Volume 75, Number 36 | January 25 - 31, 200

Letters to the editor

S.L.A. chief could be good

To The Editor:
Re “Pataki ignores outcry for city S.L.A. member; sheriff gets nod” (news article, Jan. 11):

While it would be nice if a New York City resident would have been appointed as a commissioner to the State Liquor Authority (George, I’m free if you’ve got a space), let’s face the facts. As I’ve noted many times in this space, the S.L.A. is a revenue-driven state agency. Pataki is more concerned about the amount of money the S.L.A. generates for the state treasury than the residency of its members.

Pataki’s choice of Daniel Boyle to be commissioner and chairperson of the S.L.A. may turn out to be a very wise choice. Boyle was the chief of police for the town of Glenville, near Schenectady; but more important, he has a strong law enforcement background going back 31 years.

Last week, Pataki gave the State Legislature his proposed budget. In it, he proposes to double the number of S.L.A. investigators, which can only help us in Lower Manhattan. Getting this part of the budget passed by the Legislature without any “tinkering” by state elected officials is critical.

Marcia H. Lemmon

Landmark library needs help

To The Editor:
Re “Why must we choose outside vs. inside at Jefferson Library?” (editorial, Jan. 18) and “Quinn is exploring shifting library renovation funds” (news article, Jan. 18):

The Jefferson Market Library is one of the Village’s, the city’s and nation’s greatest architectural treasures. Its current condition, shrouded in scaffolding, is a shame. Worse, the lack of repairs to its exterior and lack of a thorough evaluation of the facade’s condition run the risk of causing further deterioration and increasing the time and expense it will take to restore it to its proper condition. Without a doubt, everything possible should be done to ensure the library’s iconic exterior is stabilized and restored as soon as possible.

As we all know, however, this will take money. Council Speaker Christine Quinn and State Senator Tom Duane have already supplied the library with considerable funding, but current estimates say even more may be necessary. The library should also be aggressively pursuing the myriad additional potential funding sources out there for restoration of historic properties. The Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation has supplied the library with a list of more than a dozen potential grant sources for such a project, urged them to pursue these and offered support for their doing so. If it were necessary to find other sources of funding to assist with such a worthwhile project, Villagers would no doubt rally as they always have to save this cherished landmark, and G.V.S.H.P. would proudly be among them.

I applaud Speaker Quinn for doing such broad outreach to the community about the question of what should be done with the funding for the library, as well as Community Board 2, the Greenwich Village Block Associations, Village Independent Democrats and other elected officials for bringing this issue to the fore. But the library has to step up to the plate and take a leadership role in tackling this too-long-neglected problem, and ensure that a building which is in many ways at the heart of this community is preserved and restored.

A great public trust was made by handing this symbol of our neighborhood over to the library 40 years ago. Now is the time for the library to show that they honor this trust and are ready, willing and able to do everything they can to take care of our treasured landmark.
Andrew Berman
Berman is executive director, Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation

No hierarchy among disabled

To The Editor:
Re “Wheelchair user may sue, wants to go amphibious in the fountain” (news article, Dec. 28).

I can’t say whether the assertion in Jonathan Greenberg’s Jan. 11 letter that “A.D.A. compliance was a false rationale” in the redesign of Washington Square Park is true or not. What’s ironic, however, is that on the very same day as The Villager article appeared, State Comptroller Alan Hevesi issued an audit of the New York City Parks Department’s compliance with A.D.A. standards over the past five years. The audit found that in many instances the department failed to follow A.D.A. guidelines in renovations.

One area where Mr. Greenberg and I disagree: his focus on The Villager’s supposedly missing the point that the “most important disabled group in New York [meaning, according to Mr. Greenberg, Disabled in Action] confirming reports that the Parks Department has been deceiving the community…” should have been the main news story.

While doubtless DIA is a significant organization in our community, I would like to think that my own organization, the 504 Democratic Club, is “the most important disabled group,” and other groups, such as United Spinal Association, Disabilities Network and Center for Independence of the Disabled, would make the same claim. While we all have similar goals, we often go about achieving them in different ways. That’s how we complement each other.

Marvin Wasserman
Wasserman is president, 504 Democratic Club

Stop persecuting bicyclists

To The Editor:
Re “Minicams roll with bicycles, and probably undercovers” (news article, Jan. 4):

I’ve been rather horrified by the article about how the police treated the Critical Mass bikers. How did we get there? It seems that as soon as some citizens, otherwise workers, taxpayers, voters, consumers, etc., decide to have some fun on a Critical Mass, the police turn to them with a vengeance. Are we still in New York City? The police techniques described in the article are outright scary. All the bikers want to do is to ride en masse and some of them may want to turn this into a political, anti-oil and anti-car rally, but it’s not the stated goal of the event. The goal of the event is the event: gather as many people as possible who want to join in a massive ride and do something fun together. If it’s more than that, the Police Department should let us know what it fears exactly.

I’m not a huge fan of Critical Mass rallies. But I sense they get fiercer as a response to the police handling of the situation. And in turn, police responses get more violent and intolerant.

I’ve been arrested now three times for riding my bike on a sidewalk, in a park and the wrong way on the street. All right, fine me.

Obviously, we’re not in Amsterdam or Beijing or even Tokyo for that matter, where bikes are asked to ride on the sidewalks, the streets being considered too dangerous for cyclists.

In New York City, it feels like we as cyclists are some kind of enemies, some kind of parasites, useless, that have to be eliminated, not encouraged and left to proliferate.

This is all happening within today’s discourse on pollution, congestion, overconsumption of resources: We are indeed fighting in Iraq for the oil, not for democracy for the Iraqis, there should be no mistake about that; we are killing human lives so that the U.S. consumer can have two, three, as many cars as they want.

So riding a bike could well be an efficient alternative to all the ills the city suffers.

I still ride my bike on sidewalks and opposite traffic. New York City streets are just too dangerous and the sidewalks are more often than not very wide and empty. If one fine day, it was authorized or tolerated for cyclists to have the same rights as pedestrians, it would be adopted in the most natural and easy way.

Yves Seban

It was fate to read review

To The Editor:
Re “A different kind of survivor’s tale ‘Fateless’ avoids the sentimentality of ‘Schindler’s List’ ” (arts article, Jan. 11):

I read your review this morning by Internet of the newly released movie, “Fateless.” I am an expat living in Budapest for the past several years. It is refreshing to see that there is such admiration and appreciation on behalf of people in a country that has not experienced or seen war on its own soil. It is hard to fathom what life really is and was like in a place ravaged by war, communism and repression in general. Riding public transportation each day through the city, watching peoples’ faces, one still wonders how much ordeal, pain and sorrow these people had to endure, as it is still reflected on their faces and their hopelessness at times. It will take many generations for the Iron Curtain countries to overcome these feelings and memories. 

It is most disappointing that the film was not nominated for a Golden Globe. This year the Golden Globes reflected a general sense of ignorance and isolationism to the outside world. I am myself so much more open to the world now. Living on the other side of the “pond,” so to speak, I realize how small a world I lived in before, how sheltered a news media I was exposed to and how cut off I was from the rest of the universe.

Thank you for your wonderful review of a truly artistic film.
Sylvia Dallos

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