Volume 76, Number 16 | September 6 - 12, 2006

Letters to the editor

Let’s keep it on the issues

To The Editor:

While we all naturally feel sympathetic that Arthur Schwartz had to undergo quadruple bypass surgery this summer, one cannot help but feel that his lengthy Villager column detailing his medical procedure and recovery (“A new lease on life, and back in the running again,” notebook, Aug. 23) aims to inappropriately turn this sympathy into votes for his Democratic State Committee race. At a time when strong, outspoken voices are needed to ensure that the Democratic Party remains committed to progressive ideals, Democrats must vote based on candidates’ experience and accomplishments, not on sympathy or promises.

In a series of mailings, Arthur lists the issues he promises to begin working on if he is elected: Iraq, same-sex marriage, single-payer healthcare, choice and economic justice. These are exactly the issues I have forced to the top of the state party’s agenda through my vigorous work as the district’s state committeemember.

I led the state Democratic Party to oppose the misguided war in Iraq before the congressional vote, when the party adopted the antiwar resolution I wrote and introduced in September 2002. I followed this by extensive speaking, lobbying, organizing and demonstrating against the war. The party’s second statement against the war, adopted this May at the state convention in Buffalo, was again written and introduced by me.

On same-sex marriage, I wrote and introduced the 2003 resolution committing the state Democratic Party to full equal-marriage rights for same-sex couples. As counsel to Marriage Equality NY and a longtime activist in the L.G.B.T. community, I have fought hard to bring us closer to the day when all loving couples can marry.

As chairperson of the Reform Caucus of the Democratic State Committee, I led the party to five times declare its support for universal single-payer health care, to reiterate its firm pro-choice position and to commit to a series of measures for economic justice, including greater tax equity, repeal of vacancy decontrol and preservation of rent stabilization.

I am thankful that Arthur has, as he says, a new lease on life. I have only a two-year lease on a seat on the Democratic State Committee, and it is up to its owners, the Democratic voters of the Village, to determine if that lease should be renewed. In an often divided district, I am grateful that all of the leading Democrats have joined together this year to support my re-election: both official Democratic clubs (Village Independent Democrats and Downtown Independent Democrats), both gay Democratic clubs (Gay and Lesbian Independent Democrats and Stonewall Democrats), Congressman Jerry Nadler, Assemblymember Deborah Glick, Senator Tom Duane, Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Councilmembers Alan Gerson and Rosie Mendez and all four Democratic district leaders. This breadth of support is testament to my tireless efforts and success in getting the state Democratic Party to commit to the progressive ideals important to the Democrats of the 66th Assembly District.

I believe that these real accomplishments, not sympathy or promises, will guide Democratic voters on Sept. 12.

Lawrence C. Moss
Moss is Democratic state committeeman, 66th Assembly District


Heated festival debate

To The Editor:
Re “Festival favoritism,” letter, by Nathaniel Norman, Aug. 23):

In the Aug. 23 issue, Nathaniel Norman expressed his disappointment that he was unable to get a seat for our final concert, “Cuartetango,” which was held, because of extreme heat, in Judson Memorial Church. Since he appears to be a big fan of our outdoor concerts, we are truly sorry that we could not oblige him, but we must observe the very strict fire laws in New York City and by 7:45 p.m. we were totally filled up. The church holds 450 total (including artists and stage crew) in the downstairs and in the balcony.

As to his complaint that we have reserved seats, we do, as do most concerts and plays that are free and open to the public (such as Central Park’s Delacorte Theatre). The seats are held for critics, auditors from funding sources, guests of the musicians and major funders. At Judson Memorial Church, there were approximately 375 seats and standing-room spaces available to the public on a first-come, first-served basis. There was a hopeful audience member who showed up around 7:50 p.m. and was extremely vocal and upset when we were unable to let him in because we had no seats left. We wish we could have seated all the disappointed latecomers, but it was impossible.

We had made the decision to perform inside because of the 95-degree heat, and are grateful to Judson Memorial Church for taking us in. Indeed, even with the air conditioner going full blast, one of the violinists could hardly play because his fingers were drenched in sweat and were slipping all over the strings. If we had tried to perform outside (always our first choice) we would have had to cancel the concert, and then everyone would have been unhappy.

We hope Mr. Norman will give us another chance and join us next season in the park, where, as he accurately states, there are plenty of seats, thanks to the generosity of the New York City Department of Parks, which supplies two sets of bleachers and chairs.Peggy Friedman

Friedman is executive director, Washington Square Music Festival


N.Y.U. won’t deliver on promise

To The Editor:
Re “N.Y.U. dorm is built on air, neighbors say, in new lawsuit” (news article, Aug. 30):

Thank you as always to The Villager for its fine coverage of this issue. I found spokesperson Bob Anderson’s arguments against the lawsuit over the Postal Service’s transfer of its “air rights” ludicrous, and in need of a response.

This lawsuit aside, the Postal Service has continually flouted its responsibilities at the federal level with the sale of its air rights, refusing to subject them to the required Section 106 review under the National Historic Preservation Act. They were caught doing so by the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation in 2005 at Cooper Station and three other post offices in Manhattan, and then reluctantly promised to abide by these regulations in the future. Nevertheless, G.V.S.H.P. recently uncovered that they are again doing the same thing at the Canal St. Station in Tribeca, setting off a firestorm of protest.

Yet, somehow Anderson wants us to believe that the Postal Service will voluntarily abide by local regulations regarding air rights transfers, which they are not even obligated to obey, claiming they generally abide by such regulations so as not “to tick off local residents.” Well, experience tells us otherwise. Then, Anderson expects us to believe that if they don’t obey local regulations from which they are exempted, they will be stopped by N.Y.U. from double dipping and using air rights they supposedly already sold. N.Y.U., which will own the neighboring property containing the megadorm that these “air rights” were transferred to, will hold an easement over the post office property as part of the deal, he claims, and therefore can prevent the Postal Service from ever using their air rights and building there again.

Assuming for the moment it is true that N.Y.U. could stop the Postal Service from further overdeveloping our neighborhood, exactly why are we supposed to believe that they would? Even if we were talking about an entity which, unlike N.Y.U., we could trust — that hadn’t broken promise after promise to the community just to advance their aggressive overdevelopment agenda — there are no guarantees that any property owner would be inclined to take legal action to enforce that easement. And we could easily get both a supersized dorm using the post office’s air rights and a huge development on the post office site, which the air rights sale is supposed to prevent.

The post office wants the public and the city to give up rights that should be guaranteed to us, in exchange for faith that the Postal Service and N.Y.U. will do right by us in the future. I’m not buying it, and neither should you.

Andrew Berman
Berman is executive director, Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation


Cribbing with the dean

To The Editor:
Over the summer, the General Theological Seminary hosted several meetings to listen to the concerns of residents of 20th and 21st Sts. about our proposed Ninth Ave. project. At one of these meetings, the seminary distributed copies of a utilization survey of our buildings, which was prepared with the assistance of the highly regarded architecture preservation firm Beyer Blinder Belle. Despite the claims in recent letters to the editor, the survey demonstrates that all of the seminary’s existing space, except for that which is under construction, is currently in use and that there is no unused space. Simply stated, the seminary does not have more space than it needs to serve its mission.

Moreover, only a portion of the dean’s residence is for private use, while most of it — including four of the five bedrooms — is outfitted with seminary furnishings and used for seminary functions and guests. This is the case with the dean’s and president’s residences at most colleges. As we have repeatedly explained, the faculty residences are considered part of the faculty compensation. They were built in the Victorian era of large families and are much too large for modern needs. Our plan is to subdivide them once we can raise the funds. The resulting faculty residences will be significantly smaller than those offered at most other seminaries against whom we have to compete for the best talent to teach our students.

As reported at several public meetings, the rapidly deteriorating Sherrill Hall could be repaired for $4 million to $6 million, an amount of cash that the seminary does not have. Even if the seminary had this amount, simply repairing Sherrill Hall would contribute nothing toward the preservation of the almost two-dozen other historic buildings on The Close, which urgently need $21 million in roof repairs and exterior waterproofing; the independent organization, New York Landmarks Conservancy, recently confirmed this assessment. By replacing Sherrill Hall, the seminary could generate at least 70 percent of the total funds needed for preserving the rest of The Close.

The preservation of Chelsea Square is the only reason the seminary is seeking a variance to the 75-foot height limit. Current preservation laws, specifically city zoning regulation 74-711, allow for such variances in order to fund preservation projects like the one the seminary has proposed. We hope that our neighbors and civic leaders will keep faith with existing zoning guidelines and give our proposal a fair hearing based on its merits and the entire body of the preservation laws and not just selective parts of it.

Ward B. Ewing
Ewing is dean and president, General Theological Seminary


Why did 7 W.T.C. fall?

To The Editor:
You deserve to inherit the acclaim and following of the former Village Voice.  Congratulations David Spett and The Villager for your article “5 years later, 9/11 skeptics feel they’re close to truth” (news article, Aug. 30). The Village Voice is gone and The Villager should now be crowned its successor!  Keep up the good work.

My name is Carl E. Person, and I’m running as an independent candidate for New York attorney general. If elected, I’m going to commence a grand jury investigation of what caused 7 World Trade Center to collapse at 5:20 p.m. on 9/11, in light of the fact that it was not hit by an airplane, and that it came down freefall (in about nine seconds) without being impeded by any of (or any part of) the numerous upright steel beams designed to support the building.

The only way this could have occurred, logically, is by the use of explosives timed for controlled demolition. The results are precisely what the best controlled demolition would have been able to produce, and unlikely to have occurred otherwise. Who is more apt to have allowed explosives into the building prior to 9/11 — Larry Silverstein, new owner of the building who just took out antiterrorist insurance? Or Mayor Giuliani, who built a military-type bunker in the building and was dead politically until 9/11 took place? Or Bin Laden sitting in a cave somewhere without the front-door key or operatives needed to access 7 W.T.C. and carry in and hook up the required amount of explosives?

Carl E. Person


Too easy on 9/11 kooks

To The Editor:
Re “5 years later, 9/11 skeptics feel they’re close to truth” (news article, Aug. 30):

I think the antidote to bad speech is good speech, not censorship. I’d rather the press report on the existence of 9/11 conspiracy “buffs,” “activists” and “leaders” than ignore them.

But I think The Villager, given its distribution and readership, had an obligation to be more sensitive in its reportage. Given the number of traumatized eyewitnesses — myself included — who relive 9/11 as a painful personal memory, your paper was too polite and one-sided in presenting the “opinions” of these kooks.

The wording of the poll you cite is seriously flawed, and if you’re going to cite the availability of “Loose Change” on the Internet, why not also, at least, cite the existence of the many Web sites devoted to rebuffing it?

In 1977, the A.C.L.U. was divided over their decision to support neo-Nazis’ right to march in Skokie, home to many Holocaust survivors. The Villager should have rethought its decision to commemorate the fifth anniversary of 9/11 by giving a front-page lead and two full pages of text and pictures to an uncritical, unquestioning and, in my opinion, more respectful than they deserved presentation of the “arguments” of these “scientists,” “skeptics” and “theorists.”

All of my quotes are from your article and headlines. The Nazis never did march in Skokie, but The Villager did let these irresponsible people march through our neighborhood — unopposed.Barry Drogin

Connor deserves a race

To The Editor:
Thank you for your coverage of Ken Diamondstone’s primary challenge to Martin Connor for his seat in the New York State Senate: “For once, Connor can’t get opponent off the ballot” (news article, Aug. 23):

Elections are important, and when incumbents are continually re-elected and no one challenges their record, the community may suffer.

Yes, Connor has 28 years experience, but his leadership role in repealing the commuter tax has cost New York City hundreds of millions of dollars in lost revenue. If a corporate executive cost his company so much money, he would have been fired.

His fellow senators voted him out of his leadership position, which speaks volumes to his effectiveness and influence in the Senate.

Apparently, his major claim to fame is helping incumbents navigate New York’s arcane election laws so they can knock challengers off the ballot.

John R. Scott


E-mail letters, not longer than 350 words in length, to news@thevillager.com or fax to 212-229-2790 or mail to The Villager, Letters to the Editor, 145 Sixth Ave., ground floor, NY, NY 10013. Please include phone number for confirmation purposes. The Villager reserves the right to edit letters for space, grammar, clarity and libel.

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