Volume 22, Number 23 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | October 16 - 22, 2009
Letters to the Editor
We got the schools, Mr. Mayor
To The Editor:
The flagrant contempt that Michael Bloomberg has for us all is terrifying. The quotes in “Only some school issues are for parents” (news article posted to downtownexpress.com Oct. 9) were spoken by the man who wants to be mayor again. But just by being himself he just ran a million dollar ad for Thompson.
Wake up Tribeca, wake up New York. Silence is consent.
Please remember as you cast your ballot that we would have NO Downtown schools without the community activists, elected officials and very concerned parents that our mayor finds so loathsome.
Member of P.S. 234 Overcrowding Committee and Sheldon Silver Task Force on Overcrowding
To The Editor:
I had to reread the headline of this week’s interview with Michael Bloomberg as I couldn’t believe my eyes (“Only some school issues are for parents, mayor says,” news article posted to downtownexpress.com, Oct. 9). The mayor seems to suffer a gross misconception: We, the parents would prefer not to be involved at all in school planning and siting, and return to the full time jobs we are actually paid to do, and being with our children and living our lives. It was only when his administration and the people they hired solely to make population projections for school planning ultimately failed, in catastrophic proportions, that we had to step in.
The administration stuck by these faulty projections for too many important years post 9/11 and ignored the warnings of our elected officials, putting our community at enormous risk. Eric Greenleaf, our overcrowding chair and a professor at N.Y.U., ran irrefutable population projection data that showed that in the fall of 2008, P.S. 234 would be short by 3 classrooms. Only after immense amounts of pressure from parents, the support of Sheldon Silver and generosity of Manhattan Youth’s Bob Townley, were we able to convert three Community Center rooms to classrooms over the summer of 2008.
The data showed that the following fall would be even worse; despite an October statement by Joel Klein that there would be no overcrowding issues for the fall of 2009. The Dept. of Education finally admitted a month later that we would in fact need space, but declared that they had not been able to find any that was suitable. Within days we had several potential options. Faced with having to lease commercial space, the administration made Tweed available at the 11th hour to incubate 100 kindergartners that would have had no seats otherwise.
We, the parents this mayor so bemoans, along with our elected officials, have also sited all five of our schools Downtown: P.S. 234, 89, 150, 276 and Spruce Street School.
Either the mayor is intentionally not telling the truth here or he has no idea what is going on in his own school system. Not much of an endorsement for the guy who wants us to hold him accountable.
He tells us much through his comment “the process from deciding you want to build a school, siting it and building it and moving your kid in, your kid’s going to be through graduate school by that time.” His low expectations of his own administration are deeply troubling.
I am surprised the mayor would open himself up to this — and now. The parent involvement he speaks of is but a direct result of his neglect. And frankly, I take offense to his repeatedly dismissive tone with the parents of New York City. We, sir, have been the very people who have not only sited, but fought for, developed and nurtured, these now wonderful schools, drawing billions of taxpayer dollars back into New York, and deserve more of your respect as a result. I would be happy to accept your apology any time you would like to deliver it.
Member of P.S. 234 Overcrowding committee and Sheldon Silver Task Force on Overcrowding
To The Editor:
Julie Shapiro’s article, “A gamble or a sure thing? Southbridge considers privatization” (news article, Oct. 9 - 15) illustrates why the offering plan process for the privatization of a Mitchell-Lama co-op is so highly regulated by the attorney general’s office.
The Martin Act — the statute that governs the offering of cooperative shares in New York — was intended to protect investors from promises the promoters would not be able to, or did not intend to, keep. It is this statute that the attorney general’s office is enforcing when it imposes a requirement for a “quiet period” on the part of a sponsor making an offering of cooperative shares. This is not merely a “legal requirement” as stated in Ms. Shapiro’s article: it is an essential element in the protection of those who will be voting on the plan.
Shareholders at Southbridge Towers are being asked by the sponsor (Southbridge Towers) to vote to privatize and to give up the benefits that have kept their housing affordable since 1970.
The sponsor had the opportunity to include all information about the plan and its special risks in its 605-page document, in order to convince the shareholders to vote to privatize.
If board members were allowed to “explain” the plan, they might make promises that were not legally enforceable, or supply information that was not accurate.
Likewise, if a sophisticated journalist like Julie Shapiro seems to have accepted as fact that about “4 percent of the apartments turn over each year now,” what will be the fate of residents who are not in the habit of questioning information provided by people they trust?
How does Ms. Shapiro know the transfer rate at Southbridge Towers? Although the external transfer rate at Southbridge for the past five years could have been disclosed in the plan, it was not. It is a crucial piece of information because the transfer rate would have a significant impact on transfer fee income which Southbridge would need to help pay operating expenses like its mortgage, employees’ salaries, etc.
One resident in the article is said to have “pointed out that under privatization, residents would be allowed to give their apartments to family members or leave them to family members in their wills, which is not allowed now unless the relatives already occupy the apartment.” He seems to think that there is an absolute right to transfer the apartment by gift to someone not living in the apartment, but that is not the case.
Unless the family member to whom the apartment is given is actually living with you when you make the gift, and has been living with you for the prior two years, you cannot be sure the then board would not exercise its right of first refusal and purchase the apartment.
I appreciate Julie Shapiro’s work in drawing attention to these issues and hope that all Southbridge shareholders will take the time to read and understand the plan before casting their vote.
Editor’s Note: The estimate of the transfer fee in the article came from a Southbridge Towers source in a position to know the figure. It is the same number that Downtown Express reported in 2006, based on an interview with a Southbridge Towers board member at the time
Kittens need homes
To The Editor:
I would like to thank Julie Shapiro for her ongoing reporting on the kittens that were rescued from the Goldman Sachs construction site several weeks ago (“Reunited & feeling good, last Goldman kitten is rescued” news article, Sept. 25 – Oct. 1). However, there are some points in the article that need clarification.
First of all, the caption under the photo states that the kittens “are all expected to have homes soon.” Sadly, this implies that the kittens will be adopted, but as yet, Goldman Sachs has failed to entice its staff to adopt them, and we are still trying to find homes for them. Unfortunately they cannot stay in their foster home indefinitely. We hope that readers will find it in their hearts to adopt one or more of these adorable creatures. These kittens have all gotten a clean bill of health, are micro-chipped, and will all be neutered in the next couple of weeks.
Also, the mother cat whom we named Goldie, was previously spayed and released. We are trying hard to re-trap her and find her a home. She has been living around Tire Swing Park in Battery Park City and we worry that she will run away when demolition begins in the area in the weeks to come. She is very shy, but not considered feral, as Ms. Shapiro’s article has stated. We hope to find a home for her as well.
If anyone can help with either adoptions or donations, please contact Rich & Patti Brotman at RBrotpaw@aol.com
To The Editor:
Re “D.I.D.’s drag” (Letter by Bill Love, Oct. 2-8):
Truly it’s been said: “There are lies, damned lies, and statistics.”
Incredibly, Bill Love, a Community Board 1 member appointed by Councilmember Alan Gerson, managed to incorporate all three in a single letter dealing with Downtown Independent Democrats’ role in Gerson’s defeat in the September primary.
Space does not permit one to list and rebut all the false premises, fallacious reasoning and unsound conclusions, as well as abuse of statistics, that the letter contains. Love compares apples to oranges and winds up with sour grapes. Moreover, how seriously can we take his punditry and statistics regarding the Gerson vs. Gleason election in 2005, when in fact there was no Gerson vs. Gleason election in 2005? Gerson ran unopposed! Hello!?!
Mr. Love also refers to the 2001 Council race that Gerson won and attempts to belittle D.I.D.’s important role in that election, although he was nowhere to be seen during the campaign.
Were he involved, he likely would have attended Gerson’s victory party on September 25, 2001, where no less an authority than Dr. Lincoln Mitchell, the Arnold A. Saltzman assistant professor in the practice of international politics at Columbia University and Gerson’s 2001 campaign manager, announced to the audience: “If you want to win Downtown, don’t be opposed by D.I.D.” Eight years later, Gerson failed to heed Professor Mitchell’s sage advice.
Seeking futilely to disparage D.I.D., Love focuses on this year’s City Council election. Any authoritative pundit knows that a political club’s true strength is not determined in races embracing large geographic areas, but rather in races within that club’s executive district — specifically, who controls the district leadership position.
Conveniently for himself, Love failed to mention that in this year’s important district leadership contest, two active D.I.D. members, Jean B. Grillo and Paul Newell, trounced opponents that he and Gerson supported. D.I.D.’s impressive margin of victory was 3:1 and 2:1, respectively.
These are the facts, numbers and statistics that are real, true and meaningful — not the lies, damned lies and statistics of a sore loser.
Editor’s Note: The letter writer is correct about the 2005 race. Pete Gleason ran against Alan Gerson in 2003.
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.