Letters to the Editor

Ill parking

To The Editor:

“Fulton St.…traffic nightmare for many Downtowners” is the correct diagnosis of the vehicular anarchy (news article, Oct. 6 – 12, “Fulton St. – parking paradise for police, traffic nightmare for many Downtowners”).

The closing of the Beekman parking lot and construction of the 75-story apartment building only exacerbate the situation.

The policemen, sanitation officials, etc. do not make house calls – for that the city supplies hundreds of truly “official” cars. This Praetorian Guard has enlarged its prerogatives at the citizens’ expense.

If the subway is good enough for the mayor, it should likewise suffice for his employees. Union labor contracts stipulate on-the-street parking for teachers, police officers, firemen, etc. In a crowded city, we should restrict these clauses.

Dr. Pierre C. Haber

Setting a bad pace

To The Editor:

We write to express our extreme disappointment with the one-sided coverage of Pace University’s 100th birthday party on Oct. 6 (news article, Oct. 13 –19, “Pace Still Close to Home 100 Years Later”).  Reporter Lori Haught summed up her coverage of the birthday party with the statement, “Everyone who spoke expressed one unified statement, may the next 100 years be as wonderful as the first.”

Funny, in order to reach the party which Pace administration had moved from outside One Pace Plaza into the building’s gymnasium, Haught had to pass by a union rally right in front of the main entrance which featured a giant inflatable rat and dozens of Pace employees and other unionists and supporters chanting a somewhat different message than the official “unified” self-congratulatory one:  “Union busting is no cause for celebration!” 

Inside, Haught was probably handed an alternative birthday card describing how Oct. 20 will mark the one-year anniversary of a majority of Pace’s bus drivers and mechanics voting for union representation with New York State United Teachers and detailing Pace’s subsequent 12 months of resistance and delays culminating in the recent Labor Board decision to take Pace to court for refusing to bargain in good faith.  And surely Haught must have heard that Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer refused to speak at the celebration after he learned of Pace’s anti-worker and anti-union actions.

Haught’s unbalanced coverage is particularly disappointing given that Downtown Express usually does a responsible job of covering labor issues (e.g. development of 25 Broad St., Chinatown restaurant workers, Pace University part-time faculty). We hope future coverage of Pace University will take a less biased approach instead of serving as free advertising for an institution certainly old enough to know better than to refuse to bargain with their employees’ democratically elected union.

Jaime Cruz, Ron Posmentier and Bonnie Smith

Respectively, president, vice president and secretary/treasurer of the Pace Transportation Union

Betting the house

To The Editor:

Re “Big bucks at Southbridge– — residents will be rich, study says” (news article, Oct. 13 – 19):

The feasibility report now being distributed to Southbridge Towers cooperators is slanted toward privatization. The million dollars dangled before their eyes is far from — very far from — certainty. It’s a gamble and a gamble that few, if any, will win with the attitude “let the devil take the rest of us,” an attitude that is unconscionable. Gambling has no place in our lives when the real issue is the need to have a roof over our heads. That is our real birthright.

There are those living in this state-subsidized development who have been looking forward to its destruction from the day they moved in, all the while living in limbo awaiting the time to come when they will no longer belong to the middle income. They have calculated that they can become upper class by using money belonging to the public.

There are many apartments for rent and houses for sale that are out of the reach of middle-income citizens. Think again. What was the purpose of Mitchell-Lama? Has its purpose become distorted by the color of illusive riches?

Geraldine Lipschutz

Wait for Southbridge’s report

To The Editor:

The most recent issue of the Downtown Express featured a front-page story on the feasibility study at Southbridge Towers (news article, Oct. 13 – 19, “Big bucks at Southbridge — residents will be rich, study says”). It was based on hearsay, the comments of two unidentified board members who had pledged to keep the contents of the report confidential. Your reporter never saw the full study, which you correctly noted will not be available for another one to two weeks. Then to compound the problem, the paper used this “non-information” to generate an editorial suggesting the value of privatization (Editorial, Oct. 13 – 19, “Southbridge Towers’ big decision”). This is the kind of journalism we expect from the National Enquirer or the Star.

Those of us who support remaining in the Mitchell-Lama program are not looking to make a quick profit by selling our homes. Many of us live on fixed incomes. We are concerned about our carrying charges, the effects of losing our substantial tax abatements, and the morality of eliminating affordable housing from Manhattan.

Next time you deal with this issue — wait to get the facts. Then publish both sides.

 Joseph Lerner

Uplifting article

To The Editor:

Re “The pull of Tribeca’s elevators” (news article, Sept. 29 – Oct. 5):

Just a note to say how much I enjoyed this story.  I didn’t know this type of elevator still existed, or that there were any New Yorkers left who would tolerate the inconvenience!  Thank you Sara Stefanini.

Karen Mack

Borat’s humor missed

To The Editor:

Re “How I was duped by Ali G.” (Essay, Oct. 13 – 19):

Linda Stein’s statement that Sacha Baron Cohen uses his interview with her as Borat “to reinforce the stereotype of women as the inferior sex, at the expense of women,” suggests that she does not understand her segment in the upcoming Borat, movie.  Borat is the ultimate unreliable protagonist. The way that he sees the world is obviously incorrect.  The idea that Borat’s assertions of women’s inferiority to men will somehow reinforce negative stereotypes about women is patently absurd. The humor in the segment comes from the uncomfortable clash between the backward culture of Borat’s fictionalized Kazakhstan and that of modern American feminism.  As to Stein’s question asking, “How funny is that,” I would suggest that one of the things that Cohen does as Borat is puncture self-seriousness and sanctimony in all its forms, and judging by the self-righteous tone of her article it appears that Stein has plenty of that to spare.

Robert J. Gibbs

To The Editor:

In response to the article, “How I was duped by Ali G.,” I must say that I am appalled. My initial feeling was that this was no more than the pointless whining of a self-righteous and pretentious “artist” and feminist, which the world has seen all too much of.

However, as I re-read the article, I found it filled with contradiction and worthless attempts at biting criticism and commentary.

I find it humorous that Linda Stein claims not to understand the brand of Sacha Baron Cohen, that she shakes her head when he attempts to expose ignorance by exaggerating it, yet she makes art out of “warrior women” who are meant to “evoke peace and protection.” It would seem that Stein is able to grasp the paradox of wanting peace, therefore preparing for war, yet she can’t quite understand why fanning prejudice can also expose it. Yet she does seem to understand this point, as she uses the example of one of Cohen’s sketches, where he “exposes covert anti-Semitism” by getting a bar of people to sing a violent, anti-Semitic song. Stein flip-flops, leaving the reader wondering if she does understand Cohen’s humor or not, or is just choosing to ignore certain elements of it to make her point.

And in response to Stein’s question “But what exactly is he trying to unmask when he ridicules women?” the answer, although I thought it was obvious, is sexism. This is where Stein’s logic fails. Cohen is most likely trying to expose covert sexism by arguing that women have smaller brains than men. Granted, Cohen’s method is unconventional and perhaps a bit showy, not like say, burning bras on university campuses in front of a crowd, but Stein also seems to conveniently forget that he’s also a comedian.

We all know that arguing that women have smaller brains than men is ridiculous. But so many people have become comfortable in that belief, so sure that it’s just “common knowledge” that they can’t make an intelligent rebuttal. Instead, Stein storms off and kicks Cohen’s crew out of her place.

I highly doubt that after Cohen’s departure, she continued on with her art. I think it’s more likely that she wrote a lengthy diary entry, which was later converted into a newspaper article (and she accuses Cohen of “fake” journalism?).

Ben Jensen