Volume 22, Number 51 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | April 30 - May 6, 2010
Letters to the Editor
To The Editor:
Re “Silver: Keep L.M.D.C. hands off district lines” (news article, Apr. 23 - 29):
Democratic Speaker Sheldon Silver’s quote concerning the upcoming legislative district reapportionment — “If you just give it to a bunch of professors, traditional community lines could be seriously hampered and affected” — is laughable when looking at the current district lines which are like a jigsaw puzzle. The past three reapportionments resulted in more and more Republican state Assemblymembers disappearing. Past Republican State Senate majority leaders, the late Warren Anderson and Ralph Marino along with Joe Bruno, cut deals with past Democratic State Assembly Speakers Stanley Steingut, Stanley Fink, Mel Miller, Saul Weprin and Sheldon Silver. These political backroom arrangements were a quid pro quo deal preserving the status quo. Each gave the other unlimited freedom to protect and expand their respective majorities in each legislative house they controlled.
As a result, since 1982 Republicans have collectively lost five Queens, one Bronx, three Brooklyn and one Manhattan state Assembly seat. They are down to one last seat in Staten Island.
This is a textbook case in the ultimate success of gerrymandering. Democrats come out of N.Y.C. with a 60-to-1 edge, making it virtually impossible for the G.O.P. to ever regain control or even have a serious role to play in the state Assembly. Silver now has 106 votes — six more than necessary to override any vetoes of bills.
Everyone knows that Speaker Silver rules the Assembly with an iron hand. He controls whose bills come out of committee to a full vote, lulus for chairing committees, funding for member item pork barrel projects, staffing, mailings and district office budgets. As one of the infamous “Three Men in the Room” — change will only come to Albany with an honest reapportionment and election of a new speaker.
To The Editor:
I am greatly encouraged by what I see as a new independence by some street artists who spoke out during the Parks Department hearing on April 23 concerning new vending restrictions.
Several of these creative people displayed an acute awareness of the enormous problem of art bootlegging and copyright theft on the streets of N.Y.C. Some proposed innovative solutions to reduce the problem including the creation of “art zones” where only fine artists displaying their own artwork would be allowed.
If “art zones” are established in areas such as Harlem, MoMA, the Met, West Broadway in Soho, the W.T.C., Central Park and so on, it would end the hideously long street battle that has only helped those who have profited from the inevitable lawsuits.
N.Y.C. would be well served as illegal vending in these areas would be almost nonexistent.
Most importantly artists would be free to display their artwork in peace and safety without fear of assault, arrest or copyright theft.
Art zones would also rule out limiting expression by the forced issuance of permits or the establishment of restrictive lotteries as the creative group of fine artists is infinitely smaller than the army of illegal vendors and much easier to protect.
In fact, fine artists can easily identify themselves “on scene” with their signature on the artwork, their tax ID, and their driver’s license or passport. This means the bureaucracy to control the art zone situation is minimal and not a drain on the taxpayer.
Of course free speech cannot be limited to these areas but art zones will allow creative people a safe platform from which to express themselves while providing the sort of civil control that benefits all New Yorkers. Only the bootleggers will lose.
Frankly, I am delighted to hear more fine artists finally speaking out in an independent manner to offer creative solutions to this problem. I heartily encourage them to continue.
Better bridge location
To The Editor:
Re “Mayor flirting with buying B.P.C.” (news article, Apr. 23 -29):
“Silver added that the authority still has several big projects on its plate, including the new K-8 school opening this fall and the proposed pedestrian bridge across West St. at W. Thames St.,” according to your article. If any pedestrian bridge is to be built, the best site recommendation is for it to be constructed at Morris St. and West St. The many schoolchildren will soon need a safe, uncongested bridge to cross West St to get to school.
West Thames St. and West St. are already overburdened with major 24/7 traffic, a large new park, two busy dog runs, a wide tourist “Champs-Élysées”-style walking park with pedestrian crossing, a busy bike path-crossing intersection, and a pedestrian-dangerous parking deck and the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel ingress/egress to the east, all of which cause that corner to be overly congested.
The Morris St. intersection at West St. is available as an intersection-free open area, quiet, safe, uncongested and is the appropriate site for a new bridge. There, the already-constructed, very large bridge “landing pad”-type granite areas on both sides and median of West St. are perfectly set and ready to receive the new bridge termini. These bases were built with the new bridge in mind. The school children will have less than one block to walk to school.
The Morris St. and West St. location would also help to serve as an excellent adult pedestrian access to southern B.P.C. and the Battery, and to the N train at Church/Trinity Place and Morris St. Good design practice would be to place the new bridge in this uncongested site.
To The Editor:
Re “Silver: Keep L.M.D.C., hands off district lines” (news article, April 23 – 29):
Sheldon Silver was elected to the New York State Assembly in 1976. The Assembly district lines at that time ran as far north as E. 14th St. and as far south as the Brooklyn Bridge. Silver’s Assembly district was broken up into three district leadership parts. The northern part, bordered roughly by E. 14th to Delancey Sts., has historically been anti-Silver and had run opponents against Silver until 1984.
After the 1980 census, Silver succeeded in eliminating all potential opponents coming in from the north by redrawing the Assembly lines, which split the northern part (Loisaida) in half and placed it with Stuyvesant Town. Silver in effect also forced the creation of new district leadership lines throughout the Assembly district, making it more difficult to run, and even went as far as supporting opposition candidates to both the northern and southern parts.
The middle part, roughly Grand St. and E. Broadway, is Silver’s base and has remained untouched. In the southern part, Silver succeeded in defeating incumbent District Leader Paul Viggiano and replaced him with John Fratta and eventually Alice Cancel, who have remained loyal to him until Fratta was replaced by John Quinn.
After the 1990 census, Silver removed from his Assembly district what remained of the northern part and picked up more of a conservative area of the East Village and a low voter turnout area, namely Chinatown. Peace reigned in the Assembly district until 1999, when Victor Papa and Norma Ramirez challenged Fratta and Cancel.
Silver has been involved in the redrawing of these lines since the beginning of time. Can you name the elected official who was the Assemblymember before Silver? If you can’t, then perhaps it is time to create a nonpartisan districting commission that will stop playing with the lines in order to retain one’s hold on the office.