Volume 18 • Issue 28 | Nov. 25 - Dec. 2, 2005

Letters to the editor

Questioning the state and Express

To The Editor:
Wow. Up until I read all the glowing testimonials on the rebuilding of ground zero by the state officials in this week’s Downtown Express I thought things were a little messy down there (Progress Report, Nov. 18 – 24, “Downtown progress is real and steady” by John P. Cahill, and “A ‘better and stronger’ Downtown is being rebuilt” by Stefan Pryor). Glad to see otherwise.

From a 9/11 family member point of view (and please, stop with the “some” family members protested the “cultural” center [Progress Report Update, “Getting ready to begin building the W.T.C. memorial”]; over 2,000 signed the online petition against it and wrote 34 printed pages worth of very eloquent essays explaining why) just a few questions for Mr. Pryor and Mr. Cahill:

Why is the 9/11 museum going “under the memorial plaza?” Why not build it (and this is a little crazy here) on the memorial plaza? Why not build it overlooking the memorial and the site of the attacks?  As Patricia Reilly, a leader of the Coalition of 9/11 Family Groups has explained to Mr. Pryor quite clearly, “we,” that is the families, never asked for the 9/11 museum underground or on bedrock.

What is that mysterious building on the “former cultural site” to “support the memorial?” (quick question for the Downtown Express: Why was the International Freedom Center “culture” and the 9/11 museum not?) If it is to support the museum, why not just put the museum in it? Why didn’t either Mr. Pryor or Mr. Cahill in their well-scripted pieces mention the “under plaza” museum and that enigmatic building? By the way, what happens with the Snohetta building?

What is to become of the Koenig “Sphere”? Is it to be returned to the site? If not, why not? I mean, it did survive the attacks, in place. Will it survive the redevelopment? Where will it go, if not there? Queens?

Somewhere in the five boroughs? It’s been over four years, gentlemen, let’s make a decision. 

Finally, if the memorial honors “all the heroes lost that day,” what about the victims?

Michael Burke

Deceptive marketing

To The Editor:
Boy, your title editor sure has a wicked sense of humor.  Under the title, “Let the free market and public decide Downtown’s future,” last week’s Express featured a piece by two unreconstructed Marxists, David Dyssegaard Kallick of the Labor Community Advocacy Network and Dan Steinberg of Good Jobs New York (Progress Report, Nov. 18 – 24).  How do Messrs. Kallick and Steinberg propose to “let the free market” decide the future of the W.T.C. site?  By having the government buy out the private developer who holds the site’s leasehold interest, Silverstein Properties, and replace the planned private office space with “[subsidized] housing, schools, parks, museums or public transportation.”  The “free market” functioned a little differently back when I was an economics student.

Of course, this is a free country, and Messrs. Kallick and Steinberg are free to try to exploit a terrorist attack and national tragedy in order to advance their profoundly anti-market agenda on the financial capital of the world.  But how about a little truth in labeling next time?  For instance, Mr. Steinberg could more properly call his organization “No Jobs New York.”

I was further amused by the authors’ belated criticism of the governor for his advocacy of the West St. tunnel.  For three years, while our grassroots organization, the Coalition to Save West Street, fought tooth and nail to defeat this billion-dollar boondoggle, these two self-proclaimed “fiscal watchdogs” stayed silent.  Indeed, at one point I personally appealed to Mr. Kallick to have his organization take a position against the tunnel, but he declined to do so.  Apparently, the thought of opposing any big government scheme, no matter how ill-advised, was just too much for Mr. Kallick to contemplate.  Now, seven months after the governor has dropped the plan, Mr. Kallick finally musters the courage to speak out against it.

Thank heavens for Dave Stanke (Progress Report, “Mostly signs of hope looking across the W.T.C.”), the Express’ true voice for the free market at the W.T.C. site.

John Dellaportas

Sheepish responses

To The Editor:
Re “Why are Americans like sheep?” (Penny Post, Nov. 11 – 17):

Andrei Codrescu’s essay on the non-existent Gas Riots of 2005 serves as a reminder that in a well-oiled, democratic police state, a cowed citizenry is the cornerstone of the oligarchy’s power base.

Keep ‘em frightened; keep ‘em confused; keep ‘em distracted; Keep ‘em shopping, and keep ‘em voting is the mantra. As the illustrious Nazi, Hermann Goering said: “All you have to do is tell them that they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in every country.”

To counter the corporate mantra, we could experiment with: Boycott, boycott, boycott whatever they are selling us that we don’t need.

Much easier to canonize Rosa Parks than take her action as a guide, in our own daily life of over-accommodating to the misbegotten status quo of Shysters, Inc.

Shelly Estrin

To The Editor:
Re “Why are Americans like sheep?” (Penny Post, Nov. 11 – 17):

If America were to suffer the same death toll as France over a similarly sized urban area, we would call it a miracle. Americans will fight — just not in the back direction.  Our violence is only against those weaker than ourselves.

Mark Mendel
Minneapolis, Minn.

Demise exaggerated

To The Editor:
Re “Kaufman and Friedman hope to run for Sanders’s seat” (news article, Nov. 11-17):

In your article regarding possible Democratic candidates for Steven Sanders’s Assembly seat, Donald Tobias is identified as the former district leader and president of the “defunct Tilden Club.”

Your description of Mr. Tobias is partially correct. He is, indeed, a former district leader and president. However, the Samuel J. Tilden Democratic Club, Part C of the 74th Assembly District, is absolutely not defunct!

District Leaders Louise Dankberg and Steven Smollens and President Paula Schaeffer (that’s me) are absolutely thrilled and happy to inform you that the Tilden Club is entering its 53rd year of continuous service to the Democratic Party and the Gramercy Park community.

We have had a most successful year as a major force in the election of new City Councilmembers Daniel Garodnick and Rosie Mendez and new Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer (our endorsed candidates).

We will also be very much involved in the selection of a Democratic candidate for Steven Sanders’s Assembly seat.

In a word, to coin an old phrase, the reports of our demise have been greatly exaggerated. We are alive and well, and look forward to many more years of dedication to the principles and ideals of the Democratic Party.

Paula Schaeffer
Schaeffer is president, Samuel J. Tilden Democratic Club

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