By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR
As a political activist in Crown Heights and former chairman of the Paul Robeson Independent Democrats, I found Peter Noel's latest attempt to bolster Carl Thomas's candidacy in Brooklyn's 40th Council District unjust and irresponsible ["Who's Afraid of Carl Thomas?" May 29].
First, Noel uses essentially private e-mail messages between individuals who have made no public statement or taken any action against the nearby opening of the Brooklyn headquarters of Reverend Al Sharpton's National Action Network to stir up anti-Lubavitch political sentiments. Jewish people involved with the important Project CARE and the Crown Heights Mediation Center have been tarred and feathered as Sharpton haters to create convenient political enemies. City Council candidates Yvette Clarke and Carl Thomas also have been unfairly tainted.
Second, as a dues-paying member of the National Action Network, I hope that the 1991 Crown Heights violenceextreme and unacceptable behavior by a small and violent minority following a car accidentwill not color the 2001 municipal elections. And I am not alone. All the problems in Crown Heights have not been solved during these last 10 years, but there has been forward movement that deserves respect, not abuse.
Third, Noel's obsession misleads readers about Crown Heights politics. In fact, it is the neighboring 35th Council District, represented by Mary Pinkett, that has the largest portion of the Lubavitch vote, not Una Clarke's 40th CD. Also, there are candidates in the 40th CD better known than Thomas who split the Caribbean vote. These include former teacher Alithia Alleyne and Haitian activists Jean Vernet and Lola Poisson. In the end, Noel spreads gossip and propaganda that helps no one and hurts everyone.
WHOLE IN ONE
Cotts wrote: " . . . Martin Mbugua is often teamed with a white reporter, a practice that one black calls 'caddying.' "
Juxtaposing my name with information from an unnamed source carelessly implied that I consider myself a victim of "caddying." The implication is an insult to many wonderful colleagues with whom I work as part of a team.
Cotts recklessly allowed anonymous third-party innuendo to characterize my experience at the Daily News. A responsible journalist would have called me for comment.
The Daily News often pursues breaking news stories under tight time constraints. That necessitates the use of multiple reporters to cover different angles of a story, and it is not a commentary on the proficiency of individual reporters.
For your information, a significant proportion of hundreds of stories I have reported for the Daily News are single-byline stories.
Martin Mbugua, Staff Writer
New York Daily News
COURAGE AND CONVICTIONS
Jennifer Gonnerman's "The Education of a Juror" [May 22], about the trial of accused drug dealer Calvin Baker, reminded me of my own eye-opening experience serving on a jury a few years ago. Until recently, police officers were exempt from jury duty. Having testified many times in a professional capacity as a witness for the prosecution, I welcomed the opportunity to see what happens during deliberations. Much to my surprise, I was selected and empaneled in a drug case. Paula Thomson's description of her fellow jurors' comments, attitudes, and conduct was substantially similar to what I observed during deliberations. However, we ultimately managed to bring our case to verdict.
Ms. Thomson was well within her rights to reject the evidence presented if she felt it was weak. Some may conclude that, because she held out and refused to convict Baker, subsequently posted his bail, visited him at Rikers Island, and took up his cause, she couldn't have been impartial and should have never been selected as a juror. Is it not also possible that, after she found the evidence against Baker was inadequate to convict, something about his situation struck a chord in Thomson and moved her to act?
Whether Baker is acquitted or convicted, Thomson has drawn attention to something much larger: the need to assess the Rockefeller drug laws. We must ask ourselves if we would not be better served by focusing our resources to reduce the demand for drugs on education and treatment.
Gary Giddins's elegiac tribute to Billy Higgins was a first-rate assessment of his genius as a drummer [Weather Bird, May 22]. One thing more needs to be said, however: With poet Kamau Daaood, Higgins founded the World Stage, a bare-bones performance area devoted to bringing the arts to the Leimert Park area of Los Angeles. Higgins gave free drum workshops Monday nights when he was in town, and would feature poetry readings, dance lessons, and gigs for a variety of local groups for just a few bucks at the door.
Also, Higgins would draft musicians passing through L.A., such as Ron Carter and Barry Harris, to give workshops. In short, Billy Higgins was not only a great musician, but a great human being. Los Angeles will not be the same without him.
Los Angeles, California
Simon Reynolds's copy of Manifesto: A Century of Isms ["Manifesto Destiny," May 22] probably was shipped before the publisher prepared an errata sheet to correct an editorial error regarding the Polish manifesto "primitivists to the nations of the world and to poland [sic]," which I translated for the volume. The author of the manifesto was not the Polish Expressionist author and critic Stanislaw Przybyszewski. The manifesto appeared unsigned in the almanac Gga in 1920, and most likely was written by the editors, Anatol Stern and Aleksander Wat, with Stern playing the major role.