Volume 20, Number 30 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | December 7 - 13, 2007

"Support businesses and organizations that support Downtown Express"

Letters to the Editor

Bergtraum singled out

To The Editor:
This is in response to the article written by Julie Shapiro concerning teen violence in the Downtown area (news article, Nov. 30 – Dec. 6, “Community, cops debate whether police can solve teen violence problem”).  I have worked under Barbara Esmilla at Murry Bergtraum High School for six years. Not only is she an excellent principal, she is a concerned principal.  I am not going to say that all the students at the high school are innocent — as we all know there have been many incidents that have taken place that were awful.  However, whenever there was an incident, it was taken care of in-house in a timely manner and the culprits were dealt with in the appropriate way. Not much can be done by the school once the kids are dismissed.  We have a lot of after-school clubs and activities, and many of our children participate in them.

The group of teenagers that congregate at Burger King, McDonald’s and the pizza restaurants are not only kids from Murry Bergtraum. They also come from Leadership High School, Economics and Finance, Millennium and some from Stuyvesant.  We are not the only high school in the Downtown area, yet we are the only one blamed for everything that goes on.  We are a very large school, and while there are some who cause trouble, there are three times as many who are good kids.

There are plenty of good things that go on in our school and not once has anyone written about that.  No one has ever taken an interest in Murry Bergtraum H.S. for the good that they do, i.e. the girl’s basketball team, the students who won the Pencil Scholarships, etc.  At the community board meeting Ms. Shapiro refers to, Ms. Esmilla was bombarded with accusations and handled herself in an extremely professional way; however most of the attendees who were raising their voices and making the accusations were people who were not invited to the meeting, but who more or less forced themselves to become a part of the meeting. 

I am not saying that the children from our school are “saints,” but I am saying that they are not the only ones who congregate in front of the stores at Southbridge Towers.  I also am a resident of Southbridge Towers so I know how intimidating they can be.  I know how menacing they can act and that the language is completely out of control, but I also know that sometimes the way the kids act is just the way they are, and what someone sees as yelling and screaming is just the way they react with each other.

I hope that there can be some sort of progress made with this problem and some sort of solution can come from future meetings between Community Board 1, Murry Bergtraum and Southbridge Towers.
Lorraine Fittipaldi

You send me

To The Editor:
Re “Happy Thanksgiving” (editorial, Nov. 23 – 29):

As the great-nephew of Sam Cooke and the author of “Our Uncle Sam: The Sam Cooke Story From His Family’s Perspective,” it’s refreshing to see someone else thankful for my uncle’s many contributions to the music world! Sam was a dynamic artist onstage and wonderful human being off, and it warms my heart to see the number of lives he continues to affect worldwide.

Keep movin’ on.
Erik Greene

Clearing up congestion

To The Editor:
Two recent letters attack me and Asian Americans for Equality for showing support for congestion pricing (Letter by Geoff Lee, Nov.16 – 22, “Chinatown will pay,” and by Danny Chen, Nov. 23 – 30, “Traffic pricing”). The gist of their attacks is that I overlook the permit parking abuse in Chinatown and that the new fee will raise the cost of doing business so much that local businesses will be forced to move to the outer boroughs.

First, I do mention the abuse of parking spaces in Manhattan’s Chinatown by government workers in my article (Talking Point, Nov. 9 - 15, “Making drivers pay will pay off in Chinatown”). AAFE has been very supportive of the groups working to alleviate the problem. I have personally attended and spoken at several rallies and forums on this issue that were in fact organized by Mr. Lee and his brother. I fully agree that Chinatown would benefit from re-opening Park Row and eliminating permit parking abuse. However, the focus of my article was the potential of congestion pricing. Traffic congestion causes both loss in business productivity and dissuades a certain percentage of visitors from coming to Manhattan’s Chinatown to shop and dine.

Second, it is easy to dismiss congestion pricing if you only examine the costs without looking at the potential benefits. Mr. Chen assumes that the once daily $21 per truck fee will drive businesses away from making deliveries to Manhattan and that local businesses will be forced to re-locate. The more likely outcome is that the reduction in traffic, caused by a fewer vehicles passing through Chinatown, will allow Chinatown businesses to make and accept more deliveries, thereby increasing productivity and lowering the net costs of doing businesses. If, however, congestion pricing does not deliver on its promise to alleviate traffic then it should be repealed or replaced.

Finally, while I agree that turning the Verrazano Bridge back to a two-way toll would likely reduce traffic, congestion pricing has the potential for more dramatic reductions and the fees will be used to improve mass transit. This is not an insignificant factor since most visitors to Chinatown, as well as local residents, use the subways.
Robert Weber
Director of policy, Asian Americans for Equality

To The Editor:
Let’s see: The city just announced increased asthma rates for children living near ground zero. A primary reason the city wishes to implement “congestion pricing” from 86th St. and below is to eliminate auto emissions which, they contend, increases asthma rates among children. Greenwich and Fulton Sts. will be extended through the World Trade Center site, increasing the traffic in the area, much of it directly under the, um, noses of the children that live there.

What sense does this make?
Michael Burke

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

Letters policy
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.

“The constant haggling for repairs, having a hostile relationship with your landlord — as a rent-regulated tenant, this becomes your lifestyle,” she said.

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