Letters to the Editor

Backing Chin’s bag bill

To The Editor:

Congratulations to our Councilmember Margaret Chin for her courage and wisdom to propose targeting the fake-bag buyers that come to Chinatown. Her reasoning sheds some light on a problem that has been plaguing our neighborhood for years.

For those of us who live and work in Chinatown, it is a big deal if these illegal transactions are eliminated. First of all, we will feel a lot better. We won’t have to live with this stigma that “Chinatown is all about fake name brands,” since that seems to be the first thing that comes to mind for a lot of out-of-town folks. Many people have told us, “Don’t take it personally.” But it is difficult not to if we call Chinatown our home.

These fake-goods merchants have also put a damper on the development of legitimate businesses. Because of their eagerness to have a foothold in the area, and with no sales tax and income tax to pay and plenty of cash to spend, they are often willing to pay higher-than-market-rate rents. Legitimate businesses often find it difficult to operate in the neighborhood because they are forced to compete for the space with steep rents.

Will legitimate merchants and restaurants suffer if no more fake handbags can be purchased, and will less tourists come? Definitely not. If one spends some time in Chinatown, one will marvel at all the good food and creative merchandise that is being offered. New York City’s outstanding reputation as a cultural melting pot and our country’s growing global interest have made Chinatown ever so attractive. Many tourists have told us that they are visiting Chinatown because some family members are learning to speak Chinese, studying abroad or have an overseas job assignment.

We are not law enforcement experts. But plenty of expert opinions have stated that illegal goods will lead to money laundering and will breed more serious crimes. And law enforcement agents are wasting too many resources and even sometimes risking their lives during interdiction. And there will be no supply when there is no demand.

Councilmember Chin’s proposed approach may be the most sensible and workable solution to our problem.

Peter Lau

Justin Yu

Lau and Yu are Chinatown shopkeepers of 25 and 35 years, respectively

More Jujyfruit history to chew on

To The Editor:

Re “Hudson Square Happenings” (Scoopy’s Notebook, May 26):

Mouquinho is wrong about the Jujyfruit building. No. 330 Hudson St. was Masback Hardware. Ask Police Commissioner Ray Kelly where he got his service revolver. It was a gift to him from Masback for the best in physical and academic grades at the Police Academy.

I have a photo of the building front with my brother, Dennis, the guy that fixes bikes at 506 Canal St., “the stoop sale.” I have a photo of me in 1956 across the street showing Hudson St.

The candy factory was in fact at 315 Hudson St., where N.Y.P.D. Internal Affairs is today. If you look at the building, there still should be the big “H”’s standing for Henry Heide candy.

Your fab paper did a front-page article on the Church of Our Lady of Vilna and my Dad, the grand knight with the Knights of Columbus, a few years ago.

Joe Healy

Didn’t get a good feeling

To The Editor:

Re “Group pushes to rezone Soho” (news article, June 9):

I’m a renting artist in Soho and I did not feel there was much of a chance that the “steering committee” was in any way going to advocate for existing artists who are not owners already. Join them at your peril!

Erik Friedlander

Remembering Janet Freeman

To The Editor:

Re “Janet Freeman, 60, tenant activist” (obituary, May 19):

This is to express a belated word of thanks for the obituary you ran about Janet Freeman several weeks ago. We got some feedback from some people who were shocked to learn about Janet’s passing by reading your article, even though we had reached out far and wide to Janet’s friends.

Many people were quite moved by the article and the chronicling of her many activities. Janet was like a diamond in the rough, with many facets to her activism. People who were involved with her on one issue didn’t always know about her other involvements.

I understand that a restaurant blog reprinted your piece, perhaps feeling relief that she was not going to be around to make their lives difficult.

You may be interested in knowing that there is an effort underway now to name the block where Janet lived for many years — Elizabeth St. at Kenmare St. — after her.

Again, thank you for your very nice article.

Valerio Orselli

Will the art war ever end?

To The Editor:

Re “Art vendors spots restricted at Union Square, High Line” (news article, June 9):

As I read this article it made me ask the same two questions I have been asking for a couple of decades now:

First, why is New York City at war with its artists? This war has never made any sense to me.

Second, why does the city continually choose to go to battle with the most radical elements in the art and vending business instead of working with actual artists who grace our city in a special manner? Why is the city blind to the benefits of real artists in public spaces?

The tired excuse is, “How can you tell an artist from a bootlegger?” Then there is the classic, “It’s complicated, like the layers of an onion.”

Onion? Baloney. The city has a process in place right now for identifying legal vendors and artists, and it’s being done every morning at the limited vending spaces in High Line park and Union Square. So how complicated can it be?

It is true that artists have constitutional rights to express themselves in public. However, constitutional rights mean nothing unless they are protected. The city is attacking these rights instead of protecting them; therefore, artists and the entire ecology of art are being badly harmed.

Unfortunately, many talented artists gave up displaying their work in public when the raised fists and rhythmic chants of angry protesters faced off in endless battles with an unyielding and hostile city.

The presence of illegal vendors and bootleggers is a huge liability to artists and tarnishes their image badly. It is well past time that artists form their own co-operative group that represents artists’ interests only, and then get involved in the communities in which they live and display their work.

At least then I could stop asking those same two questions over and over.

Lawrence White

E-mail letters, not longer than 250 words in length, to [email protected] or fax to 212-229-2790 or mail to The Villager, Letters to the Editor, 145 Sixth Ave., ground floor, NY, NY 10013. Please include phone number for confirmation purposes. The Villager reserves the right to edit letters for space, grammar, clarity and libel. The Villager does not publish anonymous letters.

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