The time-honored tradition of greed
The average rent in Stuy Town/Peter Cooper Village is now higher than the average rent in the rest of Manhattan. This is pretty worrisome trend. Far from being a middle-class bastion, it is now a high-rent complex.
Greedy landlords contributed. Metropolitan Life had enormous help from city to clear 80 acres in the Gas House District and evict over 13,000 working class people and their families from their homes. They said it was a slum clearance project — but there were three churches, three schools and countless mom and pop stores all there. The landlord was given enormous tax breaks.
When Mike Bloomberg was asked to intervene when Met Life said they wanted to cash in their chips in a $5.4 billion payday, Bloomberg adapted a laissez-faire attitude and said it was a “private transaction.” He deliberately turned a blind eye.
De Blasio in his affordable housing proclamation said that he got the new landlord to preserve 5,000 apartments as rent-stabilized for 20 years. Although it was hailed as a great victory, it ignored that at one point all 11,200-plus apartments were rent stabilized… now close to two thirds are going to market rate. It is a failure of colossal proportion.
Sean O’Ceallaigh, ST
The more things change…
Last night I saw a 25-year-old movie based on a story by John Grisham with Julia Roberts giving perhaps her best performance. She plays a law student who uncovers a scandal involving the president of the United States and exposes it, writing the Pelican Brief, so-called because the scandal is all about the president’s enabling the destruction of a supposedly protected environment, specifically the habitat of pelicans and other birds and mammals, so that a billionaire supporter of and responsible for the president’s election can drill for oil in that protected place.
Of course, the president doesn’t believe in climate change or supporting any organizations that attempt to do something about it, including his own EPA. Sound familiar? But wait, there’s more.
The Brief also involves the assassination of two Supreme Court justices who believe in protecting the environment and would have nixed the art of this deal. When the director of the FBI learns about the Pelican Brief, he informs the president in a one-on-one meeting that he must commence an investigation of this matter. The president, of course, becomes visibly upset and asks the director if he would “back off” any investigation. As a favor to him. The director shows his loyalty, unlike some other FBI directors, and honors this request which a lawyer labels “an obstruction of justice.” Hmmm.
But the FBI director is not the only one who knows about the Pelican Brief scandal. Lawyers of the billionaire supporter have found out about the brief and its author and order their assassins to eliminate Julia Roberts, her older boyfriend and anyone else who could damage the reputation of the president and/or his billionaire supporter. A car bomb intended for Julia explodes and kills her boyfriend. So Julia goes to the press and contacts reporter Denzel Washington (always excellent). This, of course, puts Denzel at risk too, but, not to worry, this is only a movie so Denzel and Julia escape danger, expose the scandal, put the bad guys in prison (except, you know, the president), and hug happily at the end.
Without any mention of the orange elephant in the room, this movie is a prophetic revelation of the future, meaning 2019. We can be proud that art and artists have so much to contribute to our understanding of ourselves and our society. Grisham demonstrates what some people will do for money and power, and what others do for love. Hopefully, today’s real-life story will have a happy ending too.
We artists can dream, can’t we?
John Cappelletti, ST
Bikes are still a big concern
I applaud Assembly Member Epstein for bringing two critical issues to discussion in the community.
With the L train construction and now the no-shutdown scenario proceeding, thought needs to be given to our street configurations. Yes, to expedited bus routes on East 20th and 14th Streets, but expanded bike lanes on these streets as well as East 12th and 13th Street need serious scrutiny.
The anticipated volume of bicyclists cannot be a sustainable position. More enforcement with bicyclists now is one answer. Education of motorists and bicyclists has always had one guiding principle: the pedestrian always has the right of way.
Charles G. Sturcken, ST