Protect Vendor’s Rights

Written by admin on . Posted in Opinion and Column.

To the Editor:

Aren’t you glad that highly paid City Council members can dedicate so much time to writing and passing laws aimed at one person? I guess New York City is otherwise in very good shape that there is nothing more important for these two “public servants” to do.

This proposed law is also 100 percent unenforceable. Are the police going to stake out every vending stand with a stopwatch, or just arrest and summons thousands of vendors as a form of harassment, regardless of how long their stand was unattended?

Is there even one Council member who is not a paid flunky of the Business Improvement Districts and real estate industry? Are any not enemies of free speech?

Robert Lederman
President of A.R.T.I.S.T. (Artists’ Response To Illegal State Tactics)

Letters have been edited for clarity, style and brevity.

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  • Sam Katz

    I was surprised by Robert Lederman’s desperate and insulting response to Gale Brewer’s efforts to help clean up our neighborhood’s problematic street conditions. Lederman has one self-serving agenda: his own. If only his talent and his intellect were as large as his super-sized ego!

    I’m also surprised he would reference me, since we’ve never met and in the 15 years I’ve been involved with the 20th Precinct Community Council, Lederman has never once attended any of our community meetings, so he has no idea that complaints about Kirk are from grass-roots residents, not real estate concerns.

    But Lederman’s so blinded by what he thinks is First Amendment absolutism, that he’s also grossly out of touch with artists’ rights issues. I’m a great fan and champion of artists and their rights, and if Lederman truly was concerned, he would note the huge number of street vendors who are selling illegally reproduced and copyright infringed materials, stealing millions from the photographers and graphic designers who created the works. Lederman’s so full of himself, apparently he hasn’t noticed, and he continues to champion the thieves’ right to hawk their fraudulent wares.

    Sam Katz

  • Ian Alterman

    Methinks Bob Lederman protests too much.

    First, the proposed law does not single out one person: it is meant to deal with a growing problem – permanent and semi-permanent vendor “encampments.” Second, re enforceability, it is not about vendors who leave to go to the bathroom, get a meal, etc. It is about not permitting overnight storage of property on public streets. Setting aside that it is illegal to use the sidewalks for private storage, the conditions these encampments create are dangerous to pedestrians and the public health.

    Mr. Lederman’s comment about legislators having “nothing better to do” is standard whenever a single-issue person doesn’t like something that a legislature is doing. Similarly, his comment about legislators being “flunkies” for BIDs or real estate interests. As for his comment about “enemies of free speech,” this, too, is an old and tired accusation: Mr. Lederman has obviously never researched the actual free speech positions of the Council members who support the legislation; if he did, he would find that many Council members have been tireless advocates of free speech issues. Instead, Mr. Lederman takes a “sour grapes” approach since they simply don’t agree with HIM.

    Finally, Mr. Lederman has never said one word about vendors who are out of compliance, and their obligations to be IN compliance. It is estimated that over 75% of street vendors are out of compliance in at least one regard, and over 50% in more than one regard. Indeed, as Mr. Lederman himself pointed out at a City Hall hearing (attended by both Ms. Katz and myself) at which some Council members suggested that the current regs are convoluted, complicated, etc., the basic regs are actually quite simple: vendors (including first amendment and vets) are permitted to take up a single 8′x3′ space, parallel to the curb’, no more than 18″ from the curb, with all materials displayed at least 24″ above the ground (but not more than 5′ above the ground), with prices clearly marked. Those are the basics. Yet 75% of street vendors do not even comply with THESE regs, much less the additional, more detailed regs.

    I will take Mr. Lederman far more seriously when he is ready to clean up his OWN act, and the act of those for whom he claims to speak.

    Ian Alterman