Volume 74, Number 44 | March 09 - 15, 2005

Letters to the editor

Glasnost at Ryan-NENA

To The Editor:
Thank you for your article entitled “A battle over an orchard, but Chekhov’s not included” (news article, Feb. 23), in which you discussed the plans of the William F. Ryan Community Health Center to expand services at its satellite, the Ryan-NENA Community Health Center, on a site that would impact on a part of a community garden that currently exists. It is important that the community be made aware of the issues that are involved, and to have the correct facts. Therefore, we must address the quote from Ayo Harrington that there was “deceptive” behavior on the part of the Ryan Center regarding its plan to build on the property in question. We take great exception to such a characterization, and point out that we notified Ms. Harrington as early as the spring of 2004 that we were seeking to obtain title to the property first, and if successful, would develop plans to build on the site. At that time, there was no other information to share.

As information became available, we shared it with Ms. Harrington as well as other members of the community. We want to again state for the record that the Ryan Center did not own the property in question until December 2004. Prior to that, the actual owners of the property never paid taxes or maintained the property. Thus, any suggestion that the William F. Ryan Community Health Center was ever deceptive about its ownership of the property or its intentions is completely inaccurate and should be corrected.

Kathy Gruber
Executive director, Ryan-NENA Community Health Center

Deconstructing art

To The Editor:
In reference to Soho’s “Wall” (news article, Feb. 23, “‘Wall’ brawl in Soho pits advertising against art”), I find that I am driven to throw in my two cents worth. In the 20 - 25 years that I have seen “The Wall”, I did not know it was a work of someone’s art. I always thought it was to hold up the side of the building. After a few years, I figured that those beams were the finished product for the repair to the side of that building. I am hoping numerous other people thought the same thing, because I don’t want to believe I could be the only one who did not recognize it as art. I, however, would rather see the beams back up, than to pass by and see ads like the CK ads (that go up across the street.)

Joan Daniel

Response from Fields’s office

To The Editor:
We take issue with The Villager’s reporting on the situation at Community Board 2 (news article, March 2, “Fields’s and C.B.2 ‘s stories conflict about a conflict of interest”). 

Contrary to the impression left by Lincoln Anderson’s reporting, we at the borough president’s office have been crystal clear: We believe that a person who holds a liquor license should not be chairing a committee that approves liquor licenses.

The Conflicts of Interest Board concurred with our position. In fact, when the COIB issued that opinion, it was appealed by members of Community Board 2. When the COIB responded to that appeal — with a position concurrent with our own — our office insisted that the individual in question step down as chair of the business committee. That individual did so, and there is a new chairman of that committee.

The positive actions of our office were obscured by Anderson’s reporting, which instead focused on administrative minutiae — whether our office had received a letter alleging a conflict of interest, and when.

None of that changes our position and actions in this matter — we moved successfully to prevent a potential conflict of interest regarding liquor licensing.
Dan Willson
Director of communications,
Manhattan Borough President C. Virginia Fields

Community voice on C.B. 2?

To The Editor:
Is there any chance that the community can speak and have a say in who becomes the new chair of Community Board 2 (news article, March 2, “Fields’s and C.B.2 ‘s stories conflict about a conflict of interest”)?  Bob Rinaolo is unacceptable as many of us know who have been victim to him championing his own causes and his special interests. But where are the alternatives and to whom can we turn for leadership?
Marjorie Colt

Police intimidation charge

To The Editor:
Thank you for your article on the Critical Mass arrests last Friday night (news article, March 2, “14 arrested as Critical Mass crackdown continues”). I was arrested with the first group of riders at Fifth Ave. and 17th St. I would like to point out that what Paul Browne, the Police Department’s deputy commissioner of public information, said is not what happened. The first six who were arrested were waiting at the light — we were obeying the traffic laws. I personally asked a deputy commissioner of Community Affairs what makes a parade or procession and he did not know. No estimates could be given nor could our arresting officers cite the law we had broken. I do not believe the police are interested in the lawbreakers. They seem to be interested in intimidating the ride. The police have also seized our bikes as “arrest evidence” and we do not have them back yet. Thank you for your attention to this First Amendment issue.

Jonathan Beck

In defense of Stewart

To The Editor:
Paul Piccone’s letter (Feb. 23, “Lynne Stewart, a traitor to U.S.”) asserting that Lynne Stewart is “a traitor to her country and should have been tried as such,” is a much needed reminder of P.T. Barnum’s wisdom: “Not only do people like to be fooled; it is profitable to deceive them.”

Since there was not a shred of evidence that Lynne Stewart’s defense of her client led to the death or injury of any Americans, nor an attack on the nation, her most serious offense was a violation of prison rules.

On the other hand, our president and his cabinet are responsible for the death and injuries of a multitude of soldiers who are fighting a war that is extremely lucrative for Mr. Bush’s pals at Lockheed, Boeing, Halliburton, and Bechtel. Mr. Bush lied to the American public about weapons of mass destruction, as he did about 9/11. We can safely assume that the paralysis of nerves above his heart have made him habitually and unconsciously dedicated to purely selfish aims, sometimes known as “patriotism.”

Shelly Estrin

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