When our dear readers write in, City Room listens. Through December 28 of this year, you submitted 97,724 comments (93,094 were approved) on the 3,403 posts we published. But only a handful were chart toppers on the comment boards.
When two writers with opposing views weighed in about people and their pets — one who had such separation anxiety that she finagled a prescription for a service dog and another who groaned at what she called bored, childless adults who treat their animal as a next-of-kin — a lively discussion ensued.
Another Complaint Box railing against couples smooching in public brought out the Europhiles and romantics who defended the practice. But others disagreed. “The sight of couples performing mutual tonsillectomy in public,” as one reader described it, goes a bit far.
We received an outpouring of grief and memories on the ninth anniversary of 9/11, when thousands gathered in a park near ground zero. But even as they stood to hear the names of the dead read aloud, a vigorous debate ensued, a back and forth between readers discussing whether a mosque and Islamic community center should be built near ground zero.
On July 23, City Room got its hands on a doomsday plan for New York’s geese. A nine-page report put together by a variety of national, state and city agencies showed that officials hoped to eventually reduce the number of Canada geese in New York to 85,000 from 250,000. Roughly 170,000 geese would be eliminated, whether through gassing by the authorities, hunting or birth control.
When a mysterious vessel was unearthed at ground zero, archaeologists scurried about with tape measures over what appeared to be the floor planks of the ship’s lowermost deck, wrote David W. Dunlap. But we turned to you, the readers, in particular those with knowledge about boat-building or maritime history, for your insights. Was it a slave ship? A barge? A ferry of Dutch origin, perhaps? A “Moby Dick” reader who called himself Ishmael offered one explanation. So did a graduate from the Webb Institute, Simmy Willemann, who wrote:
The remains are probably prow planking and ribs from a Dutch warship, Tijger, sent to New York to purchase furs in 1613 under command of the Dutch explorer, Adrian Bloch. Cannons and wooden planks, presumably from Tijger, were unearthed when the original World Trade Center’s foundation was constructed.
Vessel Particulars: length = 80′, displacement = 130 tons, 6 1,500- to 1,600-pound cannons
“I’m surprised it didn’t get a parking ticket,” said one reader.
Read Mr. Dunlap’s follow up, which revealed the ship’s provenance.
In the aftermath of a ruckus at John F. Kennedy Airport when a JetBlue flight attendant fled the aircraft via the emergency slide to avoid a conflict with a rude passenger, a lawyer defended his actions. So did many of you. “Isn’t failing to obey the instructions of the plane crew an arrestable offense?” asked a reader. “I say that the passenger ought to be arrested, especially if she assaulted the flight attendant.”
On July 12, Prospect Park was the scene of a massive effort to capture and kill nearly 400 Canada geese and goslings as part of a plan to reduce the goose population in the region. Wildlife biologists and technicians descended on the park and netted the birds and carted them away. ‘Outrage!’ some cried; Good riddance, said others.
On June 23, a 5.0-magnitude earthquake struck north of Ottawa, but tremors were felt as far away as New York City. Turns out, plates did rattle, dogs did bark. Readers wrote in from London, Ontario; Ottawa, Canada; and Allegheny, N.Y.
On August 9, service employees who are familiar with serving ornery customers watched with glee and disbelief when Steven Slater, a JetBlue flight attendant, apparently upset with an uncooperative passenger on a just-landed flight, unleashed a profanity-laden tirade on the public address system, pulled the emergency-exit chute and slid off the plane, a beer in each hand.
The recent blizzard has caused commotion and anger among the city’s residents living on buried streets. We asked if your streets had been plowed. We were buried with comments.
On August 3, the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission voted 9-0 against granting historic protection to the building at 45-47 Park Place in Lower Manhattan, which cleared the way for the construction of Park51, a tower of as many as 15 stories that will house a mosque, a 500-seat auditorium and a pool. Although the debate over the mosque and its location was national, it struck a nerve with New Yorkers in particular. Some asked, Why not somewhere else? Others offered support.
“This is America, where you are free to practice religion of all kinds, and build your house of worship wherever any other could be built. What more fitting use for this land? The flag-wavers should be happy — not angry.”
Customers can be reluctant to fork over the customary 20% tip for excellent service. It’s not their fault if their employers don’t pay them a living wage, David Sax, a journalist and author, wrote in a Complaint Box — and in so doing lit a comment thread on fire. Some were tired of waiters expecting big tips for bad service; others — many of them current or past waiters — felt it was their due.
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