Volume 18 • Issue 26 | November 11 - 17, 2005

Letters to the editor

Deutsche meeting

To The Editor:
Re: “More heat than light from Deutsche meeting demonstrators” (Talking Point, Nov. 4 – 10):

We live in the building that stands between Dave Stanke’s home and 130 Liberty St. As his next-door neighbors, we share Dave’s desire to rebuild our neighborhood quickly. We also share his long-stated goal of repopulating our neighborhood with a broad range of business and cultural activities.

We do not share, however, Dave’s condemnation of the environmental activists who have done so much to improve the Deutsche Bank demolition plans, and who, along with neighborhood residents and workers, forced the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. to answer questions in the open at its Oct. 24 information session.

The substantial improvements in the demolition plan over the last year, which Dave acknowledges, were achieved largely through pressure from the very same community and environmental activists, who raised important issues and proposed specific solutions. These changes were wrested from a recalcitrant and secretive L.M.D.C.

The unresolved deficiencies in the plans identified by those attending the Oct. 24 meeting include a lack of adequate emergency notification to the community, unqualified workers permitted to monitor safety, and testing planned for the wrong intervals and locations. These problems still need to be remedied in order to protect the community (especially those of us who live the closest) through the demolition of a very large and contaminated structure. We disagree with Dave that these are insubstantial matters.

We also disagree with Dave’s readiness to assume that any lapses on the L.M.D.C.’s part will be remedied through oversight by city agencies. It’s barely six months since vigilance and follow-through by neighbors in our building saved us from a city-authorized demolition of a contaminated and entirely unremediated building on Thames St. (news article, May 27 – June 2, “City issues then revokes demolition permits”). Where were the guarantors of our safety then?

Open processes are messy and not to everyone’s taste. In our view, however, that mess is preferable to the mess of a demolition process gone awry.

Mary Dierickx, Andy Jurinko, Kathleen Moore, Patricia Moore, Mary Perillo, Mark Scherzer
125 Cedar St. residents

To The Editor:
I very much appreciated Ronda Kaysen’s article, “L.M.D.C. pummeled at public meeting” (news article, Oct. 28 - Nov. 3). It stated very well how helpless many residents near the Deutsche Bank building feel about living next to a high-risk demolition. Even though our questions were answered by L.M.D.C. last Monday night, the answers are the same as they have been for months. It appears as though L.M.D.C. will not take our questions seriously, because they don’t seem to be offering up any new solutions to the problems that still exist.

It has also come to my attention that many of the players in the 130 Liberty St. demolition think that the protesters at the meeting were not even people who live or work Downtown. In fact, most of us who stayed to the end of the meeting for the Q&A, either live or work in the area. We care deeply about the safety of our neighborhood, and would like to see the Deutsche Bank building brought down with no harm to our community.

Four years after 9/11, we are still struggling to make our lives and our community safe again. Isn’t that what L.M.D.C. is getting paid for? I hope that in the future they can work with us to get the job done right.

Esther Regelson
109 Washington St. resident

Iraqi death toll

To The Editor:
Thank you for printing the photo of the peace vigil held at ground zero on the occasion of the 2,000th U.S. soldier lost in Iraq (Photo caption, Oct. 28 - Nov. 3, “Marking a grim milestone at ground zero”). The caption attributed the estimate of 100,000 civilian Iraqi deaths to “the protesters,” noting that Iraq Body Count estimates 26,000-30,000.

The estimate of 100,000 Iraqi civilian deaths was first published in the Oct. 29, 2004, online edition of the medical journal The Lancet, based on epidemiological research by recognized American public health experts (http://www.jhsph.edu/publichealthnews/press_releases/PR_2004/Burnham_Iraq.html). Iraq Body Count includes only those civilian deaths that have been well-documented by more than one source, so it’s likely an underestimate. The American Friends Service Committee and many other peace groups quote the 100,000 figure.

The U.S. government has said repeatedly, “We don’t do body counts.” Nevertheless, the Pentagon recently announced that it had counted the bodies of 26,000 civilians killed by insurgents. Just look at this disturbing disinformation — the implication is that you can subtract the 26,000 killed by insurgents from the 26,000 civilian deaths documented by Iraq Body Count, and that will leave zero civilians killed by Coalition forces.

Now let’s be realistic about this war. First, whether it’s 26,000 dead civilians or 100,000, we know that most of those people would be alive today if the U.S. and Great Britain had not invaded Iraq. Second, studies show that the U.S.-led forces killed a large proportion of the total civilian dead: from 37% (Iraq Body Count) to 84% (the Lancet article).

Most New Yorkers know that Iraq did not attack the Twin Towers, and our hearts go out to the citizens of that country.

9/11 Witnesses for Peace, the people who held the vigil pictured in Downtown Express, believe that “the truth shall make you free.” We’re out there at ground zero most Wednesdays on our lunch hour.

Ruth Wangerin
Southbridge’s elderly

To The Editor:
The great scientific advances in this and the last century — physical, biological, nutritional, medical — have all contributed to longevity. This puts the elderly in a new category, the population that has outlived its ancestors.

Nobody was ready for this; it has left society in search of solutions to problems related to emotion, financial dependence and physicality associated with the elderly population. There are solutions, but the one being touted here at Southbridge as an incentive toward privatization is to leave the Mitchell-Lama program and sell your apartment at a huge apocryphal market price with a great bundle of money to take with you into a nursing home (news article, Oct. 28 – Nov. 3, “Southbridge Towers votes to study going private”). Such a malevolent notion is no more tempting than the Eskimos putting the old ones on an ice floe.

This vast amount of money that is promised just for the asking could turn out to be a figment of the imagination. There is no guarantee of such riches, only a real estate broker’s selling line.

Remember us, the senior population, for our cultural contributions in our early years, contributions that remain ever useful, from teachers we had, our parents and friends.

Don’t let us be made into gullible fools looking for that pile of gold at the end of the rainbow only to be used for a place in a nursing home.

Geraldine Lipschutz

Other 9/11 victims

To The Editor:
Re “Free the rest of the W.T.C. from the memorial” (Talking Point, Oct. 7 –13):

David Stanke has been very successful in articulating my feeling about the hijacking of the W.T.C. by groups claiming to represent the majority of victims’ families.  The two issues that baffle me are:

(1) The support by the mainstream media that the people killed were the only victims of this attack, when, in fact, city residents like me were as much “victims” of this attack as the people killed — only without the same outcome.  The barrage of attacks by these “family groups” upon a process that includes the communities that are living with the W.T.C. in the aftermath is due much more investigative journalism. What exactly is the “active membership” of these groups? How many of the groups claim common members? How many “victims” are the overall membership related to?  I do hope family members that want to see N.Y.C. restored will reclaim their names from these provocative obstructionists.

(2) Debra Burlingame has received excessive press time. Why hasn’t anyone questioned her credentials as relates to rebuilding in New York? Her husband was killed in the attack on the Pentagon (challenges to evidence of a plane crash there notwithstanding).  She has no right, moral or otherwise, to determine what goes on with a memorial being built to the events that happened in New York City on that day. The “victim’s family groups” contradict her each time they talk about this being a memorial to the 2700+ people killed in the W.T.C. That would not include Ms. Burlingame’s husband.  Why is she so anxious to see us halt rebuilding, when the Pentagon has been fully restored. Would she argue that that had to be done for “symbolic reasons?”

There are so many different fronts upon which these sad, bitter people can be confronted and challenged. Yet, no one does it for fear of them playing the “victim” card. Who have we lost? Do we know what it’s like to see a loved one killed like this?

The answer is yes. We were all here and we all saw it. It is a memorial for and to us as well.
Robert Cammiso
Park Slope, Brooklyn

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