Volume 79, Number 14 | September 9 - 15, 2009
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933


Letters to the Editor

Editorial can’t justify Quinn

To The Editor:
Re “Christine Quinn for City Council in Third District” (editorial, Sept. 2):

Your endorsement of Christine Quinn for a third (effectively stolen) term works so hard to communicate balance and yet fails so miserably.

Though I am proudly lesbian, I grow tired of this notion that Quinn’s hold on office is a referendum on our futures. We will not be fully free until we are able to throw out the gay and lesbian bums just as readily as we are the ones who don’t look or think like us.

Quinn has supported a Police Department-promulgated law to prohibit public assemblies of 50 people or more, though the right to free assembly is a cornerstone of our constitutional democracy, and despite the fact that there is a strong tradition of group assembly as a means to progress in the gay and lesbian community.

Beyond gay and lesbian issues, Christine Quinn has failed me, too. She has consistently championed oversized developments that do not ensure the vitality of city life. And yes, Quinn did address this at The Villager’s Council District 3 debate, but with the development bubble over, her concern is closing the barn door long after the horse has run free.

While I can applaud your comments on the Department of Sanitation garage and salt shed slated for Spring St., you failed to acknowledge how little Quinn has done to put this project on a proper track. Irrespective of the undeniable fact that she could stop this half-billion dollar, oversized and environmentally abusive plan from going forward, she has not done so. Instead, she has pitted community board against community board, and hidden behind a settlement between the city and the Friends of Hudson River Park regarding Gansevoort Peninsula.

The two-district Hudson Rise alternative proposal, the only impediment to which is a place to site the third district, would be a positive legacy for Quinn. Instead, she has opted to surrender (again) to Mr. Bloomberg, just as she did on term limits. 

Ultimately, all that communities really have is the advocacy of their City Council representative, a process that has been abandoned by Quinn and generally explained away as result of the pressures of her role as speaker. But we District 3 residents didn’t elect her as speaker; we elected her (and yes, I did vote for her the last time around) to be our representative to the City Council.

In that role, she has failed. She is unavailable and haughty; Quinn’s staff actually threatened to cancel a meeting on the Sanitation facility on Sept. 2 if I attended because I have been outspoken in my criticism. 

This election confronts us with the opportunity to eliminate the further harm that Christine Quinn will do with an undeserved third term and, we can hope, reinvigorate the City Council to serve in its power-balancing role against a mayor who is willing to spend any amount of money to buy support or, at minimum, silence. 

There is no doubt that Christine Quinn is the best politician in the race. But she is also all that is wrong with politics: Yet to find a principle she is unwilling to abandon, though righteous and confirmed in her right to lead.

Rosemary Kuropat
 

Speaker, mayor and the police


To The Editor:
Re “Christine Quinn for City Council in Third District” (editorial, Sept. 2):

Your endorsement of Christine Quinn cites the many things she has done for the constituents in her district. It fails, however, to look at her larger role as Council speaker, where instead of serving as a foil to billionaire Mayor “Bloomingdale”’s designs that have transformed our city into a shopping mall for condo owners, she has been a rabid cheerleader of this development for developers: The uncontested sale of Stuyvesant Town to Speyer, the unforgivable Soho Trump Hotel that has forever marred Downtown’s low-rise skyline, the taxpayer-financed Yankee Stadium and the recent Coney Island zoning changes that will transform this piece of authentic New York into a Nike/Disney store are just four obvious examples.

Perhaps even more egregious is Speaker Quinn’s blessing of the New York Police Department’s unconstitutional “stop and frisk” policy that criminalizes a half a million black and Hispanic men every year for simply being black and Hispanic. This and her deafening silence on the N.Y.P.D.’s draconian persecution of Critical Mass bikers, as well as Republican Convention protesters swept up in People’s Republic of China-style mass arrests, should give all voters serious second thoughts about re-electing her for yet another term.

Carl Rosenstein


Chris always came through

To The Editor:
 Re “Christine Quinn for City Council in Third District” (editorial, Sept. 2):

As we approach next week’s primary election, it’s easy to focus on just one specific neighborhood issue, like a new building going up on your block or construction on a local school. In doing so we ignore the many issues that affect the entire city, but have a huge impact on life in our community.

That’s why I agree so strongly with The Villager’s assessment that Christine Quinn is the best candidate for City Council in District 3. In the last four years alone, Speaker Quinn has expanded the number of full-day pre-kindergarten seats and worked to improve test scores at struggling middle schools. She increased safety regulations to keep bars and clubs from bringing noise and violence into our neighborhoods. Chris stood up against hate crimes, and is fighting in Albany to bring marriage equality to New York State. She’s improved environmental standards and brought healthier foods into our schools and onto our streets. She’s helped reform campaign finance, and kept lobbyists from having too much influence over government. She’s balanced our budget without sacrificing safe streets and good schools. And she’s been working to create new jobs and help New Yorkers who are unemployed.

When it comes to the issues that are important to District 3, and to New York City, Christine Quinn has always delivered. I hope that on Tuesday, our neighbors keep that in mind and join you in supporting her for re-election.

Brad Hoylman
Hoylman is Democratic district leader, 66th Assembly District, Part A


It’s time to dump Quinn

To The Editor:
Re “Christine Quinn for City Council in Third District” (editorial, Sept. 2):

I am disappointed that The Villager supports Quinn in spite of its acknowledgement that she has failed her constituents concerning the Spring St. Sanitation garage. The Villager credits Quinn on tenant issues and parks, but her stance — or lack of one! — regarding the Spring St. garage indicates that she has, in fact, abandoned her district on those issues as well.

The Spring St. garage would be located across the street from residential buildings, and the mammoth garage (more than 110 feet high before mechanicals) would effectively set up a barrier between the neighborhood and the Hudson River Park. 

Furthermore, her lack of action on the Spring St. garage is indicative of her environmental neglect.  Quinn agreed to placement of a 5,000-ton salt shed at Spring St. in addition to a three-district garage.  Salt dispersed from the shed will be corrosive to buildings, damage nearby parks and, most important, create a health hazard to families and their pets. The 500-plus daily trips to and from the garage would add to the already-high levels of traffic in the area and further deteriorate the air quality.

Quinn’s lack of support for the community’s alternative, Hudson Rise, reflects her ethical failure and fiscal imprudence. Hudson Rise would mitigate some of the traffic and air concerns by reducing the garage size and adding a rooftop park, and it would cost less than the city’s proposal.

It’s time we had a representative who represented us. I say, “Dump Quinn.”

Denise Levine


Quinn fights for tenants

To The Editor:
Re “Christine Quinn for City Council in Third District” (editorial, Sept. 2):

I was glad to see The Villager endorse Speaker Christine Quinn for re-election to the City Council this year. As you noted, she has been a tremendous leader in the fight for tenant protections, passing important legislation like the Tenant Protection Act and the Safe Housing Act. But it isn’t just about legal protections. In the last 10 years, Quinn has been a leader in the fight to protect affordable housing in the Village.

As a resident of Westbeth, I saw firsthand just how critical it is to have someone fighting to keep our homes affordable. Had we lost our tax abatement, many Westbeth artists would have been priced out of our community. Christine Quinn stood with us every step of the way to make sure this didn’t happen. Just a few months ago, she led the effort to renew our tax abatement and keep our rents affordable for another 40 years.

When The Related Companies proposed a 15-story glass tower for the Superior Ink site, Christine Quinn helped us fight the proposal and forged a compromise that led to a much more acceptable building.

As apartments have gotten more and more expensive all over Manhattan, it’s absolutely critical that we have leaders who know how to keep our neighborhoods affordable. Speaker Quinn has proven she can do just that, and she’s exactly the person we need to keep up that fight for the next four years.

I often say to friends who disagree with Christine on an issue or two, “If we had to have 100 percent agreement on everything, we’d all be single.” As you said in your endorsement, “Quinn is the complete package; she has the experience, the skills and the commitment that the district needs.” I, and many of my neighbors, couldn’t agree with you more.
 
George Cominskie


Doing Bloomberg’s bidding

To The Editor:
Re “Christine Quinn for City Council in Third District” (editorial, Sept. 2):

I am shocked by The Villager’s endorsement.  Simply put, Quinn serves Mayor Bloomberg and has abandoned her community. I personally sat in a meeting with her regarding the Sanitation garage and I said, “If you stand up to the mayor, you will be a hero to the community.” She replied, “I’m not interested in being a hero.” She then went ahead and voted for the garage. 

Aren’t our representatives supposed to support our best interests? The reason she didn’t is because every insider knows Bloomberg wants the garage. That’s ridiculous and not someone who should be elected as a representative of a community. How can you endorse a candidate that is Bloomberg’s lackey?

Christopher Brown


Save the bears!

To The Editor:
Re “Balazs whips bondage bash” (Scoopy’s Notebook, Sept. 2):

I commented last year about the “Leather Fest” being moved to a more obscure location, W. 13th St., and nobody else had anything to say about it. Now, the leather community is being forced someplace else again, perhaps even more obscure? 

Apparently it is O.K. to have pride in who you are, and be accepted as who you are, as long as you are one of the pretty people. Leather folk and “bears” don’t fit that mold, so we are relegated to the back alleys and out of sight. 

How many more years until they just give us a small island out in the Hudson River where we will never be seen or heard from again?

Richard Hunt


Leather forever!

To The Editor:
Re “Balazs whips bondage bash” (Scoopy’s Notebook, Sept. 2):

Our community is under attack again. We are being punished by a money-hungry community that wants us to be invisible. Yes, I have fond memories of every Sunday afternoon when daddies and their boys were seen up and down Christopher St. We had friendly bars, clubs, shops and neighbors. Pride is more then one or two days a year. It is a community of loving, caring people who demand respect. We are being made into pariahs.

In leather and pride.

Lenny Waller


Hey Bullwinkle, I’m smart!

To The Editor:
Re “Maybe it’s nuts, but they call her ‘The Squirrel Whisperer’” (news article, Aug. 26):

I loved the “Squirrel Whisperer” story, but there was no mention of how incredibly intelligent these little guys are. Some years back, I trained a family of three or four to come right up to my rear window and take an unshelled peanut from my fingers. It got so that when I raised the window, they recognized the sound and would come from all around, including the roof of a nearby building, to have a bite. Other times, out of the blue, one of them would come to the closed window and stand on the sill at full height, peering in to see if I was around. They don’t live much longer than three years, I’m told, and I’m not patient enough to train the new crop.

Same thing in Madison Square Park, where the squirrels are well acquainted with the habit of humans feeding them. If I made a clucking noise, they’d hop across the lawn from great distances, climb the wire fence and perch on top to take the unshelled peanut from my fingers. But I’m not clear on city policy about feeding them. On at least one occasion, a park official told me I was breaking the law. And I saw signs there and in other parks that say don’t feed the squirrels. Why would this be?
 
Bruce Haxthausen


Squashes squirrel jab

To The Editor:
Re “Maybe it’s nuts, but they call her ‘The Squirrel Whisperer’ “ (news article, Aug. 26):

Just to clarify a few incorrect statements made in this article:

First, the squirrels in Union Square Park are not starving. I sell my artwork in Union Square and every time I go out to sell, I bring nuts and water with me and have “regular customers” coming back and forth all day. I lay the nuts out on one of my bins and provide a nut buffet for them.

Second, having just confessed to bringing nuts to the park for the squirrels, it is illegal to feed them. There are big, green signs posted throughout the park stating this. Squirrels are considered wildlife and wildlife must not be fed, according to the law. Technically, I’m not feeding them — they’re stealing from me.
 
Miriam West


Providence the next Poe?

To The Editor:
“Provincetown drama encore as theater’s wall partly removed” (news article, Aug. 19), by Al Amateau on demolition of part of the Playhouse north wall, misses some key points for people in the community who have lived through N.Y.U.’s past performances. Without getting into Alicia Hurley’s comments — “My office should have known about it and takes full responsibility for the communications gap” — and Borough President Stringer’s comments about failure to consult the community regarding N.Y.U. embarking “on a new path of transparency and dialogue with neighbors,” the missing link is that the community has been conditioned by N.Y.U. over some two generations, or more than 40 years, to place little credence in the university’s statements and more in its actions.

It was merely a few years ago that John Sexton — after his series of town hall talks, in which he had spoken about the Village’s fragile ecosystem — sprung the monstrous, 26-story, 700-room, E. 12th St. dormitory on this very ecosystem. This was followed shortly by N.Y.U.’s participation in Borough President Stringer’s Task Force on N.Y.U. Development as a signatory to the “planning principles,” one of whose major points stressed “reuse before new development.” 

And so the very first project that N.Y.U. brought before the task force was demolition and redevelopment of the full Provincetown block front. It took some major effort, principally by the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, to convince N.Y.U. to preserve the historic theater in footprint and volume — with the theater’s four walls and surviving artifacts — after failing to get the university to commit to preservation. Absent from the initial discussion was N.Y.U. rising to a higher standard, as would befit an institution claiming world-class status, to preserve an American cultural icon instead of taking the easy way out through demolition rather than preservation. 

We now are involved in what amounts to a sequence of errors and omissions on Provincetown regarding structural facts that were supposed to have been vetted back in 2008 when the project was presented to the task force, and a breakdown in communications within the N.Y.U. administration in explaining this problem to the public and why partial demolition is proceeding. For those who were present at the construction of the new Law School building that was to preserve the Poe House several years back, this seems like history repeating itself. Poe ended up as a brick facade and plaque appendage compared to the original promises N.Y.U. made on its proposed preservation. Again, absent was the call to a higher standard in preserving a legacy in American culture, as debatable as it may have been. Who else but a major “world-class” educational institution could heed this call? 

This is why there is still great skepticism on the part of task force members, including myself, and the general public and explains why N.Y.U.’s so-called “transparency” and “harmonious relations” with its neighbors are regarded as a myth. The only transparency, in fact, is that N.Y.U. has unveiled its space needs for 2031 and the 6 million square feet total, or 3.6 million square feet slated for the core campus area. It is this magnitude of space slated for the core that causes great anxiety to N.Y.U.’s neighbors as the university expands its hegemony over the Village and its fast-disappearing “fragile ecosystem.”

Martin Tessler 


No Tennessee in ‘Greatness’

To The Editor:
Re “Last call for FringeNYC” (arts article, Aug. 26):

I once served as Tennessee Williams’s assistant. I met him a year after the Vancouver production of “The Red Devil Battery Sign,” and continued in that position for six months, through the staging of his last new play produced during his lifetime, “A House not Meant To Stand” at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago. 

Since I now live in Stone Mountain, Ga, I have been unable to witness Mr. MacIvor’s play onstage, but some time ago, received a copy of the manuscript. I can say that whatever merits “His Greatness” has, they do not include insight into the nature, life or poetic core of Tennessee Williams — in his later years or at any other time. I did not recognize Tennessee Williams in Mr. MacIvor’s play.

Additionally, the Young Man is not the type of “young man” Mr. Williams would have associated with at all — I had considerable experience dealing with Mr. Williams’s “young men.” 

Whether The Assistant reflects my personal qualities or not, I’ll leave to others to decide.

Although I cannot speak for them, the Williams scholars with whom I have been in contact and who have seen or read “His Greatness” are of the same opinion of Mr. MacIvor’s play. 

My memoir of the six months I worked for Tennessee Williams will be released by Alyson Books in hardcover in April 2010. I do not mention this as commercial promotion — it’s months too early to pre-order — but to let your readers know that the record will be set straight. 

By all means, enjoy Mr. MacIvor’s play — as simply a piece of theater — but please reserve judgment on the nature of Tennessee Williams. There must be a reason Mr. MacIvor takes great pains not to mention Tennessee’s name or the titles of his plays. I write this with all sincerity. 

Scott Kenan


Shut up, you hockey pucks!

To The Editor:
Re “Puck it! Not your average beer league in Tompkins Square” (news article, Aug. 19):

I love how the Rehabs can’t even just keep their whining to themselves, or to the league Web site, or to the league message board. Now they have to start complaining in local papers.

Hacksaw




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