Letters, Week of April 3, 2014 | East Villager & Lower East Sider

Letters, Week of April 3, 2014

Leading the way

To The Editor:
Re “Nolita apartments illegally deregulated, building tenants say” (news article, March 27):

The Villager is the only New York City paper doing this kind of reporting. The Fourth Estate should not be passively posting what has already happened, but leading the way. Thanks for pointing the right direction.
Tom Cayler
Cayler is a member, West Side Neighborhood Alliance Illegal Hotel Committee

The Airbnb effect

To The Editor:
Re “Nolita apartments illegally deregulated, building tenants say” (news article, March 27):

Thank you for this article, Villager. New York is losing more and more affordable housing stock, in no small part due to Airbnb. Last fall, curious, I searched Airbnb for whole apartments available in Little Italy, Nolita and Soho. I got more than 300 hits. I then started checking every tenth one to find out something about the hosts. To be honest, I got tired of this after the first 100, but found that more than 75 percent of the ones I looked at hosted more than one apartment. That means it is a business for them, not just extra pocket change while the host is temporarily away.

Pini stood out because, at that time, he had 14 apartments listed rented out to tourists at $115 to $245 a night through Airbnb and brazenly wrote in his profile that, “We are a boutique extended-stay company, specializing in serviced apartments for short and long-term stay in New York City.”

New York really needs to crack down. We are losing housing stock, real tenants are endangered and their quality of life worsened, and the city (which means all of us) is losing 15 to 20 percent of the cost of each visitor’s stay due to various hotel-stay taxes not being levied.
Lora Tenenbaum

Glick saw it first

To The Editor:
Re “State finally transfers 75 Morton St. to city for new middle school” (news article, March 27):

Bravo to The Villager for its continued coverage on the long and hard-won fight to secure 75 Morton St. as a middle school.

As reported in your last issue, the pivotal transfer of the property from New York State to the New York City Department of Education has at last happened and things can really get moving.

I need to make one very important correction to this article. The site was originally identified by Assemblymember Deborah Glick. Assemblymember Glick saw it on a list of buildings for sale by the state and brought it to the attention of me and Ann Kjellberg to put it on our list of places for the “Rooms to Learn” rally in 2008. Robert Ely, a parent at P.S. 3 had also noticed this building and was alerting people to it as well.

The discovery of this site by Assemblymember Glick  was a major game changer and provided what began as a small consortium of parent advocates from both P.S. 3 and P.S. 41, along with the community board and elected officials, a focal point that blossomed into full-out community activism.

(The original core group from P.S. 3 and P.S. 41 were Tamara Rowe, Shino Tanikawa, Ann Kjellberg, Michael Markowitz, Robert Ely, Chris McGinnis and myself. It grew to include many other wonderful and dedicated people.)

Pursuit of 75 Morton grew and evolved, the Community Education Council for District 2 got involved and so did more and more parent groups.

This is certainly the best example of “it takes a village” I have seen in a long time.

Deborah Glick, Brad Hoylman and Keen Berger were our mentors at the beginning of all this. Great work was also done by Chrisitne Quinn, Scott Stringer and Tom Duane. They schooled us, supported us, came to the rallies. All in all, this could not have happened without these partnerships.

The big job now is to make sure it opens sooner rather than later, and does not house a charter school. There is a 75 Morton St. Task force through Community Board 2 that continues to be a watchdog for this, and I am pretty sure they welcome interested parties to their meetings.

At our rallies our slogan was “Just Imagine…” 75 Morton as a middle school. We all did, and here it comes!
Irene Kaufman

Proactive approach

To The Editor:
Re “State finally transfers 75 Morton St. to city for new middle school” (news article, March 27):

Thank you for featuring the long-awaited transfer of 75 Morton St. to the city. We owe this success to the truly remarkable partnership of all stakeholders and the dogged perseverance of a core group of advocates. I would like to add that the Community Education Council District 2 has been a partner in this effort from the very beginning.

Indeed, it was the C.E.C. District 2 that suggested that we be proactive in envisioning this school so that it is included in the right capital plan. (How it is presented in the capital plan can have an impact on the school’s grade configuration.) We remain fully committed to continuing our involvement.
Shino Tanikawa
Tanikawa is president, Community Education Council District 2

Triangle’s legacy

To The Editor:
Re “Triangle tragedy not forgotten” (news brief, March 27):

Thanks very much to The Villager for covering the anniversary of the Triangle Fire, in which my great-aunt, Fannie Lansner, perished. “Chalking” was done by volunteers at the spots where many of the victims lived in 1911, including for my Aunt Fannie at 78 Forsyth St.

We should also remember that the same difficult and dangerous conditions faced by my Aunt Fannie in 1911 are today common in garment factories around the world where workers — most of them women — are paid a pittance to produce clothing for export to America.
Tom Lanser

Synagogue’s spin

To The Editor:
Re “Synagogue landmarking battle” (news article, March 27):

This article misleadingly implies that landmark designation of the building would prevent its renovation, upgrading or expansion. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Landmark designation only requires the preservation of the structure’s facade, not the interior. Numerous similar institutions have undergone extensive renovations, alterations and even additions under the aegis of landmark designation.

Additionally, the “hardship” provision of the landmarks law ensures that the synagogue or any other religious institution can be relieved of the requirements of landmark designation if they are overly burdensome and would prevent them from fulfilling their mission.

It should also be noted that this 150-year-old structure was listed for sale, which is what sparked the push by the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation and a half dozen other East Village, preservation and Jewish history groups to have its landmark status finally decided after nearly 50 years in limbo.

The leadership of the synagogue may say that they have “no plans” to demolish the building. But they have, in fact, told us that selling the building is a serious option they are considering and pursuing the possibility of, as evidenced by the building being listed for sale. Once sold, without landmark designation, there would be nothing to prevent the historic building from being demolished — which would be the most likely fate.
Andrew Berman
Berman is executive director, Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation 

Global Tribes

To The Editor:
Re “Tribes, exuberant East Village arts space, faces eviction” (news article, March 27):

Buddha bless Steve Cannon and the Tribes with a new abode. This is a global matter. Thousands of people, of whom I’m only one, have enjoyed the place and the cultural company of Steve Cannon — a person so open to the world of art and poetry. We should all implore the lord mayor of New York to kindly take cultural action.

From a friend of Steven Cannon and a keen visitor from Denmark to the world’s most influential and vital city — love from Copenhagen.
Ole Lillelund 

Spirit of the Beats

To The Editor:
Re “Tribes, exuberant East Village arts space, faces eviction” (news article, March 27):

I was Steve’s neighbor for 15 years back in the ’80s and ’90s. Living a couple blocks away on Third and First, no one could have imagined an East Village without “outsider” poetry and art. Ginsberg and Kerouac changed the world and Steve grandfathers their legacy where they worked, lived and created. Creativity is not dead on the L.E.S. if we care enough.
George Weinbarg

Let’s talk it out

To The Editor:
Re “Lies and distortions” (letter, by Bernard White, March 27):

The quote Bernard White refers to in his letter contains the following, “It’s not really a bad idea — WBAI could sell for $350 million… .” ’Nuf said.

As for Mr. White’s personal slander against me, that’s par for the course with some at Pacifica, as we’re seeing played out in Berkeley, where the courageous Summer Reese is standing strong in her struggle against the faction that wants to sell WBAI.

To set the record straight, yes, I had a part-time job at WBAI that ended 12 years ago; it has less than nothing to do with events today. If anyone wants to see my work and judge it for themselves the archives of “Let Them Talk” are available at  http://youtube.com/letemtak. Mr. White is welcome to appear with me at his leisure to discuss these issues further.
Paul DeRienzo

Try party fundraisers

To The Editor:
Re “After director’s firing, WBAI sale is now rumored” (talking point, by Paul DeRienzo, March 20):

WBAI should look at the operation of all-volunteer WFMU, which holds a huge record party fundraiser every year, which is really like a party. Listeners aren’t turned off by being subjected to constant pitches for money and there are no factional infighting or other agendas. FMU staffers and D.J.’s are on the same page: bringing the listening public good radio.

I would hate to think that WBAI has been infiltrated with COINTELPRO’ers. But while those methods are at play here, it is more likely the classic situation in which an opposing group would rather fight another group rather than plug the hole in a sinking ship.

From my experience, fighting the other group is what an opposing group exists for — not to save the ship, but to let it sink so that the other side can’t have it or use it. Once they’ve accomplished their goal, they simply move on, usually looking to find another organization to join and dismantle from within.

We have more on this in the current issue of The SHADOW.
Chris Flash

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