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Come on, America — let’s honor ‘Honest’ Abe!

for The Brooklyn Paper
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To the editor,

Honestly, America needs to honor President Abe Lincoln.

The 150th anniversary of his presidency on Mar. 4 should not be overshadowed by Black History Month celebrations, or George Washington’s birthday (Feb. 22), which has been combined with Lincoln’s own anniversary (Feb. 12) into one Presidents’ Day (Feb. 21).

Washington’s birthday is rightfully celebrated because he was the father of our country. Yet our country was threatened and re-born with a greater consequence for human rights and “all men created equal” with the presidency of Abraham Lincoln. So, why does our federal government lump President Lincoln in with Washington? To ignore our history of 1861 and beyond?

Do we preserve the union across the south by understating our collective experience?

We just celebrated what would have been the 100th birthday of President Reagan, but Lincoln’s 200th birthday was overlooked by former President Bush in 2009, and oddly just days later by President Obama when he famously took his oath of office on the Bible used by Lincoln.

I am disturbed that there are no planned celebrations for President Lincoln’s milestone anniversary while there certainly were enough of them for the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy on Jan. 20.

We could have seen an entire lead-in through Black History Month to celebrate the outstanding national and humanitarian legacy of President Lincoln.

Joe Nardiello, Carroll Gardens

Stop tarring Vito

To the editor,

We are all frustrated with dysfunctional Albany, but it is important that we recognize legislators who do the right thing and stick up for the little guy. Such is the case with Assemblyman Vito Lopez (D–Williamsbu­rg).

He has been a tireless advocate for tenants and affordable housing (“The freshman! Back from retirement, Vito Lopez is born again,” online, Jan. 27).

Before his Assembly and state Senate colleagues were paying attention, Assemblyman Lopez sounded the alarm about the upcoming expiration of the state rent laws. Last fall, he reached out to tenant groups across the city and in the suburbs to pull them together to develop a strategy, not only to extend these laws beyond their June 15 sunset, but also to strengthen them.

It is especially important that the legislature repeal vacancy destabilization amendments that have converted 200,000 apartments to unaffordable, market-rate status in the last two decades, and worsened a real estate market that was already hostile to middle-class and working families.

Assemblyman Lopez is going to lead a march across the Brooklyn Bridge this spring to demonstrate the need for stronger rent protections. In addition to this, he is a champion of the Neighborhood and Rural Preservation Companies program. These are community-based organizations that receive state funds to produce and run non-profit housing as well as assist tenants to secure their rights to proper housing with repairs and services.

St. Nicks Alliance, Los Sures and North Brooklyn Development Corporation are some of the many non-profit programs in Brooklyn. Their funds have been crucial in the creation of over 4,000 units of housing in North Brooklyn and providing quality housing services to thousands of low- and moderate-income residents, and the owners of small rental properties. Each year, these organizations are faced with serious cuts or even elimination of funding, and each year, Vito Lopez goes to bat to restore these funds.

Assemblyman Lopez, as the chairman of the Assembly Housing Committee, has been fighting to insure these vital services can continue to provide affordable housing to our community. We are grateful for his tireless efforts

Michael Rochford

The writer is executive director of St. Nicks Alliance.

Birdbrains

To the editor,

Canada geese fly to city parks mostly to escape hunters’ bullets (“Meet the flockers!” Feb. 18). They perceive themselves to be safe from two- and four-legged predators. That demonstrates extraordinary survival instincts, as well as acute awareness and abilities to plan and foresee danger.

Perhaps if our rural areas weren’t constantly targeting geese with guns and arrows, the birds would be more likely to stay in quiet, safe settings, rich in resources and condusive to raising their young. Since these birds are so loyal and protective towards their mates, their gaggles and their offsping, their main mission is to seek safety, just as humans might seek gated communities to raise their children in, rather than gun-infested, crime-riddled neighborhoods.

Unfortunately, the rural “gun” areas are not safe for the geese, so they flee to protected areas, such as public parks, where many people actually like them and look out for the geese because they are enormously social, entertaining, whimsical, friendly and cooperative. They will even “pose” for pictures!

Geese are mysterious, regal, protective and extremely independent creatures, and tend to come and go. The fact is, whether fed or not by people, geese travel to the beats of their own drums. They do not depend on humans to survive. Those who complain about them must be envious of their extraordinary smarts and abilities, and their embodiment of freedom and independence.

The charges waged against these birds — ranging from “aggression” and “airline terrorists” to “vermin with wings” — are so ridiculous and contrary to truth that they are laughable. If geese-bashers could blame geese for leaves falling from trees in autumn, they would. The rallying cry for gassing the geese seems to be to throw whatever crap at the wall to see what sticks.

The problem is that those of us with a brain and heart aren’t buying the crap.

Patty Adjamine, Manhattan

Culture wars

To the editor,

I smile at the parallels between the pitched public space and transit battles being fought in frostbitten Brooklyn and in my adopted hometown of Los Angeles.

How appropriate that Borough President Markowitz is grand marshall of the car parade speeding ahead to reclaim New York’s streets from pedestrians, bike riders and drivers who stick to the speed limit.

Marty, as everyone in Brooklyn knows, is a man whose tone-deaf sense of political entitlement led him to use his top aide as a lawyer on the closing of his house, only paying for the service once the ethics police got wise to the deal. I’ll give Marty this: he knows when to fight his battles, choosing the worst winter on record for his assault on Brooklyn’s bike lanes. The alternative was the spring when the city’s streets will be full of smiling pedestrians, bicyclists and media, capturing New York at its happiest.

Sen. Charles Schumer decided to chime in Marty’s side, and that is equally disturbing. He should have more important issues to concern himself with, having lost Congress to the Tea Party which wants to slash the federal budget to zero. Could it be because Schumer’s wife — the former little-to-show-for-it Department of Transportation Commissioner Iris Weinshall — has gotten to him?

Schumer is an avid bike rider, who had his own ethics problems years ago when he used publicly paid staffers to work on his campaign. Now, he must cry when he looks out of his apartment window onto the alluring Prospect Park West bike lanes and realize that wifey might toss him out if he dares to ride on them.

The culture wars over what New York should look like are taking on the appearance of a street brawl, and since the battle between Weinshall and her over-achieving successor — current agency Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan — seems personal, Weinshall is bringing out the big guns, including a team of lawyers and her senator husband.

There’s a reason why world cities have been watching New York since Mayor Bloomberg gave Sadik-Khan carte blanche to make over New York’s streets and public spaces. Look what the city has achieved in that time — from Times Square and summer streets to rapid bus transit and bike lanes on Prospect Park West.

Cities don’t thrive when cars take precedence over the residents. It is effective to trot out the ambulance struggling down a clogged street, but it is as disingenuous as saying the lives saved and injuries avoided by reduced speeds on Prospect Part West and other calmer thoroughfares aren’t worth it. Don’t forget, too, the better quality of life the bike lanes and other agency improvements bring to the city.

You need to break up the pavement sometimes and envision the possibilities if you want to improve New York City. Sophisticated New Yorkers should look beyond the sound bites and political theater that Markowitz, Weinshall and their cast of characters are performing.

Joel Epstein, Los Angeles

Going forth

To the editor,

Finally, someone is paying attention to the subway construction at the Fourth Avenue F-line station (“Go Fourth! MTA to open a long-shuttered F-train entrance,” online, Feb. 11).

It has even been deemed an exciting tourist attraction because of the great views from the new overpass built to access the new platform.

As for all the people who chimed in on your article, do they even ride the subways? Have they even been to that station? Years ago there was a deli, a clothing store and even a restaurant in that station complex. Let’s see if the city officials put our money where their mouth is and truly clean up the station, keep it and the surrounding area neat and clean, and make it a hub for commuters.

Tom Fagan, Gowanus

Updated 5:23 pm, July 9, 2018
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