Volume 18 • Issue 23 | October 21 - 27, 2005

Letters to the editor

Op-ed opinions

To The Editor:
As a long time Downtown community member who both lives and works within the shadow of what were the World Trade Center towers, I am writing to support Dave Stanke’s position expressed in “Free the rest of the W.T.C. from the memorial” (Talking Point, Oct. 7 – 13). The evisceration of the Freedom Center is not the point — the kudzu-like growth of the memorial is. There are already noises being made to limit retail development on the site. A small, well organized, and vocal minority of family members apparently will not rest until the entire site is devoted to their fallen family members. These persons do not recognize that the W.T.C. site exists as a huge hole in the heart of our community. No memorial no matter how large or how well conceived, can or will fill the holes in the hearts of family members for those they have lost. An expeditious rebuilding to accommodate the office, hotel, and retail space that once existed on the site and formed the heart of our community should not be held hostage to grief carpetbaggers like Debra Burlingame, the leader of “Take Back the Memorial.” Ms. Burlingame did not move to the East Coast until after 2001 and she did not lose anyone at the W.T.C. Her zeal and those of her supporters is directly proportionate to their living distance from the site. They have no real understanding that people actually live right next to the site. They treat our community as if it does not exist. Grass roots community leaders like Dave Stanke who wish to see a reasonable memorial and an expeditious rebuilding schedule deserve our community’s strong support.

Helene Zucker Seeman
Co-president of BPC United

To The Editor:
Poor David Stanke. He did not get his way. He did not get the one thing he believes he is entitled to. Control over the W.T.C. memorial — as if it was his own private property.  How dare the big, bad, mean (and, according to Mr. Stanke, greedy) 9/11 families dare think they should have any say so at what is built at ground zero. Nor should the firefighters union, the uniformed fire officers association, the N.Y.P.D., or the 47,000 people across the country who signed the take back the memorial petition.

So what is a good (or bad) sore-loser to do? Why, sink to name calling, twisting of the truth and demagoguery, of course. If you can’t win the hearts and minds of the people, (and more important for Mr. Stanke and the International Freedom Center crowd, the wallets of the big-money contributors) with the truth, go negative, resort to attack politics. That’s a lot more fun, anyway.

Mr. Stanke and his I.F.C. crowd may believe the story of 9/11 is one of morbidity and defeat, death and destruction, of victimization and loss. I, and the 9/11 family members I know, along with our fellow Americans, believe the true full story of 9/11 is one of triumph. The triumph of courage and heroism, of grace and dignity, of love and devotion to something greater than oneself.

Here is a shock for Mr. Stanke: The full story of 9/11 does not include how he was allegedly treated by some fire official. 9/11 was not about Mr. Stanke. Turn your back and bid farewell, Mr. Stanke. No one cares.
Christopher Burke
Brother of Capt. William F. Burke, Jr., Eng. Co. 21, who was killed in the North Tower

To The Editor:
Re “A welcome exit” (Letter to The Editor by Jack Lynch, Oct. 14 – 20):

Falling debris from the World Trade Center hit my home and displaced us for three years. I returned to a community in shambles, reeling with shock and depression. I dedicated myself to the belief that together, we could recreate our neighborhoods. I also devoted myself to a meaningful memorial that provided an emotional path to peace and renewal, one that could be part of our lives.

When my family settled months later, organized family groups were demanding a 16-acre memorial through a well organized and funded lobbying effort. I spoke with victims’ families to represent neighborhood feelings about balancing remembrance with revitalization. Jack Lynch has been at many of these meetings. I have honored family members by expressing myself directly and honestly.

“Family” responses that I received to my editorial (Talking Point, Oct. 7 – 13, “Free the rest of the W.T.C. from the memorial”) were divided for and against. Neighborhood response was overwhelmingly positive. No one wants to publicly challenge the extreme family positions that Jack Lynch and his friends represent, because of the personalized attacks in retribution.

Family groups have sued to halt Path construction, questioned all culture on the site, and objected to retail nearby. They recently told the Port Authority that the planned bus ramps for the site were inadequate. These actions are obstructionist and hateful to the notion of rebirth.

My wife’s best friend died in the W.T.C. This woman deserves a memorial reflecting her vitality, love of life, and generosity; not one defined by beams of rusty steel and walls of fractured concrete. She would have laughed at the issues a few families have used to stamp their tone, positioning, and composition onto the memorial. She would have wanted a memorial with heart, but instead we have one measured in acres and mired in smallness.

Can anyone give back the heart of the W.T.C. memorial?

Dave Stanke

More than 1 Southbridge view

To The Editor:
I have read your recent article regarding the two votes Southbridge Towers shareholders are facing in the coming weeks, one of which is the J-51 referendum (news article, Oct. 14 – 20, “Southbridge residents face two votes on rent future”). I am surprised at the one-sidedness of the article. It is important that viewpoints from both sides of this very important issue be published by Downtown Express.

I am an original, 35-year resident of Southbridge Towers and have seen my monthly maintenance rise more than 30 percent in the last four years with no end in sight to more of the same. The J-51 tax abatement is being promoted as a panacea for rising costs when nothing can be further from the truth. It saves about $50 per apartment, per year and will not prevent further maintenance increases, which are sure to happen in light of rising energy costs and major capital improvements that Southbridge faces in the near future.

A study for privatization is necessary and important, as we require more information on possible alternatives for raising revenue (such as flip-taxes, etc.) for an aging co-op in need of much repair. Under the Mitchell-Lama program, the only way to fund these rising costs is through more maintenance increases and more loans, thus keeping us in a never-ending cycle of endless debt. 

Information on the benefits of “normalization” doesn’t hurt anyone. J-51 is not the solution to our rising costs, as it would lock us into Mitchell-Lama, preventing the exploration of alternative options for the next 15 years. It would be a shame to do that for such a miniscule “savings” under J-51, which, incidentally, we can still be eligible for, even if we did privatize.

More than 625 Southbridge residents signed petitions demanding a referendum to authorize a privatization study. This is more than one third of the shareholders, demonstrating a huge interest to explore alternatives for generating revenue for Southbridge. Knowledge is power and certainly an “official” unbiased study will give us the information we need. Downtown Express is an important source of information for the Downtown community and I would expect that when preparing an article on the referendum you would make the effort to solicit the opinions of shareholders who support the referendum and not just those of board members and cooperators who would limit our alternatives.
Rosemarie Ferrara

Editor’s Note: Downtown Express did contact three Southbridge Towers residents who had previously spoken in favor of studying privatization. Two of them did not respond to our calls by press time and the third no longer favors studying the issue.

Roster issue deserved better treatment

To The Editor:
Kudos to the Downtown Express for your willingness to tackle the complex, nuanced issues surrounding the rostering of teams in youth sports (news article, Oct. 7 –13, “Soccer coaches stack teams, some argue,”).

Unfortunately, the piece you ran was shallow and unworthy of the subject. I am a coach and parent for one of the winless and supposedly downtrodden teams in the Minor 8 division which was the focus of Billy Weisbrod’s piece. Mr. Weisbrod, apparently relying on two named and one anonymous source, gave implicit credence to the notion that children on losing teams like my daughter’s Bari club are “‘crying after every game,’” that coaches are intentionally “stacking” teams (to use your twice headlined word) and even enjoying (or “having a ball” with) the tears of these children. Even a little decent reporting would have shown that these were overblown, or at least highly subjective, allegations. It has certainly not been the experience of my daughter’s team or of any other team that I have seen in the division.

Is the minor 8 perfectly balanced? No. Nor is any league at any level in any sport. Why is this so? Can we remedy it without junking the highly popular “social rostering” practices that sometimes foster imbalance?

Which is more important to an 8 year old, competitive balance or friendships? These are the tough questions that a good reporter will — somewhere, someday — investigate. But apparently not yet.

Mark Costello

Hep C stigma

To The Editor:
In the article “Artist takes on new role as hepatitis C spokesperson” (news article, Oct. 14 - 20) by Ronda Kaysen, she states “... for sufferers of a disease that often strikes people living on the margins.” Later on, Kaysen mentions that “stigma might be part of the reason why H.C.V. is so rarely discussed in the public arena.” Gee, thanks, Ronda. I see you’re doing your part to perpetuate the stigma. Way to go. Was it really necessary to imply that most of us live on the margins? Because you know, most of us really don’t.

Kathryn MacDonald

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