2017-02-01 / Editorials

Letters to the Editor

Arts Cuts Soul-Crippling

A copy of this letter was received at the Queens
Gazette.
Dear President Trump:

As the Majority Leader of the New York City Council and the Chair of the Committee on Cultural Affairs and Libraries, I am extremely concerned by any proposed budget which would strip funding from the National Endowment for the Arts or the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS). Our creativity, our entrepreneurial spirit, and our willingness to push the boundaries of what is possible are essential to our country – and all of this is rooted in art and culture.

The arts help us communicate the unsayable, envision impossible futures, and connect us to one another in ways that almost nothing else can. Arts and culture are vital to creating the American spirit. Defunding the NEA would irreparably cripple the soul of our country.

We simply cannot cut funding to the programs that make America the world leader that it is. American artists are on the cutting edge across the globe, and people from Australia to Antarctica follow culture that comes out of our country. There is a story that during the Second World War, Winston Churchill’s finance minister suggested cutting arts spending to fund the war effort. Churchill famously responded: “Then what are we fighting for?” Without art, and without culture, how much of a world leader can America truly be?

Arts and culture are also key drivers of the American economy. Every year, arts and culture drives $135.2 billion of economic activity, supports 4.13 million full-time jobs and generates $86.68 billion in resident household income. Local, state, and federal governments collectively invest $4 billion into arts and culture each year, and receive $22.3 billion in revenue. As a businessman, you should know that this is an exceptional return on investment.

If we cut funding to the NEA, not only the American economy but also the American spirit will suffer. I strongly urge you to not just maintain funding for the NEA, but to increase it – because you can’t make anything great by crushing its soul. Sincerely,

Jimmy Van Bramer
Majority Leader, New York City Council
Chair of Committee on Cultural Affairs and
Libraries

No Voter Fraud

To The Editor:

President Trump repeats the claim that but for fraudulent voting by illegal immigrants and by those “long dead” he would have won the popular vote. Clearly the reality that Clinton was more popular than he irritates Trump, and to him is an attempt to diminish his presidency.

As the Republicans have extensive control of governorships, legislatures and secretaries of states who are responsible for voting, it would seem voter misconduct or fraudulent behavior would have received a vigorous response.

Yet the National Association of Secretaries of State maintained, “We are not aware of any evidence that supports the voter fraud claims made by Trump…” The GOP controls 68 out of 98 partisan legislative Chambers, the highest in history. Republicans currently hold governorships and both Houses of the legislatures in 23 states.

No one knows what Trump truly believes. If he is lying or is delusional is the question. The consequences for either is concerning for the man who has the power of Commander in Chief.

Ed Horn
Baldwin, LI

Deeply Disturbed

To The Editor:

On Friday January 20, 2017 my husband Al and myself witnessed the inauguration of Donald J. Trump in Washington D.C. We had been invited because of our involvement in many of the 9/11 issues that are still a concern for us.

The ceremony was beautiful. The crowds were immense. There were cheers as our new president Donald Trump was sworn in. It was a day that we will remember forever. The peaceful transference of power occurred without incident for all who were in attendance.

As we headed home, our daughter Kathleen who now lives in Texas contacted us to ask if we were OK. She told us that what was shown on the TV was destruction and violence and mayhem. We told her that none of that existed near the inauguration site. We were so surprised. When we returned home we turned on the TV and sure enough that was the primary coverage of a beautiful respectful day.

I am fully aware that many were not for Donald Trump. We supported him because of his issues. We were not concerned with his manner. We were concerned about our country and our enormous debt that our children and grandchildren will be responsible for. That was our choice. We never insulted anyone who had different views. In America we have the right to disagree with each other. I had very strong views about the Democratic platform and what their vision for America was. I am and have been a Democrat all my life. I could not in my good conscience vote with the Democratic platform. Again, I have the right as an American citizen to vote my conscience. I did.

I am deeply disturbed at what is currently happening. As a former teacher, I am constantly looking for teacher moments. Disrupting, insulting, behaving in violence, teaching kids never to admit defeat, bullying, using one’s influence as in the celebrities voices to persuade a single opinion is just wrong. Kids are viewing us all the time. Our actions speak louder than we think. Broadcasting, giving a slanted view, lying about the truth is being noticed. Donald Trump is our president. Many were unhappy that Barack Obama was elected but opponents did not riot, lie, give slanted views like we have seen now. Barack Obama was our President. Now, Donald Trump is our President of the United States of America. The office deserves respect. Let us teach our children that we lose sometimes. We are not happy about it, but we move on. We can vow to change that in the next election. What is happening here is not productive. It is very harmful We never have to agree but we do need to show respect for different views. That is what our future generation needs to see and hear.

Sincerely,
Maureen Santora

Condemns Trump’s Orders

To The Editor:

Donald Trump signed two executive orders that demonstrate his continued hostility to immigrants and his reckless approach toward cities committed to protecting immigrant families. These orders to build a wall on the US-Mexico border and punish sanctuary cities by cutting their federal funds are simply wrong and potentially dangerous to our public safety.

The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) condemns these executive actions, which foster a culture of fear and jeopardize the wellbeing of individuals in diverse Asian American communities across the country. We are also concerned about other anti-immigrant actions, such as a Muslim ban, and the real harm this would cause to individuals, including refugees from Muslim-majority countries. AALDEF firmly opposes the President's executive order that imposes restrictions on Muslims entering the United States. The order affects legal residents – including green card holders – who live, work, study, and have raised families in the US. AALDEF condemns the racist and Islamophobic stereotypes that are being used to impose this Muslim ban. We ask you to stand with us and speak out. Your Congressional representative and senators must hear from you: call them as soon as possible to ask them to oppose this order and demand that it be rescinded.

Nearly everyone in this country has an immigration story. Many of our families have fled religious and racial persecution, natural disasters, and even war. America still holds a special place in history as a haven for so many diverse people. We must fight to preserve this history and pass on a legacy of tolerance and justice for refugees in search of a better life.

Our team of staff attorneys is closely monitoring these actions and their impacts on Asian immigrants. We are prepared to use the courts to protect the rights of immigrants, refugees, and undocumented youth. AALDEF will also continue to conduct free legal advice clinics and offer our legal expertise to community groups fighting against these anti-immigrant actions.

Hatred, bigotry, and racism have no place in a democratic society. Please call your senators and members of Congress today to voice your opposition to Trump’s executive orders, and demand that they oppose these plans in every way they can.

Thank you for standing with immigrants and communities of color.

Margaret Fung
Executive Director, AALDEF
Led Penner

Wishful Thinking

To The Editor:

The proposed Port Authority of New York & New Jersey 10-year $32 billion Capital Plan is disappointing. Only $3.5 billion is provided toward construction of the new $10 billion 42nd Street PA Bus Terminal. It is wishful thinking that the PANYNJ can count on $6.5 billion in future federal funding to make up the difference. The PANYNJ, Metropolitan Transportation Authority, New York City Department of Transportation and other transportation agencies are counting on the same US Department of Transportation, Federal Transit or Federal Highway Administration to help provide billions toward the $24 billion Gateway Tunnel, $10 billion Cross Harbor Freight Tunnel, $6 billion Phase Two Second Avenue Subway, $200 million Metro North West Bronx Penn Station Access, $600 million Staten Island North Shore Bus Rapid Transit, $1.4 billion Staten Island West Shore Bus Rapid Transit, $1 billion restoration of LIRR service on the old Queens Rockaway LIRR branch, $2 billion Triboro X Subway Express (new subway line connecting the Bronx, Queens and Brooklyn), $2.5 billion Brooklyn- Queens Waterfront Street Car Connector (BQX) connecting various neighborhoods along the waterfront from Sunset Park, Brooklyn to Astoria, Queens, $400 million Queens Woodhaven Blvd. Bus Rapid Transit, $200 million Rockland-Westchester Tappan Zee Bridge Bus Rapid Transit (feeds into the Metro North Hudson Line Tarrytown Station and $100 million Western Queens Montauk Branch Light Rail (between Glendale and Long Island City on the old Montauk LIRR branch) among many others.

The PANYNJ reminds me of the character Wimpy who famously said, "I'll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today." Tuesday will never come for commuters and taxpayers who use and are looking for a new PANYNJ 42nd Street Bus Terminal within their lifetime.

Larry Penner
Great Neck

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