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In the February issue of WestView News you have a blurb about the US Postal Service selling ad space on its green relay boxes in the hopes of stemming the endless tide of graffiti gang tags. It is an admirable thought. The problem is that it would not, likely, reduce graffiti nor unsightly illegal stickers and fliers. The graffiti and the stickers and fliers would simply be scrawled or pasted on top of the ads, which can already be witnessed elsewhere. Graffiti, and such “stickering,” is a serious quality-of-life problem which has an adverse, but maybe subliminal, visual impact on any neighborhood. Instead the City must begin to aggressively enforce already existing law and ordinance. The Sanitation Code specifically prohibits graffiti, subject to fines. Title 10-119 of the Sanitation Code specifically prohibits, also subject to fines, “stickering” and “fliering.” The DOS enforcement unit, I’m informed, is grossly understaffed. But putting ads on the mail boxes is doomed to failure unless it is also accompanied by enforcement of existing law.

With regards, Ben Benson

I’m With You, Ben

Ben Benson is our hero in the fight against West Village graffiti, and in his intense and prolonged battle he has gotten to the core of the problem—“the city’s enforcement staff is ‘grossly understaffed.’” I might add it is because we have so few Ben Benson’s that the city remains indifferent to cleaning up this continuous and historic visual insult.

As any passionate crusader, he wants the city to vigorously enforce the law and clean up the middle-of-the-night spray-can ego assertions and the senseless encrustations of small unreadable ad stickers but—of course—they will not.

As we were preparing the March issue, Maggie B sent me a photograph of a subway turnstile inviting paid advertising, which tells us that the MTA has long learned the space advertising business—fifty years ago just about every steel column on the subway platform had a Wrigley gum dispenser.

And, Ben, the people who spray paint and glue on ad stickers do not do it on existing paid ads because they know they have a finite life and what they seek is visual immortality.

Ben, to get rid of graffiti and illegal ad stickers you should not appeal to an impotent and ignored city regulation, but instead to the ultimate force for progress—greed.

As the Post Office moves toward bankruptcy in this internet age, WestView offered (using the before and after photo of a collection box) that adding a street map and guide as well as advertising to the boxes could make $750 a month for each of three sides. We presented this suggestion to the Post Office and we learned via the press office that they concluded not do it—giving the reason that it was a “business decision.” When we demanded “who was the idiot that made that decision” they stopped answering the phone when they saw it was coming from George Capsis.

I have a feeling I, like Ben Benson, can be an unrelenting bureaucratic heel nipper—my only advantage is I have a newspaper and diabolic persistence. We are not done with the Post Office.

—George Capsis

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