Volume 78 / Number 8 - July 23 - 29, 2008
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since

Letters to the Editor

Pat on back from ‘Lopate’

To The Editor:
I am increasingly frustrated by the lack of depth in coverage of events in the city by The New York Times. And I’m increasingly gratified by what The Villager does!

I would dearly appreciate being able to receive your paper, and wondered if I could get a complimentary subscription. It would enable us to get your writers on the show.

Do hope this can happen. And my thanks in advance!
Melissa Eagan
Eagan is executive producer, “The Leonard Lopate Show”

Nadler flack ‘rewrites history’

To The Editor:
Re “Fill in the blank” (Scoopy’s Notebook, July 16):

As a founding member of AskNadler2Impeach.org and one of the volunteers who helped to put on the town hall meeting “Is Impeachment Necessary to Protect the Constitution?” on March 9 at Judson Memorial Church, I’m distressed to see the rewrite of history that Jerrold Nadler’s spokesman Barry Klein put forth in The Villager.

There was nothing “misleading” about the publicity or advertising of the event: A paid ad appeared in The Villager.

AskNadler2Impeach.org was scrupulous in its dealings with Nadler about the town hall meeting. He was notified of everything that was being planned, every step of the way, well in advance. As a matter of fact, if Nadler had declined the invitation right off he would have never had been listed as an invited guest at all.

Some time after the event, I asked a member of Nadler’s staff that very question: “How come you guys just didn’t decline the invitation right off?” Nadler’s staffer told me that the reason they didn’t, and ended up declining so late, was because there was debate within the staff as to whether he should appear or not. Nadler didn’t decline the invitation until the Friday before the Sunday debate, and that call came after business hours.

The idea that there was a conflict of schedule is a total fabrication. Nadler himself, when he was asked why he hadn’t attended the town hall meeting, responded to constituents by calling the event a “setup.” He never claimed to have had a scheduling conflict. And it wasn’t a setup, either.

Nadler missed a great opportunity to sell his point of view. Instead, the attendees had the opportunity to listen to brilliant presentations by Bruce Fein, Elizabeth Holtzman and Scott Horton without Nadler. A DVD of the meeting entitled “Impeachment IS Necessary to Protect the Constitution” was produced, and copies of it were hand-delivered to every member of the House Judiciary Committee. Excerpts can be seen at www.AskNadler2Impeach.org.

History will judge Nadler both on his role in confronting the Bush/Cheney cabal and in fulfilling his oath to protect the Constitution.

Chuck Zlatkin

Jerry just snubbed us

To The Editor:
Re “Fill in the blank” (Scoopy’s Notebook, July 16):

As one of the organizers of the town hall meeting “Is Impeachment Necessary to Protect the Constitution?” at Judson Church on March 9, I must take exception to the inaccuracies in Scoopy’s Notebook.

Not only was an invitation sent to Congressman Nadler on Feb. 14, with several follow-up phone calls and e-mails, one final e-mail was also sent on March 7 at 9:53 a.m., two days before the event, stating that as of the day before, we were told that Congressman Nadler had not yet decided if he was going to attend.

Sally Swisher and I both received phone calls from Robert Gottheim, Jerrold Nadler’s director of district relations, on this same day, March 7, after 5 p.m., to tell us that the congressman had declined our invitation. According to Gottheim, Nadler felt he had spoken to many of us on many occasions on this issue. No mention was made to me of a previous engagement.

On behalf of the supporters of the event, also misrepresented in Scoopy’s Notebook, which included AskNadler2Impeach.Org with support from Chelsea Reform Democratic Club, Democracy for NYC, Progressive Democrats of New York CD 14, Progressive Democrats of New York CD 14 and Village Independent Democrats, I would like your readers to know the facts.

Bernadette Evangelist

Giving Bush a pass

To The Editor:
Re “Fill in the blank” (Scoopy’s Notebook, July 16):

The “scoop” regarding Jerrold Nadler and the efforts that his constituents have made to get him to honor his oath of office are misrepresented. Many of us are outraged by our so-called representative. You can’t “take off the table” what the Constitution of the United States has already put very firmly on the table, no matter who you are — Nancy Pelosi, Jerrold Nadler and John Conyers included.

I am outraged that George W. Bush and Dick Cheney very clearly lied this country into war, costing the lives of more than 4,000 of our citizens and uncounted numbers of Iraqis. I am even more outraged that the Congress of the United States is turning away from these crimes, essentially giving the perpetrators a pass.

That my congressman can look me in the face, tell me that the Bush/Cheney duo have “without a doubt committed impeachable acts” and still not uphold his oath of office, which is very clearly stated in the Constitution, is more than any of us should be expected to tolerate. The excuses of Nadler and Pelosi don’t matter: What matters is the Constitution.

He lied, they died, and never will it not be true.
Kenneth Wampler

New hospital is critical

To The Editor:
Re “Local pols take their medicine, support St. Vincent’s to jeers” (news article, July 16):

Perhaps the anonymous woman who derided a rally held by nearly 200 people in support of a new St. Vincent’s — which will take our hospital into the 21st century — as “insulting and cheesy” is the one lucky person on the planet who is in perfect health, who will never have any health issues, who will never need to see a doctor or who will never ever have to visit an emergency room. 

As a breast cancer survivor who was treated at St. Vincent’s and lives in Greenwich Village, I believe that a new St. Vincent’s, in its historic home of Greenwich Village, will provide the kind of state-of-the-art care that New Yorkers and visitors up and down the West Side need, want and deserve.

Some 200 people — including hospital workers, laborers and members of myriad community organizations — took time out of their busy day to have their voices heard outside the Landmarks Preservation Commission hearing. More than 3,000 people have signed up to be Friends of the New St. Vincent’s and show their support for a new hospital.

Building a new 21st-century, state-of-the-art St. Vincents Hospital isn’t about vanity, it is about humanity.

Marisa Acocella Marchetto

‘Plant man’ is a thief

To The Editor:
Re “For ‘Plant Man,’ parks are botanic free buffet” (news article, July 16):

Nat Bletter hasn’t begun to tap the potential of New York City’s parks as a supply of free alternatives to things for which most of us have to pay. He could gather armfuls of flowers and foliage to beautify his home, trap birds and shoot squirrels to put meat on his table, and cut trees for lumber and firewood. It’s all just sitting there for those who are clever enough to take for themselves what belongs to, and is paid for, by all of us.

The greens that Bletter says he gets “free” from the parks he is, in fact, selfishly looting from our treasured commons; when he shakes “a shower of [mulberry] fruit to the ground,” he is seizing for himself foods on which native and migrating birds and other wildlife depend.

“Eating local” isn’t only about proximity, but about principles like sustainability, scalability and responsibility to the community and environment. Bletter’s smug “foraging” lifestyle is really one of theft, vandalism and environmental destruction.

Jeanne Bergman, Ph.D.

Situation’s out of hand

To The Editor:
I have lived in the West Village since 1972, first on Jane St., then on W. 11th, and now on far west Charles St. I have endured all the changes that have taken place during those years, much as I dislike some of them. But I cannot accept what is currently going on.

We are under attack by roving gangs of young people pouring out of the PATH Station on Christopher St., and it is frightening.

Tonight, as I was sitting at my computer, I heard a fight under my window. I hesitated for a couple of minutes — because these people often have rather loud fights on their way to the pier — until I heard a voice yelling for help, at which point I called 911. It turned out that one of the residents in our little row of townhouses between Washington and West Sts. had just been viciously mugged directly outside our houses.

This must be stopped. Other residents of our blocks have found human feces on their doorsteps. A neighbor down the block regularly finds that the flowers in the pots on her front steps have been destroyed. Our beautiful new pier, which would be a lovely place to go and sit on a summer evening, is off-limits to us because it is too dangerous for us to go there.

I am an actress, and often come home late at night. In all the years I have been a West Village resident, I have walked without fear at any hour of the day or night in my neighborhood. But now I am terrified.
What on earth can we do about this invasion?

Wendy Booz

Vendors bill needs work

To The Editor:
Re “Artists aren’t sold on vending bill, residents, too” (news article, July 9):

It should be noted that when Robert Lederman, Sean Sweeny and Lawrence White all agree on an issue, there must be something to it. All of us agree that illegal vending and bootlegging is the main issue we face on the sidewalks of Soho. We also agree that enforcement is the key to solving the problem and that, for the most part, enforcement on this issue has not been what it could be, particularly concerning art bootlegging.

Ironically, the one part of Councilmember Gerson’s bill that has been almost totally overlooked is the passage that deals with increased personnel forthe vendor task force and more training on the issue of copyright. I applaud Mr. Gerson for this. This enforcement would include illegally copied artwork and illegally copied written matter, such as manuscripts or screenplays.

I also applaud the component of Mr. Gerson’s bill that calls for the aggressive fostering of nonprofit organizations to help public artists qualify for low-cost healthcare, housing and workspace and financial grants. This is wonderful idea and, again, I wholeheartedly endorse it.

Unfortunately, the bad parts of the Gerson bill are so bad that they render the good parts moot. If Mr. Gerson would just drop these overly punitive and controversial passages of his proposal, he would have an extremely potent document that I believe could be highly effective.

I hope that by the time this new vending bill is fully vetted in City Council hearings, it will be pruned down to the essential, positive components, from which everyone, other than illegal vendors and bootleggers, will benefit.

Lawrence White

Gerson bill will work

To The Editor:
Re “Artists aren’t sold on vending bill, residents, too” (news article, July 9):

Perhaps we have had enough of “déjà vu all over again” and again. The vendor issues in our community have been around a very long time, and The Villager has printed many articles that cover more or less the same old thing. If we accept the same old positions and repeat the same old blame, then we’ll end up with the same old mess we have lived with for many years.

Councilmember Alan Gerson regularly meets with local community leaders to discuss issues and review pending legislation. The vendors have, of course, been extensively discussed. Alan asked for our advice on this bill, and he sure got it.

Having served as president of the First Precinct Community Council, I am very aware of how unreasonable blaming the police is. They find themselves caught in the middle of demands for enforcement and a multitude of laws that are complex and contradict each other. The situation on Prince and Spring Sts. provides an excellent example. The people who know the issue know that the local law banning vending there is completely unenforceable because state law and case law that allows veteran vendors has opened these streets to all vendors. The police cannot enforce one law while ignoring another. They have been regularly beaten up on this issue and would like a clear set of rules.

Of course, all Americans strongly support our First Amendment rights. However, that does not mean that no rules apply to artists and that local residents and businesses have no rights. The legality of enacting reasonable rules on First Amendment rights has long been established. Soho is an arts-oriented community and the basic concept of artists selling art on the streets is a good one; but, the reality is a long distance from the concept. Much of what is sold on Soho’s streets has nothing to do with art. Copyright and trademark infringement is all too common. Vendors pack the streets, even to the point of having fistfights over public sidewalk space they feel they own. The current system doesn’t even work well for artists.

Alan deserves a lot of credit for standing up and doing the right thing on an important issue, when he knew upfront that he would get severely dumped on. The same old same old isn’t working. This isn’t a perfect plan. Given the level of polarization, there isn’t going to be a perfect plan. It’s time to try something else, and that’s what the new vendor bill is all about.
David Reck
Reck is Democratic district leader for the 66th Assembly District, Part B, and member, Community Board 2

Cyclists must shape up

To The Editor:
Re “Streets are on track for safer bike lanes” (news article, July 16):

With bicyclists taking over more and more of the streets, the time has come for them to pay their own way and stop being treated differently than people who drive a car, truck or ride a motorcycle — all of whom pay for the “luxury” of driving their vehicle in the city. Bicyclists should be put in the same category as everyone else who “has wheels.”

I propose the following to help the city raise additional revenue: 

Bicycles should be registered and licensed, with the license shown in front and back of their vehicle. Bicycles also need to be insured, and inspected, with the inspection displayed on the bikes. It should be mandatory for cyclists to have lights on their bikes, so they can be seen, especially at night, and also that they wear helmets with lights on them at all times. Cyclists should be ticketed when they are on their cell phones. They should not be allowed to zigzag in and out of traffic to “get around.” Bicycle riders should be ticketed when disobeying the laws, since they don’t obey them. There needs to be stronger enforcement of the laws pertaining to bikes.

Cyclists also should be made responsible for understanding the “rules of the road” by taking courses on them, which they would have to pass. They should take anger-management courses. They must stop at red lights and stop running lights. They need to go in the direction of traffic and not against, and stay off the sidewalks — period — even when the streets are backed up with traffic. Cyclists should stop piggybacking on the back of buses, trucks, cabs and cars. And they must not park their vehicles against trees and private property; they should ride around until they find a bike spot.

In addition, the city should have metered parking for bikes.

Just like other people sharing the road with “wheels,” the bicyclists should be included and treated as equals. They now have their own space and are getting more by the day. Let them pay for it, just like others who pay to have wheels and who share the road. 

Lillian Tozzi

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