To The Editor:
Re “Remembering Albert Capsouto, Tribeca leader and pioneer” (Obituary, Jan. 29 – Feb. 4):
Albert Capsouto’s premature and tragic death is a loss to so many. The commitment of the brothers and their family to the Downtown community, particularly to those who had fallen on hard times, was exceptional.
In the late 1980s, when Sherri Donovan and I co-founded and ran the soup kitchen at The Village Temple on E. 12th St., we realized that more than 20 of the homeless and mentally ill individuals who came to the soup kitchen each week were Jewish. We began to hold an annual Passover seder at the temple, and the Capsouto brothers, without being asked, insisted on donating “anonymously” and asking for no “publicity” or “credit,” an entire Passover dinner for people who otherwise would have been alone and scrounging on the street.
To The Editor:
For over 20 years, I had the opportunity to work with Albert Capsouto on many civic matters in Tribeca. We shared the bond of working in a restaurant industry that is challenging in the best of times. His calm, reassuring nature always inspired confidence. He was focused and highly motivated to help people, and excellent at solving problems and reaching a successful consensus.
I’ll always remember him at the Taste of Tribeca, last May. It was a radiant day, and we were hanging out and enjoying the excitement of the event. We compared notes about what a tough year it had been in the restaurant business. But as we looked at the crowds enjoying the food and the day, we both agreed that the effort was rewarding. Now, he is gone all too soon, and it will be difficult for all that knew him to accept that fact. But all you have to do is walk the streets of Tribeca, and you’ll remember the contributions Albert made to make it a special place.
Director of marketing and partner, Myriad Restaurant Group
To The Editor:
The terrorists do not have a plan to win their war with us. Their strategy is to force us to change our lives and our government to meet their aggression. To place us in a universe of fear and allow us to defeat ourselves.
The virulent reaction to the proposed 9/11 terror trial of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed in Lower Manhattan, which includes vivid descriptions of our imminent failure at this task, is a case in point. The terrorists must love hearing us as we so loudly doubt ourselves. It must make them feel that they are winning their war with us because we simply do not appear to be to be firm, resolute, and fearless. We seem terrified. This unfortunate perception endangers us far more than the trial ever could. It shows the terrorists that they are having the effect they desire. What a shame it would be to hand them this victory.
To The Editor:
At this time of this writing, the feds have not taken Lower Manhattan off the table as a location for the trials. It also seems they have not taken the fake parking placard/car bomb threat seriously because this threat is not even mentioned in the media at large. Excuse me, but shoving the car bomb threat under the rug does not make it go away.
The vicinity of the federal court and its bordering neighborhoods will become a magnet for hundreds, if not thousands, more placarded vehicles — each one of which could be a terrorist car bomb. As good a top cop as Ray Kelly is, there is no way he can guarantee our safety. Why? Because there are currently thousands of false parking placards used everyday in our town, especially in Lower Manhattan near the federal court buildings.
That suspicious white van at Times Square, ignored for two whole days because of a fake parking placard, exposed a gaping hole in the N.Y.P.D. security blanket, and this hole would only get larger with the terror trials located in Lower Manhattan. Kelly acknowledged: “There’s no question, we should’ve known about it earlier.” Well, earlier would have been impossible because enforcement officers on the street are instructed to give placarded cars a pass.
For years post-9/11, a time of extreme heightened security, the number of placarded cars increased many times at great cost to the local communities’ economy and quality of life. The plan locating the terror trials in Lower Manhattan federal court portends a devastating repeat of the same — only this time with the additional threat of placarded terrorist car bombs exploding in and around our neighborhoods!
The threat of fake placarded terrorist car bombs would not exist elsewhere on Governors Island or in a similar location where access to vehicle parking is exclusively controlled. The sooner the feds realize that N.Y.C. is un-securable, the safer we all will be. Get the trials outta here to a place that can actually be secured!
To The Editor:
We are grateful to the members of the Civic Center Residents Coalition who have been at the forefront on this issue (along with reopening Park Row and fighting the Chatham Square Reconstruction Project.) They organized, got the issue before Community Board 1, lobbied, brought in the Chinatown business community & local leaders, and kept the issue in the press. Only after the local politicians, who blindly supported the Obama decision to hold the trial here, saw the tide turning, did they reevaluate their positions.
Now we have our “brave” local politicos coming out of the woodwork trampling over each other to get some of the credit. The writing on the wall and the result of the Massachusetts election is what really spurred them to rethink their positions. The same thing can and will happen in N.Y. if they do not represent their constituents. Don’t take our votes for granted!
Much thanks to the C.C.R.C. for leading the effort to prevent our neighborhood from being under siege by police, press, demonstrators and assorted mayhem.
Chatham Green board member
To The Editor:
As I struggle to make sense of the school zoning decision last week (news article, Jan. 29 – Feb. 4, “Cheers and jeers as school Option 2 is picked”), I am at least relieved to see that the terror trials appear to be on their way out of Lower Manhattan.
Now our Lower Manhattan community is left to heal the wounds of many poorly chosen words in this heated debate over school zoning, some of which were the opinion of the editors of this newspaper (editorial, Jan. 22 – 29, “Looking for the least bad school option”).
Sadly for us all, the Dept. of Education’s unwillingness or inability to share geographically specific demographic data identifying the whereabouts of children below Canal St. turned what should have been a discussion about the critical issue of crowding in our schools and quality of education into something else entirely.
Over time I imagine that we will all set aside the harsh words spoken by our neighbors with the understanding that most participants were motivated out of concern for their children. But there are revelations that will not be so easily set aside.
Some members of the District 2 Community Education Council put a great deal of thought into this process and chose what they believed was the better plan for Lower Manhattan. Those who supported proposal 2 ignored what limited data was available from the Dept. of Education. This data indicated that proposal 3R was the better plan to alleviate the sibling burden and ease crowding for the schools most likely to be most taxed over the near term, P.S. 234 and P.S. 397. Only one member cited the safety of the West Side Highway crossing as a factor in his vote. Proposal 2 was chosen without transparency, without factual basis, and against the expressly stated wishes of the majority of families with children who stood to be affected.
Meantime, every local elected official except for Speaker Sheldon Silver declined to weigh in on this difficult issue (news article, Jan. 29 – Feb. 4, “Silver backs option, but panel says no thanks, Mr. Speaker”) — despite pleas from both sides. Our leaders are elected to make tough decisions, and refusing to take a stand is unacceptable.
As Lower Manhattan will soon face a permanent zoning decision, we must all join together to press the Dept. of Education to obtain and publicly release the necessary data. We must require that those in decision-making positions set aside their political agendas and we must insist that they make fact-based, transparent decisions.
We need to make sure Lower Manhattan is well-zoned, and receives all of the school seats our children need.
“Cheers & jeers as school Option 2 is picked” (news article, posted Jan. 27):
Some children have been sitting with us at these meetings and learning. I’m glad mine weren’t, because the message has been to say or do whatever it takes to get what you want regardless of the cost to anyone else. A lovely young girl from the Whole Foods building spoke last night, listing by name and exact location all of the places in North Battery Park that she doesn’t go to because it’s not her neighborhood and she is scared to cross the highway. As a Tribeca parent whose child is being sent to PS 397, I would have liked to do the same for all of the places in the Seaport & Financial District that my son does not go. But we do not know where the Seaport’s bagel shop is. We don’t know where Financial District children shop for school supplies. We don’t even know the name of their local playground. Because really and truly, lovely though it may well be, the Seaport/Financial District is not, and never will be, our neighborhood.
As a mother of several children who have attended 234 and live in the northern part of FiDi, I think this “neighborhood” talk is overblown. We are so lucky to have 4 great schools down here. Parents of pre-Kindergarteners, you will find that when your child goes to these schools, they will learn to read, write, do arithmetic and do all sorts of wonderful social studies projects and other enrichment activities. I am so impressed by the caliber of these schools compared to my own suburban upbringing. Your child will make lots of new friends, but you are never cut off from your old preschool friends outside the school zone. You just have to stay in touch and you will run into them at all community events in the area. It is really not that hard, and most of us who have older kids have found that it is just not such a big deal. Before the zoning controversy, we were all one neighborhood in my opinion. My kids and I spend lots of time all over this area in Wagner, Rockefeller, City Hall, Washington Market, Columbus, Hudson River parks and exploring the Seaport, World Financial Center, Chinatown, etc. For those, like the previous poster, who consider their “neighborhood” the immediate blocks around where they live, please consider exploring the whole area. There is a lot to do around here and a lot of places to shop. You are really limiting yourself and probably limiting your child’s experiences by not taking advantage of all there is to offer in Lower Manhattan. Now that the decision is made, I urge all angry parents to just take a step back, calm down and put this in perspective. ... I hope we, as a community of Lower Manhattan, can get over this quickly.
Lower Manhattan Mom
“After heated discussion, C.B. 1 holds firm on school vote” (news article, posted Jan. 28):
Peter Braus should step down from CB1. His actions are inexcusable.