more or less in charge of several dozen more or less attentive
eighth-graders, I think I’m in a position to inform Paul Rapp
[“The Daily Travesty,” Rapp on This, Sept. 1] that certain
subtleties, such as the number of poor in New Orleans or the
environmental delicacy of the Mississippi Delta, are still
a bit beyond their ability to intuit on their own. The magnitude
of the current tragedy, however, is not. Already a number
of students at the junior high school where I teach have come
forward, some asking earnestly what they can do to help, others
having already taken the initiative of planning their own
charity bake sale. We’re harnessing their concern and their
energy to propel a schoolwide campaign to collect donations
for disaster relief.
These fairly coddled (I teach on Chicago’s affluent North
Shore) young adolescents have enough sense to recognize how
serious this catastrophe is and to feel an obligation to do
something about it. I wonder how it happens that even the
relatively modest amount of perspective and empathy possessed
by 12- and 13-year-olds has been completely bled out of our
national television news corps.
am grateful to Metroland for the ongoing coverage of
the 2005 election candidates via “The Candidates on the Record”
[Newsfront, ongoing]. I appreciate reading candidates’ responses
to the questions and I found the answers provided by John
Rosenzweig (Albany Common Council, Ward 8, Democrat) of particular
As Mr. Rosenzweig indicated in his response, he is a current
member of the Zoning Board of Appeals. He also said that “.
. . the true art of any good politician is being able to bring
the stakeholders in any given situation or issue to the table,
understanding that everybody may not be able to be accommodated
to their particular liking, but taking all the input from
all the stakeholders and using that to come up with the best
idea.” I find this statement to be a complete contradiction
to his actions.
In his role on the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA), Mr. Rosenzweig
(and his peers) chose to ignore Center Square residents’ pleas
to the ZBA not to grant a variance to a local developer, allowing
a zoned two-family property (located at 329 State Street)
to be converted into a 13-unit apartment building. Not only
was the 13-unit variance granted to the developer without
any finding of fact on the part of the ZBA, the ZBA also gave
the developer another “gift” and granted the developer an
area variance for parking, meaning the ZBA chose to ignore
a law that requires one off-street parking spot for each additional
unit allowed by the variance. Parking in Center Square is
always an issue, and the decision granted by the ZBA—Mr. Rosenzweig—allows
anywhere from 13 to 26 additional cars to compete for parking
on the streets of Center Square.
At the ZBA hearing on the application for the 13 units, residents
of Center Square—the “stakeholders”—clearly stated that an
additional 13 units in Center Square would significantly impact
the quality of life in the neighborhood. By supporting the
application for the variance to allow 13 units in a property
that was zoned two-family, I cannot help but question Mr.
Rosenzweig’s ability to recognize quality of life issues,
and to be “a good politician.” As he stated, a good politician
takes “all the input from all the stakeholders and using that
to come up with the best idea.” Is 13 units the “best idea”—or
the best use of the property?
Additionally, the ZBA’s decision to allow the 13 units set
in motion nearly three years of litigation, challenging the
ZBA’s decision, at a cost of thousands of dollars to Center
Square neighbors. The developer, a 30-plus years’ New York
State licensed real estate broker who claimed he was unaware
of the two-family zoning restrictions when he purchased the
property, was granted the variance by the ZBA on the preposterous
grounds that the developer would not be able to make a reasonable
rate of return on his investment if he was not granted the
right to turn a two-family property into a 13-unit apartment
building. Facts that contradicted the developer’s assertions
that he would not be able to make a reasonable profit were
presented to the ZBA, and all but one member ignored the neighbors’
facts. Mr. Rosenzweig’s vote in favor of the variance ensured
that a developer could make his profit while the neighborhood
suffers. Ironically, Mr. Rosenzweig’s platform is “neighborhoods
reported on the neighborhood’s challenge of the decision in
the article “Standing in the Streets” [Newsfront, July 29,
Thank you very much for bringing real issues and concerns
of our city and surrounding area to your readership.
Editor’s note: The writer owns property adjacent to the building
review of last weekend’s Avril Lavigne show [“Youth Gone Mild,”
Live, Sept. 1] seriously missed the mark by failing to mention
the evening’s true show stealer: Butch Walker. Well, you do
mention his taking over the vocals during Avril’s set for
a cover of Blur’s “Song 2,” but that hardly makes up for it.
Mr. Walker’s performance showed that he not only has an amazing
voice, but a personality to match his powerful vocals. By
the end of his all-too-short set, Mr. Walker had won over
the entire audience, kids and parents alike. His set went
above and beyond the call of duty of show “opener,” bringing
the audience to their feet and sending hundreds of new fans
scurrying to his autograph tent for a chance to meet him.
Many would miss Gavin DeGraw’s performance as a result (and
my guess is they weren’t too upset about it).
And since “My Happy Ending” is your not-so-secret guilty pleasure,
you might be interested to know that Mr. Walker wrote and
produced that song.
Thank you so much for your story about the options young people
have if there were to be a draft [“I Object,” Aug. 25]. And
thanks to David King for doing such a fine job!
I would like to let your readers know that if they would like
to be involved in outreach to young people concerning draft
information and conscientious objection, they can contact
me, Carole Ferraro, at email@example.com or 463-0095. The
Citizens for Selective Service Education meet on the last
Wednesday of the month in Albany. There’s also a group in
Saratoga Springs, Saratoga Citizens for Selective Service
Education: contact, Claire Cafaro, firstname.lastname@example.org,
We also have a website with lots of information and links
to resources. It’s www.selectiveserviceinfo-ny.org.
If you’d like a workshop on draft information for your community,
youth, school or church group, contact Paul Frazier, email@example.com
or (315) 475-2811.
our review of Summer Selections 2005 at the Fields
Sculpture Park (“Not Too Far a Field,” Art, Aug. 18), David
Brickman mistakenly attributed a stainless-steel sculpture
featuring bullet holes to Magdalena Abakanowicz. The piece,
titled Gunshot Landscape, is by Margaret Evangeline.
welcomes typed, double-spaced letters (computer printouts
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