Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Death on Liverpool Street

Death by Confusion
On Liverpool Street.
Why Did It Happen?

Friday morning, April 25, as he promised, Justice Arthur Cooperman delivered the court's opinion in the Bell case, which has been widely covered in the media. Over the weekend, various protest demonstrations took place, which were reported on television, radio and in the press. Our look at the case, four days after the decision, covers some aspects of the situation which were not widely reported.

Judge Cooperman is 74 years old, and whatever decision he made on this case would not be the result of any ambition for advancement to a higher court or for election to a public office. Some thought he was chosen to preside because of his age, wisdom or good reputation, but District Attorney Brown assures us that his name was selected, at random, from a rotating wheel. Judge Cooperman was willing listen to the witnesses, see the evidence, and accept the responsibility for making what could become a career-defining decision.


  1. Dear Commissioner Stern,

    I was referred to you by Mara Waldman, who I met in Riverside Park yesterday, June 2. She came up to me as I was sitting on a bench in the Firemen's Memorial Island, near 103rd Street, crying. I was crying because the Parks Department had come into the area where I have been volunteering for the past 4 1/2+ years, and weed-whacked a large swath of groundcover, including new hellebore plants which had just been put in (by me) the day before. Ms. Waldman was kind enough to ask me if I needed a friend, and was then kind enough to listen and view the damage that had been done. Her little dog Jasmina was a big help, too.

    I have been volunteering in NYC Parks since 1991. I began in the Broadway Malls, and in fact met you when I was awarded a grant to improve the Malls I worked in. I was pushed out of the Broadway Malls by the Broadway Malls Association and Commissioner Castro, for reasons which only they know (money).

    I then went to volunteer with the Riverside Park Fund, as a ParkTender. I take care of the upper area of the Firemen's Memorial Island, from 101st St. to 103rd St. I have put in over 200 hours annually (including winter) and have made substantial and recognized improvements to the area. I have the Park Users to vouch for that.

    However, over the years I have worked in Riverside Park, I have repeatedly had to deal with the Parks Department personnel coming in and destroying work I have done; plants and trees, groundcover plantings, and many other things. I have never been given a good or valid reason for these interventions and destruction; all I've been told is "overly zealous Parks employee."

    Commissioner, I don't know if you can help me, or if you can refer me to someone who can. Riverside Park Fund, with which I volunteer directly, always says "We can't do anything about what Parks does." Parks management says "We can't tell employees which areas are cared for by volunteers."

    Does the Parks Department want volunteers out in the parks of NYC or not? It seems to me at this point, if all of the volunteers and volunteer organizations were to withdraw from the City's Parks, the parks would simply fall apart, and in short order, as there is no real Parks budget.

    If you could give me some advice as to how to get Parks personnel to stop destroying my work (all of which is within Parks guidelines, as determined by Margaret Bracken), or give me a name of someone to speak with, I would greatly appreciate it. Ms. Waldman thought you would be able to help, and I hope you can.

    If you would ever like a "tour" of my little green acre, I would be delighted to walk you through it. We have lots of nature going on, including bats and nesting cardinals!

    Barbara E. Morgan
    Riverside Park

  2. PS: I'm sorry my comment doesn't relate to the blog entry; I'll try to stay on topic in the future.