Volume 78 - Number 41 / March 18 -24, 2009
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933
Letters to the Editor
Helping small businesses
To The Editor:
You often hear elected officials say that small businesses are the backbone of our economy. But, unfortunately, we havent always backed up that statement with a real commitment to supporting our small businesses.
New York Citys 220,000 small businesses account for 50 percent of all private-sector employment. And in tough financial times, when so many boom industries have gone bust, well need to depend even more on these businesses to fuel growth and employment.
The City Council has spoken to business owners around the city, and asked them: What can we do to help you? Weve taken some of their answers, and folded them into a three-pronged economic development plan were calling, Open for Business.
First, well make it easier for new businesses to start up.
Opening a business can require more than a dozen permits from a variety of city agencies. To cut down on the paperwork, well create a single, combined application that folks can file on the Web. And since all the permitting fees can add up, well waive the costs for the next 12 months to encourage new businesses to open.
Another obstacle for new businesses is the many inspections the city requires. Since each agency visits separately, a business could remain shuttered for weeks or months, just waiting for that one last inspection. So were working with the Bloomberg administration to coordinate inspections, and have every possible agency come on the same day.
The second part of our plan is to support businesses that already exist, by keeping more local dollars in our local economy.
Whenever the city buys a product or procures a service, were required by state law to take the lowest bid even if that means sending taxpayer dollars across the country. Well work to change that law, so we can use a qualified local company, particularly one thats woman or minority owned. We might spend a little more on the front end, but well support local jobs and ultimately create additional revenue.
And finally, well take steps to keep government out of the way of small business growth.
For example, well establish a temporary amnesty for businesses with outstanding violations. If a small business comes forward during this time and demonstrates that theyve corrected the underlying problem, well waive their late fees and develop a payment plan. Well make sure fines arent dragging these businesses down, and get millions of dollars flowing into city coffers.
With these three common-sense proposals help businesses open, get them more business and stay out of the way well help get New Yorkers working, and keep small businesses the engine of our economic growth.
Quinn is speaker, New York City Council, and councilmember, Third District
Umm, make that scofflaw
To The Editor
Re Its time to take back old P.S. 64, activists cry, (news article, March 11):
Thank you for the coverage of the rally to save the old P.S. 64/CHARAS on Mon., March 9. For claritys sake, I would like it to be noted that I stated in my remarks that New York City had acted to preserve the building as an individual landmark under the Landmarks Law and how its continued neglect was in direct violation of that law, therefore making the parties responsible for the neglect scofflaws or violators; in point of fact, the enforcement agents of the L.P.C. are called violations officers. I did not mean to imply any illegal or criminal activity on the part of the owners other than in that sense.
The Historic Districts Council was also not aware of specifics of the L.P.C.s recent enforcement activities with regard to the old P.S. 64. Knowing its deterioration had been of deep community concern for a number of years, we presumed that warning letters had been issued at the very least. While disappointed that the city has not taken stronger action thus far, H.D.C. is pleased to learn from the article that a recent structural inspection has been done at the L.P.C.s request, and that, unless weatherproofing for the building is secured, more robust measures, such as fines, are being actively contemplated. We applaud this move and urge the L.P.C. and the city to act to remedy this situation as soon as possible, and to help bring this landmark building back to life.
Bankoff is executive director, Historic Districts Council
Converted on St. Vincents
To The Editor:
Re Landmarks gives hospital tower clean bill of health (news article, March 11):
We wish to thank The Villager for its fair, thorough and equitable coverage of the St. Vincents Hospital proposals. We were originally strongly opposed to the initial proposals. Thanks to the Landmarks Preservation Commission, the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, Community Board 2, Congressman Jerrold Nadler, state Senator Tom Duane, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Borough President Scott Stringer, state Assemblywoman Deborah Glick and, we hope, our efforts as well, the proposals were significantly modified to meet many community concerns.
As an important part of the total package, a new public school facility for our communitys children has been arranged by the Rudin family, with financial backstopping by Rudin, to provide additional desperately needed classroom space. The hospital building has been modified several times, to reduce height and bulk to the extent possible; and the proposal on the hospitals east campus for new residential housing to be built by the Rudin family now saves the four key historic buildings, which will be repurposed for housing, as part of the overall proposed complex. The proposed housing complex will finance a considerable portion of the costs to construct the new 21st-century St. Vincents Hospital.
We believe the litigation to block the actions of the Landmarks Preservation Commission is not in the best interests of Greenwich Village and the surrounding communities, and we do not believe the litigants will prevail. Through community pressure and negotiations, we feel we have achieved the best balance possible to protect both the historic district and the historic mission of the Sisters of Charity to maintain a viable St. Vincents Hospital in our community.
We will support the east campus proposals as may be modified by the L.P.C., a commission for which we have great respect and appreciation. We believe the litigants are more driven by a not in my backyard mentality than by clearly thought-through concerns for the Greenwich Village community, which clearly needs a viable 21st-century St. Vincents Hospital. We respect the rights of the litigants to view things differently.
Horowitz is president, Washington Square-Lower Fifth Ave. Community Association, Inc.
What have I done? A lot
To The Editor:
Re Scoopy shockers (letter, by Howard Hemsley, March 4):
I would like to thank Mr. Howard Hemsley for his recent letter and this opportunity to address some of his concerns.
In response to his query, my service and dedication to the district dates back to 1981.
I spent three years as a police officer on the Lower East Side in the 1980s as a member of the Manhattan South Task Force. This unit removed hundreds of guns and millions of dollars in drugs off the street, making the area livable again.
I next spent 10 years as a firefighter on the Lower East Side during the squatter epidemic. My firehouse worked closely with local elected officials in ensuring both the public safety and the due-process rights of the squatters.
In addition, for 20 years, I served in the U.S. Coast Guard assigned to protecting New York Harbor, and 15 of those years serving on Governors Island. As a matter of fact, I was the last operational watch-stander for the captain of the port before the island was closed. I was proud to have received the Humanitarian Service Award while a member of this fine organization.
More recently, as an attorney, a considerable amount of my practice consists of pro-bono work. For example, I represented an out-of-state first responder to the World Trade Center, who suffers from exposure-related thyroid tumors. He initially contacted Councilmember Gersons office and was ignored. Subsequently, he saw me on national television discussing the ill effects of World Trade Center exposure, contacted me, and I was successful in obtaining the necessary medical treatment he sought. Additionally, I have spent hundreds of hours uncovering asbestos contamination in our public schools.
In contrast, as Mr. Hemsley notes, Gerson, in addressing a request for assistance by a constituent fighting an eviction proceeding, merely writes a letter to the Cooper Square Mutual Housing Association. The tenant was evicted. Thank you, Mr. Hemsley for making the case that new leadership is needed in the City Council. I think the district needs more from a councilmember than a form letter to a housing organization. Making matters worse, according to Gotham Gazette, Gerson has one of the most abysmal attendance records in the City Council.
In contrast, my accomplishments are devoid of such documentary posturing, but rather rest on their positive outcome. It is this results-oriented agenda that I will bring to the City Council.
Other sides of Tatum
To The Editor:
Re Wilbert Tatum, 76, publisher, longtime East Villager (obituary, March 11):
Bill Tatum was also a supporter of BASTA! and played an important role in our fight to humanize the conditions at the Third St. Mens Shelter. My favorite memory of him is as Santa Claus distributing presents to neighborhood kids in the shelter yard as part of Lights of Hope holiday celebration. May he rest in peace.
Pagan instigated riot
To The Editor:
Re A complex legacy: Friends and foes reflect on Pagan (news article, Feb. 11):
Antonio Pagan was a brilliant man, but also a petty and personally vindictive one who did not embody the values of the majority of residents of the Lower East Side. He was an advocate for landlords and big business and a close associate of Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
Mr. Pagans decisions closed community gardens and community centers and evicted residents, while driving up rents in what is still fundamentally a poor and struggling neighborhood. He was also directly involved in instigating a police riot in Tompkins Square Park on Aug. 6, 1988, that caused hundreds of injuries to local residents. That riot happened because Mr. Pagan and others made secret decisions about the rights of homeless people living in the park, while conspiring with police officials behind the back of the community.
Mr. Pagan will not be missed as a political leader in our neighborhood, but most feel sorrow that a young man should be cut down in his prime. My condolences to his family but all the poor people who suffered because of Mr. Pagans desire to have, as he once said, my piece of the rock, deserve condolence as well.
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