I believe that open and robust dialogue is important, especially when the topic of discussion is the future of my home, Manhattanville. That's why I was incredibly disappointed that Laura Conaway's article 'Big in Yonkers' [July 1824] failed to include voices from the community and instead highlighted the self-serving agenda of Nick Sprayregen, who stands to profit handsomely at our expense. I am part of an extensive coalition of businesses, landowners, religious leaders, and concerned individuals who support Columbia University's Manhattanville Proposal. We welcome the thousands of jobs, economic growth, educational opportunities, and cultural enrichment that the expansion plan brings. While Sprayregen is using his personal wealth and business interests to make himself the public face of those opposing the plan, many, including other religious leaders, question who and what he really represents. As Conaway's article mentions, Sprayregen is a real estate investor, king of a storage empire, and a owner. But he's not a resident; he's a businessman. A businessman busy negotiating commercial development and luxury condo deals in Yonkers and selling off property in upper Manhattan to the tune of tens of millions of dollars. Columbia University's proposal is a chance to revitalize our neighborhood. If Sprayregen actually lived here or really cared about it, maybe he could see that.
Reverend Reggie Williams
United Missionary Baptist Association
Ain't nothing going on but the rent
Tom Robbins's 'The Second Battle of Bushwick' [June 27July 3] is clearly slanted towards tenants. If you were actually reporting this story fairly, you would acknowledge somewhere in the article that a $500 rent (assuming they were in fact even paying the rent) for a two-bedroom apartment in New York City is a pittance, and nowhere near enough to carry the costs of purchasing, renovating, heating, repairing, and otherwise maintaining these lovely (yet old) buildings. People cannot expect nor demand that these buildings be maintained, let alone renovated, if they cannot pay rents that will allow landlords to do just that. It's simple math: You must bring in more than you pay out. You cannot purchase a three-family building for $600,000 and continue to allow apartments to rent for $500 a month. It is ludicrous, and no investor is in the business of bleeding money so as not to inconvenience the current tenants. You want renovated apartments but do not or cannot afford higher rent? Then you will either move or live in filth and abandonment. Unfortunately, this is not fair, but that's the way it is. those tenants were the landlords in this situation, they would be doing the same thing. What fool would choose to purchase a property only to lose $50,000 a year? Tenants: get real, get a job, pay a fair rent, and you will earn those things that you receive.
Mott Haven resident
Re Gustavo Arellano's ' a Mexican!': Mr. Arellano, why is your Mexicoon face and the face of all other Mexicoons the same color as dog shit? Think about it. Tells us something.
Ask a Mexican? Where I come from, you better not ask us shit.
Department of Capitalist Cudgels
Thanks for Graham Rayman's 'What the Jail Guard Saw' [July 1117]. This is definitely an issue the mainstream media will never touch. Inmates in America are either reviled or treated as fodder for "tough on crime" political grandstanding. As a former teen inmate at Rikers (now an engineer), I saw firsthand the brutality of the guards and the blind eye given to inmate violence. This is a systemic problem in the country's prison systemwhich brings up the question: What purpose does the prison system serve? No rational person can think it is rehabilitation. The true role of the prison system is to brutalize the poor and working class to keep them in line. The terrors of jailhouse rape and inmate-on-inmate violence are the cudgels of U.S. capitalism.
I read with interest Rayman's article relating the ongoing violence that has overtaken the Department of Correction. I was a New York City correction officer for 20 years, and 16 of those years were spent on Rikers Island. I worked there in the '80s and '90s, when violence was rampant. To his credit (and I hate to admit it), Bernard Kerik brought in new policies for dealing with inmate violence and inmate abuseand they worked. On the other hand, Martin Horn is just another politician who knows absolutely nothing about the jail system. You cannot consolidate two agencies (Probation and Corrections) with distinct over-riding differences. Horn is simply in over his head. You need someone with a background in corrections to deal with the problemsor least be open to listen to those who know how to "jail." If you bring a politician and he brings other politicians to the table, violence is what you will get.
Rudy and the gang bang
Hey, Barrett, stop picking on poor Rudy. You know he suffers from the "Bernard B. Kerik Complex." I propose a Giuliani/Kerik ticket. The former top cop would make a better vice president than Cheney. After all, he trained the police in Iraq, and they're doing a fine job. Rudy, a great judge of character, would probably pick Judy as Secretary of State. I mean Judy Regan, of course. She could follow in the great tradition of Condi and do to the country what Kerik did to Regan . . .
The crying game
Nathan Lee's review of I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry ['Queer as Folk,' July 1824] set my opinion of gays back about 35 yearsI am 53. I have not seen the movie, nor do I have a special like or dislike for anyone in it. I have no problem with gays. Hell, my uncle (dad's brother) was gay, and he came out in the early '60s, and no one in our large Italian family had a problem with it. Lee has the "gay chip" on his shoulder, and it is why straights are sick and tired of their whining. You just can't win with them: too butch, too girly, not girly enough; on and on ad nauseamgeesh. Lee is a disgrace to gays and people in general with his picking-apart and being disrespectful to straights. Yuck.
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