Letters, Week of Dec. 19, 2013

Park info probe

To The Editor:
Re “Blogger skewers conservancy over hot dog purge in park” (news article, Dec. 5):

Thank you, to The Villager, for giving exposure to this very important issue and the documents I uncovered and have been posting at Washington Square Park Blog. (And there is more!) WikiLeaks equivalent at Washington Square Park? Could be.

So much information was kept from the community. Manhattan Parks Commissioner Bill Castro tried to paint a picture of doom and gloom for Washington Square Park so that the private entity would get approved. And Community Board 2 rushed the process, and that is unfortunate.

It is important to note that this private group did not show bylaws, financials and larger plans. When asked at the one public meeting addressing their organization, they said they did not have a budget — and yet bylaws filed with New York State in 2012 show a five-year budget. When asked about their plans, they mentioned planting flowers and some maintenance at the park, and maybe a book club! Nothing about “a program to bring theater and performing arts events to the park,” including film festivals and theatrical productions.

The larger issue is the intentional and deliberate deception of the public. There is a pattern here of multiple ways information was obscured in order to push through a conservancy at Washington Square Park. It is hard to have trust in an organization that would present itself to the public with so many omissions of information, misrepresentations and a secret agenda.
Cathryn Swan

A ‘hall’ of a political story

To The Editor:
Re “Wasn’t Tweed’s Tammany anymore” (letter, by James S. Kaplan, Nov. 28):

Regarding the landmarking of Tammany Hall, christened as the new home of New York County’s Democratic Committee on July 4, 1929, a Mr. Kaplan weighs in that Francis Perkins was a key aide to Al Smith. That surprised me.

But whether he was or wasn’t, another of Smith’s key aides was my grandfather, Maurice Bloch, the Democratic (read: Tammany Hall) leader in the state Assembly. Smith rejected Bloch, however, in 1928 as too weak to run down-ticket from him for governor. Smith thought only F.D.R. could win the state, assuring him its electoral votes.

Smith was right. F.D.R. won a very close contest. Bloch managed his campaign. Smith — the four times-elected governor — lost New York, with James A. Farley acting as his statewide manager.

More to the point, when Smith ran for president in 1928, Tammany Hall had no physical “hall”; the building on E. 17th St. that was recently landmarked was under construction during the 1928 campaign. Like the Giants hosting NFL playoff games at the Yale Bowl or Shea, Smith ran his campaign from the G.M. Building, with John Raskob, a Republican, in charge.

As far as this hall is concerned, it was commissioned by Smith’s truest aide, George Olvany, the man Smith handpicked as Tammany’s chief after the sudden death of Boss Charles Murphy in 1924. Olvany, the first Tammany leader to resemble a brave, foisted Smith on 1924’s convention at Madison Square Garden for more than 100 ballots, until a compromise candidate, John W. Davis, was selected.

Smith won the 1928 nomination readily but lost New York State infamously. His pluralities were so far below expectations in the city that in March 1929, only months before his building was dedicated, Olvany resigned unexpectedly on “advice of his physicians.” His doctors knew what they were talking about: Olvany lived another 23 years!
Billy Sternberg

Cashing in on crashing

To The Editor:
Re “How to achieve zero traffic deaths in New York City” (talking point, by Keegan Stephan, Dec. 5):

In my humble opinion, I don’t think either the city or state truly believes in safety. They would like the public to think that, but the truth is money trumps safety. There is lots of money to be made in traffic crashes, and the politicians know it. Crashing is a business! It is a multigazillion-dollar industry.

There are untold numbers of people whose jobs depend on crashing: lawyers, doctors, nurses, insurance people, car dealers and, yes, florists and funeral directors. The list is actually endless.

The transactions that flow from a car crash are taxed in the form of income and sales taxes.

So why would the politicians want to kill that industry and dry up all that revenue? The simple answer is they don’t. That’s why they pass phony laws like the cell phone law that only bans holding the phone. It doesn’t ban the true distraction, which is talking on the phone. It’s all designed to fool the public.

To the public, I say, don’t get your hopes up. The carnage will continue.
Al Cinamon
Cinamon is an instructor at Rivera’s Driving School

Perverse N.R.A. verse

To The Editor:
It was playtime at Sandy Hook School

in a quiet town one morn;

bright sun shown down on the green lawn

when in burst a gun-packing fool.

Hurrah, hurray for the N.R.A.

Another kid was shot today.

Hurrah, hurray for the N.R.A.

Another kid was shot today.

Anyone can pull a trigger

and blow out a human life;

A gun is better for killing

than an arrow, club or knife.

Guys with easy guns in the U.S.A.

killed 30 more people today.
Cy Adler

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