2015-01-28 / Editorials

Letters to the Editor

Defend Our Homeland

To The Editor:

The modern U.S. military has not, nor will it, lose a battle. Beginning with Vietnam, the wars where the opposition is an insurgency have witnessed America losing. For the third time American troops are in Iraq. In Syria, we are bombing ISIS while the Taliban attacks throughout Afghanistan. Drones are taking out terrorists in Pakistan, yet their strength is undiminished. In Nigeria, Boko Haram kidnaps, kills and mutilates without fear.

Politicians never seem fazed demanding American lives be sent to fight wars knowing that occupying and holding land is not possible. The numbers of troops needed to occupy a country would rival the half million Americans in-country during Vietnam. Those days are over.

The U.S. military has refashioned itself using technology and special strike forces such as the Navy Seals, Army Rangers, Green Berets and Marine Recon. These specialized units have the capability of rapid deployment and surgical precision. Backed with drones the capability of the U.S. is to fight strategically, preserving our heavy front line troops and equipment as the need may arise.

The Monroe Doctrine of 1832 declared U.S. foreign policy as to potential national security threats. It permitted military action within the Western Hemisphere to protect the nation. The 21st century requires a new doctrine that reflects the realities of the insurgencies and terrorist threats that confront the U.S. and our allies daily.

The new doctrine should state that large U.S. military operations against non-state threats will not be used. Rather the U.S. maintains at its sole discretion without prior notification, or permission, of another country the right to insert and neutralize any threat to the homeland, anywhere it is found, using the special forces of the nation.

Ed Horn
Baldwin, NY

DOE Policy Sensible

To The Editor:

School authorities will no longer treat students’ cellphones as contraband, now that the ban on their bringing them to school has been sensibly lifted by the Department of Education. Legitimate reasons remain for denying students unrestricted access to them during the school day. Restrictions are spelled out and will be enforced.

Cellphones, like other modern devices of convenience, have multiple applications and the potential for misuse. They can be lifelines or instruments of mischief, so the restoration of students’ right to keep them in their possession during school hours comes with their responsibility to comply with regulations, or lose the privilege.

A middle ground has been found and a balance struck between the opposite sides on the cellphone ban issue. Nobody denies that these phones can be tools for cheating and privacy invasion and distractions from learning, but everybody accepts that they can be vital links to parents and others in case of a safety or security crisis.

The change in cellphone policy was a rational compromise and evidence that giving back can sometimes constitute breaking ground.

Permission to carry cellphones is not a concession to permissiveness. It’s just a concession to the greater good.

Hopefully the DOE has set an example for itself for managing other controversies.

Ron Isaac
Fresh Meadows

Use Existing Trains/Bus

To The Editor:

Governor Andrew Cuomo is overly optimistic concerning building a train to the plane for LaGuardia Airport. Success for this project is dependent upon the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and MTA working well together. Fourteen years after 9/11, the Cortlandt Street World Trade Center 1 train station is still several years away from being back in service. The PANYNJ and MTA fought for years over the budget, funding sources, scope, and schedule. The MTA has yet to award a contract for construction to proceed. To build a train to the plane from the Mets-Willets Point 7 train and Long Island Rail Road station to LaGuardia Airport within five years for $450 million is a planner’s dream. In reality it will be a nightmare for both taxpayers and riders. You can count on cost overruns in the hundreds of millions and multi-year delays in construction before reaching beneficial use.

One old, recycled concept is to extend the N and Q subway lines from their current Queens terminus at Astoria/Ditmars Blvd to LaGuardia Airport. This died due to local community opposition and will continue to do so.

Everyone has long forgotten that the successful PANYNJ AirTrain, which currently runs between the LIRR Jamaica Station and Kennedy Airport was supposed to continue proceeding north along the Van Wyck Expressway and connect with LaGuardia Airport. The PANYNJ did not have sufficient funding to complete the original full scope of the project.

This original extension to LaGuardia Airport could also have connected with the LIRR and 7 subway line at the Mets-Willets Point station. Construction primarily within existing highway right of way would have eased any local community opposition from those who owned homes and or businesses adjacent to the route. Too bad the PANYNJ chose instead to spend billions in nontransportation investments during this same time period, instead of completing the AirTrain to LaGuardia Airport.

Many of the estimated costs for these types of proposed projects are based upon planning feasibility studies and/or environmental documents with little design and engineering efforts necessary to validate any actual construction costs. They will be refined as projects progress beyond the planning and environmental phases into real and final design efforts. Value engineering which is a process used to reduce costs will be used during the final design phase. Unfortunately, history has shown that estimated costs for construction usually trend upwards as projects mature toward 100 percent final design. Progression of final design refines the detailed scope of work necessary to support construction. The anticipated final potential cost for many of these projects will never be known until completion. Costs will be further refined by award of construction contracts followed by any unforeseen site conditions and change orders to the base contracts during the course of construction.

Besides the MTA’s $15.2 billion shortfall, Cuomo has yet to make public how the state will pay back a major federal loan which financed the majority of the $3.9 billion cost for replacing the Tappan Zee Bridge. Will he have the state pick up the tab, or pass on the costs to motorists by having them pay higher tolls? Will it double or more over the coming years and decades? $15.2 billion plus $3.9 billion adds up to $19.1 billion. Many are counting on New York State to provide the majority of these dollars.

Construction of other options via the Sunnyside Storage Yards to LaGuardia Airport could easily cost $1 billion or more. You would have to coordinate with the LIRR East Side Access project. In addition, the yard is used for midday storage by other transit operators. Previous pilot ferry connections from LaGuardia Airport to various Manhattan locations failed. This was due to the costs which could not attract sufficient ridership to support the service.

Those in the know already have a transit connection to LaGuardia Airport. Some ride the LIRR or 7 train to Woodside and transfer to the NYC Transit Q70 bus. Why not patronize both the LIRR and Q70 Limited (which is equipped with luggage racks) from Jackson Heights, which provides limited-stop bus service between Woodside, Jackson Heights and LaGuardia Airport (Terminals B, C and D). Service operates nonstop between Jackson Heights and LaGuardia Airport. Connections can be made with the E, F, M, R and 7 trains at Jackson Heights-Roosevelt Avenue/74 St-Broadway and with the LIRR and 7 train at Woodside-61 St. Travel time between Woodside and LaGuardia Airport is approximately 10-15 minutes and between Jackson Heights and LaGuardia Airport is approximately 8-10 minutes. Free transfers between any bus or subway are available if you pay your fare with MetroCard.

Larry Penner
Great Neck

Thank NYPD

To The Editor:

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all be civilized citizens?

We have to thank our police department for the fact that our great City of New York is regarded as one of the safest cities in the world today, with a diverse population of about 8 million people from over 120 countries, speaking over 135 languages. The reason we have one of the safest cities is in large part due to the hard work of the men and women in our police department. We should praise them, not criticize them.

Statistics show that crime is down by 80 percent from 20 years ago. This tells us that the police department is doing a great job. It has been said that the city will spend $400 million dollars of taxpayers’ money to retrain the police department and update and upgrade the department.

Instead of wasting this money, it would be much better spent on educating the people who criticize the police department. The money can be used to place advertising on public transportation such as our trains, subways and buses. This advertising should emphasize to our citizens the importance of obeying the law, getting an education, respecting other people’s rights, not stealing, and not committing crimes. If we continue to criticize the hard work of the men and women of the police department then we jeopardize our city with going back to 20 years ago when crime was so bad that we could not leave our homes or apartments without being mugged.

Let’s work together. We have millions of tourists visiting our great city every day. Tourism brings wealth and jobs to New York. I believe, in the next few years our population will continue to increase because our city is a safe one.

Rudy Sarchese
Astoria Homeowners, Tenants & Business Civic

Nine Below Zero

To The Editor:

It’s nine below zero with this 30 mph north wind blowing down Vernon Boulevard. There used to be a bus shelter here, seats and all, till they took it down while fixing the sidewalks outside Con Ed at 36th Avenue. It was two or three years ago, and I asked the guy in charge if they were going to put it back. He swore up and down “Yes, yes, absolutely yes.” I don’t know if he worked for Con Ed or the Department of Transportation or was just a contractor. But I know what his word is worth: absolutely nothing.

So we stand here off-peak with maybe a half hour wait if the next bus doesn’t break down. I sure hope it doesn’t, because one hour at nine below zero and some of us could lose some fingers or toes, or maybe even a foot. How many lost feet before the bus shelter is put back, and at what cost?

Edward McKenna
Astoria, NYC

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