Praise for Anastasia
Anastasia Kaliabakos compliments your paper in the highest regard to the historical significance by delineating The Western Tradition through the legacy of Ancient Greek Culture. She is young, smart, and eloquent. I want to thank your Editorial Board for giving her the opportunity to do this. I am a graduate of Manhattan College. Our first semester was immersed by reading the Primary sources of Ancient Greek Philosophy, History, Mythology, and Art (followed by Ancient Rome). THAT was in 1966! Now, we have Anastasia and WestView to reestablish the Legacy of Democracy. I hope this serves as a lesson for our latest generation of iPhone users. Place away your Playstations and Google history and geography. Hey, reading Anastasia will encourage you to explore your particular culture and legacy.
—Kevin Fraser, Former FDNY Lieut
I think the praise in the May issue of WestView News for the NYC police removing graffiti from privately owned buildings is misplaced. We need the police to prevent stabbings on the Lexington Avenue subway, not polishing the brass on luxury buildings. Removing graffiti is the responsibility of private property owners, not city agencies. Certainly not the police who are needed to hold down the crime rate.
Re: NYTimes: A New $260 Million Park Floats on the Hudson. It’s a Charmer.
Michael Kimmelman is twisting the facts. Diller is not occupying public land but creating it entirely at his own expense and donating it to the city. I know that George Capsis, publisher of WestView News and his architectural editor, Brian Pape, oppose it, while I have praised it in the same paper, but it is a unique departure from the finger piers that dominate the Hudson River front for ships that no longer ply our shores. I look forward to our first visit there.
Say My Name
Letter to the Editor:
The front page May 2021 article by George Capsis lauded the efforts of our local police to work with the community to improve our quality of life. We are proud to support those efforts, and the article frames these local efforts amidst the turmoil of the Derek Chauvin trial.
More than just “a police officer who made the wrong decision when asked to get off the neck,” for more than 8 minutes after subduing George Floyd, rendering the victim harmless and handcuffed in a prone position, an unarmed human, Chauvin and three other cops had violated every protocol of proper police duty. When speaking of ‘split-second’ decisions to justify deadly reactions, consider that these men had over 540 seconds of decision-making. 540 seconds times four decision-makers, any of them which could have saved an innocent life.
Thank God for the Minneapolis law enforcement personnel who spoke the truth about what would have been proper police behavior and what the officers were trained to do, contrary to what they did.
Here in the city of Eric Garner’s murder, among many others, many more ‘split-second’ decisions toward unarmed, ‘innocent until proven guilty’ citizens, especially those of color, are being made, for all the wrong reasons.
In NYC, the Police Commissioner Dermot Shea acknowledged the legacy and harm of racialized policing in New York. Working with state and city government, the New York City Police Reform and Reinvention Collaborative Plan outlines a major step forward in New York City’s efforts to reform our policing.
We must continue to work together to create a police force that ‘serves and protects’ all members of our society, acknowledging that despite all the tensions with police, the police departments and unions must be a part of reform and reconciliation with the community.
—Respectfully submitted, Brian Pape
To the Editor:
In the wake of the George Floyd murder, criminal justice reform has been in the public eye. There has been substantial public discussion about police reform, bail reform, rights of the accused, sentencing reform, reforming conditions in prisons, and rights and services for individuals who were previously incarcerated. All of these reforms would help end mass-incarceration and provide the means for accountability and reform-driven justice as opposed to purely punitive justice.
However, there has been one key lynchpin that has been largely overlooked—that is parole reform. The goal of our carceral system should be to rehabilitate people and release them back into society, where they take accountability for their actions in a way that is productive for their communities, rather than costly. This can only work if we actually release reformed people.
Right now, legislators in Albany are discussing the Elder Parole bill (S.15-Hoylman / A.3475-De La Rosa) and the Fair and Timely Parole Act (S.1415-Rivera / A.4231-Weprin). Elder parole would allow people aged 55 and older who have served at least 15 years in prison to become automatically eligible for parole. People over 55 are extremely unlikely to commit crimes, and there is little to no deterrent effect in increasing sentences over 15 years. Life without parole is a death sentence, and there is no reason we should pay for death-by-incarceration for elderly individuals the parole board has deemed reformed.
Meanwhile, Fair and Timely Parole changes the standards for parole hearings to ensure that parole officers are determining whether an individual has learned from their mistakes, has reformed, and is capable of rejoining society in a productive capacity, as opposed to looking backwards and examining the nature and extent of the original mistake. If the parole board deems an individual to be rehabilitated, and they are eligible for parole under their sentence, they should be released regardless of the nature of their past mistakes.
If we are serious about ending mass incarceration and revenge-based justice, we need to use all the tools in the shed. One of the most important of these is releasing people from prison who have taken accountability and have been rehabilitated. The bills in question do not require that anyone be released—they merely allow parole boards to look at each person as an individual and determine whether or not they should be released. The bills are common-sense and absolutely necessary.
I encourage all readers of WestView News to contact their senators and assembly members to see how they can help move these bills forward so that they pass this year.
Chair, Village Independent Democrats Legislative Affairs Committee
Bedbugs of Bethune
I have been homeless in Greenwich Village for eight weeks due to the indifference and incompetence of Rose Associates, the managers of Westbeth Artists House.
In early February 2021 inspectors came to our apartments asking us whether we had bed bugs. They did not inspect my apartment for bedbugs. Some weeks later they returned, and this time did inspect, declaring that I did not have bedbugs.
On Monday 22 March I myself saw a bedbug climbing up the wall and immediately reported to management. Inspectors confirmed that these were in fact bedbugs. Management then ignored the problem for some time. They did not offer to re-house me and I was rendered effectively homeless from that day. Fortunately a friend in the Village took me in.
It was not until Monday 5 April, fourteen days after the infestation was acknowledged, that action was taken. At no point did they offer me an alternative apartment in Westbeth or any help with accommodation.
On Monday 5 April exterminators entered the apartment to prepare it for the high-heat treatment which was to happen on Tuesday 6 April. They tore apart every shelf, drawer, filing cabinet, and artworks, tossing these things chaotically into bins and onto the floor. This included putting live plants into opaque sealed plastic tubs! There was no respect for the order and organization of the items: files, folders, sketchbooks, slides, and many other collections of art-related material, which had been filed on the shelves for decades. They confiscated my bed and bedding, and damaged many other items.
On Tuesday 6 April the treatment was carried out and I was told that I could move back into the apartment the following day. They thus acknowledged that they had rendered me homeless for at least sixteen days. When the treatment was completed the apartment looked like a bomb had hit it. There were dead insects everywhere: on the floor, on every shelf, in the bathroom and kitchen, and in every drawer and cupboard (which had all been opened). The place was uninhabitable. Since then I have been working tirelessly to bring the place back to order. I have spent hundreds of dollars on professional cleaners and on a new bed and bedding. I was told to empty the plastic bins myself and return the bins in but a few days. As a partially-sighted person, with no help offered by management, I find this an extremely time-consuming, frustrating, and well-nigh impossible task – the refiling of some sixty years’ worth of files, notes, and invaluable art. Many articles are simply missing.
As I write, on Monday 17 May, my apartment is still uninhabitable. My point in writing this article is to raise awareness of these issues in Westbeth, so that if infestations occur in the future management might respond immediately. If you live in Westbeth and wish to share your recent bedbug experience do please be in touch by email.
—Anonymous of Westbeth
Déjà vu all over again, in the immortal words of Yogi Berra, is what we at St. John’s in the Village have been experiencing with JPMorganChase in trying to apply for a 2nd PPP loan. We had the same problems with Chase last year over the first PPP loan: difficulty in reaching Chase reps; failure by bank reps to return calls; when reached, their ignorance of the application procedure; their seeming unfamiliarity with St. John’s, despite the fact that we have banked with Chase for more than 20 years. Apparently our account balance is not large enough for Chase to pay attention to us. We eventually got the PPP loan last year, but only after Congress infused more money into the program. This occurred only after media reports of wide-spread fraud and banks favoring their largest depositors over the really small businesses the CARES Act was intended to assist.
Having incurred the requisite losses in income, St. John’s qualifies under the federal guidelines for this 2nd PPP loan. Despite the usual difficulties in reaching Chase, we managed to file our application within Chase’s arbitrarily-set and premature filing deadline. Then for many weeks we were told by Chase that our application was in the pipeline. Now, just a few days ago, a Chase rep, after giving our treasurer the familiar run-around that our application was in the pipeline awaiting processing, suddenly noticed a memo in their files (dated back in April) that all funds had been depleted. At this point it is unclear if Congress will authorize any additional funds for the PPP loan program.
It is unfortunate that the large banks have been allowed unfettered leeway to process applications for these loans, rather than direct application to the SBA. This isn’t Chase’s money, it is taxpayer money. While St. John’s Church, a not-for-profit religious corporation, doesn’t pay taxes, we are a small business within the PPP guidelines and we do provide services to our West Village community. Our parishioners and employees pay taxes. And we vote. I hope our elected representatives in Washington, Senators Schumer and Gillibrand, Congressman Nadler, are listening.
I wonder just how many other readers have had similar experiences in trying to apply for PPP loans and other federal pandemic relief programs.
—Margot Shields, Churchwarden
The City That—Lately—Never Sleeps
When you live in the Village, where your bedroom is can determine how well you sleep. If it’s on the street, noise can wake you up at any time. If it’s in the back, facing the courtyard, you can sleep through the night fine.
And so I did for most of the six decades since I moved into my rear-facing apartment on Perry Street in 1961. Until, that is, the party deck appeared across the courtyard atop 376 Bleecker Street 2 and a half to 3 years ago.
I got to know the routine before the pandemic. It’s a warm weather weekend thing. The party starts early evening on a Friday, and tends to go throughout the day Saturday and Sunday, and quiets at dinnertime Friday and Saturday.
It’s the post-dinner resumption of the party that wakes and keeps me up. 1 a.m., 2 a.m. 3? I now know these hours well.
Having been away for most of the pandemic, I had hoped the parties would not resume this Spring. But, a couple of weeks ago, as the warm weather returned, so did they. One, two, three a.m.–again, it’s wake-up and stay-up time for me and anybody else in earshot.
I’ve called 311, I’ve gone to the police but nothing has happened.
I’m concerned this phenomenon could spread throughout the village.
Has anyone else been imposed upon by loud parties after 11PM?
Why is WestView so thick this month?
It’s GAY PRIDE MONTH. Because of the lingering danger of infection from COVID we will have no parade (the marchers are in the paper). Next year COVID should be controlled or even cured, but AIDS will still be with us. Should we tolerate selective diseases because we will probably never get them? Or should we find a cure for AIDS? This year you can support the development of a global cure at rftca.org/GetInvolved/
Next year we will all march together.