Let us speak frankly

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East Side Observer


  • Following New York City Transit President Andy Byford's April 19 talk on the Upper West Side, hosted by Assembly Member Linda Rosenthal, audience members were given cards on which to write questions. They also had an opportunity to query Byford directly. Photo: Michael Garofalo

Really being heard — Seems that public and elected officials are getting away with taking the easy way out when they speak at community meetings and forums and require that all questions be written on index cards. The host organization should not permit it. First of all, questions are vetted by the official's staffers and there's no opportunity for follow up. Second, some people have terrible handwriting and their questions are illegible. Or, like politicians, they aren't concise. Time, of course, is a consideration, but time limits can be set by the organization. If there is to be true dialogue and community input, then there has to be true feedback, and elected and others have to be accountable for the positions and stands they take and participate in verbal back and forth. They have to be able to withstand the crossfire of their constituents. Writing questions out in, as they say, 25 words or less, doesn't make the cut even if the politico is made to speak his or her position in 50 words or less, not counting pauses. The handwritten index card question doesn't cut it. The opportunity to be heard at a public event requires verbal exchanges.

Dog-gone it — No question in my mind that Donald Trump and Jeff Bezos share at least a page in their playbooks — the desire and willingness to annihilate a competitor no matter how big or how small. Case in point, Bezos's Whole Foods now sells hot dogs in direct competition with the street vendor standing under an umbrella-ed hot dog cart street in front of its block-long store on Third Avenue and 87th Street. When a customer sampling a smidgen of a hot dog at Whole Foods asked the staffer behind the counter which hot dog was better, he quickly responded that the WF frank was “far better” because they offered 6 toppings and chili. “And you get samples.” So there.

The good earth — Thanks to the Parks Department and the Muslim Volunteers for New York for their partnership in bringing Earth Day activities to our city parks. Reminded me of Frank Sinatra's rendition of the post-WW II song, “The House I Live In,” with lyrics about “a plot of earth, the sun ... and the people that you see.” Not to get hokey, but it's a vision not usually seen in an urban environment — kids planting, potting and pruning. And nice to know that similar activities are conducted and sponsored and supported throughout the year by funding in part through the budgets of our public officials.

Desperately seeking Norman — 4-year old Norman, a micro-chipped tan chihuahua with a scar on his snout, has been missing since early March. Posters begging for his return peered out from lampposts across the UES for several weeks. And then there were no more posters. I thought about Norman and was hoping that he'd come home. But no. Last week a woman, tears in her eyes, was taping yellow posters with a photo and description of her still-lost Norman throughout the neighborhood along with the promise of a $5,000 reward for his return. No questions asked. If you find Norman, call home. They're waiting for him with bated breath — 424-258-4306.

Sharing reader thoughts — After this column noted that co-op and condo owners may have a role in bringing in big box stores and driving out small businesses from commercial spaces in their high-rises, responses included one reader acknowledging that the “enemy is (often) us,” and another explaining that they “sold” the lease for commercial spaces decades ago, giving them no say about tenants coming into the spaces. This reader noted that the storefronts in his/her building are not vacant and that everyone was keeping their “fingers crossed.” Count me in.

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