West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933
Volume 77, Number 6 | July 11 - 17, 2007

Letters to the Editor

A Fulani slams Gerson’s ‘attack’

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

I take issue with your recent “coverage” of a Community Board 2 meeting where attention was paid to the issue of community and police relations.

After the fatal police shooting of Sean Bell in November 2006, the question of how to improve police/community relations was raised anew. I responded to this by creating a new way for law enforcement and inner-city youth to come together and engage the question of whether they could — each with their respective subculture intact — create something positive and developmental.

Operation Conversation was the result and it has proven to be successful at accomplishing its goal. It’s all about impacting in a positive way on the relationship between inner-city youth and the police. The presentation to Community Board 2 was part of an ongoing effort to share the success of the program citywide and I was thrilled to be invited by Dr. Smith to do so.

It’s unfortunate that Councilmember Alan Gerson and District Leader Arthur Schwartz chose to attack Dr. Smith for inviting me to speak about this program with community board members, rather than taking every opportunity to improve relations between cops and kids, which the program does.

As a community newspaper, The Villager should do a serious review of the program’s bona fides if it’s going to feature Mr. Gerson’s and Mr. Schwartz’s remarks.
Dr. Lenora Fulani

A healthy dose of support

To The Editor:
The recent articles about the plans of St. Vincent’s Hospital for a new hospital — “A new era for St. Vincent’s and Lower West Side” (news article, April 25) and “Critics have 2nd opinion on hospital’s building plan” (news article, May 30) — reveal some of the important issues present for a healthcare provider in Greenwich Village trying to meet the 21st-century healthcare needs of the community.

I think St. Vincent’s Hospital ought to be congratulated in its efforts to reach out early to the community in its process for planning for a new hospital. From our experience in developing our new nursing home at Village Care of New York, community input was invaluable in helping us design a facility that was acceptable to the community and the various government agencies that gave approvals for the project.

I have read and heard the hospital’s guiding principle in planning for the future, which is to “ensure that Greenwich Village — as well as all of New York City — has an appropriate, community-friendly, 21st-century health facility,” and that must be paramount. From the perspective of one of the hospital’s healthcare partners in serving this community, especially for our seniors and for persons living with H.I.V./AIDS, having a state-of-the-art teaching hospital and medical center is essential for our community.  

I think that residents should remain open and engage in dialogue with St. Vincent’s as this process moves forward to ensure that we get the most modern facility that is affordable, accessible and acceptable to our community. Anything less would not be appropriate. 
Arthur Y. Webb 
Webb is president and chief executive officer, Village Care of New York, Inc.

N.Y.U. must rebuild trust

To The Editor:
Re “With doors open, N.Y.U. invites community into planning process” (news article, July 4):

So, once again, N.Y.U. is inviting the community to the table to take part in the school’s future expansion plans. Many in this community view any development plans proposed by N.Y.U. with trepidation. As many of us will remember, the last time residents of the East Village had discussions with N.Y.U. about such plans, we were saddled with a massive, out-of-scale, 700-bed dormitory, fondly referred to as the “megadorm.” It will be the East Village’s tallest building. This type of overdevelopment threatens the low-scale character and existing demographics of our community.

Now, N.Y.U. needs 6 million square feet to further develop the school, bringing in an additional 5,500 students. The Village, East Village and Lower East Side have reached the saturation point in terms of N.Y.U. expansion. Any further N.Y.U. development in the East Village and Lower East Side will destroy the special character of this district.

President Sexton, in the past, has stated that he was concerned with preserving the fabric of our community. The construction of the dormitory tower at the former St. Ann’s Church site on E. 12th St. was emblematic of N.Y.U.’s true intentions — not preservation of the district and consideration of community concerns, but expansion in its own self-interest. As the article mentions, N.Y.U. must find greener pastures for its development plans — hopefully, without the implementation of eminent domain — further afield of the Village area. N.Y.U. must understand that a university within the confines of a city has a finite amount of space in which to expand.

We only hope that President Sexton’s statement — “We are committed to the process of being respectful of the ecosystem in which we live even as we go on to become as great a university as we can” — will become the standard operating policy of N.Y.U. At one time, N.Y.U. was a respected institution. Now, it has become a major developer to the detriment of the surrounding communities. Jean Standish
Standish is a member, Coalition to Save the East Village

Oh, what you do, N.Y.U.

To The Editor:
Re “With doors open, N.Y.U. invites community into planning process” (news article, July 4):

I’ve been an East Village resident for more than 30 years. I hate what N.Y.U. is doing to our community — and what our politicians are doing to enable them.
Marty Calabrese

Whiners spin their wheels

To The Editor:
Re “Cyclists ride the police over ‘bike blitz’ operation” (news article, June 27):

Concerning the police action of May 30 to remove abandoned bikes from street furniture: On behalf of the Committee To Restore Safe Sidewalks, I wrote a letter to Deputy Inspector De Quatro requesting such action. I saw the fliers posted warning of such removal. I was there for the May 30 Ninth Precinct action. In my view, the officers of the New York Police Department, led by Lieutenant Corcoran, did a professional job.

The fact that police fliers get ripped down is symptomatic of a willful narcissism that characterizes the riding habits of many working, commuting and recreational cyclists. As a former bike shop owner — I owned the Hi-Ho Cyclery at 165 Avenue A — I recall many customers purchasing large, vinyl-covered hooks that can be secured to the wall or ceiling to hang bikes inside and get them off the street. As a cyclist and motorist, as well as the pedestrian victim of a wrong-way bike rider, I advocate increased enforcement to address rogue bike riding and promote responsible cycling.

As Lieutenant Corcoran stated at the community council meeting, citizen Carnevale and his girlfriend, Dorn, had been drinking the night of the police action. According to what I saw, Carnevale did not seem to be treating the police with proper respect. Subsequently, their landlord, Mr. Bohdanowycz, said he had a lawyer send them a cease-and-desist letter for repeated unauthorized and inappropriate use of the backyard in the building where they reside.

According to Peter Pastor of Councilmemember Gerson’s office, rogue bike riding is a “big problem.” He knows of many people who have been hit and injured or killed. The seniors are terrified. We are all put in jeopardy.
Jack Brown
Brown is founder, Committee To Restore Safe Sidewalks

Needed more fleshing out

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

I’m writing not so much about the main thrust of the article — that entertainment venues in a city known for them are suffering increasing intolerance at the hands of gentrifying communities — but more so regarding the lead sentence: “Ivan Kane and his celebrity partners David Bowie and Sting are about to bring burlesque back to the Big Apple with a New York branch of Forty Deuce, Kane’s club in Las Vegas and Los Angeles.” A lede and a notion that hits close to home.

Mr. Amateau might have done just a tiny bit more research on the topic (a simple Google search would have sufficed), because despite what the press release for Forty Deuce may want you to believe, New York is, in fact, a thriving hub of burlesque. New York has fostered and nurtured the new burlesque scene for more than a dozen years at this point, with a variety of regular burlesque shows at a wide range of venues on almost any night of the week. Shows like Le Scandal at the Cutting Room; Starshine Burlesque and Sweet & Nasty Burlesque at Rififi; Pinchbottom Burlesque at Collective Unconscious; Coney Island’s Burlesque at The Beach; the nightly burlesque shows at The Slipper Room; or newcomer Corio and a dozen more. New York is, in fact, the home of The New York Burlesque Festival, an international, multi-day burlesque pageant now in its fifth year.

With all due respect to Messrs. Kane, Bowie and Sumner, they’re not so much bringing burlesque back to the city, as just bringing more of it to a place already rich with performers and shows. And the article should have mentioned that.
Bill Morton
Morton is producer, Wasabassco Burlesque, Brooklyn, N.Y.

LEFTist’s unsolved death

To The Editor:
I am reaching out to The Villager again for help in my quest for finding the killer or killers of my son Joshua David Crouch a.k.a. LEFTist. We are coming up on a year since Josh was brutally beaten and/or run over at W. 12th St. and West St. (West Side Highway) on Sept. 18, 2006, between 3:30 a.m. and 4 a.m.

I have never stopped trying to collect clues or answers since my son was tragically taken from us all. And apparently Josh was “found” in the center lane at the crosswalk by two police officers who just happened to be driving past and then noticed that what they just drove past was a body in the road. Everyone familiar with the highway knows that it is very well lit and that it would be somewhat difficult to just “drive past” a body in the center lane.

Also, there is always traffic on the highway, whether it’s 3:00 in the afternoon or 4:00 in the morning. Yet, Joshua was cold when emergency help arrived — it takes nearly an hour for a body to become cold after death. Strangely, there was not one passing vehicle within an hour of Josh being struck down or dropped from a moving vehicle. No witnesses, no traffic, no answers and, according to the N.Y.P.D., no case!

Could this be a coverup by New York’s Finest? Maybe Josh was run over by an off-duty police officer driving an S.U.V. The vanishing S.U.V. is seen, then not seen, and also stated by N.Y.P.D. to E.M.S. as the vehicle. Ironically enough, an off-duty police officer from the Sixth Precinct was arrested for a D.W.I. a few months back. What was he driving? An S.U.V.

On Sept. 18, 2007, I plan to make my son’s murder a media event by drawing attention back to this site by having a memorial at W. 12 and West St. with friends, family and all those concerned for the safety of the streets in New York, and especially the very populated — at all times of the day — West Village. Thank you to everyone at The Villager for your continued help and support.
 James David Crouch

Arts case is for real

To The Editor:
Re “Arts Center is awash with funds, and feuds” (news article, July 4):

The recent State Supreme Court ruling in the Clemente Solo Velez Cultural Center case may not be a simple one but it is not as open to interpretation as the “he said, she said” reporting of your article implies.

The underlying dispute between the two arts groups involves management of the city-owned building that they jointly occupy. In order to resolve the dispute, the two groups signed an agreement in November 2001 calling for the formation of a new, nonprofit management corporation, with equal representation by both parties, to manage the building. When C.S.V. failed to live up to its obligations, the Artists Alliance Inc. filed a complaint asking the court to affirm the agreement.

C.S.V. moved to dismiss the complaint, in effect asking the court to declare that the November 2001 agreement was not an agreement at all and was therefore unenforceable. The court declined to do so, and ordered the case to move forward.

All the spin in the world does not change the fact that the court — notC.S.V. acting unilaterally — will decide who is entitled to manage the building. The arbitration award referred to by City Councilmember Alan Gerson is unenforceable because neither A.A.I. nor its members agreed to participate in the arbitration. Arbitration is a private, voluntary alternative to the courts, and it is axiomatic that no one can be required to participate in arbitration without his or her consent.
Rick Streicker
Streicker is an attorney, a journal­ist and a member of the board of direc­tors of Artists Alliance Inc.

‘Bloomenegger’ a bust

To The Editor:
Re “The Bloominator?” (Scoopy’s Notebook, June 27):

Scoopy reports that former Parks Commissioner Henry Stern claims that a “Bloominator” ticket is possible, since while the Constitution allows only U.S.-born citizens to become president, there is no such restriction on vice president, so Arnold Schwarzenegger could run for V.P.

First, it’s a flawed deduction, because if the president dies, resigns or is impeached, then the vice president would become president. Apparently, Stern forgets that fact and recent history with J.F.K./L.B.J. and Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford.

In addition, it was reported in The San Juan Star, the English-language newspaper of San Juan, Puerto Rico, that in 2000 then-Governor Pedro Rosello was briefly placed on a very short list as a possible candidate for vice president with Al Gore. But because Rosello was born in a U.S. territory, not on the mainland, he was then removed from the list.
Rafaela “Ronnie” Billini

Save our square

To The Editor:
The Parks Department’s hideous plan to de-bohemianize Washington Square Park — to sterilize and sanitize it beyond recognition until it’s indistinguishable from a bland suburban park in Paramus, N.J. — is about to be implemented, despite overwhelming community opposition.

Granted, the park could use a little fixing up. But it doesn’t need a radical, massive overhaul that would put a fence around it and eliminate much of the open space area, i.e. no more musicians hanging out, no more spontaneous social vibe. In other words, a transformation that would forever destroy its laid-back, idiosyncratic character. Project for Public Spaces has declared the park one of the world’s top 10 public spaces.

Much like Greenwich Village itself, Washington Square Park has come to symbolize freedom of expression, which might be why it’s under attack from the conservative money crowd to begin with. Among the radical right, there are forces who wish the 1960s had never happened. Washington Square Park in the ’60s — with Bob Dylan playing guitar, Allen Ginsberg writing poetry with his Beat friends and various be-ins or protest rallies held nearly every weekend — was one of the great bastions of countercultural power.

The park was, and is, a social oasis — a place to feel more human in an overstressed world controlled by a tiny elite, who, quite frankly, don’t care if we have a place to feel human. With such a place, we might “start trouble” by having actual conversations with our fellow citizens. Power has always been threatened by open conversations, which — five will get you 10 — is the real reason why a park that is such a great incubator of human talk is being transformed from a “hangout” destination into a walk-through-fast yuppie park.

Saint Bette Midler, are you listening? Your love of parks, and willingness to take a stand to preserve them, is legendary. What about Richard Gere? If anyone has the intelligence and political savvy to understand what’s at stake here, it’s you. Susan Sarandon? Bill Murray? Patti Smith? The park that is the heart of Greenwich Village could sure use your help. 
John Bredin
Bredin is a member, Village Independent Democrats

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