Volume 79, Number 25 | November 25 - December 1, 2009
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

Letters to the Editor

Duane: Protect state’s water

To The Editor:
Re “Pols, water activists pour it on for drilling ban” (news article, Nov. 18):

I greatly appreciate The Villager’s ongoing coverage of New York State’s shortsighted plan to permit natural gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale and other Upstate regions and the impact that this industrial activity would have on New York City’s water supply.

Protecting the city’s watershed is absolutely imperative. However, we must not overlook the other water supplies in and around the Marcellus Shale — including the Delaware River watershed, which serves much of the Catskills — that would also be threatened by horizontal drilling and high-volume hydraulic fracturing.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation must establish a no-risk policy that protects not just New York City’s watershed, but all water supplies throughout the state, including aquifers and even private wells. We are one New York, and city residents must stand up for New Yorkers across the state to protect all our sources of drinking water from the very real dangers posed by this method of industrial gas drilling.

Chesapeake Energy Corporation’s announcement that it will not drill for natural gas within New York City’s watershed is a welcome commitment, but it is by no means sufficient to protect this watershed, let alone the other water supplies located in the Marcellus Shale formation. Voluntary measures by the industry are no substitute for strong government regulation eliminating the very real risk of contamination to New York’s drinking water.

This is why, in addition to voicing my concerns to D.E.C. and urging my constituents to do the same, I am sponsoring legislation in the New York State Senate (S6244) that would prohibit gas drilling in and around the New York City watershed, the Delaware River watershed and any recharge area for a sole-source aquifer. The bill would also establish legal and financial penalties for drilling accidents and includes provisions to protect all water supplies statewide.

It is essential that all stakeholders, from individual residents to environmental advocates to community-based organizations to my colleagues in government, work together to ensure that we do not move forward with plans for natural gas drilling without adequate protections for our precious natural resources.  Anything less would be a disservice to all New Yorkers.
Thomas K. Duane
Duane is state senator, 29th District

Devil is in the drilling details

To The Editor:
Re “Start of a sea change in the water-drilling debate” (news article, Nov. 11):

A catch-22 in the state Department of Environmental Conservation’s decision to have toxic gas drillers register their hydraulic-fracturing formulae and reveal the chemicals used in them is highlighted in D.E.C. Commissioner Alexander “Pete” Grannis’s Nov. 13, 2008, letter to the New York State Assembly: 

“[W]e have already declared that the industry will have to disclose to D.E.C. all of the components and additives in the fracturing fluid in their permit applications — a standard that we will apply to all future drilling operations... .

However, [such submissions] are subject to the New York State Freedom of Information Law, which allows companies to assert confidential business or trade secret status for this information.

“[A]ll of the chemical information will be available to D.E.C. for making regulatory decisions, but public access to any trade secret protected submissions will be subject to the provisions of the aforementioned Freedom of Information Law.”

That hazardous secrecy could also make D.E.C.’s regulatory decision-making process regarding these 270-plus chemicals, many of them toxic, secret as well.

Much gratitude to The Villager for Al Amateau’s outstanding coverage of New York State plans for hydraulic fracturing for natural gas in the city’s main watersheds and in the state’s entire Southern Tier, which overlays the natural gas-containing Marcellus Shale.
Ann Warner Arlen
Arlen is a public member, Community Board 2 Public Safety, Public Health and Environment Committee, and was chairperson of C.B 2’s Environment Committee, 1989-2003. She is co-chairperson, NYH2O Community Boards Committee.

Oops! Sorry, Rosie

To The Editor:
Re “Locally and nationally, too, making our voices heard” (Progress report article, by Arthur Schwartz, Nov. 11):

Looks like in my excitement over possible heightened political activity in the Village’s two City Council districts, I went a step too far in the Progress Report. I was of the mistaken impression that the City Council had only extended term limits for one cycle. Turns out I was wrong. Although Rosie Mendez righteously opposed the term-limit extension, she will benefit from it: She will be able to run again in 2013. 

Rosie Mendez is one of the top-tier elected officials. She is rooted in her community and believes that direct action is often a necessary road to winning what the community needs. She is practical but passionate, ethical but open to new ideas. Rosie could move up in the political world if someone else moves on. I guess that until then, unless someone challenges Sheldon Silver or Brian Kavanagh for the Assembly, East Village politics will be quieter — at least on the electoral front.
Arthur Z. Schwartz
Schwartz is general counsel, ACORN and the American Institute for Social Justice, and Democratic state committeeman for Greenwich Village, Soho and Tribeca.

Mendez for Council speaker

To The Editor:
While all this talk is occuring about the possibility of Quinn losing her speakership position, I found it interesting that you didn’t publish a single article about the subject. 

Quinn received a serious challenge from two candidates in the primary — though, I do admit to be a little biased, considering I volunteered for challenger Yetta Kurland’s campaign. Those votes cast for Quinn’s opponents were not only a referendum on the candidates themselves, but they were also an indicator of the speaker’s popularity, and in effect, a possible indicator of her future as speaker if she is to be reselected. 

If Quinn only has the support of half of the people in her own district — as indicated by the number of votes she received — how could she have the support of the entire city or the rest of the City Council in her future endeavors? 

Though only Charles Barron has thrown his hat in the ring, I would like to suggest Rosie Mendez for speaker, since voters have shown their overwhelming approval of her, and she has been incredibly progressive and effective on youth issues, education, civil rights and minority rights. 

Mendez’s vote against term limits proves that she has only the people’s best interest in mind, and is not under the influence of a mayor whose support is shrinking each day. It’s time to realize that there is a changing tide, and I sincerely hope that Mendez answers my call to effect positive change for the people of New York by volunteering herself to become speaker.
Dodge Landesman 
Landesman ran against Mendez for City Council earlier this year, but dropped out of the race in July and endorsed her. He then served as youth coordinator for candidate Yetta Kurland, and is currently a board member of the political action committee of Marriage Equality New York.

St. Vincent’s suit supporters

To The Editor:
Your recent article “Top preservation groups back St. Vincent’s lawsuit” (Nov. 11) illustrates a broad concern regarding the Landmarks Preservation Commission’s process in approving demolition of the O’Toole building. 

While the support of such neighborhood, citywide, state and national preservation groups is truly gratifying, it should be noted that four organizations agreed immediately to join the Protect the Village Historic District’s suit in February of this year. 

Nine months ago, the Historic Districts Council, Docomomo NY/Tristate, Landmark West! and Defenders of the Historic Upper East Side recognized that this flawed hardship decision posed a terrible precedent for all of New York City’s historic neighborhoods. It was not an easy decision for any of us to make, but letting this dangerous ruling proceed unchallenged was not acceptable.
Leo J. Blackman
Blackman is president, Historic Districts Council

Koch’s reviews too political

To The Editor:
Re “Koch on Film” (Nov. 11):

Ed Koch’s review of “The Men Who Stare at Goats” represents yet a new low, even for the esteemed mayor-turned-reviewer. Koch devotes two out of seven paragraphs to trashing some Hollywood notables’ political views and actions and the translations of the same into the films they make. 

Yes, Polanski should be punished for the despicable crime of raping a 13-year-old child, but the man fled from a double-cross a judge threw at him, following a negotiated plea that had already been arranged — a judicial offense, in the eyes of progressive and fair-minded observers of the criminal justice system, almost as heinous as the crime Roman committed. 

Jane Fonda cozying up to the North Vietnamese? Mr. Mayor, surely you jest! The U.S. never should have been there in the first place, and America’s collapse in South Vietnam and the takeover that followed were both inevitable and a blessing for most Vietnamese. Hugo Chavez? More a blusterer and a clown than a threat to U. S. interests. “Syriana”? A thoughtful critique of excessive American tactics in the Middle East, whose political accuracy was verified by the revelations at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib.

Koch’s political views are not only archaic and retrograde, they don’t belong in film reviews. Frankly, he is unfit to write the paper’s movie reviews. My advice to The Villager’s editorial board: Replace him with someone possessing the sagacity and the politically progressive acumen to subtly negotiate the line between advocacy and insight.
Erich Goode

Caught the feeling

To The Editor:
Re “Friedlander’s fighting spirit continues to inspire” (memorial article, Nov. 18):

David, Gloria and I wanted you to know our appreciation for your memorial article, which so clearly captured the event’s spirit and overwhelming expressions of appreciation for my mother and her dedication to the community.
Paul Friedlander

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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