Volume 79, Number 22 | November 04 - 10, 2009
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933


Letters to the Editor

Huge victory for tenants

To The Editor:
The New York State Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court, gave tenants a huge victory two weeks ago when it ruled that Tishman Speyer had improperly raised rents beyond required limits while accepting tax breaks from the city for major renovations at the Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper complex. When Tishman Speyer purchased this development, tenant organizations and local elected officials objected, because they correctly feared that this working- and middle-class enclave of affordable housing would be jeopardized by aggressive tactics to eliminate rent-regulated tenants.

At the time of this sale, we were concerned that Mayor Bloomberg regarded the purchase as a private matter. The potential loss of 11,000 units of affordable housing in a city growing increasingly unaffordable is certainly not a “private matter,” but indeed a matter of public policy that should have had the city’s attention with the mayor leading the charge.

The stunned response of a real estate industry spokesperson to the most recent court ruling was that it reverses 15 years of government policy. These policies are a part of the Republican legacy of the Pataki-Giuliani-Bloomberg administrations, which have put profits over the accelerating demise of affordable housing and the erosion of the rights of working- and middle-class renters. These policies should be reversed, and the remedy is for those who took unlawful profits to return them. 

We can hope that this decision will make others who seek to bend the law think better of using questionable strategies to undermine affordable housing. We applaud the court’s decision and look forward to an equitable resolution. 

Deborah Glick
Glick is assemblymember, 66th District 


Sweeney/Todd — the D.I.D. drama

To The Editor:
Re “Sweeney’s ‘reign of terror’” (letter, by Lew Todd, Oct. 21):

In his letter, Lew Todd, a political operative of Alan Gerson, wrote bitter comments against Sean Sweeney and the Downtown Independent Democrats that distorted the reality of the election, an election loss that Gerson only recently conceded, barely two weeks before the November election.

While Mr. Sweeney as president of D.I.D. may have influence in the club, he only has one vote. Despite Gerson trying to pack the club to win D.I.D.’s coveted endorsement, he failed. The message became clear that change was demanded, particularly after the undemocratic term-limits extension that Gerson voted for. Incumbency is a very powerful position and it is not often that challengers defeat the incumbent. This incumbent lost. Maybe we the people are making a statement here?

D.I.D. endorsed Pete Gleason. This was a crucial factor why the incumbent lost. In fact, many believe that the critical press that Gerson received from Gleason’s campaign and D.I.D.’s election material had a halo effect. Many organizations and unions that typically endorse did not endorse in Gerson’s race. It is fair to say that without Gleason and D.I.D. (or without Gleason’s and D.I.D.’s expository campaign), this would not have happened.

Gleason raised controversial issues time and time again during his campaign. There was criticism that he was running a negative campaign. Yet telling the truth can be negative. After Gerson lost, the media listed as reasons for his defeat — guess what? — the same reasons that either D.I.D. or Gleason had pointed out to the electorate early on.

Margaret Chin won. She is a respected member of D.I.D. But you can only pick one candidate. Although D.I.D. ended up endorsing Gleason, the club had good words for Margaret throughout the campaign. She did an amazing job getting out the vote. D.I.D. recently gave unanimous support to her candidacy prior to the November election.

Many people do not even know the name of their councilmember, their district leaders or the political organizations that flourish throughout our city. With Obama’s victory, coupled with the mess going on in Albany, the alarming extension of term limits, our troubled economy and much debate over our schools, I have seen renewed activism and a desire to be part of the process. While there will always be differing opinions on the influence of local activists and organizations, let’s hope more people get involved, since we have a tough road ahead and need to be proactive to achieve the changes we need.
 
Jeanne Wilcke
Wilcke was campaign manager, Pete Gleason for City Council 2009


Liberals fought stadium

To The Editor:
Re “The Olympics and the lie of conservative patriotism” (talking point, by Markos Moulitsas, Oct. 28):

Talking point writer Markos Moulitas is wrong when he says, “Liberals didn’t cheer four years ago when New York lost out to London for the 2012 Summer Olympics.” 

Liberals fought tooth and nail to stop the West Side stadium that was the heart of New York’s Olympic bid because they thought the space could better be used for affordable housing. This is the same reasoning they use to oppose construction of an NBA arena at Flatbush and Atlantic Aves. in Brooklyn. 

Chicago lost its Olympic bid because it planned cheap, temporary facilities. The Olympic Committee wants to leave monuments.

Charlie Walker 


God bless Goldin’

To The Editor:
Re “‘Dammit, we won!’ Housing activists feeling golden at 50” (news article, Oct. 28): 

I was filled with both pride and joy to see your front page with Frances Goldin receiving an award for her longtime achievement in housing and urban renewal. I speak with such pride since it was because of Frances, along with Esther Rand and the Metropolitan Council on Housing, that our homes were saved from the wrecking ball back in 1970, almost 40 years ago, on E. 11th St., between Third and Fourth Aves.

I speak of 112-120 E. 11th St. where longtime residents destined for eviction were able to keep their homes thanks to the valiant efforts of Frances et al., through five years of landlord negotiations, squatter movements and tenant/landlord meetings. During that time, the tenants lived through rampant burglaries and fires, along with junkies and prostitutes turning tricks in hallways, basements and on the roof.

After the five years had passed, and everyone’s lives had been strained beyond human decency, a compromise was reached. As a result, myself and four other families are still living wonderful lives in structurally sound, beautiful buildings that did not need to be torn down.

The landlord, however, does deserve proper recognition, as well, in this entire ordeal, having had the patience to endure the five years of negotiations and offering a congenial resolution in the end, by renovating around us, without disruption to vital services, such as heat and hot water.

Having just turned 50, I sincerely thank people like Frances for helping our families fight for our rights, saving our homes and making me currently the longest-living tenant on the block! Thank you, Frances. God bless your 85 years on this earth. And congratulations on your 50 years of struggle in urban renewal!
 
Joe Preston


The Swiss problem

To The Editor:
Mr. Polanski — I cannot keep him off my mind each time I look out of my window and see what they have done to the backyard next door. It looks like a Swiss jail backyard.

I know because I was in the same jail Mr. Polanski is in. It was when I couldn’t pay a hospital bill in 1964. I had TB.

The landlord next door cut all the beautiful trees and destroyed the garden. So the N.Y.U. students can have a barbecue. How nice! Like it is not enough that there is noise all night because of the bars across the street, especially on Fridays and Saturdays.

Back to Mr. Polanski... . The irony is until 1997 rape was hardly punished in Switzerland. Especially when it involved a child. “The child is lying.” 

Charlie Chaplin couldn’t live in the States because he was with a minor. The two French stars Johnny Hallyday and Alain Delon are notorious for deviant sex with minors. Both possess chalets in Switzerland, and Alain Delon even became Swiss. Some think that Georges Simenon, who also lived in Switzerland, even had an incestuous affair with his own daughter, who committed suicide when she was 25 years old.

There is a lot of incest going on — especially in the mountains. 

In 1965 — then things changed — girls were let out of orphanages at 16, without skills. The orphanages were dismal. No TV, no radio or newspapers, but a lot of religion. Many ended up in prostitution.

Although what Polanski did was wrong, compared with what I just described, he is almost a saint.

Ginette Schenk


5 bugles for ‘Motherhood’

To The Editor:
“Throw mama from the train” was the headline of Lou Lumenick’s Oct. 23 review in the New York Post of Katherine Dieckmann’s marvelous movie “Motherhood.” In every sense, Lumenick et al. missed the boat. 

Yes, those motherless dudes misogynistically missed the boat. The reeking, ranting words of New York’s cinema “reviewers” so-called are encircled by wreaths of noxious vapors, the toxic fumes of woman-scorn. 

But what else might we expect from dish rags that endorse Bloomberg for mayor, over the wishes of the people who twice voted in referenda against third terms?

Except for my having been in one of my bipolar “sloughs of despond,” I, a.k.a. the Bleecker St. Bugle Lady, would have accepted Katherine’s invitation to appear in the film. She told me in passing Friday that she had named one of her characters Hester in my honor.

So “Hester” did show up at the Bedford St. shoot two years ago. Anyhow, I am infamously a longtime loudmouth against lawbreakers, injustice and gratuitous unkindness. But Hester of Hollywood shows me just how much catching up is ahead of me. Now only 75, maybe by 85 I shall burgeon into that piss-vinegar, tough old broad of Katherine’s movie.

Katherine went to great lengths to minimize the impact on the neighborhood of her movie-making. At the Bedford St. location, filming was brought to a halt to avoid trampling a just-fledged starling fluttering on the sidewalk. The company’s head electrician skillfully wielded his precision tiny little knife to cut away the dental floss entangling the feet of this baby starling who could fly but not alight, shackled as it was. So this big old guy with his great big hands and tiny little knife freed the little bird from what would have ultimately caused the loss of its feet. 

As critic, I might point out that in “Motherhood” there are several rather treacly, teachy speeches by unnecessary characters. However, Katherine may be forgiven such smidgens of didacticism, for she is, after all, a professor at Columbia University, and doubtless aware that repetition can strengthen but redundancy can weaken. 

Reveille, Assembly, To the Colors, Charge, Fix Bayonets (oops) — imagine bad-ass bugling. Anyhow, neighbors, friends, Villagers: Troop to the theaters to see “Motherhood.” The cinematography is a love song to our Village. You’ll say, “Wow! Do we live here? Who needs heaven?”

Hester I. Brown 


We’re all sick with greed

To The Editor:
Re “Let us apologize for Goldman Sachs” (editorial, Oct. 21):

I’d like to apologize to the readers of The Villager on behalf of the writer of this well-meaning but misguided editorial.

Whatever greed and selfishness manifests at Goldman Sachs or other corporations is merely a mirror reflection of the greed and selfishness and mindless hedonism that pervades our entire society.

It is the dog that wags the tail, not the tail that wags the dog.

The decisions, attitudes and actions of corporate executives is determined, to a very large degree, by the values and consciousness of the masses. What we see at Goldman Sachs, at the local supermarket, at the bank, is largely the direct result of the values and priorities adopted by the vast majority of our fellow citizens.

Bluntly, there is virtually no compassion anywhere in our society. 

Michael Gottlieb 


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