Volume 73, Number 44 | March 3 - 9, 2004

Letters To The Editor

Convention campers vow nonviolence

To The Editor:
Re “Convention protestors hope to camp out in the park” (Feb. 25, news article):

I am sending this letter to clarify some things that were mentioned in the article relating to the Republican Convention protests that will be occurring this summer in New York City. The mention of the word “riot” was based on what took place at the Democratic Convention in 1968 in Chicago, which resulted in a police/National Guard riot.

I want to make it very clear that anyone camping under the permit will be expected to be nonviolent.... I want to also state that anyone on this permit application is committed to nonviolent protest.

Aaron Kay (The Yippie Pie Man)

A distorted view of Village View

To The Editor:

As president of Village View Housing Corp., I am obliged to correct the distortions that appeared in Mr. Paul Hellund’s Feb. 11 letter to the editor, “Village View board is secretive.” Mr. Hellund’s letter represents the view of a disgruntled minority that has unfortunately chosen to ignore reality.

A few years ago, an increasing number of residents at Village View felt that the co-op was being poorly maintained, and that the existing management was negligent. So a campaign was launched to get active and more-forward-looking shareholders elected to the board. The newly elected members found that conditions were even worse than expected — in fact they were appalling. To cite just a few examples: for years fuel oil had been leaking underground from old tanks, water mains were breaking and, just being patched, 40-year old boilers were rapidly becoming obsolete (two of the six hadn’t worked in years). Our facades are deteriorating and require major repairs, and our single-pane windows keep out neither noise nor wind and are energy inefficient.

Over the past few years, the board has taken an unprecedented initiative to address these major issues, including making our seven building lobbies A.D.A. compliant. By portraying the lobby alterations as “inappropriate,” Mr. Hellund and his group are ignoring the fact that we have already been sued twice by disabled shareholders who are unable to access their mail, and also that many of our elderly shareholders have great difficulty negotiating the lobby steps. The board feels its decision to improve the lobbies is the right thing to do — a prudent investment that will benefit all our shareholders.

In answer to Mr. Hellund’s other charges:

First, Mr. Hellund indicated that the board has not disclosed enough information about the so-called “controversial” capital improvements. Since 2002, the board has informed our shareholders via numerous means, including: 1) our monthly minutes containing details pertinent to each project as it develops; 2) frequent shareholders meetings open to all residents (four were held in 2003 alone); and 3) additional written information, including a newsletter and a recently initiated distribution of “Frequently Asked Questions” (FAQ) pertaining to each capital project.

The shareholders’ meeting we held in September 2003 focused specifically on the capital improvement program and featured a slide show so that shareholders could get a close-up view of the problems we are now addressing. Our construction manager, attorney and accountant were available at this meeting (and others as well) to explain each project and answer questions. And finally, photographs from this presentation (along with plans of the proposed lobby renovation) were on display in each lobby for several months. If Mr. Hellund and his group remained uninformed despite our efforts, they have no one to blame but themselves.

Second, while it is true that our minutes are not distributed immediately after each board meeting, Mr. Hellund seems to have forgotten that each set of minutes must be approved by the board at its subsequent meeting. This is standard practice. Our most-recent minutes (for a special meeting held Nov. 17 and our regular board meeting held Dec. 8) were thus approved and distributed in January.

Third, in his letter, he states that the board “secretly” set up a new corporation. In fact, the Village View Senior Corporation was established as a 501C3 (nonprofit) organization so that we are eligible to receive grant monies for our successful senior program. Our decision to file this application is described in the minutes of Oct. 15, 2002. We were not successful in obtaining grants last year, but we are reapplying this year and hope to be more successful.

Fourth, with a multimillion-dollar capital improvement budget, we are required by our banks to have a construction manager to oversee the projects. In 2002, the board outlined a list of capital improvement projects before selecting a construction management team. In accordance with the rules and regulations of H.P.D., we interviewed three companies in 2003, and selected Cooper Square Realty, our current managing agent, to oversee these projects. Cooper Square has assigned four people to coordinate our capital improvements, in addition to three on-site management staff responsible for daily operations.

This board is a fiscally responsible, honest, hard-working group dedicated to preserving Village View by keeping it structurally and financially sound. We will continue to keep our co-op affordable, as was the original intent of the Mitchell-Lama program. Our capital improvements are being funded by modest maintenance increases that were already phased in over the past two years. Mr. Hellund represents a small group of shareholders so averse to spending money now that they would prefer to allow conditions to further deteriorate rather than do needed quality repairs and effective preventive maintenance. Fortunately, most shareholders understand that to defer needed repairs today would result in more extensive and costlier repairs tomorrow.

Our co-operators deserve better than that.

Ceres Shulman
Shulman is president, Village View board of directors

Gay marriage: We need to evolve

To The Editor:
Last week President Bush proposed a constitutional ban on gay marriage. While this may be just pandering to the right wing, it is nevertheless an attack on the very freedom that America is supposed to stand for. In his speech, President Bush carefully worded his every line in order to mask the true meaning of his Nazi-esque message. He stated that government needs to “protect marriage” and not ban the freedom between two consenting adults. No one likes to hear the word “ban” when it applies to their civil liberties, but for middle-class suburban America, they love to hear that they are being “protected.”

Bush’s speech was nothing but hateful propaganda, and just when I think I’ve heard it all, I turn to CNN and watch Jerry Falwell tell me that if we recognize gay marriage and make it legal, then “why not legalize bestiality?” This so angered me (and I am a heterosexual male in my mid-20s) that I had to remind myself that a narrow view is the result of a narrow mind. 

But it is not just the right wing that is guilty of an inhuman lack of compassion. Why will none of the current Democratic presidential candidates show some guts, stand up and say, “Hey, if two people want to marry, and commit to a stable, loving marriage, LET THEM! This is America, and many gay people have died to defend the freedom that is now being stripped away from them.” 

I’ve heard President Bush say that the “sanctity of marriage” needs to be protected. This argument is utter and complete filth considering any two 21-year-old kids can go to Vegas stinking drunk, get married in a drive-thru by a guy in an Elvis costume while having a stripper and a chimpanzee in the backseat, and still have their marriage considered “sacred”...as long as they are opposite sex.

I only hope that this war on personal freedom galvanizes those with true compassion for all humans, and sends them to the polls in droves come November to oust this administration. Either love ALL humans and let them love each other, or get the hell out of the way. We need to evolve.…

 Aaron Xavier Minjarez

Downtown ‘art war’ rages

To The Editor:
Here we are in the middle of what is known all over the globe as “the arts capital of the world.” This is where creativity lives.

Yet — in some deep-rooted parts of our community — the arts have a bad name. Some would call it “fear of art.” Perhaps it is understandable. After all, for a period of time Downtown in particular erupted into an ugly “street art” war. The hatred from the radicals on both sides of this war spread like a monkey virus. Some of the most intense combatants on both sides are still in positions of authority and power in their respective group structures.

It has even gotten to the point that the Community Board 2 Arts Committee has been asked to leave the C.B. 2 public meeting room and gather somewhere else in the future. At the last meeting their unanimous resolution to display local art in the C.B. 2 meeting room was soundly rejected by District Manager Arty Strickler, and the committee will be meeting in a bank from now on.

The fact that there is only one single artist on C.B. 2 is an indication of the depth of the problem artists are facing.

Wouldn’t it be nice if this was just a segment of “Punk’d” and Ashton Kuchar came Downtown laughing, and telling us all it was a put-on for the cameras? It is up to the true leaders of our community to step forward and oversee a peaceful resolution of this volatile situation now.

Lawrence White


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