Volume 79, Number 34 | January 27 - February 2, 2010
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

Letters to the Editor

Crime to close this shrine

To The Editor:
Re “Westbeth residents have beef with closing favorite restaurant” (news article, Jan. 20):

This is a crime, just like CBGB. Is nothing sacred? Baby Buddha is a shrine to great food at a fair price in a city gone mad! William Gottlieb Real Estate must need the money so badly that they have no respect for a tenant who has held the property for years and created a loyal following of longstanding neighborhood residents. I guess if they could, they would simply exterminate anyone in the area not having a portfolio in a high-seven-figure range.

Anyone second my motion to elect Neil Bender as the regional president of gentrification? Having lived and worked in the neighborhood on and off for more than 20 years, I know what the area was like when Baby Buddha opened its doors. William Gottlieb Real Estate was fortunate to have such a good tenant all these years. Maybe a judge can sentence Neil Bender to live in squalor, like in that ’90s flick on gentrification, “The Super,” with Joe Pesci.

Anyway this is happening nationwide, so if you think it won’t affect you, just give it time and it will.
Jeffrey Tunches

Save our ‘Baby Bu’

To The Editor:
Re “Westbeth residents have beef with closing favorite restaurant” (news article, Jan. 20):

Baby Buddha restaurant is very special for me. During the many years I’ve lived on the Upper East Side, Baby Buddha is the restaurant I visit almost every Tuesday before going across the street for Buddhist meditation in a Westbeth studio. At the restaurant, Tom Qiu and Joey Wang have been wonderfully friendly, attentive, considerate. That Gottlieb Real Estate has told Baby Buddha they must vacate the place by the end of the month — only a few days away now — is shocking.

Tom Qiu and Joey Wang have my concern and heartfelt sympathy. Tom is always most kind, helpful and quietly friendly.

Is there hope that this forced closure will be averted? There is a well-organized group in the neighborhood which is actively striving to save our Baby Bu. I want to tell Joey and Tom that I am deeply concerned about their situation and hope they will still be there for many happy decades. I think they will remember me.
Larry Israel

Battle for Baby Buddha

To The Editor:
Re “Westbeth residents have beef with closing favorite restaurant” (news article, Jan. 20):

First of all, you can’t kick somebody out of his or her business — a business that is Joey and Tom’s livelihood — by the end of the month. Ninety days, at a minimum, would be a more appropriate and legally decent amount of time, and maybe more. Small businesses form the backbone of the American economy, such as it is.

Second, William Gottlieb Real Estate is probably trying to profit from the new tourista profile of the Westbeth area, thanks to the High Line for the high lifers. Bloomberg spent $100 million-plus to build that bonbon, and will spend millions more in maintenance every year. Surely, a small businessperson like Joey shouldn’t have to pay for the real estate boom with her livelihood, even though she’s on a month-to-month lease. She has squatter’s rights.

Westbeth folks and others should get out there and picket every day, especially on weekends. Block the crossing, let the cops come, call the media, fight back. Don’t let the West Village get privatized by real estate moguls and Bloomberg. You will live to regret it.
Jerry Mazza
Mazza is associate editor, OnlineJournal.com

Investigate Gottlieb now

To The Editor:
I would like to address an issue mentioned in Kate Walter’s column, “More Jane Jacobs, Less Jane Jacobs: My new mantra” (talking point, Jan. 20):

She alludes to the fact that the Gottlieb organization (or whatever they call themselves nowadays) has been warehousing West Village real estate for years. A case in point is the grand old Northern Dispensary. How can they afford to let that prime real estate go fallow?

Could it be that our tax money is subsidizing these vacant buildings? And if so, it should be stopped immediately. It should be investigated by our politicos.

Shuttered storefronts are anti-community.
Melvyn T. Stevens

Gilly’s smoking gun

To The Editor:
Re “Post is pushing Ford” (letter, by Alex Simpson, Jan. 20):

The editor’s note at the end of this letter states: “For the record, The Villager is not consciously serving as a ‘counterweight’ to anyone’s coverage of this potential race.”

Then why do you keep posting these obvious P.R. pieces, apropos of nothing the paper has covered?

This situation gets curiouser and curiouser. But if The Villager wants to talk Gillibrand — O.K., let’s talk Gillibrand. …

Her work for tobacco giant Philip Morris is not news, but it has been minimized by the Gillibrand camp. Observers are not disturbed that she did work for Philip Morris. It’s the kind of work she did, so well exposed by The New York Times and Village Voice. For many, the depth and nature of this work leaves her seriously ethically challenged.

According to the articles, Gillibrand visited Philip Morris’s foreign nicotine/E.T.S. (environmental tobacco smoke) lab, INBIFO, several times and worked with a powerful committee that addressed using attorney-client privilege to shield documents.

In 2006, federal Judge Gladys Kessler found Philip Morris and a number of major tobacco companies guilty of a 50-year conspiracy to hide the truth from the public. The work at INBIFO was part of that conspiracy.

Judge Kessler said of the lawyers who helped Philip Morris: “At every stage, lawyers played an absolutely central role in the creation and perpetuation of the Enterprise and the implementation of its fraudulent schemes.

“They devised and coordinated both national and international strategy…and they devised and carried out document destruction policies and took shelter behind baseless assertions of the attorney-client privilege.

“What a sad and disquieting chapter in the history of an honorable and often courageous profession.”

And, yes, Gillibrand could have refused the assignment.

And, yes, Philip Morris deserves legal representation, but leave that work for those who want the money — not potential senators. As Tony Schwartz has said: “John Gotti deserved a lawyer, but that doesn’t mean I want Bruce Cutler as my senator.”

And, yes, Philip Morris is a Gillibrand donor.

Knowingly working for such an entity and furthering its despicable goals is a moral failure of catastrophic proportions. Minimizing Gillibrand’s activities shows a soul-chilling acceptance of such “sad and disquieting” work. Her supporters desperately try to gloss over this; they would do well to understand the depth of the charges. They should refer to the chilling INBIFO entries in Kessler’s verdict, or to The Lancet’s in-depth look at INBIFO’s workings.

I know the Gillibrand camp is incredibly media savvy. Her supporters are well represented on bulletin boards, and seem not to miss an opportunity to vigorously rebut the slightest demurral, in responses that — like the two letters The Villager printed — are literate and without the usual online typos and grammatical errors; why, they’re almost professional.

And now The Villager itself has been turned into yet another Gillibrand P.R. organ.
Gene Borio

Calling all angels!

To The Editor:
Re “Ray needs an angel” (Scoopy’s Notebook, Jan. 20):

Ray Alvarez is not the only one. Our Lady of Vilnius is still sweating it out on Broome St. Calling all angels, Ecclesiastical Division! Please come in on a wing and a prayer!
Christina Nakraseive

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.



Reader Services








The Villager is published by Community Media LLC. 145 Sixth Avenue, New York, NY 10013 Phone: (212) 229-1890 | Fax: (212) 229-2790 | Advertising: 646-452-2465 | © 2009 Community Media, LLC

Written permission of the publisher must be obtained before any of the contents of this newspaper, in whole or in part, can be reproduced or redistributed.