Letters to the Editor

Singing for the birds

To The Editor:

In 1993, The New York Times interviewed one of the founders of the Hua Mei Bird Club, Mr. Yee, who explained that dogs and loud sounds are not compatible with Hua Mei birds. Recently, in a kind of Mad magazine moment, Matt Townsend wrote on the same subject, quoting a Mr. Wai Lee (who is not a bird owner) stating that “birds actually like the noise” (news article, Nov. 16 – 22, “Polo players, kids keep park from going to the dogs”). For the record, as spokespersons for the garden and the Hua Mei birds, they still do not.

Back in 1993, we learned that the Roosevelt Community Coalition — which is now the enclosed M’Funga Garden — agreed to the confiscation of the recessed children’s playground for a dog run near the Forsyth Garden. This was for the pleasure of yuppies moving into the neighborhood. The Forsyth Garden Conservancy placed tables in the park, and with the help of community children, began to gather signatures against the dog run. Chinese community organizations also lent their support. We gathered 900 signatures in a few weeks.

When we heard this past November that yet another dog run was being proposed at the playground near Forsyth Garden, we advised a local storeowner about starting a petition. He smiled and produced a stack of signatures. There were 800 this time, but it only took a week.

Anna Magenta and Tommy Chen

Anna Magenta is president of the Forsyth Garden Conservancy and Tommy Chen is a spokesperson for the Hua Mei Bird Club

Cuts hurt Downtown

To The Editor:

I am deeply concerned about the U.S. Office of Management and Budget’s plan to cut counter-terrorism funds by more than half this year, and to provide no funding at all for port and transit security.  This ill-considered plan significantly imperils high-risk targets including New York City.

A recent White House memo stated that high-risk cities have largely satisfied their emergency need to boost security.  Although this conclusion may be appropriate for certain locations, it is not remotely true for New York City.

There can be little doubt that New York City remains the nation’s top terrorist target and that city residents must remain ever-vigilant against terrorist threats.  This is especially true for New Yorkers living and working Downtown. With “high value” targets like the new World Trade Center site, Wall St., and the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges, Lower Manhattan is perhaps the most high-risk, target-rich area in the world.  Slashing Homeland Security funds to New York City in light of this highly elevated risk is quite simply irresponsible.

If existing Homeland Security funds are cut, the city will be obliged to maintain its extraordinary level of security through the use of local taxpayer dollars, placing a continuing and significant burden on the city’s finances at a time when our economy is slowing. This situation is especially troubling because New York City continues to send billions of dollars more to Washington than it receives in return.

Indeed, New York City’s current level of funding remains woefully inadequate. In February 2007, my office issued a report that identified a number of troubling circumstances regarding the city’s ability to respond to emergency situations, including terrorist attacks.

Critical passenger safety equipment — such as fan plants, which remove smoke from transit tunnels in the event of emergency situations — will not be in an appropriate state of repair until 2028, 21 years later than projected in 1992. Other important safety features are also significantly outmoded and in need of replacement.

In March, the House voted overwhelmingly to approve legislation that would provide New York City with $7.3 billion over four years to boost rail and bus security. The legislation — which has stalled in the Senate — would allow New York to add much-needed security for buses, trains, and subways.

The first priority of government is to ensure the safety and security of its residents.

I strongly urge President Bush to support this legislation, and to leave intact New York City’s current allocation from Homeland Security.

William C. Thompson, Jr.

New York City Comptroller

Letters policy

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.