Letters to the Editor

Remove foot(print) from mouth

To The Editor:

Re “There is a lot at stake: Why N.Y.U. must build here” (talking point, by John Beckman, Oct. 28):

John Beckman’s talking-point column contains inaccurate and misleading information. He claims that New York University is just trying to build “on its own longtime footprint.”

Wrong. Some of the space in their crosshairs is public land. N.Y.U. does not own it — yet. For the university to build on many of these tracts, the land must be transferred to them. That is quite a different scenario than the one presented.

It is troubling that the chief spokesperson for N.Y.U. is either lacking in information or deliberately misleading by omission.

Let’s talk facts. As president of the Mercer-Houston Dog Run, with almost 300 member families, this is an issue of enormous concern. To be accurate, as of today, N.Y.U. would not be building “on its own footprint” to build on our dog run’s present site, adjacent to Coles gym. Currently, our land is owned by the city’s Department of Transportation; after decades of being owned by the city, it would have to be transferred to N.Y.U. before building could begin.

Finally, Beckman’s remarks regarding the “unceasing campaign against responsible growth” by Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, are hyperbolic and distorted. For some reason, Beckman’s focus is on one individual. In fact, there are many voices in the wilderness, were he listening.

As one of the founding members of CAAN 2031 — and a recovering member of Borough President Stringer’s N.Y.U. Task Force — I’d like to offer valuable information to Mr. Beckman: CAAN 2031 is a coalition of about 30 community groups, representing many thousands of Downtown residents who are anxious about N.Y.U. development and expansion. Mr. Beckman overlooks one simple truth: What will actually “hurt the Village” would be if N.Y.U. ignores these voices.

Beth Gottlieb

Gottlieb is president, Mercer-Houston Dog Run

Does Beckman really believe it?

To The Editor:

Re “There is a lot at stake: Why N.Y.U. must build here” (talking point, by John Beckman, Oct. 28):

Surely, Mr. Beckman cannot believe what he has been paid to write. Our neighborhood faces continuing encroachment by a large, greedy entity — one that purports to be a socially beneficial institution, but currently appears to be simply a developer.

If he must mention the elementary school, where is the one N.Y.U. originally promised 40 years ago, which my children would have attended?

He mentions green spaces. The community has created beautiful green spaces where the university gave us a derelict playground, plus a locked playground forbidden to community use.

Please don’t take shots at Mr. Berman. Speak to the rest of your neighbors, as well. We care.

Margaret Breed

Hospital trip is a lot longer


To The Editor:

Re “C.B. 2 chairperson forcefully answers hospital haranguers” (news article, Oct. 28):

A needs assessment should be made of Quinn, Bloomberg and the community board to see how many of them live close to a real hospital and have health problems themselves that might need emergency care. I suspect most of them don’t worry about this issue, thus, they don’t care about it from personal need.

I now work in the Middle East, which has excellent public healthcare. I came home for a vacation and had a medical emergency, but had to wait until I returned to Jordan to get to a hospital since St. Vincent’s was closed; and I heard from my neighbors many horror stories about the other hospitals, now overcrowded, that are taking St. Vincent’s patients.

Jacqui Taylor Basker

Forced to sue over class size

To The Editor:

Re “Klein put on hot seat at District 2 C.E.C. meeting” (news article, Nov. 4):

Thanks for your article, but many of the statements made by Klein at the District 2 meeting were incorrect, in addition to those you highlighted.

Class sizes have increased sharply not just this year, but three years in a row — by the largest amounts in 12 years. The state cut education aid only this year; so for the two years before, these increases came in spite of substantial increases in state aid.

In 2007, the state passed the Contracts for Excellence program, which has since provided New York City schools with more than $2 billion in additional funding, in return for a promise from the schools chancellor that a substantial part of these funds would be invested in reducing class size in all grades. And yet class sizes increased instead.

Though the chancellor claimed at the District 2 meeting that the Contract for Excellence funds were “fungible,” this claim is contrary to the language and intent of the law, which specifically called for these funds to be invested in reforms that have proven to work, including class size reduction; the law also prohibited the Department of Education from simply cutting back on its contribution to these efforts. Nevertheless, that is what the city promptly did, in the form of harsh budget cuts in city funding to schools.

This is why Class Size Matters, along with the United Federation of Teachers, the NAACP and other parent and community groups, sued in New York State Supreme Court in January of this year to make D.O.E. comply with the law and reduce class size. So far, in court, the administration has argued not that it actually complied with the law, but that the court should have no jurisdiction over its behavior. So much for the accountability that mayoral control was supposed to bring!

Instead, we have been subjected to a lawless administration that considers all limits on its power something to ignore. In my mind and in that of many other parents, Joel Klein’s actions have been fraudulent on a massive scale — worse than Bernie Madoff’s — by taking $2 billion that was supposed to help our children succeed, misusing those funds and stealing their futures.

Leonie Haimson

Haimson is executive director, Class Size Matters

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