Volume 75, Number 5 | July 6 - 12, 2005

Letters to the editor

Culture of dangerous driving

To The Editor:
Re “Houston St. is becoming bikers’ boulevard of death” (news article, June 29)

Your article about the guy killed on Houston St. filled me with rage. Once again the carelessness and ignorance of a truck driver ends someone’s life — and once again no arrests, no charges, no punishment. The same thing has happened to me many times as a cyclist — a car or truck will overtake and make a sharp turn right in front of me; last year I came off and my bike was crushed under a truck.

Something must be done about the culture of dangerous driving in New York. The cops, with their “s—t happens” attitude towards accidents, are as much to blame. Death by vehicle is the one surefire way of getting away with murder in this city. How many times do I have to read of a fatal accident in which witnesses say, “He appeared to be speeding to make the light,” yet no charges are filed? How many more children must die because of ignorant drivers turning at speed onto a crossing — drivers who know fine well all they have to say is “I didn’t see them” and they’re free to go home?

The incessant and unnecessary horn honking which blights the residents of Manhattan is proof of a deep-rooted culture of stupidity on our roads, the tragic results of which are more pointless fatalities every year. The traditional machismo and arrogance of New Yorkers, while entertaining for visitors, is no doubt the direct cause of so many needless deaths — deaths which go unpunished. Might I remind your readers that aside from natural factors beyond man’s control, there is no such thing as an “accident” — somebody is always at fault. Until there is anything approaching a real deterrent for stupidity on the roads, more and more people like Andrew Morgan will have their lives cut short — and it’s one of this city’s biggest scandals. I hope the riders of Critical Mass never give up — I will definitely be joining them next time.
William Lawson

Want to run, not sell, buildings

To The Editor:
Re “Tenants want to make profit, but nonprofit stands in way” (news article, June 29):

We were disappointed at the headline reading, “Tenants want to make profit….” Had your paper done a little more research you would have known that the Private Housing Finance Law requires that all H.D.F.C.’s remain permanently low-income co-ops. We were also a bit surprised to read AAFE claims that the tenants are not capable of managing their buildings as well as AAFE can. If our buildings received $4 million in government grants and could afford to pay an executive director $113,000 a year and planning directors $70,000 a year, we’re sure we could make the same claim. However, the claim was not surprising considering that Interfaith Adopt-a-Building has been telling the tenants the same for the past four years as an excuse for not assisting us in converting the buildings into limited-equity co-ops. A tenant that has lived in one of the buildings for more than 45 years mentioned that he’s been waiting for the building to convert since 1982. AAFE got involved in this matter last month and it is unfair to make a statement like that without getting to know the tenant leadership. Mr. Kui’s statement that nonprofits that take in less than $25,000 in funds per year do not have to file financial reports with the attorney general’s office is correct: However, Interfaith Adopt-a-Building, Inc., collected more than three times that amount in 2004 from all three buildings.

For the record, the judge ruled that the tenants’ money should be placed in a separate fund that will require two signatures, one from each side, in order to disburse funds. The judge also recommended that a committee of six (three AAFE/I.A.B. and three tenant representatives) be established for the purpose of temporarily managing the daily operations of the building until a co-op conversion plan is agreed upon. The committee met yesterday for the first time and the tenant reps were surprised that AAFE has no experience managing H.D.F.C.’s, leaving the tenants confused over what type of support AAFE can provide. The tenants prefer working with a more experienced housing development group such as UHAB. Overall, the tenants still view this last move by I.A.B. as a desperate attempt to avoid whatever remaining responsibility they had toward these tenants. The only intentions of the tenants is to convert these buildings into limited-equity co-ops, which regardless of whether a regulatory agreement is signed or not, is again still required by the Private Finance Housing Law to permanently provide low-income housing. Their claims of tenants trying to profiteer are unfounded and are just being used as a stall tactic. Carlos Garcia’s statement was hypocritical considering he is living in an H.D.F.C. that signed a 15-year regulatory agreement, which is soon to expire. Apparently what’s good for the goose is not good for the gander.
Luis Rivera
Rivera is president, 528 E. 11th St. H.D.F.C.
Hyder Bin Jameel
Bin Jameel is president, 390 E. Eighth St. H.D.F.C.
Evenlyn LaFontaine
LaFontaine is president, 73-75 Avenue C H.D.F.C.

The war on drinks, continued

To The Editor:
Re “Shades of Prohibition” (letter, by Harold Kramer, June 22):

Kramer, you sound like your namesake on the “Seinfeld” reruns. Obviously, you read with tunnel vision. I stated very plainly, “The issue is not bars but the proliferation of bars.”

Your defense, while it makes interesting reading, falls short of logical content. Did Carrie Nation, single-handedly, bring about Prohibition? Then perhaps I will succeed in the matter of “Proliferation.” And let me help you “shudder” some more. Since when has factual statement become fanatical ranting? Taverns are one thing, but bars are another. And do you include sacramental wine with your indictment of me? There is a place in the world for everything, even alcohol in its many forms.

Your feeble public relations efforts with words amaze me. When I grew up, we had garbage men. Somebody upscaled them to sanitation engineers. It does not change the refuse they collect or the stink it emits. Calling bars a hospitality industry and safe haven that add “vitality” within the community is desperation personified, by your very own choice of words.

In closing, I leave you with a thought. Alfred Nobel made dynamite and started the Nobel Prize. Saint or sinner? Henry Ford gave us good inexpensive cars but poured tons of money into anti-Semitism and Adolph Hitler’s Germany. Saint or sinner? Harold Kramer provides toys for tots but sells his neighbors alcohol instead of drugs. Saint or sinner? If we put it to a vote today, Harold Kramer, I am certain you would lose that plebiscite. Your accusations, misquotes and finger-pointing fall on deaf ears. And you, not I, twisted words and did the ranting. Oh yes, I do not own an axe, just a pen, which I have read somewhere “is mightier than the sword.” 
Allen Bortnick

Still dogged by PEP’s

To The Editor:
As I walked the river recently with my dog, I came upon one Park Enforcement Patrol car and a motor scooter and four — mind you, four — PEP officers, one a sergeant, huddled around a woman, one slowly writing a ticket. If I were a stranger I might have thought something serious was going on.

But no, I realized it was our tireless PEP officers busily enforcing antiterrorist activities in the park. Giving a housekeeper a $50 ticket for walking her employer’s dog which had strayed onto the grass. I saw my favorite PEP officer, nicknamed by park staff as “Snow,” a blond-haired, blond-lashed bully. I had my own run in with him a few weeks back; I did not receive a ticket at the time but was wrongfully accused. I have been known to walk my dog as far away as possible from anything green, including the PEP officers’ green uniforms.

After my dog walk, I waited at a distance as the “criminal” dog walker was reprimanded. When she was finally let go I asked her what had happened. She replied her dog had walked on-leash onto the all-mighty green grass and she had been ticketed. She said, “I’m a housekeeper. My employer is away for the weekend and she asked me to walk her dog. I don’t even live around here.” And then, “Well, there goes most of my day’s wages.”

When is enough enough? Someone please alert Ms. Fishman to the fact that a park is for people’s enjoyment without the intimidation and harassment of Park Enforcement Police. Train them in courtesy or give them the boot.
Barry Weiser

Parks goes too far, again

To The Editor:
Re “Turning tables, Parks now says permit a must to sign cards” (news article, June 1):

The New York City Parks Department is simply out of control. At times it appears that they just do not have any facet of the community’s interest in mind when they come up with their plans.

The latest attempt by the Parks Department to stem public expression by placing permits on those involved in political free speech activities is another example of their callous disregard toward the community and the Constitution.

All the way back in 2001 the Parks Department showed their true colors by removing Bob Bolles’s historic public sculptures from the small park on Broome St. in Soho. In spite of their promises, and our fundraising, the sculptures have never returned. This after the community board had voted unanimously to maintain the area as an art zone. Soho is one of the most important art districts in the world, and the Parks Department could not care less.

This says to me that we need a new Parks commissioner who understands what New York City really is, and what the Constitution really says.
Lawrence White
White is a member, Soho International Artists Co-operative

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