Letters to the Editor

Getting it wrong on vending

To The Editor:

Re “Concerns rise over vending; Chin targets fake bag buyers” (news article, April 28):

Politicians and the BID’s they work for always seem to get it wrong on vending. Maybe that’s because they always have a hidden agenda behind their seemingly well-intentioned vending proposals.

Yes, there is a problem with the sale of counterfeit goods, but no new, unenforceable laws have to passed to address it.

Virtually all the vendors selling these materials are illegal. They have no vending license, they are not protected by the First Amendment and they are not disabled veterans. They are all subject to confiscation, summonses and arrest every single moment they are selling on the street — no matter what they are selling.

Why would anyone think that adding more vending laws, rather than simply enforcing the existing ones, was required?

The existing laws subject all illegal vendors to large fines and jail time.

Contrary to the claims of Senator Squadron and others, every vendor who is arrested is automatically fingerprinted. If they go through Central Booking, they are also face-scanned. As an artist who was falsely arrested 43 times (and never convicted), I can assure you from direct personal experience that all vendors are fingerprinted when arrested.

As far as the notion of arresting those who buy a fake handbag from these vendors, it is an understandable retaliation strategy but it makes no sense legally. To prove a criminal act you need to prove intent. Unless a customer confesses to the police that she knowingly bought a counterfeit bag, she cannot be found guilty.

Lastly, as far as the hostility some residents report from vendors they tried to evict from their block, let’s get real. When a resident threatens a vendor who is standing on a public sidewalk, he can expect to be met with hostility in return. Vendors normally have no reason to harass or threaten residents. When it happens, it is almost always the result of the resident harassing and threatening the vendor first.

If a resident has a problem with illegal vending, the remedy is calling the police rather than pretending to be Charles Bronson or Dirty Harry. That’s what we pay the police for.

Robert Lederman

Lederman is president, ARTIST (Artists’ Response to Illegal State Tactics)

Fine artists are taking the hit

To The Editor:

Re “Concerns rise over vending; Chin targets fake bag buyers” (news article, April 28):

As a street artist for many years, I spoke out against the illegal vendor and bootlegger situation in New York City many times. My feeling has always been that if illegal vendors and bootleggers were clearly separated from legal vendors, the situation would finally be controlled. If not, then legal vendors and fine artists would take the hit. Unfortunately, I was right on.

Many fine artists, including myself, who used to love to display our newest artwork in the public square, have abandoned the streets as an avenue of expression. I wish it were not so, but those are the facts.

I personally have been a victim of the violence mentioned in this article.

Several times I was threatened and a couple of times I was physically attacked by illegal vendors and the enforcers who protect them. The authorities did very little about it, if they did anything at all.

Then when I spoke out in favor of fine artists versus illegal vendors, I was further harassed and intimidated by members of the faux artist advocacy group ARTIST. I found the methods used by this group to be very similar to the tactics of the notorious Tea Party of today. They slandered and lied about me in massive e-mailings and public statements that ruined my reputation on the streets with many uninformed artists.

Ms. Chin’s plan to fine those who purchase bootleg goods is not going to work for street artists. The only plan that will work for fine artists will be when the city sets in motion a process to identify them and at last separate them from bootleggers who steal artists’ copyrights with impunity.

The way to identify true artists does not require city-issued permits, which are an affront to artists’ First Amendment rights. Instead a simple check of the artist’s ID (driver’s license or passport), tax ID (all street artists are required to carry one) and the signature on the artwork will quickly identify an artist on the street. Those who sell artwork created by others must be able to prove they own the copyright and that the artwork has not been illegally reproduced.

This idea is simple, effective and has been totally ignored by the city officials who control the rules.

Lawrence White

Human rights vs. dog rights

To The Editor:

I am constantly reading, with great interest, about the concern for dogs and what might be termed “dog rights.” However, I rarely read about the obligations of dog owners to train their dogs properly and to consider the rights of their fellow citizens. For example, I would appreciate it if I could pick up my garbage can cover without dog pee spilling from it onto my hand. It would be nice to be able to walk out of my front gate without stepping into a puddle of dog pee, and it would be great if the flowers in my tree pit weren’t constantly dying because of their being urinated on, and if my sidewalk didn’t stink of urine. 

The plain fact is that it is not just a few bad apples who are guilty of these offenses, but rather, it seems, a large number of dog owners. And, if you approach most of these miscreants to remind them of their civic responsibility, you will be met with a volley of verbal abuse or the weak excuse that the dog “wants to go there,” as though the dog was the master with the brains, which in some cases may be true. Of course, the truth is the dog would prefer to do its duty in their apartment, but the dog owners seem to have enough control to prevent that from happening.

Furthermore, I have never seen one dog owner complain to another one because she was allowing her dog to urinate where it wasn’t supposed to.   

I am not a dog hater. I grew up having a dog, and as an adult our family had a dog for 16 years. But those dogs weren’t allowed to kill flowers and trees or ruin lawns or stink up sidewalks by peeing on them. If you own a dog in the city, you have a responsibility to train it properly, and if you are too lazy or incompetent to do so, you should not be a dog owner.

Gary Tomei  

N.Y.U. can grow at W.T.C.

To The Editor:

Re “Forging a strong coalition to block N.Y.U. sprawl” (Progress Report article, by Terri Cude and Martin Tessler, April 21):

I have an idea. New York University should expand into the new World Trade Center. Hey, they need to fill up that office space somehow.

Richard Rabinowitz

Duane is a ray of light

To The Editor:

It seems like Albany has been talking about clean energy and its potential to create jobs for a very long time. Fortunately, state Senator Tom Duane is doing something about it, and we’d like to thank him for real leadership on this issue.

Right now, the state Legislature is examining a major initiative to revitalize New York’s economy by adding an impressive 5,000 megawatts of solar power capacity. As a co-sponsor of the so-called New York Solar Industry Development and Jobs Act, Senator Duane is playing an important role, helping blaze the trail toward a greener, stronger New York.

The Solar Industry Development and Jobs Act is not only good for the environment — it will help reinvigorate New York’s economy in a very real way.

This legislation will generate $20 billion in economic activity for the state and create at least 22,000 jobs. These jobs will be diverse, ranging across a broad spectrum of salary levels, skill and education requirements and employment fields. What’s more, they will be local jobs, and difficult to outsource, meaning they will truly benefit New Yorkers.

Right now, New Jersey — where this program is already in place — has six times the solar capacity that we do. Clean energy has become a major industry in New Jersey, and its rapidly growing solar industry companies say that this type of program has been critical to their success.

It’s time to bring those jobs and benefits to New York. The state Assembly is expected to pass this bill early this month. It already has strong bipartisan support in the state Senate, and fits in perfectly with Governor Andrew Cuomo’s vision to make New York a clean-energy leader.

All those years of talk about the innovation economy come down to this moment: Albany must act today for a better, more prosperous tomorrow.

Marcia Bystryn

Bystryn is president, New York League of Conservation Voters

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