‘Sound off to the Editor’ — a lively sounding board for the topics of the day

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To the editor,

I have been reading the Courier for years, and I wanted to let you know how much I appreciate the wonderful job you and your staff do of reporting the local news.

Your stories are informative and interesting. The dailies are too absorbed with the antics of harebrained celebrities to care much about the residents of the outer boroughs. It’s good to know that your paper cares, and that it is still going strong after all these decades.

I also like your new website. It gives me my daily fix of what’s going on in my neighborhood.

Keep up the good work, guys. I’m proud to call Brooklyn my home, and the Courier my hometown paper.Frances Connor


Rogue pols

To the editor,

Politicians are so dumb that if they weren’t politicians, they would probably be unemployed.

Too many of them think they’re big shots. It takes no time for them to turn into swindlers. Or were they that way all along? Whatever happened to the oaths of office they take to honor the public trust?

There’s a whole rogue’s gallery of them. Disgraced, former state senator Carl Kruger pocketed more than a million dollars in bribes before he was caught, tried, and packed off to prison for seven years. Fellow ex-state Sen. Pedro Espada Jr. was sentenced to five years for looting a nonprofit to redo his home, get spa treatments, and enjoy lobster dinners on the taxpayers’ dime. State Sens. Eric Adams (D–Crown Heights), Velmanette Montgomery (D–Bedford-Stuyvesant), and John Sampson (D–Canarsie) are all currently being investigated for a variety of alleged con jobs.

The racketeering goes all the way up to Capitol Hill. In 2010, a Texas court convicted former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay for conspiracy and money laundering, and sentenced him to three years in jail.

The list of political ruffians goes on and on, ad nauseam. Meanwhile, important issues like jobs, education, and rent reform are being ignored because lawmakers are looking to pad their own wallets. They need to wake up!

Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Aspiring politicians should wise up to the fact that they will also get caught in time, if defrauding the public — instead of serving it — is their aim.John Woods


Porky Christine

To the editor,

Mayoral candidate Council Speaker Christine Quinn has done nothing to stop her murky slush-fund trail, raising questions about her allegiance to special interest groups, if she is elected.

Sadly, she might actually have a shot, given her sorry crop of challengers. Quinn gave hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars to the High Line project on the west side of Manhattan. In return, the Friends of the High Line has showered her with more than $50,000 since 1999. Millennium Partners, a nationwide real estate developer, is another favored snout in Quinn’s endless barrel of pork.

To top it all, Quinn is endorsed by Goldman Sachs’ fat cat Lloyd Blankfein, whom Forbes named one of “The Most Outrageous CEOs of 2009” for bilking low interest rates and making huge trading profits during the market meltdown of the late 2000s.

Special interest groups have a friend in Christine Quinn. That makes her no friend of the average New Yorker.Avrohom Richter


Chance encounter

To the editor,

Too often we focus on the negative, but I witnessed something truly inspiring the other day.

I was on the B9 bus, and an elderly woman with a cane and shopping bags got on. Three teen boys were sprawled on the front seats, talking loudly and joshing around. They seemed like the kind of kids who made you wish you had waited for the next bus.

However, as soon as they saw the senior, they sprang up and rushed to make room for her. One of them escorted her to a seat. Another boy gathered up her shopping bags and put them beside her. And the third teen gave the woman a big smile, and began chatting with her. He asked her how her day was going, and complimented her on her hat. You could tell the woman was loving it.

Then these youngsters wished her a good day and moved to the rear of the bus. They must have kept their eyes on the woman because when she rang the bell to get off, one of them rushed up to help her with her packages.

I was so impressed with the conduct of these teens, that it has made me rethink my attitudes about people in general. From now on, I won’t be judging a book by its cover.Ruth Weingarten


Corporate charge

To the editor,

Not so long ago, our avenues used to be full of thriving mom-and-pop shops, but now banks, drug stores, and telephone companies are pushing them out because their rents are too high.

I can’t keep up with the Citibanks, Duane Reades, and Verizons that seem to be cropping up everywhere. The other day, I counted two banks, and three cellphone places on one block on Kings Highway.

When small shops are priced out to make room for big-money stores, the fabric of the neighborhood disintegrates. What’s left is a sterile vacuum. Neighborhoods change constantly, but not always for the better.Natasha Brinsky


Tree-cky logic

To the editor,

Is it just me, or do other people think there’s something wrong with Mayor Bloomberg’s goal to plant a million trees by 2017, while trimming the Parks Department’s budget?

Where will the manpower come from to maintain this surplus? A million trees need an awful lot of workers to care for them. The city should give Parks extra money for their proper upkeep. Then, it won’t have to shell out millions of taxpayer dollars in compensation to the victims of falling tree limbs.

Lynn Wellington



To the editor,

Eliot Spitzer and Anthony Weiner have got to be kidding. They have no right seeking public office again, after their tawdry sex scandals.

Spitzer, running for comptroller, was gung-ho about prosecuting johns, all the while being one himself. What a hypocrite.

Weiner, a mayoral candidate, is a lying cheat, who habitually texted naked pictures of himself to other women and engaged them in disgusting porno talk. This behavior would be bad enough even if he wasn’t married, but the fact that he is only makes it worse.

Both of these skanky hasbeens should just go away. Then stay there.Saul Weinstein

Mill Basin

Stop-and-frisk away

To the editor,

There’s a lot of talk that NYPD should abolish stop-and-frisk. How else are cops supposed to act on their suspicions? Or should they just suppress them?

Part of a cop’s job is to rely on his or her instincts, and people should be willing to cooperate with law enforcement. I am a young black man, who has been stopped and frisked, but the cops graciously apologized when they saw I was cooperating. I didn’t feel embarrassed because I knew they weren’t going to find anything on me.

If you have nothing to hide, and you aren’t doing anything wrong, then what’s the problem?Leo Warren

East New York

‘Occupy’ wusses

To the editor,

The former Occupy Wall Streeters, who have moved to Bushwick, claim to represent the 99 percent against the one percent, but their agenda is 100 percent baloney (“Bushwick’s ‘Base’ hopes to stop gentrification in its tracks,” online July 26).

Who can forget the slum they made out of Zuccotti Park a few years back? I read one report that said they made more than $200,000 in donations. Where did that money go? In drinking and drugging?

Robert DiNiro played a bus driver in the “The Bronx Tale,” and he said it best when he told his son, in an attempt to warn him against a gangster the kid admired, “Let him get up every day and work for a living! Let’s see him try that! We’ll see who’s really tough. The working man is tough.” Got that, Occupy Wuss Streeters?A. Ward


Young love

To the editor,

On Aug. 4 Bryan Hochman, of Sheepshead Bay, asked my daughter, Jaimie Lebovic, to marry him on top of the Wonder Wheel in Coney Island. They were in a white car (stationary) and Bryan got down on one knee and proposed. The sun was setting, the view was gorgeous, and it was an experience that Jaimie said they will never forget.

What a wonderful setting for a young couple to begin their future together. Coney Island is a place of dreams — a place where the future is bright.

Nancy Lebovic

Traffic qualms

To the editor,

Councilman Steve Levin (D–Greenpoint) is to be commended for having the Department of Transportation put in two new lights on Kent Avenue when a speed demon driver killed an entire family by going 60 miles per hour in March. This is, however, hardly more than an aspirin for cancer.

Wouldn’t it be preferable if the City Council enacted an ordinance that exists in Los Angeles where the driver must yield the right of way to the pedestrian and stop? Or one that exists in Phoenix, Ariz. where if the driver is at fault he will be fined and if the pedestrian is at fault he will be fined?

Why does the city have to wait until somebody gets killed before a new light is installed? I must admit that New York City at least is more liberal than Miami Dade, Fla. where three people have to be killed by a car within 10 years before a new light is enacted. But why can’t the traffic commission work to prevent these accidents from occurring in the first place? Think of the grief and money it would save.

Elliott Abosh

Brighton Beach

Untrustworthy candidates

To the editor,

Would you vote for a Republican who thinks climate change is a farce? How about a Republican who first raised your transit fare and then cut bus and subway services? Seeking new blood, I don’t want to see anyone who worked for a prior city council’s staff running for the same position. To me that person will be a clone and a do-nothing politician as his former boss. Many bad decisions led to over development in areas like the bungalow districts and high-rise condos in Brighton Beach.

Don’t get me wrong, there were some excellent council people, but when many voted for a third terms, even we the people voted twice not to extend term limits. Now who do you really trust running for office?

Jerry Sattler

Brighton Beach

All of a sudden

To the editor,

Why eight months after Washington announced it was going to make available billions does Manhattan Borough President, former mayoral candidate, and current comptroller candidate Scott Stringer propose a municipal tracker system to monitor the expenditures of Hurricane Sandy relief funds? Is it because he now has a real primary race for comptroller? Stringer was missing in action when the municipal scandal involving $1 billion in federal aid unspent by the Housing Authority was exposed. How has the city managed the $20 billion plus post 9/11 aid as well as the billions of other dollars from Washington every day?

The same also applies to billions in yearly state assistance from Albany, along with billions in locally generated tax revenues. Does the city submit grant applications on time? Are current federal- and state-funded programs being completed on time and within budget? What is the justification for carrying over unspent funds year after year? Is there waste, fraud, or abuse? Are all change orders for construction projects fair, reasonable, and documented?

Stringer appears to be just another career politician looking for a headline to swap one public office for another.

Larry Penner

Great Neck, N.Y.

Not so secret

To the editor,

In your story last week about the Lightstone development, you metioned a meeting convened by local elected officials to start organizing an inclusive community planning process for the Gowanus Canal area that will launch this fall. That meeting was not “secret,” as you called it, but was simply closed to press. About 40 people attended, including representative from almost every group actively involved in working on the Canal. (Gowanus Canal Conservancy, Friends and Residents of Great Gowanus, Carroll Gardens Coalition for Respectful Development, Gowanus Canal Community Development Corporation, Save Gowanus, and several members of the Superfund Community Advisory Group and Community Board 6.

We plan to launch the process this fall. As we have tried to open up the budget process through “participat­ory budgeting,” this will be an effort to open up the planning process so that community residents, business people, and community groups can work together to shape a vision for the area around the Gowanus Canal rather than have decisions made by developers, the city, or by elected officials. We will have public meetings, as well as other opportunities for input online and in small groups. Everyone will be invited to participate. This early-stage meeting was to start organizing for that process so that we can make it as inclusive and effective as possible.

With the Environmental Protection Agency’s plan to clean up the Canal due out in final form this fall, with the knowledge that we have about the very real dangers of flooding from Hurricane Sandy, and with the change in administration at City Hall, this is an important time for community members to come together and do our best to shape a consensus vision for the future of the Gowanus Canal area. We believe that residents overwhelmingly want a vibrant, genuintely mixed-use, sustainable for Gowanus that builds on what’s best about out neighborhoods. That won’t be easy, of course, as people have very different ideas about exactly what that looks like. But it is worth trying.

Anyone interested in being involved should reach out to my office and we’ll make sure you are on the list for an invitation as the process gets started this fall. And yes, we’ll even invite press.

Councilman Brad Lander (D-Park Slope

Not neighborly

To the editor,

The Aldi grand opening on Nostrand Avenue attracted the usual band of ribbon-cutting suspects — posturing politicians whose relentless heroic efforts brought a grocery store to beleaguered, undeserving Sheepshead Bay consumers.

In reality, grandstanding and pandering politicians do nothing other than pretend they care about constituents. the Waldbaums-Pathmark-Aldi scenario exposes the business model. When an existing supermarket or fast food establishment closes, the site is always vacant for at least two years because it is more profitable for the property owners and former businesses on that site to garner depreciation write-offs, tax abatement, and other financial maneuvers I won’t pretend to fully understand.

But I do know that the site always remains unused for two years or more. On this very Aldi site, a Waldbaums closed in 1996 and a colony of homeless derelicts blighted the area until a Pathmark opened in 2000. That close a decade later, plunging the area into another pernicious cycle of filth and neglect for a few years.

The former Waldbaums on Coyle Street closed in the late 1990s and tons of garbage blighted the area for years until Food Basics claimed the site. I could provide dozens of examples and challenge anyone to provide an example where this two-year vacancy didn’t occur.

All too often it is a foreign company (Aldi is German-based) or multinational global conglomerate (Waldbaums was taken over by a European conglomerate in the 1990s) with a short-term maximization of profit model that leaves American neighborhoods undeserved. The commitment is to global shareholders, not local consumers.

I will continue to shop across the street at Silver Star, a business founded by an American family that shares my culture and values. Lest you think I advertising for Silver Star, I could point out dozens of complaints with their operation. The reason they’re outlasted so many other food stores, however, is their long-term perspective and commitment to providing good quality food. They also have a commitment to the neighborhood. After a snowfall they completely clear the snow in front of their store. The former Pathmark cleared a narrow path that made it impossible for two carts to pass.

When Silver Star takes out a full-page ad in this newspaper they are supporting an enterprise that delivers an informative and entertaining publication to thousands free. Also, the ad is valuable in my food shopping planning. An excellent feature of Silver Star is that they have cyclical sales on needed items like milk, butter, chicken, juice, fish, etc. That helps a customer stock up on necessities. Perhaps I missed it, but I didn’t see any Aldi ads in your publication. Probably doesn’t fit into their European business model. Plus, Aldi charges 11 cents for each plastic bag, but doesn’t provide any signage.

To all of you conservative, American exceptionalism patriots who exhort: “Buy American!” This is an opportunity to put your food money where your mouth is.

Joseph McCoppin

Sheepshead Bay

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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