Volume 80, Number 9 | July 29 - August 4, 2010
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

Letters to the Editor

Surprising change on N.Y.U.

To The Editor:
Re “Stringer was right” (editorial, July 22):

I was surprised by The Villager’s editorial flip-flopping on the borough president’s recent suspension of the Community Task Force on N.Y.U. Development, since there does not appear to be any new information serving as the basis for this reversal. There was, however, apparently a meeting between The Villager’s editorial board and the borough president and his staff on the subject — an opportunity not afforded to those who questioned the task force’s suspension. 

The main arguments for suspending the task force as expressed in the editorial were that “[i]t would represent a conflict for Stringer or C.B. 2 members to be taking positions on N.Y.U. development issues under the aegis of the task force, and then turn around and weigh in on them at the community board level or elsewhere.” But, in fact, the task force agreed from the beginning to never take formal votes on N.Y.U. development projects, making this supposed conflict difficult to understand.

Additionally, the editorial says, “Task force members would have ‘privileged information,’ as a result of attending the task force meetings, and that would present a problem.” But as has been discussed at the task force, N.Y.U. has on numerous occasions met privately with select community board members to share details of its plans prior to presenting them publicly at community board hearings, thus making this contention and supposed conflict difficult to understand as well. 

It is also worth mentioning that when contacted by The Villager about the task force suspension, I was told that one of the rationales offered for suspending the task force was that N.Y.U. refused to participate in it any longer. While this assertion was never shared with the task force by the borough president or anyone else, if true, it is hard to understand why it did not appear anywhere in The Villager’s editorial on the subject, since it would seem relevant to the true reasons for the task force’s suspension. 

Moving forward, one area where I do agree with The Villager’s editorial is its urging Community Board 2 to adopt the recommendations of the task force, which it has not yet done. These recommendations grew out of four years of hard work and intense discussions. Among other things, they call upon N.Y.U. to first consider satellite locations, such as the Financial District, for its planned expansion; they call on the university not to replace open space and low-scale buildings with significantly larger ones; and they call on N.Y.U. to dramatically reduce the roughly 3 million square feet of space it is seeking to add to our neighborhoods, which would double the university’s current rate of growth.

I hope we can all agree that we need our community board and elected officials to support these recommendations, regardless of whether or not the task force is allowed to continue.
 Andrew Berman
Berman is executive director, Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation

‘Rubber stamp’ for N.Y.U.

To The Editor:
Re “Stringer was right” (editorial, July 22):

What does “privileged information” mean? This just sounds like a plan to rubber-stamp N.Y.U.’s decision to build, and make sure that the community is not heard from or that their input is rendered ineffectual. It’s amazing how some people are taken in by political spin.
Jay Matlick

Our water is precious

To The Editor:
Re “What BP and Penn. drilling accidents can teach us” (talking point, by Christine Quinn and James Gennaro, July 14):

Thank you for publishing this talking point with crucial information by Christine Quinn and James Gennaro. We New York City citizens must keep informed of the danger we are in and reject the risky technology being promoted for natural gas drilling. We must protect our water supplies.

Many of us look to The Villager for unbiased information and guidance on how to participate in order to protect the quality of life in our communities. I urge you to speak more to this issue.

Life is not possible without potable water and New York’s water is known to be of high quality. Furthermore, as Quinn and Gennaro point out, New York State has no federal protection should a disaster strike as a result of allowing the proposed drilling methods. Our already weak state economy will not suffice to address the damages any accident might cause.
Diana Carulli,
Carulli is head of the Labyrinth Project

Where was the oversight?

To The Editor:
Re “Politicians gave their all” (letter, by Christine Quinn, July 14):

While I agree in principle with Speaker Quinn’s letter concerning the loss of St. Vincent’s Hospital, one important fact was not addressed.

St. Vincent’s, like any other hospital, was required to have its finances reviewed annually by independent auditors. These reports were reviewed by senior management and St. Vincent’s board of directors and forwarded to both the state and federal governments for examination, since the hospital received funding from both levels of government. They were also made available for public review in the form of annual reports.

This raises a number of interesting questions:

Where were the auditors? Did their findings and opinions over the years give a fair and accurate picture of the hospital’s dire financial position? Did they do their jobs? If not, why not?

On the other hand, if the auditors did perform their jobs capably, where were the government officials — from career bureaucrats to politicians at all levels of government — who should have made themselves aware of a looming threat to a significant part of the city’s critical infrastructure? Stated another way, where was the oversight?

Since, as Quinn writes, St. Vincent’s management was not “upfront about [the hospital’s] dire straits,” one must wonder how many of the city’s remaining hospitals are in the same condition and not being monitored effectively.
Frank B. Meade

Ray and icy overdose

To The Editor:
Re “Cold war on Ave. A as Ray faces comp from an ‘ice queen’” (news article, July 22):

At the risk of sounding petty or mean-spirited, I must ask why the East Villager (formerly The Villager) is devoting so much space and attention to Ray and his tiny store?

I’d also like to comment on the quote from Suzie Leeds of NYC ICY regarding one of her triple lemon-icy iced teas: “It’s like crack.”

A shaft of fear went through my heart when I read that. These flavored icy “treats” are sold all over the city, including by street vendors who park in front of schools to seduce and entice children.

These icy concoctions contain lots of sugar and sweetening agents that are terribly addictive. I speak from personal experience.

Natural fruits are far more healthy and safe and far less addictive. God help us — we don’t need anymore “crack” substitutes.
Michael Gottlieb

Editor’s note: We went down to Ray’s store merely to check if he was cooking fries again. When we found out that he had invested in an ices-making machine and was taking on NYC ICY — which is an impressive and upcoming business in its own right — we couldn’t resist writing the story. It seemed like a legitimate small-business story to us and, after all, it is the summertime, which is peak icy season. P.S., NYC ICY does offer sugar-free icies.

Reshma really goes too far

To The Editor:
Recently, I’ve received disgusting attack ads from Reshma Saujani about Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney. Saujani should be ashamed of herself. This election should be about more than petty, misleading attacks.

It should be about the record, and Maloney has a good one. Maloney led the charge to implement the 9/11 Commission recommendations, and she’s been fighting for consumers and working New Yorkers. Also, she’s been on the right side of the big issues, like healthcare, regulating the oil companies and fixing the financial meltdown.

Maybe Saujani doesn’t have a record to match, but that’s no excuse for attacking Rep. Maloney. 
Jim Clynes

Thank you, Ellie

To The Editor:
Re “Dreams, desires, and Ellie Covan” (arts article, July 14):

Imagine going to the new Dixon Place and not knowing how it came to be! An outrage, truly. Thank you for this article. May visions of homemade creativity and shining authenticity keep growing wildly and wonderfully through New York City’s tough cement, from Ellie’s strong roots, lovingly planted. Thank you, Ellie.
Audrey Kindred

Dixon photo moments

To The Editor:
Re “Dreams, desires, and Ellie Covan” (arts article, July 14):

I have been attending Dixon Place since I can remember in New York City. I photographed Tom Murrin, Ellie Covan and many others there while they were trying out new material. It is a very unique place for performers and audience members. If you haven’t been there, I suggest you go.
Jim R. Moore

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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