Volume 75, Number 29 | December 7 - 13, 2005

Letters to the editor

Lopez records aren’t lost

To The Editor:
Re “Volunteer: I was told Lopez records are missing” (news article, Nov. 9):

Since I was out of town, I am now responding to the article in the Nov. 9 issue of your paper regarding Margarita Lopez’s 2001 re-election campaign, of which I was the treasurer.

The story that alleges that I told someone that financial records from the campaign were lost is false. It is not true, and I never said it.

During my tenure as treasurer, I followed the Campaign Finance Board’s directions to a “T.”

All checks that I wrote were of course written on the date that appeared on the check, and of course were for proper campaign expenses.

I turned over all records requested of me to the Campaign Finance Board in a timely manner.
Anne K. Johnson

No fan of Cooper, or his ties

To The Editor:
Re “Feeling left adrift after change of a news anchor” (talking point, by Jerry Tallmer, Nov. 30):

I just finished reading the article “Feeling left adrift after changes of a news anchor.” Thank you for writing what I have been thinking since Aaron Brown was taken off the air for Anderson Cooper.

I, like Tallmer, am not much of TV watcher. I think he and I are the only people who haven’t spent their lives watching “Seinfeld” and then discussing each situation the following day at the office. He actually did better than me: 10 minutes seems like an eternity.

I looked forward every evening to watch what I felt was a classy man broadcasting the news the old-fashioned way, like Huntley and Brinkley, with intelligence, honesty and a sense of seriousness. Remember?

I turned on CNN one evening and much to my deep chagrin, Mr. Brown exited and Anderson Cooper entered! I really can’t take him seriously, with all the styling and the suits and the ties. Who needs that? I have been in search for a new news broadcast. I haven’t found one yet, but I guess if I can keep my eyes open long enough, BBC is looking pretty damn good!

Anthony Demma

This Brown was a keeper

To The Editor:
Re “Feeling left adrift after change of a news anchor” (talking point, by Jerry Tallmer, Nov. 30):

Thank you for writing about Aaron Brown. He was a wonderful reporter, who simply disappeared without even a chance to say goodbye and good luck. I wanted to write to him to tell him how much I (and no doubt numerous others) appreciated his program on CNN at 10 p.m., and how much we miss him.

Trudy Festinger

Where was the major media?

To The Editor:
Re “Point man on W.M.D. claims skilled at doublespeak” (talking point, by Joshua Michah Marshall, Nov. 23):

Just a quick word of congratulations for publishing Joshua Micah Marshall’s column exposing the Bush administration’s hypocrisy which lulled us into war. It is amazing that the major media has studiously ignored the glaring misuse of C.I.A. intelligence regarding the Niger uranium episode by National Security Advisor Stephen J. Hadley, which is so clearly exposed by Marshall. The separate facts have long been known — but it took a courageous commentator to put them together to reveal the deception. The Villager has done itself proud! 
Vahe A. Tiryakian

Report dissed disabled

To The Editor:
Re Villager Progress Report (special section, Nov. 30):

Apparently, the people-with-disabilities community isn’t apparent — that is in The Villager’s special 36-page supplement “Progress Report — Be the Change.”

It’s hard to “be the change” if people with disabilities remain invisible to the press.

Margie Rubin
Rubin is a member, Disabled in Action

Column kissed up to politicians

Re “Time to impose some authority on Liquor Authority” (talking point, by Ed Gold, Nov. 30): 

Ed Gold’s talking point misses the point, in that it derives its conclusions largely from the politicians who have stood idly by or have grandstanded for political gain. Some have substantively done nothing or have been complicitous. Most glaring is the mention of notoriously bar-friendly C. Virginia Fields’s name. Fields regularly was adversarial to the residential interests in her borough.

It makes our skin crawl to hear these politicians’ names identified as community champions. 

While a community-based attorney was highlighted, it would be appreciated if the dubious initiatives of our politicians were reported with more perspective. For example, why cite Eva Moskowitz’s political treatise on the S.L.A., when your own newspaper printed a letter by a coalition of outraged Lower East Side residents several months ago? Cite the initiatives of local residents — not those looking for votes — and get their perspective.

In fairness, The Villager has been at the forefront of reporting the conflicts, in general. However, when one reads Gold’s column, it sounds like things would be so much better if the S.L.A. would only listen to our angelic local politicos…. I need a shower.

Robert Weitz

What’s NYNA doing to help?

To The Editor:
Re “It’s not happy hour for the bar and club operators” (Progress Report article, by David Rabin and Robert Bookman, Nov. 30):

I read David Rabin and Robert Bookman’s article with concern and interest. I actually was surprised I agreed with them on a few points: the city sure has lost its buffer zones, where clubs could exist more logically, such as the far west side of Chelsea. When I was a teen, the clubs to go to were Roxy, which was all the way over in the boondocks of 18th St., where it was really not residential at that time, and Area, which was also not in a highly residential part of town. We have lost those buffer zones almost completely. There are almost no undiscovered bits of Manhattan anymore, and now the clubs don’t have an easy time finding a place to go.

But the solution to losing those outer buffer zones — which are primarily being gentrified with highly upscale buildings for a wealthier population — is not to plunk tons of clubs down into the middle of an obviously residential neighborhood instead, especially an ecosystem as fragile and under attack as the low-income communities of the Lower East Side.

Now, we have so many clubs and bars opening per block that many people’s lives are being unequivocally harmed. We can’t sleep, children can’t sleep, traffic clogs our streets and we are losing essential services for the communities that still are clinging to existence here. This week the dentist downstairs from me said she might have to close; her rent is being raised dramatically and the bar next door wants to take over her space. This dental clinic provides services for a huge segment of the community here. The S.L.A. is out of control, giving out licenses with no sign of stopping. The profusion of licenses being issued is causing even many community-oriented bars to be threatened, as rents rise in the hysteria that is being created by this liquor license/nightlife goldrush. There are so many bars, it is even affecting other bars!

And are those paid bar-police going to help us with the traffic that results in honking horns up and down the block at 4 a.m., because our small streets are clogged now, due to this bar explosion? And back to the earlier point: will ending the smoking ban help us with this, at 4 a.m. when people are loudly screaming for cabs, and the cabs, insanely, drive up and down our streets at that hour honking to get the attention of drunk people they think might need a ride?

I am concerned about neighborhood establishments that offer more challenging culture — like Tonic or Parkside Lounge — going out of business because their landlords are raising their rents. We already lost six theaters to this neighborhood revamping that is going on.

The New York Nightlife Association wants us to believe they want to help solve these problems, but I have never once seen, in any bar or club window, a poster or brochure — or sign on the street — or any kind of campaign by NYNA to help educate people coming to all these new bars about the neighborhood, what we are going through, telling them to be quiet on the street, asking them to be respectful to residents, telling the cars not to honk at 4 a.m. — nothing. I don’t see them helping to mediate between tenants and a difficult, loud bar situation — even though they have known residents are suffering for years, and acknowledge this suffering.

Rebecca Moore
Moore is founder, L.O.C.O. (Ludlow-Orchard Community Organization), and a member of the 20-block association coalition focusing on the bar-proliferation issue whose Web site is www.toomanybars.org

Points on acupuncture article

To The Editor:
“Getting needled in Chinatown for sound mental health” (news article, Nov. 30):

First of all, thank you so much for featuring Chinatown suicides as well as our Break the Silence Conference in your article. I really believe suicide among Asian-Americans is such an important issue where community attention and awareness is greatly needed.

However, in reading the article, I found an error/misquote that I would like to bring to your attention. The article quoted me saying:

“Although white, middle-age males have the highest suicide rate, Asian-Americans have a higher suicide rate than the other ethnic minorities in New York City.” It should have been stated that “Although whites have the highest suicide rate, Asian-Americans have a higher suicide rate than the other ethnic minorities in New York City.”

The statement in the article gave the impression that white middle-aged males have the highest suicide rate. This is not accurate.

Actually, elderly white males have the highest suicide rate among men. Middle-aged males have the largest numbers of suicides, but the rate is slightly lower than that for elderly males.

It is because middle-aged males are a substantial portion of the overall population, so therefore generate more suicide, but their rate is still lower than for elders.

According to Gary L. Spielmann, director of suicide prevention from the New York State Office of Mental Health, in New York during 2002, 562 males ages 25 to 54 died by suicide, and 267 males ages 55 to 85 died that way. The rate for the former was 13.63 per 100,000 deaths for the same population; for the elders, it was 14.43 per 100,000 deaths for the same population.
Kin-Wah Lee
Lee is a member, New York Coalition for Asian-American Mental Health

What lies beneath the park

To The Editor:
Some community board members are worried about holding up the renovation of Washington Square Park. They feel they must push through whatever just to get it done and be done with it. We all want to move forward expeditiously, but we know what is done will be with us for many years. However, I addressed at the Oct. 6 Parks Committee meeting and the Oct. 20 full board meeting something that could seriously hold up this project unnecessarily.

The Emergency Coalition Organization to Save Washington Square Park (ECO) obtained a map locating the three water mains installed beneath the park in 1897; a 48-inch, a 36-inch and a 20-inch main and another smaller pipe from Fifth Ave. to the fountain. The sewer pipe runs from east to west across the park.

Moving the fountain 23 feet to the east, reducing the plaza by a 9-foot radius, and removing the cement seating walls so close to the mains could cause a water-main break. Replacing the pipes, because it has to be done in phases, could greatly prolong construction time.

George Aloi, a subsurface utilities designer with 35 years experience, insists there’s no engineering reason for moving the fountain but plenty of reason not to. “To put in a new foundation, you have to dig down at least 4 or 5 feet minimum because you need to be below the frost line so the pavement doesn’t crack,” Aloi said. “Besides the water mains, utilities running through the park — electric, gas mains, telephone ducts and telephone call-box cables, possibly still alive — could be under there,” he added.

Bill Castro, Manhattan borough Parks commissioner, at the Oct. 6 Parks Committee meeting, responded by saying Parks will only be digging 1 foot down.

However, Aloi said, “More catch basins and drainage connections to the existing sewers are needed to alleviate rainwater accumulations in the plaza. Leaves, litter and lack of maintenance clog the catch basins, but that does not warrant moving the fountain.”

George Vellonakis, Parks’s designer, stated a new foundation is needed for the fountain. But there appears to be no structural damage to the fountain, and it’s not sinking.

I commend Councilmember Alan Gerson for his hard work in negotiating with the Parks Department. But the nonaction taken by Community Board 2 at its Nov. 17 meeting on the newest Parks Committee resolution was discouraging.

If the Art Commission votes for not moving the fountain, the design must be changed. Especially disturbing are the 15-foot-wide planters along the three arteries leading to the fountain, creating 51-foot-long promenades that would break up the wide expanse of the plaza we now enjoy. A 10 percent reduction (any reduction) in the fountain plaza would be detrimental to the spontaneous activity of the musicians and performances. A planned wholesale flattening of the park could also disturb all the below-ground installations for no good reason, never mind the aesthetics: a whole other topic.

Congratulations to The Villager on your fine coverage of this issue!

Sharon Woolums
Woolums is a public member, Community Board 2 Parks and Waterfront Committee, and a Democratic County Committeeperson

She lost her Mojo

To The Editor:
Re “Green spaces are renovated, but upkeep is lacking” (Progress Report article, by Arthur Z. Schwartz, Nov. 30):

Mojo was a friendly and outgoing little dog until he got run over one day. No, not by a car, but by a 65-pound greyhound. It changed his personality completely: While he used to prance up to other dogs, ready to play, he now cowers behind my legs. If there are any changes to the Leroy St. dog run, they should include a separate space for all those apartment-size dogs who otherwise risk injury in the same run with large dogs.

I agree with Mr. Schwartz that the size of the run is a problem, and makes the risk of injury more likely even with similarly sized dogs. But the real danger is when small dogs are in the same crowded runs with large ones.

Lydia Ross

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