Volume 18 • Issue 17 | September 16 - 22, 2005

Letters to the editor

Widow blasts Vincent critic

To The Editor:
Re “No hero” (Letters, Sept. 9 – 15):

John Penley’s hate- and inaccuracy-filled letter about my husband Steven Vincent was so wildly off base that I found it imperative to respond.

For Mr. Penley’s information, Steven was not a “right-wing agitator.” He was a Jacksonian Democrat who believed in people doing things for society, rather than society endlessly doing things for people and getting nothing in return except more demands for more things. But he did not like President Bush or the vast majority of Republican political leaders, and his support for the war had far more to do with his sense that, if it had been waged correctly, Iraq might finally attain the same kind of freedom Penley enjoys. Far from being a cheerleader for Bush and Co., he was disgusted with the way the peace was being handled, and in his writings frequently criticized the president, Donald Rumsfeld and the Coalition Provisional Authority, all of whom he felt had grievously misled and let down the Iraqi people, and shamed America as well. But since Penley doubtless never actually read anything Steven wrote, there would be no way he could possibly know that. How nice that he’s so willing to put his ignorance on such public display.

Closer to home, he once again thrashes the long-moribund horse of Steven’s support of “Antonio Pagan and his pro-real estate yuppie developer platform.” Perhaps Mr. Penley could stop frothing at the mouth long enough to look around and notice that since Antonio left office, the East Village/Lower East Side has been overrun with upscale developments, all built under the auspices of that well-known “low-income housing advocate” Margarita Lopez. Contrast that to the middle-income housing projects that were slated to be built under Pagan, which would have allowed local residents a chance at owning their own homes, a carefully-crafted effort killed by Lopez the minute she took office. If anyone is responsible for welcoming in the “rich and powerful developers,” thus driving locals out of the neighborhood and destroying the “proud culture” of the E.V./L.E.S., it is Margarita Lopez and her minions, of which Penley doubtless considers himself one, not Antonio Pagan and Steven.

As to Penley’s claim that Steven welcomed bars, again, he knows not whereof he speaks. Steven was appalled at the ceaseless numbers of bars flooding the area, and the resulting hordes of tourists and underage N.Y.U. students they attracted. During his two-year tenure on Community Board 3, he consistently voted against the endless approval of new liquor licenses, a fight I continued during my six years on the board, five of them as chairperson of the State Liquor Authority Committee. But C.B. 3 was powerless against the state S.L.A., something none of us down here has any control over. As to fighting drug wars — well, yeah, we did object to having a 24/7 heroin ring running out of numerous buildings on our block. It has a tendency to impact on one’s quality of life if you’re nervous about having to walk down your own street every day; so along with many other people, we fought for years to have the dealers busted. But if Penley’s notion of a “proud culture” is one in which 12-year-olds with backpacks on bikes are employed to help sell drugs, or 15-year-olds with pitbulls and guns feel free to menace, harass and rip off anyone and everyone around them, then he is the ugly American, with no concept of the true greatness of this country, not Steven, who believed in the concepts on which the United States was founded, and who hoped to see those concepts take root, flourish and grow in Iraq for Iraqis, a land and a people he had come to love.
Lisa Ramaci

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