Volume 23, Number 12 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | July 28 - August 3, 2010Downtown Express photos by Milo Hess
Sign the bill, ASAP
Robert Beddia and Joseph Graffagnino Jr. should not have perished on August 18, 2007. It’s as simple as that. It is unconscionable that the firefighters did not know they were walking into a death trap on that fateful day. A standpipe had been cut and stairwells were blocked.
But hopefully with a new bill aimed at making sure such an incident never occurs again, their tragic deaths will not be vain. We urge Governor Paterson to sign the bill into law as soon as possible so the task force it is meant to create can immediately get to work. Such fastidiousness on this occasion would pay tribute to the families and show that our state and city governments value the lives of its first responders.
We also hope the task force acts swiftly in its determination of specific safety measures for firefighters entering buildings. In particular the task force should make sure firefighters are supplied with building plans for all state and city-owned buildings. And the fact that these buildings are not subject to the city fire code is one we do not understand.
The truth is that on that day, in that particular building, utter negligence on the part of the contractor John Galt Corp. as well as the building’s owner, led to the firefighters paying the ultimate price. The task force should also address this and come up with a means to hold building owners accountable.
When radio transmissions were released from that day we found that the firefighters did know how to gain entrance to the building, did not know how to penetrate the plywood-blocked staircases and did not know how to get water to the fire.
Such information should have been readily available and we hope the task force resulting from this bill will make sure it is in the future.
Admitting our mistakes
Last week we printed two comments from our website on the Letters to the Editor page and we would like to formally apologize for this severe lapse in editorial judgment.
While it has been a common practice in the past for the Downtown Express and while we distinguish between true letters to the editor and web comments in our printed edition, the subject matter of the two comments in last week’s paper was salacious and personally attacked two people. And because we choose to use the screen names for web comments, the remarks were essentially anonymous.
This is not common practice for any Community Media newspaper. In a nutshell, those two comments should not have made it into our printed edition and we take full responsibility. After realizing our mistake we reached out to the individuals and promised to print a retraction in this week’s edition.
It is not the Downtown Express’ position to allow disparaging remarks about individuals or groups of people to be printed in the Letters to the Editor section. Had these remarks been received as anonymous letters, we would not have printed them and therefore, the same standard should, and will in the future, apply to web comments as well.