2018-03-14 / Editorials

Letters to the Editor

Open Letter To Trump

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo issued the following open letter to President Trump, a copy of which was received at the offices of the Queens Gazette. Dear Mr. President,

The old adage is right: “go with your first instinct.” Your White House meeting with bipartisan federal legislators right after the Florida massacre appeared, and was, unscripted and productive. You essentially had one question that summed up what every American was feeling: “Why?” Why sell guns to young people who can’t yet buy a beer? Why sell assault weapons that are designed to kill so many people so quickly? Why not take guns from the mentally ill before they hurt someone or themselves? Why not make sure every gun purchaser goes through a background check?

There was no answer from the electeds assembled, because there is no answer—except the one you suggested—they are afraid of the NRA.

Major political change comes when a window of opportunity opens and a leader seizes the moment. There are brief moments in history where attention, passion and drive combine to unite the American people and overwhelm the forces preserving the status quo and create change.

The American gun crisis has long been a plague and scourge on our country. You can do something about it and the American people would support it. This is the moment. The Republicans will follow your lead. Yes, they fear the NRA, but they fear the enraged citizen majority more.

In New York, after the Sandy Hook massacre, the nation had a similar moment. It was a moment of grief and pain and anger. Sandy Hook touched the hearts and minds of everyday Americans. It was anyone’s child—it was everyone’s child. In the immediate aftermath of Sandy Hook we passed the New York SAFE Act—common sense gun safety. It has made a dramatic difference, it didn’t negatively affect any legal gun owners, and I believe it has saved lives.

Mentally ill and dangerous people shouldn’t have guns, so we need universal background checks. When a person shows signs of mental distress or violence, there should be a provision for police to investigate and determine the facts—a “red flag bill.” Domestic violence offenders should not have guns. Assault weapons are too dangerous in the wrong hands, and not worth the risk. In 1938 we outlawed machine guns in this country precisely for the same reason; they were too dangerous if obtained by the wrong person. Does anyone miss not owning machine guns?

For those of us who serve in government, if we are lucky, we may have a few moments that present a real opportunity to make a lasting difference. There are brief openings where transformational progress is possible and you have that opportunity now. The moments are rare and fleeting. They are leadership moments—don’t squander it.

The political advisors are wrong. NRA members will be nervous about any government change and intervention, but they will ultimately realize a functioning system vindicates legitimate gun owners, rather than demonizing all. If you lose this moment, I am sad to say there will probably be another shooting and the country will be in the same place. It will once again pose the question that you posed—”Why?” “Why didn’t we do anything about this after Florida?” You have the responsibility to stop that from happening.

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo


Dear Friend,

We won two important battles in the courts (last) week, two decisions that resulted in setbacks for the federal government, and specifically for Trump. Two victories that protect us from un-American policies.

In one instance, the Supreme Court turned down the request by the Trump administration to review DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), keeping the protections for young Americans in place. We need to find a permanent solution to protect the more than 42,000 DREAMers in New York. In the second reversal, a federal appeals court ruled that sexual orientation discrimination is sex discrimination.

This is a huge victory since the LGBTQ community has argued that the law banning employment discrimination based on sex also protects people on the basis of sexual orientation.

As my constituents are being attacked on the national level, I am at the forefront of the battle at the state level, leading the charge to protect New Yorkers, including immigrants, DREAMers, the LGBTQ community and the working class.

Jose Peralta
NYS Senate

Follow The Resources

To The Editor:

Tom Clancy, author of many fictional novels addressing Russian threats to the US, wrote “Red Storm Rising,” a novel based upon an oil shortage which causes Russian leadership to determine war is the only means to remaining in power.

America will shortly be the world leader in oil production. The US oil supply will guarantee all nations a reliable market that will diminish the Russian hold on Eastern Europe, while denying Putin power and foreign capital.

Perhaps the reality of oil had as much to do with Putin’s attacks during our national election as his evident and declared hatred of Hillary Clinton. Maybe Tom Clancy was a clairvoyant who could foresee what Russia would do if its only national resource failed their economy.

What Putin began in 2016 will continue in 2018. The Trump administration’s national security leadership has so stated before Congress. The administration has failed to enforce the sanctions passed against Russia overwhelmingly nearly a year ago. The national security leadership stated that they have not received orders from Trump to act to counter Putin’s aggression. Congress investigating Trump’s connections with Russia may look into whether oil production deserves inquiry.

Ed Horn
Baldwin, LI

MVP Update

Dear Parents and Members of the MVP Community:

We’re pleased to report another win in our fight against the Brooklyn Diocese’s lawsuit over our space on the Christ the King High School campus. The latest ruling came on February 14 in response to a motion by the Diocese to prevent us from enrolling new students while the court case is pending and to move this case ahead of others on the court calendar.

The Appellate Division judges denied the motion unanimously, by a vote of 4-0. Our lawyers inform us that given the number of cases before the court, this case may not be before the judges again for perhaps a year.

This is great news for all of us who care about MVP—including current students and families, and families and students who wish to join our school for the 2018-19 school year. Just as a reminder, all current students are guaranteed a spot for next year. We will accept applications for 6th grade and the deadline for submitting applications is April 1. Admissions preference is given to siblings of current students, children of MVP employees, and residents of our community school district. If applications exceed available seats, we will hold our lottery on April 13, and anyone not selected in the lottery will be placed on a wait list. As you also may know, our charter is up for renewal with the SUNY Board of Trustees, and we have been led to believe our renewal is not in doubt.

Your support and activism throughout this ordeal with the Diocese have been invaluable— whether attending rallies or making your voices heard in other ways. We have accomplished great things together for your children and our community, including mitigating the massive overcrowding in our local public schools.

Over the holidays, our students wrote letters to Bishop DiMarzio asking him to drop the lawsuit and also wrote His Holiness, Pope Francis, asking him to intervene on our behalf. We remain hopeful they will hear our students’ message.

To refresh your memory, the Diocese has sued over the existence of a charter school on CTK grounds, notwithstanding our students’ great academic progress and the reality that most of our students are, in fact, Catholic and many eventually attend Catholic high schools (often on scholarship).

An initial lower court ruling went against us, but we were able to get a stay of the enforcement of that decision pending our appeal. It’s unclear how much longer the legal process may take. But as we have communicated to you previously, we have invited the Diocese to sit with us to find a way to achieve our common goals in partnership, instead of fighting this out in court. The Diocese so far has not been interested.

We will continue to keep you posted as developments occur.

As always, feel free to contact me if you have any questions, concerns or thoughts.

Josephine C. Lume
Board Chair, Middle Village Preparatory Charter

International Women’s Day

To The Editor:

I am delighted to present this look “Inside Queensborough,” a sampling of the many stories inspired by our diverse community of outstanding faculty, students and mentors. History also served as inspiration for these stories and for the accompanying notes of interest, photographs and images. In our cover story we honor the New Yorkers who fought for women’s suffrage in the 19th and 20th centuries, as well as those who champion gender equality today.

Our faculty are among these champions. Queensborough, in all its endeavors, is known for its strong faculty—82 percent hold doctoral or terminal degrees—three times the national average. Thanks to the dedication and engagement of our faculty, we are recognized nationally for our student centered learning environment, our innovative programs and awards, our growth and the social mobility of our students.

Women in our state won the right to vote exactly 100 years ago this past November, three years before the 19th amendment made women’s suffrage the law of the land. That critical moment in America’s history resonates at Queensborough, where more than half of all students are women and where I am honored to serve as the first woman president.

A century later, we know our society has benefitted from gender equality. We will illuminate this further in the spring with activities related to our Common Read text, “My Beloved World,” by Sonia Sotomayor. It is a memoir of her journey from a Bronx housing project to a seat on the Supreme Court.

It is also fitting that on our campus—where typically half of our students were born in other countries—that our first articles are about other pioneers from diverse backgrounds. And with diversity, comes innovation.

One story tells of an ongoing, unique interdisciplinary laboratory class developed by two of our professors, an anthropologist and a molecular biologist. Their goal is to show students that even if they come from distant parts of the world, they may very well be connected through mitochondrial DNA and its ancient matriarchal lineage.

In the future, we hope to continue to highlight stories about our faculty and staff and students.

We also hope to pass on to our students the need to prepare for opportunity while always allowing for choice.

I am proud that we have grown to be one community with infinite possibilities. www.online.flowpaper.com/773c072c/FINALInsideQueensboroughFinalLargeCK2/... to read Inside Queensborough.

Dr. Diane B. Call
Queensborough Community College, CUNY

MTA Bus Anniversary!

To The Editor:

It was 13 years ago, in 2005, when the City of New York completed the purchase of seven remaining private bus operator franchises. This included Green Bus Lines, Jamaica Buses, Triboro Coach Corporation along with Queens Surface providing service in Queens, Command Bus (Brooklyn), Liberty Lines Bronx Express and New York Bus Service (Bronx). The Metropolitan Transportation Authority created a new operating agency: MTA Bus to continue service previously provided by the private bus operators. Subsequently, they entered into 50-year lease agreements to utilize and operate all of their garages. The deal was supposed to benefit riders and taxpayers.

Prior to 2005, the New York City Department of Transportation using a combination of city, state and federal funding provided both capital and operating assistance to all seven private bus operators. Virtually all of the capital funding was provided by grants from the US Department of Transportation Federal Transit Administration. For 35 years, these grant funds paid for replacement buses, radios, fare boxes, bus stop shelters, bus washers, facility improvements and new bus garages for Queens Surface in College Point, and Command Bus in Canarsie, Brooklyn. All seven bus companies including Green Bus Lines, Jamaica Buses, Queens Surface (formerly Steinway Bus Corporation and Queens Bus), Triboro Coach Corporation, Command Bus, Liberty Lines Bronx Express and New York Bus Service could not survive on farebox revenues alone. With insufficient income, they all counted on NYCDOT starting in the 1970s to begin purchasing replacement buses, fareboxes, radios and other support equipment for their respective aging bus fleets. In many cases, bus operators had to operate and maintain buses well beyond the industry standard useful life of 12 years and or 500,000 miles. Too many buses in revenue service were between 12 and 27 years old with far more mileage. It took NYCDOT too many years to complete any bus procurements before operators received and could provide the riding public with new modern buses. Give MTA Bus credit for purchasing hundreds of new buses and investments to upgrade antiquated bus garages far more quickly than NYCDOT ever could.

The operational savings for taxpayers never appeared. Instead the $100 million per year New York City subsidy formerly provided to the private bus operators have grown to over $200 million for MTA Bus. The private bus company owners earn several million per year from MTA Bus for leasing their facilities. Potential operational savings by consolidation of duplicative routes between New York City Transit Bus and MTA Bus never took place. The same was true for reducing deadheading costs by reassigning bus routes between MTA Bus and NYCT Bus to closer garages for reduction of operating costs. Work rules and contracts between different labor unions representing employees at NYCT Bus and MTA Bus have prevented any changes to the status quo.

We have gone full-circle from private to public operators over the past 60 years. Was it was worth it for riders of the original routes operated by the old Green Bus Lines, Jamaica Buses, Triboro Coach Corporation, Command Bus, Liberty Lines Bronx Express and New York Bus Service? Ditto for taxpayers? Time will tell

Larry Penner
Great Neck

Serve The People, Not NRA

To The Editor:

The suggestion by President Trump that some teachers could be allowed to carry guns is totally ridiculous! Teachers already have many responsibilities in their day-to-day activities with their students. They do not need to be further burdened with the responsibility of carrying weapons and having to use one should a situation arise in their school. Would it not be more prudent to hire retired police officers and security guards who already are legally licensed to carry a gun to be at the entrances to each school building to increase security and protection for students and staff? Again, there must be significant changes in the gun regulations in our country, and the politicians who are beholden to the NRA should be ashamed of themselves. The NRA has entirely too much power and influence in Congress and this has got to stop. Nobody is trying to take away a person’s right to legally and safely own a weapon. What needs to be stopped is the sale of all military assault weapons in gun shops and at gun shows across this country now. There is no logical reason for anybody to own an assault rifle, unless they are in the military or law enforcement—period! Background checks must become much more stringent than before, and raising the legal age at which a person can purchase a weapon needs to also be implemented. Congress, get off your asses and start doing the job you were elected to do by the American people and not be political patsies for the NRA and their rantings!

John Amato
Fresh Medows

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