2015-05-27 / Editorials

Letters to the Editor

Workers Are Needed

To The Editor:

Stephen Hawking stated that artificial intelligence could one day threaten humanity. This has been the premise of the movie series, Terminator, and countless other films, fiction and nightmare claims of those losing their jobs to a machine.

No one will end the march of technology. It is a tsunami that has altered the lives of all and will continue to do so in remarkable and perhaps frightening ways. Technology has won the battle between ineffectual labor and removing waste from corporate bottom lines. With the neverending quest for greater profits, capitalism is all in, supporting the revolution that has misplaced more workers than any trade deal.

Faced with this reality, politicians have been hard-pressed to address the issue. The current by-word in this election cycle is income inequality. Not much attention has been spent in examining the role technology has played in creating the substantial divide between the top earners and the ever-diminishing middle class.

The New Deal had people employed digging holes and then refilling them to earn a paycheck. Unless a revolution in educating our workers occurs, the future will repeat the 1930s. Corporations will evolve too few employees producing goods no one will be able to afford. Government will be forced to step in to fund basic life essentials for Americans and the downward spiral of a defunct world will leave only a lucky few able to enjoy a semblance of life.

Regardless of the politics it is time for Congress and the President to fund the reconstruction of America’s highways, tunnels, bridges, infrastructure, and broadband, and rely upon a growing tax base to provide college and advance degree education to all. Without an exploding educational base that includes all, we have only a dismal future.

Ed Horn
Baldwin, LI

Bro Can You Spare...?

To The Editor:

It is no surprise to transportation historians that the proposed new Metropolitan Transportation Authority 2015 - 2019 Five Year $32 billion Capital Plan is still short $14 billion. The problem is finding the money to make things happen. No wonder the New York State Capital Program Review Board rejected this proposal last October. Federal support for transportation has remained consistent and growing. It has actually increased under virtually every Five Year Transportation Authorization Act over past decades. When crises occurred, be it 9/11 in 2001 or Hurricane Sandy in 2012, Uncle Sam stepped up to the plate. Additional billions in federal assistance above and beyond yearly formula allocations were provided. In 2009, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act provided billions more for public transportation projects which benefited both New York City and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

Both the city and state consistently decreased hard cash contributions to the MTA by billions under past MTA Five Year Capital Plans. On a bipartisan basis, this included past Governors Mario Cuomo, George Pataki, Eliot Spitzer and David Patterson. Billions more are still needed from both the city and state to make up for past cuts over previous decades. Everyone insisted that the MTA continue financing more and more of the Capital Program by borrowing. As a result, 17 percent or $2.2 billion of the annual MTA budget goes for covering the costs of debt service payments. Going back six capital programs or 30 years, by the end of this decade it would not surprise anyone if this continues to grow closer to 20 percent. This means less money is available for operations to provide more frequent service to riders. It also means there are fewer dollars just to maintain the state of good repair and safety.

At the end of the day, the cupboard may be bare for any system expansion.

Governor Andrew Cuomo and the State Legislature made a token effort of increasing the state’s contribution to the MTA Capital Program. Cuomo previously stated that “the MTA’s proposed Five Year Capital Plan is bloated by billions.” Just which capital projects would Cuomo delete to offset the $14 billion shortfall? Many of these future capital projects would benefit Queens residents who utilize New York City Transit subway and bus, MTA bus and Long Island Rail Road.

The real issue, which both Governor Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio are not dealing with, is how to find the additional billions of dollars.

Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio have not agreed to provide any significant additional funding to date.

Cuomo and the State Legislature would not raise the state gasoline tax by pennies more per gallon to raise additional funding for transportation. Cuomo pledged only $700 million per year. Both the Governor and State Legislature failed to provide any significant additional funding in the new State budget adopted on April 1.

Mayor Bill de Blasio providing only $125 million per year is just a drop in the bucket. How much more will be provided by the Mayor and City Council when the new city budget is adopted on July 1?

City Council Speaker Melissa Mark- Viverito and councilmembers have also failed to provide any additional funding to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) in their proposed new $77 billion municipal budget. This deficit will result in the MTA having to make some difficult choices in deciding how to prioritize the expenditures of scarce resources. The result will be consideration for deferral of many critical capital improvement projects into the next 2020 - 2024 Five Year Capital Program. Riders can look forward to additional service delays and more fare increases beyond the next scheduled for 2017.

Based upon the original 1951 Master Lease and Operating agreement, it is the City of New York who actually owns the buses and subways. The MTA is really managing the system under contract to City Hall without adequate financial suport.

Larry Penner
Great Neck

Deplorable Conditions

To The Editor:

I read recently in the Queens Gazette of a conference held in Corona by Mayor de Blasio regarding the condition of the homeless shelters in the city. He is said to be alotting millions of dollars over the next year to make necessary repairs and bring these buildings up to code. In another article in the New York Daily News, Comptroller Stringer has been quoted as saying he cannot sign any contracts for the management of these buildings that are not up to code. Other articles have shown deplorable conditions existing in many of these shelters including rat infestation, etc.

No one should be permitted to live in these conditions!

Of course, your “political junkie” has a few more questions...

Aren’t these buildings privately owned and leased to the city at an exhorbitant rate?

Isn’t a landlord supposed to keep his building(s) up to code?

If he does not comply, and the city has to step in, does the amount become a lien against the property?

By virtue of this letter, I am asking these questions of the Mayor, the Comptroller and the Public Advocate of New York City.

Frances Luhmann McDonald

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