Volume 74, Number 54 | May 18 - 24 , 2005

Letters to the editor


Don’t make bars a scapegoat

To The Editor:
Regarding your May 11 article “Candidates face a round of questions on the bars,” I just think that it is easy to pick on bars, but these folks need to realize that bars can add vitality to neighborhoods. And we pay a lot of taxes that support schools, police, the Fire Department, etc. And we add a safe haven to our neighborhoods. Before Raven opened on the corner of Avenue A and E. 12th St., that corner was overrun by drug dealers and gang members. When we applied for our license, the block association was totally behind us, forcing Community Board 3 to approve our application. We’ve been there seven years and have helped the police keep that corner clear. We have also done numerous toy drives at Christmas and fundraisers and hold community meetings.

That’s not to say all owners are saints. I go to the Ninth Precinct Community Council meetings every month and I hear the residents’ complaints about noisy bars. They are usually the same places month after month. I write a report on these meetings for a bar owners Yahoo group, TUFFNYC (Taverners United For Fairness) http://groups.yahoo.com/ group/TUFFNYC/, to let bar owners know what is being said about their places, and I encourage these owners to go to the precinct meetings. This group was started in an effort to organize bar owners to fight the smoking ban and then the 1 a.m. shutdown. I also post these reports in my bar’s Yahoo group, Raven Cafe http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ raven-cafe/, so that my customers can know what is happening in their neighborhood.

As for contributing to local campaigns, I have better ways to spend my money.

That being said, I see no problem with candidates taking money from barowners. We are taxpayers and voters and we deserve representation. But honestly, I’m done writing checks. After writing over $1,000 in checks to John Kerry last year I’m a bit shell-shocked. And I just don’t have that kind of cash to throw around.

I’m more interested in grassroots movements to effect change. Check out BOOTBLOOMBERG.com http://bootbloomberg.com. It is a group whose goal is to gather a grassroots movement against Bloomberg and find new leadership for our city. People from all walks of life can get involved with this group: Firefighters, teachers, people opposed to the West Side Stadium, R.N.C. protesters and anyone who is dissatisfied with the way the city is being run.

Harold Kramer
Kramer is owner of the Raven Bar


Mountain men and the bars

To The Editor:
Re “Candidates face a round of questions on the bars” (news article, May 11):

In the 1800s, we had the “mountain men.” They wanted lots of space with no neighbors. As America grew and we stretched our borders horizontally, they were slowly squeezed from the wide-open, very desirable spaces where they lived. We are now 48 contiguous states, plus two. Strangely, 90 percent of the population is concentrated on only 10 percent of the land. This has meant forced growth, vertically. But we face a major dilemma. What happens when there is no open space where the 90 percent live?

Locally, housing, transportation, environment and other concerns are major issues. I, for one, welcome growth and progress. We need it. I have great respect for cottage industry and small businesses. The barbers, the bodegas and even the bars have their place. But when the proliferation of any single form of business becomes excessive, that rampant growth becomes destructive. In some cases, some businesses or industries become intrusive and damaging to the existing community.

Con Edison is an example, as are the bars. The degree of damage to the community has raised their hackles. Con Ed has responded. The bars have not.

A major bar owner is chairperson of Community Board 3.

A cursory check of the Rosie Mendez filings shows not one, but at least seven checks from the bar people totaling $2,570.

Allen Bortnick


Worries about daughter biking

To The Editor:
Re “Avenue A bike death” (police blotter, May 11):

Was this poor woman wearing a helmet? Did she have lights, front and back, on her bike? This is very important to know for all of us bicyclists. I am a dad of a 14-year-old who is just starting to bike around the city as well. It is very important that journalists and their editors let us know this type of information so this tragedy might be averted in the future. Additionally, motorists need to be held accountable in their use of this deadly weapon that so often is so cavalierly used. Involuntary manslaughter has to be the minimum sentence when the death of pedestrians and bicyclists occurs in the mortal meeting with motor vehicles. Remember those two 10-year-old boys crushed to death on Fourth Ave. in Brooklyn two years ago? Only a misdemeanor. How can it be acceptable that the driver said he didn’t see them, as he turned his mammoth dump truck into the crosswalk as the boys crossed with the light, and were crushed? Yes, this is an obscenity, but we have long accepted “death” over “passed away,” and we need to recall in graphic detail the carnage that occurs on our streets.

But not without the remedy: reporting if helmets and lights were in use.

Jonathan Keller


We’ve been had! Parks’s trickery

To The Editor:
Once again, the Parks Department has proven unequal to the task of designing Washington Sq. Parks today offers velvet glove treatment instead of the ham-handed approach of Robert Moses, but the harmful effect on the square is the same. In the late 1960s, Newbold Morris, Moses’ successor and acolyte, pushed a cookie-cutter solution on the square and the Village balked. Thanks to Jane Jacobs and Mayor Robert Wagner, Jr., a talented local group designed the square instead. Its great achievement was, is and hopefully will be the famous sunken fountain — a theater in the round — that has worked so beautifully over the years. A century earlier, the square’s first redesign had done away with the perimeter fence, giving the square its open identity in contrast with the fenced private spaces. The fountain, openness and of course the arch, are keys to Washington Sq.’s special appeal.

The Parks Department, suffering substantial budget cuts, cannot adequately maintain the parks it has. One result has been the department’s push for a park design formula featuring a fence. It’s claimed that this fence, locked at night, will save money by reducing damage to the park’s vegetation, with policing being too costly an alternative. But Washington Sq. is different. Its 24-hour surveillance cameras and undercover cops make the square the safest public space in the city, night and day. The unnecessary fence will destroy the square’s open feeling and connection with its neighborhood.

Rather than finding what part of its formula works and what doesn’t, Parks tried to cram its formula down the Village’s throat. While appearing to listen, by making adjustments to smaller details, and by making misleading statements on the fountain and fence, Parks fooled many, myself included. I began investigating the square’s security issue and found the fence to be nonsense. I found that modern handicap access to the sunken fountain is not necessary if it is restored rather than redesigned. We’ve been had. I urged the Landmarks Preservation Commission to turn Parks down and I hope Community Board 2 will rescind its resolution favoring Parks. The leopard has not changed its spots and I smell a rat.

Luther S. Harris
Harris is author of “Around Washington Square”


Fence out vandals, dogs

To The Editor:
I am strongly in favor of a tall fence around Washington Sq. Park. Having lived in the Village since 1962, I have seen the result of a renovation that did not include an effective fence. This park needs protection from vandals and irresponsible dog owners.

Paul K. Piccone



Fields doesn’t get Village

To The Editor:
The first time I met C. Virginia Fields, it was 1998 at a fundraiser held by Jo Hamilton at her home in the West Village. Ms. Fields was running for Manhattan borough president. Jo had invited lots of people and her home was packed with a large crowd. Ms. Fields thanked us for our generous donations and said she was glad to be in Chelsea. Someone reminded her that she was in the Village, not Chelsea.

Ms. Fields appears to still not know where the Village is. It is so ironic that Ms. Fields has not reappointed Jo Hamilton to Community Board 2. Jo has worked tirelessly on behalf of the Village fighting the profusion of liquor licenses, getting Gansevoort Market landmarked, just to mention a few of her important recent efforts. There is not the slightest taint of a conflict of interest regarding Jo’s actions. She just wants to do the right thing for her neighborhood. Meanwhile, Ms. Fields reappoints others who do have that taint. The same applies to Tobi Bergman. He has taken on important parks projects that have had a very positive impact on the Village area. Why are these two dedicated community activists not being reappointed?

As C. Virginia Fields pursues her run for mayor she contrasts herself to Bloomberg as one who is closer to the “people.” Her actions tell a different story. It stinks and the stench is getting stronger. I’m sorry that I ever gave her a contribution.

Elaine Young


And he’s a vegetarian!

To The Editor:
Re “Animal Care head thinks outside box to cut killings” (news article, May 4):

What a great guy.

As I read to the end of his article, I began to wonder if he is a vegetarian, and there was my answer. When I joined PETA in 1984 my reaction was the same. Why be kind and caring of some sentient beings and subject others to extreme deprivation, cruelty and killing, just because they taste good? (We are extremely prejudiced against the so-called “food animals.”)

His cause is awesome; to think that 300,000 animals were drowned in the river as a means of disposal many years ago.

The quote from Gandhi says it all.

My heartfelt gratitude to Mr. Bok

Patricia A. Volk

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