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The Brooklyn Paper mailbag

The Brooklyn Paper

To the editor,

I met Bob Guskind a few years ago at a community board meeting (“Blogger Robert Guskind dead at 50,” March 14). Over time, and dozens of community meetings later, I increasingly enjoyed his Gowanus Lounge blog tremendously as a source of information, a venue for opinions, and even for its entertainment value. I particularly loved the sidewalk sofa pictures; I remember one great photo that showed how someone creatively set up some eclectic seating inside one of the city’s bus shelters. Priceless stuff!

Like any great artist, Bob was passionate about his work. Blogging was his medium; a blinking cursor his blank canvas. What I admired most about him was his dedication to getting it right. He was an utter professional in that regard.

I hope someone picks up the mantle where Bob left off and dedicates him or herself to covering issues in the Gowanus community the way he did. If ever there were a community in need of coverage, if for no other reason than to protect its neighborhood character and uniqueness, it would be Gowanus.

The blogosphere is a bit quieter and emptier without Bob in it. I miss him already.

Craig Hammerman, Park Slope

The writer is district manager of Community Board 6 and a member of the NYC Hall of Fame.

Larry in chains

To the editor,

Your recent editorial on chain stores (“Bring big boxes D’town,” Feb. 28) could be great news for consumers and those out of work.

Construction of a new Wal-Mart can provide work for electrical, plumbing, air conditioning, heating and general construction contractors, along with subcontractors to each trade.

A new Wal-Mart can provide employment opportunities for hundreds of full- and part-time workers. Many students, housewives, heads of single family households, senior citizens and ordinary people currently out of work could find employment locally without having to travel hours elsewhere.

All of these companies and their employees who would work on the construction of, or at longer-term jobs within, a Downtown Wal-Mart are our neighbors. Income from jobs would help pay household bills. Doesn’t this make sense given our growing local unemployment rate?

Wal-Mart is the nation’s largest private sector employer with over 1,200,000 employees and growing each year. Tens of millions of Americans, including many New Yorkers, own stock in Wal-Mart. The same is true for the various retirement and pension plans many people participate in. Promotional opportunities including training for higher-paying managerial positions are common.

Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Council Finance Committee Chairperson David Weprin and their colleagues continue to be the Grinch for New Yorkers looking for affordable medicines, children’s clothing, school supplies, food and other bargains. Why should Weprin and Quinn set the rules for who can or can’t open a business?

All public opinion polls have consistently shown that New Yorkers would welcome the opportunity to shop at Wal-Mart. It is time to allow Wal-Mart the chance to compete in Brooklyn. Let consumers, rather than politicians, make the decision what to buy and where to shop.

Larry Penner, Great Neck, N.Y.

Call me Arab

To the editor,

Thank you for the balanced coverage of the Palestinian protest of the Israeli dance troupe performing at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (“Protest against Israeli dancers,” March 14). Media coverage of Arab concerns tends to be dismissive at best and, at worst, blatantly hostile. In this case, The Brooklyn Paper merely covered the story fairly, which is all Arabs ever want.

This member of Brooklyn’s Arab-American community greatly appreciates the fair treatment that The Paper showed to the protesters and to the story.

Dave Hall, Boerum Hill

Assess this!

To the editor,

The city has sent me a tax bill which says the market value of my house is $903,000 and the assessed value for taxes as $12,236, about $1,000 more than last year.

This is nonsense, as there is no way I could get the market value of my house now, given the Depression that the tax department clearly didn’t notice.

The higher assessed tax value means I and everyone else will pay higher taxes. This is unacceptable.

I am a senior citizen living on a fixed income with a retirement portfolio (and we all know what has happened to our retirement funds in the past three months!).

It’s disgusting to heedlessly raise taxes on small homeowners when the government knows perfectly well that it will cause hardship.

To help our budget problems, I think all elected officials — city, state and federal should have to pay part of their health-care costs, say 10 percent.

Maybe then, they would understand some of the difficulties of managing in this economy.

Mona Rosner, Williamsburg

Don’t trust MTA

To the editor,

The Metropolitan Transit Authority has been standing on the throat of this city for decades, squeezing the economic lifeblood from this town.

Worse, it is an irresponsible steward of this city’s transportation network. It has political muscle and protection unlike any organization in our government.

Unlike a private enterprise, it has no need to constrain its budget for the purposes of profitability. Unlike a government organization, it escapes any kind of voter oversite at the ballot box. We are all victims of the MTA and its reckless use of government funds, and misguided priorities.

The MTA must die if the city of New York is to live.

The MTA is not our friend, nor does it respond to our needs. It borrows money and leaves the bills for the taxpayer and straphangers. It subsidizes suburban growth, and leaves the bill for the inner-city working class. It buys glitzy toys, like undergro

und radio systems, a connection for the LIRR to Grand Central Terminal, a new extension of the 7 train to the Javits Center, new cars with digital signage, elevators, and electronic billboards.

It builds a completely unneeded new station complex at Fulton Street to bribe politicians who can’t figure out how to rebuild the WTC.

But the MTA ignores basic safety and traffic needs like switches and steel rails, station maintenance, and subway cars with enough signs to know what train you’re hoping on without needing to look over the platform with the train arriving.

And they spend hundreds of millions of dollars to preach to us: Don’t run up the escalator. Don’t lean over the platform. Don’t walk between cars. Pick up your trash. Enough. We can’t take it anymore.

Don’t you love the Metrocard? Fares can be raised at will with a few keystrokes!

Ruben Safir, Midwood

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