Volume 78 - Number 22 / October 29 - November 4, 2008
West and East Village,
Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

Letters to the Editor

Sad day for democracy

To The Editor:
Oct. 23, 2008, was a sad day for democracy. It was a day when our leaders in the City Council could have stood up and voted the will of the people over their own self-interest. On this day, it looked like both of our councilmembers, Alan Gerson and Rosie Mendez, would do the right thing and bring the issue to amending term limits back to “we the people.”

The day began with Alan being a co-sponsor of a bill that would do just that. However, that amendment was defeated. At that point, when Alan Gerson could have continued to do the right thing, he flipped and came up with a lame excuse for extending his own term in office. On the other hand, Rosie Mendez stood by her convictions and by the voters of New York and voted against the self-serving resolution to give the job-seeking councilmembers an additional four-year term. Thank you, Rosie. You are one class act. 

Now it is up to us, the voters, to support candidates against any councilmember or elected official that decides to override the will of the voters and run for a third term. Don’t buy into the nonsense that because of the economy we need these politicians. We need elected officials who will abide by the will of the voters, and do what is in the voters’ best interest, not their own. 

On Oct. 23, 2008, at 4:30 p.m. there was a mass exodus from the Council Chambers. Many councilmembers had to be admitted to local hospitals to have their arms reset, after they were twisted by the mayor and the speaker before this Tammany Hall vote.
John A. Fratta 
Fratta is Democratic state committeemember, 64th Assembly District.

Payback time is coming

To The Editor:
Is it any wonder that the Parks Department commissioner ignored the widespread objections of Villagers to the despoiling of Washington Square Park, when his own boss, Mayor Bloomberg, sets the example by his highhanded tactics denying the public a vote on extending term limits?

“The public be damned!” seems to be the policy of the present mayoral administration.

Perhaps we may remedy this problem on Election Day.
Vahe A. Tiryakian

Thanks to VISTA volunteer

To The Editor:
Re “VISTA volunteer who helped kids hopes for rendezvous” (news article, Oct. 15):

Mr. Michael Gaines has placed articles in The Villager, as well as the Daily News, regarding several kids who grew up in the Alfred E. Smith project. Mr Gaines is attempting to make contact with them.

The top photo in The Villager article includes, from left to right, Raymond, Ivan, Mario and Edwin Medina and Carlos Vasquez.

Mario Medina and Carlos Vasquez have long passed away. Ivan Medina lives in Staten Island, and Edwin Medina works in the amusement park in Coney Island. Raymond Medina has had a history of drug use, and when I last saw him he was not doing well.

In the lower left picture in The Villager article are Michael Gaines with Ivan and Edwin.

In the lower right picture are, in the front, Carlos Vasquez, to his left, his brother George Vasquez, and on the right, Valentine Ramirez. In the center of the photo are Mario Medina with his brothers Edwin and Ivan. At the top is Johnny Vasquez, brother to George and Carlos.

My name is Jose (Chito) Vasquez — not related to Johnny, George and Carlos — and I was also a running partner to the hoodlums of the Alfred E. Smith projects. While I really don’t remember Michael Gaines, I can say that I am most grateful for the work and effort that he and many of the other people who became involved with mentorship and counseling at Hamilton-Madison House.

While I may have battled life’s difficulties, I came to learn that life itself has too much to offer and, most important, is too precious to waste. I thank those who have come into my life and made me realize how important it is to grow responsible. I have three boys of my own now, and I share with them some of my own life’s mistakes (not all) and I talk to them about the importance of getting a good education.

I often travel back to the old neighborhood to see if I find any of my old friends. It saddens me to hear who has passed away, and yet they had such potential.

If you make contact with Michael Gaines, let him know that, first, I am truly sorry that he left us so early because he was mugged. But, I also want to say thank you for what he attempted to do. He should not feel badly or even think that he was not able to help. He tried and that is most important.
Jose Vasquez

Preserve the distinction

To The Editor:
Re “Phil T. Rich and Anita Yacht crash Christine’s conference” (news article, Oct. 15):

With respect to The Villager’s inclusion of my participation in its reporting of the Oct. 12 press conference opposing efforts to overturn the current term limits law without a voter referendum and identifying me as being the executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, I would like to clarify that my participation in the press conference was solely in my capacity as a private citizen. As a historic preservation organization, G.V.S.H.P. takes no position on the term limits issue. In future reporting, I hope this distinction can be preserved.
Andrew Berman

Article caused trauma
 
To The Editor:
Re “Agency rep’s all prescribe O’Toole as best option” (news article, Oct. 15):

It is one thing to take a supportive editorial view of St. Vincent’s plans, but quite another to let that bias show in your news coverage of the Oct. 7 Landmarks Preservation Commission public meeting on the Rudin/St. Vincent’s development project. 

Your article would have us believe that because the various agency representatives found that the only suitable site for the new St. Vincent’s was O’Toole, that there was no choice but to allow the hospital to build there. The reporting was unbalanced, and the resulting impression is highly misleading: You failed to mention the opposing view of the issues under consideration or to point out that the availability of alternative sites is not the issue nor is it relevant at this juncture of the hardship application process. Even if it were, that notion is patently absurd in a city this size.

There are obvious alternative development sites to be considered. Perhaps the city ought to identify and acquire a suitable parcel, just as it is doing for its Willets Point development initiative. Surely, the needs of St. Vincent’s should be as important to this administration as the resources it has earmarked for that.

Testimony claiming that to move St. Vincent’s would be a disservice to the community is also disingenuous. By its own admission, St. Vincent’s service mandate now goes well beyond Greenwich Village and includes the much wider area from 59th St. to the Battery on the West Side. Given that expanse, there is no longer a compelling reason for St. Vincent’s to remain in Greenwich Village, since the hospital’s “community” now extends well beyond the historic district of its origin.

Furthermore, St. Vincent’s would be ill advised to shoehorn the entirety of its new hospital onto the postage stamp-sized O’Toole site, thereby limiting any future expansion — contrary to what most other hospitals in the city have already recognized and planned for. If the hospital truly feels a strong connection to this community, let it respect that by not seeking to destroy this area with out-of-context and inappropriate construction.

The claim for physical hardship is without merit, since St. Vincent’s purchased O’Toole, wholly within the historic district — knowing it was protected by the Landmarks Law — to be used for a particular purpose, and continues to use it for the purpose for which it was acquired many years ago. The only hardship it might argue is that the landmark protection prevents St. Vincent’s from cutting the most favorable financial deal. That is not and should not be the concern of the L.P.C.

Since St. Vincent’s opted not to file a claim for financial hardship, not only was the testimony about alternative sites irrelevant, but dismissing those sites as impractical due to the financial cost is inadmissible, since finances are not and should not be a consideration in the current proceeding.

Your reporting leaves the reader with the impression that there are no suitable sites and those with potential are too costly. To that extent, you fail to educate the reader as to the proper considerations that the L.P.C. is duty-bound to consider, and in that manner present a biased impression that there is no choice but to build on O’Toole.
 David R. Marcus
Marcus is a board member and officer, The Cambridge Owners Corp.; a member, St. Vincent’s Community Working Group; and a charter member, Protect the Village Historic District

No to phony demo’s
 
To The Editor:
As the housing chairperson of the Village Independent Democrats, I, as well as my political club, are very disappointed about Governor David Paterson’s silence on the proposed changes in the Division of Housing and Community Renewal code. Those changes will reduce the supply of affordable housing and force rent-stabilized tenants out of their homes because of real demolitions and the phony demolitions to be codified in the proposed new code. We also object to the proposed inadequate rent subsidy that is not based on market-rate apartments and won’t keep evicted tenants in the neighborhood they may have lived in for decades.

We want the governor to persuade the policymakers at D.H.C.R. to create a fairer code that will protect tenants, instead of protecting only the profits of the real estate developers. So far, D.H.C.R. has ignored the pleas of many of our elected officials, such as Deborah Glick, Tom Duane and Liz Krueger. D.H.C.R. has ignored the testimony at the public hearing and the numerous letters sent by political and housing groups.

D.H.C.R. argues that it has to codify phony demolition in the new code because it has been the practice for years. That is like saying we have to allow slavery because it was practiced for years. D.H.C.R.’s other argument is that it cannot restrict real demolitions to only unsafe buildings, as our electeds asked, because demolition is permitted by state and city law. The intent of those laws was to allow demolition of unsafe buildings — not to allow demolition so the landlord can make more money. D.H.C.R. is twisting the law to justify hurting tenants by demolishing their homes.

Governor Paterson must do something to stop this proposed code from going forward in this form and the disastrous attack on poor and elderly tenants it represents.
 Marlene Nadle
Nadle is housing chairperson, Village Independent Democrats

Takin’ it to the streets

To The Editor:
I am writing to you regarding the vending bills that are before the City Council’s Consumer Affairs Committee.

I am a New York City street artist and a member of A.R.T.I.S.T. (Artists Resisting Illegal State Tactics) and have been selling my art on the street for the last four years.

I cannot emphasize how important it has been to me and my family for me to be able to sell my artwork on the streets. You may think all artists should be in a gallery. But the truth is it is extremely difficult to get one’s work into a gallery, and even if you do make it to that step, it doesn’t mean your work will sell. And when it does sell, the gallery takes such a huge percentage of the selling price, it’s really not worth it. It looks great on a résumé, but it doesn’t do much for paying the rent. The exposure a street artist gets cannot be matched by any gallery.

This city is known for being the epicenter of great art and culture, and I believe that street artists add vibrancy to this great city. Without street artists, most people would not be able to afford to buy new and original art.

After carefully reading the text of the intros proposed by Councilmember Gerson, I have found these laws to be both totally unnecessary and harmful to my rights as a First Amendment-protected artist.

As Gerson himself says, there are already ample vending laws in existence — most of which artists are subject to. The existing laws are more than sufficient to maintain the public interest as far as safe streets. All that’s needed is strict enforcement of these existing laws instead of adding 16 new, confusing and unnecessary laws. If enforcement of the existing laws is difficult now, how could adding 16 more laws make enforcement any easier?
Miriam West

Quest for quality of life

To The Editor:
A special thanks to Deputy Inspector Raymond Caroli, commanding officer of the Sixth Precinct, for his immediate response to our complaint, on behalf of residents, that drug dealers were taking over the chess table area in Washington Square Park, as well as making the area a public toilet. As soon as the deputy inspector received my letter, he called to tell us that he had assigned two officers on the day tour on weekends, and two officers in the evening.

Also, months of complaining to the First Police Precinct, Manhattan South, Police Plaza and the State Liquor Authority resulted in the Club Kiosk/Upstairs Lounge on Broadway at 95 Spring St. finally being closed. The club operated from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m., disturbing the neighborhood with loud noise and unruly street behavior. The club was using the liquor license from the adjoining restaurant, Café Bari, which operated for lunch only. The S.L.A. requires that each bar have its own license, and therefore closed the bar down. At last, the neighbors can sleep through the night.
Paul Nagle
Nagle is director of communications and cultural policy for Councilmember Alan Gerson

Crybaby parents

To The Editor:
Re “Playground parents seesaw between anger, impatience” (news article, Oct. 15):

Was I the only one scratching his head and thinking “Huh?” after reading about the delays and frustrations in the construction of the new playground? The children-only areas of Tompkins Square Park have always been a sore spot for many people in the East Village. This is especially true of the 10th St. side of the park, where even without a playground, it is kids and parents only. Do these forlorn parents realize that there are two other playgrounds and a huge quiet area for them to congregate? I pass these areas regularly and rarely see anyone in them.
Steven Greenfield

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. The Villager does not publish anonymous letters.

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