West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933
Volume 77, Number 5 | July 4 - 10, 2007

Letters to the Editor

Defends Fulani and Smith

To The Editor:
Re “Fulani flap” (Scoopy’s Notebook, June 13):

Three of my five daughters graduated from Yung Wing, P.S. 124, on Division St. As an active parent at that school and in Community School District 2, I had the privilege of appearing before the School Board 2 whose leadership included Ms. Sophie Gerson. I recall Sophie for her advocacy of a civil rights and tolerance agenda and her introduction of resolutions honoring the slain civil rights martyrs James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner. I also have the privilege of working with Dr. Shirley H. Smith, co-chairperson of the Youth Committee of Community Board 2, as well as a member of the Community Education Council of School District 2.

I am writing with reference to Scoopy’s advance warning of Dr. Lenora Fulani’s presentation to C.B. 2 last month on her New York Police Department-endorsed program, “Cops and Kids Conversations,” which did a great disservice to your readers, New York City youth and especially Dr. Smith, who invited the noted and notorious developmental psychologist.

While references to and focus on Dr. Fulani’s alleged anti-Semitism might motivate politicians and some readers alike to make phone calls to eradicate such appearances and the person responsible for the invitation, fair and balanced reporting of the event would have made more responsible copy and possibly resulted in informed reader judgments on the merits of the program.

First, the program was reported as “Corps and Kids,” a meaningless sobriquet to describe an apparently worthwhile program that brings youth and police officers — not in uniform and unarmed — together in a structured and safe environment, in order to build personal relationships and break down stereotypes by promoting understanding and tolerance.

Second, the piece was devoid of any description of the substance and results of the program or its partners. With a school-to-prison pipeline marked by “minority” dropout and incarceration rates exceeding 50 percent, how can we not afford to look at any possibly effective method to address this crisis?

Moreover, police relations can continue to be improved — in general, as well as in relation to the children who still “hustle” on the piers and in other parts of The Village. This issue, too, would further warrant an open explication of Dr. Fulani’s intergroup program.

Just weeks before, Dr. Smith — also founding and current chairperson of the Community Education Council District 2 Human Research Committee — had Dr. Fulani report on details of the Cops and Kids program. Written information was available to the public and your publication at this public meeting. Dr. Smith does not do media interviews with anyone on any subject, which may not be known. She did not hang up on The Villager because of the particular subject matter, but merely conformed to her longstanding professional policy. She is not a politician nor beholden to any.

In addition to political spins, whispers and stealth telephone calls, where is the community today? Well, Dr. Smith’s Youth Committee is about to be irrationally combined with a number of other committees. And with pressure being put on Councilmember Alan Gerson to “investigate” the matter, it seems likely that the only African-American member of C.B. 2 will be eased out of her committee chairmanship and — should we expect, even removed from the board?

It could become the height of irony and hypocrisy that Dr. Smith is being ostracized and punished for Dr. Fulani’s alleged past views, which the mayor and Police Department do not permit to get in the way of advancing joint interests of benefit to the public. Recall that Dr. Smith was responsible for introducing a major resolution which passed C.B. 2 by a 40-0 vote calling for the enhancement of protections for youth being subjected to nontherapeutic psychological and other research in city schools. This forward-thinking action was motivated by her desire to protect all vulnerable children, including those of color, poor, L.G.B.T. and immigrant students. These children increasingly have become targets of “researchers” in “urban education” and medicine in the burgeoning and converging arenas of behavioral science, neuroscience and genetics.

Can we compartmentalize, evaluate the Cops and Kids program on its merits — and not condemn it or shoot messenger Smith? Would a better example of mediation, conflict resolution and tolerance be set by engaging Dr. Fulani in frank questioning and civil discourse? Perhaps some would prefer the uncivil and vituperative method in which the Sonny Carson street-naming mess is being “discussed,” angrily in the streets.

Finally, Dr. Smith should continue her leadership role as chairperson of an independent Youth Committee. There is so much work that remains and her record demonstrates that she is best suited for the position.
Granville Leo Stevens

Editor’s note: Community Board 2’s June calendar of board meetings, posted online on C.B. 2’s Web site, contains two agenda items for the Youth Committee’s June 14 meeting; the first agenda item is listed as “The Corps [sic] and Kids Conversations – Dr. Lenora Fulani.” When The Villager called Shirley Smith to ask why she had invited Fulani to the meeting and for clarification on what topic Fulani would be speaking, Smith said, “I do not give interviews to The Villager,” then hung up the phone.

Coming down the tracks

To The Editor:
I am writing to sound the alarm that there will be a huge renovation to the Bleecker and Broadway/Lafayette subway stations. 

Although I did not see meeting notices posted in the neighborhood, on Tuesday evening, June 12, Community Board 2’s Traffic and Transportation Committee convened to hear the NYC Transit presentation on the Bleecker and Broadway/Lafayette subway stations reconstruction project. A slide presentation was given.

Most of the changes are needed and appropriate, but there is one glaring problem that should be brought to the public’s attention. While there is an escalator that will go from the northbound platform to the level just below the street, no escalator is planned for the southbound platform.

The speaker presenting the project to the committee did not mention that there would be no escalator to the southbound platform, although he mentioned in detail elevator access for challenged individuals and parents with strollers.

When questioned why there would be no escalator from the southbound platform, the speaker said that statistics indicate that there is much more traffic going uptown than downtown, therefore there is no need for escalators to both platforms. This absurd response was said with a straight face and with the expectation of acceptance. 

Since this presentation was not adequately posted, the people who will be most affected by this project have no idea that a 40-month subway renovation project is going to begin this October. 

There are only three months left before this project begins — and it will begin, because it’s fully funded. If the residents of this area want a say in what is going to happen to their neighborhood subway stations, they will have to participate in future committee meetings and write letters to the C.B. 2 Traffic and Transportation Committee and NYC Transit. But they can’t participate and write letters if they don’t know what’s going to happen. I imagine that the M.T.A. would prefer no public awareness and oversight regarding their plans.

Carrie Golkin

Buckies brought me back

To The Editor:
Re “My Buckies, Carole and Bobby, best friends forever” (Gay Pride section, June 20):

Wonderful. Wow. Brought me back to the days of standing outside the Women’s House of D. and yelling up to the girls telling them to hang on. When I played Ethel Rosenberg in a movie called “Citizen Cohn,” she first was imprisoned in the House of D. and made a lot of friends.

Karen Ludwig

The name is ECO

To The Editor:
Re “Park plaintiffs hope court will be friendly environment” (news article, June 20):

Thanks to Albert Amateau for his excellent reporting on the environmental lawsuit hearings for Washington Square Park. However, our name is the Emergency Coalition Organization to Save Washington Square Park, thusECO. ECO was formed by passionate people who care enough about this park to have met every week for more than two years to insure that the Parks Department gets it right. ECO filed Ronald Podolsky’s original lawsuit in July 2005 that insisted that the park was not the 9.7 acres that Parks was claiming but was actually more than 10 acres, which prompts the need for an environmental impact statement.

Of course, as we expected, Parks did their faulty environmental assessment and found no impact to the environment, despite a massive redesign. ECO is calling on the Parks Department to justify their rationale for leveling the park and unnecessarily cutting tree roots to create straight paths where there are now curved ones.

But from Washington Square to Washington — or not — I was so pleased and delighted to see that the Republican presidential frontrunner, former Mayor Giuliani, agrees with the vast majority of elected officials, that the current Washington Square Park design is beautiful! In a May 10, 1995, Villager article titled “Kingdom of Bohemia recalled,” Giuliani said, “Washington Square is one of our city’s most famous, most used and most beautiful public spaces.”

Right on! Sometimes the right gets it right!

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

Bowie’s ch-ch-changes

To The Editor:
Re “Sting-Bowie burlesque rocks world for residents” (news article, June 27): 

It is a sad commentary on the times in which we live that David Bowie, whose music we all love and whose immortal lyrics many can quote by heart, now wants to be a burlesque club impresario. When he moved to the neighborhood, I was thrilled that “Halloween Jack” had moved from the “Top of Manhattan Chase” (another location also in the neighborhood, whether or not he actually lived there, he cryptically quoted it in “Diamond Dogs”) to the top of the Chocolate Factory (also home to the newly opened Mulberry Street Branch Library). However, I felt that his addition of a “painting studio” with two-story windows was a bit oversized, given his output. Now I wonder what kind of neighbor he wants to be.

Sante Scardillo
Scardillo is a member, Little Italy Neighbors Association

Hospital is a good neighbor

To The Editor:
Re “St. Vincent’s moving away is best cure, neighbors say” (news article, June 20):

Do my neighbors in the West Village really want St. Vincent’s to leave? Are these the same folks who want to ship our trash to the Bronx and not deal with it at Gansevoort Peninsula?

What’s the basis of the opposition? Is it that there will be a high-rise building? Apparently there will be, but no higher than the existing one at 12th St. and Seventh Ave. S., about 16 stories.

Actually, St. Vincent’s has a very good record as a neighbor. They run the largest H.I.V. center in the state, treat thousands of our neighbors who are without health insurance, and have developed a program in the Village and Chelsea to help older people remain at home, rather than going to a nursing home. All of this adds to the quality of top healthcare that St. Vincent’s has made and, hopefully, will continue to make available, not only to Village residents, but to much of the West Side.

Both St. Vincent’s and the Rudins must respect the historic neighborhood in which the hospital has been located for so long, and the views of all of us who choose to live here, because the Village doesn’t look like Midtown. We want to keep it that way, but driving St. Vincent’s out isn’t the way to do it.

Peter Kostmayer
Kostmayer, a former U.S. congressmember from Pennsylvania for 14 years, is president, Citizens Committee for New York City.

May cooler heads prevail

To The Editor:
Re “St. Vincent’s moving away is best cure, neighbors say” (news article, June 20):

The headline of your article in The Villager could not be further from the truth. As one of the H.I.V. service providers in Greenwich Village and a provider of housing for people living with H.I.V., we count on St. Vincent’s as a local resource for care for our clients.

Since the inception of the H.I.V. epidemic in the early 1980s, St. Vincent’s has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to providing the highest standards of care through crisis and quietude as a resource for people devastated by a disease that came to be known as AIDS.

It is astounding to me and our clients that some elements of the community would suggest that St. Vincent’s leave the neighborhood it calls home. The consequences of such a move to us would be terrible: It would mean less access to emergency medical care, critical care, inpatient care and surgical services for those in our community. This loss in services would be compounded by the fact that a large swath of Manhattan’s West Side would now be left with one less major medical center. We doubt that these opponents can convince their neighbors that their stance — made, perhaps, in the heat of the debate — is a tenable one.

I am hopeful that cooler, more rational heads will prevail. Let’s hear what St. Vincent’s plans for a new facility. And most important, let’s all of us work together as a community to come up with a solution that assures that access to a range of healthcare services remains in the community.

Regina Quattrochi
Quattrochi is chief executive officer, Bailey House

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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