Volume 22, Number 11 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | July 31 - August 6, 2009

Letters to the Editor

Civilian titles too

To The Editor:
Re “They all died together” (Letter, July 3 - 9):

 The 9/11 memorial will be a national memorial for all future generations to see. When our grandchildren come to visit W.T.C., it should tell the story and history of the tragic day. The ranks of first responders, military personnel, religious and civilian titles should all be included.  They will know that the first responders went into the towers to help people after the planes had struck the building.

Looking at the name, Father Mychal Judge, would let future generations know that he was a priest. This is not a first responder against civilian campaign. All died heroes on the worst day in American history and the story needs to be told in the 9/11 memorial and not hidden because certain people want everyone to be the same. Long, hard hours of work and study were undertaken to attain their titles and positions. A doctor would surely wish to be listed as such.

Let this 9/11 memorial include ranks and titles of civilians, first responders, religious and military personnel as the 9/11 civilian and first responder family groups have advocated for since 2002. Let the 9/11 memorial include these ranks as the great memorials of past generations have done for great American heroes in Gettysburg, Normandy, Pearl Harbor and the Pentagon.
 Jim Riches 
Deputy chief, F.D.N.Y., father of Firefighter Jimmy Riches, Engine 4

Change Walter would like

To The Editor:
“The way it was when Cronkite took off his glasses” (Memorial by Jerry Tallmer — July 24-30) is the end of an era.  My generation grew up around the television set learning about events of the day.  Previous generations listened to fireside chats by President Roosevelt on the radio. Everyone had their favorite television evening news anchor, be it Walter Cronkite, Chet Huntley and David Brinkley or Howard K. Smith.  The nightly network news, daily newspaper or weekly news magazine were the chief sources of information.  

Walter Cronkite had the pulse of Middle America. The president and even Congress would listen.  President Johnson said the Vietnam War was lost when Cronkite announced that he thought there was no hope for victory.  There was a sense of community in knowing we all heard the same news stories. Today’s generation never had the good fortune to hear Walter Cronkite and colleagues. 

 Today’s generation is fortunate to have many more alternatives to select from including all news radio, cable news stations the Internet and bloggers.  With alternative work hours and longer commutes, many are not home during the traditional network evening news broadcast.  A growing population of new immigrants support their own television stations.  

Many local news stations sometimes send reporters to other parts of the nation and world for on the spot coverage.

Our view of the world has changed over time.  This may be due to the fact that the Big Three Networks no longer having a monopoly on the news.  Today’s national network news anchors may not make a difference in who tunes in.  Unlike citizens of many other nations, we still live in a free society with a wealth of information news sources to select from. Walter would be proud.
 Larry Penner

Defending Lederman

To The Editor:
Re “Lederman’s legacy” (letter by Lawrence White, July 24 – 30):

I have to respond to Mr. White’s scathing indictment of Robert Lederman. 

For the record, I am an original artist who has been showing/selling my work in Soho for almost 10 years.  I am an enthusiastic member and supporter of ARTIST, the only organization that represents me and my interests.

We get the truth from Robert Lederman.  Sometimes it isn’t nice, but it’s always the truth. He has been at the forefront of this issue for more than 15 years, and he stays on top of it keeping the rest of us informed.  Through him, we are made aware of the underlying motives and political agendas of elected officials, Business Improvement Districts, and other interests. How else could we have known that Gerson’s proposals would have destroyed the fundamental right to show our work on the streets and in the parks?  I know just about every artist who sets up on West Broadway at Spring St. and none have ever supported Gerson’s proposals.  We demonstrated at City Hall and spoke at public hearings against all of them.

Mr. White seems to think nobody is coming to Soho anymore.  This comes as a shock to me, as today (Sat., July 25) I had pieces go to Spain, Italy, and Ireland, as well as Chicago, Philadelphia and New Jersey. I suggest that if not for Mr. Lederman, none of us (original fine artists) would be spending our weekends on West Broadway at all.  All of us (including the talented Mr. White) are indebted to him for blazing the trail that we follow. 
Ross Pilot

To The Editor:
Lawrence White should be ashamed of himself for criticizing Robert Lederman. White’s record shows him to be a supporter of an elitist and judgmental program to determine who should be worthy of vending art in public spaces. Under his proposals, I doubt I would be able to sell my father’s photographic work, as I am not the “original artist.” Extending Mr. White’s theories, sellers of other First Amendment protected materials, i.e. written matter would have to be the “authors” of books offered for sale. Preposterous, indeed.

The two dozen pieces of legislation now before the City Council are anti-artist, anti-veteran and anti-immigrant. Destruction of artists’ rights is the real Gerson agenda. I know hundreds of street artists, and not one them supported a single Gerson proposal.

The legislation “appears to be going nowhere” because of the efforts of the ARTIST group, and just for the record, Robert Lederman does not fight my battles for me. Hundreds of our ARTIST members state our position via testimony at City Council hearings, letters, emails and protests.

We are artist activists.
Ned Otter

To The Editor:
Robert Lederman has been duly elected by the members of ARTIST four times. It was with his guidance and leadership that we won our fight against the city, the Parks Department and Mayor Giuliani. We went up against the city’s 600 lawyers, the Corporation Counsel, and won decisions in six courts. Robert’s extensive knowledge of the vending laws and First Amendment made that possible. We can now sell and display or work on the streets and in the parks of New York City without a permit.  

Whereas Larry White’s position on street artists is one of exclusiveness, wanting to form a special forum or panel to pass judgment on what is or is not art, Robert’s is one of inclusiveness; all speech, art, is protected and needs not pass a test to qualify as free speech. If we exclude some artists for failing to pass a “test,” then their speech is dependent on how well they do on the test, which amounts to prior restraint on that speech.
Jack Nesbitt



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 © 2009 Community Media, LLC

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