Volume 75, Number 15 | Aug. 31 - Sep 06, 2005

Letters to the editor


Bloch: I’ll lead on bar issue

To The Editor:
Re “Candidates’ last call on bars” (letter, by concerned East Villagers, Aug 24):

Thank you to the individuals and neighborhood groups who continue to bring attention to the important issue of controlling bar noise and bar proliferation in our communities.

I particularly appreciated the group raising the broader issue that I’ve also been discussing during this campaign. Namely, that the problem is larger than controlling noisy bars, but includes the more serious problem of neighborhood zoning and how we can set out a comprehensive plan to control and guide development in our area.

The fact that so many of our neighborhoods are struggling with both bars AND overdevelopment is not a coincidence. Our communities and community boards don’t have the tools or teeth to effectively fight these battles. And in the absence of these community-based powers, our best defense — for better or for worse — has been the skills and abilities of our local councilmembers; the results of which speak for themselves!

As a member of Community Board 6 and former budget analyst with the New York City Council, I’m confident I would be an effective local leader to help the community fight these and other battles, and I have proposed institutional changes to help empower communities. We need to: establish a better community-based planning process with the power to outline and guide growth in our neighborhoods; change zoning laws to control the number of nightlife establishments that can exist within proximity to each other; provide greater resources to our local community boards for employing legal and technical experts; and create the power to enforce the hard-fought stipulations community boards negotiate with bars and restaurants.

I don’t believe any one bar or restaurant is the problem. For every irresponsible owner, there are scores of others who work to be good neighbors. But when a community becomes overwhelmed by one industry — pushing out other small businesses and adding to other local problems like noise, traffic and garbage — it’s incumbent upon our local leaders to propose practical solutions for change; and then work to see those solutions implemented.

This unfortunately hasn’t happened in our area and is one of the main reasons our community needs and deserves new leadership with the experience, ideas and energy to help the community with the host of critical problems impacting our neighborhood. As a candidate for office in the area, I have pledged to work with the entire community, from nightlife representatives to neighborhood groups, to get these and other smart solutions implemented.
 
Darren Bloch
Bloch is a candidate for City Council, District 2


Wife blasts Vincent critic

To The Editor:
Re “On different sides of wars” (letter, by John Penley, Aug. 24):

John Penley’s hate- and inaccuracy-filled letter in last week’s Villager about my husband Steven Vincent was so wildly off base that I found it imperative to respond.

For Mr. Penley’s information, Steven was not a “right-wing agitator.” He was a Jacksonian Democrat who believed in people doing things for society, rather than society endlessly doing things for people and getting nothing in return except more demands for more things. But he did not like President Bush or the vast majority of Republican political leaders, and his support for the war had far more to do with his sense that, if it had been waged correctly, Iraq might finally attain the same kind of freedom Penley enjoys. Far from being a cheerleader for Bush and Co., he was disgusted with the way the peace was being handled, and in his writings frequently criticized the president, Donald Rumsfeld and the Coalition Provisional Authority, all of whom he felt had grievously misled and let down the Iraqi people, and shamed America as well. But since Penley doubtless never actually read anything Steven wrote, there would be no way he could possibly know that. How nice that he’s so willing to put his ignorance on such public display.

Closer to home, he once again thrashes the long-moribund horse of Steven’s support of “Antonio Pagan and his pro-real estate yuppie developer platform.” Perhaps Mr. Penley could stop frothing at the mouth long enough to look around and notice that since Antonio left office, the East Village/Lower East Side has been overrun with upscale developments, all built under the auspices of that well-known “low-income housing advocate” Margarita Lopez. Thanks to her, we have the condo tower atop Theater for the New City, the Kidney Building (as I refer to it) on Astor Pl., the massive new Cooper Square project on Houston St., a pending new Cooper Union tower on Third Avenue and Seventh St. and innumerable smaller upscale condos and co-ops that no one local to the neighborhood can possibly afford. Contrast that to the middle-income housing projects that were slated to be built under Pagan, which would have allowed local residents a chance at owning their own homes, a carefully-crafted effort killed by Lopez the minute she took office. If anyone is responsible for welcoming in the “rich and powerful developers,” thus driving locals out of the neighborhood and destroying the “proud culture” of the E.V./L.E.S., it is Margarita Lopez and her minions, of which Penley doubtless considers himself one, not Antonio Pagan and Steven.

As to Penley’s claim that Steven welcomed bars, again, he knows not whereof he speaks. Steven was appalled at the ceaseless numbers of bars flooding the area, and the resulting hordes of tourists and underage N.Y.U. students they attracted. During his two-year tenure on Community Board 3, he consistently voted against the endless approval of new liquor licenses, a fight I continued during my six years on the board, five of them as chairperson of the State Liquor Authority Committee. But C.B. 3 was powerless against the state S.L.A., something none of us down here has any control over. As to fighting drug wars — well, yeah, we did object to having a 24/7 heroin ring running out of numerous buildings on our block. It has a tendency to impact on one’s quality of life if you’re nervous about having to walk down your own street every day; so along with many other people, we fought for years to have the dealers busted. But if Penley’s notion of a “proud culture” is one in which 12-year-olds with backpacks on bikes are employed to help sell drugs, or 15-year-olds with pitbulls and guns feel free to menace, harass and rip off anyone and everyone around them, then he is the ugly American, with no concept of the true greatness of this country, not Steven, who believed in the concepts on which the United States was founded, and who hoped to see those concepts take root, flourish and grow in Iraq for Iraqis, a land and a people he had come to love.
 
Lisa Ramaci


Quinn must redeem herself

To The Editor:
Re “Quinn says concretely that her vote can’t be bought” (news article, Aug. 24):

City Councilmember Christine Quinn’s declaration that she’s not beholden to the developers and lobbyists who have helped finance her bid to become Council speaker rings hollow and must be questioned. Of course a politician isn’t necessarily in the pocket of her campaign benefactors. But Quinn needs to do more than point out that she has disagreed in the past with some of her financial supporters. The fact is that a long list of people who have given Quinn money are integrally involved in efforts to undermine, outflank and bulldoze the campaign to downzone and landmark the West Village. And her actions in this process — which include allowing major givebacks to developers of the Superior Ink building, the Diane von Furstenberg buildings and the Whitehall storage site — indicate that she is advocating for those trying to profit from overdeveloping the neighborhood, rather than for those who live here who are trying to save it. Quinn has an opportunity now, as the much haggled-over rezoning proposal goes before the City Council for approval, to redeem herself. She can fight for her constituents, and for what’s right for the West Village, as she claims to have been doing all along. Or she can side with the developers and push through this rezoning plan, complete with the givebacks she facilitated. If she chooses the latter, she’ll have made a liar of herself, and a fool of those of us in the neighborhood who believed that she’s our advocate. I hope she stands up for us, and shows the integrity she insists that she possesses.

Rachel Chanoff


At least endorse least suckiest

To The Editor:
“A pass for now on the Democratic mayoral contenders” (editorial, Aug. 24):

Your latest editorial is unacceptable. Sure they all suck, but your readers crave your leadership to help us make up our minds! Which one sucks the least? Is it the crybaby Miller, the comedian Weiner, Freddy the vacillator or Queen Virginia?

It is simply unacceptable to abrogate your leadership in these most trying of times. Who will we vote for on Sept. 13? You really expect us to make up our own minds? C’mon! Get real! We need you to help make up our minds, darn it! Unless...unless you really want us to vote for Bloomberg...perhaps this is the reason for your timidity?
 
Vinson Valega


Mike ‘pretty good?’ Not!

To The Editor:
Re “A pass for now on the Democratic mayoral candidates” (editorial, Aug. 24):

In your latest editorial, you write that Tax Hike Mike Bloomberg has “done a pretty good job,” but most people in New York City think he’s been almost worthless (despite fake polls) and the facts back this up.

I can give you hundreds of thousands of specifics proving Bloomberg is the worst mayor ever in most ways. Even that wackjob Giuliani didn’t arrest the Critical Mass cyclists or handcuff New York Times reporters! And he’s the first mayor in history to punish victims of crime when he fails to do his job preventing it — he gives all the newspapers huge fines for the graffiti vandalism on their boxes!

Even the few “good” things he’s done he doesn’t deserve credit for. For example, anyone elected would’ve saved the High Line, except for that wackjob Giuliani.

And for you to only talk about four of the five Democrats for mayor is unfair and corrupts our electoral process. I am not a “minor” candidate. I’m the only candidate voters actually get excited about.

I’m completely retiring from politics and investigative journalism after this election and moving out of New York City because this ship is sinking fast.

F.Y.I.: Tony Granowicz of the Green Party is the second-smartest candidate after me, followed probably by Weiner in a distant third. You don’t have to trust me on this.

Christopher X. Brodeur
Brodeur is a Democratic candidate for mayor


He’s hep to PEP tactics

To The Editor:
Re “More PEP-to bismo” (Scoopy’s Notebook, Aug. 24): 

The facts about the petitioning issue at the Hudson River Park:

A few Sundays ago, three PEP officers passed me while I was petitioning, looked at me and rode on past me without saying a word. Some time later Officer Shin approached a subscribing witness who is a 65-year-old retiree and told her that she could not solicit in the park. She quipped back with a question: “Now just what would this 65-year-old retired woman be soliciting for in a park?” Shin responded back with a request for her information and ID. She quipped back to Shin. 

After I spoke with Beverly about what transpired with Shin, I went looking for him to have a few words and found a few other PEP officers with whom I engaged in conversation about the matter. Shortly thereafter, Sharon called me on my cell phone and said, “We have the publicity you’ve been looking for now” and I asked her what she meant. She told me that she was surrounded by three PEP officers and I told her to come down to the snack restaurant area near the Christopher St. entrance to the Hudson River Park. She said she couldn’t because the officers were not letting her move. Eventually however, she made her way down and boy was she fuming! And I do believe PEP is fortunate that I did not witness what transpired. Anyway….

PEP could not show me any law, rule or regulation that stated we needed a permit. PEP continually stated, “That’s how we interpret the law. You need a permit to petition.” We decided to stop petitioning and leave instead of being arrested. We would apply for a permit on Monday, which we did.

We met with the assistant counsel of the Hudson River Park Trust. She wrote a permit for us to petition. Application and insurance fees were waived. H.R.P.T. has now documented that it requires a permit to petition on state land and as such violates our freedom of speech rights. Yes, Chris Martin. Issuing the permit to petition makes it clear that the H.R.P.T. violates the Constitution of the United States as does its employees. 

Checkmate!

P.S.: As far as describing me as a “perennial candidate,” I think it would be more accurate if I was referred to as the “Perennial PITA.” Tsk, tsk. Using cheap shots to put a negative spin on the candidate. I thought The Villager was above doing that kind of stuff.

Bill Murawski
 

Permit mocks civil liberties

To The Editor:
Re “More PEP-to bismo” (Scoopy’s Notebook, Aug. 24):

In 2001, the Southern District Federal Court ruling in Lederman et al v Giuliani struck down New York City Park permits for art vending as both unconstitutional and a violation of New York City law. Eventually, seven different federal and state appeals courts upheld this ruling. In 2005, by demanding a permit for a totally noncommercial activity like getting a petition signed, the Parks Department is knowingly acting in contempt of court and in gross contempt of the federal and New York State constitutions’ guarantee of free speech. No Park PEP officer should ask anyone to show them a nonexistent permit nor should anyone ever apply for or accept one, however well-intentioned an offer of one may seem to be. The Parks Department continues to be the New York City agency that most grossly violates civil liberties. What New Yorkers need to understand about permits is that the only purpose of such a permit is to be able to deny your already-guaranteed right to free speech. A permit means you need permission. No one in the United States needs permission to speak on public property. The Hudson River Park Trust may think they did Bill Murawski a favor, but the truth is they have no right to issue anyone a permit for free speech.

Robert Lederman
Lederman is president of A.R.T.I.S.T. (Artists’ Response To Illegal State Tactics)


Flat park will feel smaller

To The Editor:
Bravo to Jonathan Greenberg for his eloquent “Back to the drawing board” letter in the Aug. 24 Villager, demanding that the Washington Square Park renovation plan be redrawn.

Remembering, as I do, the prior Washington Square Park redesign as a model of community input, I find the current high-handed renovation doubly perplexing. Several provisions seem to go beyond merely arbitrary to the positively harmful. For instance, flattening the space to all one level strikes me as especially bizarre, well past the mere silliness, or busywork, of moving the fountain.

Given that it’s not a very large space to begin with, why make the park look smaller? Landscape designers point out that changes in level give the appearance of greater area — and I can cite a homely proof of that fact. The yard behind our Village row house is identical in size to the yard next door but, while theirs has different levels, such as a lowered sitting area and a raised garden, etc., ours (a study in unhampered natural forces and overfed, hyperactive squirrels) is all on one level. I’ve often invited visitors, intrigued by nature’s 1/43rd acre past our living room windows, to guess which is larger, our space or the one next door. Invariably and without hesitation they pick the identical “acreage” next door.

I’ll add that, for all the coverage of the new plan, the currently proposed features have never been adequately justified, or even explained to the public, and remain as perplexing as they seemed at the outset. Inevitably, one suspects (aside of course from N.Y.U. having possible purposes of its own) change simply for the sake of change, in order to throw money in commissions and labor contracts to the well connected.

If N.Y.U. and/or other funders have monies to dispense so freely, we could really use some other amenities, like more bicycle racks on Village streets.

P.S.: Speaking of bicycles, another reason to love The Villager is its ongoing coverage of the police vendetta against Critical Mass, and by extension against bicycles in general. We wish a fraction of the police power used to harass quiet, public-spirited bike riders were used to rein in the mufflerless motorcycles that scream through our streets day and night. Last month, in fact, I saw a pair of motorcycles roaring west on 42nd St. during rush hour, popping wheelies like bucking broncos, their riders clearly pleased as punch with their earsplitting antics. No police were in sight.

I can’t help wondering if those folks ever get fined, like the 13-year old boy fined $1,100 for skateboarding. If so, we never hear about what might be a deterrent in itself.

Judy Seigel


Carmines a gift from God

To The Editor:
Re “Al Carmines, 69, creative genius of Judson Church” (obituary, Aug. 17):

As a young theater director coming from Oklahoma to New York in 1958, my life was totally changed by Al Carmines and his work. I sought work in dramatic theater but inwardly dreamed of musical theater and opera. Al Camines changed the landscape of avant-garde theater. Later when I was involved with “Einstein on the Beach” in Avignon, I thought every hour of every day about the Judson Memorial Opera House in Greenwich Village and how much music underneath how many radical concepts of elegance I have seen fully realized there by the man who was truly a gift from God to the theater. His memory is as rich as his passing is tragic. What a man!

Jack Moore
Moore is a founder of Videoheads


Bidding on Christopher St. BID

To The Editor:
I always read The Villager, especially when residents write to complain about gay youth on Christopher St. and the piers.

Normally, I skim the notes from Elaine Goldman (“Youths are harassers,” letter, July 20), Dave Poster and the rest of the Christopher St. Patrol, as their incessant racial profiling and demands for illegal preventive detention are well known to all. Whereas I sympathize with Karol Mayol and other residents being attacked (“Says youths attacked them,” letter, July 27), I am grateful that I am rarely out at 5 a.m. in my neighborhood and wonder what the Sixth Precinct report says about theft and youth attacks. No “gay advocates on the community board” support theft, implied violence and outrage as part of any person’s development. If a crime is committed, go to the police. They are happy to stop crime in the West Village.

But now, there seems to be a campaign of weekly letters and when I received an unsigned note sent to me, telling me “that your committee protects, supports, and encourages these abusive young people,” I decided to write my own note.

In June, the L.G.B.T. Committee invited FIERCE and the Sixth Precinct to sit down and try to reach an understanding over profiling and harassment. Unfortunately, instead of a small meeting, FIERCE showed up with 50 people.

Instead of addressing goals in the Christopher Street area, FIERCE promoted their agenda: Stopping racism in New York City; ending police profiling in the West Village; stopping police harassment in New York City; and empowering youth of color in New York City.

Both Officer Duffy and Lieutenant Pfluger listened to their concerns and tried to address them one at a time (although not the racial profiling), but it was a lost cause. Our committee and the police were disappointed in another wasted opportunity to try to reach common goals.

As the question remains as to whose West Village it is, there is a new idea that begs to be examined. That is the Christopher Street Business Improvement District idea of Aubrey Lees and George Forbes. It is an opportunity for all the divergent forces of the neighborhood to come together and change the block and the environment. In many parts of the community, the real scourge is “gentrification” and the development of a creeping excess of luxury housing. It isn’t the annoying youth that will hurt the residents; it is billionaire builders who want your homes; and ask those residents and businesses that have already been priced out of the neighborhood.

So our committee will listen to Aubrey and George in September and hope to hear an idea whose time has come to protect and preserve Christopher St. for us all.
 
Melissa Sklarz

Sklarz is co-chairperson, Community Board 2 L.G.B.T. Committee



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