Volume 79, Number 16 | September 23 - 29, 2009
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933


Letters to the Editor


A wake-up call for Quinn

To The Editor:
Re “‘We showed them!’ Chin topples Gerson; Quinn fends off Kurland” (news article, Sept. 16):

The results are in: Christine Quinn eked out a 52 percent victory in the Democratic primary, with 643 more voters in favor of her than opposed. Just 13 percent of registered voters went to the polls on primary day. (The district is home to 88,233 registered Democrats — and, indeed, more than 132,000 registered voters.) 

Christine Quinn cannot claim a mandate and, as we have long claimed, has lost the moral and political authority to lead. Lunches at the Grill Room and black-tie affairs with major donors have clearly distracted her; it’s now time for Christine Quinn to step down from the speaker’s chair and start the hard work of rebuilding her relationship with her constituents. 

Perhaps some good, old-fashioned local politics will cure her of her self-aggrandizement. I, for one, whom you’ve recently called “one of her fiercest critics,” am willing to give her the benefit of the doubt — which is more than she ever afforded me.

Rosemary Kuropat


Quinn dumped on us

To The Editor:
Re “‘We showed them!’ Chin topples Gerson; Quinn fends off Kurland” (news article, Sept. 16):

With Christine Quinn getting only 52 percent of the district’s votes, maybe she will now comprehend that the community is unhappy with her record. Did she expect to get our vote when she voted for a three-district Sanitation garage and salt shed at Spring St., ignoring Hudson Rise, the community’s alternative? 

I assume Quinn will not be re-elected speaker.  Maybe she’ll have more time now to work on the issues that affect her district. 

Denise Levine


D.I.D. was deciding factor

To The Editor:
Re “‘We showed them!’ Chin topples Gerson; Quinn fends off Kurland” (news article, Sept. 16):

Although Downtown Independent Democrats’ endorsed candidate for City Council, Pete Gleason, did not win, we did defeat the unpopular incumbent, Alan Gerson, and for that D.I.D. is ecstatic. With our support in 2001, Gerson won. Without it in 2009, he lost. 

We are pleased that Margaret Chin (a D.I.D. member) romped to victory. For her it was a hard-fought and long-deserved victory. We believe that our intense campaign opposing Gerson, as well as several mailings highlighting his abysmal record, were the deciding factors in his defeat. Pete Gleason’s tough campaign also weakened Gerson.

Challengers to D.I.D.’s district leadership also were soundly defeated. In the 66th Assembly District, Jean Grillo won 76 percent to 24 percent against Gerson’s shill, Noel Jefferson. Paul Newell — Adam Silvera’s recommended candidate to replace him, and most other D.I.D. members’ preferred candidate — also romped against Gerson’s choice out of Village Reform Democratic Club, Avi Turkel, beating him 66 percent to 34 percent. Newell is also a D.I.D. member and will really invigorate the club.

D.I.D. did not endorse after Adam dropped out in late June, but most active members supported Newell, upset with Gerson’s lame attempt at trying to oust D.I.D. district leaders who did not support him. This also proved Gerson’s undoing.

I warned Gerson in the spring that any attempt to oust our district leaders would be met with strong resistance that would likely lead to his defeat. He ignored this sound advice and now lives with the consequences of that decision.

Sean Sweeney
Sweeney is president, Downtown Independent Democrats


Will Chin fix vending regs?

To The Editor:
Re “‘We showed them!’ Chin topples Gerson; Quinn fends off Kurland” (news articles, Sept. 16):

Now that Ms. Chin has defeated Mr. Gerson for the District One City Council seat, the public artists of Soho have to wonder what will happen next. After years of meetings, negotiations, mediation and hearings, Mr. Gerson came up with a confusing vending plan that would have caused serious harm to street artists.

What will Ms. Chin do? Will she walk the same path that Ms. Kathryn Freed and Mr. Gerson walked before her and come up with ideas that are harsh on public art display while largely ignoring the huge illegal vending and art bootlegging problem? Or will she see that the heart of the problem is bootlegging and illegal vending, and finally come up with a plan that protects legal vending and artists while focusing on the legions of illegal vendors? 

It is up to public fine artists to define these distinctions for Ms. Chin. I hope that they take this opportunity to do so. I also hope that they do not do so as members of A.R.T.I.S.T., which is a vending group that includes illegal vendors and bootleggers.

It will be interesting to see if fine artists have the guts to stand up and speak their mind — free speech — or if the fear of reprisals from A.R.T.I.S.T. will keep them on the path that leads to a loss of rights with more protests and ironic shouts of “artist power.”

On another note, the front-page photo of Margaret Chin being adored by her husband and her son is one of the best campaign photos I have ever seen. The color, quality of light, composition and honest emotion are spot on. Simply put, this photo is just lovely. Congratulations to Jefferson Siegel.

Lawrence White


A travesty of lies

To The Editor:
Re “Bill says owners can take 1 unit, not whole building” (news article, Sept. 16):

What a travesty of lies the owners tell. They will say and do anything to get tenants out. The stories I could tell as one of their “greedy” tenants who fights to keep rents affordable. 

I pledge to fight the owners when they turn 47 E. Third St. into luxury rentals — their plan all along. The only thing they have gained by their actions is the hatred of their neighbors and New Yorkers throughout the city. What a legacy they will leave their children: shame, greed, avarice. 

While the tenants spent their life savings and incurred considerable debt in the fight to save their homes, the owners spin a tale of buyouts. The truth is that protracted litigation was the reason the tenants could no longer go on, and no one will break even on the pittance received for their battle. 

The claim that this is the owners’ only property is a sham. We all know they have their brownstone in Brooklyn, which is next to their offices, schools, church and extended family. 

I hope The Villager will continue to follow this story.

Susan Howard 


Playhouse is a tragedy

To The Editor:
“Playhouse hysterics” (editorial, Sept. 16):

I can’t believe that The Villager would take New York University’s side in the current debacle, after all N.Y.U. has done to deface and destroy the Village’s history and heritage. People have good reason to be upset with the Provincetown Playhouse situation, since it was a disaster which shouldn’t have happened. 

If N.Y.U. needed a new computer lab, it didn’t need to construct an entire new building to house it, but merely to remodel the interior of the existing building and wisely spend its funds on the equipment inside, not the facade outside. 

And why should we believe, when N.Y.U. has lied to us so many times before, that it has spent $2 million to shore up the present building? N.Y.U. can, and does, say anything it wishes. By now, most of us don’t believe them, and I’m surprised that The Villager does. Don’t knock righteous indignation — it’s good for the neighborhood! 

Marilyn Stults


Cars and peds flout rules

To The Editor:
“It’s time to put the brakes on rogue bicycle riding” (talking point, by Jack Brown, Sept. 9) ignores what is happening on New York City streets. Bike riders are dying on a regular basis when they are following the rules of the road. 

I ride my bike to work almost every day. I try to ride in bike lanes whenever possible. However, not a day goes by without a car or truck (most days multiple cars and trucks) parked in the bike lane or driving in the bike lane. Cars regularly make turns into bike lanes without looking or having any concern for bike riders. All these activities make the trip much more dangerous for the biker. Many car drivers think they are the only vehicle on the road and therefore can do what they want. 

I would like to see a survey of how often cars are found in bike lanes. I even see cars parked in the enclosed bike lanes on Seventh and Ninth Aves.

Pedestrians can be just as bad. When I am riding the correct way down a street, pedestrians cross against the light right in front of my bike. They think it is O.K. to cross the street because no cars are coming. I would like to see a survey of how many pedestrians cross the street against the light when no cars are coming.

I agree that bike riders should follow the rules of the road — but do not continue to single out the bike riders, they are not the main problem. Everyone needs to follow the rules of the road. Bike riding is a healthy, environmentally friendly way to go to work.  It should be promoted, not attacked. 

Let’s make the roads safer for everyone by (1) building more protected bike lanes, (2) ticketing or towing vehicles parked in bike lanes, and (3) ticketing bike riders and pedestrians who do not follow the traffic laws.

Harvey Epstein


Creative solution needed

To The Editor:
Re “It’s time to put the brakes on rogue bicycle riding” (talking point, by Jack Brown, Sept. 9):

I agree with Jack Brown that we have a problem with cyclists who ignore traffic laws. I was run down by a cyclist in front of the N.Y.U. Student Center who was going the wrong way. 

Solving the problem, though, must go beyond law enforcement. No solution will be found as long as we demonize cyclists. We need a creative solution to encourage cyclists to obey traffic laws. Pedestrians and cyclists have a common interest in making our streets safer.

Bob O’Sullivan


Cyclists are terrifying

To The Editor:
Re “It’s time to put the brakes on rogue bicycle riding” (talking point, by Jack Brown, Sept. 9):

I rejoice at the emergence of a citizen group actively concerned with city cyclists’ near total disdain for the laws of the road. And as a very longtime advocate for traffic safety, safe and traffic-law-observant traveling and, absolutely, for walkers too, I despair at the near total denial of most cyclists. 

And it grows worse by the day with government, whose first duty is to protect public safety, not only ignoring this ubiquitous threat to public safety but rewarding the culprits with all manner of perks paid for by taxpayer dollars. This in a city with a great public transit system which needs all the support possible. 

And yes, I am against nonessential private cars and very much against all motor vehicle crimes of traffic, especially those affecting walkers, and drivers’ failure to yield when turning into a pedestrian crosswalk. And if government really wants to go green — then, doggone it, lower the speed limit, and that goes for bikes too. 

A truly safety-conscious government would also require a fast-moving machine operating in a crowded city to make a nice little warning sound — remember clickers on bike wheels? Or maybe little bells — anything to make them audible. Now they’re not only inaudible but invisible at night without the state law-required head and tail lights — and also a warning bell. 

The trouble is the citizen majority who don’t ride bikes and find their lawless riding distressing are too silent. There aren’t any mass walks to protest this lawlessness that gets a complete pass by City Hall’s top brass. The majority are depending on you, CARR, to change all that. Yes, you can! Yes, you must!

Bette Dewing


Peds can be a problem

To The Editor:
Re “It’s time to put the brakes on rogue bicycle riding” (talking point, by Jack Brown, Sept. 9):

Mr. Brown’s article resorts to hostility and sensationalism, which is too bad, since this is a topic that could use some reasonable dialogue. I agree that a near miss by a rogue biker is annoying, but I would hardly describe the situation as “homegrown terrorism.” 

I am a runner, walker, train commuter and a biker. When I’m running or walking, I have plenty of occasions to be troubled by unlawful bikers. The funny thing is that when I’m biking from my Village home to my Brooklyn studio, I am more frequently troubled — or terrorized, to use Mr. Brown’s language — by unlawful pedestrians. At most intersections, countless pedestrians will cross against their red light, with little regard for the lawful bikers who have a green light. Furthermore, pedestrians frequently jaywalk midblock, not looking for bicycle traffic. Law-abiding bikers must then either hit the pedestrian, or dangerously swerve into traffic. Neither option is a good one. 

It seems to me that we’re in a situation where the bicyclists are behaving like the pedestrians, and vice versa. Both groups want to have the right of way over cars, and both groups want to ignore traffic laws when it suits them. 

I am a biker who follows the laws, but I must admit that I feel rather foolish doing so, as cars and pedestrians making illegal and dangerous moves are rampant. 

If we want to encourage law-abiding behavior for bikers, then we also need to increase pedestrian respect for law-abiding bicyclists. Yes, that means we will need to enforce existing jaywalking laws in tandem with existing bicycle laws. Let’s remember that behavioral modification is as effective as law enforcement, as evidenced by the surprisingly effective “Step Aside — Speed Your Ride” initiative on the subways. 

Let’s also remember that both bikers and pedestrians are doing the city, and the environment, a favor by relying on self-propulsion.

Les Dickert 


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