Letters to the Editor

Taken to school

To The Editor:

One might think General Growth Properties should consider firing their community affairs advisors after the Department of Education’s embarrassing rejection of the proposed school in G.G.P.’s Seaport redevelopment plan (news article, Nov 14 – 20, “City says ‘no’ to Seaport school ‘maybe’ to another Downtown”). Any advisors worth their salt, and familiar with the city’s bureaucracy, should have known that with two new schools slated to open in the area, another one at the Seaport would be a non-starter.

That is, of course, if G.G.P.’s “offer” to build a school was actually in good faith. It is my fear, however, that the school proposal was a ploy designed to tap into the anxieties of Downtown parents ahead of a critical community board meeting last month. It allowed emotion to ride roughshod over reason, with parenting anxieties taking precedence over a sober discussion of General Growth’s ill-conceived plan to move the historic Tin Building and exploit a loophole in the landmarks designation to build a skyscraper amidst 19th century structures.

Could it be that G.G.P. was just trying to tap into the anger of parents frustrated with school over-crowding in order to float a bad development plan past Community Board 1, secure in the knowledge that the Board of Ed’s slap-down would come only after a key community board meeting? On second thought, perhaps General Growth should give their community affairs advisors a raise; they played the Downtown community like a fiddle.

Fielding Dupuy

Many support Gerson

To The Editor:

In your article “Rolling Heads” (UnderCover, Oct. 31 – Nov. 6), UnderCover provided fodder for the controversy over the recent third-term limit vote. Although many may feel that their views are always based on principle, the angry board members whose views you reported don’t represent the whole board as you seemed to suggest (“The board also isn’t happy…”). Generalizing the views of the few disgruntled board members quoted by UnderCover in that way misses the mark expected for responsible journalism of reporting a preponderance of, or at least sufficient evidence in support of your conclusion.

Councilmember Gerson supported the referendum approach to third-term limits from the very beginning. In fact, he initiated a conference call with a dozen members comprising each of the community boards within Council District 1 a week before the vote. During that conference call, in which I participated, Councilmember Gerson heard comments and responded to questions from the dozen constituents.

Our councilmember’s last-minute concession to the third-term limit proposal, after the referendum amendment he sponsored did not pass, was an example of long-term strategic planning in this tumultuous economic environment. More such negotiating will become common practice during this crisis. Regardless of how principled many would like to be at all times, during extraordinary times it may be appropriate to be flexible and open to alternatives for the greater good of our communities, which, at great financial risk and the option of sticking with established leadership, should be available to all voters. Moreover, the third-term limit proposal does not guarantee any incumbent’s reelection. It just offers them an opportunity to run for another term. Although it’s not the same as a referendum, the democratic process of voting for desired candidates will be the determining factor.

During his tenure, Councilmember Gerson has successfully negotiated support for the passing of numerous legislative bills that he proposed. These bills, proposed to improve the quality of life for our communities, would have not been passed without the support of his fellow councilmembers. His unselfish service does not represent someone who has acted on the basis of self-interest.

Noel E. Jefferson

Community Board 1 secretary