Volume 23, Number 12 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | July 28 - August 3, 2010Downtown Express photos by Milo Hess
Letters to the Editor
A mistake to print web comments
To the Editor,
Why does the Downtown Express reproduce anonymous comments in the “Letters To The Editor” section of the paper that contain scurrilous personal attacks, such as the ones targeting Zella Jones in the July 21-27 edition? These types of unsigned, cowardly rants may be endemic to the Internet but that is no excuse for letting them invade the editorial page of a serious community newspaper.
Previously, you have required those who write opinion letters to identify themselves and provide contact information that could be followed up on for verification purposes, and that policy should be applied equally to the comments that you choose to print in the “Letters To The Editor” section before harm is done to the reputations of those who hide behind such monikers as “DowntownObserver.”
To the Editor,
I was astounded that the Editor of the Downtown Express, a community weekly newspaper, printed two anonymous web comments from its website. They appeared in the paper’s July 21-27, 2010 edition in response to Michael Mandelkern’s “C.B. 2 Hears Proposal from Chinatown Working Group” story.
I have attended the C.W.G.’s forums as a Public Member of C.B. 2’s Environment, Public Health and Safety Committee and as the Transportation Committee Chairperson of Our Streets Our Lives.
The scurrilous mischaracterization of facts by two anonymous online senders should never have seen the light of day in the printed edition of the Downtown Express. For the editor to give these two anonymous senders a forum for their poison pens is beyond belief.
This is not about freedom of speech.
I urge the Editor not to print any more anonymous letters as it diminishes the credibility of the Downtown Express along with its sister papers.
To the Editor,
We are pleased the Downtown Express has chosen to acknowledge its serious lapse in judgment publishing two anonymous “Letters to the Editor” in last week’s printed edition and on its website. The paper simply should not have published such accusatory comments without identifying the accuser and enabling the accused to respond.
Since its inception two years ago, the Chinatown Working Group (CWG) has provided an unprecedented, open, democratic and civil forum for all “stakeholders” in the community to express their points of view — regardless of background, affiliation and interest. A number of individuals and organizations in Chinatown and the surrounding areas with long-standing disagreements have, for the first time, sat down with each other on a consistent basis to discuss issues of shared concern from affordability and gentrification to economic development and revitalization, on topics that include parks, education, immigrant affairs, culture/historic preservation, transportation and zoning.
What motivates this extraordinary community-based planning effort is a common goal: to help self-determine one’s future.
The CWG and its Working Teams meet on a regular basis in forums open to all and on the record. Meeting times, locations and minutes are published on our website (www.chinatownworkinggroup.org). Everyone (including the letter writers) has been and continues to be encouraged to share their opinions in a public and respectful manner.
As far as Zella Jones and the CWG are concerned, she — like countless others — have volunteered hundreds of hours on behalf of the CWG. Reference is made to her “procur[ing] jobs designing websites.” So, it’s worth mentioning that she created and has maintained the remarkably informative CWG website, a list serve and all announcements, for more than two years — totally without compensation and without prospect of financial gain. The direct expenses she pays out of her own pocket. Her considerable and tireless efforts in this regard have helped to ensure the community stays informed about all CWG activities and our planning process remains transparent.
As Vice Chair of the joint CWG’s Economics and Transportation Working Team — a thankless position she most certainly did not seek — she’s tasked by the CWG with making presentations of proposals that have been approved by her Team. One such occasion was recently at CB #2, though she was only one of several CWG presenters. The Economics Working Team’s stated objective is to represent the interests of the local business community. So it should come as no surprise that Zella Jones and/or members of this Team might have ties to the business community.
Nor is it a newsflash to anyone who’s ever attended a meeting of the CWG that Doug Woodward is employed by Edison Properties. He’s made it clear to all since day one.
Whether one agrees with Zella Jones’ or Doug Woodward’s recommendations, or not, they are certainly as entitled to their opinions as are every other participant in the CWG.
As a democratic planning body, any recommendation by CWG participants (including Zella Jones and Doug Woodward) and CWG Working Teams (including the Economics Working Team) must ultimately be endorsed by a unanimous vote of the full Chinatown Working Group. All perspectives will and must be taken into account for the full CWG to adopt proposals that are truly in the community’s best interest.
Jim Solomon & Thomas Yu
Chinatown Working Group, Co-chairs
Not a good idea, unless
To the Editor,
Honestly, I do not find the idea of placing a mosque near the WTC site a good idea in response to the “Anti-mosque is anti-community” Letter to the Editor from the June July 21 – 27 issue. It’s not that I am an Islamaphobe, I just don’t think it’s right to place something Muslim near a place where 19 Muslims attacked us on 9/11. The last time I checked, I have hardly ever heard of any mosque calling out Muslim fanatics in public as churches and synagogues did for their own kind.
However, I wouldn’t mind them having a mosque if Cordoba House did something that can give us the necessary trust, such as calling out all Muslim extremists, like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and terrorists, such as Al Qadea and Hamas. They must accept Israel as an existing nation for the Jews and, especially, they should actively fight for taking back what was taken away from us on 9/11, which is the Twin Towers, as well as provide funding for it. If Cordoba House agrees to all of the above, then they can have their mosque.
Windfall no, Shortfall yes
To the Editor,
Thanks for covering the plight of Downtown arts institutions and the possibility of funding assistance from the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation. However, Aline Reynolds’ article headline (“Possible windfall awaits for struggling arts groups”) mischaracterizes what these groups have been through.
The consequences — both positive and negative — of L.M.D.C.’s post-9/11 capital grants for Downtown cultural institutions are considerable. While funds were delayed and costs soared, the possibility of additional City dollars disappeared, and the recession dried up new commitments. Many Downtown cultural institutions have been left with gorgeous new spaces that they can’t finance, can’t finish and can’t afford. How many of these groups will have to publicly fail — or almost fail — to connect the dots?
Church Street School for Music and Art is one of the cultural institutions caught in this bind. We hope that L.M.D.C. will consider making these funds available to those cultural institutions that initiated projects under L.M.D.C.’s auspices and are now staggering under the weight of trying to make it all work within the shadow of the recession.
Windfall, no. Shortfall, yes.
Board Chair, Church Street School for Music and Art
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.