Letters to the Editor


Burying 9/11

To The Editor:

Re “Elevator motor that helped save thousands for 9/11 museum” (news article, April 3 – 9):

I love it how news stories on the 9/11 museum such as this one just casually mention how artifacts such as this will be “at bedrock” joined by other artifacts such as “emergency vehicles.” Visitors will pass these on the way to the story of 9/11.

Here’s the more complete picture: the museum is going underground. New York City’s first and only underground museum. It will provide no access to the area’s other attractions and businesses. The world is coming to the site for 9/11; this design hides it.

The “Tribute Center” just celebrated its one millionth visitor; the 9/11 exhibition at St. Paul’s Church enjoys thousands of visitors per week. The “Tunnel to Tower Run” in honor of Firefighter Stephen Siller draws over 20,000 runners and volunteers, from across the U.S.A. and the world. It is now broadcast live on CBS. The thousands of out of town participants stay and shop and dine locally.

The Embassy Suites fills up; post-race, the Chevy’s restaurant is filled from top to bottom; it’s St. Patrick’s Day and Cinco De Mayo rolled into one.

Nine-eleven is the brand; the authentic artifacts the icons. At ground zero both are being either disposed of or hidden.

An underground museum makes no sense. Nobody but a clueless handful wants it. It diminishes our understanding of 9/11; it denies Downtown an economic bonanza. It costs a lot more money to build and it adds exorbitant costs to rebuilding. So why are we doing it? Anybody want to answer that?

Expand the Visitor’s Center to a full scale 9/11 museum. Put the damn elevator motor in there. Let people gaze at that and the crushed emergency vehicles (including my brother’s fire truck, Eng. 21) and the flyers of the missing and so on while looking out over the site where the attacks occurred. Do that and you increase visitors’ understanding of what happened here. Do that and Downtown takes the credit receipts home in shopping bags. Just finally, for once, make some sense at ground zero.

Michael Burke

Community ignored

To The Editor:

Re “Stars add glitz to garbage plan” (news article, March 27 – April 2):

I have gone to several of the community and City Council meetings on the proposed Spring St. Sanitation Dept. garage. I was speechless when I received Christine Quinn’s letter trying to defend herself. She has done nothing to show support for the community. At several meetings, her flunkies declined to even speak for her.

The other thing that, as a mother of two young children, I fail to understand is how this can even be considered in such close proximity to the community without a fail-safe emergency plan. Clearly, we are short so many classroom seats. I cannot fathom how this city, and Mayor Bloomberg, can even think about spending $500 million for a Sanitation garage — asking an already overburdened community to take not one or two, but three districts’ garages — when we so desperately need another elementary and middle school in the area. Why is garbage so much more important to our elected officials than our children? 

I have gone on record publicly on these issues at several community board meetings, but no one has even summoned so much as a murmur of a response, and no one seems to care.

 Meredith Berkowitz

Political scenes

To The Editor:

    Re “Campaign maneuvers” (UnderCover, March 27 – April 2):

Someone should reform the Village Reform Democratic Club. Executive Committee member Ray Cline is at it again. Cline is holding auditions for the position of challenger to at least two incumbent Democratic district leaders. Cline’s real motivation is to protect his leading star, incumbent City Councilmember Alan Gerson. Mounting district leadership challenges to all those who would not play a supporting role in Gerson’s re-election campaign to the City Council is what Cline seems to do best.

Why does V.R.D.C. allow a member of its Executive Committee to single-handedly instigate political fights with other Democratic political clubs? First, it was the Village Independent Democrats, then it was CoDA and now it’s the Downtown Independent Democrats. V.R.D.C. even has another member of its Executive Committee, Ms. Norma Ramirez, challenging the super couple — District Leaders Alice Cancel and John Quinn — in the 64th Assembly District.

Just who exactly sits on this V.R.D.C. Executive Committee that allows these members to take on these incumbent district leaders, creating all of this political havoc and drama all over Downtown Manhattan? The cast of characters include the following: Joanna Saccone, Howard Hemsley, Ray Cline, Norma Ramirez, Bob Ortiz, Noah Yago and Luke Henry, to name only a few. 

The leading role in this political drama is being played by none other than Alan Gerson. Ray Cline would seem to be making his directorial debut by holding casting calls. Then you have the rest of the supporting cast, which would seem to be the entire Executive Committee of V.R.D.C.

    Once Ray Cline has selected his new crop of actors/challengers, how does he plan to fund this production or political campaigns? Is V.R.D.C. playing more than a supporting-cast role by financially sponsoring this political drama? Is Alan Gerson’s re-election campaign financially supporting V.R.D.C.’s campaign in attempting to intimidate and threaten all district leaders in the First Council District with primaries if they don’t tow the line?

    The only person that would seem to be benefiting from this soap opera is Cline’s leading star, Alan Gerson. I can’t wait to see who earns the Oscar come September.

  Roberto Caballero

Lower East Side Political Action Committee president


Southbridge rebuttal

To The Editor:    

In his letter to the Downtown Express last week regarding privatization Michael Wishner tried to refute the arguments that I had made in my letter the previous week — but he couldn’t (Letters, April 3 – 9 and March 27 – April 2).

He couldn’t and didn’t deny my basic point, that the flip tax — especially in these difficult financial times — can’t possibly do all of the things that the privatizers claim it would do.

The flip tax is the financial linchpin of the privatization scheme. If it doesn’t work — then privatization doesn’t work for all of us who want to live here for the rest of our lives. The shortfall in flip tax income will bring about much larger maintenance increases than Mitchell-Lama ever has or ever will.

Mr. Wishner states that “Privatization gives us other avenues to explore.” The most likely of those avenues is the “large maintenance increase highway.” Do we really want to go down that road?

The letter also claims that the real property transfer tax is an unresolved issue. The truth: both the city and state have issued letters stating that Mitchell-Lama complexes that privatize have to pay the R.P.T.T. — in our case that would amount to $32 million.

Why Mr. Wishner would write a letter denying what is obviously, provably true is something for the reader to speculate on. It certainly calls into question his rosy prediction of life after privatization.

The events of the past year, including the Madoff Ponzi scheme and the subprime mortgage crisis should have taught us that if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Michael Altman

To The Editor:

There’s an old saying “Everyone Does Not Get Something For Nothing.” In the stock market, for example people can make a lot and lose a lot. People have lost half their pension plans in the recent market. Ten years ago, people made great profits during the dot-com craze.

Privatization of Mitchell-Lama co-ops is similar. Compared to the small amount invested to buy into a Mitchell-Lama co-op, a cooperator would be able to sell his apartment for many times his initial investment. This cooperator obviously would have the ability to move out or sublet. His former friend named Mr. Average Joe may not be so lucky and does not have the ability to move, and likes living here anyway. The old saying now kicks in. Joe loses big time. The two big killers are property and flip taxes.

He will lose the low maintenance he has paid. The second time sale of an apartment drops to a 2% flip tax which is essentially zero.

The creators of the pro-privatization movement know this. They are above average in intelligence. Unfortunately, they are also above average in greed and disregard for Mr. Average Joe. They have used their “above average intelligence” to disguise their motive with absurd rhetoric and talk about an imaginary pot of gold for everyone. Everyone? One unbelievable line printed was “how long will it take you to save half a million?” What were they talking about, and to whom?

Steve Seifer


POSTED to downtownexpress.com

“‘Sophie’s Choice’ for principal: Crowd the school or cut education” (news article, posted April 2):

I’m also a student at Millennium HS and it definitely is a school that I would like to continue going. I would be really disappointed to see such a successful High school go into a helpless point just because of budget cuts. But I’m also hoping that because of this, this can motivate the Millennium staff, students, and the student’s parents to become active and to take action.

Mei Kay Kam

“Falling hammer halts Goldman work, and angers parents” (news article, posted April 2):

As a parent, it would make sense to me that [Goldman Sachs] should just agree to stop construction on school days from 8:10 – 8:40 and from 3:00-3:30 during school drop off and pick up. However, that is not going to make sense to them moneywise so they likely will not agree to it. More than likely they have figured even a $ 3 million payout on a potential fatality is cheaper than slowing down construction or taking better precautions.