Volume 18 • Issue 25 | November 4 - 10, 2005

Letters to the editor

Protest counter-productive

To The Editor:
Re “L.M.D.C. pummeled at public meeting” (news article, Oct. 28 - Nov. 3):

As a long-time resident of Battery Park City whose office also faces the Deutsche Bank building from a block away, I was eager to hear the scheduled Oct. 24 presentation by the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation on the demolition of that building. Although I was aware ahead of time of the controversy over the format of the meeting and disagreed with the L.M.D.C.’s decision not to use an “open mic” format, I nonetheless felt that I needed to attend in order to hear what the L.M.D.C. and its experts had to say on this critical topic for those of us who live and work in Lower Manhattan.

As I walked into the meeting room a few minutes late, I was shocked to hear people shouting and screaming at the L.M.D.C. speaker. The protestors described in your article had essentially seized control of the meeting and were refusing to let the L.M.D.C. proceed with its presentation. I did not recognize the faces of these demonstrators as being those of any of my neighbors in Lower Manhattan. Whoever they were, I got the distinct impression from observing their demeanor and tactics that they had done this sort of thing before (i.e., disrupting meetings). In other words, this did not exactly seem to be a grassroots uprising by local residents, as a reader of your article might infer. Also, despite your reporter’s statement that “Monday night’s outburst is the latest example of escalating friction between the development corporation and the community board,” I did not recognize any of the shouters and screamers as being members of the community board either.

After a few minutes of observing this obnoxious bit of street theater and with no sign that the chaos was about to subside anytime soon, I reluctantly gave up and left the meeting. As far as I am concerned, these extremists, many of whom apparently were not from the neighborhood, prevented me from obtaining information that was important to me. While reasonable people may differ on matters like meeting formats, that is no excuse for the uncivil actions of those demonstrators on Oct. 24. These protestors could have gotten their message without disrupting the ability of the L.M.D.C. speaker to exercise his right to free speech and my right to hear his message. Alternatively, they could have encouraged people to boycott the meeting based on its unsuitable format. Ultimately, however, it was the L.M.D.C.’s meeting and its right to set the format.

I have always marveled at the arrogance of people who engage in this type of disruptive activity. It reminds me of the degree of certitude and self-righteousness that one observes in religious extremists around the world. And we know where that leads.

Bill Love

A better Deutsche plan

To The Editor:
As one of the Downtown activists who stood with blue tape over his mouth on the evening of Oct. 24th to protest the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation’s plan not to answer questions from the floor regarding the demolition of 130 Liberty St., the former Deutsche Bank building, I applaud your extensive coverage of the issues (news article, Oct. 28 – Nov. 3, L.M.D.C. pummeled at public meeting”).  It is unfortunate that it took a disruptive demonstration to force the L.M.D.C. to do what is right, but given L.M.D.C.’s continuing disregard for the health and well-being of Downtown residents and workers, it was necessary to take action to prevent L.M.D.C. from avoiding questions about the serious deficiencies in their current demolition plan. 

Downtown workers and residents have a right to a plan that provides the strongest safeguards against the release of contaminants from the building under demolition into the atmosphere, as well as a well-designed emergency notification procedure in case the safeguards fail.  The current plan provides neither.

Members of the Downtown Community Labor Coalition continue to seek an ongoing dialogue to improve the L.M.D.C.’s plan.  We are not taking potshots at the current plan, but offering concrete suggestions to improve it.  One example would be for the L.M.D.C. to provide a hand-held, two-way radio to the building manager or superintendent of each Downtown residence and office building.  In the event of an emergency arising at 130 Liberty St., such as a sudden, major release of toxic material, L.M.D.C. could instantly, simultaneously notify every building in the neighborhood of the nature of the emergency and the recommended protective response (e.g., evacuation or sheltering in place).

Too many people have already become seriously ill because of failures on the part of government agencies in the handling of the rescue, recovery, and cleanup efforts following 9/11. We cannot allow L.M.D.C.to put us all at risk again because of a lack of proper safeguards and effective emergency notification procedures for the demolition of 130 Liberty St.  
Paul Stein
Health & safety committee chairperson, Public Employees Federation Division 199, 90 Church St.
Freedom pedestal

To The Editor:
I recently attended the monthly meeting of the WTC Redevelopment Committee of Community Board 1. Silverstein Properties presented the progress for the design for the Freedom Tower. David Childs of Skidmore, Owing and Merrill was the presenter.

In his presentation, Childs drew parallels between the Freedom Tower design and the Washington Monument as “equally iconographic, unique and memorable: something a child would draw after a field visit.” What he does not understand, I submit, is that the Washington Monument is not an architectural icon, and the Freedom Tower is not a memorial. The Washington Monument is endowed with a rich history, the image of a national hero and a beloved father of our nation. It is what we bring to it that creates its monumentality, its iconographic quality. As architecture, it is merely a large obelisk standing tall out of a horizontal park setting, unencumbered by competing features, an invitation for a visit.

The Freedom Tower, as designed, is predictable. It’s height will make it stand out, but there the comparison to the Washington Monument ends. As with the original World Trade Center it is height, not original form and configuration, which will make the Freedom Tower so visible. The invitation to create original, iconic architecture at the World Trade Center site has been squandered.

The proposal to have the communications spire designed by Patrick Snelson does offer some hope for a memorable Freedom Tower. Snelson’s structural sculptures are dramatic and exciting. Such a sculpture, visible from afar, could evolve to be iconographic. In such a circumstance, the Freedom Tower itself may even serve as an adequate pedestal.

Roland Gebhardt

Suburban voice for Bloomberg

To The Editor:
Your October 28th editorial endorsement of Mayor Bloomberg (Editorial, Oct. 28 – Nov. 3, “Bloomberg for Mayor”) was excellent. All five boroughs of New York City, be it Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island and the Bronx have something in common.  A majority of citizens, regardless of age, sex, ethnic group, party registration or political philosophy agrees that Mayor Bloomberg deserves a second term.

This is all the more amazing when you consider that Democrats occupy the offices of city comptroller, public advocate, 48 of 51 City Council seats along with four of five borough presidents and district attorneys. Supporters of Ed Koch and other crossover Democrats, who voted for President Reagan in the 1980s, Mayor Guiliani in the 1990s and Mayor Bloomberg in 2001 continue to move out of town, retire out of state or succumb to old age. 

Former Bronx Borough President and Democratic mayoral candidate Fernando Ferrer and other Democrats should be shocked that Mayor Bloomberg is polling comfortably ahead by margins of up to 30 points in any head-to-head matchup.  He is clearly drawing upon the support of many middle class Democrats who seldom vote for the G.O.P. 

Mayor Bloomberg is the only person standing in the doorway at City Hall to prevent a return of one party rule.  Why go back to the days of Democratic party clubhouse control of City Hall, with the usual accompanying municipal corruption and fiscal mismanagement?  Remember when N.Y.C. was on the verge of fiscal bankruptcy under the late Democratic Mayor Abe Beame in 1975?  With Mayor Bloomberg, we have someone who can finance his own campaign.  He is independent from hundreds of special interest groups, who collectively previously donated millions of dollars to Democratic primary candidates in the hope for future favors at taxpayers expense.  Mayor Bloomberg is also a successful businessperson who knows how to meet a payroll, create jobs and build a business.  Why turn the keys of City Hall over to former Bronx Borough President Ferrer.  He represents the current generation of career politicians, whose political ancestors descended from the old corrupt Democratic party clubhouse machine. 

Larry Penner
Great Neck, N.Y.

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