Volume 78 - Number 49 / May 13 - 19 , 2009
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

Letters to the Editor

Mayoral control gets an ‘F’ 

To The Editor:
Re “Village tots in a tough spot: Kindergarten seats scarce” (news article, April 22):

There are hundreds of kindergarten students who are now on waiting lists for their neighborhood zoned schools. Under his watch, the mayor has allowed overcrowding and class size to worsen, with no action taken to address the crisis. No less than three reports were issued in 2008 — from the City Comptroller’s Office, the Manhattan borough president and the Campaign for a Better Capital Plan (a coalition of parents, unions and advocacy groups) — showing how the planning process for schools is utterly broken, out of sync with the rapid pace of development and the projected growth in enrollment in neighborhoods throughout the city. 

The Campaign for a Better Capital Plan released a letter in October from more than 80 elected officials and community and parent groups, urging the mayor to expand the capital plan so that overcrowding could be eliminated and class sizes could be reduced, as the state has required. Instead, the mayor cut the number of seats in the new five-year plan by 60 percent — and the share of city capital spending on school construction has now fallen to at least a 10-year low.

Kindergarten enrollment has risen for the last two years, and City Planning projects a substantial increase in the number of 5-to-9-year-olds between 2010 and 2020. At the same time, the Department of Education refuses to release total enrollment figures for students in each public school building, which would allow us to analyze just how fast enrollment is growing and in what areas. 

The mayor and the chancellor talk endlessly about expanding parent “choice” — mostly in their relentless push to expand the number of charter schools, and give them space inside our public school buildings. But they have denied parents the most basic choice of all — the right to send their children to their neighborhood public schools. Instead, D.O.E. has said that, in the future, it will deal with the overcrowding crisis by placing elementary students in middle schools and high schools, or by bussing them to schools outside their districts.

Under the current governance system, in which he yields absolute power, the mayor asked to be accountable for the results. The results are clear: Mayoral control has been an abject failure and must be fundamentally reformed, so that parents once again have a voice in the system, and our children can be provided with the education they need and deserve.
Leonie Haimson
Haimson is executive director, Class Size Matters

Joel Klein’s fuzzy math

To The Editor:
 Re “A new equity and transparency in school admissions” (talking point, by Joel Klein, May 6):

As a lawyer, Chancellor Klein is trained to deal in the facts. So when his talking point misrepresents the facts concerning the number of District 2 schools with waiting lists and the number of students on these waiting lists, I must object. 

Currently, at least 14 District 2 elementary schools have wait lists for their zoned students, including P.S. 89/234, P.S. 1, P.S. 2, P.S. 41, P.S. 3, P.S. 116, P.S. 290, P.S. 6, P.S. 59, P.S. 183, P.S. 51, P.S. 158 and P.S. 151. In all of District 2, a total of more than 400 students are on a wait list at the school for which they are zoned. This is a much greater number than what Chancellor Klein chose to include in his calculations, which reflect only schools with waiting lists in Greenwich Village and on the Upper East Side, and does not account for the more than 90 parents of P.S. 151 whose children have not been given a school, much less a kindergarten seat. 

These parents have been divided up between all the other Upper East Side schools, which are clearly overcrowded. This year, there is no room at these schools. P.S. 290, P.S. 6, P.S. 59, P.S. 183 and P.S. 158 (if I am not mistaken, concerning the latter), all have waiting lists. The parents have asked for a school for years. How can the chancellor explain promising a school and not giving these children one as “transparent?” 

It is insensitive and wrong for Chancellor Klein to attempt to spin the numbers to his advantage and to the disadvantage of those more than 400 students on waiting lists districtwide. Indeed, Chancellor Klein told the facts, he just did not tell all of the facts.

Rebecca Daniels
Daniels is president, District 2 Community Education Council

Logic is lacking

To The Editor:    
Re “A new equity and transparency in school admis-sions” (talking point, by Joel Klein, May 6):

Hmmmm... So if we had space to accommodate additional kindergartners, why were they put on the wait list in the first place? They were put on the wait list because we do not have anymore room in these schools! We eliminate the pre-K program and our class sizes go up to 25 students per class in kindergarten? I would consider eliminating a valuable program only if it reduces class sizes.

Shino Tanikawa

The twilight zone

To The Editor:
Re “A new equity and transparency in school admissions” (talking point, by Joel Klein, May 6):

Between Mayor Bloomberg’s comment last week that he saw his administration’s failure to provide seats for 300 5-year-olds in District 2 (not to mention uncounted others in Districts 1 and 3, and in Queens and the Bronx) as a sign of a successful policy and this column by Chancellor Klein, I’m beginning to feel I’ve entered an alternate reality. Are people really going to buy this? 

For the record, in the old days, when you saw your kid was approaching kindergarten age, you called the local school and found out how to sign her up. It wasn’t exactly Masonic lore. And every zoned kid got in, at least in District 2.

Ann Kjellberg

Build the schools

To The Editor:
Re “A new equity and transparency in school admissions” (talking point, by Joel Klein, May 6):

I was shocked and disappointed to read this bizarre explanation of the wait-list debacle. Worse only was Mike Bloomberg’s even more bizarre statement last week that he was pleased at the wait lists, since it meant that “families wanted to stay in New York to raise their families. 

This is not like any other year, clearly, and as Mr. Klein knows, the wait lists are not the result of the change in the Department of Education’s kindergarten admissions process. The change in their kindergarten admissions process, rather, is a result of their panic upon realizing that the repeated warnings about the  population increases from unprecedented building — that have been consistently provided to them since 2003 — had come to fruition. 

To say that public school parents were “well connected” in a public school system is outrageous; they called and got the registration dates and stood in line. Hardly an “advantage.” And now parents have to try and decipher Orwellian communication and wait until all their other backup options have expired to then hear where they are to be assigned, if anywhere — at D.O.E.’s will. In the name of equity and transparency? It’s deeply disrespectful. And the comment disgraceful. 

Relocating preschool seats is no way to handle a kindergarten wait-list crisis. Shuffling children from one empty seat here to another there, applying temporary band-aids where freestanding schools should be planned in advance is not equity, progress or success: It’s a disaster. Tell people the truth. Listen to the data. Build the schools.

Tricia Joyce
Joyce is a member, P.S. 234 Overcrowding Committee, and a public member, Community Board 1

Rival views don’t compute

To The Editor:
Re “The battle of .nyc... and also .sucks, .chat, .weather, .art...” (news article, May 6):

Thank you to The Villager for taking the time to understand the complexity of this issue, and for treating all views fairly as you did. Several people have come up to me and said that it is one of the best articles they have seen in The Villager on any topic, and that they learned a lot from it. Coming from people who are not technically adept, it’s a clear indication that you communicated this obscure topic in a very accessable way.

The next step is hopefully some face-to-face with Speaker Quinn, possibly Mayor Bloomberg, and see where it goes.

However, the antitrust case was actually not “tossed out.” The defendants were not able to get the case dismissed. They had to litigate. The court reached a decision on the suit, where N.S.I. was given  immunity. Regarding Tom Lowenhaupt’s assertion about NAME.SPACE that “they lost,” somehow blurring our antitrust case against Network Solutions and the ICANN process — implying that either affected our rights to our T.L.D.’s — he obviously does not understand that the two are totally unrelated. NAME.SPACE never abandoned our right to our marks (T.L.D.’s), and not being cleared by ICANN in 2000 was in no way a waiver of our rights by any means. Losing the antitrust case also has no bearing on whether we have rights to our T.L.D.’s or not, since that was never an issue in the suit, which was about our right to be included in the root.

With respect to our application in 2000, Lowenhaupt also got that wrong. ICANN accepted our application of 118 T.L.D.’s for one fee of $50,000, and it was not turned down because of the number that we applied for, but for “subjective” reasons. (That translates to “only friends of ICANN got any T.L.D.’s recognized.”) The cost was not $50,000 per T.L.D. If some applicants interpreted the application process that way, that was their call.

The NAME.SPACE application in 2000 met all the criteria of the application process. The entire lot of 118 T.L.D.’s went through the process all the way to the board vote, at which time I was asked to “take less” — actually to pick just three T.L.D.’s out of our list. I declined to do that because it was unfair to our other constituents who had registered under the rest of the T.L.D.’s in our application; also, it was an indication that ICANN wanted to create a scenario wherein NAME.SPACE would waive its rights to the rest of our T.L.D.’s, which I was and am unwilling to do.

Paul Garrin

Get yer .nyc’s!

To The Editor: 
Re “The battle of .nyc... and also.sucks, .chat, .weather, .art...” (news article, May 6):

Whether names ending in .nyc will be valuable or not is a product of the market’s demand. Right now that demand is being tested by a company taking pre-orders for names from all the new extensions likely to be requested. Visit www.quintaris.pool.com to participate.

John Berard

Worked-up ‘working stiff’

To The Editor:
Re “Seize the day, but I’m not so sure about the building” (talking point, by Arthur Z. Schwartz, May 6):

Arthur Schwartz in his essay justifying his cohorts and his occupation of Columbia University 40 years ago, opines again, as so many do, on the specious and fallacious justification of that occupation. As he readily admits, he was a child of privilege. Meanwhile, the poor, underprivileged, working stiffs, deprived of such an august education, like me and so many of us, were working our asses off making 60 bucks a week in 1968. We were living from week to week, and wondered what the hell did these rich kids want from the “system.” 

As far as I was concerned, they had it and I did not, and the way I saw it, they were fouling their own nests, or, better yet, blowing them up. They might have romanticized the poor souls they claimed they were trying to help. But they were so far away from us, even if some did come down to the Lower East Side to live with us. They had no idea what it’s like to be poor — and I am white, and a Jew — and yes, we were poor, and we damn well resented the rich kids who romanticized poverty and sought to “save” us. They did not, not then, not now. 

And I see Mr. Schwartz is with ACORN, and he is still the spoiled kid, though a lawyer, and still he thinks the progressive left helps the poor. The smug left, taking the high ground, cannot do a damned thing. It is the working stiff who carries the very poor, and not the rich, who live well and pretend to give a rat’s ass, as does Mr. Schwartz. And my anger is that nothing changes for the poor: lousy medical care, lousy housing, lousy jobs and the common belief that all these progressive organizations mean something.

The homeless, the mentally ill that abound on our streets, lie in their own filth, a few steps down from a restaurant, where the young men take their dates, who present themselves with their open blouses, revealing their cleavage so as to entice said boyfriend, eating their “brunches,” drinking their bloody Marys. All the while, the aforementioned homeless lie and dream of rotten childhoods, trembling in their fears. 

So, Mr. Schwartz and his leftist justification to my ear is crap. Nothing has changed in the 40 years since that overrated time of revolution. And, in fact, some of those who were part of that movement, the movement of spoiled brats, have recanted and understand what they did was nothing more than a tantrum of the rich kids pretending to be revolutionaries.
Bert Zackim

Vendor bill is ‘counterfeit’

To The Editor:
Re “Book em Danno! — Bill to fingerprint illegal vendors” (news article, May 6):

As the president of one of the largest vending advocacy groups in New York City (ARTIST) and as a street artist/vendor who was falsely arrested more than 40 times, I can assure you this bill is as counterfeit as any of the handbags and DVD’s it pretends to be targeting. 

Every single time I was arrested, I was fingerprinted. In some instances I was fingerprinted two or three times for the same arrest, and a number of times I was also digitally face-scanned. I’ve never met any vendor, legal or illegal, who was arrested and was not fingerprinted. 

Some of the very Police Department officials who are claiming no one is fingerprinted, personally fingerprinted me. 

Like every proposed vending bill now before the City Council or the New York State Assembly, this bill is filled with disinformation, outright lies and cover stories for the real agenda — the total privatization of vending by corporations and BID’s (business improvement districts). 

Robert Lederman

It’s a family affair

To The Editor:
Re “Fear of landlord demo’s before district’s calendared” (news article, April 22):

Regarding the South Village preservation effort, it was extremely disturbing to hear that the Landmarks Preservation Commission has announced plans to consider landmarking without acting to prevent potential developers from demolishing or altering in the meantime. 

The South Village is an endangered area of precious and unique character, an Italian-immigrant enclave filled with working-class and immigrant tenement housing. I have a personal interest in seeing this beloved neighborhood preserved in memory of my grandfather, whose first residence in America after leaving Sicily in 1909 was 39 Carmine St., and whose pastry business thrived at 243 Bleecker St. for many years before his retirement in 1946.

The loss of this jewel would truly leave a sad scar on our wonderful city.   

Anita Isola 

Squadron gives HOPE
To The Editor:
Re “Book ’em Danno — Bill would fingerprint illegal vendors” (news article, May 6):

I must be hallucinating. Can it be that someone, namely state Senator Daniel Squadron, finally admits that he actually understands the difference between legal and illegal vendors? Wow. I am sincerely stunned.

As an individual fine artist who displayed his own photographic prints in public areas of New York City for many years, I also felt it my duty to advocate for law enforcement to make a clear distinction between illegal vendors/bootleggers and the smaller group of legal vendors. Most of the time, it seemed like I was talking to a feral cat. I was being heard but I was being ignored. Therefore, it is enormously satisfying to read the quotes in your article by Senator Squadron that refer to this crucial division of legal and illegal vending groups. 

And yet, I remain cynical. Too often have legal vendors, fine artists, and honest, hard-working veterans been led down empty cul-de-sacs of endless broken promises and deepening frustration.

When I look at our new president and see what one honest man can do, it raises my hopes to think that we may have someone of that caliber in the state Senate. I have certainly been disappointed before, but I am not shy to admit that I am now very interested in who state Senator Daniel Squadron is and what he will do.

Lawrence White

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