Letters to the editor

Remember the Sultana

To The Editor:

I went to the South Street Seaport this morning to go on the boat ride to North Brother Island to commemorate the victims of the Slocum disaster.

I found a copy of the Downtown Express in a news box and read Bonnie Rosenstock’s well-written article about the Slocum disaster (news article, June 11 –17, “Remembering the Slocum disaster, a century later”).  One phrase in it is incorrect, however.  The Slocum disaster was New York City’s (but not the nation’s) “largest and most devastating peacetime maritime disaster.”  That sad distinction belongs to the far worse Sultana steamship disaster.

On April 27, 1865, the Civil War had ended and the United States was again at peace.  The Sultana was carrying demobilized Union troops and former prisoners of war home.  On that day three of her four boilers exploded and 1,700 people were killed.

If few people have heard of the Slocum disaster, even in New York City where it occurred, almost no one has heard of the Sultana disaster.

Alfred Kohler

Low income I.P.N. tenants

To The Editor:

Re “A few I.P.N. tenants raise objections to rent deal” (news article, June 11 – 17):

I am very disappointed with the agreement signed between the tenants’ association and the landlord here at Independence Plaza North. The tenants’ association has been telling us different things at different time periods and withholding important information.

Throughout this long process the tenants’ association told us to stick together. They refused to tell us what they would negotiate because that would “weaken their negotiating position.” After the agreement was completed we were told the details. They negotiated millions of dollars worth of rent concessions for the higher income tenants and nothing for the poorer tenants. They signed away our rights in legislation and are facilitating the landlord’s exit of the Mitchell-Llama program. Our rights to resist the landlord’s exit out of the Mitchell-Llama were used as collateral to win near rent stabilization for the higher income tenants. The tenants’ association apparently wanted near rent stabilization and wanted it badly.

We, the sticky voucher tenants, became collateral damage. Our rights to resist the landlord became collateral and the damage will be when we are evicted for non-payment of rent.

The tenants’ association now says that “sticky vouchers are the domain of the government.” The state and city governments will never guarantee or contribute to our sticky vouchers. Sticky vouchers and Section 8 is a Federal program. The tenants’ association did not notify us of impending cuts in the Section 8 program. These threatened cuts were manifested in Washington while the tenants’ association was negotiating their agreement with the landlord.

Some of the prospective sticky voucher tenants are actually quite poor. We the sticky voucher tenants are clearly the most vulnerable. It is the height of hypocrisy to sign such a deal.

Robert Gluckstadt

Fulton is next to Chinatown

To The Editor:

I just finished reading a letter to the editor about cleanliness in Chinatown and I agree (Letters, June 11 – June 17, “Chinatown cleanliness”). Why should anyone want to eat in Chinatown when it is so filthy and unattractive?  

My complaint is similar about Fulton St. between Gold and William Sts. Between the illegal merchandise sold by street vendors and the garbage that is constantly there 24 hours a day, it makes my living on Fulton St. a horrible experience.  

I have called 311, I have written to the mayor and no one cares.  Downtown is so filthy and unattractive. Why should anyone come down here?

Phylis Salom