Volume 74, Number 22 | September 29 - October 5 , 2004

Letters to the editor

Koch: It’s a war of civilizations

To The Editor:
In a Sept. 21 New York Times article reporting the decapitation by terrorists in Iraq of American civilian Eugene Armstrong, the reporter wrote:

“In the video of the beheading, an insurgent wearing a ski mask and surrounded by four men with assault rifles says the group is killing Mr. Armstrong because the American occupiers and the interim Iraqi government failed to meet the deadline. Much of the man’s long speech is addressed to President Bush, who is called a dog at one point.”

Please note that the news article omitted an important part of the story, which was the exact phrase uttered by the executioner at the time he cut Armstrong’s throat and severed his head from his body. That phrase was, “Oh you Christian dog, Bush, stop your arrogance.”

The reference to President Bush by the terrorist strengthens the belief of many that we are involved in a war of civilizations. Fanatic Islamists believe that Christians and Jews who do not recognize the supremacy of Islam should die. That awful message is part of the story and The Times erred in not carrying that quote, which many other papers did.

Lee Hamilton, co-chairperson of the 9/11 Commission, has said in describing Muslim terrorists, “They want to kill us.” Why? Because those making up Western civilization and its ideas, which jihad is bent on destroying, are overwhelmingly Christians and Jews. I believe it is President Bush’s faith that gives him the strength to stay with and implement the Bush Doctrine, which is, “We will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them.”

The Times reporter refers to the spokesman for the murderers as an “insurgent.” What would it take for The Times to call someone who has just participated in the beheading of an innocent civilian a terrorist? I am sure the public would like to know.

Edward I. Koch
Koch was mayor of New York City from 1978-’89

Trust preempts Pier 57 process

To The Editor:
It is dreadfully disappointing that once again we have the Hudson River Park Trust acting in a preemptory fashion regarding the developer selection process at Pier 57. With no notice, the Trust eliminated two of the four proposals to be subject to public review. This ensured that the public would have limited choices, almost to the point of a meaningless exercise.

The first signals from H.R.P.T. regarding the development of Pier 57 were very encouraging, suggesting that cultural and educational activities were a priority. This led many of us to believe that community uses had a real chance of being the focal point of Pier 57. The fact that the former bus garage never produced any revenue made the monetary aspect of the development less crucial. But the inside track was greased far more extensively than anything we have seen in recent years.

For too long the public has been expected to accept sole-source contracts, or sweetheart deals, as the way things are done. Ultimately the taxpayers pay the freight. In the end, whether it is city-owned property or state-owned property, it is public space. While revenue may be a necessary evil, it was the Trust that indicated that going from no revenue to a self-sustaining enterprise was great and anything after that was gravy.

Unfortunately, we’ll never get the opportunity to compare what might have been. This is another painful example of an authority operating in its own interest and not necessarily to the benefit of the public.

Deborah J. Glick
Glick is assemblymember for the 66th District

Were book fest rules rewritten?

To The Editor:
After a meeting with Councilmember Alan Gerson, attended by Manhattan Borough Parks Commissioner Bill Castro, Mildred Duran from the Mayor’s Community Assistance Unit, various members of Community Board 2, Village block associations, an N.Y.U. representative and Ann Binkley, director of New York Is Book Country, an agreement was reached regarding the upcoming N.Y.I.B.C. Festival on Oct. 2 and 3 in Washington Sq. Park and surrounding streets.

Councilmember Gerson announced the revised agreement at the August full board meeting of Community Board 2. Significant points of the new agreement were: 1.) reduced exhibitors tents and street closings restricted to one day only, Sat., Oct. 2; 2.) No retail sales in the park; 3.) no use of streets or street closings in residential areas on east side of park at all; 4.) only Gould Plaza is to be used for festival on east side of park; 5.) permits for use of Washington Sq. Park and street closings are for this year only; 6.) no further permits for any other corporate use of the park by the Parks Department in the future; 7.) this is a one-time event. Councilmember Gerson read the agreement and emphasized the fact that there is to be no return of this festival and that all were in agreement that it is a once-only event in our park and residential neighborhood. Also announced at that community board meeting was the formation of a community advisory board to monitor all planning stages for the book fair.

Nothing more has been done regarding the advisory board and now we have seen the plans as recently published in The New York Times.

We take umbrage at the N.Y.I.B.C. advertisements in the Times and at the major sponsor, Target, which claim the fair will be held at “N.Y.U.’s Washington Sq. Park.” They just don’t get it. Washington Sq. Park is a city park. It belongs to the people, not to N.Y.U. This constant, erroneous reference is insulting.

Councilmember Gerson assured us that a community committee would be formed to make recommendations on all the planning for the festival; he even designated certain C.B. 2 members for the committee. According to the Times article all the planning and designations have been confirmed, without any input from the community.

We did note on the festival map that the only block association that voted for this fair, the Friends of Washington Sq. Park, whose spokesperson was quoted lauding the event, has been saved any inconvenience because there are no exhibitors now on the north side of the park as originally proposed. All exhibitors outside the park are on Washington Sq. S., according to the map in the Times.

Sadly, there has been no resolution to the problems inflicted on the Sea Scouts who have annually provided the tents for the exhibitors of this fair on Fifth Ave. They were unceremoniously dismissed this year because N.Y.U. will provide all the equipment needed. These kids depend on the fees for the job to enable them to spend their summer practicing sea safety. Ignoring this worthy children’s cause in favor of freebies from the new sponsor, N.Y.U., seems callous to us.

We appreciate Councilmember Gerson’s efforts to contain this monster festival and its invasion of our neighborhood and park. However, given the underhanded tactics used to plan this event, we are skeptical of the outcome and adherence to the agreement.

The Washington Pl. Block Association and the coalition of other block associations who are members of the Greenwich Village Block Associations, over 30 groups, are determined to prevent our residential streets and our park from becoming a corporate playground for commercial endeavors. We intend to make sure that the terms of the agreement are followed exactly. A C.B. 2 Parks Committee meeting with Commissioner Castro present will address his policy of “Commercially sponsored events in Washington Sq. Park” on Oct. 6, at 6:30 p.m., at 75 Morton St. This will occur after the N.Y.I.B.C. Festival but will possibly give us a glimpse of what’s in store for us after the assurance that no further permits for any other corporate use of the park would be issued, according to the agreement reached with Councilmember Gerson last month.

We very much appreciate the unity of the Village in this effort, and the accurate reporting in The Villager.

Lezly Ziering
Ziering is president, Washington Pl. Block Association

Soho flooding is nothing new

To The Editor:
Re “Rain ravages Soho, as building shits, sewers flood” (news article, Sept. 15):

Just a note on the flood situation on Grand St.-W. Broadway. I’ve lived here at 60 Greene St. since 1966 and it’s always flooded, restaurants or not, since I can remember. I was once told by someone that Grand and W. Broadway is the lowest spot in Manhattan. Maybe it’s so low that it’s too low to drain, as in water won’t run up hill?

P.S.: I always get asked, “You must be the only artist still in Soho.” I tell them, “You would be surprised who lives just on Greene St. It’s the galleries that unfortunately disappeared.”

Peter Reginato

Porn power grab is obscene

To The Editor:
I am writing this letter as a warning to other unfortunates who, like myself, live above an adult video store. We had an establishment move in below us last year. Suddenly my Con Edison bills began to get higher and higher, the last one with charges of $375 for one month of electricity. I called repeatedly to have someone check the meter, which I figured was defective since it was reading that I was using three times the kWh that I had previously been using. I explained that it was not possible for our two-bedroom apartment to use that amount of electricity. I was told that the meter was fine.

Finally, a friend suggested that I unplug everything in the house and then go down to the meter and see for myself if it was working properly. When my boyfriend and I went down and found our meter behind the wall covered with whips and other “marital aids,” we discovered that the meter was not the problem. The problem was the extension cord that had been spliced and was plugged into my box, which was clearly marked marked “Apt. 2nd fl.” We were furious when we realized that we were unwittingly paying for their sex booth TVs and DVD players, their air conditioner and who knows what else.

I called Con Edison, who sent investigators. They confirmed that the adult store was indeed stealing my electricity. I also called my landlord and demanded that he have my box covered and locked.

I checked back in the store two weeks later and not only was my fuse box padlocked behind the whips, but my meter was locked up as well and would be inaccessible to Con Edison. I called my landlord again and explained this problem. He told me that he had never put a lock on and he suggested that Con Edison did so.

When the inspectors showed up for a follow-up visit the next week, we discovered that it was the video store that had locked up everything. We had to remove the door from the wall with a screwdriver (and do so carefully because God forbid we break any merchandise) so that the second set of investigators could access our box and meter.

I am writing to The Villager because I have been told that the owner of this store (who explained the whole thing as “a mistake”) owns many other similar establishments in Greenwich Village. Tenants beware! Go check on your boxes and meters some time — you might be surprised by what you find.

Deborah Pirraglia

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