2007-04-25 / Editorials

Don't Hit Taxpayers

A copy of the following letter was received by the Gazette. Kevin Burke Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Consolidated Edison, Inc. 4 Irving Place New York, NY 10003 Dear Mr. Burke,

I write to request that you ensure Con Edison's actions do not deprive its ratepayers of tens of millions of dollars to which they would otherwise be entitled. specifically, I ask that Con Edison agree to avoid using ratepayer subsidies to finance its repairs of the Long Island City network following the 2006 blackout in Queens.

As you know, pursuant to an earnings sharing agreement, Con Edison is required to return 50 percent of its excess earnings to ratepayers when it earns more than 11.4 percent on its investment in a given year and 75% of the excess when earnings exceed 13 percent. While figures for 2006 are not yet revealed, this threshold was easily surpassed in 2005 and information from Con Edison filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission indicate that 2006 was a more successful year for your company than 2005.

You stated on many occasions that Con Edison invested at least $90 million to repair and upgrade the Long Island City network following last year's disaster. If, as expected, Con Edison earnings exceed 11.4 percent of its investment for 2006 by more than $90 million, at least $45 million of this money would normally be returned to ratepayers by force of law. In other words, if you intend to deduct this $90 million cost from your total earnings, at least half of the repairs and upgrades to the Long Island City network would actually be paid by ratepayers despite the fact that numerous investigations and reports revealed that Con Edison's failure to properly maintain and invest in its infrastructure was the single largest cause of the outage.

I understand we have many disagreements, but the offensiveness of charging your victims tens of millions of dollars to repair the damage Con Edison caused is obvious to anyone. Accordingly, I must insist that you stop adding insult to injury and agree to shoulder the complete burden of the repairs and upgrades to the Long Island City network.

If Con Edison has any sense of decency or any hope of restoring even a shred of public confidence in its operations, you must begin taking steps to show that you comprehend the magnitude of what occurred and accept your share of the responsibility for it. Until that occurs, New Yorkers are left to wonder why an unaccountable monopoly like yours is allowed to run amuck and the case for significant and aggressive reform of your business will be clearer than ever.

I anxiously await your reply. Sincerely yours, Michael N. Gianaris Member of Assembly, 36th District Astoria Less Is Better To The Editor:

Our informed citizens are bombarded for their daily news by the media from TV, newspaper articles (mostly subjective) with descriptive terms of individual persons such as left wing, right wing extremist, ultra right, liberal, conservative, Democrat or Republican, but we never hear of the Americanist Movement. Maybe it's the Silent Majority.

And just what is the Americanist Movement? It is those ideals as exemplified by The John Birch Society, whose philosophy and credo is less government, more individual responsibility and with God's help- a better world.

"Education is our total strategy and truth is our only weapon", quotation by Robert Welch, founder of the John Birch Society named after Captain John Birch, U.S. Army an American war hero murdered by the Chinese Communists in liberated China in 1945.

For those who believe in a Constitutional Republic as conceived by the Founding Fathers with limited government and State Rights, not a Democracy (which is mob rule), that is the Americanist Movement. Sincerely, a concerned citizen, Michael Hellman Briarwood

Gore's Energy Excesses To The Editor:

Democratic Party strategist James Carville is absolutely certain that Al Gore will run for president in 2008.

If the former vice president does indeed throw his hat into the ring, he will surely run headlong into the news that his Tennessee mansion consumes 20 times the amount of energy used by the average American household.

Fresh from winning an Oscar for his documentary "An Inconvenient Truth", Gore continues to insist that the earth is warming and those of us who burn fossil fuels are the culprits. As a candidate, however, Gore will likely discover that the inconvenient truth for him is the excessive use of energy in his own sumptuous home. Very truly yours, Janet McCarthy Flushing

Thanks For Lottery Story To The Editor:

Thanks [to Dan Miller] for covering our winner press event at Shea Stadium as we introduced the Lottery's newest millionaires, Gilberto Bueno and Nelsy Pena of Queens County.

Your continued coverage of Lottery press conferences and events not only makes the public aware of the fact that people really do win Lottery games, but also reinforces the Lottery's sole purpose- to raise money for primary and secondary education in New York state.

I sincerely appreciate your continued interest in the New York Lottery. Sincerely, Robert J. McLaughlin Director New York Lottery

Imus Isn't So Bad To The Editor:

Student Lifeline for almost two decades (since 1988), has been providing free and unlimited emergency rides to students, battered children and women escaping life-threatening incidents, especially among minorities and indigent families here in the Northeast.

We recently learned of major sponsors withdrawing support of the Don Imus Show and NBC's decision to discontinue television broadcasting on MSNBC due to Imus's recent offensive remarks on the air.

Though we are sympathetic to the target of his very unfortunate remarks, we also understand Imus has profusely stated his genuine apologies which we feel should be sufficient for the act, especially since it was a typical parody routine for which he is noted. This doesn't excuse his personalized mischaracterization of these young ladies; however, it does explain what Imus and his show have always been recognized for, irreverent spoofs and meaningful issues, combined.

What we feel is wrong here is that Imus is being blamed for centuries of black and white discord in this country, which is not of his sole creation or personal responsibility. The self-appointed spokesmen on this issue also beg the real issue at hand and the true intent of their involvement, I'm afraid.

Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton have their own history of divisive behavior as well as noted moral challenges and should not be the ones setting the agenda on this more serious matter respecting the people of this nation.

Many current and past TV, radio, magazine articles, music and other products forced on our society by greed-mongers should also, especially now, be put under the microscope. We should determine their flaws and harmful messages degrading not only women but many others not properly represented in these current actions.

As a means to address what Student Lifeline feels is the bigger problem, we will be contacting PTA and youth groups throughout the United States to form a positive action alliance to further inspect the entire media and entertainment industry, where the public airways and commercial sponsors should be held to a higher standard, one which Imus is presently being denied to accomplish.

Shows like "Saturday Night Live", BET specials, HBO specials, "MAD TV" are just a few that we believe, along with "gangsta rap", should be reviewed and acted upon. The recommended action should be the boycotting of sponsors who support these mediums and an outcry for the firing of each and every responsible actor involved in this disgraceful activity, as Imus must face in his unfortunate infractions.

We would request that you seriously ponder the consequences that the three white Duke students must face throughout their entire lives as a result of false criminal charges, fueled by political expediency in one instance and racial exploitation in the other by both the media and so-called "civil rights leaders". Said leaders refuse to even acknowledge their responsibilities by apology. These young men have a far greater stigma to overcome [than] that which may have been created by Don Imus in his unfortunate remarks to the Rutgers women's basketball team, I assure you.

Double standards of practice will never achieve a cure to our racial problems in this country; it will only aid to create a greater divide. Very truly yours, Richard Signarino President, Chief Executive Officer Student Lifeline, Inc.

Toscano Right On Budget To The Editor:

As usual, "A Look At First 100 Days of Spitzer/Cuomo" (I On Politics by John Toscano-- April 11) was on target. Passage of the new state budget was a terrible April Fools joke at taxpayers' expense. It confirms that the three-way dance in Albany goes on. Democratic Governor Spitzer's quote, "Everything changes on day one" is null and void. The same financial mismanagement that occurred under previous GOP Governor Pataki's three terms with the assistance of GOP Senate Majority Leader Bruno and Democratic Assembly Speaker Silver continues.

Governor Spitzer's budget increases spending to $121 billion dollars or 8 percent above the rate of inflation. There will still be hundreds of millions of dollars in pork barrel member item projects. Republican Senate Majority Leader Bruno wants to spend even more! Members of the legislature voted at midnight with no time to read any budget details. Will no one stand up and be the voice of reason and represent taxpayers?

Why should the cost of state government consistently go up each year? They should automatically adopt last year's budget and spending levels. Real fiscal reform restricts any new spending below the rate of inflation.

An honest budget has no fiscal gimmicks such as one-shot revenues, excessive bonding (whose short term benefits are offset by usur[ious] interest payments several times their value) or hidden offline expenses under quasi-independent agencies. There are several hundred such agencies whose budgets are subject to limited oversight by both the legislature and Comptroller [Thomas P.] DiNapoli. The budget should be written in the King's English so ordinary citizens can understand what is going on.

Albany needs to return to the old fashion[ed] pay-as-[you]-go financial management. In the long run, this is the only way to introduce fiscal responsibility and reduce debt. Sincerely, Larry Penner Great Neck, New York

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