2018-02-28 / Editorials

Letters to the Editor

Don’t Cap Children’s Svcs.

A copy of this letter was received at
the offices of the Queens Gazette.
February 22, 2018
The Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo
Governor of New York State
NYS State Capitol Building
Albany. NY 12224
Re: City of New York Child Welfare
Services

Dear Governor Cuomo:

I am extremely concerned about the proposed spending cap on reimbursements to the City of New York for child welfare services (A9503/S7503. pp. 243. line 46). Since FY 2018-19 Executive Budget proposal was released last month, the advocates have made it clear that the $320 million reimbursement cap, intended to produce savings to the state, will yield grave fiscal consequences for the City of New York and those under the care of the Administration for Children’s Services.

The current reimbursement system has contributed to lower child protective caseloads and a decrease in juvenile justice detentions and placements. The proposed $320 million cap runs counter to our shared goal of keeping children out of foster care and the juvenile justice system. When the state has implemented caps in the past, New York City foster care placements spiked. In 2017 there were 157 more placements than there were in 2016. This is not the time to cut off the very funding that can prevent more children from being institutionalized.

I urge you to work with David Hansell, Commissioner of the Administration for Children’s Services, and hard working New Yorkers, advocates and labor unions, such as DC-37 and SSEU Local 371, to reverse this dangerous proposal.

Sincerely,
Jose R. Peralta
New York State Senate

Threatens Livelihoods

A copy of the letters were received at
the offices of the Queens Gazette.
February 15, 2018
MTA New York City Transit
Andy Byford
President
2 Broadway
New York, NY 10004

Dear Mr. Byford:

We write to follow up an urgent request from Astoria business owners for relief, including shuttle bus service between subway stations that are completely shut down while undergoing mainly cosmetic construction as part of the Enhanced Station Initiative (ESI) in Astoria, Queens.

In late October 2017, the MTA closed the 30th Avenue and 36th Avenue stations on the elevated N and W line as part of the MTA’s Enhanced Station Initiative, which implements cosmetic enhancements without any structural, signal, or accessibility improvements to these stations. This ill-advised approach is now having a serious impact on Astoria residents and businesses. Unfortunately, the MTA failed to take into account the effect these shutdowns and attendant street impediments would have on the numerous businesses along these busy corridors that depend on the foot traffic from these stations.

On February 1, a meeting was held between the MTA and local business owners to give them a chance to inform the MTA of the devastating impact from those station closures and construction. Over 60 business owners came to that meeting and expressed the dire drop-off in business and pressing need for shuttle bus service to help usher people back to 30th and 36th Avenues. Small businesses in our community cannot be allowed to suffer while these stations are closed for aesthetic enhancements.

We understand that any improvement project entails inconvenience for the surrounding community. But when livelihoods are threatened, this goes beyond mere inconvenience. When a project will not improve train service or accessibility, it is especially appropriate that the MTA do everything in its power to alleviate the community’s suffering.

We respectfully request that you provide shuttle service or other relief to businesses and residents suffering because of the 30th Avenue and 36th Avenue stations that are currently undergoing construction and for the Broadway and 39th Avenue stations that will be affected starting in July. We look forward to reaching a solution to protect the livelihoods of Astoria’s small business owners. Sincerely,

Michael Gianaris,
New York State Senate
Aravella Simotas,
New York State Assembly
Costa Constantinides,
New York City Council

•••

Dear Mr. Byford,

We write to oppose the plans for the Station Renewal construction project at Ditmars Boulevard, unless it includes accessibility upgrades and service improvements.

Our community agrees—over 850 New Yorkers have already signed our petition to oppose the construction.

Residents and small business owners will have to endure sidewalk congestion, intermittent weekend closures, noise, loss of parking, and traffic from the construction materials and equipment that will be stored on 31st Street throughout the entire 14-month renovation. Small business owners are understandably worried that they will lose business as a consequence of the construction hurting visibility of their shops and restaurants, eliminating parking spots and increasing sidewalk congestion.

We understand the station is old and needs repair work, but the MTA must take this opportunity to make long-term infrastructure updates to the station. These infrastructure updates should include making the station accessible in compliance with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) as well as track work and signal upgrades to improve subway service.

Our community is already suffering the effects of the ill-advised Enhanced Station Initiative that has closed the 30th Avenue and 36th Avenue stations, at a great cost, for cosmetic upgrades.

As there are currently no elevators along any of the N/W stations in western Queens, ADA accessibility is needed by people with disabilities, parents with strollers, and seniors. Commuters across Astoria are in dire need of service improvements as subway delays and signal failures are now an everyday occurrence.

The MTA has shown a blatant disregard for our community and its representatives during this process. There has been no opportunity to collect public input. Elected officials and the community board were informed about the project only two months before the planned start. The Authority did not provide any written notification or written information to the community board or to elected officials.

If the MTA does not comprehensively address infrastructure along our subway lines with long-term improvements including modernized signals and accessibility upgrades, it will continue to fail Astoria residents.

Sincerely,
State Senator Michael Gianaris,
12th Senate District
State Assembly Member Aravella
Simotas, 36th Assembly District
City Council Member Costa
Constantinides, 22nd Council District

Defies Comprehension

To The Editor:

As a father of an adopted son who died from a gun the loss of any child tears at the heart. The sudden onslaught of anguish at random moments makes the concept of closure ridiculous. I see the pain in the faces of my other children when memories take hold of what was and should be.

Gun advocates have had the power to end all common-sense reforms. The money of the NRA and the willing acceptance by the GOP of that sugar pot has preempted Congress from debating even modest reforms. Trump reversing Obama’s restrictions on the availability to mentally ill people…of weapons is startling. The GOP refusal to prevent people on the No-Fly List from being able to purchase a gun defies comprehension.

The question of why a victim has less rights than a gun advocate demands examination. What rational person believes a military assault rifle is needed for hunting or that our homes are so exposed to threat that military-type preparedness is needed?

After decades, reform seems inevitable. The amazing reality is that the very victims of gun violence, our children, will force change.

Ed Horn
Baldwin, LI

Rail Co’s Bad Faith

A copy of this letter was received at the
offices of the Queens Gazette.
February 21, 2018
Joseph Lhota, Chairman
Metropolitan Transportation Authority
2 Broadway
New York, NY 10004
RE: New York Atlantic Railway freight
operation over the LIRR

Dear Chairman Lhota:

We were shocked to learn of the recent serious allegations regarding labor law violations the New York & Atlantic Railway (NYAR) reported in The New York Times on February 14, 2017. Along with ongoing questions regarding safety, including not adhering to railroad crossing regulations and crew fitness, we must again state that we are opposed to the continued operation of the freight operation by this entity. As you know we were opposed to the renewal of this contract. There is little improvement (in) civic engagement. Safety and other complaints by the community seem to be ignored. And now we see that railroad work is performed by employing low-wage, ill-trained workers, in violation of New York’s Labor Law and FRA regulations.

It appears that the employees may have been working for a contractor of the NYAR. Even if this is the case, NYAR is under a duty to ensure that its contractor is not violating safety and other labor law violations.

In 1997 the original agreement with NYAR included an additional agreement between the parties and the Queens borough president that called for a community advisory committee. Instead of forming this committee, NYAR obtained a letter from the New York City Corporation Counsel that stated that the agreement was not binding. The bad faith from NYAR began then and has continued to this day.

The MTA and the LIRR must perform a full review of the continued relationship with NYAR in light of these allegations as well as the safety issues raised by our local community. If these allegations prove to be accurate, then the MTA must sever its agreement with NYAR.

Sincerely,
Catherine Nolan, State Assembly Member
Michael Miller, State Assembly Member
Joseph Addabbo, State Senator
cc: Patrick Nowakowski, President, Long
Island Rail Road
Barry Kluger, Inspector General,
Metropolitan Transportation Authority
Gary Giordano, District Manager, Queens
Community Board 5
Mary Parisen, Civics United for Railroad
Environmental Solutions (CURES)
Roe Daraio, President, Communities of
Maspeth & Elmhurst Together
Christina Wilkinson, President, Citizens
for a Better Maspeth

Kidney Donors Needed

To The Editor:

I have just received a phone call from a member of my council, which is St. Anastasia Knights of Columbus 5911 in Douglaston, where I serve as grand knight. Donald Freeman is currently on dialysis for the last two years and is need of a kidney. Donald tells me the average waiting time for a kidney transplant is between 5-10 years. Now that I find quite sad and unacceptable. Added to that the person waiting on this list could have passed away by then. I would like to call upon all who can and are willing to donate a kidney or any other organ to please get tested and registered. There are many who truly need this gift of extended life, for life is most sacred. For more information, please go to the National Kidney Foundation at www.kidney.org. They will help you with any questions you might have and where to register as a donor. Remember many men, women and children want what you have to offer, and that is life. Added to that, Donald Freeman will be very grateful if a kidney is found for him before it is too late.

Frederick R. Bedell Jr.
Glen Oaks Village

Gun Control Now!

To The Editor:

There is absolutely no logical reason for any gun shop or gun show to be selling major assault weapons. The only people who should have those weapons legally are law enforcement and our military. Also, the legal age to purchase firearms should be raised to 21 nationally. Why is the NRA so opposed to that? Mr. LaPierre, the very vocal and agitating president of the NRA, should be in full support of both of these measures. Nobody is trying to take away the legitimate and legal right for a person who has passed a thorough background check to purchase and own a weapon, nor is anyone trying to take away the Second Amendment. Teachers are in classrooms to teach, not to carry weapons to use should a shooting situation develop in their schools. That is the responsibility of our police officers and SWAT teams, to respond to an active shooting situation at any school. Congress needs to stop dawdling with this very serious issue and work to bring about these desperately needed changes. On March 24, this country will hear the outraged and angry voices of millions of people, led by the students from Parkland, Florida, demanding that gun violence stop and stop NOW, as they converge and march on Washington, DC. Then the politicians in our do-nothing Congress will be forced to sit up and take notice and listen to all of these outraged Americans. Stop kowtowing to the NRA, Congress! They do not run this country— you do, and had better start running it the right way! No more mass shootings, no more gun violence, and much tougher gun laws and laws affecting those people who are mentally ill who are able to obtain these murderous weapons of death and destruction.

John Amato
Fresh Meadows

Real Cash Needed

To The Editor:

Washington is still willing to help fund construction of the $29 billion Gateway Tunnel project, but needs NY & NJ to also have skin in the game. The Gateway Development Corporation math doesn’t add up for fully funding the Gateway tunnel without real dollars from both New York and New Jersey. Governor Cuomo promised $1.75 billion (loaned from the Federal Rail Road Administration to be paid back by annual debt service payments), New Jersey Governor Murphy $1.9 billion (same loan to be paid back by surcharge on riders’ fares starting in 2021 and ending in 2038) with the Port Authority kicking in $1.9 billion. Why doesn’t Murphy use the NJ Transportation Trust fund for his share? They claim coming up with 50 percent or $5.5 billion for the local share should justify Washington kicking in another 50 percent or $5.5 billion to pay for $11 billion toward the Gateway Tunnel. Both Murphy and Cuomo conveniently forget that the total Gateway project cost is $29 billion. Both Cuomo and Murphy naively believe that these dollars could be used as part of the 50 percent local share to leverage federal dollars.

Why would the Federal Transit Administration have accepted other federal dollars under its New Starts program local share financing requirements? This would be double-dipping using FRA funding toward the local share to obtain additional dollars from the FTA.

Without real hard cash financial resources from Washington ($14.6 billion), NY ($7.3 billion) and NJ ($7.3 billion), how will the Gateway Tunnel be paid for? A project can’t be financed by just borrowing and fare surcharges alone. Washington, Trenton and Albany all share equal blame for the lack of a real $29 billion Gateway Tunnel financing package.

Don’t count on Congress eliminating the FTA New Starts program to help pay for President Trump’s proposed federal share of his $1.5 trillion 10-year infrastructure program.

Larry Penner
Great Neck, New York

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