Volume 20, Number 52 | THE NEWSPAPER OF LOWER MANHATTAN | MAY 9 - 15, 2008

Letters to Editor

Agents of unsafety

To The Editor:
Get rid of the traffic agents.

I am so sick of standing on the corner of Chambers or Warren or Murray Sts. and West St. (the highway), where the speed limit is obviously 50 to 60 m.p.h. Officials were shot down when they tried to lessen the time allowed to cross the street, so now they have placed human robots to allow the cars to pass through Battery Park City and Tribeca as quickly as possible. 

I have personally stood on the corner, waiting through two or sometimes three lights while these traffic agents allow cars to disregard the traffic lights and pass through to ease congestion. Where are the rights of pedestrians?  The only reason the traffic agents are there is to bypass the traffic signals to keep the traffic moving, while totally disregarding pedestrian safety.
Kerry Farrell
Tribeca resident and World Financial Center employee

Keep it Freed-free

To The Editor:
Re “Here comes the judge? Freed may go for broke in Council race” (news article, April 25 – May 1): 

Am I supposed to feel bad that poor Judge Freed only makes $125,000 a year (more than double what most hard working people make a year) and can’t make the mortgage payments on her apartment in the East River Co-ops and getaway house Upstate?

Sounds to me like Judge Freed and long time sidekick Sean Sweeney (president of Downtown Independent Democrats and Soho Alliance) are nostalgic for the good old days.
God help us all if Freed is re-elected to “her [throne] seat,” so she can once again go after all the things that make Lower Manhattan great, i.e. street artists, vendors, outdoor cafes, clubs, tourists, boutiques etc.
Knut Masco

Tchotchkes aren’t speech

To The Editor:
Regarding the many letters to the editor about Councilmember Alan Gerson’s proposed legislation to reform the rules governing street vendors:

How did the street vending of banalities that turns large swaths of public space into a free-for-all kitsch-mart become a “free speech” issue?

Whether literal speech, as in “Impeach so-and-so!” or “Free Tibet!” or symbolic speech, as in flag burning or the wearing — or not wearing — of “patriotic” lapel pins, the freedom stated in the First Amendment is of expression, not commerce. Today such “expression” can be by words (written, spoken, YouTubed, whatever), image (big-eyed dolls, beatific landscapes, slash-and-splash abstraction, etc.), or actions (marches, performances et al.). But no discussion of the First Amendment that I can find includes sales, either explicitly or by implication.

Now, however, one letter writer claims that Gerson’s proposals for controlling the chaos “are an insult to free speech.” Besides displaying the grandiosity nourished by this mob’s success to date, this statement insults American history and the community at large — as well, of course, as common sense.

Still, it seems unclear from the general discussion if the Supreme Court in fact addressed the issue of “selling” versus “expressing.” If the obvious distinction were made, Soho et al. would be free of the clutter that gives “art” a bad name and makes life hell for taxpaying residents and rent-paying businesses alike.

That the occasional artist of actual talent graces this scene is, of course, a relief, but beside the point. If sales weren’t siphoned into that curbside kitsch-mart, galleries could support talented unknowns, even offer them a larger future.
Judy Seigel

Mitchell-Lama bills

To The Editor:
Winter has come and gone; spring is upon us. When spring shows its best side, which is joyful. Friday, April 25th was just such a day.

I looked longingly to bathe in the sun so bright. So I went outdoors only to be met by someone who handed me a flyer, the contents of which could put most middle-income cooperators out of their homes. On it were photos of some of the candidates running for the board of directors at Southbridge Towers, all narrowly focusing on the privatization of Mitchell-Lama middle-income homes. Some of these candidates happen to have interests in the real estate business.

Those looking to privatize live on the premise they will become rich as Croesus. It is my hope that the elected officials will see the folly of such thinking and will pass the bills in the State Assembly and State Senate (A08604 and S4610) to save whatever is left of affordable housing. Both bills put restrictions on the amount you can earn when you sell your Mitchell-Lama privatized apartment.

You too can help save affordable housing in New York State. Write or phone your elected officials, and tell them you are in favor of the above-described bills.
Geraldine Lipschutz





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