Volume 74, Number 51 | April 27 - May 03 , 2005

Letters to the editor

BID vote was strictly business

To The Editor:
Re “Taking care of business, or not? Committee confounds with vote” (news article, March 30):

The Villager’s characterization of Community Board 2’s recent Business Committee vote not to extend the Village Alliance business improvement district as “puzzling” and “intrigue” is a misrepresentation of what was, in truth, a simple difference of opinion and a concern about procedure.

The extension of a BID is never to be taken lightly, and opinions about them are diverse. Some business community members feel that a BID assessment amounts to additional taxation for essential services already provided by the city, and are loathe to take on the added expense, especially as the tax burden is already inequitably distributed to small property owners. BID’s are mandatory, once established, and members cannot withdraw. While BID’s are rated, they are never reviewed or re-voted upon with a view toward termination for poor performance. In addition, according to the Business Committee’s understanding from information it obtained from the Department of Small Business Services, if a BID member does not pay the assessed charges, the arrears become a lien on the property.

The community board’s Business Committee vote was also concerned that the formal review required by City Planning and the City Council prior to being referred to the community was not followed. The full board and Business Committee should have the benefit of a public hearing to listen to all sides and to receive the input of city legislators before being required to vote on a BID extension.

Simply put, those community board members who voted against the BID expansion in the original and substitute resolutions were voting against measures devoid of disclosure on both sides of the issue.

Maria Passanante Derr
Derr is chairperson, Community Board 2 Business Committee

Committee gave BID the business

To The Editor:
Community Board 2 has two candidates for board chairperson, Maria Derr, now chairperson of the Business Committee, and Don MacPherson, board vice chairperson, who has chaired the Waterfront Committee for the past three years.

We have been looking for the candidate who will be the most independent, the most transparent, the most even-handed, who has the best chance of reducing acrimony on the board, and the best chance of restoring respect for the board in our community. We all have devoted a great deal of time to board activity and do not take this decision lightly.

This contest has developed in the wake of a revelation that in the spring of 2003 the city’s Conflicts of Interest Board handed down a binding ruling that said that a holder of a liquor license could not be chairperson of a community board committee that dealt with liquor licenses. The Business Committee chairperson at the time was Bob Rinaolo. Despite the COIB ruling, he remained Business Committee chairperson until December 2004. When he stepped down, Maria succeeded him.

In early 2005, Bob indicated he would run for board chairperson. In March, the Business Committee, under Maria’s leadership, voted overwhelmingly against an application by the Village Alliance to extend its business improvement district, in spite of the fact that the Alliance brought to the committee’s hearing extensive residential and business support, including a large number of speakers and an even larger number of letter endorsements. Further, no one from the community opposed the BID extension. MacPherson, a member of the Business Committee, believed that the committee’s action to reject the BID was unfair and against the community interest. He took the fight to the full board, which reversed the Business Committee’s decision, and voted to support the BID extension.

Don, upset by the action taken by the Business Committee, then decided to run for C.B. 2 chairperson, presumably against Bob. One of Don’s early goals, he said, would be the revamping of the Business Committee. Then Bob decided against running, and Maria became a candidate.

In regard to Don’s chairmanship on the Waterfront Committee, members of the committee credit him with being a calming and unifying force despite the fact that he took over under difficult circumstances.

Now comes the news that two of the most experienced, hard-working and well-respected board members, Jo Hamilton and Tobi Bergman, just coincidentally both supporters of Don, have been removed from the board by the borough president.

We have concluded on the basis of what we know about the candidates and the board’s recent history that Don MacPherson is our best choice. We hope all those members still undecided, after reviewing the board’s recent history, will reach the same conclusion.

Elizabeth Gilmore, Ed Gold, Shirley Secunda
Gilmore, Gold and Secunda are members, Community Board 2

Andrei’s road trip was a lemon

To The Editor:
I read “On the road: Romania (feeling beat)” (notebook, by Andrei Codrescu, April 20):

There are a lot of things that can and need to be improved; deep holes and pollution are just two good examples. But, it would be unfair to depict my country only in such bad terms.

The article was resentful, too biased and thus unprofessional. That part, “...you can spend some pleasant hours in a windowless Bucharest basement with two chain-smoking intellectuals on either side of you...,” was unfair (but funny for me). We Romanians have a lot of things to be proud of, starting with our well-prepared engineers (just ask Microsoft about their level of expertise) to very powerful and beautiful relationships within our families (that you as Americans should learn from).

If the intention of the article was to show us as a tribe just coming out of the Stone Age, it succeeded. But it is an exaggerated, incomplete description that saddens me. So, I have just one question for Mr. Andrei Codrescu: Are you so bloody ignorant sir, or is it just about bad manners (maybe because of some missing years of “home” education)?

Madalin Moise

‘Telegrams’ touched her soul

To The Editor:
“Poetic telegrams, pastries and tarts from old Vienna” (notebook, by Andrei Codrescu, March 16):

Until I read Andrei Codrescu’s notebook in the March 23 issue, I naively thought only my late husband Peter and I revered the memory of Peter Altenberg. My Peter, who left Vienna at 15 and landed in New Orleans, introduced me to Altenberg. Thanks so much for citing “Telegrams of the Soul.” If my Peter hadn’t passed on last April, we would be reading it together now. But thank you, anyway. Also loved Andrei Codrescu’s current take on Romania.

Theresa Fritsch
It’s a pity to lose pedicabs

To The Editor:
Re “Not fare, says bike taxi owner forced to sell fleet” (news article, April 20):

Your story about pedicab owner George Bliss is but one more example of the type of unique resource we are losing as a city. Mr. Bliss’s business not only provides a pollution-free form of transportation, it also makes our city more fun. Perhaps the most important facet of Mr. Bliss’s pedicab business is that he provides good jobs to many who will be less employed now than they were before if Mr. Bliss is forced to sell off his fleet. How does that help our city?

My apartment is only three blocks from Mr. Bliss’s Hub Station on Thompson St., so at night I pass by his business as I walk my dog. The fact that the pedicab drivers are out most of the day and late into the night makes the area feel far safer. Without their constant activity this sense of safety will diminish dramatically.

When you look around Lower Manhattan, you will also see that almost all of the public art has been permanently removed, while old theater and art groups are being forced out by high rents, and the same fate descends on CBGB. Then you will hear about the permanent disbanding of the Community Board 2 Art Committee, a rejection of a public art gallery at C.B. 2, and new rules proposed by City Hall severely restricting fine artists from displaying their own artwork in public. When you consider all of this information you could easily get the impression that creative people are not very welcome here.

The fact is that good, hard-working, creative businessmen citizens such as Mr. Bliss and his pedicab drivers are the very type of human resource the city should never squander. In the end, New York City itself stands to be the biggest loser unless this negative policy is reversed.

Lawrence White
White is a member, Soho International Artists Cooperative

Beloved bug eaten by monster

To The Editor: 
I am so upset by what they did to the Poe House on W. Third St. I used to hang at the Gold Bug — the club that was once in the basement of the Poe House — during the ’60s. I so loved that building and all of the magical memories it holds for me.

It really hurts me to see that we Americans hold no respect for our old buildings. They have so much to say — so many stories to tell — if we let them. The Poe House has now been replaced by a monster. It’s horrible looking. Shame on you N.Y.U.!

I haven’t been to New York recently. I just happened to see that monster that replaced our beautiful Poe House on a Web site with your e-mail on it.

I did not know of the knocking down of the Poe House while the fight was going on or I would have been there protesting in the street. New and larger isn’t always better. I have always admired Europeans for the love and respect they have for their buildings. It seems we will never learn.

Rachael Cornetta

‘Volunteers’ was just a sop story

To The Editor:
Re “A Salute to Volunteers” (special section, April 6):

This is one of the great frauds we celebrate here in the premier power of capitalist Christendom. The ruling class prods its media to celebrate volunteerism. Dorothy Day was one of the great proponents of volunteerism, who with Peter Maurin, her co-founder of the Catholic Worker, was savagely opposed to socialism; they were among the truly monumental counterrevolutionaries of the mid-20th century. There wouldn’t be any need for volunteers or volunteerism, breadlines, soup kitchens, if there were justice, including economic justice. Volunteerism depends on the private property depravity. The early Christians held all things in common.

All that we have on earth must be equally divided — then there wouldn’t be any need for volunteers or volunteerism. But we’ve constructed a depraved system in which we legislate the maximum maldistribution of material things. As a result, children are born deformed and so remain all their lives — often lasting days.

If you go back in the print medium, you will see pictures in the 1930s of Hermann Goering, begging with a coin box for the “Winter Relief Fund” in the streets of Berlin.

John Stanley

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