Volume 78 - Number 24 / NOVEMBER 12 - 18, 2008
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

Letters to the Editor

Voting: As real as your life

To The Editor:
When our children were young, my wife and I drove them down to Neshoba County, Miss., because we wanted them to understand the majesty of this country. Our boys are black, white, Dominican and Puerto Rican. Five of them grew up in New York City public housing before coming to our home. One came through the city’s homeless shelter system, all of them through our public schools.

We’d spoken with our boys for years about the importance of voting; they didn’t see the point, and we wanted them to. So we drove to Birmingham, Ala., and walked where Sheriff Bull Connor turned water cannons on black children because they and their parents demanded the unfettered right to vote. We traveled to where Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner, two young New Yorkers, worked with James Chaney that Freedom Summer 1964 to register black Americans to vote. Those three young men believed the right to vote, the people’s voice, was so sacred it could not be taken away, so sacred they were willing to risk their lives, and brutally lost them, for the dream of democracy. 

Since they turned 18, each of my sons has voted in every election. But after Mayor Bloomberg sponsored this City Council mandate directing councilmembers to ignore two voter referenda on term limits, my son Kindu Jones, an African-American whose family still lives in Seward Park Extension public housing, asked me to explain why the peoples’ voice no longer mattered in New York City. Didn’t their vote count? I explained, with fear and sadness, that the creep of totalitarianism starts with a tiptoe of intolerance for the will of the people.

Mayor Bloomberg, how will countless other parents and I explain to our children that good men craving power pushed aside the people’s voice in self-serving arguments attenuating the sanctity of democracy for the sake of nothing greater than ambition?
Michael Rosen


Mendez stood tall

To The Editor:
I frequently write letters criticizing my councilmember, but she is due a letter of praise for her vote against the City Council’s overturning of term limits. While I voted against term limits — twice — and welcome their demise, the method used by the mayor and council was dictatorial and a move against the democratic process.

Thank you, Rosie.
Susan Leelike

Gerson has my vote

To The Editor:
I write in support of Councilmember Alan Gerson and the position he took regarding term limit extensions. Gerson introduced legislation that would have put the issue to a vote of the people, and he was right to do so. Unfortunately, that effort failed. The council did not listen to Gerson and would not return the issue to the voters. However, once a referendum became a moot point, and the council had to decide on the issue, “yes” or “no,” Gerson was right to vote in support of the extension. At least, this way, we the people will get to vote for or against our representatives. 

As a 30-year resident of Chinatown, as president of my co-op board and a leader in a local synagogue, I have witnessed firsthand Alan Gerson’s commitment to the best interests of Council District 1. I look forward to his re-election.
Toby Turkel


Gerson’s finest hour

To The Editor:
Re “Let’s fight, but next time,” by Jim Smith; “Gerson done good,” by David Weinberger; “Term-limits horse sense,” by Elizabeth Forel, and “Gerson is ‘convoluted,’” by Robert Lederman (letters, Nov. 5):

Your most recent letters to the editor section is chock-full of comments concerning City Councilmember Alan Gerson’s recent actions on term limits and vending regulations. Strong debate and dissent are fair game, and your letters section has always served as a sort of “Village Square” where all opinions can be expressed. Thank you for that.

However, in his letter, Robert Lederman asked of Gerson: “How is it that with all the unprecedented crises you mentioned — including 9/11 and its aftereffects — you have spent your entire seven years in public office trying to destroy the constitutional rights of New York City street artists?”

Even though I adamantly disagree with Mr. Gerson’s vending legislation and disagree with his vote on term limits, I also feel that Mr. Lederman’s comments are completely unfair.

I personally witnessed Mr. Gerson work tirelessly after 9/11 to ensure the safety of his constituents, particularly the elderly and infirmed. He also worked with gusto to open the process for the redevelopment of Ground Zero, and to ensure that cultural components would be included. I marched with Mr. Gerson and about 100 of his constituents down Broadway to protest the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation’s exclusion of local citizens and groups from its process.

It is a huge mistake to deny the complexity of the issues we face and the people involved. To do so is to deny the possibility of developing enlightened resolutions. Hopefully, resolutions are the goal.
Lawrence White


Don’t screw up Pier 57

To The Editor:
Re “Schools, a pool, art? Floating possibilities for yet another pier” (news article, Nov. 5):

Pier 57 is intended to include arts and education. We have watched Pier 40 get blown out of the water with all the helpful intervention that it received. We are being offered a chance to have the arts included in our community with the request for proposals for Pier 57.

Both C&K/Durst and Related have spent considerable time and money developing proposals for Pier 40 and now Pier 57. It is truly amazing that they are even willing to come back to answer the R.F.P. for Pier 57. Let the process proceed with some sensibility and sensitivity.

Look what has happened at Pier 40 as a result of the contentious posturing. It has been an incredibly foolish waste of time, money and credibility. We should be very grateful to these developers who are willing to invest in New York, bring jobs and, ultimately, wonderful possibilities to our waterfront and our communities.
 Peggy Lewis
Lewis is director, Pier Studios/biz kids


See you in court, L.P.C.

To The Editor:
The decision by the Landmarks Preservation Commission reported in “St. Vincent’s gets approval to demolish landmark site” (news article, Oct. 29) was not surprising, given the political support that St. Vincent’s has managed to garner; but it is nonetheless a sad event for the Landmarks Law.

The close margin of the vote (6 to 4) and the eloquent testimony by those commissioners opposing the application provided the only boost to the morale of concerned citizens who turned out for the hearing. It was heartening to see that not all the commissioners had been hoodwinked by St. Vincent’s into believing that there are no alternatives for a new hospital besides the O’Toole site.

It was also encouraging — or depressing — to hear that some of the commissioners were worried that this vote would set a dangerous precedent, since St. Vincent’s acquired the O’Toole site when it was already landmarked, and has continued to use it for the purpose for which the hospital acquired it.

While Mr. Tierney may not feel that he and the other five commissioners who voted in favor of the application have caused any problem — because there are no other level-1 trauma centers in a historic district — he is being a bit naive. The Village is full of nonprofit organizations, and it is certain some of them will use this ruling to try to capitalize on their valuable real-estate holdings.

Protect the Village Historic District would have preferred not to go to court over this ruling — but now there is no choice. Too bad that a group of private citizens will have to invest more time and money doing what should have been the job of the L.P.C.
Caroline Benveniste


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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