As we look at the tragedy [of] the Little Neck Bay boating accident we grieve for the lives that were lost last week. Our hearts go out to the families of George Lawrence Jr. of Little Neck and John Kondogianis of Elmont. Also let’s not forget Robert Arnold who lost a friend who was like a brother to him.
We can’t help but wonder, though, what could have been done to prevent such an accident from occurring again. We must look at the big picture and appreciate the true depth of the situation and that is we need to have greater respect for the sea as we have for the land. For the sea can be a merciless adversary that has no pity on the unsuspecting travelers. As a Navy veteran I know all too well the dangers of the sea.
I also believe that to reduce the fatalities on the waters the passengers should wear life jackets as well as the crew. Also I favor a state Assembly bill that is being introduced that requires anyone under the age 18 to have a safety certificate to operate a boat.
As we take an overview of boating accidents and fatalities, according to Chris Edmonston of the Boat Foundation which is the maritime equivalent of the Automobile Association of America, "While only 10 of the 162 boating fatalities in New York state between 1995 and 2000 were alcohol related, alcohol plays a large part in accidents and intoxication is a big problem."
This is another issue we must look at and come up with stricter enforcement and maybe require classes on the effects of drinking and boating.
Although this was not the case in this accident on Little Neck Bay, on a larger scale it seems this might be the case in other fatalities and must be dealt with or more lives will be lost.
If you agree please write to your state representative and maybe we can change the rules and save lives.
Frederick R. Bedell Jr.
Settle Strike Now!
A copy of the following letter was received by the Gazette.
Dear Mayor Bloomberg:
I am writing to you on behalf of Queens residents who are regular customers of the buses in Astoria and throughout Queens. The bus strike by employees of Triboro Coach, Queens Surface and Jamaica Bus Lines is seriously disrupting the lives of many of our constituents.
As you are aware, many New Yorkers depend on the service of these buses to get them through their daily routines. These people are inconvenienced at best, and at worst, are unable to get to work as a result of this strike. Queens residents were patient in the first few days of the strike, but the continuing lack of service is becoming unacceptable.
I urge you to do whatever you can to help resolve this ongoing crisis. Essential services are being withheld from New Yorkers. Please exercise your leadership to ensure that these services are once again provided.
Thank you for your attention to this important matter.
Michael N. Gianaris
Assemblymember, 36th District
Bring Bus Lines Into MTA
A copy of the following letter was received by the Gazette
Metropolitan Transportation Authority
Peter S. Kalikow, Chairman
347 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10017
Dear Chairman Kalikow:
As of this writing, three private bus lines in Queens County have been on strike for a period of one month. Over 100,000 residents and numerous businesses have been adversely affected by this labor dispute.
In the time it takes for this letter to reach your desk this crisis may be resolved, but the underlying cause will remain. As a former member of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) for over 26 years I can tell you that the structure of the private bus franchise system in Queens County is an unsustainable one. As you are aware, the private bus industry in Queens does not receive any long-term public funding. The private bus industry is ill served by a system in which the company does not know how much long-term financial support will be provided or what kind of equipment, if any, the city will purchase for them. They also do not have the power to decide what bus routes they will or will not provide to commuters in the future. This system makes typical business planning virtually impossible. This structure has subjected commuters not only to poor service, but often no service whatsoever and no alternate means of transportation. The time for a public takeover of the private bus lines in Queens County is long overdue.
Placing the private bus lines within the New York City Transit Authority will create a favorable situation for all parties involved. I firmly believe workers will receive a better wage-benefit package and most assuredly job security with the MTA. The commuting public, due to the differing structure of the MTA will receive better service, better equipment and a work force regulated by New York state guidelines.
Your commitment to the public takeover of private bus lines in Queens is imperative at this time. Your initiative will make a public takeover inevitable and could end this strike regardless of outstanding contractual issues. MTA ownership will place private bus line workers on the road to parity with public transit workers. Your leadership and vision at this time will not only resolve a labor dispute in the short term, but will address the long-term public transportation crisis for the people of Queens County.
Member of the 38th Assembly District