Volume 79, Number 17 | Sept. 30 - Oct 6, 2009
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933


Letters to the Editor

Don’t fear public option

To The Editor:
Some people are afraid of having a public option for healthcare.
But we’re not afraid of public libraries competing with bookstores.
We’re not afraid that public transportation will put car companies out of business.
We’re not afraid that public parks will stop people from buying private property.
We’re not afraid that public playgrounds will put toy companies out of business.

Public libraries, schools, parks and transportation are all examples of how a public option benefits all of us — how they encourage private versions of these things to be better.

And how, the better funded they are, and the better they run, the more they become resources that are valuable for every citizen. For our happiness, our pleasure, our health, our well-being, our community, our enjoyment of each other, of our resources, of our lives.

Public is for everyone: If you have trouble getting or affording insurance — because it’s expensive; because you’re a freelancer; because you have a small business; because you’re between jobs; because you’re just out of school; because you have a health reason that insurance companies want to reject you for. 

But if you care about someone who has these issues, you have a reason to be afraid. You, or that person, can lose a job, a house, a leg, a loved one, the ability to go and do what you want in life, to take care of yourself and other people. 

That’s what there is to be afraid of. Obama is offering us a plan that will go miles toward ending those fears. Surely, you have less important things you’d rather be worried about.
Risa Mickenberg


Bowery is still rough

To The Editor: 
Re “Fight turns fatal” (police blotter, Sept. 9): 

Dan Abbastante came into my store and was 100 percent street in his manner, but I know how to deal with him: Show them “homeless” respect and courtesy and chances are they will do the same. 

Now because of the gentrification of the Bowery, people still think they can walk around the Bowery with their head in the sand. No! Get off your cell phones, don’t wear flip flops. Learn to deal with the Bowery Residents’ Committee or go back to the suburbs.

Abbastante is one of the rare shelter guys that borrowed $5 and paid me back. My question is, did the hospital do its job in treating the victim?

Billy Leroy
Leroy is owner, Billy’s Antiques & Props


Artistic scapegoating

To The Editor:
Re “Will Chin fix vending regs?” (news article, Sept. 23):

Lawrence White likes to pretend to be the voice of reason, but his sudden rejection of Councilmember Gerson’s absurd vending proposals ignores historical reality.

What White now describes as Gerson’s  “confusing vending plan that would have caused serious harm to street artists” was in very large part directly inspired by Mr. White.

In numerous previously published letters, White applauded, praised and promoted exactly these same plans that he now claims would have “caused serious harm to street artists,” if they were passed. For the past eight years he has viciously and routinely attacked myself and the A.R.T.I.S.T. group for our efforts to stop these exact same proposals from being passed into law.

The completely useless “years of meetings, negotiations and mediation,” White is referring to, were organized by White, who has also publicly claimed he helped put Gerson into office, held fundraisers for him and was appointed to variouspanels by Gerson, all of which were about getting these exact same vending “reforms” passed that he now calls “harmful to artists.”

Gerson’s primary election loss was barely confirmed before White began auditioning for Ms. Chin’s attention, and he is still promoting the exact same “ideas.” 

The 60 pages of existing New York City vending laws already make vending illegally, bootleg vending, etc., punishable by arrest, summons and confiscation. Artists have been 100 percent protected by the First Amendment since A.R.T.I.S.T. won our first lawsuit in 1996. Not one new law needs to be passed to protect us.

What I’d offer to Councilmember-elect Chin as advice on this issue is simple:

Ignore people like White. Encourage the police to enforce the existing laws against those who are clearly illegally vending.

Discourage police from harassing street artists and other legal vendors who are following the laws. That is a plan that can and will work to everyone’s benefit.

Robert Lederman, 
Lederman is president, A.R.T.I.S.T. (Artists’ Response to Illegal State Tactics)


Tried to warn Yassky 

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

I don’t have anything personal against David Yassky, but after (twice) sending him what I considered a thoughtful e-mail of concern for a citywide problem that is now out of control and getting no reply — except an automated, out-of-the-office reply — I think he deserves some criticism. 

I predicted someone would soon be killed. One didn’t need to be a mind reader to make such a prediction. And as reported in the July 19 Daily News, someone was. 

Here is the e-mail I sent one year ago to Yassky: “Dear Councilmember Yassky: I am a resident of Brooklyn Heights and am writing to bring to your attention what has now become common practice among very many bicyclists across the city. I am referring to the fact that many bicyclists no longer believe that the traditional ‘rules of the road’ apply to them. As a result, bicyclists can be frequently found riding in the wrong direction on one-way streets, failing to stop at crosswalks for pedestrians, and most troubling, riding on sidewalks at all times of the day and night. As a result of this kind of behavior, I have in the past several months barely escaped collision with several bicyclists. You may recall that on two occasions in 1997 bicyclists riding on sidewalks collided with pedestrians who later died of their injuries. These incidents prompted Mayor Giuliani to order the police to step up enforcement of traffic rules for bicyclists, and led to renewed calls for stricter laws against reckless cyclists. A decade has now passed and the memory of those two deaths has apparently faded from the city’s collective memory. I am afraid that it is only after similar tragedies occur that the city will once again remember why common-sense traffic rules apply to bicyclists and must be enforced.”

Matthew Kusinitz 


Drivers always break laws

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

As one of the few bicyclists who does stop at red lights, I have to say I would be all for some better enforcement of bicycle behavior. But it has to come hand in hand with automobile and pedestrian enforcement as well. 

After all, it’s not bicycles that kill more than 300 people in New York City every year. That would be cars. If you want to talk about protecting pedestrians, you’d get your most bang for the buck by getting the N.Y.P.D. to actually enforce laws against cars running red lights, idling with no one in the vehicle, parking in bike lanes, speeding, making illegal turns, etc., etc. I see this behavior every day and the most it seems to get from the police is a shrug, like they’ve got better things to do. 

And really, “CARR” as an acronym? That’s pretty lame. It makes it sound like the group is promoting more cars on the streets.

Peter Flint


Why do you hate cyclists?

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

Noticed your latest attack on bicyclists Sept. 9. The hysteria was worthy of a parody in The Onion. Samples of the deranged rhetoric: “rogue,” “vulnerable elderly,” “parents fear for children’s safety,” “pets are in peril” (hey, what about birds?), “plaguing,” “anarchy,” “jeopardy,” “deprives us of peace of mind,” “sense of anarchy,” “the elderly are virtually housebound” — because of, presumably, killer bicyclists — “homegrown terrorism.” Gee, the writer should have linked it to 9/11! Maybe next article.

And then there’s “deaths,” which turned out to be one death. One death all year in a city of 8 million attributed to a bicyclist. Most years there are none. However, every year a dozen or more bicyclists are killed by cars, and guess how many pedestrians on average are killed by motor vehicles in New York City? Two hundred fifty per year.

So at what target does your rag direct its hysterical hatred? Environmentally sound bicyclists. Consciously or not, you a--holes are stooges of the oil industry.

What a reactionary rag. 

Dave Berg


Editor’s note: The talking point column by Jack Brown — and it was clearly marked “talking point” — reflected his own opinion, and not necessarily that of The Villager. Talking points are intended to promote discussion of important issues and, as such, the newspaper encourages submission of talking points on all sides of the issues.



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