2017-02-22 / Editorials

Letters to the Editor

On Immigration

This letter is in response to the recent articles on immigration. My grandfather Albert Joseph Bialek came to the United States from Poland (Galicia) in 1910. Per the Ellis Island website he boarded the ship Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse in Bremen, Germany (formerly Prussia). He had just completed his service in the Austrian army. Poland at that time was divided into three spheres of influence by Austria, Prussia and Russia. Upon being discharged he returned to his father’s farm. Officers from the Austrian army made an attempt to re-enlist him, but tradition dictated that he could remain at home so long as he was sorely needed on the farm. Immediately after the officers departed Albert’s father gave him his brother’s travel documents and instructed him to emigrate to the United States. His father knew that war was coming and he didn’t want to lose his son to it. It took me longer to locate my grandfather on the passenger list because I had forgotten he was traveling under the name Jan, and not Albert. Given the fact that Albert entered the United States under the name Jan Bialek and later burned his immigration papers it is evident he was, by definition, an “illegal immigrant.” He went on to become a very hardworking brick mason and law-abiding citizen raising 12 children with the help of his Polish wife Mary, (nee Mazan) and the rest, as they say, is history.

Just as Cleveland, Ohio is a city of neighborhoods, so is the United States a country of immigrants. In fact, all the major cities of America at one time served as incubators for immigrants to not only become accustomed to the ways of this country, but also to intermingle with each other (often prohibited in their native homeland). It’s a shame that the inner cities were handed over to the absentee landlords following World War ll. Just imagine how much stronger and united our country might have been had this unofficial tradition continued. Gentrification is not the answer. Preventing immigration is not the solution. Intense vetting is acceptable during these challenging times but to unfairly deny one person access to the United States makes us all orphans again. As a popular song goes: “Let me in immigration man.”

Joe Bialek
Cleveland, OH

Black History Month

To The Editor:

February is Black History month and one name comes to mind: that is Rosa Parks. I believe Rosa Parks was an icon in the civil rights movement and is quite revered and respected for what she did. She was a woman whose simple act of defiance helped change a segregated America. Rosa Parks lived in a time where blacks were subjected to harsh Jim Crow laws, where there was segregation in restaurants, hotels and buses. Her non-violent action sparked a revolution that led to the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. She defied the law of her day over 60 years ago, on Dec. 1, 1955, when she refused to give up her seat to a white man while riding on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama.

What she did took a tremendous amount of courage and conviction, though she said in later years she did not plan to do so, but enough was enough. I guess she did not know that she would be making a great difference in the lives of her fellow Americans. She stood up against what she believed was wrong, and by doing so changed a generation and moved the civil rights movement closer to equality. In my opinion, America remembers a truly great American, this being Black History month.

Frederick R. Bedell Jr.
Glen Oaks Village

Update Voter Registration

To The Editor:

I commend the Gazette for interesting, insightful editorials, historical articles and news items that educate us and inspire us.

Valentine’s Day is commercialized and overrated like so many of the holidays. I think that love and kindness, sharing and gifts should be of oneself and doing for others through volunteering. It is 26 years since I began to volunteer for Catholic Charities, and it is my joy to bring light to countless homebound Meals on Wheels people, and through telephone reassurance. I also agree that more should be done for senior citizens, the middle class and of course, the disabled population. I was horrified to learn that an autistic 10-yearold child was locked up in a cage. She is not a beast or an animal. This is horrible, and goes back to ancient times. There is so much fear about disability, especially blindness.

I am glad that Steinway Street will be revitalized. I remember it as a child growing up – all of the stores and businesses, and the hustle and bustle. I pay tribute to our Council Member in Astoria, to our Congress Member Maloney, to the Crowleys, and to all who work hard to make this a better borough, city and nation.

I like the information about what happened in the Star Journal on a certain date. My grandfather was a bandsman and corporal in the Spanish American War, so remember the Maine reminded me of my grandfather’s military service.

I am glad that the voter laws will be changed. Yes there should be early voting, absentee ballots without an excuse for having one, and immediate registration. New York has the worst, most antiquated voting system in this country, and hopefully it will be improved.

I am glad that the fashion industry brings in a lot of revenue for our city. In fact, we have the best fashion week of any other country. I am proud of our city.

I certainly applaud the idea of having a law passed to avoid scams that affect senior citizens who are vulnerable in every sense of the word.

I also hope that the situation with our president and our nation heals.

Cynthia Groopman
Little Neck

Hakim An Excellent Choice

To The Editor:

Following in the footsteps of previous MTA President Tom Prendergast, Veronique “Ronnie” Hakim is an excellent choice as interim Executive Director. She is an even better one to serve as the next permanent MTA President.

As current New York City Transit President, she runs the nation’s largest bus and subway system. This positions her, head and shoulders, above any potential rival to be the ideal candidate for running the nation’s largest public transit system – the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

Previously, she served as Special Counsel at NYC Transit as well as Executive Vice President and President. As General Counsel at MTA Capital Construction, she worked on mega projects such as the Second Avenue Subway, East Side Access and the 7 train extension to Hudson Yards. She has served as the Executive Director of NJ TRANSIT, the nation’s second largest transit agency. She also served as Executive Director of the New Jersey Turnpike Authority.

While working for both the MTA and New Jersey Transit, she never promised what could not be delivered. As they say in Brooklyn, her word was her bond. This gave her excellent credibility with other major funding agencies, such as the US Department of Transportation Federal Transit Administration. The MTA is heavily dependent upon USDOT FTA for $6 billion in formula and potentially $1 to $2 billion more in discretionary competitive funding to support the MTA’s $27 billion 2015-2019 Five Year Capital Program. She makes an excellent advocate for USDOT FTA formula and potentially billions more in future federal discretionary dollars. The MTA could not find a better permanent leader. She has the experience to hit the ground running on behalf of commuters and taxpayers.

Larry Penner
Great Neck

Prehistoric Reality Show

To The Editor:

Welcome back to the Cretaceous Period (145 to 66 million years ago).

This time, donald j. troglodyte drained the swamp and replaced the alligators and crocodiles with carnivorous dinosaurs (a cabinet of very rich, right-wing radicals). Donald j. troglodyte and the Republican party are doing a “reality show” on the American public. The Republicans, as usual, are bending their principles to achieve their economic goals. Although the crudeness and violence of this reality show resembles prehistoric times, no realities are revealed, because like all reality shows, it is staged.

Donald j. troglodyte’s supporters, the pterodactyls, are defenseless flying reptiles that have refused to land, despite 90-mile per hour wind gusts (travel bans, juvenile hissyfit news conferences, possible acts of treason, etc.). Donald j. troglodyte just a moment ago refused to deny the rumor his caves shall be guarded by loyal pterodactyls (an “alternative fact,” but already, some pterodactyls believe it).

The pterodactyls will eventually perch upon the swamp to be devoured by the carnivorous dinosaurs (tax cuts for the rich; no estate tax; flat taxes and sales taxes rather than income taxes; corporate and capital gains tax rates lower than wage tax rates; foreign tax shelters; oil depletion allowances; underfunded public education; excessive and unnecessary voter registration requirements; an unlivable minimum wage; ever-more military spending; attacks on the press; for-profit infrastructure and public works projects; for-profit prisons; for-profit privatized Social Security; for-profit medical care – for-profit everything, all taxed below wage tax rates).

The surviving participants of the show, some having eaten other dinosaurs, will depart when the ratings decline. (The stock market rolls over, a crisis is bungled, or voters rebel as promises go unfulfilled). Let’s hope it doesn’t take another asteroid hitting earth (the use of nuclear weapons, for example) for us mammals to prosper again.

Leonard Lanzone
Astoria

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