2018-03-28 / Editorials

Letters to the Editor

Forcing Out Tenants

A copy of this letter was received at
the offices of the Queens Gazette.
March 22, 2018
Rick Chandler, P.E.
Commissioner, New York City
Department of Buildings
280 Broadway
New York, New York 10007

Dear Commissioner Chandler:

I write in response to serious allegations raised in recent reporting by the Associated Press and an investigation by the Housing Rights Initiative. The Kushner Companies allegedly filed false paperwork with your department in an effort to turn a quick profit by forcing out tenants in rent-regulated apartments, including several in my district in Astoria. If true, this reprehensible behavior must be halted immediately.

I appreciate your department’s expeditious investigation into this matter, and ask you to take more urgent action. While you conduct your investigation, the Kushner Companies should not be permitted to continue working on existing projects. I urge the Department of Buildings to issue an immediate stop work order on all current Kushner Companies projects until the conclusion of this investigation. Bad actors should not be allowed to benefit when they clearly flout rules meant to level the playing field for our community by protecting tenants.

This is a serious investigation, the outcome of which will affect thousands of New Yorkers. The Department of Buildings needs to send a message to the Kushner Companies and all other developers who seek to violate the public trust that allegations such as these will be taken seriously and damages will be assessed anytime there are violations. Issuing an immediate stop work order will send the message that this behavior will not be tolerated in New York.

Sincerely,
Michael Gianaris
New York State Senate

The Real Me

Dear Friends,

As many of you know, I am a proud Irish-American. Growing up in this community had a profound influence on how I was raised and how I became the person I am today. Because of this, The Irish Voice published a profile of me in their St. Patrick’s Day edition.

One of their reporters, Cahir O’Doherty, recently heard me deliver remarks at the opening of the LGBT Center in Queens. At that event, I shared that as a teenager, I was afraid to live as my authentic self, felt like I couldn’t be gay and wanted to disappear. Cahir became interested in telling my story: the evolution of a closeted teenager to an openly gay elected official. Or, as the title of the profile says, “NYC Deputy Leader Jimmy Van Bramer used to worry what you thought of him, that's over.” (www.irishcentral.com/news/irishvoice/nyc-majority-leader-jimmy-van-brame...)

I am proud of my story and happy that I had the opportunity to tell it in this in-depth and thoughtful piece. I hope you read it and share it. May it reach someone in a dark place and give them hope that life gets better. Sincerely,

Jimmy Van Bramer
Council Member, District 26

Restore Freedom Ticket

A copy of this letter was received at
the offices of the Queens Gazette.
March 5, 2018
Joe Lhota
Chairman
Metropolitan Transportation Authority
2 Broadway
New York, NY 10004

Dear Chairman Lhota:

We write today to bring to your attention the problems posed by a proposed revision to the “Freedom Ticket” plan that would significantly limit the plan’s effectiveness by preventing commuters from using Freedom Tickets to travel to and from Penn Station.

As you know, we have been avid supporters of the “Freedom Ticket” plan put forward by the New York City Transit Riders Council (NYCTRC) in 2015. The plan, if enacted as originally proposed, would ease the commutes of thousands of southeast Queens residents by allowing them to buy discounted tickets for the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR), the rail line that offers southeast Queens the fastest transit option for getting to and from Midtown Manhattan, but is currently cost prohibitive for many.

Specifically, the original proposal would have allowed passengers entering or exiting the LIRR at six southeast Queens stations (Rosedale, Laurelton, Locust Manor, St. Albans, Hollis and Queens Village) to take a one-way trip to or from Penn Station in Manhattan or Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn using a “Freedom Ticket” sold for a discounted price of $6.50. The Freedom Ticket would also include a free transfer to New York City Transit subways and buses. The present plan by the MTA, however, only allows the Freedom Ticket fare to Atlantic Terminal and excludes Penn Station.

The Freedom Ticket has great potential to reduce the cost and time burdens faced by southeast Queens transit users who commute to Manhattan. Right now these residents must either pay a high price (currently $10.25 for a one-way peak fare) for a quick trip on the LIRR, or a lower fare for a much longer trip via New York City Transit.

The NYCTRC’s proposal would give southeast Queens residents an LIRR fare to and from Manhattan that is 37 percent cheaper than the one-way peak fare. It would also give transit users who do not currently use the LIRR a more affordable way to travel and would cut their commuting times almost in half, according to a 2015 NYCTRC report.

These cost and time benefits would be a boon to southeast Queens residents and do much to make southeast Queens more accessible to the rest of the city and make the area an even more attractive place to live, work and visit. The NYCTRC proposal has thus received our most heartfelt endorsement.

The inferior Freedom Ticket pilot program now under consideration, however, would force users seeking to get to and from midtown Manhattan to transfer at Atlantic Terminal, a transfer that would substantially increase their commuting times compared to what they would be if they could travel directly between Penn Station and southeast Queens on the LIRR. This pilot would also not accurately be able to determine the amount of relief to the subway lines that the original Freedom Ticket would provide. We see very little change possible with this pilot.

For example, a weekday LIRR train departing Rosedale Station at 7:44 a.m. gets to Penn Station in only 34 minutes, which is about the time it takes for an LIRR train to get from Rosedale Station to Atlantic Terminal. But LIRR riders who transfer at Atlantic Terminal face a subway ride of at least a half-hour to reach Penn Station. That means a commute from Rosedale to Penn Station that takes only 34 minutes on the LIRR takes more than an hour for a commuter who transfers from the LIRR to the subway at Atlantic Terminal.

Given this significant limitation, without the option of Penn Station, I expect few southeast Queens residents would use Freedom Tickets if the pilot program is implemented in its current state. The pilot is therefore being set up for failure, an outcome that is unacceptable given the huge amount of promise that the original Freedom Ticket plan held. Therefore, the proposed six month pilot to Atlantic Terminal is unacceptable, as it will not properly serve SEQ residents, allow for sufficient outreach in the community, nor gauge their use of a long term program.

Thank you for your time and attention to this important matter.

Sincerely,
Queens Borough President Melinda Katz;
Congress Member Gregory Meeks; NYS
Senator Leroy Comrie; Assembly Member
Alicia Hyndman; NYC Council Member
Adrienne Adams; Assembly Member
Clyde Vanel; Council Member I. Daneek
Miller; and NYS Senator James Sanders

Weird Weather

To The Editor:

Our region had its 4th major nor’easter in 3 weeks, but it not uncommon for such storms to occur in the month of March. While it is now officially spring, sometimes a wintry pattern can remain for a few more weeks because of the diurnal lag in the angle of the sun. While the angle of the sun continues to increase, it usually takes a longer time for its full effects of warming the ground temperatures. Some of the worst snowstorms have occurred in the month of March and even into early April. Remember the Great Blizzard of March 1888 buried the New York City area under 21 inches of snow, along with extreme cold and drifts as high as 25 feet. Then there was the March 12, 1993 “Storm of the Century” which pounded the eastern half of the country from Florida to Atlantic Canada with very heavy rains, severe thunderstorms, tornadoes, and heavy, record-breaking snows and temperatures, causing billions of dollars in property damage and killing 300 people.

The weather will always be very active and unpredictable, and we must now learn to adapt to the changes as the climate continues to change.

As the 4th nor’easter raged, our hardworking men and women of the city Sanitation Department were on the front lines, battling the heavy snow to keep our roads open and safe. They did an excellent job and kept ahead of this latest punch that Mother Nature has thrown us. They are to be commended for all of their dedication and very hard work. Commissioner Kathryn Garcia is also to be commended for her hard work as well. Kudos to all at the DSNY!

John Amato
Fresh Meadows

Why Is He Starting?

To The Editor:

I am glad that speed cameras will be placed near schools, and also that a traffic light will be placed near PS 343, but what about near senior centers?

That is great that there will be participatory budget voting in addition to revitalization of the Newtown Creek area in Dutch Kills to make that area more livable.

I am glad that a coin will be launched for breast cancer awareness month.

Also kudos to Con Edison for reimbursing people for food and medicine loss incurred during the nor’easters. They should be proactive and prepare for storms. Have more forces out to help prevent the devastation and loss of power and suffering.

I am elated that New York City is top in tourism and that is good for our economy.

That is a feather in our cap.

I am glad that the government will not be shut down and that a bill will be passed till September, but six months is not enough. What is wrong with our lawmakers? We elect them and many are corrupt and couldn’t care less for those they represent.

Again much too much snow was left on streets and highways in the Little Neck area. What is wrong with Sanitation? Only Manhattan is taken care of, which is abominable.

I am appalled at these young men who kill people or use bombs in packages to injure or kill people. What is wrong with society’s young people?

I am glad that the VA will now help those who have PTSD, with some misconduct, to get mental health help.

I am glad that our governor will help improve the housing situation. Our president is ruining our economy and stock market with his tariffs on China. China has our debt. Why is he starting with people and nations?

Cynthia Groopman
Little Neck

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