The completely unnecessary wars over education launched by Mayor de Blasio continued this week, with the specter of dueling rallies in Albany.One was a protest against de Blasio’s decision to undercut charter schools at every turn. The innova…
Re “Queens Library chief defends salary,” Feb. 27:
I find it hard to swallow that Galante can be worth that kind of salary, especially in the shrinking library business. Nothing there smacks of a six-figure paycheck, especially in this economic climate. More cronyism, if you really want to know.
The reasons they gave to try and justify a salary such as that weren’t very convincing in my opinion. This country, let along New York State, is barely surviving, and for someone to consider themselves worth that kind of money, for that kind of job, is robbing from the taxpayers of this state. I am a believer in free market capitalism, but this just flies in the face of logic.
We all know that due to technology today, libraries are a dying institution, like so many other things that have gone by the wayside during the course of history. Advancements, improvements and the like create obsolescence in certain career paths, but on the other hand they bring about new ones. This is just another example of mismanagement, padded salaries and cronyism, and the very reason why people are leaving New York State in record numbers.
I’m sure Mr. Galante feels he’s worth that kind of salary, as most people have an inflated opinion of themselves and their indispensability, but I can guarantee you could find someone willing to do that job for one-third of what he’s getting, and employ two more people, thereby improving the bitter job market by utilizing three people who can better serve the community in other ways.
Let’s try to put people back to work by ending duplicity in government, reducing taxes and increasing opportunity, and maybe we can get back on the road to fiscal responsibility. When I see articles like this, where someone is getting this kind of salary, it blows my mind.
Mets general manager Sandy Alderson generated headlines when he told fellow team executives that he expects the Mets to win 90 games in 2014. Alderson’s remark generated understandable guffaws from even optimistic types because the Mets have come closer to losing 90 games in a season the last five years than they have to winning that many.
Even if Sandy knows he’s just blowing the kind of smoke now legal in Colorado, I can’t really fault him. Frankly, I’m surprised he didn’t guarantee a parade down the Canyon of Heroes in late October or early November. The name of the game this time of year is to energize the Mets fan base, which has been understandably lethargic. Having five straight losing seasons, and going into this one with what Metsblog.com is reporting as the seventh-lowest payroll in the majors, will tend to depress ticket sales even among the diehards.
Public libraries hold a long and distinguished commitment to providing a wide range of materials and services essential for a democratic society to flourish. Freedom of access to information and knowledge provides a critical foundation upon which progress is predicated. Therefore, how astonishing it is for the Queens Public Library president and CEO, along with the library’s board of directors, to hinder current requests for transparency in the private arrangements made for compensation utilizing taxpayer funds.
Fortunately, Comptroller Stringer seeks an outside audit and the stern and insightful requests by Borough President Katz for adherence to best practices for governance and management hold the potential for accountability to taxpayers.
The Internal Revenue Service’s form 990 is a publically disclosed document filed annually by most charities, including QPL. The Queens Chronicle quotes CEO Galante as saying he works “… nearly 100 hours a week …” yet the 2007 IRS 990 states 40 hours/week for a total c
ompensation of $375,498; by 2010 it reached $488,503, according to that year’s IRS 990 filing. In 2012 income from government grants (i.e., taxpayer monies) came to $99,668,280 while all other contributions, gifts and grants reached $627,271.
This overwhelming role of taxpayer funding requires consistent transparency. For the board of directors to have operated in the realm of compensation and contractive agreements including the “evergreen clause,” which effectively gives the CEO permanent employment on an advancing five-year calendar, along with a $2 million golden handshake for breaking the agreement, borders on gross arrogance toward the public. The outcome is distrust of an important community institution’s leadership.
Until complete transparency in these financial and employment practices occur, the public would be prudent to specifically earmark all contributions to QPL to be spent only for materials at their local branch library. I know that is what I intend to do.
We never hopped on the anti stop-and-frisk bandwagon, believing that while the police tactic warranted some reform, it was not the mass violation of constitutional rights its detractors claimed. And we were among those who worried that drastically reducing stops would lead to a rise in gun violence because criminals would be more inclined to carry, and thus more likely to blast away in the heat of the moment.
But though it’s too early to say anything definitive, the numbers so far this year show that violent crime continues to fall even as the number of stop and frisks drops off the cliff. According to DNAinfo, citing police sources, murders are down 18.5 percent so far this year, with 44 people killed compared to 54 to the same point last year. Shootings are down 13.5 percent. Meanwhile police stops continue to drop, down nearly 90 percent from their peak in 2011.
Re “Jamaica to get new community garden,” by Stephanie Santana, Feb. 20, multiple editions:
I would like to give an update on the status of the lot at 117-02 Merrick Blvd., which is across from Roy Wilkins Southern Queens Park.
After we coordinated with the City Parks Department and Brooklyn Queens Land Trust (the owner of the property), the pile of woodchips in the lot were cleaned up a short time ago. It took some time to get to the bottom of this ordeal as some initial complaints contained misinformation.
In the future, I would urge residents to reach out to us at (718) 776-3700 with similar issues of concern. You can also feel free to stop by the office at 172-12 Linden Blvd. We can only make a positive impact on our community if we channel our concerns into productive outlets.
I am confident that the Brooklyn Queens Land Trust, a reputable not-for-profit, will put this space to good use. BQLT in fact has also done work with the Merrick Marsden Neighbors Association on the community garden just down the road at 118-18 Merrick Blvd.
Remember, it is the sum of the parts which makes our community great. I look forward to working with all of our constituents in achieving our goals.
I was wondering if any other readers’ postal delivery has been as careless as mine.
My local post office is for ZIP code 11418, and the post office is located at 122nd Street and Jamaica Avenue. For about eight years now (excluding 2.5 years when we had an assigned postman; kudos to Terrence) we’ve had mail that’s been carelessly left outside the front door or on an open ledge like a takeout menu. I have two signs on the front door at eye level that read, “Please put mail in the letter slot behind the door.” Over those years, the cumulative amount of mail that suspiciously seems to have not been delivered is troublesome. I once had an overseas package with delivery confirmation. The package was delivered, just not to me!
I’ve gone to the post office numerous times, and every time I’m speaking to another supervisor. When I bring photos showing the signs and the letter slot and where the mail is left, even the supervisor can’t argue with me. They all tell me that my block doesn’t have a committ
ed mail person, and that they’ll talk to whomever did the route that day. Now, sometimes the delivery person takes care, sometimes it’s someone who doesn’t care — it’s a crap shoot who’s going to deliver your mail that day.
The post office has all these signs that explain the consequences of tampering with the mail. Some days, the person who delivers my mail does everything except put a sign pointing to my loose mail saying, “Take me”!
Compliments are in order to Jonathan Eckman and Susan Gomber for their thought-provoking letters in the Feb. 20 issue of the Chronicle, “Utilize Obamacare” and “ACA benefits me.” They have called upon all Americans to embrace the most serious social issue of our time — universal healthcare!
Being so pleased with their remarks, I decided to send a copy of the Letters to the Editor to my relatives and friends living in Maine, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Florida and California.
Susan and Jonathan deserve “kudos” for their contribution to the debate that all Americans need the security of affordable healthcare!
Frequent letter writer Ed Konecnik wants to know how much of the money he earns belongs to me in the name of social justice, and why. But that’s not the right question to ask.
The real question to ask is, “Should any of us pay any tax money for government social programs?” The answer is, “Yes, we should.” Why? Because we live in a society. A society is a structured community of people bound together by similar traditions, institutions, or nationality. Societies have social responsibilities; things that contribute to and benefit the group as a whole. Yes, we are individuals, but our societal collective affords us many things that we do and have as members of the group.
Taxes should be looked at like an admission fee to belong to a society. You want to live in our country, and have the benefits of our society, then you have to ante up your fee. You should be happy to pay taxes because our system of government affords us so much that many other countries don’t
have. Yet, on living standards we lag far behind the Scandinavian countries that provide free healthcare, free education and other subsidies to their members by taking more tax money than we pay. Citizens in those countries say they’re very happy with their lives and are glad to pay the higher taxes for the better services.
Ed sees our society divided between those who have enough and the “moochers,” and he resents any of his tax money going to pay for any moocher services. He can’t be a product of public education. He must have never lost his job through no fault of his own and taken unemployment insurance, been injured at work and sought disability, or have suffered any medical emergency that depleted his savings. He must never have been in the military or taken advantage of any veteran’s benefits. He can’t be a guy who is taking his Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid or any other senior services because that would make him a moocher.
If so, lucky him. But he shouldn’t resent those who are not as fortunate as he and need a helping hand from society once in a while. As a good citizen, he shouldn’t want to renege on his social responsibility.
The word freedom has different meanings for different people. There is one concept always espoused by Ed Konecnik. Here is a quote on it from Abe Lincoln:
1) “We all declare for liberty; but in using the same word we do not all mean the same thing. With some the word liberty may mean for each man to do as he pleases with himself and the product of his labor; while with others, the same word may mean for some to do as they please with other men and the products of other men’s labor. Here are two, not only different, but incompatible things, called by the same name — liberty. And it follows that each of the things is, by the respective parties, called by two different and incompatible names — liberty and tyranny.”
And a quote by Lincoln on labor:
2) “Labor is prior to and independent of capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital and deserves much the higher consideration.”
I believe the above quotes should give people food for thought and may broaden their perspectives on things before they make up their minds.
If Mr. Zizelis’ definition of an “advanced, socially civilized country” is a place where the top 10 percent of taxpayers pay 70 percent of the tax revenue, where almost 50 percent pay no income tax, where 11 states have more people on welfare than are working, where success is capped and punished and mediocrity nurtured, where the government supports its crony-owned businesses with tax dollars like Solyndra, myriad failed green projects, not to mention bank bailouts and a $17 trillion debt, it is not unreasonable to suspect a mental disorder.
Advocating for assistance for a neighbor in crisis while objecting to providing limitless entitlements and suggesting we measure the success of welfare programs not by how many are added but by how many are dropped and achieve self-reliance indicates a Neanderthal mentality to Mr. Zizelis. He conjures up a delusional vision of me “decrying the redistribution of (my) wealth to the lazy and unmotivated, lying in their hammocks smoking food stamp cigars, retired and partying on with their unemployment pittance.” I have no knowledge of and never alluded to any such attitudes and activities but perhaps Mr. Zizelis has more firsthand experience and evidence he could share with us.
He describes a scene from “2001: A Space Odyssey,” which he claims was the inspiration for Reaganomics, where a chimpanzee up in a tree urinates and “trickles down” on helpless chimps below him. This definitively sums up his assessment of Ronald Reagan’s legacy and illustrates his perverted and disordered view of man’s nature and economics.
The (GOP-controlled) Arizona Legislature sent a bill to Republican Gov. Jan Brewer that would allow business owners to turn away gay and lesbian customers, as long as they claim to be doing so in the name of “religion.” How long before they put up the “no gays” sign over the water fountains and restrooms?
Fox News contributor Tucker Carlson had this to say: “When you force me to bake you a cake for your gay wedding, that’s fascism.” You heard right, infringing upon a bigot’s right to deny pastries to homosexuals is “fascism.” Amazing. But not surprising.
The homophobic, ignorant, backwoods supporters of bills that promote hate should look up the name Matthew Shepard. In 1998, University of Wyoming student Shepard was kidnapped, tortured and tied to a prairie fence overnight in freezing temperatures. He died five days after he was finally found. His “crime”? Being gay.
Perhaps we should have two Americas: the Democratic States of America, where civil rights apply to everyone, and Teabagistan, where ignorance, bigotry and racism rule the day.
We enjoyed “Romance was in the air at White Castle” (by Liz Rhoades, Feb. 20, multiple editions). Your story brought back great memories for us. We were present that same day at 5 p.m. to consume sliders and fries for Valentine’s Day.
Your story brought back great memories. In the early 1960s, Larry’s parents would take him to the same White Castle. In those days, there was no seating area, just one long counter. Sliders were 7 cents, or 14 cents for a double. As he got older, White Castle would become a late-night stop for a quick snack before going home.
Prior to our 1997 wedding, Frank Sinatra was quoted in GQ magazine saying he would always have White Castle hamburgers flown in to any performances in Las Vegas. We honored the “Chairman of the Board” and had 200 sliders delivered to the Sky Line Princess in Flushing as part of our wedding reception.
Fast forward to today. The owners of White Castle provide a reasonably priced night on the town for those on a budget wanting to celebrate Valentine’s Day. We enjoyed watching all the young couples, especially those with kids, having a great time. It gives us an opportunity to celebrate Valent
ine’s Day twice — once at White Castle and the next day at a more traditional restaurant. Seating the day after Valentine’s Day at any restaurant is much easier and your visit is appreciated even more.
We celebrate Valentine’s Day every day but look forward to another one at our favorite Bayside White Castle in 2015!
The National Football League generated backpage headlines this past weekend when it was learned that the league is pushing for penalties and possible game suspensions for players who use the “N-word” slur during a game. The NFL was acting primarily in response to such lunkheads as the Miami Dolphins’ Richie Incognito and the Philadelphia Eagles’ Riley Cooper, who brought shame to themselves and the NFL last year by using that disgusting term.
Sorry, ACLU supporters, I support the NFL’s decision in this matter. What wasn’t clear, however, was if NFL referees will have the power to issue penalties for slurs made against other ethnic groups, races or differing sexual orientations. If you are trying to take a principled and responsible stand against prejudice, then you can’t have situations where some groups are protected and others are not.
Build it Back, the city program established after Hurricane Sandy to help people who lost their homes to the storm, has so far done anything but.
The numbers tell the story of complete and utter failure. Approximately $1.5 billion has been allocated for the program, and so far less than 2 percent of that money has actually been released. Nearly 20,000 people have applied for assistance, and the number of homes rebuilt is zero.
Moving ahead quickly, the City Council on Wednesday passed the Earned Sick Time Act, the new, more comprehensive bill mandating paid days off for employees of all but the tiniest companies here. It will take effect April 1.
Last week we expressed our ambivalence about the bill — we believe in such protections for workers but recognize they come at a price for employers.
Oh wow, my little ol’ lonely 67th Avenue footbridge getting attention from the local weeklies and the Community Board (“Creepy crossing / Dimly lit walkway worries pedestrians,” Feb. 20, multiple editions). As a regular traverser of this little bridge, I’d say, sure the occasionally dimmed lights are a concern and render the bridge a mugger’s paradise; however, the larger safety hazards there are:
1) nobody shoveling the snow, resulting in countless elderly and moms-with-strollers
basically getting cut off from Austin Street and Queens Boulevard;
2) the slickster restaurant delivery guys who turn off their moped lights (so as to avoid an NYPD ticket) and fly over the bridge like maniacs;
3) the utter lack of NYPD concern over the steady flow of drivers who ignore the stop sign at Austin and 67th 24 hours per day.
What is the 112th Pct. doing?
In the last few years we have spent tens of millions, if not hundreds of millions of dollars repaving the Belt Parkway. This winter has caused enormous damage to the parkway. In some places this is the first winter after repaving.
This seems like a disgrace to me. Germany has more severe winters then we do and no speed limit on the autobahn, but it does not suffer the damage that our roads do.
Why? Is the quality of our work so inferior? Are the materials we use so inferior? Is the strata of soil beneath the parkway, and all the roads, so weak that it cannot support them, or is there another reason for such quick and massive deterioration?
Our Mayor de Blasio preaches street safety and pedestrian safety and yet can’t walk the walk. He himself walked against the light while talking on his cell phone and was caught on camera doing so in the Park Slope section of Brooklyn. It is like he is saying, “Do as I say, not as I do.”
Now if I did that and was caught under the new guidelines the mayor has set up, I would surely get a ticket. Added to that, Mayor de Blasio’s SUV was caught on video blowing through two stop signs in Queens and twice going 15 mph over the speed limit. Does that mean Mayor de Blasio doesn’t have to set an example and is above the law?
It is often difficult to tell if the “Special Section” of your journal is editorial or advertisement, but when recommendations made are dangerous to your health, someone should be held accountable. “Valuable ‘green home’ improvement tips” (Feb. 20, Winter Home Section) contains lengthy praise for spray-foam insulation products without any warning of the negative health effects caused by the toxins inherent to the material.
They are all made from petroleum derivatives containing high levels of toxins including formaldehyde and volatile organic compounds. They are most toxic during installation, forcing workers to wear hazmat suits, but continue to off-gas indefinitely (see EPA study) well after occupants have moved in. Some cases are so bad that owners had to abandon their homes.
Since alternatives exist, such as an air barrier membrane combined with conventional insulation products, the use of spray foam has been selectively prohibited (totally banned in the European Union and in many U.S. green building programs).
This is equivalent to endorsing the use of tobacco products. Your readers deserve to be fairly warned.
It is very interesting to see the proposed plans/designs for the abandoned rail space submitted by architects from all over the world (“How might the QueensWay look?” Feb. 20, multiple editions).
I think it is a perfect venue to rival and surpass Williamsburg.
The opportunity to build restaurants and cafes underneath and on the existing structure should not be passed by, not to mention mini-parks.
I feel some of the areas around the present structure have the same characteristics as Williamsburg, with the old buildings and a sense of being far from the NYC hustle and bustle.
(An open letter to Mayor de Blasio)
What do we have to do to get our garbage and recyclables picked up by the Sanitation Department? When we’re told to put them out, we do; take them in, we do. Dig them out from the snow, we do. And what happens? Nothing. They remain uncollected. Sanitation trucks pass through, but don’t pick up.
In any other city, the mayor knows what’s going on, and if employees don’t do their job, they get fired. Today, Friday, Feb. 21, is a recyclable day and garbage pickup day. Much of the snow has melted, so we were hopeful that we would have pickups. We’ve only had three in the past two months!
At 8 a.m., a Sanitation truck appeared. It sped down 97th Street, without picking up anything, so that nobody could read the number on the truck or the license number. At other times, they stop at only even-numbered houses! Or when somebody makes a complaint. And then only that house! If they come around, it is at night, or Saturday, or Sunday. All overtime shifts. Then they pick up only here and there.
A couple of Saturdays ago, a “sanding” truck came around and sanded the road. This was followed by three more trucks in the next three hours, which did nothing but drive through. What a waste of money. The Sanitation budget will soon be depleted, and a filthy city will remain.
What we have is stray cats pawing garbage bags, pigeons pecking at garbage bags and scavengers opening up all bags looking for 5-cent redeemable cans and bottles.
Mr. Mayor, get your priorities straight, and take care of essentials first before you launch new programs. Right now, it’s revolting. A health epidemic could be brewing: rats breeding and expanding their turf.
You’re supposed to know what’s going on in all boroughs ... not just Manhattan and Brooklyn. Sanitation workers are quick to see if there’s no leadership. In the 12 years that Mayor Bloomberg was in office, we only had to call about nonpickups three times.
And yes, we had snow then too.
Resorts World must rehire or find new jobs for the 175 workers it laid off recently without prior notice, who cooked and served at the buffet. We were informed that they just shut the buffet and let the workers go because it was losing money, although the price had increased to $40 a plate.
Whereas we are grateful that these workers were told that they will receive between one and five weeks of severance pay, along with a package that includes unused sick and vacation days and four months of family medical coverage, we demand to know how many have been rehired, since the casino assured the Hotel Trades Council, the union that represents these workers, that it will let them apply for any open positions.
We have always worked with Resorts World as a job creator, not a job killer, and while we appreciate the fact that it has created many jobs and brought revenue that goes to public schools across the state, these local workers must be given jobs to feed their families.
Resorts World has brought phenomenal profits to its owners since it opened, and our community has contributed to its growth. Its exponential expansion has, and will always affect our community, in both positive and negative ways. As a community advocate and district leader who serves the Ozone Park, South Ozone Park and Richmond Hill area, I again join forces with state Sens. Joe Addabbo Jr. and James Sanders and call on Resorts World to give more jobs to our community, and to rehire these suffering workers.
We have reached out successfully to management to help the community with jobs. Many residents were painfully displaced when the Aqueduct Flea Market was closed after decades of existence, a casualty of Resorts World’s expansion. Many have since been given jobs there.
Resorts World should, and can, do more. Some of these job applicants are regulars and are part of the loyal base of gamers who have helped Resorts World earn millions. Hiring policies and data must be made more open and accessible to all, and more information about job vacancies and hires should be made public to the surrounding communities.
If Mr. Ed Konecnik is not careful, he will dislocate his shoulder due to his non-stop personal back slapping (“Land of the freeloader,” Letters, Feb. 20). Somehow his description of what to him is “Freedom,” is more akin to Greedom. It is particularly ugly in our advanced socially civilized country to approach life in a Neanderthal, every-man-for-himself mentality. Our Liberty Lady’s green face would turn red with embarrassment.
We have seen the turmoil and the reaction of the populace in countries that have lived in and under the yolk of other “-doms” such as kingdom and serfdom. Left to the wishes of some in our country, the degressive, not progressive, this may well happen here. Mr. Konecnik is constantly decrying the redistribution of his wealth to the lazy, unmotivated, lying in their hammock smoking food stamp cigars, retired and partying on with their unemployment pittance.
And yes, Mr. Konecnik, you are accurate about the redistribution of wealth, but with a slight caveat. During the presidency of Eisenhower, whom I voted for, the disparity between the workers’ pay and that of the owner was 30 to 1. It is now greater than 300 to 1. Wealth has been redistributed
from the middle-class worker to his wealthy employer; 10 times greater than it had been in the ’60s.
Perhaps it was to solve this ever widening income disparity that induced Reagan to come up with his trickle-down economics. There was a personification of his policy in the prologue of the 1968 film “2001: A Space Odyssey,” which no doubt was the inspiration. It was the monkey sequence. A large chimpanzee on a branch is seen urinating down on smaller, helpless chimps, much to their consternation. I was stunned to see how similar their tinkle-down approach was to that of Reagan’s trickle down. Credit where credit is due. The chimp thought of it first.