2001-05-02 / Editorials

Letters

No Water Rate Hike!

A copy of the following letter was received by the Gazette.

Mark R. Hellerer

Chairman

New York City Water Board

One Lefrak City Plaza

59-17 Junction Boulevard, 8th Floor

Corona, NY 11368-5107

Re: Proposed Water and Wastewater Rates

Dear Chairman Hellerer:

This year the Water Board is again asking for an increase in water and sewer rates that will once again fall as an unnecessary burden on our borough’s large population of low-income homeowners and our large elderly population on fixed incomes.

Water and sewer service is a basic service, one on which every resident relies. To summarily institute a 3.5 percent increase on rates that have gone up a staggering 55.3 percent in the last 10 years on all homeowners is an inflexible gesture.

No homeowner can do without water service, and if that homeowner’s meager income is spent on the ever-increasing costs of utilities at the expense of food, clothing and other essential items, then we must reconsider the intelligence of the rate policy.

While I understand the need to cover existing debt service and the increased cost of the operation and management of the extensive water and sewer system, you and I both know that a more modest increase will more than cover these costs without doing irreparable economic damage to our poor and senior residents. There appears to be no outward justification for this increase other than overly prudent and frankly inconsiderate forecasting of the Water Finance Authority’s future obligations.

The annual justification that state and federally mandated services are to blame for the regular increase begins to sound tired when, year after year, our bills increase while we read in the WFA’s Blue Book that the "System has a reasonable financial margin of safety this year." It is essential that you remember that margin of safety is built on the Social Security checks and the minimum wage earnings of Queens’ most vulnerable homeowners. If there must be any rate increase this year—once again due to "mandated services"— I strongly urge you to consider a much lower increase that, while still an inordinate burden for many, will not be the final straw in a decades-long trend of insensitive rate increases from utilities.

Thank you.

Sincerely,

Claire Shulman

President

Borough of Queens

Don’t Politicize Schools

To The Editor:

Easter Sunday was a day for visiting family and friends. Our family gathering took place in the town of Sayreville, New Jersey. Along the streets of this metropolitan adjunct for the Big Apple were numerous signs and placards. They read; "Save Public Education" and "Save our Public Schools." It was obvious that this enterprising and thinking part of Americana, was reacting to President [George W.] Bush’s anti public school education policies.

New York City citizens have responded in like fashion. Their vote against the Edison Corporation’s blatant attempt to privatize our vaunted public education system is a proud moment in our history. The corporate heads and entrepreneurial stockholders of these anti public school corporations have suffered a grievous rejection. Their attempt to demonize our schools with the support of our mayor, our Schools Chancellor and our New York City Board of Education only resulted in a sheer drop in the value of their stock holdings.

Investors should be aware of the dangers involved in trifling with public domain issues.

Paradoxically, the members of the New York City Board of Education, appointed by the mayor and borough presidents, have caved in to their main responsibilities, that of advancing the cause of public education. These members have decided to subvert their mission of providing a proper course of learning for our children by attempting to dismantle our public school system. Incongruous as it may seem, their oath of office is at odds with their abhorrent action, designed to nullify our public school advances.

Politicizing our New York City Board of Education can only confuse and retard the advancement of our educational goals.

Term limits have given New York City citizens the power to place into an office of public trust only those candidates who pledge to "Save Public Education" and "Save our Public School System."

Chet Szarejko

Democratic District Leader

Bayside/Little Neck

Use Community Boards!

A copy of the following letter was received by the Gazette.

The Honorable Mayor Giuliani

Office of the Mayor

City Hall

New York, NY 10007

Dear Honorable Mayor Giuliani:

As you know, community boards are comprised of communities within their boundaries, i.e. Community Board 9 Queens, includes Woodhaven, Kew Gardens, parts of Richmond Hill and Ozone Park. The borough president appoints members to the board from within each area. These individuals are civic-minded individuals that are often members of local block, civic and fraternal organizations. They are aware of the services rendered by the district office and should encourage their respective organization to use these services.

The delivery of city services within a community board district is the charter-mandated responsibility of the community board. The board’s district office is designed and equipped specifically for this purpose. Therefore, local civic, block associations and elected officials should avail themselves of the district office. When they do not, duplicate and triplicate service requests are unknowingly sent to agencies. This is a waste of taxpayer dollars and agency manpower. In this time of fiscal responsibility, any duplication must be eliminated.

We therefore request that all agency heads inform constituents that the proper avenue for their request is their local community board. The board will properly process their complaint and follow it up for them.

Thank you for your attention to this matter. Questions or comments may be directed our district manager, Mary Ann Carey, at (718) 286-2686.

Sincerely,

Paul Sapienza

Chairperson

Earth Day: Much Undone

To the Editor:

Sunday, April 22 was the 31st anniversary of Earth Day. On this occasion it is appropriate to take a look back and celebrate the strides we have made, locally and nationally, in the protection of our environment. It is also a time for a sobering look ahead —to consider the daunting amount of work still left to do to address our current environmental problems.

Our environmental investment over the last 30 years has yielded tremendous dividends. We as a nation must always be mindful of that. More important—and this is the real lesson of Earth Day—we must ensure that our elected representatives at all levels of government remain mindful of that, too. Unfortunately, Congressional leaders and many members of Congress, some of whom are too young to remember the environmental insults that led to the first Earth Day, have in recent years been intent on dismantling our environmental laws. For our children’s sake, we must not let them.

In addition, President George W. Bush’s recent anti-environmental actions regarding arsenic standards in drinking water, CO2 emissions from power plants, the Kyoto Global Warming Treaty, energy exploration in the Arctic National Refuge, drastic cuts in the EPA’s proposed budget and the imposition of a moratorium on a citizen’s right to sue the federal government to win protection for endangered species have placed the president and his administration squarely on the side of those who would liquidate our natural resources for cash.

Unfortunately, this kind of thinking is not limited to Washington. There are like-minded members of the state legislature and in local governments throughout the state. Do you know where the people that represent you—or are running for office to represent you—stand on the environment?

Remember, we face many environmental challenges right here in Queens: the siting of new power plants, the protection of our drinking water supply, developing a West Nile virus response strategy that emphasizes proactive mosquito control methods over reactive spraying of pesticides, the elimination of soot-spewing and asthma-causing diesel buses, improving the water quality of our beaches, bays, lakes and wetlands, the cleanup of toxic waste sites; the protection of our children from lead paint hazards and decreasing air and noise pollution from our airports.

If we want a government that will step up to the environmental challenges of the new millennium, the electorate must make it known that it celebrates Earth Day twice a year—once on April 22nd, and once again on Election Day.

Jim Gennaro

President,

Jamaica Estates Homeowners Association


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