Volume 79, Number 39 | March 3 - 9, 2010
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

Letters to the Editor

‘Writer is the hater, not me’

To The Editor:
Bonnie Rosenstock’s notebook column of Feb. 17 (“Sidewalk swastika solution; Trying to pave over hate”) deserves a correction.

In 1943, I was born in Berlin, the day before Hitler’s birthday. I spent the first few days of life in a bomb shelter, as Allied bombs filled the skies. My mother, I found out later, induced her labor to make sure I was not born in a bunker. 

The Nazi reality intimately shaped my life and continues to obsess me. How could it have happened? Beautiful Jewish girls disappearing from classrooms, as my mother told me, whole families disappearing from neighborhoods. The collective national suffering and a personal helplessness made me leave Germany in 1963, a country that for me was still exploding with racism and anti-Semitism. 

I’ve lived in the States for 45 years. I was a professional photographer, and started shooting and documenting the vibrant, Lower East Side, working-class, Puerto Rican community in 1975. I worked night and day in the streets, became a homesteader and community activist. My work is now archived at the Center for Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College. The extraordinary resilience of the Latino community — its cultural, artistic and political legacy — is something I believed deserved to be visible to the world at large. 

Ms. Rosenstock writes that I was photographing “poor Latinos” — an insult to both myself and a vibrant community that survived decades of economic assault. She also offers a deeper slur in her piece when she suggests I was insulting Jews, and by inference, that I am connected to a horrifying swastika recently discovered on E. 10th St. This is a symbol that means nothing but suffering to me. In my view, Ms. Rosenstock, whom I barely know, wanted to connect a German to this story. Why she chose me I don’t know. That she connected my life to a Lower East Side swastika is to me unimaginable. 

The character denigration used by the Germans is a technique in my view that Ms. Rosenstock used in her story. She never used my name, but the community knew it was me. Since the story ran, I have received countless phone calls and e-mails, while my neighbors stop me on the street, outraged to see my identity implicated in Ms. Rosenstock’s narrative. 

Ms. Rosenstock is right to be shocked by a swastika in the middle of New York City. But if anyone needs to pave over hate, I would suggest it is her — hate against Germans, Puerto Ricans and anyone not of means. 

Jacob Riis, one of the country’s most important photographers, built his reputation documenting “poor Jews” in the late 1800s. He made an enormous impact. A hundred years later, I am doing the same with my work, in the service of a diverse Lower East Side immigrant community. 
Marlis Momber

Still relying on St. Vincent’s

To The Editor:
Re “Times adds to St. Vincent’s trauma, hospital’s docs say” (news article, Feb. 24):

You will not find a more dedicated staff of doctors and nurses than those at St. Vincent’s. Two members of my immediate family had deadly illnesses and both spent long periods of time at the hospital. I believe their lives were saved because of fast access to the nearest hospital and superb medical care while there.

We used to go to one of the major teaching hospitals Uptown but they made many major mistakes and I could get nowhere when I complained. In one instance, my relative came in with a severe stomachache that was dismissed as a stomach virus, until a new crew of doctors came in several hours later, and found that the CT scan had either been misread or not read at all.

He was rushed into surgery but by that time he needed three more major surgeries to correct what could have been a simple procedure if properly diagnosed in time. He went into septic shock and was close to death.

I have had nothing but good experiences at St. Vincent’s. At this point, I have placed my life in their hands. I have metastatic spine cancer and am being treated both at their Cancer Center and by doctors at the hospital. The inaccurate information in the Times was terribly upsetting to me because the articles led me to believe that the neurology department was being eliminated, and I am being treated there.

Fortunately, the information turned out to be inaccurate, and I am grateful to The Villager for setting the record straight on many misleading reports that may make good news stories but are very disturbing to patients who are relying upon St. Vincent’s to treat serious medical problems.
Myrna Posner

M8 study was flawed

To The Editor:
Re “Why the M8 bus is on the chopping block — once again” (talking point, by Francis Menton, Feb. 24):

One of the reasons for the M8 being chosen, along with so many other lines, to have service cuts is because of an invalid count. When the M.T.A. did its so-called study to see which lines were less traveled, it only counted fares, not people. The M8 line is used by many senior citizens who pay half fare and many students who pay no fare (and rightly so). 

By only counting the amount of money taken in, the M.T.A. wrongly assumed that less people used the bus line. The M.T.A. needs to be ordered to redo that study so that people are counted and not fares.

This agency’s decision to cut services on bus lines is a slap in the face to every senior citizen in the city and every student. Shame on the M.T.A.!
Jay Matlick 

Bus moves are too much

To The Editor:
Re “Activists, C.B. 3 and pols vow to put brakes on bus cuts” (news article, Feb. 3):

Villagers are rightly concerned about the proposed cuts in service to the M8 and several north-south bus lines, but there is one change in service that is getting little attention. I’m referring to the virtual removal of the uptown M3 line from the Village by shifting it from University Place two blocks east to Fourth Ave., which is at the edge of the Village. 

Unlike the other changes, this proposed M3 shift is being done not to save money, but in the words of the M.T.A., to “streamline” the route. If only the M.T.A. had some officials with institutional memory, it would never make such a ridiculous suggestion.

Let’s look at the history of the Fifth Ave. routes.  When it was a two-way street, all the buses went both south and north on Fifth, routes that were easily accessible to most Villagers north of the park, with the exception of those living in the far West Village. When the avenue became one-way southbound, the northbound M5 was moved one block west to Sixth Ave., while the M2 and M3 moved one block east to University Place, routes that were still largely accessible to most of the same population. 

Then the M2 was moved two blocks east to Fourth Ave., rendering it off limits to most Villagers.  Shortly after this, University Place, which had been two-way, was changed to one-way northbound for the sole purpose of facilitating the M3’s turn from Ninth St. to University, in recognition that this route was essential to provide continuing service to Greenwich Villagers traveling to the Upper East Side.

The M.T.A. should take note of the fact that Fourth Ave. is three blocks east of the original Fifth Ave. route; further, this “streamlining” effort not only will not save money, it will actually lose money, because it will be out of reach for most Villagers, while at the same time creating a redundancy (with the M2) on Fourth Ave.

But beyond the issues pertaining to this one bus line, we should be focusing on the city’s overall transportation policies in general, as well as the M.T.A.’s seeming insensitivity to the population that uses buses. 

Clearly, as others have pointed out, cuts in mass transit run counter to the desire to cut down on automobile use. The M.T.A. board consists of 17 members, including those representing seven counties outside the city. There are only two minority members and only three women — hardly representative of transit users. 

When it comes to bus service, I wonder how many M.T.A. board members think in terms of the many people who can’t climb subway steps and don’t own cars. Which board members consider the areas of the city already inadequately served by transit?   

What is needed is a way to coordinate transit policies with traffic policies. We can’t expect to cut car use (with corresponding cuts in pollution and oil dependency) if at the same time we’re crippling mass transit.
Carol Greitzer
Greitzer, a former city councilmember, chaired the Transit Committee of the City Council

M.T.A. can lose the limos

To The Editor:
Re “Why the M8 bus is on the chopping block — once again” (talking point, by Francis Menton, Feb. 24):

If the M.T.A. rescinded the limos for its board and others, as well as lifetime free travel, it would pay for a lot of proposed cuts. Finding competent contractors who submit reasonable bids for on-time and quality work is another way for the M.T.A. to get ahead.
Susan Leelike

Community leaders key

To The Editor:
Re “Out of the zone” (editorial, Feb. 17); “Bakery’s wonderful, but don’t add commercial to mix” (talking point, by Lara Iden, Feb. 17); and “Sullivan surrender” (Scoopy’s Notebook, Feb. 24):

Thank you for the extensive coverage of the proposed Sullivan St. rezoning, including the editorial opposing the rezoning and recent coverage of the plan’s withdrawal in the face of imminent defeat.

It should be noted that dozens of neighbors and community leaders wrote letters, reached out to elected officials and testified at community board and City Planning Commission hearings to urge rejection of the rezoning.

I’d like to make special note of two community leaders who played a particularly critical role in leading the effort to defeat the proposed rezoning: Tobi Bergman and Sean Sweeney. Both sounded the alarm early about the dangers the proposed rezoning could pose, and both worked hard to successfully secure support of their fellow Community Board 2 members for the community’s position in opposition to the plan. 

Both were also eloquent spokesmen for their position, without whom the rezoning’s defeat might not have been possible.
Andrew Berman
Berman is executive director, Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation

Stop stipends, cut ‘pork’

To The Editor:
Re “C.U.: ‘Lose the lulus’” (Scoopy’s Notebook, Feb. 24):

Mendez has stated publicly that she supports eliminating stipends for city councilmembers. Why doesn’t she introduce a bill into the Council that would eliminate all stipends? This would give the entire Council an opportunity to save the taxpayers approximately $500,000. Mendez has been in the Council for the last four years, I am sure that she isn’t ignorant of this process. 

I am not questioning Speaker Quinn’s authority to establish committees, but where in the New York City Charter is it written that you have to get paid to chair a committee? As a councilmember are you not required to attend committee meetings anyway?  Isn’t that what you are elected to do and get paid for?

In the case of term limits, Mendez has shown that she has no problem in voting against the wishes of the speaker. Considering that Quinn had enough votes to repeal term limits, and Mendez was just completing her first term in office and would not have been affected by the vote’s outcome, one might consider that as her real motivation for why she bucked the speaker on that issue.

The entire issue of stipends seems to revolve around speaker loyalty. When the speaker invites the 51 councilmembers each year to “Thanksgiving dinner” and begins carving up the portions of pork, a.k.a. discretionary funds, it is the councilmembers who determine who within their respective districts will feast for the year.

Mendez could surprise us all and introduce a bill eliminating all pork, a.k.a. discretionary funds. If Mendez actually did that and somehow persuaded at least 26 councilmembers to vote for it, she would be saving the taxpayers millions of dollars each year, instead of allowing herself to be part of a process that rewards loyalty for political support.
Roberto Caballero

Billboards deface Village

To The Editor:
While it is good to see that Equinox has removed the promotional wrap from the building on Greenwich Ave., it is disconcerting to see others still defacing walls in the Village with billboards. There is a street-level billboard painted on the building at the corner of Christopher and Bleecker Sts. The lovely brick wall is now covered with unwanted commercial clutter. Can this eyesore be legal? If it isn’t, who can we contact to have it removed?
Andre Becker

Editor’s note: The agencies with oversight are the Department of Buildings and the Landmarks Preservation Commission. You could call 311, and the operator would direct you to D.O.B., with whom you could file a complaint.
Take it easy, Toni

To The Editor:
Re “Bye-bye Buddha” (Scoopy’s Notebook, Feb. 10):

I think Toni Dalton, in her comments on the much-lamented demise of Baby Buddha, may have been swept away by bitterness when she denigrated the Bus Stop by contrast. It’s not the Bus Stop’s fault we have lost Baby Buddha! 

The Bus Stop, too, is a cherished local institution.  I can’t imagine there’s a kid under 12 between Seventh Ave. and the river, and 14th and Houston Sts., who has not had a pancake there. Their staff is warm and kind and their ambience is welcoming. 

It’s clear we need to hang on to our local businesses and cherish them with all our might, since who knows what crazy logic will sweep them away tomorrow.
Ann Kjellberg

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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