There is no denying that the Voice owns beaucoup clout in the public affairs arena.
After Tom Robbins's story on the future of the Brooklyn Marine Terminal "The Magician's Nephew" [February 14–20], it took the Port Authority just eight days to change course and extend cocoa, coffee, lumber, and container operations past the March 31 hard and fast deadline. So alarmed was the Port Authority by Robbins's subtext that a mixed-use Brooklyn waterfront could still be in the cards, that P.A.Executive Director Anthony Shorris landed in the Times the very next day with a "no, not ever never, case is closed story." Then, on March 2, Shorris relented and advised that no interruption in Brooklyn commercial operations was foreseen. Whatever changed the P.A.'s mind, Robbins's story played a huge role in the process. If I can have my politics leavened with a Balzac-like portrayal of the wickedly delicious gulling of American Stevedoring Inc. former prexy Sal Catucci by George Pataki's "sunshine boy" Charles Gargano à la Robbins, I'll never stop reading the Voice.
Russell Smith

If all your staff is concerned with is racial diversity for the sake of racial diversity, the journalistic quality of your paper and website will continue its decline. You obviously have some employees who need to grow up and shut up. Absolutely pathetic and I have no shame in saying it.
Craig Shuba
Washington, D.C.

We appreciate Kristen Lombardi's ongoing investigative reporting on the environmental aftermath of 9/11 and applaud the Voice for highlighting a growing public-health crisis. We were extremely encouraged to learn from her cover story "While Schumer Slept"[February 21–27] that the senator is joining with Senator Clinton and others in the New York Congressional delegation to bring renewed focus to the unmet health needs of 9/11 responders and residents, office and cleanup workers, and students affected by the collapse of the World Trade Center. The senator's voice is a valuable and important one. It is one that all those affected by the WTC collapse need in the fight for adequate federal health care funding, the proper assessment and cleanup of residual WTC contamination, and the safe demolition of buildings contaminated with 9/11 toxics.
Rob Spencer and Esther Regelson
Members of the World Trade Center Community-Labor Coalition

Sean Gardiner's cover story "Kiko Was Here" [February 28–March 6] was disappointing. The article glorifies graffiti, while painting politicians and law enforcement as oppressive thugs waging war on creative expression. Plenty of forums for artistic endeavors are available in this city, more than anywhere else in the world. Graffiti is vandalism. It's destroying someone else's property, period. Every property owner, public or private, should have the freedom to decide what decorates it, not be forced into enduring an unsightly design or pay for its removal. Now that's truly revolutionary.
Stephanie Sherwood
Boston, Massachusetts

As a lifelong resident of an active anti-graffiti community, Gardiner's story confused me. Are we supposed to feel sorry for Siandre? Boo hoo, I wanted to be a professional skateboarder, and my daddy got drunk and beat up my mommy and that's why I did what I did. Astoria has always been a very diverse working-class neighborhood where people put everything into their modest homes. Then they wake up one morning to go to work and the see an incredibly ugly scrawl painted on the front of their house. Oliver Siandre is no more an artist than a five-year-old. Let's call him what he really is—an alcoholic, drug-abusing asshole who feels important when he defaces someone else's property. Siandre did get one thing right—people who get caught tagging should be made to clean up their messes.
Joe Ferrari
Astoria, New York

Give me a break with the sympathy for the poor, repressed graffiti artist with the tough childhood, who had the bad fortune to be made into a relatively mild example. He's a vandal who should be locked up upstate and let out with bus fare to Oneonta. It's too bad the guy screwed up his life, and it's too bad we can't put all the other vandals where they belong. I've got an idea, however. I hear there are some buildings in Anbar province, Iraq that are in serious need of refurbishment. Send 'em over there with their spray cans and let them do some good.
Stephen Orel

Mara Altman's "Something in the Way He Moves" [February 14–21] was interesting and informative, and I was rather surprised that the letters in response to it were negative. Altman was not perfect, and Larry Seiler was not a perfect gentleman, but the article showed the humanity of people with disabilities (including their failures). I knew almost nothing about disabled people, and have never spoken with anyone who has a serious disability. I always assumed that single men and women with such disabilities didn't have sexual relations. The article helped me to see disabled people as fellow human beings, who have the same desires as other people.
Anon Single White Male
via e-mail

Altman's story is great! Who says that just because Larry has a disability that he can't pursue a love life? Good for him. I think ignorance in America assumes that because someone has a disability he/she remains a child for the rest of his/her life. Wake up. After living with this his entire life, Larry's learned how to live with it and, more importantly, how to work around it. He has wants and needs too, and they are completely disregarded in today's society.
Daniela Jorge
via e-mail

David Chute is mistaken in his review of Eklavya, "Bloody Royals" [February 21–27], when he claims Amitabh Bachchan's beard is real. Director Vidhu Vinod Chopra did want him to grow his beard, but fortunately for us ardent fans, Amitabh was too busy with other projects. That beard is the result of many trials to get the right look. Amitabh complained that false beards are a pain, because they interfere with facial expressions. He has threatened that if Chopra makes him wear a false beard in his next movie, the rest of the cast will have to wear one.
Rochelle Goldman

In Nat Hentoff's column last week, the phrase "Hope is a thing with feathers" was incorrectly attributed to William Saroyan. Emily Dickinson actually penned it.

The film Eklavya was incorrectly spelled in David Chute's review "Bloody Royals," February 21–27.

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