Letters to the Editor
Bank On Comes To Queens
A copy of this letter was received at the Queens Gazette. Dear Friend:
Almost 50,000 households in the borough of Queens have neither a savings nor checking account. These “unbanked” New Yorkers spend an estimated $530 a year on fringe financial services. Without bank accounts, they are less able to save for the future and more likely to be victims of crime.
To address a similar problem in his borough, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer launched Bank On Manhattan, a public/private partnership aimed at helping New Yorkers open lowcost, safe checking accounts. The program is based on a successful national model championed by President Bill Clinton and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in California. Cities from Houston to Newark have used this model to bring thousands of unbanked individuals and families into the financial mainstream.
In conjunction with Stringer and Queens Borough President Helen Marshall, I am bringing the program to Queens. The program allows participants to open a free or low-cost checking account with no minimum balance. You do not need to be a United States citizen to open an account. To find a participating bank near you, or for information about upcoming Financial Literacy Workshops, please call my office.
If you are with a community-based organization or neighborhood group, please join me in helping our neighbors open affordable accounts and build their money management skills. Organizations that host financial training sessions for clients will receive a mini-grant of $100 to cover associated operational costs. The Bank On Manhattan program will also provide a free financial trainer to lead the workshop at your location. If you have questions or need additional information, please do not hesitate to call my office.
Whether it’s about Bank On or something else, if my staff or I can be of any help, do not hesitate to call 718.205.3881.
Giant Soda Ban Blunder
To The Editor:
Bravo to Councilmember and Congressional candidate Dan Halloran for participating in the Million Big Gulp March protest outside City Hall on July 9. “Will Soda Ban Fizzle?” (Queens Gazette front page headline, July 11). Ditto to the Gazette for covering this significant news story which was overlooked by many other daily and weekly newspapers. Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s support of the city Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s proposal to ban the sale of beverages over 16 ounces to combat the excessive calories contained in sugary drinks is a waste of taxpayers’ dollars. There is no coercion used to get customers to purchase beverages. Everyone is aware of both calories and sugar content. High obesity rates have just as much to do with the sedentary lifestyle of many, who spend more time on iPods and home computers than playing sports, exercising after work or just walking. Following this insane logic, we should also stop stores from selling ice cream, pizza, fries, cake and cookies. The ban will start with just restaurants, movie theaters, stadiums and arenas but will inevitably expand to fast food restaurants, supermarkets, local delis and bodegas. Everyone’s profit margins are dependent upon the sales of large beverages. Distributors of soda provide gainful employment for thousands of warehouse and delivery people. Restaurants, movie theaters, supermarkets, local delis and bodegas who stock larger sodas and related products assist in providing tens of thousands of additional jobs.
All of these people are our neighbors who are just trying to earn a living. Both businesses and employees pay taxes that help pick up the tab for municipal services. Customers purchase these products via free will. Even a child can figure out how to get around this ban. Customers will increase pollution by purchasing two smaller beverages to consume over 16 ounces. Our economic and civil liberties prosper best when government stays out of the bedroom, marketplace and our stomachs! Just what will the politically correct Health Food Police go after next?
NewYorkersfacea9percentunemployment rate with an additional 7 percent more who have given up looking, a looming multi-billion dollar municipal budget shortfall, growing $65 billion dollar longterm debt, longterm pension funding shortfalls in the billions along with critical issues in education, housing, transportation, public safety and the environment just to name a few. Bloomberg should lighten up on becoming our Health Food Czar and worry about these more pressing quality of life issues.
Great Neck, NY
To The Editor:
I was driving home the other day from my job in Mineola via Jericho Turnpike to Glen Oaks Village, when a careless driver cut me off in a most reckless manner. This is not the first time but still disturbing nonetheless. Let me mention a few of my driving gripes about careless drivers that endanger all of us on the road. I’ve seen drivers so much in a hurry they plow through red lights, even in busy intersections. This, I feel, is like playing Russian Roulette with other people’s lives. Now in my opinion, as I understand the rules of the road, when the light turns yellow that means slow down, not to go faster. Then there are the stop signs, which I always thought direct one to stop and look both ways, not to go past the sign and go.
The other day in New Hyde Park, I saw a woman with three kids and a dog in her car, go through a stop sign while she was on her cellphone, which by the way, was not hands-free. I guess that phone call was more important than the lives she had in her car. Then there is that situation where you try to cross an intersection, and a driver sees this and goes faster preventing you from getting across as if they are so much in a hurry.
Another pet peeve of mine is drivers who fail to signal, thinking I’m a mind reader. What does it take to use your finger to signal, a second maybe? Oh, I get it, they maybe have a broken finger! I have another gripe and that is those drivers who travel through our neighborhoods as if they’re on a raceway, and by doing so endanger our children who are going to school or playing. The one that really takes the cake is the woman I saw who was scratching off a lottery ticket, in Floral Park, while driving.
There is this six-hour, voluntary course that allows you the opportunity to save money on your car insurance. Well I think such a course ought to be given, let’s say every five years and it should be mandatory or else your license can be revoked. This course, I believe, will reinforce the rules of the road. We need to make our roads safer for all of our lives depend on it. Let us not be driving while under the influence of stupidity!... Communities must help police. NYPD Police Commissioner Ray Kelly spoke out the other day about how local politicians are not doing all they can to address the violence in their local communities. Kelly says they are speaking against the NYPD but not actively engaging community leaders to proactively stem the violence.
To Commissioner Kelly I say, “Kudos”, for what had to be said. It’s like the old saying, “Everyone complains about the weather but no one does anything about it.” The police, in my view, can’t do it alone. It takes a whole community who are united and say enough is enough. A public outcry is needed to end the violence. As for me let me say this, “I have a voice and I intend to use it!” Quite unlike some of our political leaders who pretend they care, and for the sake of political expediency, find it easy to bash the NYPD, rather than raise the battle against violence and death in our communities. Our police and the community need to form a partnership to attack the problem or else more men, women and children will surely die for no reason....The Fourth of July was most memorable for my wife, Eva and me. We celebrated, I feel, the true meaning of the Fourth of July with a man named Jack Dubinsky, who will be 91 this September. He attended our barbecue with our neighbor, Joan, from Glen Oaks Village.
He served in WWII in the Army and served with honor and commitment to duty and to keep America free from oppression. After the war he got in the deli business until he finally sold the business when he was 64 and retired. Then, after awhile, he thought this was not for him and he held several jobs and finally retired again, after another 17 years, from Roosevelt Savings Bank where he worked in the mailroom until the age of 87.
He had been married for over 60 years, but unfortunately, his wife died in 2005. But he has remained strong due in part to his love of music. He has played a harmonica for over 60 years. What is truly remarkable is that he cannot read or write a note of music, but upon hearing a song several times he can play it almost perfectly. He has a repertoire of between 300 to 400 songs. Jack entertained us after our meal with a number of songs dated from WWII to now. Let me mention a few: Songs from the Andrews Sisters, another song from that time period called, “Begin the Beguine”, Barbra Streisand’s, “The Way We Were”, Frank Sinatra’s, “My Way”, songs from Fiddler On the Roof, Tony Bennett’s, “I Left My Heart in San Francisco”...Billy Joel, Bobby Vinton, Stevie Wonder and the beat goes on.
His last song was by Kate Smith, “God Bless America”. That truly was a wonderful way to end the Fourth of July, from a man who had lived the dream and the mission of our great country and that is, “be all you can be” and not give up.
Oh, I almost forgot, Jack is writing a song called, “Suddenly It’s Spring”. The melody is being composed by a fellow he met in McDonald’s. Jack also tells me he just finished a driver’s education course to reduce his insurance costs, at the Bellerose branch of Queens Library, at age 90. He really keeps his mind and body active. In closing, let me say to Jack, “God bless you”, until we meet again.
Frederick R. Bedell Jr.
Glen Oaks Village, NY
To The Editor:
In 1939, the world was not a very safe place in which to live. With Adolf Hitler in power, rattling the war saber, everyone was anxious and fearful. Those closest to Germany-Poland were especially worried, and with good reason. On Sept. 1, 1939, Germany stormed across the border with Poland in an all-out invasion, showing absolutely no mercy to its populace. German planes bombed and strafed major cities and towns, killing thousands of civilians and injuring thousands more. It was the beginning of the end, not only for Poland, but for all of the world. Our innocence became gone with the wind forever. We must not, and cannot ever let such a brutal war ever again tear this world apart. For if it should ever happen again, it will certainly have no winners or losers, just complete destruction of our planet...since that day in 1939 world peace has never been so fragile. There are several potent hotspots that the international community needs to watch very carefully.
The recent election of a new president in Egypt, the worsening civil war in Syria, and the potential for Iran to develop nuclear weapons would threaten the entire Middle East. All need constant monitoring by the United States and its allies, as well as the rest of the international community.
World peace has never been so fragile since Sept. 1, 1939, the day that Nazi Germany attacked neighboring Poland, igniting World War II, which lasted until 1945, and took millions of lives, both military and civilian. We can never again fight such a war, because if it ever came to pass, there would be very little of our world left to live in.
Fresh Meadows, NY