2016-11-23 / Editorials

Letters to the Editor

Cuomo: We’ll Stand Up

Dear Students:

After the harsh and ugly rhetoric of the campaign, many of you are concerned about what might happen next. Let me be clear: This is the State of New York, not a state of fear. We will not tolerate hate or racism.

We have been and always will be a place where people of many backgrounds have come to seek freedom and opportunity. Almost all who live here can trace their roots to someplace else.

We cherish our diversity. We find strength in our differences. Whether you are gay or straight, Muslim or Christian or Jewish or Buddhist, rich or poor, black or white or Latino or Asian, man or woman, cisgender or transgender, we respect all people in the State of New York.

The Statue of Liberty is a proud symbol of American values, and she stands in our harbor. We feel a special responsibility to make her offer of refuge and hope a reality every day.

As long as you are here, you are New Yorkers. You are members of our community, and we will stand up for you.

The State of New York has strict laws against hate crimes and discrimination and we fully and firmly enforce them. It is illegal in this state to target, harass or discriminate against a person because of his or her race, color, national origin, ancestry, gender, religion, religious practice, age, disability or sexual orientation. We are a tolerant people, and cannot and will not let our freedoms be undermined.

New York State has a toll-free hotline where people can report incidents of bias and discrimination. Our responsibility is to protect all who are here, whether native-born or immigrant, whether documented or not. The hotline strengthens our efforts. Contacting us will not affect your immigration status.

New Yorkers who have experienced bias or discrimination should call the toll-free hotline at (888) 392-3644 from 9 am to 5 pm, Monday through Friday.

If you want to report a crime or fear for your safety, call 911 immediately.

New Yorkers feel a particular affection for young immigrants. For centuries, our state has thrived on the energy and ambition of the young people seeking to build their lives here.

Your intelligence, your creativity, your idealism enriches us all. You are welcome here. Sincerely,

Andrew M. Cuomo

Crowley Announces Run

On November 17, Rep. Joe Crowley (D-Queens, the Bronx), Vice Chair of the Democratic Caucus, sent the following letter to all Democratic Members to announce his bid to serve as Chairman of the Democratic Caucus in the 115th Congress: Dear Democratic Colleague,

November 8th was a difficult day for our country, our party, and our caucus. The American people sent us a message, and they expect us to respond. We need to start now – not wait two years or four years, and I am glad that as a caucus we have started the conversations that we need to have. It is evident that a great portion of voters do not believe we share their same vision for America, and so as we move forward, our caucus must be focused on developing policies and messages that better resonate with the American people. I have been heartened to hear so many voices in our caucus sharing ideas on how we can do better, and I deeply appreciate what you all have expressed to me and to our broader caucus. I want to continue to work with you all in helping to chart this path forward for our caucus, and that is why I am seeking your support to serve as Chair of the House Democratic Caucus.

I have been incredibly privileged to serve as Vice Chair of the Caucus for the past four years, and I have made it a priority to listen to, and to really hear, our members and their thoughts and concerns. What’s clear is that no single individual will be able to lead us back into the majority. What we need is a truly collaborative effort. I am committed to creating an inclusive environment within our caucus, which means broadening beyond the usual messengers and building our strategies and our goals from the ground up.

We all agree that Democrats are the party with a vision and that we are the ones working on behalf of the American people. Our challenge now is to better connect with voters – in this election, they were not telling us what they saw on social media or read in the news, but how they feel. Getting in touch with American voters will require focusing on more than polls and fundraising records. We need to think differently about how to make sure that all Americans realize our party includes them, and that it looks out for them.

I grew up in working-class Queens, New York – only a few miles away from where Donald Trump himself grew up, yet very much on the other side of the tracks. Mr. Trump and I certainly experienced two very different upbringings and chose two very different paths in life. I grew up the son of an immigrant mother and a New York City policeman father in a community sustained by working-class and, in many cases, first-generation Americans. It’s a community populated by firefighters, teachers, construction workers, small-business owners, and new immigrants. They all feel uncertain about their economic futures, like many Americans across the country.

My district is one of the most diverse places in the nation, but what my constituents all have in common is a desire to ensure a better life for themselves and their children. For us to help them make that dream a reality, we need to make sure that all of our communities feel we are listening to them, hearing their voices, and gaining a better understanding of their struggles. It is the only way we will be able to show the American people we are on their side and bring them back to us. I believe I can help build bridges to all Americans.

This is a critical time for our party and our caucus. We need independent messengers who can go toe-to-toe with a President Trump and stand up for Americans who feel left behind – and who will certainly be left behind by Republican attempts to end Medicare and Social Security, offer tax breaks for the rich, and gut investments in job training and education. I have always fought against bullies, and that’s how we need to approach the biggest bully of all for the next four years. It is more important than ever that we keep fighting – against damaging Republican attempts to roll back all the good work we did with President Obama, but also for policies that ensure good jobs for all Americans and strengthen working families. I am confident that our caucus has the tools and the talent to make our case to the American people and regain their hearts and minds.

What I love about our caucus – what makes me proud every single day – is the genuine diversity of ideas, backgrounds, and experiences that we all contribute. I want to ensure that the Democratic Caucus is a place for members to come together and not just share their thoughts, but to also engage, inspire, and yes, challenge one another. As Vice Chair, I deeply appreciated the chance to reach out to all our members, and I focused on creating initiatives like Caucus on Your Corner to give members a platform to share good ideas that work. I look forward to the opportunity to build on those efforts as Caucus Chair.

I am proud to be a Democrat. We are the party of the people, the party that is welcoming to all. I hope you will provide me with the opportunity to serve as your Caucus Chair so I can help to ensure that our message is being spread to every community and every American. Thank you. Sincerely,

Joseph Crowley
14th Congressional District

Don’t Forget The Needy

To The Editor:

Thanksgiving will soon be upon us and it is time to spend time with family and friends. It is a time of good food and fun, and a time to start thinking of the holiday season. But there are those less fortunate than ourselves. There are many that are poor and living in homeless shelters. Many are struggling to make ends meet and the true meaning of the season escapes them. So please give to your local houses of worship and those charitable organizations that are collecting for those in most need. Please also donate to soup kitchens and food pantries; you will be glad you did.

For remember the meaning of the season is to give to those in the most need of our kindness and love.

Frederick R. Bedell Jr.
Glen Oaks Village

‘Journey’ Can Help Others

To The Editor:

My grandson, Jonathan Kohlmeier, wrote a book about the problem he had with selective mutism, “Learning to Play the Game: My Journey Through Silence.”

He was one of the lucky ones, though his journey through elementary school was awful. This was the time school should have been fun but for him it was “hell.” Most of the educators were not equipped to understand what was happening.

This book will help educators and parents to see how these children feel, and how to help them. Jonathan’s goal is to give these children a voice.

Vera Kohlmeier

BQX Drawbacks

To The Editor:

“EDC Unveils Potential BQX Trolley Routes” (Richard Gentilviso, November 9) still leaves many questions needing answers. The Friends of the Brooklyn Queens Connector study claimed it could be built for $1.7 billion. Mayor Bill de Blasio later said $2.5 billion. Imagine how many more billions it might cost when completed. It takes more than a simple planning feasibility study to turn into a viable capital transportation improvement project. There have been no environmental documents or preliminary design and engineering efforts necessary to validate any basic estimates for $2.5 billion construction costs of the Brooklyn-Queens Waterfront Streetcar Connector. What is the cost and funding source for several hundred million more above $2.5 billion base line price tag to pay for two new bridges over the Gowanus Canal and Newtown Creek as part of project scope?

Claims that construction would start in 2019 and service begin by 2024 may both be just wishful thinking. The environmental review process will not be underway until 2017. Final design and engineering, which could take several years, would not proceed beyond 30% until the appropriate city, state or federal funding agency made an environmental finding in 2018 or 2019. History shows that construction of most major new transportation system expansion projects take decades. There are many narrow streets along the proposed corridor. Any street car system will have to compete with existing bus, auto, commercial vehicles, bicycles and pedestrians. At an estimated speed of 12 miles per hour, how many people would actually take advantage of a street car versus other existing options? Which neighborhoods will come forward and accept two multi-acre operations, maintenance and storage facilities necessary to accommodate 52 or more street cars? Resolution of this issue alone could take years. Bus stops are normally every one to two blocks. Proposed spacing of street car stops every 1/2 mile will make it more difficult to attract riders. Utility relocation costs are estimated to be $427 million. Will NYC, just like the MTA, ask utility companies to pick up the tab?

Mayor de Blasio’s plan to finance this project by taking a percentage of property taxes on new development is robbing Peter to pay Paul. This would reduce the amount of money available for police, fire, sanitation and other essential municipal services. Both the NYC Department of Transportation and Economic Development Corporation have no experience in design, construction or operations of street car systems. Mayor de Blasio will have to ask the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to serve as a project sponsor and future system operator. The MTA would have to enter the project into United States Department of Transportation Federal Transit Administration New Starts program. MTA, NYCDOT, Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, New Jersey Transit and Amtrak are all attempting to qualify many other projects for the same federal New Starts program.

Dozens of other potential New Starts projects are being championed by many other senators and Congress members. The requests far exceed any available New Starts funding. There will be few winners and many losers.

Mayor de Blasio promised riders would pay the same $2.75 fare as those using New York City Transit subway and bus, MTA bus. This would also include a free transfer to connect with existing NYCT subway, bus and MTA bus services. He fails to identify how NYC will provide the MTA with tens of millions in additional operating subsidies on a yearly basis to cover the cost of lost revenues.

Completion of a planning study is just the first step of any potential capital transportation project improvement. The journey for a project of this scope can easily take 10 to 20 years before becoming a reality. Perhaps a new bus route along this corridor would make more sense.

Larry Penner
Great Neck

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