2015-04-08 / Editorials

Letters to the Editor

Intransigence

To The Editor:

The world is a mess. Terrorists strike individually or in groups, killing for the satisfaction of destroying the lives of families simply because they can. Girls are kidnapped, raped and kept prisoners in the dark, forced to accept being second-rate members of their communities.

Hatred is the constant by-word. Extremists demand compliance to their twisted beliefs, politicians cannot accept their opponents are anything other than enemies, and judges who find for one side are condemned by the other as “activists” when in fact they are condemned for not agreeing with the party who is unsuccessful. Anti-Semitism, anti-Muslim, anti-religious, anti-gay and lesbian, anti-choice, anti-compromise; anti-everything but what one side demands is the only way!

To oppose positions taken by the right wing of the Republican Party and Tea Party members results in questions whether the opponent is a patriot, a traitor to the nation, morally corrupt, ethically questionable or mistrusted to become an elected official. Governor Mike Pence of Indiana will not answer if the Religious Freedom Bill protects acts of discrimination. Governor Christie has altered his position on abortion legislation. Ted Cruz is marshaling “true conservatives” to take control of the nation’s future. And amazingly, Trevor Noah, who can testify to the impact of discrimination has no problem making anti-Semitic tweets.

A recent remake of an Our Gang segment had a child appearing as Joe Biden stating he wanted to be vice president so when someone murdered the president he could move into the White House.

Perhaps Americans who hate those who don’t agree with them have hopes of death for their “foes.” The political divide is a threat to democracy, yet those who deem compromise a mortal sin seem oblivious to the consequences of their blindness. We should expect more Timothy McVeighs. They are among us, homegrown and sponsored by these American patriots. Their brothers only did what they would do in Paris.

Ed Horn
Baldwin, LI

Nightmare Continues

Dear Friends:

Negotiations continue to be underway in Albany, regarding the state’s 2015-16 Annual Budget. While it has been a distressing week as developments have shown that the Senate Republican leadership is not supportive of including the DREAM Act as part of this year’s process, I will be continuing my fight on this issue, as well as all issues important to my constituents as talks go forward. Passing the DREAM Act not only makes sense for economic reasons, but it is simply the right and moral thing to do in bringing justice to our strong and vibrant community of undocumented students who have for years called New York home.

In January, the Governor included the DREAM Act and a much-needed rise in the minimum wage to $11.50 per hour in New York City, as part of his original proposal. Now, as we come close to finalizing the budget, there are reports that these important matters and others will no longer be a part of the deal. While I am disappointed by the Senate Majority’s failure to address the immediate needs of everyday New Yorkers, I will continue to push for these important reforms in Albany and am hopeful that we will be victorious in our ongoing fight for equality.

A friendly reminder that the deadline for filing personal income taxes is just around the corner. Again, I would like to share with you some tips from New York State Attorney Eric Schneiderman to protect yourself from unscrupulous tax preparers.

 Use recognizable and established companies

 Check the tax preparer’s qualifications

 Check the tax preparer’s history through the Better Business Bureau

 Ask for a written estimate of all fees

 Avoid those who base their fees on a percentage of your refund

 Make sure the tax preparer is accessible, even after the April due date

 Never sign a blank return

 Review entire return before signing

 Make sure the preparer signs the tax form and includes a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN)

 Avoid “too-good-to-be-true” promises

 Consult New York’s Consumer Bill of Rights Regarding Tax Preparers

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

Jose Peralta

Expand Library Hours

Dear Queens Library Lovers,

Governor Cuomo and the state legislature have agreed on a budget for fiscal year 2016. Thanks to your support, overall funding to libraries across New York State has increased!

 In Queens, we can expect to see general library state aid increased by approximately $344,000 to $6.4 million. These are funds that we use for general operating expenses.

 The state has slightly decreased funds available for Adult Literacy and Education Aid. We will receive approximately $12,000 less than in past years. However, there are funds available for competitive grants for literacy and we will be applying for those opportunities.

 There is $500,000,000 available statewide for broadband initiatives. In the past, these funds have been instrumental in helping us further our technology goals, including the Google Tablet lending program and its proprietary interface. We will be researching how our customers can benefit from these funds.

 Construction aid to libraries will remain level. In Queens, we receive approximately $1.2 million.

 The state has exempted libraries from paying the MTA payroll tax. The state has traditionally refunded the taxes paid, so there is no net financial gain, but it will save time and paperwork.

We are very appreciative that our state legislators recognize the value of public libraries.

It is important to note that New York State funds only 6 percent of Queens Library’s annual budget. More than 85 percent of funds come from the City of New York. Along with our colleagues at New York Public Library, Brooklyn Public Library and DC37, we are asking for a restoration in funding of $65 million citywide to provide additional hours of service and more programs and library materials. We need every library in every neighborhood open at least six days a week. If more library service is a priority for you, please go to www.investinlibraries.org or speakup.queenslibrary.org to tell your city elected officials to invest in your library.

Thank you for your support! It could not have happened without you!

Bridget Quinn-Carey
Interim President and CEO

Tenants’ Rights Meeting

To The Editor:

My name is Lorena and I am the Tenant Organizer at Catholic Migration Services. I’m writing to invite you to our Queens Town Hall event on Right to Counsel.

It would be valuable for the voices of the communities that I work with to be heard by the greater public on this issue, as many are tenants who have survived the perils of appearing in housing court without an attorney.

The Town Hall event ensures that our community members, constituents, and the general public learn about the importance of Intro. 214. Additionally, the Town Hall provides a space where the community members/tenants can discuss the importance of the Right to Counsel bill with elected officials, share their personal experiences, and have their opinions valued and heard on this matter.

This event will take place at St. Sebastian Parish Center, located at 39-60 57th St., in Woodside, on Thursday, April 30, at 7 p.m.

Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns.

We’ll look forward to having you there!

Lorena Lopez
Tenant Organizer
Catholic Migration Services
47-01 Queens Boulevard
Suite 203B
Sunnyside, NY 11104
347-472-3500 Ext:109

Strays Need Help

To The Editor:

Living in a first floor apartment, before TNR (Trap/Neuter/Return), was miserable. Outside our windows, scores of night-fighting, territorial, scent-spraying, hungry, and often sick and injured cats and kittens struggled to survive. It’s heartbreaking. If New York City with its $20 million annual funding of the contracted animal pound, Animal Care & Control (ACC), refuses to address the feral cat breeding crisis, it’s a form of passive abuse for the hundreds of thousands of homeless cats and residents.

Until our neighbor secured the services of Debi Romano, a TNR expert, to help us TNR 43 cats on our block and start the reversal of the crisis here, it was abysmal. Groups like The Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals offers free TNR certification classes and expects residents to perform TNR without resources. This is a formula for failure. Paid bureaucrat, Kathleen O’Malley of The Mayor’s Alliance seems out of touch when it comes to effective TNR services to meet the needs of our community. When we called for traps or transportation support, we never heard back. I don’t think the Mayor’s Alliance has anything to do with the Mayor. If they did, they might be more effective. The best option is to stop imposing the burden of TNR on tax-paying citizens.

The solution for our community is to fund TNR professional, Debi Romano, who has a successful track record of TNR-ing 500 district street cats in one year. Can you imagine what she could accomplish for our district if properly funded – success!

To residents, here in our 22nd City Council District who are experiencing the suffering that street cat overpopulation causes cats and people – our new 22nd District’s Councilman Costa Constantinides, and his top-notch Legislative Director, Nick Widzowski are actually studying and addressing the issue in an informed and intelligent way. All we can say is, hallelujah and thank you!!! We love you Councilman Constantinides.

Marius and Lili Mina
Astoria

Duke It Out

To The Editor:

Introduction of a bill to legalize mixed martial arts in the state legislature moving forward is great news. “Mixed Martial Arts Bill Passed By Senate” (I On Politics, John Toscano). Mixed martial arts is a rapidly growing sport already legal in other states. It rivals both wrestling and boxing in fans and attendance for Pay Per View events. Why should we miss out on the jobs, economic growth and new tax revenues? State Senate Leader Dean Skelos has passed the bill in his chamber. It is now up to State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie to do the same. If members of the state legislature cannot work out their differences on issues of the day, send them to The Octagon. Ditto for Mayor Bill de Blasio, Comptroller Scott Stringer, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and members of the City Council. They can all settle their disagreements on the mat. That would be one sporting event voters would pay top dollar to see!

Larry Penner
Great Neck

Queens Blvd. Redesign

To The Editor:

For years, Queens residents have asked for safety improvements on Queens Boulevard, and now Mayor de Blasio has listened and delivered.

His vision for Queens Boulevard, and the pace of this planned safety redesign, will set the tone for the transformation of dangerous streets across the five boroughs. If we take the same approach to the rest of New York City’s most dangerous major streets, we can save 50 lives a year and prevent thousands of injuries.

Paul Steely White
Executive Director of Transportation
Alternatives

Preventable Horrors

To The Editor:

I am outraged and apppalled at two deadly events that caused the loss of lives, grief, destruction, and they are namely the downing of the German plane in the French Alps and the fire in East Village.

It is an abomination to have a co-pilot who was suffering from deep depression and who was not allowed to fly, but tore up his documents. His death-wish caused 150 innocent souls to perish.

Operators of buses, trains, railroads, planes, ships, etc., must be given psychological tests, as well as a thorough medical every year, and all records must be computerized, not given in paper form. We trust and place our lives in the hands of these transporters, and illnesses, either physical or emotional, must be reported.

There is such a thing as disability, not being able to do a job. There is no shame about being either physically disabled or mentally impaired.

I also am appalled at the fire and how inefficient, uncaring and unprepared the contractors were. And now it is said that it was a deliberate breaking of a gas line. Now people have no place to live, life is lost and lives and residences are shattered. In terms of reporting a gas line leak, the police must be notified and evacuation must be done. Also, properly licensed people must do the job and Con Edison must be alerted to the construction and a work permit with the Department of Buildings must be filed and posted on the construction site.

Cynthia Groopman
Little Neck

Honor Vietnam Vets

To The Editor:

I have just read that our Vietnam Veterans will be honored at an upcoming event. I applaud the fact that this year’s Little Neck – Douglaston Memorial Day parade will honor the Vietnam Veterans. This parade is reported to be the largest in the country. Vietnam Veterans are being recognized for their service to our country. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the conflict where 58,000 died in a 10-year conflict. I myself served during the Vietnam era and remember a number of men I knew from the neighborhood and from school who died in the conflict. There were also others who died after the conflict from Agent Orange. An example was one young man I knew from Queens Village, who contracted cancer which was related to the effects of Agent Orange and died at the age of 25. It’s been a long time coming to honor these brave men and women. To these brave men and women I salute you for serving our country in a most difficult time in American history.

Frederick R. Bedell Jr.
Glen Oaks Village

Other Parameters

To The Editor:

Teachers in New York State should not be evaluated by standardized test scores alone. There are other criteria that should be used in yearly teacher evaluations. It is most unfair and unprofessional to give teachers an unsatisfactory rating just because their students may not score high on those tests. Teaching has other parameters – how well teachers present the material to their students; how well the students are able to comprehend that material, and the ability of teachers to be able to reach all of the students in the classroom, since each student’s learning ability is different.

It is high time that our teachers in New York State and across the country be accorded the respect and understanding that they so richly and justly deserve. Not every student can do well on state tests; that is neither their fault nor the fault of dedicated, hardworking teachers who are working so very hard to help each student realize and work to their full potential. Keep politics and politicians out of education, and let the school administrators and teachers do their jobs!

John Amato
Fresh Meadows

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