Volume 79, Number 20 | October 21 - 27, 2009
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

Letters to the Editor

The imperial Bloomberg

To The Editor:
Re “Only some school issues are for parents, Bloomberg says” (news article, Oct. 14) and “Re-elect Bloomberg” (editorial, Oct. 14):

Mike Bloomberg’s comments in the recent Villager interview were disturbing. Stating that in this country, “We have a democracy, not a republic,” he meant that once our representatives are in office they make unilateral and authoritative decisions for us. Mike went on to say that Central Park, or anything of importance, would not have been built with public involvement.

Contrary to the mayor’s statement, the seminal book about Central Park, “The Park and the People,” attests that the location, design and realization of the park were made possible only through years of fierce public debate, lobbying, petition signing, warring editorials in local newspapers and, most important, advocacy. Central Park has been called the most democratic space in the country; this is because of early and continuing public involvement. Unlike imperium, where power was vested in an autocratic ruler, high school civic class informed us that in this country sovereignty, in a radical revolutionary shift, resided “with the people.”

As a local newspaper, your endorsement of the mayor was even more disturbing given his intransigent position on crucial neighborhood issues, including foisting a consolidated, three-district Department of Sanitation facility and salt pile on us. Aristotle warned that both oligarch and tyrant mistrust the people and disarm them. Are you serious in believing, as stated in your editorial, that he will take a fresh look at the issue during a third term?

Jane Jacobs, who lived at 555 Hudson St. and redefined urban planning concepts, said, “Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when they are created by everybody.” Hudson Square is a vital and engaged community, created from a grassroots, invasion-succession movement to re-inhabit fallow industrial land. The movement left New York City government in a dilemma, playing planning catch-up, because others had taken the initiative in shaping Lower Manhattan. How ironic that we are now told we should be left out of a critical planning process that will determine our future, when we have so integrally shaped our community and have a better, award-winning, more sustainable, greener and financially more responsible plan in Hudson Rise.

Apparently, The Villager in good conscience is convinced, as Mike himself, that there is only one person to get us through these tough times. Camus pegged your position when he said, “The welfare of the people in particular has always been the alibi of tyrants, and it provides the further advantage of giving the servants of tyranny a good conscience.”
Richard Barrett

How could you, Villager?

To The Editor:
Re “Re-elect Bloomberg” (editorial, Oct. 14):

When I saw Bloomberg’s ads on the back cover of The Villager, I considered protesting. But reading The Villager’s endorsement of Bloomberg for mayor is infuriating. If any publication knows about the failures of Bloomberg’s tenure it is The Villager. Whether it be overcrowding in schools, the endangerment of Pier 40 as a public space, overdevelopment and its impact on landmarks, Bloomberg opposes our interests and our values. 

The Villager endorsement states that crime is down. Crime statistics are reported by the city. Is crime really down? Bloomberg’s control and manipulation over the facts about education are the same. When schools administer their own tests, their scores look good. They also teach for the tests. 

For The Villager to buy Bloomberg’s press releases hook, line and sinker is pathetic. Most important, in the Democratic primary, The Villager readers stated where we stand. First, we are Democrats. Second, we oppose the politicians who support Bloomberg and support those who oppose him. Readers’ letters about Christine Quinn showed how much she had alienated voters by being Bloomberg’s rubber stamp. Her slim victory over two upstarts showed where we stand. Our ongoing support of Tom Duane and Deborah Glick also shows where we stand. 

Maybe The Villager has been bought off just like other publications and nonprofits. 

I have supported The Villager for years and want to keep doing so, but I am not renewing my subscription. The Villager has betrayed its readers, its voters and the Village. Just like Mike Bloomberg, we can vote with our wallets. Fortunately, we can also vote with the pull of a lever.
Henry Sidel 

So sad, I had to laugh

To The Editor:
Re “Re-elect Bloomberg” (editorial, Oct. 14):

The endorsement reads like a Monty Python parody: “[Public school] overcrowding had several causes, but one is a credit to the mayor — the fact that more upper-middle-class and wealthy families trust the public schools.” Really? Perhaps you meant “former” upper-middle-class and wealthy... .

Further amusing to note, you can’t credit this and other failures of your advertiser’s administration to the faith of us middle- and lower-income earners in the mayor’s Reaganesque “golden crumb” policy. It didn’t work then, it doesn’t work now. 

Honestly, I’m deeply disappointed in you, Villager. I expect this from the bigger pockets, but I thought we were on the same page!
Emily Santoro 

‘Her fire burned bright’

To The Editor:
Re “Miriam Friedlander, councilmember who helped voiceless, 95” (obituary, Oct. 14):

I appreciate your well-crafted obituary of my mother, Miriam Friedlander. So many voices heard and passions expressed. You captured much of her essence and her basic philosophy: “Reach out to all the people, let them know the issues and help them to change things for the better.” 

Her fire burned bright right up until the end. 

I also was struck by the graciousness of most of her former opponents.
Paul Friedlander 

Mixed feelings on Miriam

To The Editor:
Re “Miriam Friedlander, councilmember who helped voiceless, 95” (obituary, Oct. 14):

Just for the record: Shelly Silver won the vote for City Council years ago, and Floyd Feldman challenged it and won, resulting in Friendlander becoming the councilmember.

Years later, when Floyd and I started GOLES (Good Old Lower East Side), Silver was extremely helpful to us while Friedlander was not.

During her years in the Council, she was very often at odds with the community. However, when she was no longer in office, she was a very vocal advocate for the community. Her presence at meetings about drug problems on E. 10th St., during last year’s battle to save Met Food from N.Y.U. and on other issues made a difference.

Too bad she was not that effective while she was in office.

I will miss her.
Susan Leelike 

She made great pets bill

To The Editor:
Re “Miriam Friedlander, councilmember who helped  voiceless, 95” (obituary, Oct. 14):

I hope Miriam Friedlander knew just how much she impacted the lives of so many New Yorkers. Those people who share their lives with companion animals owe a great debt of gratitude to Miriam Friedlander. Only through her determination, perseverance and sense of humanity, was legislation passed in 1983 to expand the rights of tenants to keep pets without fear of eviction. As a result of her efforts, the lives of thousands of animals were also saved. 

As counsel for the ASPCA in the early 1980s, I had the privilege of working with Councilmember Friedlander on this legislation. Her genuine concern for others and her unyielding energy to fight for what she believed in was such an inspiration. Sadly, the New York City Council has failed to pass legislation to ensure that the protections afforded to people and pets in the 1983 law remain in effect. 

Despite substantial documentation about the human/animal bond and the health benefits, both physical and psychological, that animals provide to many people, the Council has also not passed a bill (Intro 751) to allow seniors to keep pets. What a nice tribute to Miriam Friedlander it would be for the Council to finally pass humane legislation to further protect people and their companion animals. 
Elinor Molbegott

Sweeney’s ‘reign of terror’

To The Editor:
Re “D.I.D. was deciding factor” (letter, by Sean Sweeney, Sept. 23):

I have been active in the progressive politics of our community for nearly 40 years, including as a founder of the Stonewall Democratic Club and the Village Reform Democratic Club and as a longtime member of Downtown Independent Democrats. I was, therefore, dismayed by Sean Sweeney’s attempt at revisionist history in his recent letter to you. His lies cannot change the facts, and must not go unchallenged.

The recent election results reflect a clear repudiation of Mr. Sweeney’s leadership of D.I.D.  Alan Gerson actually carried both of the executive parts of the district represented by D.I.D., despite all of Mr. Sweeney’s fabrications, distortions and obsessive personal vitriol directed at Gerson. More to the point, the D.I.D.-endorsed candidate for City Council finished a poor fourth in the race, an unprecedented weak showing for a D.I.D. candidate.

For Sweeney to now claim credit for Chin’s election, reflects yet another failure by Sweeney of his legal and ethical obligation to guide the decision-making process of the D.I.D. membership. 

As for the district leader contests, Sweeney actually has the audacity to boast that he “warned” Gerson not to support challengers against “his” district leaders. Well, it is to Gerson’s credit that he had the personal integrity to ignore Sweeney’s threats, just as Gerson also refused to compromise the integrity of his Council office by refusing to give in to Sweeney’s demand that he not reappoint to Community Board 2 its former Youth Committee chairperson, Dr. Shirley Smith, with whom Sweeney has clashed publicly, on many occasions, especially around issues of racial sensitivity. 

In respect to the other contested district leader race, between Paul Newell and Avi Turkel, D.I.D. had no candidate in that race, after the Sweeney-supported incumbent, Adam Silvera, dropped out, following his receiving the D.I.D. endorsement.

Sweeney’s use of D.I.D. resources to promote his personal pick, Newell — who had previously run against Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver — without convening so much as a phone conference of the D.I.D. executive board, constitutes yet another  violation of reform club procedures and Sweeney’s legal duties.

The detrimental ramifications of Sweeney’s irresponsible leadership is particularly evident in the results of the race for judicial delegates, for which D.I.D. won only two out of 11 positions, and those came in dead last. 

For the sake of our community and the future of political reform, it must be pointed out that Sweeney, together with his small band of cohorts, has been more concerned with flexing his own political muscle than with ensuring the well-being of our community. 

Sweeney has acted contrary to D.I.D.’s long history of reform, issue-oriented politics and has attempted to establish himself as the Karl Rove of our neighborhood. Alan Gerson made the strategic mistake of deciding to ignore the vitriol and lies of Sweeney and his gang. But this community, with its long record of reform politics, refuses to be Swift-boated with McCarthyite tactics, and will not accept Sweeney’s reign of terror any longer.
Lew Todd
Todd was co-chairperson, Friends For Gerson

Park act needs changes

To The Editor: 
Re “Pier 40 Rubik’s Cube” (editorial, Oct. 7):

After years of debate over development plans and uses of Pier 40, community groups have consistently put forth two essential elements for any Pier 40 proposal: 1) strengthened community oversight, and 2) increased community decision-making power. The Hudson River Park Trust’s latest decision to take a “fresh look at Pier 40” should not move forward without a firm commitment to uphold these principles.

To start over now without a public commitment disregards the groups who have worked tirelessly for their reasonable needs to be met through Pier 40’s redevelopment, including schools, recreation fields and a 24-hour L.G.B.T.Q. youth center.

By now, it is also clear that the Hudson River Park Act will be opened to allow for necessary developments on Pier 40. Community groups, such as FIERCE, have called for amendments to the act that would strengthen community involvement and oversight of the Hudson River Park. 

If we truly want a park that meets our needs, residents and other community members must let Community Board 2 know we support amending the park act in a way that facilitates community-friendly development by giving the community more power in future developments.

On Thurs., Oct. 22, at 6 p.m., FIERCE will give testimony in support of these recommendations at the C.B. 2 meeting. To win this fight, we call on West Village residents, parents and L.G.B.T.Q. youth to join us in support of amendments to protect all of our interests and ensure our involvement in the Pier 40 process, both now and in the future.
Desiree Marshall
Marshall is lead organizer, FIERCE

Make .nyc a private affair

To The Editor:
Re “.nyc cyber struggle pits local pioneer vs. city and Koch, too” (news article, Oct. 14):

This is indeed a very interesting process, especially viewed from Europe. Over here, only Paris and Barcelona are currently planning to file applications for their city T.L.D.’s. In other major cities, such as London, Berlin, Hamburg and Cologne, there are privately owned intitiatives that are running the showcase for their hometowns. 

Let’s hope that the struggle in New York City is not going to serve as an example for city governments in other parts of the world. I believe that running a T.L.D. should be a private venture and that cities will profit from these in many ways — reputation, global image and modern tools to improve online e-government services, and all that without using taxpayers’ money.
Thomas Lenz
Lenz is C.E.O. and founder, dotKöln Top-Level-Domain GmbH (Germany)

Use headsets on tour buses

To The Editor: 
The proliferation of large tour buses on residential streets in the Village, especially buses with amplified loudspeakers, causes air pollution and traffic congestion, endangers pedestrians and significantly adds to the urban noise that invades our homes.

Thanks to some dedicated Village activists, a City Council hearing was held, after two years’ delay, to address this issue by proposing two bills — Intro 742 and Intro 836 — that would require tour buses to use headphone sound systems for their passengers and to submit their routes to the City Council. Both these very modest bills would have almost no effect on the level of tourism, which we all know has great economic benefits to the city. 

At the hearing, despite probing questions by Councilmembers Gerson, Liu and Koppell, the mayor’s representatives from the Department of Transportation consistently betrayed their ignorance, confusion and unpreparedness to deal with the issue, despite taking up more than half the time of the meeting. Their attempts to make this hearing a “them” (tourists and the bus companies) versus “us” (taxpaying residents) is simply a vintage Bloomberg ploy. Better regulation will increase the enjoyment of visitors, as well as improve the safety and health of city residents.  
Serena Nanda

E-mail letters, not longer than 250 words in length, to news@thevillager.com or fax to 212-229-2790 or mail to The Villager, Letters to the Editor, 145 Sixth Ave., ground floor, NY, NY 10013. Please include phone number for confirmation purposes. The Villager reserves the right to edit letters for space, grammar, clarity and libel. The Villager does not publish anonymous letters.




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