West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933
Volume 77, Number 12 | August 22 - 28, 2007

Letters to the editor

Stern stuff on Stern

To The Editor:
Re “HUAC to Hudson Park: A brief history of socialism” (talking point, by Henry J. Stern, Aug. 15):

On May 3, in a public forum, Henry Stern contemptuously labeled critics of the two leading Pier 40 proposals “socialists.” Now, in his talking point, Stern absurdly maintains that these remarks are not offensive because he does not consider “socialist” to be a bad thing. What disingenuous bull. Are we to believe that Stern was intending to pay a compliment when he dismissed his opponents and their work as “socialist?” Presumably, Stern doesn’t think it is a bad thing to be gay or an atheist either. Yet I wonder how someone would feel if he publicly bellowed those labels at them as epithets?

Stern’s use of this particular “guilt-by-association” flourish was a clearly intentional echo of the HUAC witch hunts. Yet rather than admitting the obvious and apologizing, Stern digs himself in deeper. Condescending to explain what the HUAC was (ohh, maybe next he’ll tell us about this Hitler fellow and how people lived before iPods!) he bemoans that it has been “stigmatized” on the “American left,” though he concedes the portrayal to be accurate “to a considerable extent.” Mighty white of you Henry, except that the well-deserved stigma of HUAC is mainstream American history, not lefty folklore.

In his headlong rush to change the subject from his own indefensible redbaiting, Stern shares with us the shocking secret that the U.S.S.R. and the U.S. were (gasp!) spying on each other in the 20th century. By the way Henry, they were Soviet, not communist, spies. Not all Soviet spies were communists and not all communists were Soviet spies. Please make a note of it. Oh, and one of those spies? Representative Sam Dickstein, father of your beloved HUAC. What any of this has to do with Stern’s wildly out-of-line attack on people at the Hudson River Park Trust hearing is anybody’s guess.

Stern also shares with us his personal definition of “socialist,” which bears no resemblance to either the proposal made or to Webster. But then, if his column was the former commissioner’s idea of an apology, “socialism” isn’t the only word he has a private dictionary for. 

Cormac Flynn


Not angry over eviction

To The Villager:
I strongly object to the overall tone of your Page 1 article “ ‘Godmother of Cabaret’ faces eviction by N.Y.U.” in the Aug. 15 issue of The Villager.

First of all, in her highly dramatic but wildly misleading lede paragraph, your reporter Melissa Korn vastly overstates our situation when she writes that our building, 135 MacDougal St., “has become the center of an increasingly bitter tenant-landlord battle. ...” The body of the story contradicts this by stating quite clearly that, after sending us the notices to “vacate” the building by Oct. 31, N.Y.U. Law School has contacted most of the tenants with promises to relocate us to comparable rent-regulated apartments in the neighborhood. Also, Lillian Zalta, a representative of N.Y.U. Law School, has visited our current apartments to get a better idea of what kind of places might be comparable to them. As to our imminent eviction, Ms. Zalta assured us last week that there is not yet a timetable for having us out of the building, as no date for reconstruction has been set.

Does this sound like an “increasingly bitter” situation? And where did your reporter get the notion that Ms. Zalta is “slowly” visiting our building. She came over within a week of being invited to do so.

Second, there are currently six (not eight) long-term, rent-regulated tenants who received eviction notices — and face relocation. We were seven, but John Lynch, a tenant who’d been living in the building for 51 years, died on July 7. Four of the six remaining tenants are over age 65.

Finally — and, for me, most important — your reporter used quotes from a letter I wrote to John Sexton, president of N.Y.U., without contacting me to verify that it was my letter and if I agreed to have it quoted in the press. My initial reaction was to question where your reporter got a copy of the letter, but just this afternoon I learned that it was handed over by Jan Wallman. However, she did so without my knowledge or permission. If your reporter had asked my permission to quote sections of that letter I would have refused, because, for one thing, the letter Jan had was an early draft; and for another, this was a private letter that was not meant for publication or any kind of wide distribution.

One more thing: The Provincetown Apartments Tenants Association was not formed “under” me. Another tenant, Helene Greenberg Wyman, and I are co-chairpersons of the association.

I feel that The Villager’s handling of this matter is quite outrageous, for by making this “tenant-landlord battle” story its lead item on Page 1, it may reflect your own biases against N.Y.U. — and not the feelings of most of the tenants at 135 MacDougal St. Also, in the worst-case scenario, this piece could jeopardize our ongoing — and so far cordial — negotiations with N.Y.U.

Shirley Sealy
Sealy is co-chairperson, Provincetown Apartments Tenants Association


Tallmer strikes out on Rose

To The Editor:
In “Jock soc 101: Rise of performance and fall of valor” (talking point, Aug. 8) Jerry Tallmer makes several valid points regarding the ingestion of stuff into our own bodies. And he is right on that regard. When 75 percent of Olympic athletes say they would take something even if they knew it would kill them within five years, it should come as no surprise that others in professional sport would do likewise to gain any competitive edge. And in baseball, while Bonds and others may have taken something to give them an edge, at the time, there were no rules regarding it.

When it comes to Rose, however, the rule was and is very clear. It’s on signs in every locker room in the majors. It says, “No betting on games.” Every player and manager knows it. Rose knew it. He broke the single cardinal rule that keeps whatever integrity the game still has despite the current commissioner. No, Pete doesn’t belong in the Hall of Fame.

Tim Mocarski


‘This is Chinatown’

To The Editor:
Re “Corralling Chinatown’s cowboy bus business” (news article, Aug.1):

As a resident of East Broadway and a frequent user of the Chinatown buses, I worry that the proposed move to South St., far away from the heart of Chinatown, will cause these companies to fail for lack of business. Not only will the bus companies and countless travelers suffer, but there are many businesses on East Broadway that count on the large foot traffic passing through daily. Large numbers of Chinatown residents, who are barely struggling to get by now, would be thrown out of work. These include the ticket sellers, the restaurants, bakeries, fruit vendors, etc.

I say, so what if there is congestion? This is Chinatown. Congestion in a small area of East Broadway is a small price to pay to protect the livelihoods of Chinese workers and the convenience of thousands of travelers.

Rima Finzi-Strauss


Let’s just proceed on park

To The Editor:
Washington Square Park is in desperate need of renovation. The Parks Department had redesigned their plans to substantially meet the Gerson-Quinn recommendations.

Please let us end the nit-picking and start construction. We will all benefit from a renovated park. I write as a Village resident of more than 65 years.

John C. Hood


Can’t design by committee

To The Editor:
I am writing to you not only as a Greenwich Village resident of nearly four decades but also as someone who has taken a keen and active interest in Village concerns. It seems to me that there has been an almost hysterical reaction to the plans for Washington Square Park. That is not to say that some of the considered criticism of the original plan lacked reason; but after all the meetings and decision-making process, the plan as it now stands seems to me — as a preservationist and designer — to be appropriate, useful and handsome.

One thing I have learned is that you can do many things by committee, but you cannot design by committee. If we talked forever — especially in the Village — we would never please everyone. Let the work begin.

Martin Hunter
Hunter is director, Jefferson Market Garden


Parks flouts Gerson-Quinn

To The Editor:
Re “Wash. Sq. funds must be pulled, critics cry” (news article, Aug. 1):

The Parks Department’s Washington Square Park renovation plans are in flagrant violation of the Oct. 5, 2005, Gerson-Quinn agreement. This was a valiant attempt by Gerson and Quinn to give some teeth to the April 28, 2005, Community Board 2 resolution that approved Parks’ phase-one plan. In its key part that resolution says:

“It is further resolved, that the current mix of uses is generally good, and the areas for these uses should be enhanced and not constrained in any way, and while we support more lawn areas if these can be maintained, trees must not be cut down to provide for lawn areas, and these new areas should not be created at the expense of existing uses, including dog runs, playgrounds, game tables and areas for formal and informal performances.”

In other words: Do not diminish current uses or trees, and Gerson-Quinn is already a compromise in permitting a 10 percent reduction in the central plaza. But consider the Parks’ plan:

1. Has a 23 percent reduction in the defined plaza ring around the fountain (between it and the current abutment wall and the proposed stone benches).

2. Includes the destruction of trees for large open lawns.

3. Relegates the current music podium facing the entire central plaza to a puny stage facing the tiny proposed Garibaldi plaza, with any audience blocking east/west traffic.

4. Has too high a fence.

To adequately meet Gerson-Quinn would require a massive redesign of Parks’ plans and this change cannot be accomplished “in the bidding process” as Parks hopes.

Parks contends, falsely, that the community should have known that trees would be destroyed for lawns because “from the beginning” Parks has told the community that some 20 percent of the park would be turned into lawns. But this information was not in Parks’ plans unveiled in The Villager and did not surface until Parks was sued. The City Council should withhold Parks’ funds.

Luther Harris


Timing is everything

To The Editor:
Re “Wash. Sq. funds must be pulled, critics cry” (news article, Aug. 1):

Is everybody aware — especially the Parks Department — that there is an environmental lawsuit as a result of the Park Department’s lies regarding the size of the park to avoid an environmental impact statement, or E.I.S.? The E.I.S. was created to protect us from irreversible damage to the environment due to destructive, expensive and time-consuming redesigns, in this case, of a beautifully functioning park. The ECO lawsuit is asking for these protections granted us in our state and city environmental laws. This forces the Parks Department to consider alternatives, one of which is to do nothing.

The legal process must run its course before we wrangle about details, since purpose and need have not yet been established according to these laws. We do know of one such purpose and need for the redesign. The co-op members at 2 Fifth Ave. were informed that when there’s a renovation of a park, there is substantial increase in property values surrounding it. Co-op owners were thus urged to go to the meeting to support the plan.

Oh, and does it bother anybody that by law the restrooms are to be done first to comply with disability standards, which is not in phase one — never mind that’s the universal number-one complaint about the park?

The timing of the task force meeting, prior to Judge Maddox’s decision, serves to confuse these important issues. Keen Berger and Brad Hoylman represent the people, not the Parks Department or Christine Quinn or Alan Gerson. I hope that, as our elected representatives, our Democratic district leaders will make sure that our community is not herded into compromises or agreements not yet proven to be legal, so that the Parks Department can go ahead and put out their bid contracts.

Sharon Woolums


Hospital helper

To The Editor:
Re “St.Vincent’s picks architect for hospital building” (news article, Aug. 8):

Your readers might be interested to know that Pei and associates were also architects of a large extension — intensive care, I think — for Mt. Sinai Hospital several years ago.
 
Celia Wu


Fired up over car blaze

To The Editor:
Re “A movie shoot had license to burn on Orchard St.” (news article, Aug. 8):

I took photos that show the smoke filling the entire street.

I think the reason my friend and neighbor, Sal of Rosario’s (whom I adore), was not affected himself might possibly be because his store is on the ground floor and the smoke all went up. Or, probably Sal got a location fee from the film — which he absolutely should have, since his business was blocked by the film crew. Then it would be understandable that his comments would be more diplomatic. Also, his business is more insulated, and he has full air conditioning, whereas many of our apartments are older. Mine is not as insulated and the windows in other rooms had to be open for air, so the smoke flooded in.

It doesn’t seem like any other residents were approached to give comments for the article.

The Mayor’s Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting says there is going to be a “record” amount of filming this year. I know that things will get crazy again down here. There is no simple protocol for how many shoots can occur on a block. At one point, we tracked 141 film shoots in just six months of 2005 on the L.E.S. — that’s five a week!

The money also is unmonitored: There is no protocol for donations from these film shoots to the community board or local organizations, nor is any scale set for compensating local businesses for their losses.

I absolutely want to support art being made on the city streets, and am relieved the city withdrew its proposal to overregulate people photographing andfilming in tiny groups; that violated people’s rights.

But for residents to exist at all harmoniously with this level of major film-shoot activity, there have to be some clear protocols.

My lungs are still not back to normal. A cop on set gave me big pieces of burned rubber and other burned material from the car. They lit the car on firemore than once, but it was the first time that caused the problems.

Rebecca Moore


Fare hike — or heist?

To The Editor:
At around 3 p.m. July 25, I handed my MetroCard with a $10 bill to the subway booth clerk at 14th St. and Seventh Ave., so that he could credit my card for six trips. He handed me back the card and I swiped it on the little machine to the right of the booth. However, that machine did not seem to work. I asked the clerk to please activate the machine. He refused.

At the turnstile, I found out that the clerk had not credited me — my card had a zero balance. I went back to the booth and asked the clerk to give me the $10 credit. He picked up the phone and told me he was going to call the police and that I had to wait.

I had to take the phone number and the clerk information number posted at the booth and make a complaint. As I wrote the information, the clerk said, “S.O.B. you will never get your money. It is my word against yours.”

Seeing what just happened, a man offered to swipe his card for me in exchange for $2. I hope there was a camera recording when I gave the clerk my money. I want to know how can I get a copy of that video and get back my $10. Deley Gazinelli Ph.D.(A.B.D.)


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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