Volume 17, Number 40 | February 25 - March 3, 2005

Letters to the Editor

Questionable headline

To The Editor:
I was dismayed to see the article about last week’s Community Board 1 meeting’s discussion of a resolution outlining a Code of Conduct headlined “Board looks to limit speech” (news article, Feb. 17 - 23).

Neither the Bylaws Sub Committee, which I chaired, or the Executive Committee which both unanimously supported the resolution, believes it “limits speech.” In fact the resolution states “a free and open exchange of ideas and different points of view are laudable elements of  democracy in action and should be encouraged.” What it does ask is that members refrain from “ making personal, derogatory defamatory or slanderous comments —.”

However, obviously, not all members agree. That is the free and open debate that is encouraged. Ultimately the issue will be decided by a vote of the full Community Board after full and open debate. What troubled me was that the headline could give the impression that the Downtown Express was taking sides in the debate in a non-editorial piece.

As to some of the other issues raised in the article, to suggest that a resolution that was debated and voted on in two open subcommittee meetings and an open Executive Committee meeting and is being discussed by the full board was somehow done in secret is not supported by the facts. There is nothing in the resolution that would prevent any member from fully espousing their qualifications for any board office. However it would prohibit the type of negative, mudslinging campaign most of us feel is not productive.

Ray O’Keefe
C.B. 1 reform

To The Editor:
As a long-term member of our community board, I am questioning why Community Board 1’s Executive Committee even proposed such a chilling resolution against free speech(news article, Feb. 17 – 23, “Board looks to limit speech”)?

Years ago, controversial items were fully discussed in public among all the 50 members at the full board meetings. We even used to have annual elections, until the Executive Committee pushed through a resolution to eliminate board elections every other year. There will be no election at C.B. 1 this June. We used to have 2-year term limits on our officers to encourage new leadership. We didn’t close our streets to raise our budget by having seven street fairs just to indirectly increase our staff’s salaries. And most importantly we didn’t hold private meetings of board members, where we were told not to let the media know when the meetings were to be held. All these facts including the legal opinion of the Committee on Open Government are detailed on my Web page at www.infotrue.com/cb.html. Read for yourself how all of the Tribeca Rezoning Subcomittee meetings were conducted in private and then mysteriously became a “Friends of CB#1 meeting”. The “Friends of CB#1” seem to be taking the lead for the policy making of the full board.

This downward spiral of democracy has been affecting our board over the decades. I hope that the majority of the board’s 50 members will stand up to the Executive Committee and reject this attempt to make the code a “cause for removal” if someone says something derogatory about the chair or staff at a board meeting or elsewhere. The contents of this letter could even be considered to violate the proposed “Code of Conduct”. The time for reforming our board’s procedures has been long in coming.

Rick Landman

A just Stewart verdict

To The Editor:
Re “Stewart says jurors believed prosecutor paranoia” (news article, Feb. 17 – Feb. 23):

I sincerely hope we will have no more hand-wringing about the conviction on all counts of Lynne Stewart. She is a traitor to her country and should have been tried and punished as such. She is fortunate to have been convicted on lesser charges. Lynne Stewart is truly an ugly American.
Paul K. Piccone

Disappointed in Gerson

To The Editor:
Re “Street artists fear Gerson’s next move” (news article, Feb. 11 -17):

How sadly myopic of Mr. Gerson. It’s always a depressing moment in life when someone you have believed in and supported as a champion of quality, meaning, substance and value in your community suddenly becomes another shallow and cowardly slave to mediocrity by shamelessly pandering to whatever constituency might be less than understanding of a commitment to neighborhood culture and quality of life.

As a resident of the aforementioned community (I live two blocks away on Sullivan St.) I know the importance and value of the street artist community on W. Broadway. One of the great joys of living here is to go out on the weekends and see the wonderful contributions of these people to our neighborhood culture. The artists mentioned (Jill Stasium, Larry White and many others not mentioned in the article) are important figures in the character and identity of our neighborhood and are viewed with pride by the great majority of residents and businesses. Besides expressing the cultural values and forward-looking spirit of this area, they are known to be a significant contributing factor to the success of the neighborhood economy from galleries to stores and restaurants.

How short-sighted and cowardly of Mr. Gerson to be swayed by an extreme minority of whining individuals when this should be an opportunity for a leader of substance and character to take a stand on behalf of his supporters concerning a matter of civic pride. Shame on him.

I am a former Gerson supporter who has been forced to reconsider.

Doug Lunn

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