Volume 17 • Issue 32 • Dec. 31, 2004 - Jan. 6, 2005

Letters to the Editor

To gift or not to gift

To The Editor:
Re: “Our teachers deserve gifts worth more than $5” (Youth column, Dec. 24-30):

Do you “tip” your pediatrician or president? Teachers are public leaders both to our children and our community. Those who chose this profession must be awarded by us for their character as well as their abilities to pursue the academic growth of our children. I disagree with Ms. Benfield’s observation that a sum should be applied to “any person who puts up with my son.”

My child’s teachers are not putting up with my child, this is not even the littlest part of the equation I use to define teachers. And I certainly don’t want to misguide them that this is what I am rewarding them for. As an example, I wouldn’t tip the pediatrician for cheerful banter with my child at a visit. In fact I wouldn’t tip the pediatrician at all — it would be demeaning to assume that he wasn’t performing equal service to all his patients or that he needed additional cash incentive to apply his capabilities. The same goes for the president. Can you imagine if the president was allowed to accept personal cash donations? Why we’d all lose confidence in our representation and many would go broke trying to “keep up with the Joneses.”

I was fortunate to be raised by a teacher. My mom was so proud of her contribution and was driven by her ethics into a field where she knew her reward was in the people. She was socially revered both by the under 10 society and the over 20s. She was recognized at the school and the grocery store by folks who learned how to read a book and a social situation with equal excellence. She never accepted a cash tip, she simply wouldn’t set that example. Our home was filled with art projects and signed photographs that she treasured from her pupils and families. For her, as with many teachers, “you can’t see your profit as financial if you are going into this field.”

I want to give to the many fine teachers who made this career choice. It is disturbing that we as a country can’t see our tax dollars reaching the public school teachers, as we’d like to reach out as individuals. But I believe that we can’t use a holiday or any other day as an opportunity to put cash in their hands — it is not a reward to the profession. If we want to soothe our conscience and do something for them there are opportunities. We can organize and create petitions to change legislation for education funding. We can donate time at the school or in the classroom to support an activity or lesson that the teacher can’t assume on his own. We can document for the teacher the positive change that he has made for our child or family and offer to send a copy to an authority of the teacher’s choice. We can bring our child back to the teacher after promotion so that the teacher can see the long-term rewards of his influence and bask in the glow of connected-social appreciation. And of course there are more ways that our time and respect can be tailored to reward to these important people.

With so many ways to advance our gratitude to our teachers, what troubles me is not that Mr. Klein has set limits on personal cash donations, but that we as a society see them as appropriate at all.

Ann Griffith

Parking in Soho

To The Editor:
Those who commented on residents’ need for free parking are targeting the wrong people (Letters, Dec. 17 – 23, Dec. 24 –30). Many New Yorkers play by the rules and pay amply for the use of city streets. This includes state and city sales taxes on the vehicles and their repair and fuel, the New York City auto-use tax and resident income taxes. About 30 percent of our neighbors, however, illegally avoid these costs by registering their vehicles throughout the U.S. Many of these folks, according to the New York City Department of Finance, claim residency in other states to avoid New York income taxes. If we instituted New York City resident-only parking, we would collect millions of dollars rightfully due us. The restriction should apply only to alternate-side spaces, from 8 a.m.-6 p.m., Mon.-Fri. It would therefore not impact restaurants, theaters and weekend shoppers. Many cities, among them San Francisco, Washington, Boston, Philadelphia and Hoboken, have such rules. Revenue enhancement and the reduction of weekday traffic, plus fairness, would result if New York City did the same.

Harry Malakoff

To The Editor:
In Letters to The Editor, several readers vehemently reject alternative side of the street parking in Soho for reasons that are reflexive and not well thought out. Living in Soho for nearly 30 years and being directly affected by this proposal I’ve given the matter long thought and have concluded like all changes there is both good and bad.

What must be held in account is that activists in Soho have been strident urban environmentalists for decades. We have opposed the insane Verrazano Bridge toll. We have supported East River bridge tolls. Before anyone else we raised the issue of illegal trucking and lobbied the N.Y.P.D. and D.O.T. for enforcement and improved signs. At our local police precincts we have repeatedly called for adherence to the 3-minute idling law ignored by too many tour buses.

Critics claim that alternate side parking will bring more vehicles and thus more pollution to the area. After studying residential blocks in the East and West Village I must refute this claim. Residents who jockey their autos every morning to secure the spaces probably use 90 percent of those spaces available on a given day. I would imagine the same would hold true here. On Broome St., we would actually see a decrease in pollution because there would be one less lane of traffic. During the crowded weekday rush hour there are five lanes of traffic on our block. Diminish one lane and we would cut our carbon monoxide by 20 percent. Add a bike lane and we cut our pollution by 40 percent.

What necessitates changes here are the new zoning regulations that now allows for as-of-right residential construction on parking lots in Soho. Not only are there not enough spaces but the remaining lots have jacked up their prices economically squeezing many in what is still a predominantly middle class neighborhood. What’s free in Brooklyn or Queens now costs us nearly $5,000.00 a year!

As I see it, the problem is not automobiles, but the internal combustion engine. Imagine if all vehicles were powered by alternative fuel sources. Health would improve, global warming would be mitigated and we wouldn’t be fighting that immoral war in Iraq. It is very short sighted to lambaste Manhattanites who own a car, as many do to escape from a city that has too few parks (none in Soho).

Probably the greatest negative impact to alternate side parking would be to our streetscapes, as the vehicles would obstruct clear views of our magnificent historic district.

Carl Rosenstein

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