2015-06-03 / Editorials

Letters to the Editor

Libraries Matter

To The Editor:

Libraries matter because they change lives every single day they are open. Committed to uplifting New Yorkers, ending poverty and battling inequality, neighborhood library branches help make our lives better. Period.

This week, I presented a NYC Neighborhood Library Award bestowed by the Charles H. Revson and Stavros Niarchos Foundations to the Sunnyside Library for the amazing work they do in our community. The sad reality is many library branches throughout New York City can only do this five days a week with limited service hours, leaving many New Yorkers without the opportunity to access the free, award-winning services and programs that millions have benefited from in the past.

Why does six-day service matter? Christelle Kouhouta of Sunnyside can tell you why. As a new immigrant Christelle and her family were embraced by the Sunnyside Library, giving her the opportunity to learn English for free and make new friends.

There are millions of stories like Christelle’s happening all over New York City at more than 200 library branches. With your support we can secure six-day service for all and ensure every New Yorker has the access they deserve.

New Yorkers deserve more and now is the time for our city to commit itself to investing the $65 million we need to ensure all neighborhood library branches have six-day service. Now is the time to join the #InvestinLibraries movement. Your voice can make the difference. Tell us why libraries matter to you by going to www.investinlibraries.org.

Jimmy Van Bramer
New York City Council Majority Leader

Fundraiser Greek Docs

To The Editor:

The non-profit, Apostolis Berdebes, producer of the documentary, Greek American Radicals, will hold a fundraiser with the support of Kefalos Society of America, on Saturday, June 6, at 8 pm, at Kefalonitiko Spiti, 20-41 Steinway St., Astoria, NY 11105. The proceeds will go toward completing the second production of Apostolis Berdebes, the documentary, Ludlow, Greeks in the Colorado Coal War which tells the unknown story of the participation of Greek immigrants in the “coal war” of Colorado in 1913-14.

We have completed most of the documentary, with the support of fellow Greek- Americans from New York and Washington, whom we want to thank with all our heart for their generosity. We are now holding this event to raise the funds needed to complete the work in time for the December deadline of the Thessaloniki Documentary Festival of 2016.

As part of the event, at exactly 8 pm we will screen the 2015 documentary, Dan Georgakas – A Diaspora Rebel, and Dan will be present to talk about his and our documentary and answer questions. Afterwards we will have a reception with music, food and drink. The suggested donation is $50.

We hope to see you all there

For reservations and more information:

Frosso Tsouka
Tel. 347-586-3295

Greek Democracy Lives

To The Editor:

The most important development in my opinion was the action taken by Zoi Konstantopoulou, the Speaker of the Greek Parliament on May 21. Her action indicates that democracy in Greece is on the mend after years of total deterioration.

Arriving at work the Speaker was confronted with a barrage of hundreds of riotarmed police blocking the main entrance of the Parliament buildings. She was furious and demanded to know who authorized such undemocratic action due to a citizens’ rally. The policeman in charge stated he was executing orders of a higher authority and he was simply doing his job.

That excuse was not good enough! She insisted that the Parliament gates should always remain open to the public and no citizens can be turned away but must be heard – good or bad! It is a citizen’s democratic human right to be heard and Parliament is an integral part of democracy.

She demanded the immediate removal of all police forces and have the one responsible for ordering such undemocratic action so reminiscent of a police state to make contact with her for an explanation.

That is what democracy in action is all about. I hope such a vision in support of democratic principles and transparency is practiced here in Cyprus, where Rule of Man is alive and well. It will take many years before the stables are cleaned out and a new Revolution of the Mind is put in place. With the current political structure it is impossible to happen in Cyprus (not yet anyway) and shall remain a distant dream.

Zoi Konstantopoulou has my respect and the respect of all those who support democracy… Bravo Zoi!

Andreas C. Chrysafis

‘No Excuses’

To The Editor:

It hardly made the news. Maybe it shouldn’t, because it should have come as no surprise, given the New York City public school system’s long history of competitive excellence. But the reason there was so little coverage is more likely that the truth interferes with and contradicts the false image of our traditional academic institution that the proprivate school axis is trying so desperately to cultivate.

Nine of the top-10 high schools in New York state are city public schools. Twelve of the top-15 are also from the five boroughs. That rating was not biased. It came from the reliable and respected US News and World Report rankings.

Incessant critics of our public schools like to apply the phrase “no excuses” when reasoned attempts are made to explain the frustrations, such as bulging class size and austere funding, of public school operations. Now let’s hear some unmitigated praise for some stellar specimens of our exemplary public schools. Come on. No excuses!

Ron Isaac
Fresh Meadows

To The Editor:

In the interest of full disclosure, I have lived in Flushing and was a member of the Broadway-Flushing Homeowners’ Association for over 30 years. I implore my neighbors to get informed and assert their common sense.

In its latest effort to obtain NYC Landmark status, the Broadway-Flushing Homeowners’ Association asked the homeowners to vote in favor or against seeking landmark designation. This request for a vote disingenuously implies that homeowners have input and can participate in the landmarking process. According to the law, landmark designation is not subject to a vote by the community or homeowners and notification to homeowners is not required.

In a response to my concerns regarding landmark designation, the Law Department of New York City apprised me that “A formal application process does not exist. The commission considers eligible buildings and districts for designation in response to suggestions from many sources, including groups and individuals, as well as the observations of Commission members and staff. While the Landmarks Commission seeks and encourages community and property owners’ participation and support when considering proposed landmark designations, neither is a required condition for the designation of a landmark.” The letter continues, “the determination as to whether a building or a district is to be landmarked is not the subject of a referendum or vote by the community or property owners.” It is clear the wishes and desires of the homeowners are superfluous.

If these facts are not sufficient to prompt a pause in the cause for designation, consider the regulations and restrictions on private property. Designation requires homeowners to apply for and receive permits for most work, to consult with architects or contractors approved to work on historic buildings, to wait 20 to 90 days for a permit which will give permission to paint wood, masonry, handrails a different color, install exterior light fixtures, install new window sashes or frames, paint doors and door frames a different color, replace roofing material, Install yard lighting, etc. Please visit the NYC Landmark Commission website for a complete list.

Invoking Landmark Laws to resolve problems resulting from un-enforced building codes, inadequate zoning laws, indiscriminate variances, corruption, and lack of oversight is disingenuous. This is neither the intent nor spirit of the Landmark Laws. The focus of the association and our elected representatives should be on improving, updating and enforcing zoning and building codes, and not on limiting the rights of the homeowners and creating fertile ground for more bureaucratic corruption. Restricting and regulating homeowners’ property rights may stifle their proclivity to enhance and enrich the “gracious sense of place” they created in the first place.

The character and “sense of place” the association cites that distinguishes our neighborhood consists of many elements. Among them are the increasing number of local storefront signs, ads, and posters that are undecipherable to many residents. In the interest of “preserving our neighborhood,” perhaps BFHA should instead seek landmarking of the English language.

Ed Konecnik

Moore Field Of Dreams

To The Editor:

We have lost Detective Brian Moore of the 105th Precinct, who died in the line of duty. He was a brave and dedicated officer and at the age of 25 had an exemplary career. I think it is time to honor him in a way that shows that he was a shining example for our youth. I therefore have a suggestion, I live in Glen Oaks Village on Commonwealth Boulevard and there is an athletic field being built. According to Anthony, one of the workers, there will be soccer, baseball, football fields and a track. The athletic field is in the 105th Precinct, located at 76-10 Commonwealth Boulevard and would be a great tribute to Detective Moore if the field was named after him. Furthermore, we would be honoring what he stood for and his memory would not be forgotten. Our youth would be reminded every day they play there that Brian Moore was dedicated to serving and protecting the community. As such, hopefully they would be inspired to be the best they could be. I therefore ask all of our politicians to look into the possibility that this field be named, “The Brian Moore Athletic Field of Dreams.”

Please let it happen. Frederick R. Bedell Jr.

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