘Wild Man of Soho’ is causing mayhem, fearful locals warn” (news article, June 6):

I know Richard personally and they got his size wrong. He is 6 feet 5 inches and slightly over 300 pounds and extremely strong. I’m surprised he hasn’t killed anyone yet.
Luis Jimenez

There ought to be a law

To The Editor:
Re “‘Wild Man of Soho’ is causing mayhem, fearful locals warn” (news article, June 6):

Sounds like a Larry Hogue, Upper West Side in the ’80s / ’90s type situation. He landed at Creedmoor. I personally witnessed Hogue physically assaulting people three times, and terrorizing people countless other times. Where do New York State’s mental hygiene laws stand on this these days? What’s the answer?

The laws are being used to relieve vulnerable seniors like Mike Quashie, once renowned as the Limbo King — a former Villager now in a nursing home in the Bronx — of their assets, under court order, patronage style, rather than to address the mentally ill.
Patrick Shields

Sorry state of the gardens

To The Editor:
Re “Garden hero — or partier amid the plants? Or both?” (news article, June 6):

For two decades I have fought passionately to save and safeguard the precious community gardens of our fair city. Indeed, Ron Kuby defended me when I was arrested (with activist Fran Luck) for interrupting Giuliani’s second inaugural speech in 1997, two days after Giuliani bulldozed the Chico Mendez Mural Garden.

All too often I hear people express negative opinions of the gardens. They see many gardens that are locked with no open hours posted. They see gardens with only one member. They have gone to gardens and been discouraged or prohibited from joining. They find an ossified and abusive power structure — as is the case at Dias y Flores.

Though some people are derisive of my efforts to ensure fairness and transparency in gardens, I am proud to have the nickname “Bylaws Jeff.” Without bylaws and rules the gardens quickly become “Lord of the Flies.”

The clichéd pablum that Ron Kuby and Everett Hill spout that the “gardens are for children,” is hyper-hypocritical, given that it is my friends and I who always color the Easter eggs and help the children tend the fire. We started Bring Your Own Puppet Day. We opened the gate on Halloween in the blackout after Hurricane Sandy.

The people the board kicked out didn’t break the rules. But the board did and continues to do so. All plots are supposed to be “turned by June 1” or they revert back to the membership. Board member Claude Kilgore’s plot and Ron Kuby’s partner Marilyn Vasta’s plot are two weeks delinquent. Fran McGorty repeatedly interrupts people at meetings, counting out loud how many seconds they have left and demanding there be “No whispering.” Julie Friesner interrogates would-be members and told someone to “Go to hell” at a meeting. Everett Hill recently allowed a member to miss the “mandatory annual meeting,” do her hours during another member’s slotted time and host an event without the required advance notice — a triple play of rule breaking.

These are the people GreenThumb is allowing to ruin the garden. Deputy Director Roland Chouloute has chosen to cast a blind eye.

Thank you to The Villager for shedding light on this ugly situation.

P.S. The bulldozers are still circling…. .
Jeffrey Cyphers Wright

From one ‘Howl’ to another

To The Editor:
Re “Garden hero — or partier amid the plants? Or both?” (news article, June 6):

Allen Ginsberg, who figured strongly in Jeffrey Wright’s poetry training, would be proud of Wright’s howling. A little howling once a month is welcome. It wakes and shakes us out of complacency. This is a great article.

But also at issue, however, is that the gardens are meant for the community, not just for the next-door real estate holders. Why is it that creative efforts are so often subsumed by private interests?

The reason the board took such action against Wright had little to do with drinking or wild parties. They never suggested the simple solution — enforcing the rules on these issues.

The real reason is that Wright proposed term limits for board members and this scared them. One posted on her Facebook wall, “Come to the meeting or else you-know-who could take over the garden.” I’m paraphrasing here, but this is the crux of the controversy. It’s about public versus private.

To avoid conflict of interest, the board cannot consist of next-door-neighbor property owners.
Lori Ortiz

Déjà vu all over again

To The Editor:
Re “Garden hero — or partier amid the plants? Or both?” (news article, June 6):

The other day, when I picked up The Villager, and began to read Lincoln Anderson’s article, I was hurled back in time.

The late 1990s were a demanding time for the community gardens of the East Village and Lower East Side. We fought hard and furiously to preserve our gardens from the developers.

After the Chico Mendez Garden was slated for development, Jeff was looking for another garden to join. Because of his seeming zeal and commitment, he was welcomed as a member of Green Oasis, the garden to which I belonged.

At the Green Oasis, he behaved in exactly the same ways as the members of Dias y Flores now describe him as behaving in that garden some 10 to 15 years later.

After a couple of years of  this, including late-night parties where underage kids jumped into our koi pond, and our asking Mr. Wright and his girlfriend at that time to follow the rules of the garden and GreenThumb, etc., they would not cooperate.

We had a few very difficult meetings, then voted them out. We ended up going to adjudication with a city ombudsman. One of the adjudicators asked us if it had occurred to us that Wright and his pals might be trying to take over the garden.The result of the meetings (if I remember it correctly) was that they were asked to leave for the remainder of the season, but they could reapply. They didn’t. We were very relieved.

Through his contacts, he had  brought Pete Seeger to the Green Oasis. He noted this as an example of what he had done for our garden.

He asked another lawyer to represent him at that time.

Is Jeff Wright living though his own tragic version of “Groundhog Day”? He is the sword and the wound.
Pamela Pier

Poetry of garden gatherings

To The Editor:
Re “Garden hero — or partier amid the plants? Or both?” (news article, June 6):

With a shower of rain; we stopped in the colonnade,

And went on in sunlight, into the Hofgarten,

And drank coffee, and talked for an hour.

T.S. Eliot, “The Waste Land”

What better place to exchange lovely ideas and spend time than in a garden? I really enjoyed stopping by, even in winter when the flowers weren’t blooming, and meeting all different sorts of people. Jeff is a lovely man who understands how incredibly important it is to have a place outdoors where friends can meet, mingle and enjoy away from the hustle and bustle of New York City.
Katherine Sloan

Mitigation by air conditioner?

To The Editor:
Re “Carrots, sticks, air conditioning and N.Y.U. 2031” (talking point, Martin Tessler, May 30):

Thanks for bringing this to light, Martin Tessler! It’s incredible and horrifying that N.Y.U. is promoting air conditioner use to “mitigate” construction noise. The air conditioners will be sucking in the construction toxins while still assaulting eardrums by creating an equal (but perhaps less obnoxious) noise level. This noise “mitigation” will be needed year-round during two decades of construction. Run an air conditioner in October? The antithesis of green!

The cost for the mitigation of the N.Y.U.-created noise assault will be borne by those living on and near the superblocks.

N.Y.U. 2031 is nothing but a way to make more money for N.Y.U. Otherwise, why would N.Y.U. have repeatedly testified that it had carefully analyzed its space needs and was asking for only exactly what it absolutely required — then, after approval, convened a Space Priorities Committee? And why did N.Y.U. require a rezoning to commercial, other than to make money by renting out the housing units on its lower floors to businesses that will pay top dollar?

N.Y.U., please go back to being an educational institution and stop being one of the city’s greediest developers. Pay your hard-working professors appropriately for the excellent education they provide, and stop wasting huge dollars on celebri-profs.
Mary Leigh

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One Response to Letters, Week of June 13, 2013

  1. When I belonged to Green Oasis, Pamela Pier was the epitome of everything that's wrong with the gardens. She was the be-all and the end-all. When she couldn't make it to a meeting she had one of her employees from Dinosaur Hill run over to the garden and declare that the meeting was canceled. When we voted on preserving the grass in front of the stage, she made a secret deal that went against the democratic vote. Like the board at DyF, Pier resorts to deception and innuendo, insinuating that I was involved in underage drinking.
    No one should be allowed to be president of a garden for life. Term limits are necessary in community gardens just as they are in politics. The board at Dias y Flores thinks the rules don't apply to them. Instead of taking over a board member's derelict plot (Claude Kilgore) as is specified in the By-Laws and Rules, they rushed to destroy my plot that I had offered to turned over to the community. They destroyed a legacy of plants, some of which originated in the famous Chico Mendez Mural Garden and had passed through several gardens. They are self-serving, power hungry vandals and will be voted out as soon as the misguided Deputy Director of GreenThumb Roland Chouloute lifts his onerous ban on people joining the garden. Does Chouloute think that people will forget they weren't allowed to join? Doesn't he see that they are now outraged and even more dedicated to the cause? Without democracy, the gardens are just playpens of entrenched elites like Pam Pier and the board of Dias y Flores.
    Shame on Chouloute. He should be fired for ignoring the By-Laws and Rules of Dias y Flores, banning committees, suppressing the legitimate agenda (Term Limits) and propping up a scabrous gang. Had Chouloute not stepped in, Term Limits would've already been approved and the board would all be out by now. Instead, he allowed the board to continue their disgusting bullying and breaking of rules with impunity. Just as the first time my membership was revoked, I have broken no rules. The board's actions are naked acts of retaliation against members who dare speak up about their awful tyranny. But as the Bible says, "First will be last and last will be first."
    Thank you Villager for making this a cause celebre. Viva democracy. Viva the East Village. Viva free speech! The Concerned members of Dias y Flores invite all freedom-loving people in New York to join Dias y Flores so we can vote the rascals out and restore Members' rights.

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