Volume 80, Number 2 | June 9-15, 2010
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

Letters to the Editor

Saujani’s no Obama — yet

To The Editor:
Re “Political partying” (Scoopy’s Notebook, June 2):

I was not with the D.I.D. at Sean Sweeney’s apartment last week but I thank The Villager for its recap.

It was nice to hear that Carolyn Maloney’s Democratic primary challenger attended. But it does not sound as if Mr. Dodge Landesman grasps the difference between this primary and when President Obama challenged Chicago South Side incumbent Congressmember Bobby Rush.

When Obama challenged Rush, he was a state senator. Carolyn’s challenger is new to county politics, sending out costly mailings — that don’t mention primary day — introducing herself as a change agent. She’s not raising her visibility as much as she’s enriching her political strategists, who may be based in Chicago, Philadelphia or Washington, D.C.

After all, which of the powerhouse New York-based strategists would ever threaten Carolyn? 

If Mr. Landesman is impressed with Carolyn’s challenger and backs her, he should be kicking himself: Had both she and Daniel Squadron challenged former state Senator Connor in 2008, she could be in Albany now with as good a chance as Krueger, Garodnick, Lappin, Mendez or Miller to win the 14th Congressional seat when Carolyn retires. In a race with a woman against two men, the woman is the favorite these days.
Billy Sternberg

Stop the rallies and get a plan

To The Editor:
Re “‘We’re not going to give up’; Cry for a hospital continues” (news article, June 2):

These rallies and meetings have been like the Tea Parties and town hall meetings — full of people venting and acting out, not making a lot of sense, driven by misinformation and clueless of the real world.

First, the decision as to what happens to the assets of St. Vincent’s is solely in the hands of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court. No amount of protesting is going to affect how the Bankruptcy Court decides to divvy up the assets in order to pay the creditors. Waving someone’s cremated ashes, telling anecdotal horror stories and pitching temper tantrums accomplished nothing but a freak show.

In order to establish a new hospital on the West Side, there first needs to be an assessment of the healthcare needs of the population. If this assessment determines that there is a need for inpatient hospital beds and that the travel time to available beds in nearby locations is excessive, then there is a basis for contending that a hospital should be established.

There are several issues that would need to explored in this assessment, one being whether the “West Side” is an appropriate catchment area from which to determine need for hospital beds, or whether referral patterns suggest a different geographic model. While residents of the Village did support St. Vincent’s E.R., many of these residents went uptown or across town for elective admissions. These elective admissions were for the big-ticket inpatient procedures that are profitable for a hospital and enable it to subsidize other, money-losing services, like E.R. care.

Even if inpatient hospital beds are needed, they can exist only if the hospital is financially feasible. Someone has to have the capital to build the facility (or buy it out of bankruptcy) and the funds to equip, staff and operate the hospital on a financially sound basis. Don’t look to the city of New York. The city already has a hospital system that is running an annual deficit of $1 billion. The private, nonprofit hospitals in New York have had to enter into consolidations to achieve the cost efficiencies needed to survive the steady ratcheting down of reimbursement. The for-profit hospital industry is not going to be interested unless a majority of the population has private insurance.

Running a hospital these days is not where you go if you want to make money. The delivery of care is, on the whole, a losing proposition. The money and the profit in the healthcare delivery system is now found on the insurance side, and the citizens of the West Side would be well advised to look at a model that included insurance.

What I am suggesting is a health plan, along the lines of Kaiser Permanente in California or the Cleveland Clinic. The hospital would be part of a nonprofit organization that would finance healthcare through participation in an insurance plan, the delivery of physician services and the provision of inpatient care. Each health plan member would be assigned a primary-care physician employed by the plan, who would be responsible for the patient’s care. Specialists would also be employed by the plan, and seen in coordination with the care provided by the primary-care physicians. These physicians would use the plan’s outpatient and inpatient facilities exclusively, thereby maximizing their utilization.

A special taxing district for the West Side might be a possible source of funds to get this health plan started and operating in its formative years, and grants from the state or federal government might also be a possibility. To me, it makes more sense to design a new model of delivering care on Manhattan’s West Side than merely replacing a dinosaur with another dinosaur.
B.B. Mathews

All L.E.S. air is awful

To The Editor:
Re “Chinatown study on asthma looks for pollution link” (news article, June 2):

The entire Lower East Side area has
asthma rates increasing from traffic, the F.D.R. Drive, bridges, trucks and air pollution from planes and helicopters. Many children as well as parents are suffering.

I think what needs to be done is to limit the amount of cars in our area and also add more trees on the Lower East Side.

Sometimes it’s so bad at night you can smell the East River and also the gas exhaust fumes coming from the bridges or highway. They should conduct a survey door to door from the Brooklyn Bridge to Avenue D and 12th St.

They can find ways to limit what’s going on.
Eric Nagy

It’s primal: We need peace

To The Editor:
Re “Cooper student loses eye in Gaza flotilla protest” (news article, June 2):

This story of a young woman suffering permanent disfigurement and the two photos that graphically show her facial injury are just so horrific and so painful to read and see!

The story and the two photos should be read and seen by the whole world again and again as a metaphor for why we as a human family should stop violence, stop “hurling rocks” (not her, but “Palestinian youths,” according to the article), stop attacking each other and try to bring peace to our troubled planet. Perhaps peace begins when we go within via primal therapy and heal our troubled hearts.

The Middle East is the focal point for the consciousness of humanity. As long as the consciousness of humanity is centered on hardened materialism, callous indifference to the plight of others, greed, self-aggrandizement, etc., there will be bloodshed and violence in the Middle East.

So it would require large numbers of people to utilize primal therapy and the tools of consciousness expansion (meditation, dream work, affirmative prayer) in order to bring about peace to the Middle East and to the planet.

My heartfelt prayers to this young woman and her family for her personal suffering. However, millions of people worldwide have been directly wounded by violence and bloodshed, either physically or by losses of loved ones.

How much bloodshed and violence and tragedy will it take to awaken people to the desperate need to utilize primal therapy and consciousness expansion tools?
Michael Gottlieb

Sects and the City

To The Editor:
Re “Religious leaders unite: East Village shows the way” (photo, May 19):

Congratulations to The Villager for its coverage of the East Village tour of religious institutions, “Open Houses,” and to Anthony Donovan, who organized the event. I was fortunate enough to participate in the three-hour tour, which was a fascinating introduction to the many faiths that make their homes there. 

Thanks also to the clergy and laypeople who opened their institutions to the tour visitors and made us feel welcome. 

Seeing the photo of the religious leaders together in front of St. Mark’s Church in-the-Bowery at the beginning of the tour reminded me, as a longtime resident, of what I love about New York and especially about the spirit of tolerance and respect shown for others’ traditions and beliefs in the Village and Lower East Side. Hopefully, in these days of sectarian strife, we can all learn from this example.
Katharine B. Wolpe

Skaters know the score

To The Editor:
Re “Hats off to new skatepark” (Scoopy’s Notebook, June 2):

Regarding the Chelsea skatepark, it’s typical to see skaters not wearing helmets at skateparks all over the country. Even without helmets, they’re much safer skating in the skatepark than in the streets — where there are cars, uneven pavement, pedestrians and other hazards. Skaters learn the contours of the skatepark and can better predict when to bail.

As far as liability, the city has done its due diligence; the information is posted, and the skaters are skating at their own risk, and enjoying the heck out of it. An amazing asset for New York City.
Miki Vuckovich

The French connection

To The Editor:
Re “The cat and the casket; A ‘tail’ of Jules and Mygal” (notebook, May 5, by Patricia Fieldsteel):

I haven’t moved from Avenue since April 1, 1974. It was very exciting back in those days. Together with my neighbor, I owned 10 cats and two dogs. She was a really sweet lady who was almost 102 when she died. 

It was so neighborly then. Mostly Italian. There were bakeries, butchers, fruit-and-vegetable stores, Woolworth and other nice little mama-and-papa stores, restaurants, bars, etc. There also were some lovely gardens and people used to sit outside. All gone. Especially the bazaars where I used to buy my lingerie and the secondhand stores. 

This coldness I now experience on Avenue A made me long for France. Since I had to go for a legal matter, off I went. I figured also, since to buy lingerie I have to go all the way Uptown and I have trouble walking, I may as well do it in France.

I found France very loving, just as I left it when I came to live in, at the time, the very exciting East Village. I didn’t realize how Les Halles, the former marketplace, had changed. I got lost in the “ultra-modern” labyrinth of Les Halles, walking for at least one hour. Since I was in pain and can hardly walk, I was ready to collapse in Rue Rivoli.

But I needed a bra. Luckily a C & A was nearby. They had a sale, so the place was crowded. They told me to go to the men’s department to try on the bras. I didn’t realize since I am not active anymore that I put on some weight. The two bras were too small! But I was so exhausted, I couldn’t move. 

I saw this young man. He looked nice and kind, so I asked him if he wouldn’t mind to exchange the two bras for a bigger size. When he came back with the bras (they fit) I asked for his address so I could send him a card from New York. His name was Graziano, a very East Village name. I also told the staff that I would send them a card.

The first thing I missed when I was back on Avenue A was a bakery. Then all those bars — a new one just opened up, killing the warm atmosphere of former years. A far cry from the bistros in France, which even there are rarer and rarer.

Now I have a little Chihuahua and two cats and, of course, I am always happy to hear how chère Madame Fieldsteel is doing in France.
Ginette Schenck  

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