Letters to the Editor, Oct. 11

Why Obama caved

I’ve just learned that blind people can ride bikes. That’s right. They’re riding blind. They use a technique called “echoing,” which is what bats use to direct their flight so they don’t crash into cave walls, people on bikes or politicians in debates. So  “blind as a bat” is no longer negative or pejorative. Bats are sensitive to sound, and so am I. The President must be sensitive as well. He didn’t want to come out of his cave.

I’m sensitive to the sound of the voice as well as the rhythm. Watching the presidential debates, I was tempted to change the channel. I even checked the TV Guide to see what else was on, but no, I stayed with the debates and Romney’s irritating voice. Never mind what he was saying, things like Obama care is bad but Romney care is good. Impartial fact-checkers have proven these plans are essentially the same, but Romney says his plan was right for states but not for the entire nation. I’m tired of hearing about states’ rights. If it were up to the states, we’d still have slavery. And guess who wouldn’t be Mr. President?

So I wasn’t listening to what Romney was saying (I knew it would be the opposite of what he said yesterday.) but rather to how he said it. He must have been anxious to be seen as “presidential,” whatever that means, but did he have to be so wired, as if he were on some kind of high?

If he were in a street brawl, he’d be the guy to throw the first punch while his opponent was taking off his jacket with his arms trapped behind his back. Mitt’s voice made me want to scratch myself. It made my heart race. Why was he so agitated? Did he spend the night before the debate in Starbucks, sampling everything they make? He was jumpy and relentless as he went on the warpath, and he couldn’t be stopped by the mousy moderator who caved and let Mitt run the show.

Now I can understand why Mitt was quick to criticize the State Department for trying to smooth over the eruption caused by the anti-Islam video that was purportedly the reason behind the Libyan ambassador’s death. It’s because this is Mitt’s nature: He’s quick on the draw, the better to make money on the stockmarket. If you thought George W. Bush was a cowboy, meet quick Mitt.

He makes Bush look like the cowboy in “Brokeback Mountain”. Mitt is more like the quick-fingered Richard Widmark shooting an opponent in the back or pushing a woman in a wheelchair down a flight of stairs. The President, however, looked uncomfortable like he was in a coffin. And I know why. Mitt’s voice, his secret weapon, shot the President down as he cringed behind the lecturn as if he was in the back seat of a car or a box seat at the theater.

If Quick Mitt is elected president by voters blinded by a win-by-any-means mentality, who have nothing to gain and everything to lose, we’re in trouble. There’re no weapons in the White House, but there is a phone that Mitt could use to quickly give a final, fatal order. Or he could spare the generals the sound of his frantic voice and just press that red button on his desk. What a sound that would make!

John Cappelletti, ST

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High voter turnout at Democratic Primaries, voters choose Hoylman, Mella and Kavanagh

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Brad Hoylman

Voters in Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village had three decisions on their ballots for the Democratic Primaries yesterday: the spot for Tom Duane’s Senate seat, Surrogate’s Court judge for Manhattan and the seat for the Assembly, 74th District.

Brad Hoylman, a Greenwich Village resident, came out on top in the State Senate race with 67.4 percent of the vote. Opponents Tom Greco received 23.9 percent of the vote and Tanika Inlaw received 8.7 percent.

Rita Mella

Rita Mella, a Stuyvesant Town resident, won the primary with 59.7 percent of the vote over Barbara Jaffe’s 40.3 percent for the Surrogate’s Court judge position, and incumbent Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh won with 63 percent. Challenger Juan Pagan received 37 percent of the vote.

The polls at the Asser Levy Recreation Center were quiet with only about 10 percent of registered voters coming by 4 p.m., according to voting coordinator and Peter Cooper Village resident Kathleen Kalmes, but many of the other sites for Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village residents reported being busier than usual, especially for a primary election.

“Primaries usually have a small turnout because I think some people might feel like there’s no point since this is a Democratic area in general,” said the site coordinator at 272 First Avenue who didn’t want to be named. “But this has been a busy day, especially compared to the Republican Primary a few months ago.”

Brian Kavanagh

Clarieel Reyes, who was working the polls at 360 First Avenue and who has worked in primary elections in the past, said that over a hundred people had voted at her table alone and the other tables at that site had similar numbers. “This one has had a pretty good turnout, more than past Democratic primaries, from what I’ve seen in previous elections,” she said.

Due to redistricting, there was some confusion among voters about where their poll sites would be. The most notable change for some, according to the coordinator at 272 First Ave., was that a handful of voters in Stuyvesant Town were now supposed to vote at the location in Peter Cooper Village. One irate voter came into 360 First Avenue and was frustrated about where he was supposed to vote, but poll workers said that while there was some confusion about where to go, most were not too put out by the changes, even if they had to go to a different poll site.

Arnie Latterman, a Stuyvesant Town resident who was working as a scanner inspector at the 525 East 14th Street poll site, said that there were a number of referrals throughout the day at his location. “We made at least 40 referrals because there were people who came in (to this location) and didn’t vote here,” he said.

Despite the lower turnout expected at the primaries compared to the general election, voters felt strongly about the decisions they had to make. “Even though they’re all Democrats, there’s a wide variance in the candidates,” Latterman said. “One is maybe a bit more progressive than the others and depending on personal preference, that can be important.”

Others who came out said they felt obligated to vote to have their voice heard.

“Primaries are just as important as the final election,” said Stuyvesant Town resident Gary Wiss after voting. “Putting a ballot in the box is a special kind of thing. It’s democracy in action.”

Stuy Town resident running for Surrogate Court judge position

Rita Mella, with her husband, talks with a neighbor in Peter Cooper Village.

Primary Day is Thursday, September 13. Town & Village is running bios of Democrat candidates for the positions of Manhattan Surrogate’s Court judge and the State Senate seat to be vacated by Tom Duane.

This article was originally published on August 23.


By Sabina Mollot

While this summer, much of the focus of the local political world has been on the race to fill the State Senate seat that will be vacated by Tom Duane at the end of the year, another race has quietly been running for the position of Manhattan Surrogate’s Court judge.

Along with State Supreme Court Judge Barbara Jaffe, another hopeful for the position is Judge Rita Mella of Manhattan Criminal Court, who’s also a longtime resident of Stuyvesant Town. Like Jaffe, Mella is a Democrat, and the two will face off in the September 13 Primary.

During a recent chat on a bench in Peter Cooper, Mella spoke with Town & Village about how the court system is more a part of people’s lives than they think “even if you’re not in trouble with the law,” and that if elected, she’d do outreach to make Surrogate’s Court more accessible and inclusive.

“Most New Yorkers have never set foot in this beautiful building on Chambers Street,” Mella said. “This is a court that works as an agency. You need to go there if you want to adopt a child or if you need guardianship of a mentally disabled young adult. You need to go there for your probate. You could stay out of court if you have no assets, but if you do, you have to go to court to administer your assets. This is a court of administration rather than litigation.”

Mella, who was born in the Dominican Republic, said she’s always wanted to do public work. She came to the United States at 22, barely knowing how to speak English, and studied and graduated from the CUNY Law School in 1991. On a scholarship, she got her master’s in Latin American history from the University of Florida and her undergraduate degree in the Dominican Republic.

After completing her education, she began her career in law working for a small firm with a focus on criminal defense and for the next 13 years, worked as an attorney in several courts: Surrogate’s, Supreme Court, Civil Court, Family Court and Criminal Court, according to her official bio.

For Mella, the switch to Surrogate’s Court from the Criminal Court, where she’s been assigned since 2007, would be a return to her roots. Previously, she worked as principal law clerk for Surrogate’s Court Judge Margarita Lopez Torres in Brooklyn. Lopez Torres, who Mella calls a reformer, had come in following a period of corruption in the court and it was part of Mella’s job to help her implement “systems of accountability” and make the operations more transparent.

In her current role, Mella chairs the Gender Fairness Committee of the Manhattan Criminal Court, which has organized programs aimed at addressing issues such as sex trafficking of young women, domestic violence among teenagers and relations between the Criminal Courts and the transgender population.

The judge position Mella is running for now would represent all of Manhattan as well as Roosevelt Island and the term would be for 14 years.

Reflecting on the length of the term, which is unusually long by political standards, Mella seemed undaunted.

“Serving the public from a bench is such an honor you don’t ever want to leave it,” she said.

Mella has lived in Stuyvesant Town since 1999 with husband Robert Rosenthal.

Op-Ed: Greco has no attachments to big businesses

The following op-ed was submitted by Chelsea resident Russell Orenstein, a friend of Tom Greco, who’s one of three Democratic candidates for Tom Duane’s seat in the State Senate.

There is a discernible difference between the candidates running in this year’s election for the newly drawn 27th State Senate District in Manhattan.

Tom Greco, a business owner and community activist from Hell’s Kitchen, is the best choice. The record of Greco’s opponent, Brad Hoylman, is dubious at best. Sure, he is the hand-picked selection of the Democratic establishment in Manhattan. But in times like these we deserve something more in who represents us than the result of political deal making and pre-determined coronations. After all, this is Manhattan and we are New Yorkers. As voters, we must hold ourselves to a higher standard of what we expect from our elected leaders, and owe it to ourselves to do the necessary research in finding out who the candidates really are, their records and what they truly stand for.

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Letters to the Editor, Aug. 30

Bed bug situation is being addressed

Re: “Residents reeling from bedbug ‘incompetence,’” T&V, Aug. 23

I am the person who led the 280 First Avenue bedbug meeting at the Community Center. I would like to clear up a few inaccuracies in last week’s article about it.

We have had at least six known (to us) bedbug infestations in the past few years, not six currently active bed bug infestations. There are two currently active infestations that are undergoing abatement.

There is a bed bug epidemic in NYC, so the fact that we have had a number of infestations over the past few years is not necessarily cause for alarm.

Our cause for alarm was the discovery that three of these infestations took place one after the other in adjacent apartments. Let’s call the infested apartments 14x, 14y, and 13y to protect people’s privacy.
These three infestations began this past April after apartment 14x tested positive for bed bugs and underwent a successful abatement.

Then in June, after getting numerous bites, the tenant in the apartment directly next door, apartment 14y, called management to schedule a bed bug test. 14y also tested positive for bedbugs and underwent abatement. During the course of abatement in that apartment, the apartment directly below, 13y, became infested and is still, to my knowledge, undergoing abatement.

That suggested to us that management’s pest control team might not have our situation under control. So the purpose of our meeting was twofold: to educate our neighbors about bedbugs and to discuss how we might find a way to work together with management to develop a comprehensive building-wide plan to rid 280 of bed bugs now, and to better contain any infestations in the future.

There is another active infestation (unrelated) undergoing abatement in a lower level apartment on a different line.


Name withheld, ST

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