Letters week of March 21, 2012

Quinn hedging bets on ‘sick leave’

To The Editor:
The potential methods used by New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn to defeat the proposed “sick leave bill” supported by 36 of 51 members of the New York City Council is nothing to cheer about, when you look into the details.

This measure would force companies to pay employees a minimum of five sick leave days per year. Speaker Quinn has kept this bill proposed by Manhattan Council member Gale Brewer bottled up in committee since 2009 while she contemplates her political options.

As an all but publicly announced candidate for mayor in 2013, Speaker Quinn has to make a choice by affording all 51 Council members a vote which will either make labor happy or the business community unhappy. In the meantime, she continues to raise campaign contributions from both the labor unions and the same business people along with the usual City Hall “Pay for Play” crowd.

Her potential method in defeating this legislation is to deny 50 other members of the NYC Council the right to vote up or down on the proposed legislation. Wasn’t Quinn elected to represent voters of her West Village district and not all five boroughs? Her actions denied almost eight million New Yorkers a direct say regardless of their side of the issue.

This is just another example of how NYC Council Speaker Quinn long ago removed the veil of her Manhattan liberal independent reformer image to reveal that she is a seasoned Democratic Party machine leader. She follows in the fine tradition of her predecessors, former Council Speakers Gifford Miller, Peter Vallone Senior and the late Tom Cuite.

On January 18, 2010 after being relected Speaker, Quinn announced her appointments of various Council committee chairpersons. Councilmembers loyal to their respective county organizations (the ones that endorsed her candidacy for speaker) were rewarded with salary increases known as lulus ranging from $4,000 to $28,000 to chair Council committees. These were renewed once again in January 2012. The average salary for a New Yorker is $41,000 per year. Every councilmember has a base salary of $112,500 plus bonuses, for a part-time job.

Under Quinn’s reign, it continues to be the usual political quid pro quo with councilmembers. Vote as instructed by the speaker, and members will continue to receive the perks of office. These include salary bonuses for chairing Council committees, extra cash for local district offices, staff and mailings along with your share of several hundred million dollars available for funding local neighborhood pork-barrel projects and a favorable gerrymandered district after reapportionment to grease the wheels of re-election.

The five county Democratic political bosses don’t care if you are liberal or conservative, gay or straight, man or woman — just play ball like Quinn and you’re welcome to the smoke-filled clubhouse back rooms!  Diogenes is still searching for a more honest potential mayoral candidate in 2013 than Quinn.
Larry Penner

N.Y.U. should build in FiDi

To The Editor:
Re “C.B. 2 votes unanimous No! on N.Y.U.’s superblocks plan” (news article, March 7):

New York University should build in the Downtown Financial District area where 20 years of construction would be welcomed. In fact, the offer to utilize the Downtown area was made by Julie Menin, chairperson of Community Board 1, several years ago. That’s an area where this sort of project would truly be needed.

N.Y.U. should go back to the drawing board with the Financial District envisioned.

Just as the N.Y.U. 2031 overbuilding plan was rejected by Community Board 2, the City Council will also reject it — or know the wrath of voting Villagers.
Sylvia Rackow

Please, think of the birds!

 To The Editor:
Re “City spins idea for wind rotors atop buildings” (news article, Feb. 29):

The possibility of wind turbines being installed anywhere in Manhattan is alarming. While many municipalities are doing what they can to minimize dangers and help birds safely navigate a high-rise city, it appears that the New York City Planning Department does not believe that nature exists here — or, if there is money to be made, doesn’t care. In fact, Manhattan Island, especially along the rivers, is a flight path for migrating birds and the monarch butterfly.

The addition of tall buildings along the waterfront is a crime against nature as the buildings significantly add to bird mortality. For example, during the day, reflections from the buildings’ shiny surfaces blind birds, or the birds, instead of seeing the building, see the sky and clouds reflected on it. At night, especially when there is fog, indoor lights confuse birds into interpreting the lights as pathways through tree branches. Birds then fly directly to the light and crash into the building. New York City Audubon, which began its “Lights Out NY” campaign in 2005, estimates that “90,000 birds die in collisions with buildings here each year.”

Not only do we not need to build any more tall buildings in our neighborhood, the addition of wind turbines on rooftops, reaching stories into the sky, along this migratory flight path would be a cruel step in the wrong direction. While it’s wonderful for buildings to become more green, and even as wind turbines have been improved so as to lower the mortality rate of birds, we need new standards to make buildings safer for birds.

City households, to help prevent needless bird deaths, can draw their drapes in the evening (especially during migration times — spring migration is starting now), not put trees inside a glass wall or window and use fritting (placing designs, frosting, etc. on glass). For more information go to flap.org.
Lynn Pacifico

SoHo BID a perfect ‘fit’ for mayor’s budget

To The Editor:
The idea of a SoHo BID did not come from the community; it came from an outside source. Who supplied the money for the dog and pony presentation for the BID? To say the community was involved is a lie… there were no petitions to draw the community into a dialogue, though the promoters say there was. I can only speculate that making “sewer service” an issue was a lawyer’s trick so the opposition does not show up when there is a hearing.

The idea that the Department of Sanitation no longer cleans the streets, that they only “pick-up,” fits Mayor Bloomberg’s idea of an efficient Department of Sanitation, which in term leaves each community with a gap in its cleaning of the streets and leaves a leaner, smaller Department of Sanitation. This fits the Mayor’s budget and saddles the community with a new tax.
Martin Hechtman
SoHo dweller for over 50 years