Volume 75, Number 24 | November 02 - 08, 2005

Letters to the editor

Not all youths are mannerly

To The Editor:
Re “Trust is peppered with questions about park PEP’s” (news article, Oct. 12):

Your article on the Community Board 2 Park and Waterfront Committee meeting was interesting. Obviously, the PEP problem can be solved with adequate training. It’s nice that four or five neat, mannerly youths came to the meeting. They would never buy or use drugs, have sex under the bedroom window of a 9-year-old boy, push an old lady to the ground to grab her purse, gang up on a couple at an ATM or make a lot of noise at 3 a.m., would they?

David Tobo said, “It’s starting to feel not like a home.” Funny, that’s what the residents have been saying. I’ve heard several times that the transgender, etc. youth feel safe down here. That’s more than we residents can say. Late at night, it is not safe for the residents down here to be on the street. And we’re getting very tired of it. Dave Poster may be the main person you’ve heard from, but he has a lot of company.

As for closing the park at 10 p.m., either close it at sunset, or leave it open all night. That might get these youths off our residential streets.

Betty Rinckwitz

Mike, the great G.O.P. hope

To The Editor:
Your Oct. 26 editorial endorsement of Mayor Bloomberg was excellent. All five boroughs of New York City, be it Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island and the Bronx, have something in common: A majority of citizens, regardless of age, sex, ethnic group, party registration or political philosophy agrees that Mayor Bloomberg deserves a second term.

This is all the more amazing when you consider that Democrats occupy the offices of city comptroller, public advocate, 48 of 51 City Council seats along with four of five borough presidents and district attorneys. Republicans have only one of 13 congressmembers, four of 25 state senators and two of 61 state assemblymembers. Outside of Staten Island, Republican organizations and public officials are virtually extinct. Registered Democrats outnumber Republicans five to one.

Mayor Bloomberg is clearly drawing upon the support of many middle-class Democrats who seldom vote for the G.O.P. Numerous Democratic City Council, state Assembly, State Senate and other public officials have abandoned Democratic Mayoral candidate Fernando Ferrer and come out publicly for Bloomberg. Many other Democratic elected officials, while endorsing Ferrer on paper, are staying home. They are not lifting a finger to assist Ferrer in fundraising for his campaign or get out the vote efforts.

Mayor Bloomberg is the only person standing in the doorway at City Hall to prevent a return of one-party rule. Why go back to the days of Democratic party clubhouse control of City Hall, with the usual accompanying municipal corruption and fiscal mismanagement? With Mayor Bloomberg, we have someone who can finance his own campaign. He is independent from hundreds of special-interest groups, who collectively previously donated millions of dollars to Democratic primary candidates in the hope for future favors at taxpayers expense. This is known as pay for play at City Hall.

Mayor Bloomberg is also a successful businessperson who knows how to meet a payroll, create jobs and build a business. Why turn the keys of City Hall over to Ferrer? He represents the current generation of career politicians, whose political ancestors descended from the old corrupt Democratic party clubhouse machine. When confronted with these choices, intelligent voters regardless of party affiliation will give Mayor Bloomberg a well-deserved second term. Too bad the Republicans didn’t field serious candidates for comptroller, public advocate, Manhattan borough president or many local Council seats. Mayor Bloomberg’s coattails could have resulted in the election of additional local G.O.P. public officials.

Larry Penner

Candidate says he’s not for sale

To The Editor:
Re “Pols say Union Sq. restaurant must go through Albany” (news article, Oct. 19):

The “For Sale” above Scott Stringer’s head was more appropriate than you know. The Union Square pavilion issue has merits and demerits, but it shouldn’t be bought. It should be noted that Stringer has received campaign money from area restaurants. Look it up!

I hope you will be covering the Campaign Finance Board investigation regarding Scott Stringer and the Working Families Party’s tag-team hit on Eva Moskowitz. The Manhattan borough president position should not be bought, either.

I’m the Republican-Liberal candidate for Manhattan borough president, and people know me as the O.E.D. consultant who solved the origin of “the Big Apple.” You may be interested in knowing that “Downtown” appears to be a New York City term. I will probably be adding it soon to my popular New York City dictionary-type Web site, www.barrypopik.com.

Barry Popik
Popik is the Republican-Liberal candidate for Manhattan borough president

Republican in sheep’s clothing

To The Editor:
If you’re thinking of voting for Bloomberg, don’t forget a few things. Bloomberg is one of the biggest contributors nationwide to the Republican Party. Bloomberg showed what a good Republican soldier he was during the Republican convention. He rounded up demonstrators in nets and dumped them at some dirty Chelsea garage leaving them there for several days. His approach to schools is plain bad. He confuses testing children with teaching children. I have spoken to many parents and teachers who are dismayed that the Department of Education is obsessed with test performance.

Lately, Bloomberg has realized that his Republicanism is toxic to his campaign. He has made comments that show he wants to distance himself from Republicans. I say he is a Republican in sheep’s clothing. I will not be fooled into thinking he is really a Democrat. He can’t have it both ways. I think he is a masterful bureaucrat without a soul. Don’t let his money and marketing buy your soul. Think of the man he helped get into the White House. And when you go to pull the lever come to your senses.

Elaine Young

Davis did time at ‘House of D’

To The Editor:
Re “From activists and authors to madams and madwomen: The prisoners of Sixth Avenue” (news article, Oct. 19):

Thanks for publishing the fine article about the Jefferson Market Courthouse and House of Detention, which now does community service as our public library. Also to be included on the list of women held there should be Angela Davis, who describes her incarceration in her autobiography. Check it out, as they used to say on good old 14th Street!

Pat De Angelis

Square deserves a makeover

To The Editor:
I have been a proud Manhattan Downtown dweller and artist for the past 12 years. I have enjoyed countless afternoons, evenings and late nights among the musicians, preachers, poets and pagans that inhabit this remarkable and historic site. Its heritage has deep roots and still resonates to this day. 

While I do gather much inspiration from the park and have the utmost respect for the progressive dialogue it fosters, I am also saddened by the blatant neglect this iconic site has suffered. In its current state, the park communicates to its visitors that the city just doesn’t care about it. And I know better than that. New Yorkers take unprecedented pride in their beloved city. Manhattan is nothing if not a place of constant change. However, Washington Square Park seems to be stuck in a sad rut. By upgrading, enhancing and improving a historic landmark, are we compromising its cultural integrity? I don’t think so. It is the colorful people and the events they shape that make history in parks, not the parks themselves. The parks belong to the people and simply because a space is beautiful does not make it elitist. That being said, I look forward to seeing the wonderful motley crew of characters side by side with the more conventional establishment.

I have been following the work of Mr. Vellonakis of the Department of Parks and Recreation for some time and I have seen the remarkable work he has executed throughout the city. He understands that the park is an enviromental metaphor and therefore takes the utmost care in its preservation. Not only are his other sites beautiful, but they are welcoming and encourage interaction. By forging onward with Mr. Vellonakis’s thoughtful restoration plans for Washington Square Park we invite all New Yorkers from all walks of life — bohemians to beaurocrats — to assemble, discuss and celebrate what it truly means to live in New York City. I wholeheartedly endorse this endeavor and eagerly anticipate the restored, historical Washington Square Park.

Michael Letzig

Concerns about the park

To The Editor:
The wrangling about the redesign of the park will go on and on, but the deification of those mounds is a mystery to me. They were nice for about two years and then became useless eyesores. I have two current concerns about the park. I traverse it from north to south early every morning on my way to work and the park is crawling with rats at that hour. And there is a contrator named Doctor Playground whom I have observed doing the most careless asphalt repair that I’ve ever seen. The resulting patch jobs are evident all over the park. I wonder how and why this company gets a city contract — and what they are paid.

Meredith Kurtzman

Board’s reversal was shameful

To The Editor:

Democracy. Accountability. Truthfulness. All crucial elements of responsive local government. All suspiciously absent from the Oct. 20 Community Board 2 vote to stop a resolution that would have reflected the enormous community sentiment that has
emerged against the Parks Department’s radical redesign and unnecessary closing of much of Washington Square Park.

Only a few weeks ago, the C.B. 2 Parks and Waterfront Committee voted unanimously to adopt a resolution that reflected popular sentiment, by calling for the preservation of the existing sunken center of the park, a fence no taller than the one that exists now and opposition to the ludicrous moving of the historic fountain.

At the full board meeting two Thursdays ago in which the resolution was supposed to be voted upon, Maria Passannante Derr, the board’s new chairperson, orchestrated an unorthodox torpedoing of the Parks and Waterfront Committee resolution by forcing a “substitute resolution” to be voted on first.

This substitute resolution was the product of a week of lobbying by the Parks Department, a few advocates for the plan (there are relatively few members of our community who actually support it) and, I have heard, even by Ms. Derr herself.

This would not surprise me, based upon the disgraceful conduct of the community board on Oct. 20. First, in a show of hands, about 100 of the members of the public in the standing-room-only crowd opposed the Parks Department plan, while fewer than eight supported it.

Aubrey Lees, the former chairperson of the Parks Committee, was permitted to speak for an unusually long time about how she felt nothing had changed since her committee voted to rubber-stamp the Parks Department redesign plan last April.

Would a single member of the community board, we, the silenced public wondered, counter Ms. Lees’s continued effort to support the Parks Department’s campaign of misinformation? Would anyone speak up for the facts that Parks deliberately withheld from the community and community board? Such as the secret agreement Parks made last January to rename our fountain Tisch Fountain? Or the false claim, oft repeated, that moving the fountain would cost no more than fixing it, since the pipes “are in such disrepair?”

How amazing that not a single member of the so-called community board found the courage to speak against a plan about which every newspaper editorial written has been against, including The Villager, The New York Times, the New York Post and the Washington Square News.

How chilling that no board member could be heard championing the opposition to a plan that has been opposed by 90 percent of the attendees at each of seven public meetings on the subject, as well as more than 95 percent of 500 respondents to two surveys our coalition conducted in the park.

Shame on them. I only hope that our democratic and legal system can undo the damage that the Parks Department and Community
Board 2 are planning to do to our beloved park.

Jonathan Greenberg
Greenberg is coordinator of the Open Washington Square Park Coalition

Just more ‘get the priests’

To The Editor:
Re “Woman charges rape in tangled affair with priest” (news article, Sept. 21):

After reading your article concerning Father Joseph Cogo, my husband and I take exception to its contents.

As a member of Our Lady of Pompei and close friends of Father Cogo, we find Ms. Fray’s allegations very disturbing, as well as surprising. My husband served for several years as Father Cogo’s altar boy. He came to know and respect Father Cogo during this period. Father Cogo was then as now a devoted and moral priest.

Father Cogo has touched thousands of people. He was director of immigration, aiding Italian and Brazilian immigrants, as well as other ethnic groups. He gave them guidance and counseling as they attempted to build new communities in New York.

Ms. Fray seems to be a confused woman who has been coached by someone to cash in on the “Let’s Get the Priests” bandwagon. She appears to be an opportunist who has found a “cash cow” in light of the problems the Church has encountered in recent years with allegations of sexual content against several priests.

As a journalist you are obligated to continue digging deep into these charges until the truth is established beyond the shadow of doubt. If unfounded, as we feel they will be, we want a retraction and an apology to Father Cogo from both the paper and Ms. Fray.

Since the Church has rushed to judgment on Father Cogo and transferred him, our congregation has been hurt and confused.

We pray this situation will be adjudicated sooner rather than later.

Teresa and Ralph Natale

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