2009-08-26 / Editorials

Letters to the Editor

Praises 1st Responders To The Editor:

I would like to commend and thank the driver of a mini van that was alert to put on his brakes to avoid hitting a young boy about three years of age who was wandering around by himself and running out on Steinway Street by the address of 25-32.

The young boy was very lucky that he's alive, and he could have ran [sic] into another car coming the other way. God was definitely with him. I was sitting in front of my building and saw everything as it transpired.

I would like to thank the 114th Precinct and Fire Department and ambulance for their quick response and taking the boy to the local hospital. He fell over and hit his head on the street several times.
Bob Boggs

No Bloomberg 3rd Term

To The Editor:

In your effusive editorial endorsement of Michael Bloomberg [Gazette, August 12] you neglected to mention his most significant accomplishment.

He overturned the democratic process of elections, vanquished the will of the voters and is running for a third term as a privileged exception, and there are no demonstrations in the streets yet over this travesty.

Of course, it is much easier to dupe the public when trusted members of the fourth estate like the Gazette abrogate their responsibility to alert citizens of threats to their civil liberties.

If the legal results of an election in New York City are no longer protected under a Bloomberg administration, what other rights might be jeopardized if he has a third term?
Barbara Glassman

Keep Medicare

To The Editor:

I've been confused with the Pros & Cons of the healthcare debate.

I assume that powerful interests are protecting their turfs. I refer to drug & insurance companies as well as hospital and doctor's groups.

I am 91 years old and have Medicare coverage for many years. Medicare is a government run system and its programs have been one of the reasons seniors are living longer and healthier lives.

Since Medicare was established, millions over the age of 65, have had guaranteed medical care while choosing their own doctors etc.

We pay a monthly premium from our Social Security.

Medicare prescribes prices for all medical procedures including visits and pays 80% of the price. One can obtain private insurance to cover the other 20 percent.

Medicare is one of the most successful health systems in the world and I believe if we applied this system to our whole population, we would solve many of our health care problems.
John Sherman
Long Island City

Remember Always

To The Editor:

The August 19 issue of the Gazette presented many interesting and insightful articles that were important to share with all Gazette readers through this letter in the Editor's column.

That sexual conduct of the MTA Police captain was horrible, [a] disappointment and shameful and not an example for civilians and police forces to follow.

All police and people in the public realm of service must display above reproach conduct and manners and this displaying of such despicable ways of living is disdainful indeed. The police captain should not be deserving of his high pension and must be dismissed from the police force. Counseling is not sufficient and he must not have his charges dropped. He is a disgrace to his profession and to society acting in such a lewd manner. I am appalled.

As for the Catholic School being part of the public schools, that is a great idea and empty school buildings must be utilized. We are having overcrowded schools, which is truly a hazard to the safety, health and learning of our children.

I am glad that there is an environmental center in Alley Pond Park for children and adults to learn about animals and to cherish and save our planet. This is positive indeed, and a hands on experience and a step in the right direction.

That drag racing accident that killed a 12- year-old boy is horrible and also a disgrace. Drag racing must be outlawed. This is murder, dangerous and a hazard to all concerned. Life is nothing to throw away and is precious indeed.

It seems that the lives of so many innocent people are needlessly and tragically snuffed away for no apparent reason at all. What is wrong with society? The moral fiber for respect and cherishing life seems to be torn.

I am also horrified to learn that the air traffic controllers at the Teterboro Airport on the same day of that crash between the small plane and the helicopter were either talking to friends on cellphones or out of the building. That is also disgraceful and abandonment of duty. Again, cellphones are a source of distraction and people in such sensitive positions as bus drivers, train engineers, taxi drivers, plane pilots, ordinary drivers, etc. must not use cellphones. For the air traffic controller to leave his post is AWOL and deserves severe punishment. We rely and trust these people and our lives are in their hands. There seems to be no caring for job responsibilities any longer and no job is taken seriously. Cellphones must be banned in these positions.

I also am glad that Goodwill is going to have donations of gently used clothes for children of all ages to wear for school. To be given a new outfit for school enhances self esteem. I also believe that uniforms must be worn by all children in the public schools. Then, fights and theft over new expensive clothing will not occur.

I also strongly believe that the airspace where that crash occurred between the helicopter and the small plane on the Hudson is too narrow and must not be used by small planes and helicopters. The elimination of 20 ticket windows of the LIRR stations is awful, again appalling and a disappointment indeed. The human element is lacking. Also, there may be emergencies and there is no human contact to rely upon. The easy pass eliminated many of the tolltakers on the bridges, and the MetroCards have eliminated the token booth takers. The human contact is important. The fact that the waiting rooms and rest rooms will still exist and there is no supervision around makes these stations a target for crime. Ignoring public safety and protection to save money is pennywise and pound foolish. The MTA Board must have cuts in their high salaries. Also we commemorate the anniversary of the Fire Department deaths at the former Deutsche Bank building in Lower Manhattan this week and there must be more inspection on the part of the Building Department as to the safety of buildings and whether they meet fire inspection.

All of this negligence really makes me angry. There must be close attention paid to safety and eliminating deaths if possible and everything is rushed and in a hurry and that leads to the fact that haste makes waste as the old adage goes.

The September 12 solemn anniversary at Saint Michael's Cemetery shows us that time passes but we will never forget the heroes and those who were killed on 9/11 as a result of that vicious heinous terrorism act. 9/11 should be a day of prayer and a national holiday.

We must also be vigilant and pay close attention to our safety and keep our defenses up and our homeland security. Never again must we be victims to that horrible dastardly act of 9/11.

Let us all pray and be good to each other— cherish lives of others as much as we cherish our own.
Cynthia Groopman
Long Island City

Three Card Monty

To The Editor:

Clunkers for Cash reminds me of a Three Card Monty street hustle.

First, taxpayers bail out failing auto manufacturers with tens of billions of dollars.

Next, to generate sales to these same companies which taxpayers represent, the majority owner, Uncle Sam, offers $4,500 rebates to trade in older cars with poor fuel efficiency to promote the sales of cars with better fuel efficiency. One Billion dollars was insufficient, so Congress authorizes and appropriates another $2 billion which doesn't exist. Add $3 billion more on top of a record $1.7 trillion deficit this year. Worse, we destroy the older cars.

At the end of the day, Uncle Sam is taking money out of one taxpayer's pocket and putting it in another. This temporary sales spike will quickly end. The used car sales market will suffer from fewer available stock. College students, single parents, working and middle class Americans looking for a used car to get to school or work will have fewer but more expensive used cars to select from. The air quality benefits of newer versus older cars at the end of the day will have an insignificant impact on the environment in most communities.

Maybe it is time to introduce mandatory drug and alcohol testing for members of Congress before they vote on more crazy legislation such as "Cash for Clunkers".

Many taxpayers can hardly wait until the 2010 elections to "trade in" their current congressmember for a fresh new model who is more efficient at not wasting our hard-earned money.
Larry Penner
Great Neck

Enforce Noise Law

A copy of the following letter was received by the Gazette. Dear Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly:

There are some very good things about New York City, but enforcement of its noise law is not one of them, because that enforcement is almost nonexistent. I say "almost" because I know of a few extremely rare cases in which the police have moved against noise violators, but for the most part, we might as well not have a noise law, because many people make as much noise as they want to without any consequences at all.

Two nights ago [July 26] my home was invaded by booming sounds, as it has been countless times. I went outside to see where they were coming from so that I could give the location to a 311 operator. The source was a car parked across the street. A few young men were standing next to it and one or two more were sitting inside it. I went over and told them that I live in the apartment building across the street and do not want to listen to the sounds they were making. They said OK, and one of them turned the volume down. But as I was walking away, he turned it right back up.

I went back and asked them again to turn it down, and one of them said he recognized me - he said that I had asked him to turn down his car stereo about a month ago, when he was blaring noise from it, up the block from the location of last night's incident. He said I should get the license number of the car, just as I had gotten his license number earlier. He went behind the car and read the number to me, laughing as he did so because he knew that even if I called the police, they wouldn't do anything to interfere with his fun. But someone turned down the volume, and I said thank you and started to walk away, whereupon they turned it back up yet again. I went back to the car, wrote down the license number, and came into my apartment and called 311. According to the city's Web site, the police arrived about an hour later, and by that time the violation was no longer in progress, so these violators were right to laugh at the threat of police involvement: they knew that it was meaningless.

Noise violators are usually hostile and combative when anyone asks them to turn their stereos down-they seem to think they have a right to make as much noise as they want to. For these young people to laugh was a little unusual, but they were just expressing their knowledge of local law enforcement-they knew that nothing would happen to them. As long as they had control of the volume knob, they were free to do whatever they wanted, despite the fact that they were disturbing people in the neighborhood.

This incident represents only one of several kinds of constant violations of the noise law. Stand by any busy street and within a minute or two, at any time of day or night, you'll hear people blasting sound from their car stereos, at volumes far in excess of that allowed by Section 24-233 of the noise law, which says it's a fineable offense to play a car stereo at such a volume that it can be heard more than 25 feet away. I would be amazed to learn that anyone has ever been fined under that section of the law.

Or walk through any commercial district and you'll hear at least a few stores projecting amplified sound onto the sidewalk in violation of Section 24-244 of the law. That includes supposedly classy areas such as Rockefeller Center. A loudspeaker at the street-level entrance to the observation deck known as "Top of the Rock" continuously spews an advertising monologue onto the sidewalk, and a sports broadcast assaults passersby on the Sixth Avenue side of the Time-Life Building; both of those projections of amplified sound onto sidewalks are violations of the law. The police don't even seem to know that that is an offense. I have made about a dozen complaints about this type of violation but nothing has ever been done, and violations continue as if the law did not exist.

Why are violations like these allowed to go on? We have an excellent noise law. A lot of effort went into crafting it so that it would be sensible and easier to enforce than its predecessor. A lot of effort went into getting it passed, and it was signed with great hoopla. Yet violations of it are all around us, and almost nothing is done about them.

I can only guess about the reasons for this. Maybe the police aren't bothered by noise and don't care about it as an issue. Maybe they don't want to confront the violators. Maybe they occasionally "enforce" the law by telling people to turn down their stereos, which basically tells them that it's OK to make noise except when cops are around, and that even in their presence, there is no penalty for violating the law. It's also possible that we just don't have enough police to enforce the noise law as well as all of the other laws on the books. If that's the case, we have to face reality and hire more cops (or repeal some other laws).

If the law is to be enforced, violators must be fined, so that word gets out about what is and isn't allowed, and about the financial costs of violating the law. Also, police need to stop violators when and where they encounter them, rather than waiting for reports of violations and then taking forever to arrive at the scene. It can be hard to make fines stick, but without penalties there is no real enforcement.

One principle in public policy says that it's better not to have laws that are not enforced because that engenders disrespect for the law. In New York City, we have widespread lack of respect for our noise law, not to mention ignorance of it. Having a good noise law but not enforcing it is a sham. It is a huge blot on the quality of life in New York City. It is a huge incentive for people who love peace and quiet to get the hell out of New York.
Jim Strawhorn
Jackson Heights

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