Volume 74, Number 19 | September 02 - 09 , 2004

Letters to the editor

Games would be worse than R.N.C.

To The Editor:

Despite the continued insistence by Deputy Mayor Doctoroff that the Jets stadium deal is not just about the Olympics, we are now seeing commercials that specifically tout that link: “If we don’t build it, they can’t come.” This exhortation is supposed to stampede us into thinking we will be missing out on the grandeur of the Olympic Games if we don’t buy into this expensive and ill-conceived stadium deal.

It has been made an article of faith that New York should want the Olympics and anyone who questions that premise is deemed unpatriotic. However, most New Yorkers are rightfully doubtful that the Olympics will be a boon for New York. Witness the current pandemonium over a five-day political convention that is taking place in a single venue. Imagine the disruption for New Yorkers throughout the city with the numerous, far-reaching venues.

Many neighborhoods have been promised various upgrades in their park facilities in order to gain local support for this expensive extravaganza that will add to the city’s crushing debt service. Many of these facilities could use improvement, but the cost of bringing them up to Olympic specifications is unwarranted. Furthermore, if you think it would be great for your 12-year-old to enjoy a larger pool, or a high-class equestrian center, keep in mind that she/he will be 20 years old before the public gets an opportunity to get near any of these venues for public use.

None of this even takes into account the likelihood of New York City’s Olympic bid being the winning bid. But even more questionable is the very notion that the Olympics will be good for New York City. There has been a spotty record of post-Olympic success for host cities. The expense will be enormous and there was never any public process that demonstrated that the people of New York thought this was a worthy undertaking. This was and is about private interests envisioning another opportunity to use public funds to get richer.

While I doubt that I would feel any differently about this boondoggle, it would be refreshing to hear the mayor and other members of his administration declare publicly that they will in no way participate in the financing, development or construction activities that will arise out of their plans for the Hudson Yards/West Side development, which includes the stadium, and the Olympic bid, should it be awarded to New York City.

What should be under consideration, with the involvement of local communities and the City Council, is a Parks Facilities Improvement fund. Over the years there was a terrible reduction in the funding for the Parks Department, although there has been some new capital work during this current administration. However, some of the reduction was made up for by private “conservancies” that raised funds for particular parks. This is how Central Park was renewed and is now off-limits for public expression of the First Amendment, but available for large, corporate-sponsored commercial events.

If the use of tax-exempt bonding is being offered to the Jets, why not redirect even a small portion of that to this Parks Improvement Fund and systematically address the upgrade needs of those parks that aren’t able to attract the sort of private contributions that Central Park enjoys. New facilities need not meet the stringent standards of the Olympics and the public will get to use these upgraded venues immediately upon completion.

New Yorkers should be listening to sports talk radio to hear how those most involved in reviewing sporting activity universally pan this headlong rush to secure an Olympic bid for New York City. It may be time for New Yorkers to communicate directly with the International Olympic Committee and voice our opposition to the administration’s slick, but misleading, presentation.

Deborah Glick
Glick is assemblymember for the 66th District

Koch has it all wrong on Bush

To The Editor:

Re “Koch: How’s Bush doin’? Great, and he’s got my vote” (talking point, Aug. 18): Ed Koch explains his support of George Bush based on the president’s ability to protect the security of Israel and fight terrorism against the United States. I, too, am a Jew proud of the history and accomplishments of the Jewish people, and for whom the security of Israel and the United States are prime considerations. But Mr. Koch has got it wrong. Bush policies undermine rather than contribute to, the security of Israel and the United States.

Mr. Koch’s view that the Democratic Party has moved to the “radical left” is absurd. Centrism was the keynote of the Democratic Convention. While many progressives, hardly radicals, hoped for a stronger Kerry/Edwards position on ending the Iraq war, we support the ticket because Bush is totally unable — morally, intellectually, practically and ideologically — to secure the strength and safety of the United States or any semblance of world peace and cooperation. Mr. Koch’s example of the enthusiastic support of Tony Blair ignores the widely known disparagement of Mr. Blair as “Bush’s poodle.”

Mr. Koch’s trust that President Bush is effective in fighting terror and protecting Israel ignores all the evidence, both prior to and after 9/11. Bush ignored the Aug. 6, 2001, C.I.A. daily briefing indicating that Al Qaeda might use planes in terror attacks against United States targets. Before the initial U.S. military success in Afghanistan was cemented, Bush attacked Iraq: as a result, we have not found Osama bin Laden; the Taliban are coming back; opium production is soaring; the government has almost no control outside Kabul; and the scale of violence has driven out all humanitarian N.G.O.’s.

Bush’s policy of unilateral, preemptive war, applied to Iraq, which Mr. Koch so admires, gives even clearer evidence of failure. There were no weapons of mass destruction and no evidence that Saddam Hussein was allied with Osama bin Laden or terrorist attacks on the United States. Bush has so mismanaged the Iraq war that 950 American soldiers have died, several thousand been wounded; thousands of Iraqi civilians — the very people we were supposed to liberate and help — have also died. The American occupation has destroyed the Iraqi infrastructure — water supply, medical care, oil pipelines, sewage disposal and museums, libraries and universities; caused huge Iraqi unemployment; criminal charges have been filed against 29 American companies involved in the so-called reconstruction; and legal memos from the Justice Department paved the way for American soldiers to violate the Geneva Convention by torturing and humiliating Iraqi prisoners in Abu Ghraib, all in the name of the war on terror.

The Iraqi war has increased terror and violence, and the bogus, confused, mismanaged and politicized terror alerts at home have spread fear, not feelings of security. Bush’s support of Sharon’s expansion of settlements in the West Bank is a reason to oppose Bush, not support him. Sharon’s “giving up” Gaza is a bogus peace ploy: combined with the security wall, it so undermines any fair conception of a Palestinian state that it works against Israeli security, not for it.

On signing the recent $417 billion defense spending bill, President Bush said, “Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.”

Millions of Americans agree, and that’s why we’re voting for Kerry/Edwards in November.

Serena Nanda, Ph.D.
Nanda is professor emerita of anthropology,
John Jay College of Criminal Justice
City University of New York

Nothing justifies president’s policies

To The Editor:

Re “Koch: How’s Bush doin’? Great, and he’s got my vote” (talking point, Aug. 18):

The Bush administration’s accomplishments over the past four years include turning a huge surplus into a record deficit, bankrupting the states through lowered federal taxes (forcing many to build casinos to earn money), lowering standards on prescription drug testing and food inspections, lowering pollution standards, blurring the line between church and state, appointing right-wing radical judges, supporting faulty voting machines, intimidating African-American voters in Florida, detaining prisoners with no due process, torturing prisoners in violation of the Geneva Convention and reducing civil liberties under the guise of the Patriot Act. Yet because Mr. Bush supports

Israel, Ed Koch will be voting for him even though he disagrees with the rest of Bush’s policies. It reminds me of the Germans who ignored much of Hitler’s agenda because he charismatically promised a strong Germany. I am Jewish by birth, but I find Mr. Koch’s sloppy thinking offensive.

Louis Erlanger

Deconstructing Serra reference

To The Editor:

In response to “Building blocks meet the sky,” by John Reed (Aug. 25, arts section)

This is my first public response to an article written about contemporary art. I could not allow myself to read another loose, overly simplified response to great art. My hope always lies in wait for a writer who forges his writing, rather than loosely constructing it. Michael Kimmelman and A. C. Danto come to mind when I think of forging an essay or piece of critical writing. Mr. Reed has provided Richard Serra as “an example” of sculpture that he describes as “brutal constructions” in his recent article on Andy Goldsworthy’s “Stone Houses” on the roof of the Met.

Is this an opinion? I cannot speak for Serra himself but I believe calling the work of Serra “brutal constructions” is not only a generalized, watery statement; it is simply ignorant, uniformed and wrong. If any one artist’s work could meet the challenges of the 21st century and not “echo” architecture but stand in relation to it, it is Serra’s beautifully forged pieces. So, in defense of Serra I take my stand and look forward to writers on contemporary art that “move slowly and steadily” to more articulate and informed critical writing.

Construction: “A visual work of art that is put together from a variety of different materials, abstract in design and usually three dimensional.” Is this really what John Reed meant?

Jason D. Szalla

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