Thanks To Chronicle
I am writing to thank you for your support of the Osborne Association’s Annual Holiday Toy Drive through your toy drive at the Queens Chronicle. Your dedication and energy coupled with the generosity of your readers made the holidays much brighter for hundreds of children of incarcerated parents.
The Osborne Association, a nonprofit organization based in New York City since 1931, has a long history of working with individuals and families affected by incarceration. Osborne has been a pioneer in developing in prison and community based programs that seek to strengthen the bonds between incarcerated parents and their children. Working closely with state prison officials, we have created children’s visiting centers—brightly decorated spaces with toys, games, books and computers—where children interact with their incarcerated parent in a welcoming space. Thanks to your generosity, we can continue to help children maintain and strengthen their ties with their incarcerated parent.
By supporting the Osborne Association, you have helped to make this holiday season memorable for all the children and families we serve. We truly appreciate your compassion and empathy for families that are going through a difficult time in their lives.
director of development,
Long Island City
Tax Relief Needed
I am glad to hear that Gov. Eliot Spitzer is talking about providing relief for homeowners in regard to property taxes.I bought my home in Middle Village five years ago. At that time, my property taxes were $487 every three months or $1,948 per year. Today they are up to $805 every three months or $3,220. That’s a 60 percent increase over five years or 12 percent a year.
Given the fact that the city has made money hand over fist with the mortgage tax (1 percent of the total amount borrowed) and real estate transfer taxes (1.5 percent of the total selling price) during the real estate boom of the past five years, this amount of increase doesn’t make sense.
How many people get an after tax raise of 12 percent a year? Many of us live modestly in Queens and are single family homeowners who cannot pass this on to tenants.
We need property tax relief and we need it now. At the very least, property taxes should be held at current levels and not continue to rise every year.
I hope Mayor Bloomberg and the City Council are listening.
Many of my constituents throughout the 12th Senate District recently requested copies of a free New York City parking calendar that I offer each year and advertise in my December newsletter. Unfortunately, due to a printer’s error, some of the information in the 2007 calendar, which has already been mailed out to many constituents, is incorrect.
I am having the calendars reprinted to correct the mistakes, and I urge my constituents to contact my Albany office to request a new calendar. They may call my district office at (718) 545 9706 and ask to be transferred to extension 7907 in Albany. I deeply regret the inconvenience, and will provide the new calendars as quickly as possible.
state senator, 12th District,
Long Island City
Let’s Build Green
With an unseasonably warm winter to kick off 2007, it is unfortunate that most developers in Queens continue to ignore rising environmental concerns, building cheap and ugly brick boxes for future generations of businesses and residents. With the notable exception of Silvercup Studios, most privately owned rooftops in Queens remain covered in tar and gravel. Most apartments and shopping centers also have flat rooftops, and they are not aware of the benefits and incentives that come with vegetative roof covers, rainwater collection and solar panels.
Following the successful use of “green” architecture at the Queens Botanical Garden and the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center, our city should continue to set an example by renovating thousands of acres of city owned rooftops, such as public schools, libraries, police stations and housing projects with vegetative covers and solar panels.
Aside from the savings in energy costs, green rooftops can transform the ugly black rooftops into grassy meadows, restoring nature without compromising the need for growth. Among my favorite childhood memories was sunbathing and taking in the city views on the “tar beach” atop my Rego Park apartment building. Eventually, an alarm was installed and I was resigned to the pollution and noise of Queens Boulevard from my first floor window. With green rooftops, apartment residents can once again return to the open spaces, sunbathing and panoramic views that I once enjoyed. With the right incentives, maybe developers and landlords will take green architecture more seriously, benefiting the hundreds of thousands of apartment dwellers, as well as future generations of Queens residents.
Pit Bull Ban
Regarding the city’s proposed ban on pit bulls, pit bulls owned by irresponsible and criminal owners are over represented by the media and factual statistics regardingpit bulls are not generally known. In 2005, at the American Temperament Test, pit bull dogs scored 83.8 percent higher than the collie and golden retriever. At the 2004 American Temperament Test, pit bulls scored 86.6 percent higher than the German shorthaired pointer, the winner at Westminster’s Best In Show that year.
Currently,pit bulls contribute to society as U.S. Customs drug sniffing and bomb sniffing dogs, as search and rescue dogs and by visiting nursing homes, hospitals and schools as certified therapy dogs. The true genetic lineage of pit bulls is that they have always been bred to be nonaggressive to people and in fact are very affectionate and obedient dogs.
This is not to dismiss thatpit bulls have often been the dog of choice for irresponsible owners and criminals such as drug dealers and barbaric dog fight promoters and “trained” by abuse and torture to be aggressive. However, any dog breed can be trained to behave aggressively. The problem of dog aggression lies not with the dog breed but the owners.This fact has been supported time and again by studies of dogs.Experts on dog behavior and dog breeds who have spoken against breed specific legislation include the American Kennel Club, ASPCA, HSUS, National Canine Research Council and the American Veterinary Medical Association.
Breed specific legislation will not work as its target is misplaced to the dog and not the owner. It embodies faulty ideas about genetics and depends upon a law enforcer’s subjective opinion about how a dog looks. A small faction of irresponsible or criminal owners looking for a “dangerous” dog breed will simply choose another breed and abuse that dog breed into becoming aggressive.Breed specific legislation will result in the killing/euthanasia of thousands of very worthy dogs who will not be allowed homes simply because of the way they physically look and not based on the way the dog actually behaves.
president, NY Clever K9,
The Department of Education has announced that it will be making cuts to custodial budgets at all New York City schools to help fund empowerment schools. These are the schools where the principal has chosen to accept greater authority and be held accountable for school performance. Community District Education Council 26has heard from Larry Johnson, the plant manager for Region 3 and members of the custodians union on this issue. Based on these discussions, the council has resolved that the budget cuts are an inappropriate method to fund the empowerment schools.
Custodian budgets have been cut several times since 1996 due to financial needs of the entire school system and the city as a whole. To take money needed for maintaining all of our schools to provide extra money for a small number of schools is not fair. Our schools in District 26 are maintained by dedicated custodians and staff members who work very hard during their shifts. To expect the schools to be maintained as they have been with less staff and less working time defies reasonable management practice.
This is especially so since even without the current round of cuts, our custodians do not receive enough money to provide needed supplies and labor. Neither of these expenses have seen a budget increase in over 30 years, which is why many of our students must bring in soap, towels and other basic supplies.
It is important to note that the Department of Education claims that under the empowerment structure, there will be cost savings due to less bureaucracy. If these cost savings are real, there is no need for custodial budget cuts.Community District Education Council 26 has urged the chancellor and the mayor to not only rescind the announced custodial budget cuts, but to provide additional funding so school custodians can provide the needed service our students deserve.
Community District Education Council 26,
A Hero’s Example
I would like at this time to commend a New York hero named Wesley Autrey who saved Cameron Hollopeter. Here is a young man who suffered a seizure and fell onto the tracks and Autrey, a military veteran, jumped in to save him. Hearing him say after the rescue that “I just saw someone who needed help,” now that’s true humility in my book.
Mayor Bloomberg, when he bestowed the city’s highest civilian medal to Autrey, said “the word hero, I think, we use much too frequently, but you really are.” I somehow think that God intervened that day and protected and led Autrey into doing what had to be done.
Here is a man who risked his own life to save another human being and after all is said and done, asked his fellow New Yorkers to do the same. I wonder how many of us would do the same? I think Autrey is an example and an inspiration to us all.
Frederick Bedell Jr.,