A copy of the following letter was received by the Gazette.
U.S. Representative Carolyn B. Maloney
2430 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515-3214
Dear U.S. Representative Carolyn B. Maloney:
As your constituent, and a voter, I am writing to ask you to please oppose any legislation or plan that will in any way harm the benefits, structure, or traditional role of Social Security or Medicare. Efforts to privatize Medicare through premium support or Social Security through private individual account will undermine the principles that made these programs so successful.
As you know, President Roosevelt and Congress created Social Security in 1935 to protect retired Americans from experiencing a "...poverty-ridden old age." And America’s more than 30 million seniors have invested their hard-earned money in Social Security and Medicare during their long working lives.
Social Security and Medicare represent a covenant between the government and its citizens. I therefore stand against plans to privatize either of these programs in any way that will harm or diminish these critically important protections against poverty and sickness.
One of my top priorities as a citizen and voter is the protection of Social Security and Medicare for all current and future retirees. Among your top priorities as my elected representative should be the defeat of privatization and other proposals that threaten our retirement security.
I beg you to preserve Social Security and Medicare to protect the benefits we have worked for, paid for, and earned.
Long Island City
Editor’s Note: Aguero suggests that Gazette readers send similar letters to their representatives in both Houses of Congress.
Pact Is 1st Step
To The Editor:
The warming of U.S. and Libyan relations is positive. Years of sanctions, hundreds of millions of dollars in costs to Khadafy, and the consequences of being blacklisted as a terrorist state have had the desired effect. Libya will benefit from economic investment and the hope by democracies throughout the world that this is an embryonic light which may become the means by which an Arabic nation may begin participation with the realities of the 21st century.
The realities also consist of confirmation that Libya was fully involved in attempting to achieve weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Regardless of the sanctions and monitoring by the world, Khadafy’s regime was able to deceive the powers of the status of the Libyan endeavors. It is fair to assume that Khadafy realized that the risks of pursuing WMD were not worth the possible benefits. American occupation of Iraq had to assure Khadafy that the U.S. would act if his program became known, or was perceived as constituting a threat to U.S. security.
To view Khadafy as anything more than a disciple of Saddam Hussein would be a foolish misjudgment. Khadafy acted for his own good and not as a reformist who suddenly saw the light. Khadafy, and others who share his values, can always be counted on to betray, lie and to sell out to the highest bidder. Khadafy has an agenda, and that includes harm to the U.S. and the West.
It is strikingly peculiar that in Iraq no WMD have been found, though the Administration swore that our military invasion was based on their existence. Libya revealed its WMD for its own purposes, and there seems little question that all, or most of their program was unknown to us. It represents another intelligence failure.
The U.S. should understand the game being played by Khadafy and not embellish Libya as anything other than a viper willing to strike us when it suits their purposes. In Libya we can learn much. Our education will occur not only through cooperation and trading of information but by attempting to comprehend the mind and motivation of a mass killer. Perhaps by studying Khadafy, we may begin to learn the lessons of the region and of its many leaders that so far have eluded us.
To The Editor:
Four weeks ago, on Sunday, Dec. 14, 2003, a family consisting of a mother and her two children burned to death in their home in a preventable tragedy. No, this wasn’t more of the "collateral damage" from [President] George [W.] Bush’s invasion and occupation of Iraq, nor was this part of the insane "war of attrition" between the Israelis and Palestinians. Rather, this terrible event happened right here in Queens, in what was once a two-family house, reportedly illegally converted to house five families with insufficient exits, where Rebecca Harden, her six-year-old son Sander, and her 10-year-old daughter Audrey, died so horribly. I have read some news stories calling this an accident, but I think it was homicide, and am appalled that to date the authorities have done nothing to punish those responsible for these deaths. Why have there been no indictments?
Sander and Audrey both attended P.S. 122 in Astoria, where my daughter is a teacher, and each year I go in to play Santa Clause just before Christmas. Following the memorial service for the Harden family, attended by hundreds of people from the school and community, I was cautioned to expect some children might ask questions about how Sander and Audrey could get their presents this year, but fortunately none of the kids asked this of Santa. While putting on my Santa suit in the teacher’s room, however, I could see the large blue tarp over the burnt-out Harden home, two block away, which many children pass by daily.
This past week I read how Assemblyman Michael Gianaris wants an investigation about the illegal conversion of the house where the Hardens died into the firetrap it became. Thank you, Mr. Gianaris, but I’ll go one step further and ask for the indictment and trial of all those involved, including: 1. The owners of the house, 2. The contractors who made the illegal conversion, 3. Those in the Building Department who did nothing to enforce the laws about this illegal conversion, 4. Anyone in the Fire Department who knew about the conversion, and 5. Even our "buck-stops here" Mayor [Michael] Bloomberg, for not protecting residents.
All zoning, housing and building laws should immediately be enforced in New York City, before there are other preventable tragedies, such as what happened to the Hardens!
Pans Power Plants
To The Editor:
I agree with the articles that were published in the Gazette of December 17. Power plants must not be constructed in Astoria. We already have unhealthy air and so many children and adults suffer from asthma and other respiratory diseases. Queens is the unhealthy capital of air pollution already and we do not need any more suffering and pollution. Alternative sources of energy must be developed.
I am also not in favor of using roof tops of buildings for cell phone towers. There may be a connection between cell phone radiation and brain cancer. We do not want children who play in front of their buildings and people who walk by rooftops to suffer more radiation damage. It seems to me that with the advent of more technology, more pollutants are being emitted and they are unhealthy.
I thank the Gazette for pointing up these very important issues that have a negative impact upon our lives.
Long Island City
Survivors Should Pick
To The Editor:
Thirteen detached jurors should not be the ones to pick the design for the World Trade Center memorial. Those who have lost a loved one should be the ones to choose and determine the final design. Contacts should be sent immediately to those involved. Only then will this memorial breathe life into the place where their loved one perished.