Volume 19 | Issue 24 | Oct. 27 - Nov. 2, 2006

Letters to the Editor

Southbridge views

To The Editor:
As a resident of Southbridge Towers who plans to live here for the rest of my life, I found your recent article about the draft of our feasibility study very one-sided (news article, Oct. 13 – 19, “Big bucks at Southbridge – residents will be rich, study says”).   
Privatization as an alternative is potentially very perilous. There is no guarantee that real estate taxes, which are re-assessed annually, would not be greatly increased as the years passed. There is no guarantee of how many apartments would sell each year and for how much money. We could not, therefore, count on how much flip tax would accrue to Southbridge annually.
Over the years we could end up with greatly increased taxes coupled with much less money being raised in the form of flip taxes than the privatizers hope for. The only way to deal with this situation would be to make large increases in the maintenance charges for our apartments.
Michael Altman

To The Editor:
Thank you for your timely and accurate coverage of the efforts to reconstitute Southbridge Towers, completing the Mitchell-Lama co-op program. To clarify two small but important points: First, though a reporter at Downtown Express seems to have received advance details regarding the study, this information had not yet been sent to our shareholder-residents when your reporter conducted “person on the street” type interviews, so these comments are not actually reactions to the study. We will all need to digest the study before making decisions regarding our next steps.
Secondly, journalistic shorthand like “privatize” and “leaving Mitchell-Lama” may help explain a complex story, but readers should also understand that Southbridge is already a private co-op with each of our residents having invested thousands of dollars to purchase their shares of stock in the co-op. This distinction is that selling these shares now (which were purchased more then 30 years ago, for long-timers) is regulated under Mitchell-Lama law, and that law specifically empowers us to vote to free our co-op from these regulations after 20 years, a period that has long past. As your editorial correctly suggests, we have fulfilled our mission of urban renewal as pioneers of Downtown Manhattan living (Editorial, Oct. 13 – 19, “Southbridge Towers’ big decision”). Rather than “leaving” Mitchell-Lama, this final step of becoming an independent co-op is fulfilling the very vision of middle-income empowerment that these two forward looking state legislators espoused some 40 years ago.
Jared Brown
Board member of Southbridge Towers and president of Southbridge Rights

Deserving rewards

To The Editor:
In response to letters to the editor on the issue of privatization at Southbridge Towers (Letters, Oct. 20 – 26, “Betting the house” and “Wait for Southbridge’s report”), I suggest to the readers who object even to being open-minded about the issue of privatization, to at least wait for the facts and figures the unbiased study will present us with, rather than spread the usual scare tactics and misinformation that has been circulating around Southbridge for the last 35 years. I would also mention that Mitchell-Lama was not designed to run in perpetuity – Southbridge has been in the program for over 36 years – well beyond the intended 20 years it was slated for.  
In 1970, S.B.T. residents pioneered residency south of the Brooklyn Bridge – an area that was blighted and desolate, and where no one wanted to live. We all deserve to be rewarded for our efforts and if the report shows that it would be a good thing to reconstitute Southbridge into a normal co-op and own an asset that we can pass on to our heirs, then I think it’s time to put selfishness aside and let open minds prevail. It boggles the mind that the same people demonize the idea of privatization when they have not even seen the results of the report.
Rosemarie Ferrara

To The Editor:
I have lived in Southbridge Towers for approximately 35 years. In the beginning the sidewalks would roll up at around 7 p.m. The streets in and around Southbridge would be deserted. Today the area is bustling, in part due to us, the pioneers of Southbridge Towers. We did our duty for the 20-year expectation of Mitchell-Lama residents, and then some. Our tour of duty is up. Let us reap the benefits without frightening the elderly that they will be thrown out if we go private.
Case in point: In early October, board members who don’t want privatization (for reasons unknown) had an open meeting against privatization. The guest speaker invited by those who didn’t want privatization was Borough President Scott Stringer. Three times he mentioned getting thrown out. Thank goodness the majority of residents at the meeting were for privatization. When he was pinpoint-questioned on being thrown out, he backtracked and said he was talking about a different housing situation and not our situation, admitting no one in Southbridge could be thrown out if we go private. The question and answer part of the meeting was abruptly ended when things were not going the way certain anti-privatization parties anticipated.  The elderly would actually benefit from privatization with options such as reverse mortgages, etc.
Michael Wishner

Not ‘jiggy wit it’

To The Editor:
Who were these movie clowns who took over the entire South Street Seaport Oct. 17 - 19?
It was Will Smith and his director doing a dopey sci-fi movie about the last non-vampire standing.
Meanwhile, our lives were disrupted beyond belief. Kids trying to get to school, streets closed and parking banned for families already coping with alternate side of the street parking.
And there are the thugs who push you off the street to get out of their shots and threaten parkers with violence if they don’t move their cars.
This area is a hot spot for movie, TV and commercial shoots. But the mayor’s office has to have some consideration for those people who live here and whose lives are disrupted by a bunch of California thugs cashing in on our historic communities.
I was told my car would be towed “within 15 blocks.” I moved it myself, 10 blocks away.
Can they offer some compensation and alternate, agreeable parking when these jerks invade our sanctity?
Chris Oliver

Revealing essay

To The Editor:
I would like to respond to Jean Marie Hackett, who is so often propositioned by forward men (Talking Point, Oct. 6 – 12, “Beauty is in the eye of the letch”).  I have seen enough to know that you’re not lying or exaggerating. 
What you’re talking about is “active” sexual harassment, that is men advancing physically and verbally at a woman.  As a brother of two attractive blonde sisters, as a father of a strikingly beautiful three-year-old girl, and as the product of a mother who was beautiful, I am in total agreement with your issues.
But, what about a woman wearing (if one can call it that) clothes that are no less than pornographic. You call men who expose themselves forward, and they absolutely are, but they only do it to one woman at a time for a few seconds, even by your account.  For every time men have propositioned you actively, Jean Marie, I’ve seen five women in the winter, and 50 in the summer, propositioning all men passively. 
Just last Friday, which was 40 degrees in the morning, I saw a young woman with three layers, all three unzipped to reveal not only sternum end to end but also the entire tops, left to right, and inner sides, top to bottom, of each of her breasts. And I looked, and I snuck in some more looks when she wasn’t because I’m a normal man with normal vision and libido. 
So do you think I’m a pig, cad or pervert for looking?  Even if I were to accept that, please don’t insult my intelligence by denying the following statement, which all men know, but all women deny: She wanted men to look.  Not to have sex with every man who looks, but for every man to look.  No one forced her to buy those clothes and half-wear them. 
All those women who buy the tightest and scantiest clothes possible to reveal it all, have set a standard and a norm that men now expect from all young women -- and girls.  These women are sexually harassing all men -- passively -- so much so that men are actually disappointed at anything less than a supermodel wearing anything more than a bikini.   They’re the ones you should address your articles to.  
 J. Andrew Smith

Good cop, bad cop

To The Editor:
In their letter concerning the N.Y.P.D.’s “rings of parking privilege,” the Civic Center Residents Coalition urges readers to write Mayor Bloomberg, in the hope that he will side with the community that has been victimized by the bogus security scam.
Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner Raymond Kelly are cronies, who have enhanced their mana as public figures with starring roles in George W. Bush’s war on terror show. They are both about the business of protecting their respective personas as protectors. And it is certainly handy-dandy that their offices are a stone’s throw from each other. Why would the concerns of the neighborhood be of interest to them, unless there was legal clout behind it?
As the poet Percy B. Shelley so aptly wrote: “War is the Statesman game… the lawyers jest, and the hired assassin’s trade. It is the bread they eat, the staff on which they lean.”
Our politicians will continue speaking through their golden power masks, until we vote them out of office, and place stringent limits on them. We, the public, are paying for their glitzy thrones.
Shelly Estrin

Shalt not kill

To The Editor:
Re “Sin removal” (photos and caption, Oct. 6 - 12):
Recently on Y-Net an article entitled “Rabbis cry ‘fowl’ on ritual use of chickens” (,7340,L-3309121,00.html), described how some rabbis are calling for an end to the ritual slaughtering of chickens for Kapparot, bringing up a very necessary — and long-overdue
— discussion of this barbaric practice. As Professor Richard Schwartz points out in his very eloquent and well-researched article “The Custom of Kapparot in the Jewish Tradition” (which can be viewed, along with my opinion piece, at, Kapparot is not mentioned in the Torah or the Talmud. Also, if we could truly rid ourselves of sin by slicing open an animal, what would be the purpose of Yom Kippur?
Besides the questionable appropriateness of the practice itself, the chickens, even prior to slaughter, are treated miserably. To add insult to injury, every year there are articles in the various papers about how crates of chickens are found abandoned, starving to death. Last year, in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, such crates were found with starving chickens poking each others’ eyes out. This is the epitome of neglect and, certainly, a far cry from our protective laws for animals in the Torah.
I am overjoyed to hear that more rabbis are questioning this barbaric, archaic practice. It’s about time.
Rina Deych

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Downtown Express welcomes letters to The Editor. They must include the writer’s first and last name, a phone number for confirmation purposes only, and any affiliation that relates directly to the letter’s subject matter. Letters should be less than 300 words. Downtown Express reserves the right to edit letters for space, clarity, civility or libel reasons. Letters should be e-mailed to or can be mailed to 145 Sixth Ave., N.Y., N.Y. 10013.

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