Volume 74, Number 16 | August 18 - 24 , 2004

Letters to the editor

West Side plans’ flaws exposed

To The Editor:
In a famous, masterful photograph, Marilyn Monroe is captured standing on a subway grating in a way that leaves no one looking to see if her toenails were well manicured.

In a similar vein, on Aug. 3, at Community Board 4, City Hall presented all its grand ideas for the public to underwrite the spectacular development of West Chelsea and Clinton, and continued distracting from its plans’ lack of any meaningful foundation.

Fancy buildings. Exciting promises. A new subway. A stadium. Even the Olympics. But at no point did the city or state deal openly with the seriousness and scope of this land-rush development. Instead, it took the National Resources Defense Council and other respected organizations to demonstrate a total lack of critical thinking and to highlight grave deficiencies in the city’s proposal.

Little was discussed about how our municipal services — at least, police, sanitation and fire — have been severely cut over the past three years. Nothing was discussed regarding whether there was any hope on the horizon to ever restore these departments to a necessary and stable level.

This mayor’s plan, with this governor’s support, for the public to underwrite the development depends upon resources and services that simply do not exist any longer. As it is currently constituted, the foundation for this grand scheme is sand and water, not schist and granite. Just consider two of the dysfunctional entities upon which the mayor’s plans depend so greatly: Con Edison and the M.T.A. — agencies that function with state and city sanction.

The mayor claims Con Edison will serve the West Side development, while at the same time Con Ed requires a year to fix a broken Manhattan streetlight after it is first reported. And the mayor is directing the M.T.A. to build a whole new expensive subway line extension at the same time that the M.T.A. is increasing fares after already recently increasing them 33 percent.

The recent community board hearing demonstrated again that the mayor and governor, etc., are distracting the taxpaying public from the hard facts and cold realities of this development plan. As the announcement in the subways wisely warns us: “Watch out for pickpockets!”

Ross M. Horowitz
Horowitz is a member of the 200 Block West 15th Street Block Association

Boards and conflict of interest

To The Editor:
Re “Sees glass as half full at C.B. 2” (letter, by Lois Rakoff, Aug. 11):

Lois Rakoff’s letter defending community board appointments is as predictable as it is wrongheaded from her apologist vantage point as a community board public member. Her letter reads like propaganda from the sleazy New York Nightlife Association. The fact that such a public relations vehicle needs to exist and that community board members have to provide rationalizations for the bad actors, really speaks volumes. One would think we are all imagining a problem.

Ms. Rakoff should understand a basic tenet of conflicts. It is not the point that nightclub operators who are board members have an insight and can be tougher on their own. More important is the potential for lobbying abuse such relationships engender. While operators may have insight, the likelihood for abuse as a result of that insight increases exponentially. These people know how to manipulate for their purposes. NYNA (which has community board members) drum beating for bar owners to pay off-duty cops to police their businesses is a prime example. In Ms. Rakoff’s world, all is well. In the real world, that is conflict of interest begetting more conflict of interest.

Rakoff also asserts that it is not just the borough president but also councilmembers who have responsibility for appointments. Fair enough, but the buck stops somewhere, does it not? Furthermore, an incessant scapegoat named by community board apologists and NYNA is the atrocious State Liquor Authority. Again, a fair point, except that does not excuse or entitle these board members or NYNA to wash their hands of the problems in which they are complicit. It’s more likely that if the S.L.A. ever got off its hands we would see much more lobbying against what would then be labeled an anti-nightlife stance.

Rakoff continues that there is a lack of understanding about how the community boards work. That is true, otherwise there would be a much larger outcry about a system rife with conflicts.
Robert Weitz

Hoping for justice for FEX

To The Editor:
On July 24 a good friend of mine, Joseph Locascio, only 22 years old, who was also known by his nickname, FEX, was murdered right across the street from where I live. He was found stabbed to death by the side of the building at 65 Jefferson St. in the LaGuardia Houses complex, a 20-story, New York City Housing Authority project, where approximately, 200-300 people live.

Only God knows how long he was left there, how many people saw this murder happen or how many people passed by him and went about their business not knowing that this person was close to death. Maybe if someone took action when this incident happened, he would be alive today. But we can’t look back on that now because it’s too late. All we have to do is sit back and wait for justice. Leave it to the homicide detectives. But what are these detectives doing? Are they putting all their police training to catch the dirt bag who did this horrible crime? Or are they just sitting around having donuts and coffee?

We all know about forensic science and how technology works today and the difference it can make in solving a murder and bringing justice for friends and family members. Can some of this technology or something similar be used where a crime was committed down at the Lower East Side housing projects, which include a huge number of minorities and poverty? I don’t think so. Because we don’t live like rich folks — nothing but a bunch of minorities living where morals and manners are declining. Morals and manners are declining because of factors such as poverty, lack of quality parenting, inadequate schools and high-crime neighborhoods, just like the Lower East Side housing projects.

The local police should take more action in the community; I don’t see them doing their job in the community. I should know: I live there. Can our community be strong and fight back, and put the dirt bag away who committed this horrible act against FEX? Or is the community as weak as the dirt bag and the Police Department?

Everyone who knew FEX will always remember his funny voice, every time we all hung out, the shopping he loved to do, the smiles he had when he was having a good time with friends and family. The drinks he loved. There won’t be that friend anymore to have and party with, and reminisce about the good old days we all used to have when growing. Most of all, the nights out on the town won’t be the same again without our friend/brother. If justice is not served for the person who did this to FEX, he will pay eventually; his conscience will soon eat him alive!

We will all miss FEX our friend, brother, and eventually one day we will meet again.

Eyleen Hernandez

This time, the stakes are higher

To The Editor:
As a lifelong Downtowner, I was very interested in the article “How a bunch of Village upstarts toppled Tammany” (perspective, by Ed Gold, Aug. 4). I would like to tell your readers that the Village Independent Democrats club’s campaign committee is now in the very good hands of William Stricklin and his exuberant workers for progressive issues and candidates. They’re active in voter registration, tabling support for Kerry/Edwards at the local street fairs — here’s the place to get your buttons! — and doing some very innovative letter writing and other campaigns to get America back on track. Volunteers can call V.I.D. at 212-741-2994 or e-mail William at beatbush37@aol.com.

Joan Gregg

O.K., so Koch wasn’t a preppie

To The Editor:
While few would wish to edit the inimitable style of Ed Koch, a fact checker would occasionally help: Exeter is not “a posh high school in Connecticut” (Koch on Film, Aug. 4) but a venerable college preparatory school in Exeter, N.H.
George Held

It’s all Greek to Codrescu

To The Editor:
May I suggest that your op-ed writer Andrei Codrescu take a refresher course in Greek and Latin before he contributes another article like the one in your Aug. 11 issue.

For openers, the title in Latin to which he refers is De rerum natura (and rerum is not spelled raerum); its author was not Ovid but Lucretius.

I suppose that the “quotations” that begin In arcadia and Moles qualid are intended to be Latin gibberish, since they are indeed just that. But the quotation that begins Timaeo Danaos is incomplete, since it omits the word et, intended by the poet to mean “even” in this line.

Stewart H. Benedict

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