By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
After reading Richard Goldstein's "Looking for Lefty" [September 19], I wonder how many more articles critical of Ralph Nader and forgiving of Al Gore I am going to have to wade through this year. While mentioning nearly every tired argument the Democrats have wheeled out to bash Nader (the Supreme Court, social conservatism, lesser of two evils, etc.), Goldstein barely mentions that Nader is the only candidate who opposes the death penalty, deregulated trade, the criminalization of marijuana use, corporate control of the electoral system, and unnecessary military spending. The current scaremongering by so-called liberals is disappointing.
While Richard Goldstein's piece on Ralph Nader notes that progressives have the opportunity for minority representation in Europe due to parliamentary systems that enable negotiation in a coalition, the article misses other approaches to address fundamental flaws in the U.S. political system.
Namely, preferential voting systems (where second and subsequent choices figure in the final vote tally) and compulsory voting. These systems are practiced by newer democracies and contribute in no small way to stability while ensuring unrestricted debate.
That Nader identifies problems with the two-party system is applaudable. By running in a first-past-the-post voting system, he illustrates how structurally entrenched the current duopoly is.
Richard Goldstein replies: I didn't stint on praising Nader, but in my book any progressive who welcomes a Bush victory should be called on it.
Re the letter from Michael McKee in last week's issue regarding the endorsement of State Senator Roy M. Goodman by the Tenants Political Action Committee: I don't see how tenants can look at the terrible rent law results in 1997 and support Goodman against housing activist Liz Krueger, the candidate for the Democratic, Green, and Working Families parties.
In 1997, despite a spirited campaign that laid responsibility directly at the doorsteps of Governor George Pataki and Senator Al D'Amato, the rent laws suffered a series of weakening revisions. Between the expiration of New York City's rent and eviction regulations in June of that year and the ratification of the Rent Regulation Reform Act four days later, the legislature agreed to a laundry list of provisions attacking rent regulations, including minimum 20 percent vacancy increases on all apartments, permanent deregulation of empty apartments reaching $2000 a month, and deprivation of the right of low-income tenants to be heard in housing court when threatened with eviction under the so-called "rent deposit" law.
The result has been the intensification of New York City's already impossible housing shortage, and now even the middle class cannot find affordable housing.
If, as was indicated in McKee's letter, Goodman's excuse is that he challenges the leadership in "closed-door party conferences" (which can't be verified), it is obviously not strenuously enough to result in his being fired as Majority Leader Joe Bruno's deputy leader, a fate that befell Goodman's analogue in the state assembly, Michael Bragman, following a failed coup attempt against Speaker Sheldon Silver. This defense doesn't work. The Republican Party, of which Goodman is a major leader, continues to do the bidding of the real estate industry when it comes to rent regulation.
In a year when control of the state senate is up for grabs for the first time in a generation, and with redistricting looming, followed by the expiration of the rent laws again in 2003, a vote for Roy Goodman is a vote for Joe Bruno.
Metropolitan Council on Housing
I would like to register the enormous sense of disappointment that I felt upon reading the Fall Arts Preview [September 12]. As I browsed through the fine (but safe) jazz picks, and later, through the classical and rock choices, I began to wonder where the representatives of that ambiguous, multifaceted, vibrant, and (sometimes) annoying music that the listening fringe calls "Downtown" (or sometimes just "new") music would be found.
Surprise! They were nowhere! This music has been a part of the fabric of New York cultural life for over 20 years. Although it is created in places as far away as Tokyo, London, Amsterdam, Chicago, and the Bay Area, its growth and development have been inextricably connected with New York. Don't you think that music that is represented by such vital musicians as John Zorn, Elliot Sharp, Dave Douglas, Arto Lindsay, Susie Ibarra, Matthew Shipp, Ikue Mori, DJ Olive, Henry Threadgill, and Han Bennink (just to name 10 who have gigs in New York this month) deserves mention? Not just as some lunatic fringe offshoot of other genres, but in its own right. If not now, when? And if not here, where?
Music editor Chuck Eddy replies: Had the Knitting Factory and Tonic (which were contacted repeatedly) released autumn schedules on time, such Downtown gigs might well have been recommended in the Fall Arts Preview. Kyle Gann writes regularly about experimental "new music" in theVoice, and shows by the artists Coleman mentions are plugged frequently in the weekly Voice Choices.
In "It's the Supreme Court, Stupid" [September 5], Ginger Adams Otis suggests that Democrats are superior to Republicans at selecting pro-choice judges. She says nothing about liberal justice John Paul Stevens, who was appointed by Gerald Ford; moderate justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who was appointed by Ronald Reagan; and moderate Justice David Souter, who was appointed by George Bush. For the record, Nixon appointee Harry Blackmun wrote the Roe v. Wade decision, while justice William Brennan, who voted with the majority on Roe v. Wade, was appointed by Eisenhower. One of the two dissenting justices, Byron White, was a John F. Kennedy appointee.