Volume 20, Number 48 | THE NEWSPAPER OF LOWER MANHATTAN | APRIL 11 - 18, 2008

Letters to the Editor

C. B. 1 arrest article criticized

To The Editor:
Re “C.B. 1 member ousted over assault arrests” (news story, April 4 - 10):

People appointed to the local community boards show a deep commitment to their neighborhood, attending multiple meetings each month without compensation.  As a result, when Julie Shapiro reported that Andy Neale was no longer a member of Community Board 1, she could have noted his contributions to the community board, including his excellent analytical skills and articulation of community concerns.  Instead, Ms. Shapiro chose to detail Andy’s personal problems, which should have remained just that -- personal.

I am disappointed that the Downtown Express published a gossip column. It was not up to the standards of this fine newspaper.
Denise Levine

To The Editor:
Regarding your April 4 story “C.B. 1 member ousted over assault arrests”: Was that really necessary? 

I suppose it’s a fine line between public and private, and the story was probably fair game and all, but I felt so complicit reading the dirty laundry. It was a little like Ashley Dupre II, only with full gory details.

I thought Andy made a fine member of the board. I found him to be always informed and prepared on the issues before his committees. He greeted kindly and welcomed me—a total novice appointee two years ago—when there was absolutely no motive for him to have done so other than force of habit to treat people respectfully. 

It’s a shame he has to work out his problems with this added burden of the public microscope. The borough president’s policy to “not normally discuss individual appointments” is a good one. Laura Braddock
Community Board 1 public member, former C.B. 1 member

To The Editor:
 I do not think articles discussing why a member s not reappointed to the community board is de rigueur. Unless the member is fighting to remain on the board in spite of serious problems, it seems unnecessary to go into such detail. Obviously, people sometimes have problems and should be allowed to work them out.

I understand that becoming more of a public figure exposes one’s life to more scrutiny. However, it might have been a bit excessive to delve so intensely into someone’s life. 

Though there could be exceptions, most community board members are putting a lot of altruistic time in to help their community. I don’t believe that means the public owns them and their privacy.

If we look into anyone’s life, there are sure to be a few skeletons. I would hope to send a message that to get more involved and active in whatever issue is your passion doesn’t mean you may become a public spectacle if you cannot continue. 
Diane Lapson
Community Board 1 member

To The Editor:
I read your “expose” on Andy Neale, a member of Community Board 1. If everyone on the community boards who had personal problems and/or a brush with the law were the subject of this level of so-called journalism, there would be no one willing to serve on any of the boards. And, the only justice would be the yellow journalism handed to Andy Neale by your reporting.

How many of us, who serve on the community boards, do you think have arrest records? Yes, that includes me, as well. Would you like to do an interview with me in an attempt to disrupt my life and embarrass me in the eyes of the community to increase your circulation? Are there any skeletons in the closet of the staff or ownership of your newspaper’s extended mini-empire? Do your reporters and staff members work for free for the benefit of the community after collecting a paycheck during the day? Or, is trading in life-disrupting gossip now going to be your publication’s coin of the realm in Downtown’s media vacuum?

It is suggested that you review your publication’s policy, quickly. And, no cute editorial replies, please.
Donald C. MacPherson
Community Board 2 member

To The Editor:
I commend your frequent coverage of Community Board 1, and your diligent reporting on board members newly appointed or departed.

However, I found your extensively detailed article on the personal difficulties of one departing board member irrelevant and distasteful.

Yes, some aspects of this story are matters of public record and appropriate to report. But both good journalism and common ethics require an unbiased account, which you failed to provide. In 19 paragraphs, you devoted not a word to Mr. Neale’s long service and many contributions to the community served by your newspaper. This kind of negligent “journalism” sullies your own reputation far more than his.

I cannot speak for other board members, but I am confident that most will remember Mr. Neale not for this tiresome screed, but for his tireless service to this community, as I will.
Ro Sheffe
Chairperson of Community Board 1’s Financial District Committee

Why we published article on C.B. 1 member’s oust
From the editors: The large number of letters we received criticizing last week’s article about the non reappointment of Community Board 1 member Andy Neale warrants a response.

Parking problem

To The Editor,
Not only does the “City’s Downtown parking numbers justify residents’ years of yelling” (news article, April 4 – 10) but the results of the Dept. of Transportation/Economic Development Corp. study, “Placard Parking Usage in Lower Manhattan” calls into question how the mayor plans to deal with traffic congestion in Lower Manhattan. According to the study, 5,203 placarded vehicles were observed in high concentration in our Downtown area alone, and up to 12% of the permits were fake. In the Chinatown/Civic Center area, they occupied 84% of our parking supply!

Public sector vehicles that enter Manhattan contribute significantly to traffic congestion. The study verifies that they dominate the parking in our streets and exacerbate the situation.

In Lower Manhattan, the mayor can take some concrete steps to reduce congestion and deal with the magnitude of placard abuse:

• Put up permanent “No Permit Parking” signs in the designated areas, so that the message is clear and indisputable.
• Publicly announce heavy penalties for those who display unauthorized or fake permits, then enforce the penalties. Ticket and impound vehicles displaying fraudulent permits.
• Include civilians in the oversight of monitoring and enforcing placard abuse.
• Reverse or reduce the one-way toll on the Verrazano Bridge to significantly decrease traffic into Manhattan for the purpose of using the Holland Tunnel.
• Offer more incentives for carpooling and for mass transit usage.
• Incorporate a multi-leveled, underground public garage (for those who have legitimate business at the courts and for government employees) underneath the proposed new park at the current Collect Pond parking site.

We remind everyone that one of the Mayor’s campaign promises during his first bid for office was to reduce the footprint of City government in Lower Manhattan.   If the Mayor were concerned about traffic congestion in Lower Manhattan, the biggest bang for the buck would be to relocate Police Headquarters to Randall’s Island. 
Danny Chen, Jeanie Chin and Jan Lee
Civic Center Residents Coalition

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 news@DowntownExpress.com or can be mailed to 145 Sixth Ave., N.Y., N.Y. 10013.




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