Volume 77 / Number 46 - April 16 - 22, 2008
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

Letters to the editor

Vendors will win, again

To The Editor:
Re “Gerson hawks his vendors bill but artists paint a grim picture” (news article, April 9):

Councilmember Alan Gerson claims he’s still “dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s” on his anti-street artist vending bill. Let me translate: He and a few lawyers are trying, at taxpayer expense, to figure out how to destroy street artists’ First Amendment rights and eliminate us from what was once an arts district, an endeavor he has spent the past seven years uselessly fiddling around with.

The end result will be another expensive lawsuit for the city to lose and lots of noisy protests on Soho streets. Meanwhile, illegal vendors, who could careless about what new restrictions the councilmember enacts, will continue to vend throughout Soho as if there were no vendor laws on the books.

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that if the city can’t enforce the existing 60 pages of vending restrictions, adding another 10 pages to them is afutile endeavor. In the short run, the only thing this law will accomplish is to turn legal street artists into illegal vendors, exactly the status we had in 1994 when Gerson first came into the vending picture. Good job, councilmember.

Robert Lederman
Lederman is president, A.R.T.I.S.T. (Artists’ Response To Illegal State Tactics)

Gerson ‘insults free speech’

To The Editor:
Re “Gerson hawks his vendors bill but artists paint a grim picture” (news article, April 9):

I am a New York City street artist and a member of A.R.T.I.S.T. I have Councilmember Gerson’s proposals for a new vending law.

I am 100 percent against all the things Gerson has proposed. No new law is needed. If getting rid of illegal vendors is really the councilmember’s goal, all that is needed is that the police enforce the existing laws.

Artists do not want there to be any lottery, permit or selling off of vending spots to the highest bidder. Gerson’s ideas are an insult to free speech, to the arts and to all the street artists in his district. No artist I know supports these ideas.

Please reconsider.

LL Eveland

Peddlers push us into street

To The Editor:
Re “Gerson hawks his vendors bill but artists paint a grim picture” (news article, April 9):

As a resident of Soho, I am writing to strongly support Councilmember Gerson’s proposal to alleviate the out-of-control street-vending problem in Soho and I want to thank him for his hard work. Although the self-proclaimed artists would like to make the regulation of vendors a First Amendment issue, what they are really concerned about is the loss of valuable real estate for which they pay nothing. This is an economic issue for the illegal vendors, not a legal one.

There is no reason why the neighborhood should have to tolerate a wall of illegal vending along Soho streets. The First Amendment does protect certain types of speech but it isn’t an absolute protection. People who live and work in Soho can’t get down the sidewalks on weekends. I have personally seen children and the elderly pushed into the streets because the sidewalk is blocked by illegal vendors. This is a dangerous situation that needs to be addressed.

Mr. Gerson’s approach is reasonable and well thought out. As anyone knows who has actually read the existing rules, a clearer set of regulations is required to allow the police to do their job. I also think that a clearer set of rules would help the artists, because it would take away any ambiguity as to their right to be on the sidewalk.

Timothy Clark

Great, except for one word

To The Editor:
Re “Gerson hawks his vendors bill but artists paint a grim picture” (news article, April 9):

In your otherwise fine article, you quoted me as being in favor of “artists markets.” I had actually stated I was in favor of markets where craftspeople could display their work without being hassled over the lack of a vending license. This is a crucial point legally and a distinction that is important to maintain.

Lawrence White

Speaker shortchanges animals

To The Editor:
The investigation into Council Speaker Christine Quinn’s office concerning slush funds and bogus organizations continues. Time will tell how much she knew and when she knew it. But now seems like a good time to let New Yorkers know her position on issues affecting animals, whether dogs, cats, carriage horses or elephants.

Since 2004, Speaker Quinn has consistently received a score of zero on the League of Humane Voters’ scorecard, which rates New York City councilmembers on their positions concerning animal-welfare bills before the City Council. Quinn has not supported any of these bills, nor has she allowed any of them to reach the floor for a vote. The bills include allowing pets in housing, even though more than 30,000 animals are killed at city shelters annually; protecting animals in circuses and rodeos; requiring sprinklers in pet shops, shelters and stables; requiring New York City schools to comply with a humane-education mandate; banning foie gras (liver from force-fed ducks) in restaurants; and Councilmember Tony Avella’s legislation banning the cruel carriage horse industry.

Because of Quinn’s opposition, most councilmembers will not co-sponsor Intro 658, the bill to ban horse-drawn carriages. Many believe that to support it would be political suicide. So the bill flounders, as do all the other bills concerning animal welfare.

A recent article in the Harvard Crimson entitled “Compassionate Campaigners” discussed how people who care about animal issues have become a powerful new constituency against animal abuse. The Crimson referred to this constituency as “news savvy, socially integrated and politically active.” While not card-carrying animal rights activists, they care about animals and see a candidate’s attitude toward animals as a broader reflection of his or her compassion and character. They are the silent majority of mainstream compassionate voters.

Legislators would do well to pay attention to this trend.

Elizabeth Forel
Forel is a member, Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages

E-mail letters, not longer than 250 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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