Sound Off to the Editor

To the editor,

I nearly had a stroke when I read your article about Sheepshead Bay library (“Branch recognized for community workshops after Sandy,” online Sept. 30).

Those of us who actually live within walking distance of the library know that it was closed for more than six months. A hand-lettered and not very explicit sign on the front door glass said that it was closed because of water damage.

For years before the flooding caused by Sandy, this branch was an understaffed, foul-smelling, sterile box of a building, with many books kept in a room below street level.

Its main floor and upstairs reading room is dominated by homeless drop-ins, who foul the toilets and menace anyone who dares to sit near them.

I started going to the library in 1956, when I moved to the neighborhood as a young child. Although it was remodeled once, it has never been more than a basic, industrial building with a poor supply of books.

Demographic changes to the neighborhood in recent years have changed the library staff to mostly surly, Russian-speaking staffers, who favor their own countrymen to the detriment of long-time residents who have used the library for decades.

A recent survey of courses and programs offered at the library shows this bias: Russian story hours for children, chess lessons in Russian, citizenship courses for Russian speakers, with little for anyone else.

The rudeness of the desk staff is legendary. If someone hesitates while checking out a book or asks a question, he is often met with a surly response. More than a few times I have watched as five or six elderly customers waited patiently, as coffee-swilling staffers chatted to one another in the back.

Perhaps the grant money won from the Charles Revson Foundation could be used to alert the staff to the basic courtesies that should apply to consumers, whether they speak Russian or not.Martin AdelsteinSheepshead Bay

Seeing red

To the editor,

A friend sent me your article on traffic (“Allen Bortnick calls for police observation tower in the 86th Street and Fourth Avenue intersection,” online Sept. 24).

Frankly, I was surprised by what I read. On two previous occasions, your reporter had asked me for information, which he printed. Unfortunately, in both articles, he changed what I said, and I warned him, ”Don’t change one word!” if he ever printed anything I gave him again. I don’t lie and I stand behind everything I say. I told him, “Do this again and it’s strike three!”

It’s too bad that the media lives by the words, “blood sells” and “controversy.” Your reporter’s recent article floored me. In the past, I have been vilified, criticized, and otherwise written about in the press. This time, he has gone too far. I’m sure the blogs will go even further, especially those from people who use aliases, since they don’t have the guts to put their own names behind what they say. The worst part was involving Councilman Vincent Gentile (D–Bay Ridge) running for re-election, as if he were part and parcel of what I have been saying.

Using the word “scold,” being alliterative, and otherwise attempting to demean me, won’t make me lose any sleep. But writing a run-on sentence to involve someone else, who never said anything related to the topic, is beyond the pale. You are now entering an area of yellow journalism that went out of use decades ago.

You definitely owe Councilman Gentile a printed apology. I like him, but I neither work for, or speak for him.

Allen Bortnick

Bay Ridge

Dead on!

To the editor,

“Constantly choosing the lesser of two evils is still choosing evil,” famously said Jerry Garcia.

To my friends who serve the progressive view, Garcia’s quote is a reminder that simply voting out GOP members, or not electing new ones, is not enough.

The art and craft, and the big money, involved in professional politics is far more the problem than any one individual who plays that game. The electoral and political systems are long broken, and getting worse, as exemplified by what has become the plutocratic ways in which things are handled by those who are voted in to represent us.Barry Brothers


‘Decrepit’ bank

To the editor,

Could we all get together and have a fund-raiser so that Capital One Bank on Ocean Avenue near Waldbaum’s can afford to fix itself up, and stop serving their loyal customers in that dinky, decrepit trailer?

It seems to me that almost 11 months since Hurricane Sandy most of the other small business have restored themselves to their prior functioning. I’m sure many of them had less financial resources to help them than Capital One has.

I think it shows a disrespect for the bank’s clientele, and their employees also. Capital One Bank probably can give good reasons about why they are still working out of a trailer. I think most people would like to know why. Ruth Weiner

Sheepshead Bay

‘Free’ market

To the editor,

I was at a Verizon store at the Flatbush Avenue Junction. Right outside, almost in front of the store, was a table set up with a man calling out, “Free phones, free phones, free minutes, free texts.”

This right outside a store that I know pays big bucks for rent, utilities, employees, and whatever else it costs to run a business in the city these days. Yet right there, in front of a legitimate tax paying business, was someone giving away the same product that the legit business was selling.

The man behind the makeshift counter outside continued, “Free phones — all you need is a benefit card.” The gold card, the card that gets you food and drink, also entitles you to a free phone. About 50 million people are currently using food stamps in the country today, so I guess there are a whole lot of free phones being given away.

If I was in business and paying rent for a store that sells lemonade and someone set up a lemonade stand right outside my store and was giving it away for free, I wouldn’t be very happy, especially since I also would be paying for everyone else’s free lemonade.Peter Orsi

Marine Park

Junk-mail Chuck

To the editor,

It wasn’t enough that I received a letter signed by Sen. Charles Schumer, with his return address of 192 Lexington Ave. in Manhattan, praising state Sen. Daniel Squadron (D–Carroll Gardens). A few days later, I received an annoying, irritating robocall from Chuck the schmuck, again praising Squadron.

I’d love to know who paid for this “Special Message from U.S. Senator Charles Schumer.”

Why don’t those running for office realize that getting inundated with repetitious junk mail disgusts citizens, and makes them want to totally disregard that person who’s running for a political spot?Name withheld upon request

Public advo-grate

To the editor,

We can no longer afford a big and bloated city government. The city pays a public advocate. This is ridiculous. All elected officials are supposed to be public representatives and advocates.

I advocate that we erase this title and give the salary back to the city taxpayers. Remember, government is our servant, not our master.

The city’s gross domestic product is 12 percent of the entire national gross domestic product.

Tax-and-spend will only end, if the people stop voting for corrupt politicians. That leaves us with a small list of leaders with integrity.Todd Davis

Marine Park

Keep it local

To the editor,

In these difficult economic times, it is especially important to patronize your local neighborhood businesses.

My wife and I don’t mind occasionally paying a little more to help our local businesses survive. Don’t forget your cook and server at your favorite neighborhood restaurant. We try to tip 20 percent against the total bill, including taxes. If it is an odd amount, we round up to the next dollar. If we can afford to eat out, we can afford an extra dollar tip. When ordering take out, we always leave a dollar or two for the waiter or cook. It is appreciated. Remember these people are our neighbors.

Our local entrepreneurs have continued to create new employment opportunities without the assistance of federally funded taxpayers’ stimulus dollars. They work long hours, pay taxes, and provide local employment, especially to students during the summer. If we don’t patronize our local community stores and restaurants to shop and eat, they don’t eat either.

Please join me and your neighbors in continuing to support this newspaper. Patronize its advertisers. They provide the necessary revenues to help keep them in business. Let them know you saw their advertisement.Larry Penner

Great Neck, N.Y.

Papal compassion

To the editor,

I am a non-Catholic who is for pro-choice. I am overjoyed that Pope Francis believes the church should not stand in the way of a woman who wishes to terminate an unwanted pregnancy.

We are not living in an ideal world, but a hugely populated one, with decreasing food resources. What happens if the world population increases to 20 billion? Will people have to resort to cannibalism?

Pope Francis is both practical and compassionate, and deserves great praise.Elliott Abosh

Brighton Beach

Equine abuse

To the editor,

As a native New Yorker, a veterinarian, and a gay man, I am passionate about our city, and I love so much of what it has to offer. But I have come to despise the inhumane and corrupt horse carriage industry.

My initial exposure to the abuse of the carriage horses was from the critically acclaimed documentary “Blinders.” After much research, and going with an equine veterinarian to see some of the actual inadequate and hazardous stables these animals were being kept in, I decided to join the crusade to rid the city of this cruel and abusive tourist attraction.

What I came to find was that under Mayor Bloomberg and Council Speaker Quinn, and their associations with the carriage owners and drivers, the horses were going to stay in their horrid conditions and continue working the streets indefinitely. What I would later find out was that Quinn, in all of her time as speaker, had prevented every significant piece of animal welfare legislation from reaching the council floor.

We need to remove the dark clouds hovering over buildings housing imprisoned horses that are forced to mercilessly work in traffic, day in and day out, all in the name of entertainment.

John G. Hynes

Staten Island

The writer is a boardmember of the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association.


To the editor,

I give Miley Cyrus mad credit, mad props, and mad respect for her sexy performance at the MTV Music Video Awards.

Madonna and Britney Spears had their time, now let Miley have hers.

If she chooses to share a sensual kiss with a man or a woman — or both — why should I have a problem with that?

So don’t go trying to shove that perpetual, conservative bull about being moral, and what’s respectful, and what’s appropriate down her throat because nine out of 10 times she’s not going to want to hear that. Just let the woman do her thing, and let her live her life. Period.

Sebastian Casalnova


Dept. of ‘Ed’

To the editor,

Leave it to the Department of Education to come up with a new disciplinary code. We already have counseling for students. We need a system of zero tolerance for any disciplinary infractions. We don’t need the ultra-liberal nonsense of cooperative learning, alternate assessments, and focusing on the total child, when the city school system has become one of disrespect, defiance, and disruption.

Of course, these ideas have been thought up by people who either never taught or were expert at getting out of the classroom. Ask any teacher. You cannot teach without discipline, and that is why so many new teachers leave the system within five years of beginning their careers. Some of our schools are so bad that the National Guard needs to be called just to restore order. Ed Greenspan

Sheepshead Bay

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