2007-11-28 / Editorials

Letters to the Editor

Obama's Time Not Now To The Editor:

The 2008 presidential election is for the Democrats to lose. Gore forfeited the White House in 2000 by pandering during televised debates, refusing to campaign with President [Bill] Clinton and by foolishly defending attacks on his moral judgment. "Prevailing legal opinion" translated into voter rejection.

The evident hostility expressed by Sen[ator Barack] Obama towards [Senator] Hillary Clinton is creating a rift that will not easily heal. Obama may alienate sufficient numbers of independent voters to result in a Republican victory.

Obama has the promise of serving the nation for years to come. Without question, he will have the support to win the White House one day. Timing and patience do not appear to be on his side. By responding to his naked ambitions, Obama may damage himself within the Democratic Party and core primary voters, denying him forever the prize he is currently seeking.

Maturity is defined by postponing immediate gains for future benefits. By caving into his zealous lust for power, Obama is revealing that he is not yet suited for the presidency. Perhaps failure will serve him and the nation better by humbling a personality too sure of itself. The Senator is a national asset whose time to lead lies in the future. Edward Horn Baldwin, New York

Don't Kill Pigeons To The Editor:

This is a protest against pending legislation to fine people $1,000 who feed the pigeons. And against a reader's suggestion (in a local community paper) to pay $1. for every dead pigeon or rat. These suggestions [are] coming out of a "kill mentality". The same "kill mentality" that has been in existence for centuries: if you don't like a particular group (be it human or animal)- kill them. These are not sane, humane, constructive ways to deal with the bird situation. Safe bird sanctuaries could be established where the pigeons could live in harmony with other birds, be fed and cared for, receive oral birth control (available to them) and other medical treatments. Sanctuaries [are] one sane way to go. Funding can be found for sane, decent programs, not only for birds, but homeless cats, dogs, etc., as well.

If the United States can send millions/billions of our dollars overseas (along with American jobs), politicians and private citizens can come up with the funds for sane programs and the jobs they would generate. There is a vibrant work force to tap into: our senior citizens, our homeless, and our younger adults. There would be loads of volunteers available, too.

Pigeons are maligned, displaced with no safe habitat. But these birds are beautiful, smart and trusting. They are very family-oriented, which many people would do well to emulate. During World Wars I and II, carrier pigeons flew dangerous missions for our military, delivering secret messages in the midst of ongoing battles. Many of these faithful birds lost their lives and because of their bravery, human lives were saved: soldiers and private citizens. Pigeons were heroes! (So were the dogs used in wartime. Many of these beautiful dogs, gave their lives for their human friends and instead of allowing these hero dogs to go home, be adopted and live out their lives happily, after the war (as retired soldiers) a large number were euthanized by the military. So much for trusting humans!

I am tired of hearing pigeons called dirty. They are not dirty. They are birds and they poop!

Want to talk about being "dirty", let's look at humans:

•Those who blow their nose between their fingers on to the streets, dry their snotty germed hands on their clothes, handrails, then proceed to handle money, fresh produce, door knobs, and who shake hands with people, hold children's hands, etc., all the while spreading germs.

•Those who expectorate (spit) on the streets.

•Men and women urinating on the street. (I personally saw a lady covered head-to-toe in long garb go between parked cars, lift her long skirt and urinate).

•Dirty food carts and vendors who totally ignore the Board of Health's regulations.

•Restaurants/delicatessens/meat and fish stores who totally ignore the Board of Health's regulations.

•Supermarket shoppers who take perishable products out of their refrigerated cases, then decide not to purchase [them] and leave [them] lying on some shelf, causing the perishable item to go bad.

•Restaurants who throw their liquid waste into the road and onto the streets.

•Shoppers who open sealed products to smell, or taste, then leave them open (now contaminated) on the shelves.

•Unregulated/contaminated imported food/produce allowed in the United States.

•Those who litter the streets/subways.

•Those who think nothing of poisoning birds (and homeless cats and dogs).

•Those who allow their unspayed/unneutered pets to freely roam the streets to impregnate the homeless animals and then they wonder why there is such a population explosion of homeless animals- their answer to this explosion: kill them!

•Those using animals for dog and cock fighting.

•Animals used for medical and vivisection research.

•Dirty pet shops and animal breeders.

How can some pet owners say they love their pets while casting a mean, callous eye at the birds and homeless animals right outside their own front doors? Need I continue on this segment of our population?

There are a lot of caring individuals in our world, but we need more.

We now have an opportunity to do right by the pigeons. Give them the respect they deserve. Remember, humans share this planet with all creatures- the key word here being: share.

If you still want to "kill" something, how about the kill mentality"?!? Arlene Tanner- Glynn Astoria

Wants Principal Back To The Editor:

After reading the letter written by Mr. Gus Prentzas entitled, "Where is Aldorasi?," [Nov. 21, 2007], I felt compelled to also write a letter on behalf of Principal Aldorasi. I am a recently retired science teacher from Astoria, I.S. 141- NASA Explorer School. In the few brief years that I had the pleasure [of] working under Mr. Aldorasi's supervision, I learned a great deal! He is an exceptionally gifted educator and wonderful administrator.

Principal Aldorasi has taken a failing middle school and has made it into a "beacon of light" for our young people. This particular school is a model of what other schools throughout this great city should be.

He tamed the wild and restored order to a fivefloor large- very large- school. Under his supervision and leadership, he instilled pride for all and a safe learning environment whereby all can learn.

I went from a battered teacher under the old administration to a renewed, wide-eyed creative teacher. Principal Aldorasi led the way through example in and around the school perimeter.

The students never knew where he would become visible and this instilled an area of order and discipline. I'm sure Mr. Aldorasi's absence is felt by all who knew him and those new sixth grade students who are deprived of his leadership and guidance.

I have worked with and under many principals, but this beautiful, gentleman is a cut above the others.

In my own words, He Is A Principal Who Has Principles!

Return Mr. Aldorasi to I.S. 141- Now!!!

A sad but hopeful teacher, Mia J. Cole Flushing Willets Point (Of) View To The Editor:

I am writing on behalf of the Willets Point Industry and Realty Association (WPIRA), a group of 10 land/business owners gearing up for a battle with the Economic Development Corporation (EDC) at the final City Council oversight hearing on November 29, 2007, before the city files a Uniformed Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP), which would allow the use of eminent domain to condemn and steal away private property and sell it to a developer for a commercial and residential redevelopment project projected to cost upwards of $3 billion. As many know, this will be the city's first Urban Renewal plan in close to 40 years.

Members of WPIRA will testify before the New York City Council's Land Use and Economic Development Committees on November 29, 2007.

The City Council is expected to examine the economic and technical viability of the city's redevelopment plan for Willets Point and seek answers to questions posed during the first oversight hearing that was held in June 2007. The city issued an RFP in November 2004 but has not yet released results of their environmental impact analysis of the area in question nor has it presented a viable plan for the development of the area and/or identified a developer. Unlike all other major rezonings during the Bloomberg administration, the EDC is asking the City Council to vote on a condemnation and rezoning of an area before a developer has even been selected and a plan has been presented.

Below is additional information about the WPIRA's fight to save their businesses. Best, Patricia Jones Willets Point Industry & Realty Association (WPIRA)

WPIRA Statement:

In May 2007, Mayor Bloomberg announced the city's redevelopment plan for the area that includes building 1.7 million square feet of retail space, 500,000 square feet of office space, a hotel, 5,500 residential housing units and a convention center in the 60-acre neighborhood that is currently zoned for heavy industry. The plan includes the transformation and remediation of the area through the utilization of a "green" building technology. To execute this plan would require the condemnation and taking of approximately 45 acres of privately owned land.

The city claims that the area is "blighted", but the reality is that the city has systematically withheld services from Willets Point for decades, which has led to a marked decline of the area's infrastructure. Willets Point does not have paved streets, sanitation services, street lights, sanitary or storm sewers. Landowners have pleaded with the city for over 40 years to provide municipal services but they have been ignored; however, despite this ongoing neglect, the area continues to thrive economically.

Willets Point employs an estimated 3,000 highly skilled workers in ironworking, construction, sewer parts production, auto repair and service businesses and the manufacture of bakery and food ingredients that includes the largest distributor of Indian foods in the U.S. Businesses in Willets Point provide billions of dollars of economic activity and millions of dollars of tax revenue to the city of New York. A large percentage of those employed in Willets Points are in middleand upper-income union jobs with health and other benefits.

The area also provides a large number of entry-level jobs for recent immigrants and the workforce represents a cross-cultural mix of ethnicities.

The Willets Point battle will once again trigger a national debate regarding the landmark 2005 Supreme Court ruling "Kelo vs. City of New London", which allowed- through the use of eminent domain- city governments to condemn and take private land and give it to another private owner to further economic development in a blighted area.

WPIRA believes Willets Point is already economically viable and that if the city was willing to provide basic services, current owners would invest and expand their businesses and the area would begin to transform itself. The fact that the new developer would be given millions of dollars of taxpayer-funded incentives to build in an area where current landowners have been battling for basic services for years is considered completely unjustifiable to members of WPIRA.

In April 2006, Dr. Tom Angotti of the Hunter College Center for Community Planning and Development conducted a land use study of Willets Point that described the area as a "unique business incubator that provides jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities to diverse new immigrant populations". The study recommended that the city establish a public-private planning partnership in which Willets Point businesses, workers and city agencies would become equal partners in the development of plans that would accommodate existing businesses and promote new commercial and industrial development.

Additionally, Angotti raised several environmental concerns that have yet to be addressed by the city:

• Development would invariably mean more crowded trains and buses - and more people opting to drive. The Number 7 train is already over capacity at peak hours and the added traffic would further clog Queens highways.

• Willets Point is directly under the flight path of LaGuardia Airport and is bordered by highways. To minimize noise, developers would need to install double-paned windows and construct fully acclimatized buildings that hardly seem consistent with a green community.

• It is quite conceivable that future mayoral administrations and changing economic conditions could lead to new decisions about the area and the languishing of the project or its demise so that a once active business district would lie fallow for many more decades.

At the November 29 hearing, WPIRA will question why the city has not considered the creation of an industrial business zone to accommodate the already profitable businesses in the area. While the EDC claims it is committed to working with business owners to provide relocation assistance, the reality is that relocation is simply not a viable option for most businesses that require M3- 1 manufacturing zoning, which is scarce in all of the five boroughs and difficult to obtain, especially commercial rezoning for heavy industry. Preliminary discussions have taken place, but the city has very little to offer the landowners. And for many owners, their current location in Willets Point is essential for the daily operation of their business and the distribution and transportation of their products.

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