Volume 21, Number 35 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | January 9 - 15, 2009

Letters to the Editor

Admired foe

To The Editor:
Your article about Miriam Friedlander was appreciated (news article, Dec. 26 – Jan. 1, “Pulling together the memories of a progressive life”). I considered it a tribute to a woman who never stopped working on behalf of her constituents, and so should never be forgotten by them. I admired her stalwart sense of service and her dauntless adherence to principles, many of which I agreed with and many of which I did not.

It was in our severest disagreements that I found occasions to admire her most. My spats with Miriam, and not just a few, were perhaps based on different frames of reference, but they always remained within the bounds of honest intellectual integrity. They never descended to the gutter, nor were they apt to be too lofty. They were basic and transparent, and borne from that old Lower East Side progressive tradition, which always had the best interests of the most vulnerable in mind. This is but one attribute of the famed Lower East Side progressive tradition, but which, like many other traditions in these parts, is fast passing away. “Progressives” today, presumptive heirs to Miriam’s way of thinking, seem more apt to defending the status quo, illusory in their belief that they inherited the progressive way — Miriam’s way.

Miriam, for all the years of faithful service and concern, thank you.
Victor J. Papa

Understanding terror

To The Editor:
 As a Muslim New Yorker I know it is good to get different perspectives, and it was interesting to read Lincoln Anderson’s account of the Indian Jewish leader’s presentation on the horrific terrorist attack in Mumbai (news article, Jan. 2 – 8, “Indian Jewish leader: Killers were ‘warped monsters’”).

 Faced with that carnage, I do wish I could simply express my sympathy and solidarity. However, I note that nowhere in the article is the issue of Indian-occupied Kashmir even mentioned. Addressing Kashmiri objection to Indian rule is necessary to cutting off tacit support for violent acts throughout the region.

 Moreover, as acknowledged in passing, 20 times more Muslims died in the Mumbai terror attack than Jews. Yes, I realize that Muslims may not have been targeted in the same coldly deliberate way, but they were still murdered by these terribly misguided fanatics. Our people’s deaths evidently merit a mention — but not an article.

 Mind you, there are 600,000 Muslims in the N.Y.C. area. We feel the pain of loss just as strongly as our Jewish neighbors. And since I do not like to quantify suffering, I would have let this objection go, but tragically as I write this, Israel prepares to send its ground troops into the ghetto of Gaza, and already 100 times more Palestinians have died as Jews.

 And yet the media tries to depict some nonexistent parity of suffering — and our mayor simply takes sides in most of his statements.  How do we as Muslim New Yorkers feel? Isn’t it amazing that some of us have not lashed out in violent response — despite the deep alienation we and our Arab Christian brothers and sister feel right now? I think that fact should be appreciated but also that more respect needs to be shown to our community’s feelings. Please include us.

 This is not about supporting Hamas. Indeed, the current military action may result in much more support for extremism and hard-line positions. This is a call for us all to reflect on the messages we are sending. Every life is sacred, no matter the religious tradition or culture. As both Jewish and Muslim traditions agree, “To save one life is like saving the whole world.” Yeah, we people of faith sure can talk the talk.
 Adem Carroll
Executive Director, Muslim Consultative Network

Deutsche warning

To The Editor:
An open letter to Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta:

On May 17, 2007, a 15-foot length of pipe came through the roof of the quarters of Engine Company 10/ Ladder Company 10 next door to the  Deutsche Bank  building, which  was and still is under demolition. You personally visited and witnessed the damage to quarters and very near tragedy, averted only by some divine intervention. Some of the morons working the demolition crew that day are still working there and that building is still under demolition.

I have spent more than half of my lifetime in firehouses (35 years) and can say without reservation that a meal interrupted by the (alarm) bells is one thing. Fifteen feet of pipe from the building next door coming through the firehouse roof and landing on the kitchen table is a bit much. My question to you sir, is simply this: Why has that firehouse never been evacuated and the units relocated to temporary quarters somewhere in the vicinity?

I have personally seen this done many times during my career and for much less reason (see the story of the old “Tin House” in Brooklyn). Certainly you realize something like this could well happen again, especially under existing circumstances with the Deutsche Bank building next door still under active demolition. If (God forbid) that happened again with tragic results, the blood of the dead and injured brothers will be on your hands. Wake up commissioner. We can do nicely without that. (U.F.A. / U.F.O.A. please take note.)
Carmine Bianco
Supervising F.D.N.Y. fire marshal, retired
 

Force field

To The Editor:
 Hi. I’m a 12-year-old boy who lives in Battery Park City and to me, parks and fields of grass are pretty important to me and my friends. I often play at West Thames Park because it’s right across from my house and it’s a good place for me to practice baseball with my dad there. We are usually able to practice on the grass field without people getting in the way but on nice days, we get interrupted after only 20 minutes of play. A big group of soccer players that are grown men, come from who knows where and always take over the whole field. The team really gets in the way and tears up the grass on the field.

This bothers me because this is a group of men who come from way off to play soccer that takes up the whole field, gets in the way, tears up the field, and doesn’t leave until it’s too dark for anyone else to play. What can we do to fix this?
Jake Kiehl

Veggies in the bike lane

To The Editor:
Re “New York is finally getting in gear on bike lanes” (talking point, Dec. 5 - 11):

I must correct an erroneous assumption in Florent Morellet’s talking point. Grand St. was not always a “one-traffic-lane street,” as Mr. Morellet implies. From at least 1959, when my husband first moved to Grand St., and likely many years before that, it had two travel lanes for one-way traffic. It was only in recent years that a bike lane was established on Grand St.

Relocating the bike lane is supposed to make it safer, and hopefully it will — but limiting vehicle traffic to one has lane has created unanticipated hazards. First and foremost is the increased delay and obstruction a single lane poses to emergency vehicles (news article, Jan. 2 – 8, “Downtowners debate D.O.T.’s grand bike plan”). Second, moving commercial parking to the street’s north side has resulted in deliveries being unloaded from the side doors of trucks into oncoming traffic. Third, since the Department of Transportation also felt it necessary to prohibit eastbound traffic from turning at the intersection of Grand St. and Bowery, why hasn’t it provided any enforcement there?

Ironically, D.O.T.’s new traffic plan has greatly benefited at least one sector of the business community — illegal wholesalers. Long ignored by city officials and allowed to expand within the commercial zone that prohibits them, vegetable wholesalers now use the bike lane to transport merchandise on motorized pallet lifts, blithely traveling with and against traffic, just as they did before the bike lane existed. The bike lane is also being used by people delivering merchandise on hand trucks and by pedestrians seeking to avoid peddlers and the many illegal storefront displays that obstruct our sidewalks.

Balancing competing needs while maintaining law and order is in the public interest. I’m just not convinced D.O.T. has succeeded on Grand St. I hope it will come up with some meaningful and long-lasting remedies for the problems they created, as well as the ones that were never addressed.
Cathy Glasson

Rallying for rally coverage

To The Editor:
In last week’s article, “Downtowners debate D.O.T.’s grand bike plan” (news article, Jan. 2 – 8), you only mentioned very briefly the protest rally in front of D.O.T and treated the matter as a protest against bike lanes, when the purpose was to get an oversight hearing with the Dept. of Transportation.

About 50 people came together on a cold Saturday afternoon from neighborhoods of Soho, Tribeca, Chinatown and City Hall area to speak in one voice that D.O.T. must start listening to our communities. Your newspaper has done stories on all the issues that we were talking about. The speakers at the rally were Jan Lee, Civic Center Residents Coalition; Skip Blumberg, City Hall Park; David Louie, Chinese Chamber of Commerce; Sean Sweeney, Soho Alliance and Councilmember Gerson. Representatives from Speaker Silver, Senator Squadron and Borough President Stringer were also there to support us.

We are calling for the City Council’s Transportation Committee to hold an oversight hearing with the D.O.T. We want D.O.T. to stop using our communities as an experiment. We want them to inform and listen to the communities before they put in bus bulbs, their bike lanes or reconfiguring Chatham Square. We want them to put in traffic lights and we want their agents to help pedestrians to safely cross the street. Both Sean Sweeney and I organized the rally because the problems with D.O.T. cut across all our communities. By coming together we will be so much stronger.

The protest rally was covered by NYI and My9 News as well as the four Chinese newspapers. We hope you will cover the City Council oversight hearing when it is scheduled and encourage residents and small business owners to come and testify.
Margaret Chin

Police, are you listening?

To The Editor:
The following is an open letter to the police department written by a middle school student:

During our class time at middle school I.S. 89, me and a group of three made a social action project on police brutality. We know that all over America, police have been taken advantage of the fact that they have a badge and a gun. It surprised not only our group but many parents and many other students. We learned that people are not only just beaten with nightsticks, but many are also Tasered. Some include over 5,000 volts of electricity.

A more recent and discussed case that caused lots of trauma in N.Y.C. was the Sean Bell case, where an African American man was shot at 50 times the day before his wedding. And the reason? There was none. All because of a misconception. It is scary to know that a TRUSTED OFFICER OF THE LAW could be capable of causing a problem that large. It caused lots of fear in people to be afraid of the police. Is being afraid of the police in a city like New York good? In a city like New York, I believe that police have incredible amounts of responsibility. For in N.Y., there are so many cultures, races, religions, etc. Police officers should be described as protective and overseeing of problems. This does not mean every single officer is irresponsible, but it means that there should be more time in knowing the future officers, so that no other cases happen.

A very shocking statistic that we learned was that police brutality increased over 25% since the incident of 9/11. This shows that police brutality increased because of terrorism. Have you ever stopped to think that the fact that there are people who can and do take advantage of power that the government has entrusted to protect its people? I hope so. To end this I hope the next time a new officer takes up a job, take the time to make sure he is to do his job.
Marco Andres Rivera

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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