2011-02-16 / Editorials

Letters to the Editor

Walmart Is Wanted Here

To The Editor:

Unfortunately, not everyone has the “Welcome Mat Out For Walmart” (I on Politics by John Toscano, Feb. 2, 2011). How disappointing that the New York City Council hosted, at taxpayers’ expense, another public hearing on February 3 for their friends and allies to testify against Walmart.

NYC residents have been denied the opportunity to shop at Walmart due to excuses made by politicians such as City Comptroller John Liu, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn along with many ccouncilmembers, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and numerous fellow liberal Democratic Party elected officials, along with their union allies. They feel that we should oppose Walmart because of substandard salaries and unfair competition they would provide against smaller stores.

Elected officials need to read The Walmart Revolution by Richard Vedder and Wendell Cox published by the American Enterprise Institute. It explains the success story of Walmart from a small independent mom and pop store in Arkansas to America’s largest retailer and employer.

All public opinion polls have consistently shown that New Yorkers would like the opportunity to shop at Walmart.

Construction of a new Walmart can provide work for construction contractors and their employees. Once opened, there are employment opportunities for many workers. Over nine percent of New Yorkers including students, housewives, heads of single family households, senior citizens and others currently out of work could find employment. All of these companies and their employees are our neighbors.

Walmart is the nation’s largest private sector employer with over 1,200,000 employees and growing each year. Tens of millions of Americans including many fellow New Yorkers own stock in Walmart. The same is true for the various retirement and pension plans many people participate in. Starting pay is several dollars up to double above the minimum wage for new employees around the nation. Promotional opportunities including training for higher paying managerial positions are common. They also offer health care and other benefits. Walmart may actually pay higher salaries and offer more benefits than some of their competitors such as Target, K-Mart, Costco and BJs which are already here.

Several hundred thousand New Yorkers work off the books, full- and part-time with no benefits.

Many existing retailers pay minimum wage with no benefits.

Public officials opposing Walmart never talk about these abuses.

The free enterprise system made our nation great. Economic growth and the creation of wealth comes from businesses— small and large. Consumers shopping at Walmart get a [bigger] bang for the buck by being able to compare prices, quality and service to other stores.

Many New Yorkers, poor, working class, single household, middle class, and especially seniors, can’t afford to pay extra. They need the great prices, good quality merchandise, affordable food and drugs that Walmart offers.

Consumers have voted, with their feet, all over America making Walmart the number one retail merchant success story it is today. It is time to allow Walmart the opportunity to compete in the NYC marketplace as well!

For those “Politically Correct”, don’t shop there, but give everyone else a choice.

Larry Penner
Great Neck

Pension Reform

To The Editor:

I am writing to respond to the many communications my office has received about some misunderstandings that have arisen since the New York Post published an Op-Ed by me regarding pension reform.

First of all, it is important to put this in the proper context. I have been called the “best friend our first responders have ever had at City Hall”, and I take a back seat to no one in my support for the work you do. That being said, because of Albany, there is no money. Pension reform must occur in order to prevent what happened recently in other cities like Camden and Newark, which have seen drastic layoffs to their first responders. As Public Safety Chair, I will not standby and watch the numbers of our first responders be decimated either through attrition or layoffs. Tough choices will be necessary to ensure that the public is kept safe, and that pensions continue to be available for all, including those who have recently been hired or hired in the future.

However, while my Op-Ed discussed the need for pension reform (such as the right for those that pay the bills to negotiate them) it never mentioned the elimination of the “variable supplemental fund” nor do I support that. This is a negotiated benefit earned and relied upon by those who have toiled selflessly for our city. Reforms must be discussed and negotiated with your unions, which in turn must come to the table with realistic proposals.

The need for reform is real, and we all must work together towards ensuring that we have enough first responders, that their pensions reflect the sacrifices they have made, and that they will continue to be there for all.

Very truly yours,
Peter F. Vallone Jr.
Chair, Public Safety Committee

Neglected Again

To The Editor:

Due to the winter storms, the 250 workshops in the “iron triangle”, [Citi Field’s] neighbor, were absolutely paralyzed, because the Sanitation Department again refused to provide basic services such as salting and collecting the snow. Some 2,000 workers today are being deprived of work [and] walking in an area extremely dangerous due to the accumulation of ice. The [city] has [issued] hundreds of violations to the workshops this winter, [obstructing] the basic services required by law. We ask the media to cover this [issue and] that the authorities take steps to address this serious and inequitable situation.

Marco Neira
Willets Point Defense Committee

Home Grown Or Organic

To The Editor:

Your article entitled, “Bright Colors for Better Women’s Health” was informative and it is important to remind people to keep their intake of nutritious fruits and vegetables at adequate levels.

Unfortunately, along with an abundance of nutrients in these foods is an exceedingly high amount of cancer-causing pesticides. These harmful chemicals are not only on the surface of commercially grown produce, but also on the inside due to the fact that the soil contains high levels of the chemicals, as well.

It helps to wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly before eating, but the best way to ensure purity of these crops is to grow them yourself. Buying organic produce is the next best thing, but can be costly.

Klea Theoharis

Guns Can Protect

To The Editor:

There was a study done in 1995 entitled “Armed Resistance to Crime” regarding the fact that law abiding citizens use guns to defend themselves against criminals as many as 2.5 million times every year.

Firearms are used 60 times more often to protect the lives of honest citizens than to shoot with criminal intent. Of these defensive shootings, more than 200,000 are by women defending themselves against sexual abuse. Citizens shoot and kill more criminals than police do every year. While the police have an error rate of 11 percent when it comes to the accidental shooting of innocent civilians, the armed citizens rate is only two percent, making them five times safer than the police.

These are interesting figures that show that law abiding citizens should have the right to own guns as indicated in the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Yours truly,
Janet McCarthy

Open Storm Drains

To The Editor:

Shortly after noon [the Department of] Sanitation arrived on West 12th Road and by 1:30 p.m. a [storm drain] cutout was completed and the block drained almost immediately.

DEP [Department of Environmental Protection] also showed up with the best of intentions, but when they found out [that] the storm drain manhole at the end of the block was located four and one-half feet above street level, rendering it useless for street drainage, and buried under almost seven feet of snow, they had to admit defeat.

As the leader [John “Hannibal” Smith] of the “A-Team” used to say, “[I] love it when a plan comes together!”

Peter J. Mahon
West 12th Road Block Association
Broad Channel

No More Transfer Fees

To the Editor:

I am writing with very good news for New York City’s co-ops and condos that have flip taxes to maintain the property. I received notification from the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) that its proposed rule on private transfer fees includes an exception for fees paid to homeowner associations, condominiums, and cooperatives, which use the proceeds to benefit the property. The initial proposal would have effectively forced local co-ops and condos to eliminate their transfer fees, known as flip taxes, and I contacted FHFA seeking the exception. I advocated against the initial proposal in concert with the members of the New York City Council Co-op Condo Caucus, which I established as a group of council members who meet periodically to discuss the issues that coops and condos face and how government can be a positive force in addressing those issues. The proposed guidance that the FHFA was considering for flip taxes would have prevented institutions such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac from investing in mortgages on property where a flip tax is in place. This rule would have had a detrimental affect on the middle-class residents of New York City who live in cooperative housing associations, more commonly known as co-ops. Instead, FHFA proposes to exclude from the rule transfer fees paid to homeowner associations, condominiums, cooperatives, and certain taxexempt organizations that use private transfer fee proceeds to benefit the property. Fees that do not directly benefit the property would be barred. The Caucus’s letter to the FHFA noted that co-ops are a popular form of home ownership in New York City. Many of the residents living in co-ops are middle class families and senior citizens on a fixed income. Unlike other private transfer fees that only benefit third-party developers, the flip taxes imposed by most co-ops in New York are added to the capital reserves of these organizations in order to lower the cost of living for residents and to make capital improvements to the housing. Without the ability to charge a flip tax upon the sale of an apartment, some co-ops would be forced to assess their shareholders and residents hundreds of dollars more each month. Co-ops in New York City keep costs in check and enhance both quality of life and property values through capital improvements financed by flip taxes. Due to New York City’s unique concentration of coops, the Caucus asked for an exemption, which the proposal now includes.

Mark S. Weprin
Councilmember, District 23
A copy of this letter was received at the

Distribution Of Wealth

To The Editor:

The redistribution of wealth to achieve social justice is the objective of many in Congress.

Common sense demands we ask who determines whose wealth requires redistributing, who will do the confiscating and who will do the equalizing?

The premise for this policy is unconstitutional and immoral.

Indeed, the Declaration of Independence declares we are “created equal…endowed by the Creator with certain unalienable rights”. However, the Founding Fathers were cognizant of the nature of man and were not so presumptuous as to proscribe equal outcomes. All that is guaranteed [is] “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”.

Human nature dictates and reasonable persons of sound mind expect a variety of outcomes. Not all possess the skills and acumen of Bill Gates, Donald Trump, or Oprah Winfrey. Is it compassionate and just to redistribute their wealth and punish them for their success? If the wealth of the world was distributed equally to every person in the world, within days there would again be rich and poor.

The appropriation and redistribution of other peoples money nurtures entitlement rather than the entrepreneurial instincts of man.

Consider the following—a panhandler standing on a corner receives a dollar every day for a week from a beneficent donor on his way to work. One day, the following week, the donor has no dollar bill to give to the man. As [the donor] passes by, the panhandler taps him on the shoulder and asks, “Where’s my dollar?”

Once a claim on property is permitted and sanctioned, however small and seemingly insignificant, the sanctity of private property has been abrogated and the amount to be confiscated will be determined by the mob in charge.

Ed Konecnik

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