Volume 81, Number 15 | September 8 - 14, 2011
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

Photo by Jefferson Siegel

Scoopy's Notebook

‘organizing in jail’:
Lynne Stewart’s husband, Ralph Poynter (holding “warning” sign, above), was one of the participants in a “Sit-in for Justice” last Friday afternoon. The protest on behalf of political prisoners and victims of police brutality began with a screening of the film “Live Through the Wire” at Theatre 80 on St. Mark’s Place. The group then marched down to the Criminal Court Building on Centre St., where several people made impromptu speeches criticizing the justice system. In particular, they noted the cases of Mumia Abu-Jamal, Leonard Peltier and radical ex-attorney Stewart. “She’s good, she’s organizing in jail,” Poynter said of Stewart in an exclusive interview with our Jefferson Siegel. Last year Stewart, then 70, was sentenced to 10 years in jail for allegedly carrying messages for her jailed client Omar Abdel Rahman, a.k.a. The Blind Sheik. Poynter said Stewart gets the Sunday New York Times a week late because officials believe she’s somehow sending messages through its pages. “Her health is O.K.,” Poynter continued. “She has diabetes. Sometimes they give cake for breakfast. ... I try to visit her once a month,” Poynter said of the arduous trip to Fort Worth, Texas, where only immediate family and a few close friends may visit.

Rendering courtesy D.O.T.

Delancey / bridge bicycling:
Following our article last week on the Department of Transportation’s plan for the Manhattan side on/off ramp for the Williamsburg Bridge bike path, D.O.T. released an image of what it has in mind. Bikers almost jumped off their seats when they saw the extent of the design, which will basically involve ringing the area with 3-foot-high concrete walls, with little notches for cyclists to squeeze through. Bill di Paola, founder of Time’s Up!, the bicycling and environmental advocacy group, is still pushing for D.O.T. to consider Time’s Up!’s alternative plan, which calls for a new ramp for bikes to be built down to Delancey St.’s south side. He said they finally got some feedback from D.O.T. on its design. “They’re trying to say that the reason it’s such a bad design is because Homeland Security designed it,” he said. “But why would you create a design that’s not going to protect people, it’s going to hurt people? I think this design is dangerous. If they go forward with it, Time’s Up! will be advocating that part of the wall be made of breakaway plastic.” Meanwhile, the Time’s Up! plan “makes perfect sense in the long run,” he said, since it would also include a parkway for cyclists along Delancey St., which would give them three blocks after the bridge to decide what street they want to ride down. Meanwhile, state Senator Daniel Squadron and Councilmember Margaret Chin, in the wake of cyclist Jeffrey Axelrod’s death at Delancey and Chrystie Sts. a couple of weeks ago, have gotten countdown crosswalk lights installed at key intersections around that location. Squadron said he is convening a meeting early next week on how to make Delancey safer for cyclists and pedestrians. Local stakeholders, community board representatives and agency officials will join the politicians or their representatives in brainstorming on solutions. Squadron stressed that his approach is that these meetings should be open to all ideas. However, he said, any plan for the bridge’s bike ramp must be achievable in a short amount of time and be economically feasible.

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