Volume 78 - Number 35 / January 28 - February 3, 2009
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933


Letters to the editor

Baker was a real ‘dough-p’

To The Editor:
As elected officials representing Greenwich Village, we were saddened and disgusted to learn last Friday that Lafayette Bakery on Greenwich Ave. was selling what the owner termed “Drunken Negro Face” cookies.

We are even more dismayed by the fact that these repugnantly named cookies were not only sold, but also bought in our community for nearly five days before they attracted media attention, Community Board 2 announced a boycott and the owner agreed to halt their sale.

That this outrage occurred during a week when our country was celebrating the memory of Martin Luther King, Jr., as well as the momentous occasion of Barack Obama’s inauguration as the first African-American president of the United States, only underscores how far we have to go to eliminate racism from our midst.

At Senator Duane’s request, the New York State Division of Human Rights has offered to conduct a training for Lafayette Bakery’s owner and employees on their obligations under the State’s Human Rights Law. We are encouraging the owner to avail himself and his staff of this training and to take other steps to ensure that they both understand the nature of their transgression and never engage in such an offensive act again.

Thomas K. Duane
Christine C. Quinn
Duane is state senator, 29th District; Quinn is city councilmember, Third District, and City Council speaker


Dumping the ‘Cookie Monster’

To The Editor:
I am a parent at P.S. 41, and while I was waiting to pick up my kids after school yesterday, I noticed Fox 5 News’s Arnold Diaz and cameraman entering the Lafayette Bakery on Greenwich Ave. The “Shame on You” segment aired this evening at 10 o’clock on Channel 5. The proprietor made special cookies in honor of Martin Luther King Day. He calls them “Drunken Negro” cookies. 

Here’s one born-and-raised Villager who will not be buying at Lafayette Bakery anymore.

Kathy Vance


A turning point in history

To The Editor:
There were many reasons to rejoice last Tuesday, Inauguration Day. For many, an almost giddy undaunted hope permeated the capital. For others, the feeling was of a spirit of watchful anticipation for something, anything better than the last eight years. 

After Barack Obama’s speech, though, there was almost a sense of resignation, as though we have now won this battle but there are so many more to fight to win the war. And we’re not just talking about the two overseas, but the struggles on many fronts that are affecting our population at every turn.

The hope is for a turning point in history, a new beginning, a return to the premises upon which this country was founded. But also there is the pride we have never experienced as a nation, that we could and did elect a black man.

Today it seems that, indeed, everything is possible. Some I spoke to, thought that meant we can now finally be a country of the people, for the people, by the people.

I spoke to many people as I wandered the streets of D.C., looking for a spot to even just see the screen. Finally, my friend and I went to a restaurant and watched the speech on TV, like every other American who also felt this excitement generated through a TV monitor, listening to the electric words of a youthful, dynamic, charismatic leader. The packed room was warm and very quiet as our commander in chief did command our attention, giving us a glimpse of how we are going to get out of this mess!

As one beautiful African-American lady said to me that day, the wonderful words have been spoken, and now let’s see what happens.

Sharon Woolums


Thompson’s transit plan

To The Editor:
As many of your readers surely know, the Metropolitan Transit Authority currently faces massive budget deficits and a woefully underfunded capital program. The M.T.A.’s solution to the problem is as unimaginative as it is unsurprising: It wants to raise fares — again — and cut services, including potential cuts to 87 bus lines, 23 subway lines and 196 station booths.

But exorbitant fare hikes and drastic service cuts are not the only solution.

One alternative, of course, is the Ravitch Commission plan. The commission has advised Governor Paterson and the Legislature to act quickly to ensure that all in the region who benefit from transit, directly or indirectly, pay for transit. The commission should be commended for its approach. There is no question that drivers benefit from mass transit. Imagine how crowded our highways would be without the commuter railroads, for instance. Drivers must contribute their fair share.

But the commission’s solution — tolling New York City bridges over the East and Harlem rivers — would disproportionately place the funding burden on Queens, Brooklyn, Bronx and Staten Island residents, even though the entire region benefits from the M.T.A. system.

That is why I have proposed an alternative: A weight-based vehicle registration surcharge across the 12-county M.T.A. region that serves the same end far more equitably and efficiently.

My alternative is far fairer than tolls. My proposal assesses drivers across the region an additional weight-based fee of $100 annually for vehicles weighing 2,300 pounds or less, plus 9 cents for every pound above 2,300 pounds.

My plan has the potential to generate annual revenue of about $1 billion, while encouraging the use of smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles. When combined with a reinstated commuter tax, my plan could generate almost $2 billion annually for our transit needs. And we can implement this without the expensive infrastructure that tolling requires.

My proposal is also fairer — and less regressive — than the M.T.A.’s proposed fare hike, which comes just 16 months after the previous hike. Simply put, the proposed fare hike places an unreasonable burden on riders at a time when many of them can least afford it.

Cash-strapped small businesses are struggling to survive, layoffs continue and families are losing their homes. In this terribly difficult financial environment, the M.T.A. must do everything in its power to avoid raising revenues on the backs of our city’s working men and women.

I’ve spoken before — and testified recently at the M.T.A.’s first hearing — about the most egregious of the M.T.A.’s proposals: the Access-A-Ride fare hike. It calls for a 150 percent fare increase — six times what other riders face — and its real purpose would be not to raise revenue but to discourage ridership, which would reduce the M.T.A.’s subsidy for each completed trip.

The mayor has the legal power to end any consideration of this discriminatory increase, as I showed when I released the contract between the city and the M.T.A. But so far, inexplicably, he has not used his power. I therefore call on the M.T.A. board then to remove a proposal that is just plain wrong.

No mayor or M.T.A. board has ever allowed such an unconscionable increase. Access-A-Ride users should not have to choose between going to work or having food in the house, taking a ride to the doctor or paying for medicine. A $10 round trip when the rest of us are paying far less is not only unfair, it is reprehensible.

In the coming weeks, I will be reaching out to my colleagues in Albany to win support for my weight-based vehicle registration surcharge and for full funding to keep our mass transit system operating in a state of good repair. The alternative — these cuts and fare hikes — is just too onerous for the people of New York City.

William C. Thompson, Jr.
Thompson is New York City comptroller


Gotta be fair on Gaza

To The Editor:
Re “Jews call for Israel to end assault on Gaza Strip” (photo story, Jan. 21):

Nice to see that you are keeping up the fair and balanced reporting. The picture of the little ol’ Jewish bubbe holding up the Gaza sign warmed my kishkas. I agree Gaza should be reoccupied and the rockets stopped for good. Chicken fat and almonds to you.

Dr. Harry Nudel


Poe birthday party pooper

To The Editor:
While every city in the country with even the slightest connection to Edgar Allan Poe was going all out to celebrate the bicentennial of his birth on Jan. 19, Manhattan was denied the chance for a really terrific blowout. And why? Because New York University, in an overwhelming show of arrogance and greed, destroyed his last remaining Manhattan residence back in 2001.

While the debate may well rage on for years as to whether N.Y.U.’s purported need to expand its Law School outweighed the preservation of a building where one of America’s pre-eminent authors created some of his finest works, there is one thing we can all agree on — N.Y.U. really denied us a darn good birthday party!

So let’s add the title of party pooper to the long list of other names we’ve been calling N.Y.U. for almost a decade, and vow, as an appropriate way to honor Poe’s memory, to ensure the creation of the proposed South Village Historic District in the area where the Poe House once stood.

Marilyn Stults


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