2018-02-14 / Editorials

Letters to the Editor

Protect Our Mail

A copy of this letter was received at the offices of the Queens Gazette, in which Rep. Meng calls on the USPS to install anti-theft collection boxes to combat growing identity theft and bank fraud as a result of “mail fishing.”

Mr. Elvin Mercado
Triboro District Manager
United States Postal Service
1050 Forbell Street, Room 2011
Brooklyn, NY 11256-9996
Dear Mr. Mercado:

I write to request that you take immediate steps to address mail fishing in my congressional district in Queens, New York.

Mail fishing, or the act of stealing mail from inside local mailboxes, is a growing problem across my congressional district that has serious consequences. My constituents have had their identities stolen and funds removed from their bank accounts due to checks and sensitive documents stolen directly from United States Postal Service (USPS) collection boxes. Many of the victims of mail fishing are seniors who are particularly vulnerable to these reprehensible schemes and have limited information about how to protect themselves. Mail fishing is affecting neighborhoods across my district, including Rego Park and Kew Gardens Hills.

Mail fishing has become so prevalent that local police precincts have suggested that residents bring their mail directly to the post office and not leave it in local USPS collection boxes. This is not an acceptable solution. Many post offices in my district have limited hours, and residents cannot drop off mail when post offices are closed. This also creates a significant barrier for seniors and disabled persons in my district who have issues with mobility. My constituents need the USPS to provide relief, including, but not limited to, replacing all old USPS collection boxes with anti-theft collection boxes.

Thank you for your immediate attention to this matter. I look forward to your response detailing a course of action to address the mail fishing that has tormented my constituents for months. I am happy to answer any questions you may have regarding this matter.

Grace Meng
Member of Congress

cc: The Honorable Megan J. Brennan, Postmaster General and Chief Executive Officer, United States Postal Service

Water Contamination Threat

To The Editor:

In many parts of New York State, brownfields are present because of illegal dumping of toxic chemicals and other substances into the soil. These substances, many of which are linked to cancer, percolate down to the groundwater level and can contaminate the underground water sources that many areas rely on for drinking water. These contaminated underground areas often plume out and have been discovered under homes, schools and businesses.

Other sources of drinking water can also become polluted. Take the city of Newburgh, NY. That city relies on potable water from Lake Washington. It was discovered that the lake is contaminated with a toxic substance called PFOS that is linked to cancer. It comes from foam that is used to put out electrical and chemical fires. Apparently the foam was being used and tested near the lake at a military air base over a period of time, and the residues from the foam eventually made their way into the lake. The toxin was found in the water supply of Newburgh and when some residents were tested for the presence of the toxin, their blood, in many instances, revealed levels above the federal guidelines for PFOS, especially in children. Residents were alarmed and rightly so. The town had to install a filtration system to alleviate the toxic levels. This costs big bucks! There is still the concern over the long-term effects from exposure to the contaminated water before remediation took place.

Other states face similar issues. We have all heard about the problems that Flint, Michigan has had with lead contamination in their drinking water. In many cases, lead levels in the blood of children in that community were dangerously elevated. Such levels can cause all sorts of developmental problems in young people.

On January 30, a speaker from the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG), made a presentation at the Bayside Hills Civic Association regarding the need to protect all sources of drinking water from contamination. The speaker mentioned that there are sites in Nassau and Suffolk Counties where the groundwater is compromised. If contamination sites plume out, they can cross county lines and affect other underground areas including those in parts of eastern Queens. With the cuts in the federal budget for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the burden of monitoring and maintaining the quality of our drinking water, and remediating water quality problems, is now pushed more onto the state.

Our drinking water in New York City is highly regarded for its taste and purity. But we must be ever-vigilant that it remains so. Residents across the state that have issues with their drinking water must be protected, and those water issues must be addressed.

NYPIRG is a not-for-profit, non-partisan watchdog group that works on a variety of socioeconomic issues, including consumer protection, environmental concerns, sustainable energy, public transportation, government accountability, hunger and homelessness, and voting rights.

NYPIRG is attempting to make the public aware of these drinking water problems and issues. They are also petitioning the NYS Drinking Water Quality Council, which is part of the NYS Department of Health, to commit to continue to monitor, clean up, safeguard, and properly maintain all public water systems throughout the state. They are calling on the Council to protect drinking water by establishing the strictest possible health standards for unregulated contaminants.

Please contact your local elected officials and tell them that our drinking water sources must be protected. Without potable water, we cannot function or survive.

Henry Euler

Rebuild Depleted Military

To The Editor:

The Budget Control Act of 2011 necessitated budget cuts for the Defense Department, which had a huge, negative effect on the readiness of our military.

I quote from Alan Dowd’s article in the February 2018 issue of The American Legion Magazine.

“In 2011, the Air Force had 333,370 active-duty airmen. By 2017, it had fallen to 310,000. In 2013, 31 squadrons stood down. In 2014 500 planes were to be eliminated. Just 12 percent of America’s aging bomber fleet will be able to penetrate and survive enemy air defenses.”

“In 2011, the Army’s active-duty end strength was 566,000; by 2016, it had fallen to 476,000. Only 25 percent of the Army’s combat aviation brigades are ready to deploy. Of the Army’s 58 brigade combat teams, only three could be called upon to fight tonight.”

“Before sequestration, the Marine Corps fielded 202,100 active-duty personnel; by the end of 2016 there were only 184,000 Marines. By the end of 2016, only 41 percent of Marine aircraft were able to fly.”

“Today’s Navy has only 277 active deployable ships. According to former CNO Adm. Jonathan Greenert, we need a Navy of 450 ships. Fifty-three percent of Navy aircraft cannot fly.”

We need to fund the Defense Department with adequate budgets, probably on the order of $700 billion to $750 billion per year to rebuild our military and meet our national security requirements. President Trump is on board with the funding needs.

Donald Moskowitz
Londonderry NH

Remove Garbage Trucks

To The Editor:

Sunnysiders Patricia Dorfman and Manny Gomez joined with residents of Long Island City in solidarity with their intention to address the legions of garbage trucks that line the block along 35th Avenue between 21st and 12th Streets in Ravenswood. They toured the block and saw firsthand the devastating impact of the trucks: hearing the experiences of residents who suffer effects of noxious fumes from idling trucks; traffic hazards; blocked hydrants; unswept streets; sink holes and oil spills, among many other environmental and safety hazards. They met with Victor Montesinos from Congress Member Carolyn Maloney’s office, who was present to gather information on this longstanding condition that has been resistant to the efforts of residents and local representatives. Founding member and former Chair of the Justice for All Coalition, Dr. Diane Brown, was on hand to add her group’s support for removal of the trucks. I convened the meeting to strategize about next steps; and having been a part of the 2018 Women’s March with my husband and neighbors, I am convinced that it is time for legal action and an overhaul of the political system that is deaf to the needs of community in favor of big money powerbrokers. It is time for a change, and I may be a part of that change in 2020. We are citizens, voters and taxpayers, yet we have not been successful in moving these trucks. In fact, they’ve expanded and moved up the Avenue. We pay taxes for municipal services including Sanitation, and they don’t even pick up our trash; NYCHA staff does that. They continue to swallow up lanes of traffic with the dire potential to cause a casualty. That’s when city government takes action and we’re not waiting for that. The next step will be legal action because the condition is a result of disparate treatment of residents of NYCHA living in the Ravenswood Houses.

Dr. Sharon M. Cadiz

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