2015-03-18 / Editorials

Letters to the Editor

Investigate FEMA

A copy of this letter was received at the
Queens Gazette.
March 3, 2015
Honorable Charles Schumer
United States Senator
780 Third Avenue, Suite 2301
New York, NY 100017
Honorable Kirsten Gillibrand
United States Senator
780 Third Avenue, Suite 2601
New York, NY 10017

Dear Senators Schumer and Gillibrand:

I hope that this letter finds you well. I am writing to thank you, first of all, for issuing a call for Congressional oversight hearings in light of very disturbing revelations about the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) operated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and how it may have seriously defrauded New York residents whose homes were devastated in Hurricane Sandy. I urge you to do everything in your power to ensure that a full and complete investigation is carried out to determine if any FEMA and/or NFIP employees willfully, knowingly and wrongly altered engineering reports on the extent of home damage caused by the storm in an effort to reduce insurance payments to affected homeowners.

I share your very deep concern about the allegations of fraud and documentdoctoring aired on the television news show 60 Minutes by Brad Kieserman, the new executive overseeing insurance programs for FEMA. His remarks appear to bolster charges made by many homeowners, including some of my constituents in Queens, that professional engineering reports were inexplicably changed to indicate that damage was pre-existing on damaged properties when it was actually caused by Hurricane Sandy. As a result, homeowners did not receive adequate insurance payments for the loss of their homes and, in some cases, were financially devastated as a result.

After dealing with the ravages of Sandy, my constituents should not have been forced to deal with dishonest FEMA or NFIP personnel. It is unacceptable to believe that the initial federal agency that was supposed to help people after the storm was actually serving as a roadblock to full recovery. In addition to requiring a full Congressional investigation of this issue, I also urge you to pursue action to reimburse those homeowners who may have been defrauded with artificially low insurance payments after having their properties destroyed and their lives irrevocably changed.

I appreciate your assistance and efforts on behalf of our mutual constituents who were particularly hard hit by Superstorm Sandy, and I look forward to continuing to work with you on these vital issues. Sincerely,

Joseph P. Addabbo Jr.
State Senator, 15th District

And Lunar New Year?

A copy of this letter was received at the
Queens Gazette.
March 9 2015
Mayor Bill de Blasio
City Hall
New York, NY 10007

Dear Mayor de Blasio:

We commend you again for fulfilling your pledge to add Eid al-Fitr and Eid al- Adha to the 2015-16 school calendar as holidays. This is a significant step to recognize the diversity of our city. It is critical that you also keep your pledge to designate Lunar New Year as a school holiday.

When you ran for mayor, and again when you took office, you made a pledge to recognize Eid al-Fitr, Eid al-Adha and Lunar New Year as school holidays. This year, Lunar New Year fell during an already scheduled winter break, but we cannot depend on the luck of the calendar. In 2016, Lunar New Year falls on Monday, February 8.

Asian American students comprise approximately 15 percent of all public school students – more than 150,000 students – in New York City, and Lunar New Year is the most important cultural celebration on the Asian calendar. At schools in neighborhoods across the city, absentee rates have been reported to be as high as 80 percent on Lunar New Year.

Parents should not have to choose between sending their kids to school or celebrating their most important cultural holiday with family. In addition, schools should not be open when large numbers of students will be absent and a school day could result in a waste of educational time and resources.

That is why Senators Golden, Squadron and Stavisky, and Assemblymembers Kim, Silver, Moya, Braunstein and Rozic successfully passed legislation, originally carried by now- Congressmember Meng, requiring consideration of those factors. Governor Cuomo signed that bill in December, and it is now law. It may be a failure to comply with this law to keep schools open on Lunar New Year without any substantive engagement with the public or with the Panel for Educational Policy.

We once again request to engage with your administration to determine how we can both fulfill the statutorily defined number of school days, and recognize the growing diversity of our city’s children and the holidays they celebrate. We would like to meet with you before the 2015- 2016 calendar is finalized to discuss this matter.

Thank you in advance.
Congressmembers Carolyn Maloney,
Grace Meng, Nydia M. Velázquez
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams
Manhattan Borough President Gale A.
State Senators Daniel Squadron, Martin
J. Golden, Toby Ann Stavisky
Assemblymembers Ron Kim, Edward C.
Braunstein, Michael G. DenDekker,
Francisco P. Moya, Dan Quart, Nily
Rozic, Sheldon Silver, Michaelle Solages
Councilmembers Margaret S. Chin, Peter

Lunar New Year Holiday

A copy of this letter was received at the
Queens Gazette.
March 9, 2015
Mayor Bill de Blasio
City Hall
New York, NY 10007

Dear Mayor de Blasio:

We strongly support the commitment you made one year ago to incorporate Asian Lunar New Year, Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha to the New York City Department of Education school holiday calendar. We are pleased to see that the school calendar for 2015-2016 does indeed include Eid al- Fitr and Eid al-Adha as school holidays. However, we are puzzled and concerned over the absence of Asian Lunar New Year from next year’s calendar.

As you know, Asian Lunar New Year is the most important holiday of the year for most of the Asian American community, and Asian American students should not be forced to choose between celebrating with family or missing school. Students of many other cultures and ethnicities rightly have off for the most important holidays they observe, and kids who celebrate Lunar New Year should be afforded the same. In New York City, one in six students is Asian American.

We sincerely hope you understand the community’s frustration that students must now wait another year to celebrate with their families or face potential academic consequences of missing school. We are happy to work with you to resolve any outstanding barriers to implementing an Asian Lunar New Year school holiday for the 2016-2017 New York City Department of Education school holiday calendar. Sincerely,

Grace Meng
Yvette D. Clarke

Joseph Crowley
Eliot Engel
Steve Israel
Hakeem Jeffries
Carolyn B. Maloney
Gregory W. Meeks
Jerrold Nadler
Charles Rangel
José E. Serrano
Nydia M. Velazquez
Members of Congress

Confirm PS 19 Seats

A copy of this letter was received at the
Queens Gazette.
March 10, 2015
Chancellor Carmen Fariña
New York City Department of Education
Tweed Courthouse
52 Chambers Street
New York, NY 10007
Dear Chancellor Fariña:

We are writing to confirm the recent announcement that students from the trailers at PS 19 in School District 24 will in fact be placed temporarily at PS 315 at 96- 18 43rd Avenue while the new addition at PS 19 is being constructed. While we are pleased to be informed about this welcome news, we are asking to receive this information in writing to confirm that this transition will in fact be occurring for this upcoming school year in September 2015.

As you know, there are over 2,000 students at PS 19, and there are almost 600 students in the trailers with 100 spillover students at a site on Queens Boulevard. PS 19 is so severely overcrowded that they have four lunch periods, beginning at 9:45 a.m.

To alleviate the overcrowding, trailers were put in place decades ago. As such, they have outlived their lifecycle and have broken down numerous times. In addition, there is no school security outside the trailers, leaving these students vulnerable to potential intruders.

This means that for decades, the children of hardworking immigrant families in the Corona neighborhood have had to learn in deplorable and unsafe facilities. The New York State Department of Education has been playing a game of musical chairs with our children at PS 19.

With continued determination, we were able to secure a $2 billion bond initiative on the ballot this past election in order to reduce this overcrowding in schools in New York City, and particularly at PS 19.

It is essential that we confirm that this transition will be happening for the upcoming school year and that the addition at PS 19 will be constructed. It is imperative that every child has a seat in his or her school.

Thank you for your efforts on behalf of our city’s children and we look forward to hearing from you.

Jose Peralta
State Senator
Francisco Moya

MPB Closure Calamity

To The Editor:

What’s happening to the Catholic School system in Queens (under the Diocese of Brooklyn) when a school like Most Precious Blood in Astoria is due to close in June?

It makes no sense for such a calamity to happen. The school is financially sound, the money is there, from what the parents say about this. What happens to all the children who are forced to look for other schools? Most of them are overcrowded anyway. What happens to all the teachers who have to find other jobs? The parishioners are ready and willing to do anything to keep the school open.

Letters and phone calls have been sent to Bishop DiMarzio, but they do not get any answers, they seem to fall on deaf ears.

The Bishop has been invited to a Parents’ Meeting but he does not come, yet a few weeks ago, according to his calendar in The Tablet, he was scheduled to say a Sunday Mass or have a meeting with the parishioners at St. Patrick’s Church in Long Island City (a stone’s throw away from MPB), yet he could not take a few minutes for MPB.

Come on, Father Krlis and Bishop DiMarzio, you can do better than this. Keep Most Precious Blood School open! Dolores MacKenzie Astoria

Month Of The Disabled

To The Editor:

I am glad that the Homeland Security situation will be postponed until December, but it is grossly an abomination and not fair that the protection of our cities and states and communities are pawns. We are held hostage due to the fact that we are vulnerable to attacks and this government agency is so necessary for the prevention of terrorism.We had 911 and other attacks and with ISIS and other terrorists around the world, we must have more funding for Homeland Security. In addition our debt ceiling issue is being brought up again and a government shutdown is also an abomination. What happened to our nation and can’t both sides of the political aisle act maturely?

We also must remember Cardinal Egan for all he did during the darkest days of 9/11. We lost a true pastor and a high quality man.

In addition, I heard that there was an increase of 43 percent in subway delays for our city. What happened to the on-time schedule of our trains and buses, making people late for work and school?

In addition, I agree with state Senator Gianaris that those who drive with a suspended license or commit a hit-and-run must be treated as felons. This is only just.

I also believe that the airports during snowstorms must be salted and sanded prior to the storm, and if it is a bad storm the airports must be closed. The people on that Delta plane were fortunate not to be injured seriously. In addition the runways at LaGuardia are so small and narrow and must be rebuilt to accommodate the larger planes.

I also do not like the way the snowstorms were handled. The highways and streets must be salted prior to the storm either snow or ice. Spinouts are not necessary and can cause serious injury and death. Where is the respect for human life?

Also there must be more safety precautions taken for wrong-way drivers on highways to avoid deaths and injuries in addition to safer railroad crossings.

It seems that nobody cares and nobody is minding the store for public safety.

This month is National Women’s History Month and that is fine. What about a National Month of the Disabled?

In addition I am not in favor of putting tolls on bridges. Instead of that commuter taxes must be paid. Those who work in NYC but who live in the suburbs must pay the city, since they use our EMS. Why must the burden of paying tolls be placed on those who live in the city and that includes subway fares and on the non-toll bridges?

It seems that those who live in the suburbs have a free ride.

It is a good idea to get the emails from Hillary Clinton, since she is a potential presidential contender.

Also all government officials must disclose all of their earnings and gifts. Corruption must be avoided and a special agency must have teeth in it. I do not like shady and greedy politicians.

Cynthia Groopman
Little Neck

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