In this week's Village Voice there is a letter written in response to a previous story that was done on Nick Sprayregen, and his vocal opposition to the Columbia expansion. The letter, written by someone claiming to be a religious figure and community resident (isn't it interesting how all of the so-called proponents of Columbia refer to the neighborhood as "Manhattanville," just like their paymasters?) attacks Nick for being a businessman and not a community resident.
What's fascinating in the Reverend Williams' letter is how closely it hews to the scurrilous flyer that Bill Lynch's army of homeless guys were giving out at a recent community meeting. But Williams is claiming to the Voice that he represents, "...an extensive coalition of businesses, landowners, religious leaders and concerned individuals who support Columbia University's Manhattanvile proposal."
Where is this coalition, and if it exists in such an extensive form, why is it resorting to anonymous flyers and character assassination against a local businessman who doesn't want Columbia (you know that friendly and only community-minded West Harlem neighbor) to make off with his property? Williams, or whoever he is, than goes on to ask about Sprayregen: "Who, and what does he really represent?
First this guy tries to defame NS as a rich interloper, a builder, he says, of luxury condos in Yonkers. Then he goes on to say that Nick is trying to use his wealth to make himself the face of the opposition to Columbia. If all what these folks are saying about Sprayregen was true, they should welcome him as the poster child of the opposition since he is only a businessman, not a resident; and after all he only has worked and employed local residents, while servicing neighborhood needs for around thirty years which should certainly disqualify him from any voice in the expansion proposal. The fact is, that Sprayregen is only one voice among thousands who disapprove of the CU scam.
It is time that the sewer rats came out of their tunnels and openly admitted their role in all of these attempts to deligitimize Nick. The reason they can't is that their extensive coalition-a coalition of the bribed and bought-is no such thing; and pales before the real community coalition of Coalition to Preserve Community and CB#9. After all, if the Reverend Williams was part of any mass movement here, there would never been any unanimous vote in favor of the 197-a plan and, therefore against the CU plan, at the community board.
Nick Sprayregen is being targeted in typical scapegoat fashion because the Columbia expansion has so little community support-it simply lacks any of the ingredients needed to legitimately attract local enthusiasm. The more that the paid proponents of CU can focus on Nick, the less attention paid to the weaknesses of the plan itself.
A good strategy in another context perhaps, but not in West Harlem where the locals have been on to the Columbia game for years. The use of these tactics, however, speaks volumes about the integrity of this poison ivy league institution.