Volume 78 - Number 26 / November 26 - December 2, 2008
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

Letters to the Editor

Hoylman’s ‘hypocrisy’

To The Editor:
Re “After terms turmoil, two candidates say they’ll take on Quinn” (news article, Nov. 19):

The most maddening thing about the way self-interested politicians went about overturning the will of the people on term limits is the hypocrisy and misrepresentations which characterized their actions. The hypocrisy and lies of Mayor Bloomberg and Council Speaker Quinn in this regard have been well documented in The Villager and elsewhere, but your article revealed a new breed of hypocrisy and deception from Brad Hoylman.

Hoylman bobs and weaves to try to avoid giving a direct answer regarding his opinion on the recent putsch by the City Council and the mayor, deflecting direct criticism by saying we “all...should have anticipated what happened and pressed the mayor to convene a charter commission when there was still time.”

But the reality is that the Partnership for New York City, the real estate and big-business consortium — of which Hoylman is the senior vice president for
public affairs and general counsel — very publicly lobbied in favor of the mayor’s and speaker’s bill to overturn the term limits law, and came out in support of the bill at the same time the mayor announced it, indicating that they were consulted on this matter long before the rest of us.

Worse, over the summer, Hoylman’s group stated publicly that they were seeking the best mayoral candidate for big business and that if they did not find a preferable alternative to Bloomberg for mayor, they would explore ways to overturn the term limits law. Even more to the point, many observers believe that Bloomberg, Quinn and Hoylman’s Partnership for New York City, among others, have been conspiring to find a way to thwart the public’s will for some time and pass a term limits revision without having to bring it to the public for a referendum.
Rima McCoy

Gerson takes long view

To The Editor:
Re “After terms turmoil, two candidates say they’ll take on Quinn” (news article, Nov. 19):

I applaud Councilmember Gerson for all he’s done in the First Council District, and especially Tribeca! For those who don’t know, he supported the referendum approach to third-term limits from the very beginning. His last-minute concession to the proposal, after the referendum amendment Gerson sponsored did not pass, was a wise strategic move in this tumultuous economic environment. Regardless of how principled many would like to be at all times, during extraordinary times it may be appropriate to be flexible and open to alternatives for the greater good of the community. Our community is at great risk during this financial crisis and many may want the option of sticking with established leadership.

Moreover, the same referendum that created term limits gave the council the right to revisit the referendum. What Councilmember Gerson did was an example of long-term strategic planning. More such negotiating will become common practice during this crisis.

Finally, having acquiesced to the third-term limit proposal does not guarantee any candidate’s re-election. It just offers the current incumbents an opportunity to run for another term. It’s not the same as a referendum, but the democratic process of voting for desired candidates will be the determining factor.
Noël E. Jefferson

Vendors aren’t the problem

To The Editor:
In your excellent coverage of the City Council hearing on vending (“Vendors don’t buy Gerson’s arguments on new bills,” news article, Nov. 19), Councilmember Gerson repeats a story I have heard him tell many
times to justify proposing more than 16 new vending laws. The details vary — sometimes it’s a baby carriage, others a wheelchair — but the basic scenario is that artists and vendors block the sidewalks, preventing a local resident from making his or her way down a Soho street.

It sounds pretty convincing, unless you have ever walked through Soho. While artists and vendors take up sidewalk space legally for a few hours a day — mostly on weekends — the giant planters Gerson’s Soho Alliance patrons have illegally installed all over the place to prevent legal vending obstruct these sidewalks 24/7/365.

Soho sidewalks and crosswalks are among the most broken and treacherous in the entire city. Trees are surrounded with sharp metal fences with points sticking up that can impale anyone unfortunate enough to trip on them. Curbs suddenly drop off unexpectedly. The other day, I was unable to cross West Broadway because a giant steel garbage can with an ad for Councilmember Gerson completely blocked the pedestrian crosswalk, a location at which not even the dumbest vendor would set up a stand.

If Mr. Gerson is so concerned about mothers with baby carriages and those in wheelchairs, instead of crafting 16 absurd new laws, none of which will survive a court challenge, he could just enforce one existing law about landlords installing illegal objects on the public sidewalks.
Robert Lederman
Lederman is president, ARTIST (Artists’ Response to Illegal State Tactics)

Bike lane’s a real pain

To The Editor:
Re “The new Grand bike lane isn’t, Little Italy merchants complain” (news article, Nov. 19):

The bike lane on Grand St. is a dismal failure on many levels because it benefits no one except bike riders; frankly, the majority of them do not deserve this preferential treatment. I live on Grand St., and from what I’ve witnessed so far, this is a disaster in the making.

For one thing, bikers still do not respect traffic signals. The bike lane does nothing to stop them from ignoring red lights — they just pedal through them. I have witnessed some of them speed down the street with no regard for pedestrians attempting to cross the street. Some bikers completely ignore the designated lane they demanded and ride down the traffic lane, again with little to no regard for traffic lights and pedestrians. It has become impossible to be picked up and/or dropped off at your door, because to do so means stopping traffic in the one and only lane open to moving vehicles, resulting in loud, continuous horn honking.

Loading or unloading groceries and such is also an impossibility now, causing further hardships — to seniors, in particular. Having a parking lane practically in the middle of the street makes it difficult, if not impossible, for larger vehicles to make a turn from Mott St. onto Grand St. I won’t even bother to comment on the stupidity of it. As falsely stated by Community Board 2’s Ian Dutton, cars are parked legally, not illegally. The failure of the design is not the fault of illegally parked vehicles — it is the fault of the design itself.

Also false was Dutton’s statement that Grand St. was always a one-lane street. There was room for two lanes of traffic. That is why it was possible for one lane to keep moving despite double-parked vehicles in the other. Contrary to what the community board and the Department of Transportation have said, they both failed to properly inform the community of this drastic and unwelcome change in our neighborhood. Most of us were totally unaware that this was happening. I regularly receive C.B. 2’s monthly calendar — perhaps this item somehow escaped notice.

Parking was scarce in Little Italy and Chinatown. Eliminating what little parking we had shows a complete disregard for the residents and businesses of these communities by both C.B. 2 and D.O.T.
 Emily DePalo

Double-parking whiners

To The Editor:
Regarding Jefferson Siegel’s article “The new Grand bike lane isn’t, Little Italy merchants complain” (Nov. 19):

The merchants who complain about the new Grand St. bike lane are really complaining that they can no longer double-park. Grand St. has been a single lane for several years, but the bike lane used to be a de facto double-parking zone. Now that it’s protected by parked cars, it’s actually a safe place to ride a bike — a much better use of the space.

Once the commercial loading zone on the north side of Grand St. is implemented, these merchants should have an easier time receiving deliveries, and will have even less reason to engage in the un-neighborly act of double parking.

I look forward to implementation of a similar, protected bike lane going westbound on a nearby street, and further pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly street innovations all over the city.
Mike Epstein

Vicious cycle of noise

To The Editor:
Re “The new Grand bike lane isn’t, Little Italy merchants complain” (news article, Nov. 19):

I live on the corner of Washington St. in the West Village and have a view down the street’s length. Because of the unused bike lane, this quiet street has turned into a snarl of honking traffic at rush hour on Fridays in the late afternoon and after 1 a.m. on weekend nights.

Also, the concrete barrier for the bike lanes on Eighth Ave. has created a bottleneck. This avenue was very crowded before the bike lane was built. I don’t own a car, and have lived in the quiet West Village for 40 years. Between the cars and the noisy people being forced out of bars to smoke, the fabric of our neighborhood is being ripped to shreds.

Is this all a cynical way for us to beg for congestion pricing? The Department of Transportation has assured us there is no problem. Obviously, they don’t live here!

There is now a strong case to keep the bridge-and-tunnel people out. But what will that do to our local business?
Joan Kadushin

Don’t dump on Chelsea

To The Editor:
Re “Trash talking over megagarage goes down to the wire” (news article, Nov. 19):

Al Amateau wrote a very accurate description of what occurred at the Nov. 14th City Council hearing on the Spring St. Sanitation garage, except that he was reporting on two different hearings in separate rooms at the same time. He missed the speeches which explained why Chelsea is opposed to the movement of District 5’s Sanitation Garage to Chelsea.

I will try to summarize the key argument fueling Chelsea’s opposition to yet another Sanitation garage in Chelsea, and why we believe it is only fair that it be located on Spring St. as part of a three-district garage. Please do the math with me. (“Vehicles” mean Department of Sanitation vehicles, not private cars).

Community Board 4 will have three Sanitation districts located in its new W. 57th St. garage, projected to open July 2009, which will house C.B. 4’s 58 vehicles, C.B. 7’s 61 vehicles and C.B. 5’s 27 sweepers, totaling 146. We also house 47 vehicles for C.B. 6 on W. 30th St. C.B. 1 and C.B. 2, combined, have only 74 vehicles; adding C.B. 5’s 51 vehicles would increase the number to 125, still fewer than will be in C.B. 4’s 57th St. garage. Moving these 51 vehicles to W. 30th St., where incidentally C.B. 6’s 47 vehicles are also located, would mean C.B. 4 would house more than three times the number of vehicles that C.B. 1 and C.B. 2 have combined.

C.B. 4 also has the Department of Sanitation’s Manhattan and Bronx Maintenance and Repair Shop, four blocks away from the present C.B. 6 and the proposed C.B. 5 garages.

No community wants to have a Sanitation garage, especially one that is not theirs. C.B. 4 now has two that aren’t ours, and we will not take a third. As Humphrey Bogart said to Mary Astor in “The Maltese Falcon,” “I won’t play the sap.”
Robert Trentlyon

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