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Queens Chronicle

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Posted: Thursday, June 11, 2009 12:00 am

What a voice

Dear Editor:

“Whitestone singer is ‘shining star’ finalist,” Northern Queens edition, June 4: Although the other teens in the WOR contest were all good, I was impressed by the simplicity of the way this beautifulyounglady, Tristen Buettel, sang a rendition of the song “I’ll Stand By You.” Kudos also to the piano player and to the person who arranged it. Very well done.

C.J. Di Donna

Whitestone

Need disabled parking

Dear Editor:

Is there any help for disabled people in this city?

We own a corner house with no driveway or garage. Up until a few years ago, we could park our car. But not anymore.

The TSA workers park there and walk to the Airtrain to JFK. The airport will not provide these workers with low-cost parking.

Then we have people who park there to go to the beautiful park recently built on Lefferts Boulevard.

My husband and I are disabled seniors. He is 77 and recovering from cancer. I am 70, have MS and use a walker or wheelchair.

All I am asking for is one parking spot on the side of my house. I have contacted every city agency to ask for a handicapped sign for one space. Of course, they don’t allow it.

In Valley Stream, you can see handicapped spaces in front of residences. Why can’t our city do the same for us? When they issue us handicapped license plates, why not issue a handicapped sign for people in my position?

Just picture my 77-year-old husband taking my walker or wheelchair out helping me to the house, going back to the car and driving up and down to find a spot and then walking back to our house. Picture this in bad weather.

Sometimes we just stay at home so as not to get ourselves all upset. I am not saying this happens seven days a week, but it happens more often than not. Are there any disabled people that have similiar problems?

Elinor Lauro

South Ozone Park

Cut pork, not libraries

Dear Editor:

There is an obvious way to prevent budget cuts to public libraries, as covered June 4 in your editorial “Don’t cut a dime from our library” and accompanying article “Library fears budget cuts would be crippling” by Margaret Teich.

I agree with City Council member David Weprin’s statement, “I will do everything in my power to see we don't have these layoffs.” Weprin is part of the simple solution to find funds to not only avoid reducing hours, but restore seven day a week service.

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Weprin, the Finance Committee chairman and candidate for comptroller, control the yearlyprogramming ofmember item spending.Weprin has always been proud of his role ingiving outseveral hundred million dollars yearly worth of individual council members’ pork barrel projects. The Gotham Gazette named him “The King of Pork” for the greatest number and dollar value of member item pork barrel spending.Quinn, Weprin and their council colleagues can give upsome funding from their pay-for-play member item pork barrel projects.

If each of the 51 council members gave up only several hundred thousand dollarsworth of their own respective member item funding,millions of dollars could easily be found. State Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver could likewise provide matching state support. Combined city and state fundingwould be more than enough to prevent cutbacks and keep libraries open seven days a week.

Larry Penner

Great Neck, L.I.

Liu’s the one

Dear Editor:

The Democratic organization of Queens County was right to endorse John Liu over Melinda Katz in the race for comptroller of New York City (“Queens Dems back Liu in bid for comptroller seat,” May 28). Your article did not mention it, but Liu took a stand on term limits and voted to boot both Michael Bloomberg and himself out of office. Liu is not my representative, but I have watched him over the past few years; I have concluded that he has the people’s best interest at heart. He is a man of principle who deserves my vote.

My city council member is Melinda Katz and normally I would vote for her — but she stabbed me in the back. She voted to erase term limits and let Bloomberg run as mayor for a third time. I do not understand how she can call herself a Democrat and have the interests of the working men and women in mind, and then vote to let Bloomberg use his billions to buy a third term. Katz says she is now taking on an “old boys’ club” in her bid to be comptroller; I see her more as an opportunist.

My guess is that Katz, as an opportunist, will see that the odds are stacked against her and instead, use her $2.2 million in campaign booty to run again for City Council. Because of the recently enacted Bloomberg law that she helped to push through, Katz can now seek a third term too.

Hopefully, the Queens Chronicle can write about who her opponent will be. I would like to vote for that person.

Walter Weis

Forest Hills

Immigrants then and now

Dear Editor:

In the June 4 issue was a rather vitriolic and unpatriotic letter from Joseph Aranha, from Ozone Park (“Why not to fly the flag”). His comments were in direct response to those of Ann Rychlenski, whose letter about the dearth of American flags flying in Ozone Park and Richmond Hill (“Immigrants and flags”) was in the May 28 letters column.

Mr. Aranha, you seem to be devoid of one basic point.This is America, and the only flag that must fly is the Stars and Stripes, not those of other nations.That principle is not just mine or Ann’s, that is in our Constitution — that no other flag is to fly superior to ours.

While you are right that corporate executives and armament companies have hurt us economically and sustained wars, that issue is aside from patriotism. If you feel coming to these shores to seek a better life is a “right,” then that right is earned by hard work and education,not seeking public assistance or free health care, and feeling that Memorial Day is a holiday of no importance.

My ancestors, too, came from another country. In my younger days,spent inOzone Park, Richmond Hill and South Ozone Park, there were many immigrant families from Ireland, Poland, Italy, Germany, Austriaand Norway. But I can’t recall once ever seeing a foreign flag flying, nor the attitude that something was owed to them.

Like you, they encountered antagonism and asubliminal message of “go back.”But the difference was that they basically forsook loyalty to their former homelands and swore allegiance to their new home. That cannot be said of many of today’s immigrants. The oft-quoted statement that “diversity is our strength” has only enforced differences, instead of eliminating them.

You have written numerousletters to theQueens Chronicleand other local newspapers, in each case maligning America. No immigrant had any choice in the conditions to be met when coming here, and, while ethically wrong, resentment is to be expected. It has occurred throughout American history. You must be mature enough to comprehend that.

This is not entirely an issue of racism or discrimination. Many immigrants play a big part in this, from lack of patriotism, refusal to assimilate, learn the language or adapt to customs and traditions. It works both ways.

If you can’t learn that, then in your own words, the mentality of “go back where you came from” applies.

J. Ahearn

Howard Beach

Become an American

Dear Editor:

This letter is in response to Mr. Aranha’s letter in the June 4 edition. Ms. Rychlenski, whose letter Mr. Aranha responded to, is a true patriot for asking that all Americans fly the U.S. Flag on Memorial Day and other patriotic holidays. In fact every day is a good day to fly the American flag.

As to Mr. Aranha’s assertion“Most of the time we immigrants who come here are never welcomed and are told to ‘go back to your country,’ or are referred to as these foreigners,’” maybe that’s because we often hear today’s immigrants refer to the land from which they fledas “my country” instead of “the old country” as immigrants of the past have done. Past immigrants embraced America for what it is, not as an evil to be changed to suit their cultural needs. Today some display an attitude that once theyhave made it to America they can do whatever they want, right or wrong. They need to understand that with freedom comes responsibility to the Constitution and rule of law which ensures our collective freedom.

So to Mr. Aranha and those who still give their allegiance to “my country” or “the old country”and wish to abandon Americantraditions and the fundamentals that have made us a great and God-blessed nation, I say be careful what you wish for. You just might get the same corruption, poverty, inequity and brutality from which you fled.

As to General Motors, AIG, American Express and the Maddox group ripping us all off, you make a very valid point. This is an excellent example of what happens when the free market concept of capitalism is circumvented with greed and political corruption so that public corporations are no longer accountable to their shareholders. However, government ownership of the means of production isn’t the answer. It hasn’t worked since Marx first postulated the concept.

If you want to show how patriotic you are towards our country — the United States — join me in the fight to preserve our traditions by voting for those politicians who consent to being governed by the governed while you fly the American flag.

Marvin R. Jeffcoat

Woodside

The writer is a retired sergeant first class in the U.S. Army

It’s called reform

Dear Editor:

Five years ago, the Brennan Center at NYU called New York’s Legislature the “most dysfunctional” legislature in America. This analysis was widely reported throughout the state. Business leaders read it. Labor leaders read it. Voters and politicians read it — and nothing changed. Statewide elections came and went. Candidates quoted the report — and nothing changed. In fact things got worse.

This week, in the New York State Senate for the first time since that report was passed, something happened.Something changed. Reform has come to the New York State Senate. I’m proud of the part that Responsible New York and I played in this change.

The reforms are both sweeping and meaningful. They range from term limits for the majority leader and committee chairmen to an independent budget office to a true C-SPAN type network with access for independent groups to critique and criticize leadership as well as many more substantive changes. Overall, these reforms will make the Senate more democratic, encourage new and better ideas and actually involve all 62 senators in governing. That’s long overdue.

As with any true reform, not everyone is happy. When the process of changing the Senate began it was met by attempts to close down the motion, a failed attempt to adjourn, the shutting down of lights, the cessation of the live video feed and finally an attempt to get state troopers to clear the room. These were disappointing reactions to the will of 32 democratically elected senators finally doing the right thing.

After the headlines and sensational reporting about control and legislative maneuvering there are two key things that happened:

The New York State Senate now has a bipartisan government unique in our history for putting ideas above partisanship.

This coalition has already delivered real reform that promotes democracy, encouraging new and smarter ideas and an opportunity to change New York.

Together, this has a real chance to break the political stranglehold that special interests have in Albany. These changes are revolutionary by Albany standards but only, in truth, a beginning — though a beginning that may lead to a more responsive government.

One important concrete change is that with these rules, reforms and coalition government, all 62 senators will play a role in negotiating the next budget. That means in one fell swoop one of the infamous “three men in the room” is gone. Who’s next?Hopefully there are some members of the state Assembly who are willing to put reform above party and the people above politics.

Tom Golisano

Rochester, N.Y.

Tom Golisano is the CEO of Paychex and a three-time Independence Party candidate for governor.

Our family’s gay pride

Dear Editor:

Marching beside our first openly gay City Council speaker, Christine Quinn, at the 17th annual Queens Gay & Lesbian Pride Parade made our family really feel at home. Chloe, who’s 8 and a half and a third grader at P.S. 98 in Douglaston, helped Ms. Quinn hold up a huge banner while chanting for passage of the bill to legalize same sex marriages.

We became domestic partners at City Hall in June of 1992. A few days later, we marched in the first Queens Gay Pride event. Like hundreds of other gay and lesbian couples here in Queens, our experiences as outer borough gay families has evolved over the years. At first, it was rough being gay homeowners. Some of our neighbors were uncomfortable or outright hostile.

Over time, especially after we adopted Chloe, neighbors became friends. Since she started kindergarten, Chloe has had to explain about having two dads to her classmates. When asked “Where’s your mommy?” while in Waldbaums, Chloe has become adept at explaining, “I don’t have a mom; I have two dads.”

Along with many teachers and staffers, P.S. 98 principal Sheila Huggins has ensured success by making Chloe feel like part of the school community.

Chloe was the flower girl at our Toronto, Canada wedding last year. She was thrilled to receive congratulations from her teachers at school. Soon, we hope to repeat the legal ceremony here in our own Queens backyard.

With all of the diversity here in Queens, who would want to raise a child anywhere else?

Michael Kandel,

Darryl Wong

Douglaston

Welcome to the discussion.