Volume 76, Number 39 | February 21 - 27, 2007

Letters to the editor

An inconvenient reality

To The Editor:
I have to comment on what I recently heard about the Federal Way School Board prohibiting the viewing of Al Gore’s film “An Inconvenient Truth” without an “opposing viewpoint.”

What can you say when you hear about a group of schools, whose job it is to put ideas and thoughts into the heads of our children, but which believe that global warming is part of the “Democratic agenda?” What do they think is going on? That God and Jesus are up there smoking a bowl and it’s the smoke that’s blowing a huge hole in the ozone layer?

In the article on the AP wire, which reports on the controversy, the story quotes a parent named Frosty Hardison, who says, “condoms don’t belong in school, and neither does Al Gore.” Obviously, they don’t belong in Mr. Hardison’s bedroom either, as he’s the father of seven unfortunate offspring who have to grow up with a dad named after a snowman. You’d think that’d be punishment enough.

We see religious zealots spewing their rhetoric all the time. They force their beliefs on us through the press, on their own self-produced infomercials and on the Internet. This time, it’s not about cloning or abortion or heaven and hell. It’s about the incontrovertible evidence showing the slow dissolution of our planet. And, when nearly every credible scientist in the world confirms these findings, how is that a political agenda?

In 10 years, when one of these poor kids is arrested for bombing an abortion clinic, they’re going to do a background check and find out he was raised in Federal Way. We reap what we sow, Mr. Hardison.

David Fagin


Cars are the real danger

To The Editor:
Re “Cyclists gone wild” (letter, by Marilyn Dorato, Feb. 14):

In her letter, Marilyn Dorato of the Greenwich Village Block Associations chastises Paul Steely White, executive director of Transportation Alternatives, for “brag[ging] about running red lights as he requests more amenities for cyclists.”

This statement seriously misrepresents the substance of Mr. White’s speech as reported in the article. As quoted, Mr. White says that “it is more important to watch out for pedestrians than lights, because there are a lot of jaywalkers in New York.” That is not the reckless hypocrisy with which Ms. Dorato tars it.

I believe Mr. White’s comment shows a degree of wisdom and flexibility that is simply in tune with actual existing street conditions. Importantly, it expresses a sense of concern and personal responsibility for others’ safety that is precisely what this city needs to develop on a large scale. It is human indifference — whether on bike, foot or car — that causes injuries such as that suffered by Mr. Bernardin. That and, of course, overcrowded streets — which is simply a sign of official indifference.

A traffic engineer recently told me, “Traffic signals, as opposed to stop and yield signs, were invented because cars travel too fast for visual flight rules. Bicycles and pedestrians travel slowly enough for visual flight rules to work [with a few limited exceptions].” Of course, visual flight rules require pedestrians and cyclists to actually look and act in a safe manner — just as Mr. White is advising.

As a daily bike commuter, I ride cautiously in crowded conditions, and generally try to be respectful of others’ comfort and right of way. But nice guys finish last, you know. I’ve been kicked by pedestrians standing 6 feet off the curb in the so-called “bike zone,” and cursed by jaywalkers as I rode through a green light. One man condemned me for running a red light before I even got to the intersection.

I can’t count the times pedestrians have stepped off the curb against traffic, whether punching a cell phone or not, in front of my moving bicycle. Even when they “see” me, they stay put or even threaten me, forcing me to ride into moving cars or brake and possibly crash. One man strutting off the curb in Chinatown told me “You should have brakes” — as I was grabbing both and sliding in the rain to avoid hitting him.

Then there are the angry, frustrated or impatient drivers. Some days, every block seems to hold a mortal, not just a moral, threat. (Automobiles kill some 200 New York pedestrians and cyclists each year, according to T.A.) While I do see cyclists behaving inconsiderately, I don’t see nearly the frequency or recklessness that Ms. Dorato seems to witness.

Indeed, Ms. Dorato looks at the chaotic hazards of New York City traffic and sees bicyclists as the biggest threat to pedestrians.

Mr. White looks at the same hazards. He advocates reducing the volume of automobile traffic, increasing mass and bike transit and encouraging people on foot and bike to look out for one another.

I know where my support and contributions will continue to go.

Carol Wood


Euro cyclists are more polite

To The Editor:
Re “Cyclists gone wild” (letter, by Marilyn Dorato, Feb. 14):

I love bicycling. I’ve bicycled thousands of miles in my life. However, in Europe, where I come from, bicycles must be registered and bicyclists must obey traffic laws and be courteous. In Europe, I never saw bicyclists on the sidewalk, coming from all directions, totally ignoring all traffic laws, no bells, no lights, treating pedestrians as a nuisance, coming up from behind me, swiping me — and laughing if my angry voice still reaches them.

I am almost 75. I personally know 20 people seriously injured by cars — but also a good number knocked down by bicycles. If this is to be a tourist city — hotels sprouting like mushrooms after a rain — make these streets, and also parks, safer and more pleasant to walk, for old New Yorkers and foreigners alike.

Marianne Landre Goldscheider


Ramps up A.D.A. debate

To The Editor:
I am writing to suggest that you revisit the issue of Village View’s noncompliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act. Village View Housing Corporation is located at 175 E. Fourth St. and comprises a number of Mitchell Lama cooperative apartments. In 2004, your newspaper reported on the renovation of the lobby of 80 First Ave., following the successful lawsuit of a disabled resident, regarding issues of lack of access.

To this day, no further building lobbies have been modified to comply with the law. The complex has been determined to be a naturally occurring retirement community, or NORC. Hence, issues of accessibility will ultimately affect the current geriatric residents. That the co-op has already lost a suit under the act yet remains noncompliant with the law is reckless.

It is my view that previous complaints about the design of the lobby renovation were based mostly on the inherent cheapness of the nondisabled residents of the complex. That most of them are teetering on the edge of eternity themselves, barely able to ambulate or remember three words after five minutes, makes their reluctance to spend money on basic needs seem even more miserly.
 
Daniel Polowetzky
Polowetzky is a Village View resident


Kavanagh’s game plan

To The Editor:
Re “Brian Kavanagh’s Super Sunday swearing-in ceremony” (news article, Feb. 7):

In his article on Brian Kavanagh’s swearing-in as the 74th District’s assemblymember, Linclon Anderson writes: “[Sylvia] Friedman had won the seat last March in a special election — which Kavanagh strategically chose to sit out.”

Yet Brian Kavanagh did not “sit out” the special election. He sat out the pre-special-election election a month earlier: He strategially sat out the County Committee election, denegrating them and questioning their necessity. It was his strategy to ambush the Democratic candidate who was chosen by the County Committee as the Democratic candidate. This was irrespective of whether it was Friedman, Steve Kaufman or Don Tobias. Surely he was licking his chops when Friedman emerged. His strategy was proactive.

The irony, of course, is that now as State Assemblyman, Kavanagh heads the district’s County Committee, the same people his election strategy was to insult.

Billy Sternberg


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