Volume 76, Number 9 | July 19 - 25, 2006

Letters to the editor

Close is artists’ bellwether

To The Editor:
Re “Chuck Close tries to keep walls from closing in on him in Noho” (news article, July 11):

I am a fan of The Villager and Chuck Close. I’m an emerging artist living and working in New York City. I just wanted to take a moment to thank you for your genuine article in regard to Mr. Close’s current studio situation. If there is any petition I can sign to help his cause, please let me know! I grew up in the city and know all things change, especially in a city as amazing as New York. But I absolutely loathe some of the current changes taking place. Some of these buildings going up are ruining neighborhoods — both for the residents and, of course, architecturally and aesthetically.

I hope Mr. Close stays in his Noho loft and all things are resolved in his favor. If he leaves New York, it will officially christen this city as one that is no longer artist friendly, and that will be a truly sad day.

Gabriel J. Shuldiner

Double standard by Gerson

To The Editor:
Re “Chuck Close tries to keep walls from closing in on him in Noho” (news article, July 11):

I found great irony in the last two paragraphs of your article on Chuck Close. Chuck Close is both a great artist and a great advocate for the arts. In 1995 he signed on to the lawsuit that led to street artists winning our full First Amendment rights.

Councilmember Alan Gerson on the other hand is a completely phony arts advocate. The landlord advocacy group that put him in office and that he is a subservient puppet of, the Soho Alliance, demand that street artists in Soho be arrested, and in the very same lawsuit paid an attorney thousands of dollars to file an amicus brief against artists’ First Amendment rights. The Soho Alliance brief claimed that visual art was unworthy of First Amendment protection.

Despite Soho’s street artists winning their full rights, Gerson has spent his entire time in public office trying to take those rights away, most recently by proposing an absurd plan of relocating Soho’s street artists to an empty pier on the West Side.

In The Villager article, Gerson rightly claims that the “artistic character of Soho has been eroded in recent years,” but he fails to note that it is the greed of his bosses in the Soho Alliance that brought this about. What’s more, it is these same landlords who created the artist residency requirement in Soho, used it for decades to their great personal financial advantage and who have since violated that requirement in the extreme. How many of the buildings in Soho owned by his millionaire bosses in the Soho Alliance does Gerson think are actually occupied by artists? At this point, less than 10 percent, which means 90 percent are illegal.

Robert Lederman
Lederman is president, A.R.T.I.S.T. (Artists’ Response To Illegal State Tactics)
Stiles is super on sports

To The Editor:
Can Judith Stiles and Clark Kent be the same person? There are startling similarities. They both manage to be around every story yet modestly never write about themselves. For instance, Judith reports on making soccer available to children who require scholarships and underserved girls leagues. I have seen her alter ego, Super Judith, personally give her time and donate funds to make both happen. Recently, she accurately reported about youth soccer goalie Corey Schramm (quite the little Superman himself). Once again, she neglected to mention that her own son shares goalie duties on the three-time New York State Champion team which went on to win the Regional youth soccer championship, taking on all comers from Virginia to Maine. The last similarity: both manage to report on their community while enriching it at the same time.

Steve Cooke

Buck stops with treasurer

To The Editor:
As a former treasurer of Community Board 2, I have recently received phone calls and been stopped on the street and asked about the finances of the board. I have been told that there have been public comments that the board records a few years ago were “essentially nonexistent.” The impression people are getting is that the finances were in disarray.

I take sharp exception to the characterization that the books were not in order and therefore the implication that the former treasurer (that would be me) was not on the ball.

If anything, the situation was quite the opposite. One of our public officials has stated, more than once, that I was the best treasurer the board ever had.

I don’t need to stand on my laurels, and I personally don’t want to spend time defending myself. But it is important to set the record straight.

Prior to my several terms as treasurer, there were issues about the transparency and procedures in regard to the finances of the board.

In order to allay the concerns and issues, I put in place new reporting procedures and oversight. The board’s Executive Committee received monthly reports from me, and the full board received the same annually at least. There was a process for street fair bids, transparency of how we worked on the budget line items with the city budget and between our other accounts, i.e. the Friends of Community Board 2, and on and on.

The level of reporting I put into place was rigorous and complete. So much so that when the city, on my watch, did an investigation of community boards, we came out with flying colors.

I am proud of the job I did and the professionalism I brought to the job. Reporting on the finances wasn’t necessarily the most exciting part of any meeting, but I feel firmly that the board members had confidence that the finances were in order.

Transparency and information flow were the issues I brought to the table. I sincerely hope the board can address these two key items, which will go a long way to creating confidence in the finances. It’s not a hard thing to do and there is no reason not to do it.

Yes, sometimes there may be heated debate about spending or not, which company to choose for street fairs, whatever. But at the end of the day, I found that the more transparency and reporting, the less likely there was conflict. Because then it all made sense, since everyone had the facts.

Jeanne Kazel Wilcke
Epstein’s Bar syndrome

To The Editor:
Re “‘Survivor’ tiki torches are removed at Epstein’s Bar” (news article, July 5):

I just wanted to clarify one thing about that article about the Stanton St. torches, as an important fact was left out:

Epstein’s claimed to people here that they had permits to have the torches out. But it is pretty clear at this point they didn’t.

The issue for some of us, besides safety, is not one of yuppie-aesthetic concerns; it is about a really flawed 311 system, and new businesses opening on the L.E.S. who misrepresent things so they can do whatever they want, even if it means doing something unsafe or in this case illegal.

I trust that Villager readers can read between the lines and understand what the torch issue was about. This incredibly noisy crowded bar is owned by people who are new to the neighborhood; my neighbors and I who called about this probably saved them a huge lawsuit had someone gotten hurt.

We might not be able to photograph the noise and problems at 4 a.m. so easily, to get help for what we are experiencing on the L.E.S., but we could sure photograph those torches. I am glad that the Fire Department inspector clarified the legality for us in The Villager, and something was done about this issue finally.

I want to thank the Fire Department so much for coming out to help us, and the community board for their assistance, and also the neighbors who called the dispatch number. I am sure it was not the dignified firefighters who were laughing, who had to come out to help with this problem, and I feel sad they were represented that way by the people who own this bar in your article. I know the firemen took this seriously because I have friends who are former firefighers. Firemen deal with people being incredibly unsafe with fire issues every day, and are heroes as much for responding to fire code violations, protecting us from danger in advance, as they are for going into a huge fire already in progress.
Rebecca Moore

Some bikers are reckless

To The Editor:
Your recent editorial (“Bicyclists should not have to ride in fear of their lives,” July 5) was important for all sides of this issue. While the three recent deaths you mentioned were surely sad, I would like bicyclists to also remember their responsibility, and our safety. Too often lately, I have seen bikers zoom down the street paying no attention to traffic lights or pedestrians. I would like to see some kind of awareness that this is a city of traffic and therefore vehicles, bikers and pedestrians. All have to share the same space. Let’s all be responsible in this.

Linda Lusskin

Still has faith in Eighth

To The Editor:
Re “Eighth St. will rise again” (letter, by Adelaide Polsinell, July 5):

With reference to the above-referenced letter printed in The Villager, I wanted to thank Adelaide Polsinelli personally for taking the time to write and express her opinions so eloquently.

I agree with many of the points she raised and join with her in a shared optimism that this street and historical area of the Village will see a revival.

I am a member — and co-founder — of both the Village Alliance and Union Square Partnership business improvement districts. We certainly miss the hard work of Tom Markeson on the Eighth St. board.

Norman Buchbinder

Have fun, but show respect

To The Editor:
Re “Pier kids tell critics, ‘Back off, this is our place’ ” (news article, June 14):

Those of us who are residents of Christopher St. and the streets immediately adjacent to it don’t care what these youths do on the Christopher St. Pier or how much noise they make there; we who live here care about the noise they make walking to and from the pier late at night. What words in the previous sentence do they not understand? No decibel level of noise they make on the pier affects us here — those of us who live and work here — who are, by the way, to a large degree, queer, gay, homosexual, whatever. We have the civil right to the peace and tranquility of our homes, and these alleged “kids” have the obligation to respect our rights.

The pier, by the way, was constructed by agencies of the city for the commonweal and does not “belong” to any segment of the citizenry any more than Little Italy “belongs” to Italians or Chinatown “belongs” to the Chinese or Harlem “belongs” to African-Americans. Or Greenwich Village “belongs” to bohemians. How many Germans are left in Yorkville? These designations pass quickly in America.

John Stanley

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