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Ratner’s ‘Blood Money’ fills the mailbag

The Brooklyn Paper
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To the editor,

Your headline on Bruce Ratner’s deal with Barclays Bank over the naming of his proposed arena (“Blood Money — Ratner pockets hundreds of millions from British bank tied to slave trade, apartheid,” Jan. 20) grossly crossed the line.

I have noticed that your paper has taken a very non-journalistic stance towards the Atlantic Yards development, but this was too much.

Yes, the various points you raised in your article are relevant, but, as journalists, aren’t you supposed to let your readers form their own opinions from the facts presented by responsible reporting?

Clearly, your only intention was to further your individual viewpoint against Atlantic Yards. I know that the anti-Atlantic Yards side will go to any length to further its cause, but this was particularly shameful!

Terrence J. Allen, Prospect Heights

Ditto that

To the editor,

So, way back in the 1700s, the Barclays people were involved in slave trade! And, a few centuries later, they were working with the Nazis to rip off the Jewish folk caught up in the Holocaust. After that, Barclays was involved in dealing with the apartheid government of South Africa. That sounds pretty rotten on the part of Barclays.

You likened the Barclays deal to someone building an arena in heavily Jewish Borough Park and naming it Volkswagen Field. Why did you go with a relatively inexpensive Volkswagen when you could choose an elegant Daimler product like a Mercedes-Benz?

I bet that in Brooklyn, there are more Jewish folks than any other ethnic group who own Adolf Hitler’s beloved Benz. Just look in the driveways of the mansions on and off Ocean Parkway around the Avenue R neighborhood. Almost every driveway has a Benz or BMW in it! And, these folks are observant Jewish people. They seem to have overcome certain feelings about German-made products, wouldn’t you agree? Perhaps, time heals all wounds.

You also didn’t mention that the modern state of Israel did business with the apartheid state of South Africa — even after the United Nations attempted to isolate that regime.

So picking on Barclays in the year 2007 would seem to put you out of step with modern times. If they want to pay millions for their name to be placed on a stadium, who cares? Let’s just take their money. Who else is going to hand over to Kings County such a windfall?

Vigor Eriksson, Bay Ridge

Point of information: The naming rights money goes to developer Bruce Ratner, not to the people of Kings County.

Blame Ratner

To the editor,

People who thought that Bruce Ratner had their best interests in mind were fooled by him and by their own ignorance.

Barclays shouldn’t be blamed for entering into a business deal with Ratner. Blame Ratner and the people who allowed him to proceed with his project.

Brian Schnabel, Bay Ridge

Brooklyn’s soul

To the editor,

The Brooklyn Paper’s coverage of the Atlantic Yard development has been, and still remains, an essential voice of fairness and balance in this debate.

The Brooklyn Paper’s disclosure to the public of relevant facts puts The Paper in a minority media position. In fact, so few media outlets are even covering the opposition to the project.

The New York Times, the supposed media steward for the city, has only given lip service to the issues, and the New York Post’s harsh op-ed tone is outrageously mean-spirited. The opponents to this project are essentially fighting this battle alone, dismissed by the general news media, borough president, mayor, former governor, and many fellow New Yorkers.

The Atlantic Yards development is a fight for property rights and the soul of Brooklyn. This collective Brooklyn soul, I believe, is based on cultural and economic diversity, fundamental fairness, and a toughness to fight for justice and what one believes is right.

The question then becomes, is this soul for sale? Conceived by Ratner and supported by many government officials with questionable personal ties to him, Atlantic Yards will forever change the face, and soul, of Brooklyn.

The people who are currently living in the area to be taken by eminent domain and by redevelopment are certainly angered. Who gave Ratner the right to take their homes?

The people who worked hard to revitalize this section of Brooklyn, starting in the 1970s, are certainly angered. Who gave Ratner the right to use his political power to muscle out our claim?

The people who moved to Brooklyn and planted roots in recent years are certainly angered.

The Barclays deal shows that a few pieces of silver can buy the soul of Brooklyn. What’s for sale next, Mr. Ratner? Our dignity?

I, for one, am glad The Brooklyn Paper is fighting to protect the soul of Brooklyn.

Charles W. McMellon Jr., Park Slope

What about Citibank?

To the editor,

Citibank was founded on money from the slave trade, too, you know. In November 2002, a lawsuit was filed against Citigroup and 19 other companies for reparations because of alleged support to the apartheid regime that ruled South Africa. Citibank also trafficked in Nazi gold.

Where was your indignation when the naming rights to the new Shea Stadium was sold to Citibank?

That “Blood Money” headline was out of control. Where does Councilwoman Letitia James do her banking?

Mark Phillips, Carroll Gardens

... and Jefferson?

To the editor,

I strongly disagreed with your “Blood Money” front page.

Following your logic, we should banish Thomas Jefferson from all history books because he actively supported slavery. Following your logic, we should condemn him and ignore the fact that he was the author of the Constitution, who wrote those memorable words, “We the people.”

Should we refer to Thomas Jefferson as “President Blood Money” ?

I am a long time resident of this area and you have made me ashamed to be a resident of Park Slope. How dare you drag us down with your views and try to bully the rest of us into sheepishly accepting them? So far, Marty Markowitz is the only public official who had the guts to publicly stand up to you.

There is nothing objective about your articles or editorials.

Give Ratner credit where credit is due: At least he is doing something positive for the borough of Brooklyn. There are jobs, there are more choices for everyday folks to shop, to live and enjoy the fruits of commerce.

Would you rather have the empty railways? Your negativity does not benefit anyone, including yourself. You have made this once-venerable newspaper an embarrassment.

If we follow your self-righteous logic, we should never buy a Sony TV, drive a Toyota or play Nintendo because the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor.

Should the upwardly mobile not buy the German-made Mercedes because of WWII? You give political correctness a bad name.

Suzy Hsia, Park Slope

Point of information: Thomas Jefferson did not write the Constitution. And The Paper did not suggest that we ignore history, far from it. Our story about the Barclays deal sought to educate our readers about historical facts they could ignore or embrace. As for Ratner’s contribution to our borough, he’s no Santa Claus. Taxpayers will pay many of the developer’s bills, while he keeps the profits.

Garden furor grows

To the editor,

It’s bad enough the Church of Gethsemane garden is being sold to condo developers for millions, but I, for one, am troubled by having to endure a sanctimonious justification for the sale by the church’s pastor (“Rev. Liz Speaks: Garden Must Go,” Park Slope Edition, Jan. 13). I’ve seen Jesus invoked to justify many silly things, but never a lucrative real-estate deal.

It is equally frustrating that the writer, Nica Lalli, accepted Rev. Liz at face value. The Gethsemane congregation is apparently made up of convicts, ex-cons and their families. Lalli says the church is somehow helping to reduce prison recidivism. If so, then how? Can the church produce statistics?

Which raises another question: who exactly is meeting at this church, which is two blocks from PS 107? If ex-cons are likely to commit crimes, as Lalli tells us, then does the Gethsemane congregation pose a threat? We don’t know the answer because when various local residents called Rev. Liz to politely discuss the garden sale, she hung up on us.

They used to feed Christians to the lions. Rev. Liz is feeding her neighbors to profit-hungry developers, developers who don’t even have the dubious claim to the virtue the Rev. asserts. But then neither the Rev. Liz nor the writer Lalli live next to the garden, so they won’t suffer years of construction for the privilege of having their light and air taken away.

That must make it easier to be sanctimonious.

Edward Lewine, Park Slope

Art attacked

To the editor,

Your recent news story (“Cough, cough: Philip Morris’s arts funding to be slashed,” Jan. 20) and the adjacent editorial cartoon (“All drawn out”) attacked Altria, the parent of Philip Morris, for scaling back its support for the arts.

Hmmm. Are you crusading for the company to remain highly profitable so it can continue its grant programs? That, of course, means enlisting kids to start smoking. Is that the policy of The Brooklyn Paper — to promote smoking and encourage youngsters to take up the habit so as to replace the users who die, in order to perpetuate sales and profits, thus sustaining the company’s support of the arts?

Which is it, Paper? More smoking and more grant money, or less smoking and less grant money? Bob Keefe, Clinton Hill

Editor’s note: Since you asked, our answer is this: The choice is not “more smoking” vs. “less grant money.” Altria could very easily cut into its enormous profits — $3 billion in the third quarter of 2006, by the way — with very little pain in the boardroom.

Help that old man!

To the editor,

Dominick Diomede is a special kind of man (“94 years old and homeless,” Jan. 13).

When our seniors are up in age, they should not have to go through things like this. Don’t we have any more respect for our seniors?

Our seniors should be congratulated and not be put on the streets of New York. It is so sad that Diomede’s landlords want him out so that they can get $2,000 more. How greedy can you get?

If I had a place, I would rent it to Mr. Diomede.

Dolores Le Grande, neighborhood withheld

• • •

To the editor,

What is Dominick Diomede’s address so we can throw eggs at his landlord’s window? Who are these people? If they are bold enough to tell a 94-year-old man to leave their home, they should be bold enough to state their justification for this in the Paper.

K. Fenton, Park Slope

Working hard

To the editor,

I think you should call attention to the Ready, Willing & Able workers who are sweeping up in many neighborhoods.

For years, one of the most embarrassing aspects of Park Slope has been the trash in the streets. The houses are beautiful, the shops are trendy, but the sidewalks have always looked like a garbage pit.

I’ve been picking up paper on the streets for years, trying to start a mass movement, but it never caught on. As a Boy Scout leader, I explored whether we could work out a system where homeless people could clean up the streets for pay.

We actually explored it as an Eagle Project. Our idea was to give the men shirts saying, “I’m Cleaning Up Park Slope, Won’t You Help,” and hope people would give them tips.

It was immensely complicated, thanks to all the bonding, insurance, and other facts of modern life. We gave it up.

But the Doe Fund’s Ready, Willing & Able program takes homeless men and women and puts them in a work routine. It’s very demanding — they have to wear uniforms, show up for work on time every day, and produce — but it pays off and they are doing a terrific job.

So my suggestion is this: It’s not out of bounds to tip these people. They are not city workers and it is not corruption. Slipping them a dollar and telling them they’re doing a great job can only make them feel better.

This is a great program and doesn’t cost taxpayers a penny. We should all support it.

Bill Tucker, Park Slope

Bad design, guys

To the editor,

I have been a reader of your paper since your earliest days. Your distinctive blue logo with big, bold white lettering made it easy to spot on newsstands and in street kiosks — even while driving.

Now you’ve muddied the logo by filling the letters in with black ink, changing the graduated blue background to an uglier uniform blue, removing the eye catching red bars along the top and bottom of the banner and then insulting your readers by choosing a type font which looks more like it belongs on the cover of a fourth grade reader than on a newspaper.

What were you thinking?

One can only hope your news coverage will remain relatively unchanged, considering how many Brooklynites rely on your paper to keep up with stories of vital interest in our borough. We don’t need trendy there either.

If you are truly Brooklyn’s Real Newspaper - then stay true to yourselves and your readers. Please go back to the old logo so we CAN find your paper from a distance.

Frank J. Grassi, Bay Ridge

Editor’s note: While we appreciate Mr. Grassi’s comment, we do not encourage readers to try to find our paper in sidewalk kiosks while driving.

Updated 4:00 pm, November 10, 2010
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