Letters to The Editor, Week of April 11, 2019

Tompkins tested Stern

To The Editor:

Re “Henry Stern, 83, Parks chief under two mayors” (obituary, April 4):

In my opinion, Henry Stern was the most visible, popular and people-friendly Parks Department commissioner in the history of New York, and his dog, which he claimed was “the most petted dog in New York,” was even more popular.

Because of the 1988 police riot at Tompkins Square Park and the Tent City multiyear occupation there, Stern was forced to spend a lot of his time and Parks resources on Tompkins Square. Over the years, I observed him in the park and at meetings about it. Honestly, I think he was conflicted on how to handle it all since Ed Koch ordered that the park should continue to stay open 24/7, which allowed Tent City to occupy it for a long time. Stern never actually evicted Tent City, which was done by the Dinkins administration.

Over all, I think that Stern was about as compassionate to Tent City and neighborhood residents who resisted the closing of the park as he could be, considering the circumstances and the media calls to close Tompkins Square Park.

John Penley


For the record…

To The Editor:

Re “Ackers honor avant-garde’s ‘real heroes’” (arts article, April 4):

I prepared a shortish acceptance speech for the Acker Awards, which I shelved because Clayton made some opening comment that he didn’t want honorees yapping too long (if at all) because of time constraints.

So Phoebe was hustling artists through who were acting meek and quiet, like they were in Catholic school. So I just said a few words, feeling like I was shortchanging myself and the audience.

I planned to say that, as a New York City native, I want to thank myself for not getting killed in any number of ways, like fighting back while getting mugged or bicycling in New York City or playing what’s now called parkour on rooftops, public statues and subway trains.

I’d like to publicly shame the New York City Public Art Fund and the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council for never helping me (or any artists I know personally) do any public sculpture projects in this town.

And to other creatives here tonight and around New York City who are deserving or more deserving than me of getting an Acker, I can tell you there is no prioritized rating system. Otherwise, how could I be getting one and someone like Al Diaz still has not? (I gotta nominate him for next year). So, hang in there, your time will come!

Finally, I give a shout-out to all artists to break rules, impose their autonomy on society and reject censorship to effect everlasting positive cultural transformation.

Linus Coraggio


Give small stores a break

To The Editor:

Re “New biz bills don’t fix closings’ cause” (op-ed, by Sharon Woolums, March 28):

If the portion of the real estate taxes passed along to the tenant was zeroed out, many small businesses would be back to being comfortably in the black.

Laura Braunstein


This is the last straw

To The Editor:

Re “Cheers and fears at traffic pricing forum” (news article, March 28):

I am a resident of Brooklyn who works in engineering in New Jersey. Do I have to get a new job because I drive to work due to the distance? Mass transit doesn’t reach Lodi at 1 a.m. in the morning. How about people like me? Do I walk away from a job that’s going to cost me more in tolls than “take home pay?” Forty years ago, this city was promoting interstate employment. But if this bill goes past our politicians and is in fact implemented, I have no other choice but to leave. Is this really common sense?

Paul Torres


‘Uneasy pals’ with Angels

To The Editor:

Re “Hells Angels ride off from E. 3rd clubhouse” (news article, March 14):

I lived across the street from the place in the ’90s. I made an early peace with them, as a result of a harrowingly successful night being drafted as a pool partner to one of them at the bar down the street, playing the game of my life and winning for us.

For the rest of my stay there, I had a reserved parking spot for my girlfriend’s car, and was aided, sometimes violently, in any disputes that arose. It was like being uneasy pals with The Punisher. Some of those days on E. Third St. found their way into my first novel.

Biff Thuringer


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