2013-12-18 / Editorials

Letters to the Editor

Redesign Unsafe Ramp

A copy of this letter was received at the
Queens Gazette.
December 11, 2013
Janette Sadik-Khan
Department of Transportation
55 Water Street, 9th Floor
New York, NY 10041

Dear Commissioner Sadik-Khan:

We write to you regarding yet another fatal accident at Queens Plaza South, an area we represent in the New York state senate, New York City Council, New York state Assembly and United States Congress. The Queensboro Bridge exit ramp remains unnecessarily deadly, despite attempts to mitigate the dangers involved in navigating the off-ramp. Following this tragic crash, which, yet again, involved an automobile propelled into the same group of adjacent storefronts, involved in previous accidents at this site, we renew our call for a complete redesign of the exit ramp with a view towards automobile and pedestrian safety.

Following a string of accidents in 2011 at this same site, we called for traffic safety improvements, including a safer exit ramp. Though the DOT added some signage and barriers, our calls to comprehensively address the problem were ignored. Conditions at this dangerous curve remain deadly, as this crash has tragically proven. We believe nothing short of a complete redesign of the exit ramp will fully address this problem.

Understanding that our request may take time to come to fruition, we implore the DOT to continue improving temporary safety measures at this exit ramp. We call for higher barriers to protect pedestrians and storefronts on the sidewalk, and any other measures the DOT believes will help mitigate danger until the exit ramp is redesigned. However, we believe that the dangers faced by all those who exit the Queensboro Bridge at this location will only be solved by a new and improved exit ramp designed to be safer.

We implore the DOT to redesign this exit ramp before another tragedy occurs.

State Senator Michael N. Gianaris
Congressmember Carolyn B. Maloney
Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer
Assemblymember Catherine Nolan
cc: DOT Queens Commissioner Dalila Hall

Save Corona Health Ctr.

A copy of this letter was received at the
Queens Gazette.
December 9, 2013
Hon. Michael Bloomberg
Mayor, City of New York
City Hall
New York, NY 10007

Dear Mayor Bloomberg:

I am deeply distressed to hear that you are again trying to close the Corona Health Center. Your administration has been marked by bold public health measures, so it is perplexing why you would weaken our city’s immunization program during your last days in office.

Effective immunization requires total coverage of all of our communities. Considering the nature of communicable diseases, gaps endanger all of us, here in New York and, considering the nature of global travel, everywhere else.

The importance of the Corona Health Center cannot be measured in numbers of clients alone. This center works with the most challenging population in the city as far as public health efforts are concerned. Many of those served speak little or no English. Many, due to their lack of immigration status or other issues, have a deep suspicion of any government authority. Others come from cultures and educational backgrounds that view public health interventions differently than native-born Americans. Others simply do not have the money to travel to centers outside our neighborhood.

Given these massive challenges, our city needs to be less shortsighted and put more resources toward the Corona Health Center rather than close it. Critical coverage of vulnerable populations depends on this program being in the heart of our community.

I am calling on you to rescind your plans to close the Corona Health Center so that we can ensure that a vital public health resource can continue its mission.

Daniel Dromm
Chair, Committee on Immigration
New York City Councilmember, 25th District

Pearl Harbor Footnote

To The Editor:

A footnote to the 72nd anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor: History records the savagery of the Japanese army to the civilian populations of its conquered countries and to its prisoners of war. And yet, paradoxically, there was this occurrence: In 1942, a contingent of the Japanese army occupied Kiska Island in the Aleutian chain. Here, a little known incident of the war took place. An American fighter plane was shot down killing the pilot. The Japanese extricated his body from the wreckage and buried him, then placed a sign, written in English, over his grave. it reads: “Sleeping here, a brave airhero who lost youth and happiness for his motherland, July 25, Nippon Army” p. 363, The American Heritage Picture History of World War II.

Hyman Auslander

Bullying Small Business

Dear Friends:

I continue hearing from small business own- ers about the city’s relentless blitz of petty fines. One restaurant near my office was socked with a $60,000 summons because of the placement of a banner announcing its grand opening on the side of the building where the eatery occupies the ground floor.

(No, that’s not a typo—$60,000 for a grand opening banner hanging on the side of a building.)

A nearby pizzeria was recently fined $300 because coffee stirrers were not wrapped. While we’ve all seen them for years in eateries all over the city, I’d venture to guess that no one has ever seen coffee stirrers in any kind of wrapping or packaging. That the stirrers are not sold or distributed in any kind of packaging or wrapping might have something to do with it.

For many businesses, the fines total in the tens of thousands of dollars and threaten owners’ ability to keep their shops open. Their complaints lend credence to reports of the existence of a quota system for city inspectors, who increasingly seem to function more as collection agents focused on revenue than public servants committed to ensuring our safety.

The vast majority of the small businesses in our community are mom-and-pop shops. They sustain families and breathe life into the community. They are vital cogs in the city’s economic engine. Mayor-Elect Bill de Blasio championed their cause as the city’s public advocate and during his mayoral campaign. I know he will deliver on his commitment to treating them fairly.

For small businesses bullied to the brink of extinction by the city, relief cannot come soon enough.

As always, if you have any questions or need help, do not hesitate to stop by my office or to call us, at 718-205-3881.

Jose Peralta
State Senator
District 13

Online Threats To Kids

To The Editor:

Social media Web sites do not do enough to provide parents with the resources needed to monitor their child’s activities. Anything could happen to children on these sites, ranging from solicitation from strange individuals to cyberbullying.

Many critics in the media and online blogs cannot seem to find a solution to the threats facing minors on these sites, but there are effective changes that can be made. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram need to find a way to give parents access to their child’s statuses. This would help keep parents enfranchised in what is going on in their child’s social life. Some Web tools have been invented to allow parents access to their child’s status updates, like KwickLook.com, but Web tools like this are relatively unknown to the public. These popular social media sites need to come up with their own solution to these problems. It is their social responsibility.

Michael John Cadigan

Meng Opposes Shelter

A copy of this letter was received at the Queens Gazette. December 11, 2013 To Whom It May Concern:

I am writing again to express my opposition to the Samaritan Village proposal for a homeless shelter in Glendale, Queens.

As has been stated, I strongly believe that this is an inappropriate site to house such a facility. While I am sympathetic to the need for homeless housing in New York City due to high rates of homelessness, this facility does not have the necessary attributes to effectively help serve its intended population and transition them out into residences. There are very legitimate and strong concerns regarding neighborhood safety and the impact such a facility will have on the community.

The community and local elected officials stand firmly against this proposal. Additionally, the public was provided the full 22 page DHS Fair Share proposal with very little time to fully review before today’s hearing. This is not fair to the residents of Glendale and to the community at large.

Thank you for your attention to this serious matter.

Grace Meng
Member of Congress

QEDC: Happy Holidays

To The Editor:

Quick, name five famous Belgians. I’ll bet you can’t. In school, we aren’t taught much about the country that houses the headquarters for the European Union and NATO, and though I am sure there are Flemish speakers here in Queens who are proud of their heritage, I suspect it is a small community. But we’ll come back to famous Belgians later.

Let’s think about gifts —‘tis the season after all. As we approach the end of the year, it’s a good time to say thank you with tokens of appreciation. Whether it’s a present for your child’s teacher who has stayed late to help her pass the [Common] Core Curriculum test or for the car mechanic who changes your oil in 10 minutes so you’re not late to work, these folks help us in big ways. So go to your local shopping area—we have more than 60 of them in Queens—and pick up a little something to express your appreciation.

In your December travels, whether to buy presents, visit friends or see family, many of you will pass by one of the greatest gifts our borough has ever received: Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. Next year, we will celebrate two historic events —the 75th anniversary of the 1939 World’s Fair and the 50th anniversary of the 1964 World’s Fair. In the days before the Internet and texting, world’s fairs were the way people from all over the globe met, exchanged ideas and worked cooperatively to forge a promising future.

The theme of the 1939 Fair was “Building the World of Tomorrow”. In 1964, the slogan was “Peace through Understanding”. These events changed Queens in many ways, impacting our landscape, economy, demographics and memories. They were also the greatest economic development projects of their times. The 1939 Fair transformed the Corona ash heaps into parkland and gave us structures such as the Queens Botanical Garden and Queens Museum, which has just completed a major renovation and looks spectacular. The 1964 Fair built upon that legacy and left institutions such the New York Hall of Science, the USTA and Queens Theatre. Each fair was full of “futuristic advances” that seemed incredible at the time. But as important as demonstrating advances in science, art and technology, the real benefit of each fair was bringing people together. As they have for hundreds of years, fairs give people from different places the opportunity to meet each other, learn about each other’s cultures, hear their music, and taste their foods. The two Queens fairs made our borough the center of the globe during their runs. And to some extent it is still the center of the world, in terms of diversity and tolerance.

Next year, many groups will commemorate the fairs. Plans are being made for concerts, tours and exhibitions within Flushing Meadows- Corona Park and elsewhere in the borough. The institutions in the park, the park administration, the Queens Tourism Council and the Queens Chamber of Commerce are working together to celebrate this important milestone. And as part of the fun, we ask those with memories—their own, a family member’s or a friend’s—to e-mail them to events@queensny.org, and we will share them!

As for the Belgians, yes, it is difficult to name famous ones, but let’s try:

• Jean Claude Van Damme, the “Muscles from Brussels” (though he moved to Hollywood);

• Jacques Brel, the singer/songwriter (come to think of it, he left Belgium, too, for Paris);

• Rob MacKay, QEDC director of Public Relations, Marketing and Tourism (as befitting a Queens resident, Rob’s background is all over the map, but he is most proud of his roots in Wallonia, or South Belgium);

• Moules Frites and Bier, okay not a person, but good mussels in garlic butter, crispy fries and a Stella Artois make a great dinner;

• Waffles, again not a person, but at the 1964 Fair, the Belgian Village concession introduced the world to these thick waffles with powdered sugar, whipped cream and strawberries. They sold for $1 each and were known as “Bel-Gem Waffles”. For millions of people of a certain age, these tasty treats evoke memories of 1964, the World’s Fair and Queens...truly a gift of the Belgians.

Seth Bornstein
Executive Director
Queens Economic Development Corp.
P.S. Best wishes for a wonderful holiday season!

Appeasement Weakens

To The Editor:

Obama and Kerry continue to promote an agenda of U.S. appeasement.

Kerry has played a leading role in formulating and implementing an agreement with Iran to temporarily put a limit on Iran’s uranium enrichment program for six months. Iran can continue enriching uranium to five percent. In return Iran gets access to $7 billion in frozen funds, and more importantly, is able to get partial relief from the crippling burden of the economic sanctions.

Although inspectors will be monitoring the temporary agreement, Iran will probably continue a higher grade uranium enrichment program in secret facilities. As the end of the agreement approaches it can stall and hinder negotiations and ask for continuations of six months of temporary agreements until it has the nuclear weapons. Iran cannot be trusted.

While Kerry is appeasing the Iranians, Obama is busy appeasing China’s power play in the East China Sea. China has declared an air defense zone and wants aircraft to notify China if aircraft enter the international air space. Japan has refused to comply with the demand, but the Obama administration has asked U.S. commercial airlines to make the notifications.

The Obama administration continues to weaken our stature in the world through unbridled appeasement.

Donald A. Moskowitz
Londonderry, NH

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