2018-04-04 / Editorials

Letters to the Editor

Benefits Hotel Owners

To The Editor:

I cannot believe the Mayor’s administration still talks about the use of hotel rooms as a means of helping homeless individuals, including children. Mayor Bill de Blasio’s decision to spend $1.1 billion of taxpayer money over the next three years to continue to house homeless New Yorkers in commercial hotels is not only wrong, but it goes against his own plan to get the homeless out of hotels. That money could be used more effectively to get these individuals the services they desperately need, not spending hundreds of dollars each night to house them in inadequate hotel rooms, which mainly benefits the hotel owners. Although the administration says this is a temporary measure, as it stated in an April 2016 report, we need to actually move away from housing the homeless in hotels as soon as possible, and quickly develop a more rational, realistic long-term plan to help these individuals.

NYS Senator Joseph Addabbo, Jr.

Census Question

Dear Friend,

The Trump Administration has launched yet another attack against our hard-working communities. Now, in a clear effort to undercount the immigrant population, the federal government has decided to include a citizenship question on the 2020 Census.

The census should not be used as a political tool, since its purpose is to count the population, regardless of one’s immigration status. The data collected is fundamental to distributing federal resources appropriately. Since this administration has decided to clearly target and attack immigrants, many will choose not to respond to the census, which will, in turn, provide a bad count that will hurt, again, our communities. Simply put, including the citizenship status on the questionnaires is wrong and un-American.

Sincerely,
Jose Peralta

Not Done In PR

A copy of this letter was received at the
offices of the Queens Gazette.
The Honorable R.D. James
Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil
Works)
108 Army Pentagon
Washington, DC 20310-0108
Lt. Gen. Todd T. Semonite
Chief of Engineers
US Army Corps of Engineers
441 G Street, NW
Washington, DC 20314-1000

Dear Secretary James and General Semonite,

We are writing to express our deep concern that the number of Army Corps of Engineers personnel working on power restoration in Puerto Rico is being drawn down beginning this week, before power is fully restored. We are particularly concerned about the impact this drawdown will have on the island of Vieques.

While we recognize that much progress has been made in restoring power to the majority of customers, the job is not done. According to the Department of Energy (DOE)’s most recent Situation Report for Hurricanes Maria and Irma, published on March 14, 8.21 percent of electricity customers in Puerto Rico are still without power, many of which are in remote, mountainous areas. Additionally, according to the DOE report, only 71.4 percent of transmission centers are functioning in the Commonwealth. The federal government has a responsibility to the remaining customers who are without power to ensure that their power is restored as quickly as possible. We do not understand how reducing the number of personnel in Puerto Rico helps to accomplish that goal. Accordingly, we seek answers to the questions below.

1. What is the criteria for reassigning Army Corps contractors from areas where power restoration is not yet complete?

2. We understand there are 1,535 Army Corps personnel, including 1,331 contractors currently on the ground in Puerto Rico. Please specify the number working on the island of Vieques. What is the timeline for how much longer they will remain?

3. Was available funding a factor in the decision to draw down the number of Army Corps personnel (both federal and contractor)?

4. Does the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority have sufficient funds to complete power restoration work for all customers in Puerto Rico, including on the island of Vieques, in the absence of Army Corps crews?

5. What impact will this draw down have on the timeline for completing power restoration for all customers? Would keeping these crews in place result in a faster timeline for completing restoration?

6. Last month Congress passed the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, which contained dedicated funding to rebuild Puerto Rico’s energy infrastructure. The bill also waived Stafford Act requirements that limited the use of funds to rebuild to pre-disaster conditions, allowing Puerto Rico to rebuild its energy infrastructure to current industry standards. What role will the Army Corps or its contractors play in the modernization of Puerto Rico’s electrical grid, and is there a strategy to incorporate grid modernization and resiliency into the current rebuilding efforts?

Given the urgency of this matter, we respectfully request answers to these questions by the close of business on Wednesday, March 21, 2018. Thank you for your continued attention to needs of our fellow American citizens recovering from Hurricanes Irma and Maria in Puerto Rico.

Sincerely,
US Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Bob
Casey (D-PA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Bill
Nelson (D-FL), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Tammy
Duckworth (D-IL), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Cory
Booker (D-NJ), Robert Menendez (D-NJ),
Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Kamala Harris (DCA), Dick Durbin (D-IL), and Tom Carper (DDE).

Rusty’s Heart Of Gold

To The Editor:

As a lifelong Mets fan, I was greatly saddened to read that former Mets player Rusty Staub had passed away at age 73. He was with the Mets for nine years and gave his best to a game he loved. But as reported after his baseball career was over, he gave back in his mission of helping others in need. In 1984 he founded the New York Police and Fire Widows’ and Children’s Benefit Fund. After 9/11 the fund provided lifelong financial and other assistance to the families of uniformed officers who had fallen in the line of duty. A year later he created the Rusty Staub Foundation, whose main purpose was to help children and the hungry. Truly Rusty Staub had a heart of gold. In my book Rusty hit a home run every day he was alive and after he left America’s favorite pastime.

God bless you Rusty Staub.
Frederick R. Bedell Jr.
Glen Oaks Village

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