CITY OF NEW YORK
Manhattan Community Board 10
215 West 125th Street, 4th Floor— New York , NY 10027
T: 212-749-3105 F: 212-662-4215
August 18, 2011
I write on behalf of Manhattan Community Board 10 regarding the paper’s August 12, 2011 article by John Leland, entitled “A Summer Idyll, and Then Three Bullets.” We believe the article contained misinformation and unfairly portrayed Community Board 10, and request the paper correct the story.
The article described Community Board 10’s response to concerns about the shootings outside Morningside Park as dismissive and unconcerned. Mr. Leland elected to paraphrase an interaction with a receptionist in our office, likening it “to an earlier era when Harlem residents routinely complained about official neglect.” As an initial matter, a receptionist hardly qualifies as someone who should be quoted as a representative of Community Board 10, or any City agency. Furthermore, it concerns us greatly that Community Board 10 was not provided an opportunity to respond to this claim of official neglect and, in fact, Mr. Leland never contacted our office for the purpose of soliciting an official response, or for any purpose. Instead, Mr. Leland carelessly mislead readers into believing that Community Board 10 was neglectful of its duties to the community and somehow accepting of violence. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Community Board 10 takes the issue of public safety very seriously and works closely with the authorities and community to share information and take action. For more than five years, members of Community Board 10 have actively participated in regularly scheduled meetings with local precincts and other agencies — including, among others, the Parks Department, the Mayor’s Office of Community Affairs, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly’s Office, Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, and Friends of Morningside Park — to address the very issues Mr. Leland wrongly claims we neglect. Indeed, had Mr. Leland contacted our office, he would have learned that the July 13, 2011 meeting about which he reported was actually organized and sponsored by both Community Boards 9 and 10. In fact, Mr. Leland likely knew of Community Board 10’s efforts in this regard as he attempted to attend the meeting but was politely asked to leave as it was not open to the media. Perhaps his displeasure at having been refused entry explains his unfortunate mistreatment of Community Board 10.
Finally, the article highlights a pattern of reporting by the New York Times which consistently strives to paint Harlem in the worst possible light; while ignoring the hard work and effort of Board members and others who tirelessly have worked to promote positive change. For example, while the shooting was a serious matter that warranted attention, Mr. Leland ignored the fact that crime is at a historic low in Harlem and, in particular, in Morningside Park. Mr. Leland also failed to report that Community Board 10’s efforts at promoting public safety are precisely what permitted the recent construction of the playground featured in the article, and the renovation of the entire Park.
We welcome the opportunity to meet with the Times to discuss all of the positive changes that are happening everyday in Harlem, and hope the paper will consider reporting on our many successes, instead of only routinely highlighting what it perceives to be our shortcomings. If you need any further information, please do not hesitate to contact me at 212-749-3105.
Paimaan Lodhi, District Manager, Manhattan Community Board 10