Letters to the Editor, May 28

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

If we knew then what we know now…

To the editor:

There is an absolute absurdity that keeps circulating in the halls of banality. Its primary function is to deflect responsibility for the actions of our nation, our people and our leaders and the press. It resurfaced a few weeks back with Jeb Bush and Mrs. Clinton, and again, recently, in NPR’s Brian Lehrer and All Things Considered, on Sunday, May 24 — but make no mistake, it is not limited to Mrs. Clinton, the Bushes and NPR’s people. So here it is: “If we knew then, what we know now…” (Finish with: “would we have invaded Iraq?”)

It is an American tragedy that the question was formed. It shows an induced loss of memory among those of us who are over 60, and ignorance on the part of everyone else.

So let’s go back to the Eisenhower years, specifically, May 1, 1960. That was the day one of our U2s was shot down twelve miles above the Soviet Union — we were stunned that the Russians had that ability. Recall its pilot, Gary Powers… put on display by Khrushchev to the utter embarrassment of President Eisenhower who could no longer deny our flying over Russia. I leave it to the reader to figure out what one of our high altitude U2 planes (hint) with cameras was doing over Russia. (End episode I.)

Let’s go forward to October, 1962. President Kennedy is on television. He is explaining the identity of objects and the significance of shadows in an 8 x10 photo of the ground in Cuba. The photo was taken by our aircraft flying over Cuba. Kennedy was about to take serious action and he wanted the American people to know why he was going to take the actions he was about to take: blockade Cuba and demand the removal of Russian missiles. (End episode II.)

Suffice now to recall that during the 50 years of the cold-war, we and the Soviets developed sophisticated technology with which to photograph each other’s country. On CBS news, Walter Cronkite described our technological capacity to photograph from space a pack of cigarettes in a man’s shirt.
The great advance in our ability to photograph the ground from space came with satellites whose speed would keep them over the same spot on Earth. We and the Russians knew every square inch of everything that was the other’s.

Let’s move ahead to 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2003. George Bush is President of The United States.

Over the years, our media has served the wrong sets of questions. Rather than demanding: “Given our technology, how could we not have known about WMD in Iraq?” it insisted that while we know now, maybe, just maybe, back then maybe we did not know. But what we know now, we don’t know only now. We are not in a privileged position now compared to back then.

Sending our troops running around in the desert on wild goose chases established nothing new. What we know now is precisely what we knew back then.

John M. Giannone, ST

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ST-PCV TA asking neighbors to tweet for stronger rent laws

A tenant holds up a note in a photo posted on the ST-PCV Tenants Association’s Twitter feed this week.

A tenant holds up a note in a photo posted on the ST-PCV Tenants Association’s Twitter feed this week.

By Sabina Mollot

With the rent law negotiations in Albany just a couple of weeks away, The ST-PCV Tenants Association is asking neighbors to make their feelings on the matter known through social media.

The “Tell Your Story” campaign encourages Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village tenants to share their personal experiences dealing with rent increases, including major capital improvements (MCIs). Prior to the June 15 decision on whether the rent regulation laws will be strengthened or renewed as is or just allowed to expire (the latter of which is not expected), tenants’ tweets with the hashtag #tellyourstory will be compiled and sent to Governor Cuomo.

“We want our legislators to understand that real people are affected by rent regulation,” said Susan Steinberg, chair of the TA. “It’s not just units, it’s about people’s lives.”

She added, “It’s only 140 characters. How hard can it be?”

In addition, the campaign is aimed at drawing awareness to MCIs and their impact on tenants. “Many new tenants don’t understand MCIs and their implications,” Steinberg said. “Tenants need to know that MCIs can amount to thousands of dollars a year in charges. And the best way to do that is by communicating personal experiences.”

A photo posted on the Tenants Association’s Twitter feed

A photo posted on the Tenants Association’s Twitter feed

To keep things interesting, tenants aren’t being asked to type their stories onto a keyboard but instead write on paper and take a photo of the note. So far it’s been the TA doing the posting of neighbors’ notes but Tenants Association President John Marsh is hoping neighbors will soon chime in on their own feeds. It’s the first social media campaign for the Tenants Association and since many Stuy Town lifers don’t tweet, TA volunteers are now finding themselves in the position of first having to educate newer neighbors about what the rent laws mean and the changes tenants are hoping for. Those changes include vacancy decontrol, MCI reform and an end to preferential rents.

“Everyone in this community is impacted by these Albany decisions and MCIs,” Marsh said. “This campaign provides an outlet for tenants to make their voice known.”

Of the notes to be put on Twitter so far, one shared by the TA (@ST_PCV_Tenants) read, “I’ve lived here 65 years I don’t wanna go.” Another read, “Uncontrolled landlords are pricing even middle incomes out of Manhattan.” Another read, “I’ve been living here six months. Rent laws should be extended for everyone.”

The Tenants Association also previously asked tenants at a meeting last month to write postcards or letters to Albany legislators, in particular to Cuomo, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and local Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh. The Association is also organizing a bus trip to Albany on June 9. Anyone interested in going should RSVP by June 4 online at stpcvta.org or by calling (917) 338-7860.