2016-12-14 / Editorials

Letters to the Editor


Dear Friend,

At this uncertain time, we continue to organize and respond with Queens values as a community. Virtually everywhere I go people stop to tell me how important our Community Speak Out and march across the Queensboro Bridge to Trump Tower were to them. Thousands took part and were moved to do more. To that end, we’ve followed up with over 100 ideas and action steps. But we must continue to speak out and organize. To build our capacity and power to resist.

To that end, I’m proud to announce our third mass action. Hate crimes, bigotry and bullying are on the rise – just this weekend, three drunk men harassed and attacked a Muslim woman on a train platform while bystanders stood by and did nothing.

That’s why I want to invite everyone to a community self-defense, anti-bullying, de-escalation, and upstander training, so we all know how to respond in hateful situations. This idea came out of our Speak Out and given the attacks happening all across the city, we need this now.

Everyone is welcome – all ages. Let’s continue what we have started. This isn’t a moment. It’s a movement.

Armed with our #QueensValues we’ll make sure #QueensResponds loud and clear.

Jimmy Van Bramer

Gateway Tunnel

To The Editor:

December marks the 108th Anniversary for the Hudson River Tunnel connecting New Jersey to Penn Station in New York. For decades, many have talked about construction of a new tunnel which would provide both New Jersey Transit and Amtrak additional capacity, New Jersey Transit’s “Access to the Region’s Core” has come and gone. Now we have the “Gateway Tunnel.” NJT, NJDOT, USDOT Federal Transit Administration, Federal Rail Road Administration and Amtrak could not collectively find $9 billion for ARC. Will the same players, along with the Gateway Development Corporation and Port Authority of NY & NJ be any more successful in financing the proposed $24 billion new Hudson River Tunnel?

Outgoing US DOT Secretary Fox, Senators Booker and Schumer ($12 billion), Governors Cuomo ($6 billion) and Christie ($6 billion) all have failed to identify or secure the specific source(s) for their full financial contributions to the project. There are no significant dollars programmed in the new Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST ACT) for Gateway. This legislation now affords rail, along with mass transit eligibility for US DOT FTA New Starts funding.

US DOT Secretary Fox pledged that up to $4 billion in FTA New Starts funding might become available to help finance the $24 billion Gateway Tunnel project. The project would have to complete a competative US DOT FTA New Starts process, which takes several years before being approved under a Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA). This would still leave a shortfall of $8 billion in federal and $20 billion toward the overall project costs. The largest FTA New Starts FFGA was $2.6 billion for MTA LIRR Eastside Access to Grand Central Terminal. FRA Financing Loans have never exceeded $1 billion.

How will Amtrak come up with 10% or $4.4 billion for the project? The MTA, Amtrak, NJ Transit and Port Authority of NY & NJ Transit all need billions more in coming years, just to reach a state of good repair.

Moody’s Investor Services has questioned the ability of New Jersey to come up with its $6 billion share of the project cost. Others question how New York can find $6 billion for its share as well.

Will the Gateway Tunnel project suffer the same fate as its predecessor – NJ Transit’s Access to the Regions Core – due to a lack of money?

Larry Penner
Great Neck

Congrats To Crowley!

To The Editor:

I am so elated to hear that Rep. Joe Crowley has now attained the fourth-highest ranking position in the 115th Congress, and is now Democratic Caucus leader. I am proud of all he has done to help all people; his interest in our city, state and nation is indeed wonderful.

I also am so elated that robotic surgery institute opened at Mt. Sinai. That shows innovations in medical care and surgery. Congratulations.

I am glad that there will be a food drive as well. Astoria Center of Israel has had blood drives, food drives and clothing drives to help others. This is in the spirit of Chanukah and Christmas.

It is interesting to learn the history about Christmas tree ornaments and Christmas celebration during the Victorian era from the Star Journal.

I am so annoyed and appalled at our federal government for only reimbursing our city $7 million for protecting President-elect Donald Trump who is living in the city until he is inaugurated and the Trump family moves to the White House. What happened to the rest of the money they owe us? We are not going to give up; this is a slap in the face to New York City.

I am glad that President Obama is looking into election hacking; that is very important. He is going to investigate from 2008 on. Nobody must interfere with our campaigns or presidential election process. That is a criminal act in every sense of the word. I definitely am dismayed and appalled at what is happening and raise my voice to correct these issues. I also am glad that Senator McCain is in favor of investigating to see if Russia is involved in tampering with our elections.

I am against Trump’s potential new Labor Secretary since he is against raising the minimum wage and wants to eliminate overtime pay. He really does not care for the ordinary working people, who are the backbone of our nation. I also think that a secretary of state who is friends with Russia and who got an award from that country is not a good choice. There are others from which to select.

I am appalled at the terrible explosion of steam that killed two innocent little girls. Many complaints were made to management of that building previous to the explosion and nothing was done. I did not like the Mayor saying it is a freak accident. Life is too precious to lose, and it is appalling that nothing was done to look into the complaints.

All operators of public transit, in addition to all workers who work for the government must be screened to see if they are on the terrorist watch list.

I write again in indignation expressing my dismay that our city has to protect Trump and his family; it is a federal government responsibility according to Congress members Maloney and Nadler and I support their efforts wholeheartedly. Why must we pay so much money and the government will only reimburse us with $7 million? This is a slap in the face of NYC and something must be done to have the federal government supply us with the rest of the money which will add up to 35 million dollars. NYC has financial responsibilites of her own to serve 8 million people.

I am saddened at John Glenn’s passing at 95; he was quite a hero, both politically and in space. I remember Feb. 20, 1962, when he was the first man to orbit the earth three times in Friendship 7 – it was a big risk. He was a pioneer, and at age 77 he did go to the space station and showed that senior citizens can and do achieve.

Long Island City and Astoria Western Queens must not have numbers 4 and 6 oil being used for power plants. The oils that are used are dirty and caused the spike in asthma cases in that area, especially in children. A law must be passed immediately to discontinue the use of these dirty fuels. The health of our citizens is foremost.

Cynthia Groopman
Little Neck

‘Hate Is A Disease’

To The Editor:

I’ve just read a most profound article by Archbishop Wilton Gregory of Atlantic, Georgia in The Tablet. He called racism a disease that must be cured. I believe hate of another person is truly a disease as well. It destroys the mind, body and soul. Too bad there is not a vaccine that can cure this most insidious disease which has been the curse of mankind. As the Archbishop said, “Religious and political leadership must work together to find a cure.” I totally concur. I also believe hate starts in the home, and parents must correct these wrongs by teaching their children about respecting those who are different; as in those of a different race, religion, or of a national origin. I think this should also extend to schools, where hate has been flourishing like a virulent disease. In closing, I’m reminded of what Martin Luther King Jr. said, “I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” Well too bad that day has not come yet. I pray that one day the true meaning of Christmas will shine through – peace on Earth and good will toward men.

Frederick R. Bedell Jr.
Glen Oaks Village

Not A ‘Holiday’ Tree

To The Editor:

Once again, the Winter’s Eve celebration at Lincoln Center drew many people, which was wonderful. However, why does WABC reporter Lauren Glassberg refer to the tree as a “holiday” tree? This is the second year in a row that she has incorrectly stated that. The tree is decorated for Christmas, therefore it is a Christmas tree, not a holiday tree. Other groups do not celebrate their holidays with trees, therefore it should not be called a holiday tree. There should be a menorah and a candelabra also in Lincoln Center to represent Chanukah and Kwanzaa, the other two major holidays being celebrated in December. I, as a Christian and a Catholic, take offense at Miss Glassberg’s continuous characterization of the symbol of Christianity as a holiday tree. Please get it right – it is a Christmas tree, not a holiday tree, Miss Glassberg!

John Amato
Fresh Meadows

‘Chopped’ Chef Champ

To The Editor:

Ridgewood officially has its very own “Chopped” champion! Crystal River Williams, co-owner and Head Chef of two Ridgewood-based restaurants, Julia’s Beer and Wine Bar and Norma’s Corner Shoppe, was recently announced on TV as earning the coveted title by cooking her way through three rounds with basket ingredients that had a back in time theme to them. She was challenged to transform things like powdered orange drink in the appetizer round and a TV dinner in the entree round.

But around here, her restaurants are frequented because of her ability to put a creative twist on things. That’s what makes her elevated comfort food stand out. At Julia’s, diners enjoy things like Croque Señorita (think grown-up grilled cheese that features ham, garlic chipotle mayo, jalapeño and cilantro pesto, fresh mozzarella, and two sunny side up eggs) and an au gratin made with roasted purple and sweet potatoes baked in a white wine cream sauce and topped with two types of cheese and purple basil sprouts. Plus there’s an impressive list of cocktails that are just as unique, as well as beers, wines, and ciders. Norma’s serves coffee drinks and sweet and savory treats that are portable, like “Frankencrispies,” a combination chocolate chip cookie, rice treat, and raspberry brownie.

Both restaurants are committed to supporting the community. That’s why nearly everything – from the flour to the wall art and even the honey – is locally sourced. Committed to giving back, other initiatives include regular monetary and food contributions to local organizations such as the YMCA, library, and Greater

Ridgewood Youth Council.
Robyn Lanci

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