Meet a Man Who’s Really Steamed about Street Art

Peter Vallone, Jr., New York Daily News photo

Astoria, NY, City Councilman Peter Vallone, Jr., is in the news. His letter to the Brooklyn Museum, threatening to cut off the city’s $9 million funding, is believed to have been a factor in the museum’s decision to drop the MOCA-organized “Art in the Streets.” Vallone’s role isn’t coincidental. He has made a career as a graffiti hawk. Brooklyn director Arnold Lehman must have known that Vallone—also known as God’s gift to NY bloggers—isn’t a man to back down, once he gets hold of an issue.

• Vallone on the 2006 sentencing of Queens tagger Kiko: “This punk can scribble all the graffiti he wants — on the inside of his jail cell.”

• Vallone wrote New York’s law criminalizing the possession of Magic Markers by anyone under the age of 21.

• One thing Vallone hates as much as graffiti: pit bulls. He likewise connects the breed to gangs and said the city should ban pit bulls “before another child’s face is ripped off.” Vallone himself owns a Bichon Frise, “Gus Gus”—named after one of the mice in Cinderella.

• Vallone wrote a complicated dog leash law, “possibly the worst written law in the history of the City of New York,” that arguably makes it a crime to tie up a dog at a picnic.

• Vallone is also a water fluoridation hawk. In December he was planning to introduce a bill to remove fluoride from New York City’s water: “This is forced medication by the government. What’s next? They decide we’re depressed and add Prozac to our drinking water?”

I don’t mean to trivialize Vallone’s issues. Graffiti is a big problem, and pit bull attacks are a big problem. (Fluoridation, not so much.) We want our leaders to be able to look at the big picture — in this case, a ground-breaking art exhibit of particular resonance to New York — and to distinguish the important from the trivial, the rational concerns from the paranoid. Otherwise… (via Gothamist and Stanley Kubrick)

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