Volume 22, Number 50 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | April 23 - 29, 2010
Letters to the Editor
To The Editor:
I am writing in response to John Ost’s letter in the Downtown Express April 9 - 15 edition, “Alarmed by sirens”:
I agree with you in regards to excessive siren noise, to a degree. I am a Fire Department lieutenant in Tribeca and as such am in control of the siren on responses. I must agree that some officers do overuse the siren and I personally try to keep aware of my surroundings at certain times of day. I’ve worked in the neighborhood for over 8 years and consider the residents my neighbors as well.
As for the F.D.N.Y.’s “over responses,” we do have response protocols based on the type of emergency called in. When someone reports fire, a smoke condition or a gas or electric emergency that can turn into something much worse, 5 units do respond. This is for our safety as well as yours and to mitigate the situation as expeditiously as possible. Reports for less threatening conditions get less of a response. I can understand how it appears to be a waste of resources to a civilian’s eye, but until we get there to determine what the emergency is, we don’t know if it’s a “non-event.” We also have radio codes to slow down or turn around incoming units, but with the size of the buildings around here, the units are more often all at the scene well before the situation is mitigated
Feel free to stop by your local firehouse to ask questions anytime. The members there would be more than happy to explain things to you.
Lt. Michael J. Vindigni
F.D.N.Y., Engine 7, Tribeca
Nightmare detour to Midtown
To The Editor:
How could something worthwhile or accessible become a nightmare such as happened to me? I’ll tell you how. On Tues., March 30, I had an appointment with the dentist at 2 p.m. It was raining so I chose to call Access-A-Ride. The van was supposed to pick me up at my home on Fulton and Gold Sts. and go to the dentist on Park Place, a short distance. As time went by I had to call and ask where they were. I was told that the van to come to me broke down, making it a longer wait to me. Accidents will happen. At the time my patience was not yet being taxed. So I waited.
A new van came and we left Fulton and Gold Sts. about 2:30. From that time on, and for the next several hours I experienced the disbelief of anyone living today in a civilized city. In my van was a man and a woman, my aide, and of course the driver. I was chained down to keep me secure, so I couldn’t do anything even if I wanted to. At the very start the driver went the wrong way and nothing I did, speak, shout, or scream got the driver’s attention. The other two passengers were most uncooperative. The woman kept staring at me and the man laughed at me boisterously. All the time I was shouting to the driver “you’re going the wrong way.” By the time we came as far as Bloomingdales my patience was spent.
I was too angry to be frightened which soon caught up with me. I thought I was in some crazy house; is this real or is this a nightmare? There! I was shocked, helpless. The driver had to stop when we reached Bloomingdales because there was too much traffic. I made him take me back to the dentist. The dentist’s nurse called Acces-A-Ride and it was not until 4 p.m. that another van arrived with instructions telling the driver every move. Again they sent an unknown at my expense. I am 97 years old, an invalid that is helpless.
St. Vincent’s goes silent
To The Editor:
This morning, April 9, I saw my surgeon for the last time at St. Vincent’s. It was incomprehensible to me that this institution that had healed me countless times over the years was to be no more. Walking through the corridors, the usual cheeriness and dynamic energy of people who made it their life’s work to nurture and heal was now replaced with a moribund silence. The hospital itself was dying and as I walked down the familiar corridors for the last time, nobody gave me their usual smile. People were avoiding eye contact, small groups of doctors and interns were talking amongst themselves.
I began to get emotional and to cry the way I cried after losing a loved one. I cried for all the West Side residents and workers who would now have a far more difficult time having to travel crosstown seeking medical treatment in a strange and more crowded hospital, and possibly even die because of the longer travel time to get urgent lifesaving care; and I cried for the 3,500 professionals who would soon lose their livelihoods in this difficult economic time.
Then my thoughts turned to the deadly silence of our mayor, who fought so vociferously to overturn term limits to get re-elected; who fought on and on for a useless football stadium in this same neighborhood that he was now turning a deaf ear to. I thought about the mayor’s strident efforts to build “luxury” housing all over the West Side and his determined efforts to beautify the city, but how not a peep was uttered from him on this life-and-death issue for his constituents.
I’m an artist who has lived and worked in the Village and Chelsea for many years. A few months ago, I was in the hospital recovering from surgery and my wife came to visit me. I had a room on the 12th floor facing south. Looking out the window she said, “Wow, this is a million-dollar view.” I suspect the mayor’s real estate buddies also have an eye on that million-dollar view because those are the only people he has stood up for and who will no doubt benefit from this tragic fiasco.
Yes, there were many factors that led up to this day, including our fractured medical system, the hospital’s mistakes, the Catholic Church’s problems, the hospital’s generosity in treating the indigent and poor, the downturn in the economy, the indifference of some politicians. However, the needs of our community will no longer be met with compassionate care but with an empty, deadly silence. After more than 160 years of continuous care and compassion, it is a shame to see this institution — its employees, doctors, nurses, patients and its function as a healing entity — disappear without any care or compassion.
To The Editor:
Re “Nearing the end, St. Vincent’s moves to D.N.R.” (news article, April 16 - 22):
The article about St. Vincent’s closure notes, “since January, the hospital has been operating with a monthly loss of between $5 million to $10 million.” The implication is that this pattern of loss, which has produced catastrophic results, is relatively recent, having occurred for just a few months.
However, in the same paragraph, the article reports, “since 2007 when the hospital emerged from bankruptcy with $700 million in debt,” the liabilities have grown to an estimated “$1 billion,” an increase of $300 million in three years. This amounts to an average increase in debt of about $8.5 million each month for the entire three-year period that St. Vincent’s was supposed to have been in financial recovery. Ironically, it was during this same period that the hospital was purportedly moving full-speed ahead with its plans to build a new facility that it reported as costing nearly $1 billion.
Potential receipts for the sale of the hospital’s east campus have been reported as being about $300 million, which is less than half of the hospital’s debt in 2007 and less than one-third of its current debt. It is hard to imagine how, with a $400 million obligation in 2007, or $700 million today, St. Vincent’s could have raised another billion dollars for its new construction plans. With the east campus gone, the hospital would have been without a home.
Although, from the outside, the collapse of St. Vincent’s appears to have occurred in a remarkably short time, this collapse could not have come as a surprise to its administration. Despite the frantic efforts in January and February to forestall immediate closure, an unmistakable pattern of economic hemorrhage must have been occurring for years. That an institution of the caliber and importance of St. Vincent’s could be gone in less than six months from the time its problems first became public is almost unthinkable. At the very least, it raises the question of who was minding the store.
Execution by design?
To The Editor:
I also join in with your other readers regarding what our elected officials are doing (Letters, April 16 – 22, “Political failure at St. Vinnie”). With such lack of voices and help, I just wonder if it was almost planned to punish St Vincent’s and its board of directors, who, from what I hear, have been totally incompetent.
“All hail Caesar. We who are about to die salute you.”
Noisy about choppers
To The Editor:
I was actually surprised to read that lower Manhattan residents are not complaining about helicopter noise (“Surprise, Downtowners are NOT complaining about chopper noise,” news article, April 16 - 20). Interesting that the Economic Development Corporation spokesperson quoted in the article would say that. In fact, Southbridge Towers’ board of directors wrote to E.D.C last September voicing objection to the flights being transferred Downtown and the projected installation of fuel tanks at the heliport. We wrote again on April 14, stating that we objected to the unacceptable burden on the Downtown community posed by the increase in noise and pollution, and with the security concerns post 9/11. Copies of our previous letters had been sent to both Senator Daniel Squadron and Congressman Jerrold Nadler who, to their credit, stepped up to the challenge and promised to press for relief from an essentially untenable situation. ( Incidentally, the 1999 Master Plan for New York City called for a ban on sightseeing tours at all city owned heliports. )
Artists, not bootleggers
To The Editor:
This coming Friday, the Parks Dept. will hold a hearing on vending in the parks (news brief, April 16 –22, “Proposed new rules for park vendors”). The word is that the heart of the issue is the constitutional rights of artists who display and sell their artwork in the park’s public areas.
Ironically this is not the real issue at all. The number of actual artists displaying in pubic areas and the sidewalks throughout the entire city is minor, a few hundred at most on any given day.
On the other hand, the bootleg art machine is at full throttle. I see photos and litho prints all over town that have obviously been illegally copied and are being sold by salespeople who work for a few dollars a day from massive distribution outlets who reap the big bucks. The numbers of these kinds of street stands is outrageous. At least 20 stands for every real artist.
Therefore I implore my artist friends to avoid standing with any group or advocate that stands with illegal vendors or bootleggers. This includes the group A.R.T.I.S.T. that has many illegal members as well as actual artists in its organization.
Instead I encourage each artist to speak out as the unique individual creative person that they are. This is where their strength lies. This is where their rights live. If fine artists do so -- they will prevail. If they stand with illegal vendors and bootleggers they will not. It is really that simple.
Re “Don’t believe what you read. Printing’s not dead” (Downtown Notebook by Joseph Gornail, posted April 15):
Kudos to you, Joseph, for continuing the tradition of ‘traditional’ printing!… Personally I will always love the smell of ink and the pounding of presses when I’m on a check in the ‘printing district’; may it continue!
Interesting and motivating piece + found the website very informative! Glad to see someone is committed to maintaining this craft (We can’t lose everything to cyber/digital evolution!).... Best of Luck to you Joseph!
A really good read -- can’t see or touch your printed work from England but if your craftsmanship is as good with the press as it is with the pen -- then you’re onto a winner. Regards,
Tim Fitzgerald, Cambridgeshire