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Look past organized crime allegation

I recently had the opportunity to meet and be interviewed by Jordan Green from YES! Weekly, and must say that I am overall very happy with the article [“Benbassat, an international champion for urban Greensboro (online version)”; by Jordan Green; Aug. 19, 2009] although feel the need to clarify some things in light of their reporting my possible connection to organized crime. In the article, Mr. Green states that “Benbassat’s purist attitude towards politics contrasts with what some may see as a troubling association with organized crime. “The candidate was employed for a short time by a catering hall in Queens, NY that was alleged by the New York Daily News to be skimming money for the Gambino crime family and he ran an Italo-Argentine import business that associated with some people who were indirectly involved with organized crime in New York City.” He later goes on to include my statement in response: “‘The allegations connecting me to organized crime in New York or anywhere, for that matter, are false,’ Benbassat told YES! Weekly.” I applaud Jordan’s work on this article for being objective, and am very happy that he included my statement, because the fact of the matter is, quite simply, that I am not involved with anything of that nature, despite my past loose associations and/ or friendships with people that may have been involved. I’ve been reading people’s blogs discussing Mr Green’s articles, and hope they can look past this and instead focus on the issues brought up, for example, my stance on a better controlled growth of our city, there is too much sprawl and this is not good; the mention of my stance and ideas on expanding urban green space, etc.

Max Benbassat, Greensboro

The writer is an at-large candidate for Greensboro City Council.

Omnibus lamentTo Mr. Charles Womack,Where’s Ogi? I read the YES! Weekly on aregular basis, and I’ll even go down to thepost office to get a copy if I don’t see onewhile I’m out and about around town.’I think I missed a week or two, then Ipicked up a copy and looked all throughthe paper for Ogi’s column and it wasn’tthere. I really miss it. I haven’t even botheredto read what’s there now, it’s just notthe same. Well, actually, I glanced at what’sthere now, but passed on giving it anyserious attention. I mean, if you’d replacedhim with Maureen Dowd I’d probablyread that. And while I’m here: Chuck Norris?C’mon now, be serious.Ogi has a unique viewpoint that shouldbe expressed in a local paper. His topicswere relevant, sometimes funny and alwaysinteresting. I’d look for his page first,then I’d read the rest of the paper. Now I’llglance at it, read Jordan Green and BrianClarey, but I’m still wondering what happenedto Ogi? I thought there might evenbe a note or an explanation… if there wasone printed I missed it.So, I just wanted to say that I missreading his articles, and was wonderingwhy I haven’t seen him in your paper thatseemed to be such a perfect forum forhim to say what he has to say!Thanks for your time.Sue Karlok Lasine, GreensboroEditor replies: Ogi Overman’s column,Omnibus, hasn’t run in YES! Weekly inabout a year — though he did write lastweek’s cover story. He is currently theeditor of the Jamestown News, whichkeeps him appreciably busy.Not exactly carefreeTo whom it may concern:I am a member of the Greensboro ElkLodge, on Aug. 1 we had our 5th annualCamp Carefree Charity Ride. You sent outNneka Davis to cover the story. Well let’sjust say the members of the GreensboroElks Lodge are not happy with the socalled“blurb” (four lines and some pictureis hardly a story) in your Aug. 5 paper.First of all Plum Krazy’s did not put onthis ride — the only thing they did wasallowed us to hold our raffle for two minibikes and a TV there (which they donatedthe TV), but that’s all. For five years thelodge has put together a committee(which I sit on) and we get the donationstogether and lay out the ride, do theregistration at the lodge on the day ofthe ride, along with feed the riders beforethey take off. But most of all your “blurb”doesn’t even tell the reason for the ride.In this day and time people are looking tohear about the positive and just like all theother papers, TV and radio you do not getthe concept of that either. Over the pastfive years, we have raised over $90,000 forkids with cancer or other disabilities andtheir siblings that have cancer to go to acamp for a week for free and be as closeto normal and do normal activities aspossible.We would greatly appreciate if you hadthe story redone the proper way.Sincerely,Bonnie Van Steen, Greensboro