GAPco leader demands: Take me to your editor!

The Brooklyn Paper
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To the editor,

The Grand Army Plaza Coalition is pleased that The Brooklyn Paper recognizes both the significance of the city’s ongoing modifications to Grand Army Plaza, and also GAPCo’s contributions to the conversation (“Island paradise,” Oct. 6). The article was well reported, entertainingly written, and a contribution to the public’s awareness of the pertinent issues. However, in order to keep the record straight, we feel compelled to offer a few corrections:

GAPCo (an umbrella organization for community stakeholders, neighborhood groups and local institutions focused on improving the public experience of the Plaza) is not dictating any one vision or set of solutions. Rather, GAPCo is a facilitating an ongoing, iterative discussion whereby the stakeholders can create a consensus vision for a Plaza that works better for all users — pedestrians, motorists and cyclists. We have not endorsed any of the specific changes mentioned, although each of them is certainly “on the table.”

We did think your characterization of Department of Transportation Downtown Brooklyn Coordinator Chris Hrones’s role in this process was glib and unfair. Hrones is a Prospect Heights resident and professional urban planner. Prior to accepting his job at DOT, he lent his expertise to GAPCo, conducting our 2006 walk-through and writing the subsequent report on the numerous problems and opportunities for improvement. This hardly makes him “radical” or an “agitator”; rather we find him a model citizen and public servant committed to the betterment of his community. We would hate to think that your dramatization of his role might bring his integrity into question.

As always, any information on GAPCo can found at

The letter was signed by GAPco Coordinator Rob Witherwax and steering committee members Michael Cairl and Aaron Naparstek

Pay to play

To the editor,

Your recent article about the port shenanigans in Red Hook is nothing new (“Money muddies port support,” Oct. 13). Past reports released by the Campaign Finance Board should be must reading for all intelligent voters. The reports document the relationship between campaign contributors and candidates running for office.

Independent government observers know there is a political quid pro quo expected by those who represent various special interest groups in exchange for campaign donations. This is known as “pay for play” around City Hall. How can Council Speaker Christine Quinn — or any other 2009 citywide candidate — represent the interest of taxpayers when accepting campaign contributions from those working for or doing business with the city?

The appearance of a conflict of interest is obvious.

Log on to the Web site of the Campaign Finance Board (it’s The contributors and campaign expenditures for Quinn, and her term-limited colleagues running for higher office in 2009 will illustrate who is making investments today in return for future favors at taxpayers’ expense tomorrow.

Larry Penner, Great Neck


To the editor,

Your recent report that New York University may seek a merger with Polytechnic (“NYU eyes Brooklyn,” Aug. 18) recalls a bit of forgotten history. In addition to the well-known Washington Square location of NYU, the school also had a University Heights campus in the West Bronx from 1898 to 1973.

That campus contained the University College of Arts and Sciences and the School of Engineering, both full, four-year colleges.

In the 1960s, NYU decided to take advantage of that era’s engineering boom by greatly expanding the Engineering School. But that school suffered massive losses when that boom went bust — and as a result, NYU as a whole had deficits in the millions.

In 1971, NYU put the University Heights campus on the block, selling it to City University as a home for Bronx Community College. In 1974, the NYU School of Engineering merged with what was then called “Brooklyn Polytechnic.”

That move eliminated NYU’s deficits, but also eliminated the word “Brooklyn” from Poly’s name.

How ironic that in 2007, NYU seeks to re-acquire the Engineering School it sent packing to Brooklyn in 1973.

Carlton Gordon, Downtown

Cat lover

To the editor,

A feral cat is unsocialized and generally avoids human contact. Pet cats who are forced to fend for themselves because they are abandoned or accidentally lost can become feral. If outdoor cats are not sterilized, more feral kittens are born and the cycles continue.

In your story (“It’s a catfight! Prospect Heights kitties caught, left in Queens,” Sept. 29), the Ponds did the right thing by having the four kittens trapped, neutered, and returned to their outdoor home. But now that the cats have been removed, a vacuum has been created and new, unsterilized, cats can easily move in and begin breeding.

Trap-Neuter-Return is a comprehensive community plan where entire feral cat colonies are humanely trapped, vaccinated, and neutered by veterinarians. Socialized kittens and cats who can be adopted are placed in good homes. The feral cats are then returned to their familiar habitat to live under the watchful care of volunteers.

For information on starting a nonlethal feline management program, visit:

Elizabeth Parowski , Bethesda, MD

The writer is program manager of Alley Cat Allies.

Is your editor an idiot?

To the editor,

Your editorial about the Atlantic Yards case was wrong (“A’Yards case is strong,” Oct. 13).

Of course, plaintiff’s lawyer Matthew Brinckheroff did not “reargue” Kelo, as you put it. As we now know, the scenario in the Kelo case was exactly the same as Atlantic Yards: the developer approached government, and suggested the “redevelopm­ent.”

I discuss this revelation in my book, “The Eminent Domain Revolt: Changing Perceptions in a New Constitutional Epoch” (Algora, 2006).

Actually, it’s clear that everyone on the Supreme Court knew [New London’s argument] was a lie and a scam. So why didn’t the Institute for Justice press it at the trial level? Because they’re a right-wing, crypto-fascist organization and didn’t do their homework when Kelo was at the trial stage.

So your conclusion — namely, that “New London did not take the private property to benefit the private developer who would build the Pfizer plant; indeed, the identity of the developer was determined only after a proper bidding process” — is simply not true at all.

Whoever wrote that editorial is a complete uninformed idiot.

John Ryskamp

Editor’s note: We differ with Ryskamp’s reading of the case.

Updated 4:33 pm, July 9, 2018
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