Volume 75, Number 4 | June 15- 21, 2005

Letters to the editor

Koch: I’m not going anywhere

To The Editor:
Carolynn Meinhardt’s letter to the editor (“Boycotts Villager because of Koch,” June 1) was a laundry list of political disagreements with me. Her venomous attack was unfair, foolish, anti-Semitic and simply wrong.

However, if not for one item in her litany, I would not have taken the time and energy — both of which are so important to conserve at age 80 — to respond. That one attack was to call for my employer, The Villager, to fire me as its movie critic, she having canceled her subscription to the paper because of my employment, and going on to call my movie reviews “vapid.”

I am proud of my weekly reviews. Most people who comment, at least to me, are very complimentary. Jeffrey Lyons, son of the late Leonard Lyons, critic and columnist, says whenever he greets me, “You are the second-best movie reviewer in town.” So, for Ms. Meinhardt to seek to end my employment because she disagrees with me politically is a sad commentary on the state of tolerance in our country. After reading the foregoing in advance of signing the letter, I realized that unless I explained my reference to Meinhardt’s anti-Semitic language, she would say that I had engaged in a hit-and-run attack. Hence, this extended response.

Meinhardt’s statement, “I am sure his reason for this [support for Bush’s reelection] is Bush’s support for Israel over the best interests of the U.S.A,” is her use of an historic anti-Semitic libel of dual loyalty. The fact that I am supporting the president’s foreign policy on Israel, which is endorsed by both the Democratic and Republican parties, both Houses of the U.S. Congress and the Democratic Party’s candidate in the last election, John Kerry, means nothing to her.

She goes on: “Koch ought to move to Israel if he supports it more than this country which has been so good to him.” I served in 1943-’46 as a combat infantryman in World War II with the 104th Infantry Division in Europe. I was honorably discharged with the rank of sergeant, received two battle stars and the Combat Infantry Badge. I have given 23 years of the most productive years of my life, 1967-’89, as city councilman, congressman and mayor. I will never leave this magnificent country it has been my honor to serve.

Edward I. Koch

Couldn’t keep, or stop, reading

To The Editor:
I have in a lifetime read many articles, many books, many plays, seen many plays, many movies and much, much else about the Holocaust, and done my share of writing about it, but Patricia Fieldsteel’s “Going to Auschwitz for the day, and coming back,” in the June 8 issue of The Villager, hit me in the gut more forcefully and immediately than anything else I can now well remember. Perhaps it was the birch trees (I too was brought up on Robert Frost), birch trees for Birkenau — those beautiful and deadly birch trees playing against the young French-speaking Polish tour guide’s refrain — and Ms. Fieldsteel’s refrain: “This is where … this is where … You cannot believe, you cannot imagine … ”

More than once, I could not keep reading — and could not stop reading — her deep, clear-eyed personal narrative. My thanks to Ms. Fieldsteel, and to you for printing a piece that makes me ashamed to be writing about comparative trivia in the same issue.

Jerry Tallmer

Glick: Delay zoning certification

To The Editor:
The large crowd which attended Community Board 2 Zoning Committee’s meeting on June 9 is the culmination of more than 20 years of rallies, meetings and letter writing by Villagers aimed at protecting the character of the Far West Village. At this much-anticipated meeting, the general public was finally able to view the city’s plans for rezoning and landmarking the neighborhood. Now, in order to ensure that the plan adequately protects our neighborhood, we must have time to study and provide input into it before the formal approval process begins.

Approval for the rezoning plan is a long process that begins with certification of the plan by the City Planning Commission. Prior to certification, changes and adjustments can be made by Planning in response to community concerns. After certification, the plan is largely finalized and changes generally cannot be made to it except by the City Council, which has only extremely limited authority to alter the plan and cannot propose more restrictive modifications to the plan. Therefore, the community’s ability to shape the proposal is largely limited to the pre-certification period.

However, in less than one week, Planning plans to certify the rezoning proposal. While a tight timeline must be adhered to in order to quickly protect the neighborhood from threatened development, the community must also have time to study and provide input into a plan that will decide the future of our beloved neighborhood. Moving the certification back just a few weeks will meet both of these goals. The community will get extra time prior to certification, while still allowing the community board, the first body to consider Planning’s certified plan, to adhere to the same timeline currently planned. This win-win scenario will allow us a greater voice in ensuring that Planning’s proposal adequately protects our neighborhood and is put into place as soon as possible.

Deborah J. Glick
Glick is assemblymember for the 66th District

Honored to be Keith’s friend

To The Editor:
I, too, am one of the many people who basked in the sunshine of Keith Crandell. Arriving in Noho before it actually had a name in 1978, Keith became my friend as he was helping to start the Noho Neighborhood Association. His keen wit, fine mind and open heart were so evident, well…it was an honor to be his friend.

He fought for so many good causes, including writing articles that led to the preservation of Liz Christy Garden. As part of his support group, I had the privilege to witness how a community can come together and actualize its potential in a most compassionate way. Ultimately, that’s what Keith gave us — the ability to experience ourselves in the larger picture, powerful enough to work for common good.

Thank you, Keith Crandell. I will never forget you.

Desiree Rodriguez

And proud to stand with him!

To The Editor:
It seems only yesterday that Keith Crandell was leading the march on Washington, D.C. — before the Nixon years — with a clown’s mask of Reagan and a busload of enthusiastic people from our community.

How long his political commitment goes back, and I am proud to say that I have shared his many causes!

This is a sad time now with many Americans still dying from the war.

Ann Soboloff

You are the weakest link!

To The Editor:
Re “The weak link in Bush’s triad: Jesus is a Democrat” (talking point, by Jennie Green, June 8):

Jennie Green’s “talking point” — or should it be called, “What I got from N.P.R. and D.N.C.”? — is as scattered as the “multicolored pool balls” she describes in her article. What she continues to show is the lack of understanding that the Republican Party is becoming more diverse and is made up of all groups of people from all backgrounds. It is the Democratic Party that is becoming more and more the less tolerant of the two parties. Just check the real election results on the Internet — not what you have been told it means by the media. One does not win an argument with slurs or personal attacks. She puts Jesus/God down but then wants to convert “God-fearing Republicans” into becoming Democrats with her bumper sticker.

Anthony Brill

Hudson path not totally safe

To The Editor:
My heartfelt thanks for your editorial “New York lags behind in making streets safe for bikes” (June 1):

A screening effort to remove aggressive, careless, uncaring motorists and cabdrivers (speeding, “dooring,” etc.) would go a long way to reducing the deaths and injuries of both bicyclists and pedestrians.

One minor correction: The Hudson River Park bike path is not “100 percent secure.” There are numerous car path intersections.

Does our society have the minimal humanity to make traffic and pedestrian safety a priority?

Michael Gottlieb

Apostrophe fuss…preposterous!

To The Editor:
Re “The great St. Marks/Mark’s punctuation debate solved” (news article, May 18):

This piece doesn’t “solve” anything, mainly because no “debate” exists.

The following facts are not disputed:

The correct spelling of the street’s name is without the apostrophe.

Under the First Amendment, storekeepers and others have the right to spell it wrong (but one would expect the newspaper to do it properly).

There is nothing new about any of this. I read a mystery novel some 20 years ago in which a key clue was the difference in spelling of our St. Marks Pl. and the one in Brooklyn, which does take the apostrophe.

The suggestion in the caption that one street sign may have provoked your illusory “debate” is pretty silly.

Alan J. Whitney

Bicyclists are a menace

To The Editor:
Before we get too teary-eyed about bicyclists who have been hit by cars, let’s pause and remember the pedestrians who have been hit by bicyclists who have been: riding on the sidewalk; running red lights; riding the wrong way on a one-way street.

When bicyclists start obeying traffic regulations, they will get my sympathy, not before.
Paul K. Piccone

PEP patrol officers lack pep

To The Editor:
Re “Park patrol gets touchy; nipple fondling is nipped” (news article, May 25):

In response to Duncan Osborne’s article and Barry Weiser’s and Dr. Jacqueline Taylor Basker’s letters to the editor (“Pet-related PEP incident” and “Complaints dog patrol,” respectively,) regarding this issue, I can only get on board and agree that Park Enforcement Patrol officers are not the right enforcement agent for protecting the Hudson River Park; specifically Pier 45 located at Christopher St.

Numerous letters have been sent over the years regarding the PEP officers’ lack of effectiveness. Their inability to deal with groups of unruly youths who disregard our quality of life has had a terrible impact on our community and the people who visit the West Village.

Our elected officials have been made aware of the community’s complaints but have taken no action. Safety and quality of life should be a major concern for every politician. Connie Fishman, vice president of the Hudson River Park Trust, has not given our community reasons why it keeps employing an agency that is clearly not skilled enough.

The combination of late closing for the pier and surrounding area (1 a.m.) and a weak enforcement agency is a potential recipe for disaster.

Do we have to wait until someone gets injured while visiting our waterfront before these officers are replaced!

It’s time to rectify this situation.

Elaine Goldman
Goldman is president, Christopher St. Block and Merchants Association

Don’t destroy park to fix it

To The Editor:
Re “Puts park project in perspective” (letter, by Robert Nichols, June 1):

We are all indebted to you and Bob Nichols for his timely letter from Vermont about the last (finished in 1970) redesign and repair of Washington Sq. Park. In my view, it did all that was necessary and would serve again today. We do not need to suppress all the entrances that presently connect with streets round the periphery of the park and instead introduce a grand walk that leads — are we surprised? — from the door of one New York University building on the west side to another on the east side of the park.

We need to feed the trees, including several ancient survivors with great trunks, thirsty and famished, that only need the encouragement of professional tree care, to put forth leaves that their root system can supply. Are we instead going to agree to cut down a red maple because it has poisonous roots? Will there be a general massacre of red maples now throughout the park? The park needs to stay the way it is, although we will give up more grass in favor of a little dogs’ run. So be it.

Neither grass nor tress will survive however if Parks does not discover the cause of the general desiccation of recent years that killed a number of important trees. We need a Parks Department where the forestry section has veto power over the design section, which seems to have become mostly a main benefactor — at our expense — of an undernourished construction industry.

As for moving the fountain, isn’t this the time to ask Donald Trump to look over the cost of finding the leak? And will he be able to do it without throwing out parts of the fountain? New York is full of qualified landscape architects and preservation historians and architects and builders who can bring back the loveliness of the park without destroying it.

Jessie McNab

Clique planning Union Sq. N.

To The Editor:
In The Villager article entitled “Reducing restaurant makes rehab plan go down easier” (May 25) it is reported how the Parks Department attempts to compromise with the public concerning Union Sq. Park while hanging on to its privatization efforts. Your article actually misrepresents and ignores the work of advocates and opponents of that privatization.

Since its inception, the effort to privatize Union Sq. Park, an icon of the progressive and international labor movement, has been underhanded and devoid of true public input or support. The most recent reported changes made to the plan for the north end of the park as highlighted in your article were not presented to elected officials, park preservation advocates or the public at large. Instead, the changes were leaked to the press. Meanwhile, individuals now reported in your article as being champions of these modifications — Aubrey Lees, Gail Fox, Susan Kramer et al — unlike the public at large, continue to support privatization.

Why didn’t Bloomberg and his Parks commissioner inform elected officials who represent Union Sq. of the new design?

Councilmember Margarita Lopez, as well as other elected officials who have weighed in on this issue should be consulted to provide insight into what the community really wants. Has Mayor Bloomberg done this? Leaking these new designs to be read about in the press before the public has seen the full design, drawings and models is a tactic used over and over by the mayor’s office to sneak in unwanted projects.
Nicola DeMarco

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