downtownexpress.com
Volume 20, Number 28 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | November 23 - 30, 2007

Letters to the Editor


For the birds

To The Editor:
I was greatly disappointed by the article by Matt Townsend on the issue of the proposed dog run for Sara Roosevelt Park (news article, Nov. 16 – 22, “Polo players, kids keep park form going to the dogs”).  He mistakenly characterized it as simply a fight between bike polo players and neighborhood children.

What about the Hua Mei Bird Garden?  Is this special place, the only Chinese bird garden of its kind in North America, of no importance?  Mr. Townsend dismissed it summarily by writing that one visitor to the bird garden claimed that birds are not affected by dog barking, that they even like the noise.  With only this one man’s opinion, the author closed the subject, never addressing the problem of the natural enmity between dogs and birds, easily available in the scientific literature on the subject.  Perhaps he should have spoken to Tommy Chan, a breeder of Hua Mei birds, and other experts before he wrote his article.

It unfortunately seems to me to be yet another example of how issues of Chinese culture are often sadly neglected and considered of little importance to Americans at large.

Rima Finzi-Strauss


Survivor, not a victim

To The Editor:
Re “The 9/11 syndrome of playing the victim” (Talking Point by David Stanke, Nov. 16 – 22):

I can appreciate the pain that the family members have to this day, while I can not fully understand it since I did not lose a family member. I know several families and to this day, over six years later, I can see the pain in their faces. I have asked my wife over and over what they want. It always comes down to the fact that they want their loved ones remembered. You cannot fault them for that. 

If the media did not pick up Tania’s so called heart-wrenching story, it would never have spun out of control like it did. The media gave her the power to build and build on her fake truth, then decided to pop the bubble and expose the fraud that she was.

You mentioned that survivors are victims. I do not agree with that at all. I am very happy that I made it home that day. There were five of us in my company on my floor and two of us lived. I left 2 W.T.C. after the plane hit the other building. Then five minutes later, the second plane hit my floor, 78, and my side of the building.

I do agree with what you said about Giuliani. He was an inspiration, but then turned into a tour guide. I do however respect him for attending the past five anniversary ceremonies on Sept. 11.

I think part of the overall problem is there is no memorial, nowhere to go for the family members.  It is 6-plus years and it still looks horrible down there. 

I think some people are still deeply affected by their direct experience that day and I think they should be allowed to express their feelings, whether in a TV interview or at the Tribute Center.  People from all over the world come to the Tribute Center, and why should they not hear the story of the tour guide with all the emotions?  

I think out of all the stories out there, the survivors are the forgotten ones.  Those are the people who need the help. It took me a long time to come to terms with the fact my one friend/co-worker and I were leaving together — we were walking to the elevator. He forgot something in his office and went to get it, his phone rang and he never made it out.  Why did I make it out and he didn’t make it?  The guilt of this could consume a person. It took me over 4-plus years to deal with this.  This does not make me a victim.

For the fifth anniversary, my daughter and her girlfriend organized an event in our town in December last year. Someone from the StarLedger of New Jersey did a story from the perspective of how this helped me heal.  I can tell you that I did not do the newspaper article because I wanted the attention. Several people I have known for 20 years called after the article (5-plus years later) and said, why didn?t you tell us you worked there?  I did the article because I want people to never forget what happened.

Like you, I am also reluctant to tell my story, my entire story. The members of my support group (the group Tania Head was the president of) know my story.  I used pieces of my story for our anniversary event and for the reporter for the article because it helped raise awareness and money for our charities. 
Brian Branco                


Traffic pricing

To The Editor:
In “Making drivers pay will pay off in Chinatown” (Talking Point, Nov. 9 – 15), Robert Weber correctly identifies the one-way tolls on the Verrazano Bridge as the primary reason many trucks and cars choose to take the Canal St./Holland Tunnel route.  However, to conclude that congestion pricing is a good solution for Chinatown involves a leap in logic.

The leap comes from assuming that those very same Chinatown-bound delivery trucks and vans will continue to be Chinatown-bound after congestion pricing.  If congestion pricing increases the net cost of doing business in Chinatown, it might increase pressure for these businesses to move to other areas such as Brooklyn’s or Flushing’s Chinatown.  If these businesses move, then Manhattan’s Chinatown (I am assuming that Robert Weber is talking about Manhattan’s Chinatown) might become a less attractive place to live and work — or “undermine this community’s economic development and erode its quality of life,” as he puts it.

The point is that if the root cause of the problem is the one-way toll system on the Verrazano Bridge, then why not simply get behind the various efforts to fix the one-way toll system? And the last time I checked, traffic from the Manhattan Bridge to the Holland Tunnel was very, very heavy from 6 p.m. to at least 9 p.m. — a time period that is outside of the proposed congestion pricing window.  I can foresee cars and trucks queuing up in Brooklyn waiting until after 6 p.m. to get over the bridge.

Government employees who are driving into the city with free parking, assuming they are not exempted from congestion pricing, are not likely to be deterred by an $8 entry fee — especially if the congestion fee has eliminated “competition” from many of the people coming to visit Chinatown.

The administration would do better to concentrate on refining approaches, such as carpool restrictions, which proved very effective during the recent transit strike.
Danny Chen


M.T.A. books

To The Editor:
Re “M.T.A. fare hike can take a hike for now” (Editorial, Nov. 9 - 15):

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority definitely needs more transparency, and there should be a public audit of its books.  One tidbit that was not covered in your excellent editorial is the fact that the agency is giving free orange E-ZPasses to approximately 24,000 people, allowing them access to the M.T.A.’s nine bridges and tunnels.  That is 3.3 million trips.  And just who is feeding at the public trough?  Nearly 1,000 retired bridge and tunnel workers have lifetime passes, former board members have 52, and present board members have 34.  Former M.T.A. chairperson Peter Kalikow has eight and M.T.A. chairman Dale Hemmer has two.  To his credit, M.T.A. C.E.O. Elliot Sander does not have a free pass.  This giveaway is outrageous considering the M.T.A.’s so-called shortfall.  Remember when the M.T.A. changed its logo from the two-toned “M” to a blue circle depicting the M.T.A. initials in perspective?   This little whim cost the agency $3 million.  Another M.T.A. boondoggle was the sale of the Atlantic Yards.  The M.T.A. sold the Atlantic Yards to Forest City Ratner for $114 million less than it was worth, rejecting a higher bid for the property. 

How many other egregious expenditures are part of the M.T.A. budget?  Obviously the M.T.A. suffers from gross mismanagement, at the expense of the commuters, and is in desperate need of reform. 
Jean Standish


Love Katz’s

To The Editor:
 “Katz’s Delicatessen says sale rumors are baloney” (news article, Nov. 9 -15) with the accompanying picture of Katz’s was a healthy treat.  Eating at Katz’s Delicatessen is a religious experience for those who enjoy great deli. 

Forget the fancy tablecloths, waiters and sparkling bottled water in Uptown restaurants. Go Downtown to enjoy authentic New York food eaten by generations of Big Apple residents.  Your bubbie would be proud.  Take a day free from worrying about cholesterol and your weight to enjoy life! 

When out of town clients come in, they always insist we go to Katz’s for a great lunch.  There is no equivalent.  Don’t forget to stuff a dollar in the tip cup for the counterman who serves you.   Your reward will be a great sample of what’s to come.  In front of your eyes while you salivate in anticipation, he will build a sandwich, requiring two hands to eat.  The restaurant is also a trip down memory lane, with photographs of celebrities from different eras.  You can learn more about our past history at Katz’s than visiting any local museum.  

Look closely at the back of some chairs.  Perhaps a former president or two or some other famous individual used the same seat.  No winning politician in decades hasn’t made a campaign stop at Katz’s!  The portions and quality continue to be one of the best buys in New York today.  Anyone still hungry after dining there must have a tapeworm! Let’s hope the continuing redevelopment of this neighborhood doesn’t also overrun Katz’s as well.
Larry Penner
Great Neck, New York


Field of thanks

To The Editor:
Like all parents living Downtown, we were delighted and excited to hear last week of plans to build a new state-of-the-art sports field on the East Side.

Thanks to the amazing work of Speaker Sheldon Silver and Community Board 1 Chairperson Julie Menin, the field is a homerun for our community.   The partnership behind the grant paired the Parks Department and its overstock of under-funded public spaces, with the financial might and wisdom of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, together with the hands-on programming knowledge of grassroots groups like the South Bridge Parent and Youth Association and Downtown Little League, among many others.  The East Side location is especially welcome due to the comparative lack of open spaces in that area.  When the park is completed, community groups like ours will fill it with happy kids and adults engaged in active recreation. On behalf of the hundreds of families from all over Downtown, we would like to extend our boundless gratitude to Speaker Silver and C.B. 1 Chairperson Menin for their vision and their leadership.  They brought the field -- we’ll bring the kids.
Ann DeFalco, Mariama James, Mark Costello and Elizabeth Lamere
The first two signers are with the South Bridge Parent and Youth Association, Inc., and the latter two are with the Downtown Little League.





Downtown Express is published by Community Media LLC. 145 Sixth Avenue, New York, NY 10013
Phone: (212) 229-1890 | Fax: (212) 229-2790 | Advertising: 646-452-2465 | © 2007 Community Media, LLC


Written permission of the publisher must be obtainedbefore any of the contents of this newspaper, in whole or in part, can be reproduced or redistributed.