Letters to the Editor
If the never-ending stalemate and gamesmanship in Washington continues, voter anger will be a stumbling block to economic recovery. In the absence of leadership that honestly confronts and resolves issues haunting the nation like health care, bank reform, stimulus, entitlements, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Americans will remain hotly divided.
Elected representatives are devoted to their selfish egos, rather than to the nation they swore an oath to uphold. The two-party system has dissolved into warring tribes, each seeking victory regardless of the consequences. The scorched earth policies of the parties are undermining the tenets of our heritage. The political wars have eroded belief that our system of government can work. Confidence defines America and in its absence, the nation is in troubled waters.
Regardless of political leanings, 2009 began with the promise of a better America. The election of President [Barack] Obama seemed a breath of fresh air. Hope seemed reborn. That change in spirit has evaporated after one year of the worst political bickering seen in a lifetime. The absolute refusal to compromise has destroyed belief that anything will address the problems impacting daily life or get the nation back to the road of recovery and renewal.
In large part, the economic downturn continues as a result of the two parties refusing to work together. Abandoning the interests of citizens, politicians hope to win the next election by igniting partisanship, suspicion and compelling anger. Facing the worst economic threat in generations, politicians are a stumbling block to recovery. Our political leaders are in a depression.
Hails Operation ImpactTo The Editor:
The reduction of overall crime and the response from the communities of Astoria and Long Island City in recent years has been consequentially enormous towards the past respective commanding officers of the 114th Precinct in Astoria, Queens. Statistics solidly indicate that over a complete 20-year period of covering statistics at the police precinct, the index of crime in the confines of the community boundaries dramatically dropped over 45 percent, including the major indexes of crime such as grand larceny auto crime, rape, contraband trafficking of narcotics, contraband trafficking of illegal guns and other conventional weapons as well as quality of life response issues that curtailed the overabundant complaints in regard to quality of life issues [such as] noise and other types of civilian issues that were community-wise unacceptable.
I was a New York City Auxiliary Police Officer for the 114th Police Precinct during the early 1990s during the Safe Streets and Safe City community initiatives of former Mayor [David] Dinkins and NYC Police Commissioner Lee P. Brown.
I am as far [sic] an advocate of the Operation Impact initiatives placed and created by our current NYC Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly, but I do feel that an overall survey and analysis of the operation does give a glimmer and even a supportive outlook on how the New York City Police Department will continue improving our safety, protecting our well being and creating innovative ways and methods of lowering crime and improving the quality of life for New Yorkers and Astorians and Long Island City residents as well.
Efrank G. Montalvo
Served His CountryTo The Editor:
On February 18, a small plane was intentionally crashed into a building in Austin, Texas, where almost 200 IRS employees work. This wanton act of violence took the life of Vernon Hunter, 68, who served his nation as an IRS employee for almost three decades.
In today’s world, it is difficult for some to see beyond the labels––to see the person. Mr. Hunter worked for the IRS––a difficult and demanding job. But he did his job fairly and he did it well. He was a dedicated public servant who respected taxpayers and their rights.
There are tens of thousands of Vernon Hunters working at the IRS, helping taxpayers navigate a difficult tax code that we did not write and collecting the taxes to keep our nation vibrant and strong.
For some in America, the IRS will always be viewed as a faceless bureaucracy. But they are wrong. In fact, it is an organization of hard-working people whose love of country and spirit of public service were embodied in Vernon Hunter ––a spirit that lives on in them today. I sincerely hope that is one lesson we can learn from this terrible tragedy.
Commissioner, Internal Revenue Service
Corona Jazz GreatTo The Editor:
I was very pleased to read the historical article on Louis Armstrong, a great jazz artist and a favorite of mine (Mar. 3, 2010).
The article detailed Armstrong’s house in Corona and was very interesting and informative.
I recently read a vignette which appeared in a biography of Armstrong written by Laurence Bergreen entitled Louis Armstrong.
It seems a noted jazz critic, Ralph Gleason, asked Armstrong why he chose to live in Corona rather than with other star entertainers in Beverly Hills. Armstrong explained, “Even though I’ve played with a lot of them—Danny Kaye, Sinatra—I don’t even know where they live, in fact, I’ve never been invited to the home of a movie star, not even Bing’s.”
So it seems we in Queens ended up with an international celebrity living amongst us. How about that!
Long Island City
Offers AlternativesTo The Editor:
Here is my written statement submitted to the MTA yesterday [March 2] for the public hearing on its proposed budget and service cutbacks, which was held in Queens last night. The continuing state budget negotiations and other work of the legislative session in Albany prevented me from attending this hearing.
In the statement, I offer the MTA some alternatives to trimming its budget and finding funds so that one of the most dire of its proposals—elimination of free MetroCards to students—will be taken off the table.
Please allow me to share the statement with my constituents and your readers. My strong opposition to draconian MTA service cuts, especially this one affecting a half-million students, will continue to be heard in Albany and by the MTA board throughout this budget process. We must find other ways to provide the money for free student MetroCards, which so many struggling families and their children have depended on for years to help them get to school and to stay in school.
Why The MTA Should Not Cut Free Student MetroCards
Recent announcements from the executive board of the MTA concerning its FY 2011-12 budget indicated that there must be drastic cuts in service on subway and bus lines, 1,000 employees laid off, free transit passes for schoolchildren discontinued, in addition to cut-backs in Access-A-Ride.
For the sake of my constituents, I strongly oppose these proposed cuts and funding reductions proposed by the MTA, especially eliminating the MetroCard student passes, targeting a half-million schoolchildren. MTA spokesperson Jeremy Soffin said “the MTA can no longer afford to subsidize this free service,” a reference to the 1995 agreement it made with the city and state splitting the cost, each paying $45 million. During this fiscal year, the state paid $6 million and the city $45 million.
In my district, while we are all relieved and pleased that the MTA changed its proposed service cut and now will not eliminate Z train and Q56 bus service along Jamaica Avenue, eliminating the student MetroCards is unacceptable to my people and will bring grave economic hardships to hard-working families whose children must get to school. The lack of free student MetroCards after all these years, would mean many students would drop out of school, graduation rates would decline, and job prospects for such drop-outs would not be bright.
The elimination of free student fares, service cuts and fare hikes would deal a crippling blow to lower-and moderate-income families. A New York family of four with two working parents and two school-age children would see the cost of mass transit increase by approximately $2,300 a year.
I look forward to working with my colleagues in government as we explore with the MTA alternatives to these proposed cuts and as we seek the means necessary to maintain transit services and improve the fiscal efficiency of the MTA. We should avoid some proposed solutions to finding the necessary funding, which include increasing taxes via a higher city business payroll tax again, as enacted last summer, while cutting the same tax in half for suburban businesses. Federal stimulus dollars and redirecting capital funds to cover operating costs should be considered to address the situation.
Alternatively, for a start, I suggest that the MTA needs to cooperate with an independent audit of its internal operations, make administrative cuts, and examine its contracts and spending processes to find the cost-savings before it takes services away from the public or raises fares. As a public authority, it has not been subjected to public scrutiny or adequate fiscal oversight and our economic difficulties now make such oversight imperative.
The Public Authorities Reform Act, effective March 1, 2010, brings the transparency and accountability taxpayers deserve anytime their money is being spent. People have come to believe government serves the interests of politically connected insiders, not them. These reforms are essential to restoring citizens’ confidence in their government. I am optimistic that the increased amount of transparency and fiscal scrutiny will be beneficial to our residents and riders.
The consensus in Queens among daily riders, students and their hard-pressed families seems to be: the MTA needs to get its own house in order before declaring “doomsday” on the public it is supposed to serve. I offer the services of my office to work with anyone to save our residents from service cuts and increased fares.
State Senator Joseph P. Addabbo Jr.
15th Senate District
Says We ErredTo The Editor:
Your recent article about the rally to save the W train [March 3] was very misleading and, I am sure, confused the heck out of local residents. The article implies that there will be no service at all on the el running over 31st street, when, in reality, the MTA wants to eliminate the W line, leaving the N to run local. The N will be joined by the Q, which will be extended to Ditmars Blvd. during daytime and rush hours.
This portion of your story was the most misleading and should be corrected:
“…Without the use of the W train, commuters will have to drive into Manhattan, increasing the amount of automobiles on the road…The MTA plans to bring express bus service into the area in order to help accommodate the demand…”
There will be no need to drive to Manhattan with the N and the Q running. There are NO plans to bring express bus service to the area.
Please do your homework before printing such misleading articles. Your readers expect more clarity in reporting. Johnny Culver Astoria
Editor’s Note: Several elected officials and aspirants for public office pointed out that logic would indicate that elimination of the W train could lead to increased automobile traffic and hence pollution on area roads.