Queens Gazette

Letters To The Editor

Health & Climate Change

To The Editor:

Even though we all can’t seem to agree on being Americans devoted to a shared notion of the collective good, we can certainly agree on two things: COVID has not gone away, and it is hot out there. A global pandemic that continues to reinvent itself and global climate changes that are producing wildfires and floods are the urgent reminders that positive action is needed.

Many are distracted by other things that appear to be more important; however, our delays and slow deliberation about each of these clear and immediate threats speak to a level of irresponsibility that is astonishing. We have the information, but we are not tak­ing the kind of action that commits us to broad, meaningful change. We have been knitted together into a global community by COVID and climate change; yet, locally and on a national level there is hesitation about taking unified action. Resistance and distrac­tion take many forms and the more we look away, the worse things will likely become. I am urged to write about this because of the obvious lack of attention in our daily lives and a willful disregard among many who are ex­amples of reckless indifference.

We may wake up to the daily weather re­port and decide whether to take an umbrella or not, without giving a single thought to weather extremes that an umbrella will not address. We may see an endless number of commercials set on a beach and not be the least bit concerned for the warming that is af­fecting the oceans or the polar ice cap. We may watch reports of the spike in both travel and COVID infection rates and ignore the possible connection; or think that mask wear­ing is an awful inconvenience, without con­sidering that a small accommodation today may support a better future tomorrow. If we can’t imagine a common vision for our shared future that represents significant positive change, we will need to brace ourselves for challenges that grow larger and more daunt­ing every day.

Some of the angst about conforming to a strategy for survival seems to rest in the fact some of us are focused on politics and a re­membered notion of the past in hopes of re­turning to it; and some of us are focused on a future where the battle for inclusion and equality have been won. Meanwhile, as a re­sult, too few of us are focused on the present where the grave issues of COVID and climate change are germinating.

The past and the future can be reconciled in the fact that we are not currently looking at an outbreak of polio or smallpox because of the change in collective consciousness and medical advancements that gave us solutions. It is reported that “after widespread vaccina­tion efforts,” polio is described as being “eliminated.” It is also reported that in 1980, the World Health Organization “endorsed a statement declaring smallpox eradicated.” Today, we are also not looking at the Dust Bowl that was the result of a drought, wind erosion and poor agricultural practices.

Although the environmental challenges are different today, we can look at how the country managed this crisis of the 1930’s in order to consider how we might handle our current en­vironmental challenges. By now, all of us are aware that we are all subject to being impacted by both COVID and its variants. For those looking at the issue of equality and inclusion, we can say that COVID potentially impacts us all equally. Recently, even our President tested positive. Arguing for the past or the future without taking measured steps in the present to synthesize the relevant factors of both views may leave us plodding along toward new threats such as monkeypox and more extreme weather. Bias that adds to polarization and dis­cord based on differences, will further continue to stall our proactive efforts and complicate the picture leaving us without the simple protec­tion of a unified response. As long as we com­mit a stubborn will to resisting positive change, the dire effects of COVID and climate change are sure to persist. We need the option of a “public will” to override pettiness and politics.

I had two medical appointments today; one for a blood test and the other for an ultrasound. As I laid on the table during the ultrasound, I thought about the fact that when my blood was taken earlier that morning, it was red and flowed like every other human being in the world. Then I thought about the fact that the examination of my inner organs captures what is inside every other human being; yet, we per­sist in drawing lines and pointing to differences as an excuse for not making life-sustaining choices that impact us all. I regard public health and public action as cornerstones of a society that is focused on surviving and thriv­ing. Being empowered to create solutions to problems and alternatives to suffering embod­ies the energy that we need to move us forward beyond our differences. I urge us all to take a moment to see how we can take steps to ad­dress both COVID and climate change while honoring the past, present and future genera­tions, as well as our shared kinship.

Dr. Sharon M. Cadiz
Astoria

Senate Fails Veterans

To The Editor:

As reported, the Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxic Act and also known as the Pact Act is being delayed in the Senate. The American Legion Legislative Director Lawrence Montreuil said the delay is “unac­ceptable.” Well, I agree. The bill failed in a 55-42 vote to meet the 60 votes necessary to advance the legislation. I am a member of the American Legion Post 103 in Douglaston, a member of the Catholic War Veterans Post 1979 in Glen Oaks Village and a Navy Veteran of the Vietnam era and am greatly distressed over what is happening to my fellow veterans. The Pact Act would provide an easy path to health care and benefits for veterans who served near open-air burn pits, which were used throughout the 1990’s and the post-9/11 wars to burn garbage, jet fuel and other mate­rials. The bill would establish 31 new VA health care facilities in 19 states. These veter­ans diagnosed with cancer, respiratory issues and lung disease need help. Those in the Senate who are delaying the passage of the Pact Act are voting against the men and women who fought for this country. As a veteran myself, I feel that is quite a disgrace.

Frederick R. Bedell Jr.
Bellerose

Flood Proof The Subways

To The Editor:

NYC Transit needs to complete securing the subway system from flooding.

The MTA Inspector General Report dealing with how the MTA spent $5.8 billion in Federal Transit Administration Super Storm Sandy Re­covery and Resiliency funding over the past ten years was disappointing. The storm in 2012 resulted in extensive flooding damage to the NYC Transit subway system. The report revealed that the MTA is still not fully prepared to deal with flooding in the event of a future hurricane. These funds supplemented billions more in annual FTA formula funding over the same time period. NYC Transit should have learned from Super Storm Sandy which of the 472 subway stations and 36 subway lines were most vulnerable to flooding or located in flood zones. Remedial actions should have been completed years ago. Fast forward to 2022.

After spending emergency funds on up­grading and adding additional sump pumps, securing subway entrances, elevator shafts, and street level air vents, why are there still some subway stations and lines still subject to flood­ing after major rainstorms? Look what just happened on Monday, July 18th after a heavy rainstorm. Eight of 472 subway stations had to be temporarily closed. Service was suspended on the A line in Washington Heights and #5 line in northern Bronx. NYC Transit still needs to do more.

NYC is the actual owner of our NYC Tran­sit bus and subway system. MTA operates the system based upon the 1953 Master Lease and Operating Agreement between City Hall and the MTA. Consider adding new pump rooms. Improve coordination with NYC Department of Environmental Protection to ensure there is adequate storm water and sewage system ca­pacity adjacent to stations and tracks. Purchase additional mobile pumps and pump trains. City Hall must provide adequate funding to NYC Department of Environmental Protection so they can provide NYC Transit with the neces­sary support to provide safe and reliable service that five million pre-COVID-19 riders depend on.

There is still the need to add capital im­provements in the current $51 billion Five Year 2020 – 2024 Capital Plan to deal with flooding. Do we need more funding to be allocated to in­crease the number of existing NYC Transit subway system pump rooms back to a state of good repair? Do we need additional new pump rooms? The MTA can elect to program addi­tional federal or local funds to deal with this ongoing problem. Why not also add additional capital improvements in the pending MTA 2020 – 2040 Twenty Year Capital Plan and next 2025 – 2029 Five Year Capital Plan to also deal with this?

How many NYC Transit Bus, Manhattan and Bronx Surface Transit Operating Authority Bus, MTA Bus (the former seven NYC private franchised bus operators), NYC Transit and Staten Island Railway subway yard and shops are located in flood zone areas? Have they all been upgraded to deal with the next Super Storm? The same should apply to all Long Is­land and Metro-North Railroad stations, yards and shops. The tracks serving the Port Wash­ington branch adjacent to both the Bayside and Great Neck Stations have on several occasions after heavy rain storms been subject to flood­ing. This resulted in delays and suspension of service.

Five million pre-COVID-19 subway and commuter rail riders should not have to deal with continued inconveniences every time there is a major rainstorm.

Larry Penner
Great Neck

Biden Should Visit Ukraine

To The Editor:

President Biden should visit Ukraine to show even more support for President Zelen­sky and his people. Several other major Euro­pean leaders have already gone there to show their support. Ukraine is fighting bravely for its very existence and freedom. Biden needs to be more visibly present by going there. This would certainly give more moral support to Zelensky, which he does most definitely need. Russia needs to know that the U.S. is firmly behind Ukraine in this war, which Vladimir Putin unjustly started. Ukraine has been dev­astated by this war, but its people are as deter­mined as ever to prevail in this war against Putin, and as they continue to repel the aggres­sors, our support continues to be vital.

John Amato
Fresh Meadows

Monkeypox On The Rise

To The Editor:

The National Night Out Against Crime is necessary in every way to show those criminals that we are going to take back our streets and our city and make it safe again. However, since crime is so high this year, there must be more police protection, more subway protection, and of course the revolving door of justice closed and no more bail reform. The people responsi­ble for that law going into effect do not deserve to be lawmakers. Candidates for office, as well as those appointed to criminal justice should be required to take a test to see how smart they will be. There are licensing exams for doctors, lawyers, teachers, other professionals, plumbers, etc. Political representatives must also prove their competency for our lives are in their hands.

JetBlue, which is based in LIC, is about to get much bigger and expand and that is good news. It is also good news that an affordable housing lottery is opening on LIC waterfront. That is great and that will offer (some of) those in need of affordable housing the ability to live. I am glad that garbage collection schedules are being changed to 8 PM instead of 4 PM. Also I am glad that the city will have a plan for rat control.

Monkeypox is on the rise and if we are not careful, all members of humankind, in addition to gay men, will be affected. There must be more sanitary control. Also coronavirus BA.5 is on the rise and more hospitalizations are oc­curring, but complacency is also occurring and mass openings, concerts, events, mass transit and other places have people standing shoulder to shoulder without masking requirements.

Cynthia Groopman
Little Neck

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