Tolls for thee
The Port Authority toll hikes, although less than that originally proposed, are nevertheless outrageous and indicate that management, aided and abetted by the governors of New York and New Jersey, are contemptuous of the taxpayers and particularly of motorists. A toll hike to be paid by motorists who use the bridges and tunnels, to maintain the structural integrity of those vehicular arteries, based upon clear evidence in support of the proposed increase, is justified. What is not justified is an increase to be borne by motorists that have nothing to do with vehicular arteries. (“PA toll hikes approved,” Aug. 25, multiple editions).
In announcing the increase Port Authority Executive Director Chris Ward was quoted as saying: “Without this increase now construction of the World Trade Center site could slow or stop.” In other words motorists are being called upon to subsidize fat-cat real estate builders in an $11 billion government-sponsored construction project including a train station that is said to now have a cost overrun in excess of $1 billion; and adding 2 million square feet of office space in a city that has no need for it.
I remember a 25-cent toll on the Triborough Bridge, which seems to have disappeared — together with intelligent, responsible and candid public officials.
Benjamin M. Haber
I couldn’t agree more with “DiMaria’s Kitchen offers more than just pizza”(Aug. 18, Northeast Queens edition). Don’t forgetthat Joe’s Brick Oven Pizza and Kitchen isthe first restaurant in Little Neck to open an outdoor cafe. My wife and I can now enjoy a summer evening dining outside without having to go into Manhattan.
Owner Joseph DiMaria has already assisted ourcommunity, which faces a 8 percent unemployment rate and many vacant storefronts. On weekday evenings, there are many halfempty restaurants.But expansion ofDiMaria’s store,doubling the space inside and adding an outdoor cafe, provided work forconstruction contractorsand theiremployees.Thisprovides more jobs for his employees and suppliers.All pay taxesandare our neighbors.
The free enterprise systemmade our nation great. Economic growth and the creation of wealth comes from millions of small businesses such as DiMaria’s, without the assistance of “stimulus” taxpayer dollars.
Letuslift a glass of wine andtoast Mr. DiMaria for his newoutdoor cafe.We appreciate his offeringeveryone a good meal at a reasonable price, friendly company, good conversation andperhaps a laugh allunder a beautiful evening sky.
Great Neck, LI
We still live in the age of the robber barons.The New York Times “Business Briefings” of Aug. 21 on executive pay details two executives of Oracle who received packages of about $70 million in various forms. One of the executives was forced to leave his previous company under an ethical cloud. He was relatively new at the company dispensing this largesse.
Nowhere does the article discuss the financial conditon of the company showering them with money, let alone what the average stockholder receives in dividends.
This modern, corporate form of “highway robbery” has been going on too long at many of our corporations.Greedy executives, along with their compliant boards of directors, have been robbing us blind.
The democratic format of shareholders voting for directors and their propositions has been corrupted and circumvented to a degree that it is now outsideour understanding of the democratic elective process. This must be changed.
Charles Le Tan
No President Perry
Is America ready for another cowboy president? If your readers recall, the last cowboy in the White House said that under Texas justice, he would get Osama bin Laden, “dead or alive.” Get him — yeah, right. Ten years later, it was President Obama who got him — dead!
Here we are in the dog days of summer, and the Republican pack of horses is “off and running.” The dark horse from the Lone Star State is GOP Gov. Rick Perry. To better understand the psyche of this Lone Ranger, here are eight of his views, from his book “Fed Up”:
• The way Obama’s running this country into the ground, I’m thinking of Texas “seceding” from the Union (Didn’t Texas do that once before?);
• Perrycare beats Obamacare (71 percent of Texas workers have no health insurance);
• Obama never served in the military, and our troops have no respect for him;
• I do not believe in man-made global warming (does the governor know that Texas leads the nation in man-made pollution?);
• the BP disaster in the Gulf of Mexico was an act of God;
• the Social Security “Ponzi scheme” needs the brightness of sunshine scrutiny;
• job growth in Texas is due to low taxes (not true; job growth is due to federal job creation);
• and (saving the best for last), it would be “treasonous” if Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke were to “print more money between now and the election in November 2012. If Bernanke comes to Texas, he would be treated pretty ugly.”
Even the GOP godfather Karl Rove said, “Calling Ben Bernanke a traitor to his country is wrong.”
I predict a Perry vs. Obama contest in 2012 will go down in American history as the most vicious ever.
Anthony G. Pilla
Reform redistricting now
Across the state this summer the Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment has been conducting public hearings on redistricting reform. The Queens hearing will take place on Sept. 7 at Borough Hall.
Redistricting is a once-in-a-decade process in which district boundaries for state legislative and congressional seats are redrawn to reflect changes in population so they are equal or nearly equal in the number of people.
Decade after decade LATFOR has drawn maps with one primary aim: ensuring incumbent legislators from the dominant party get re-elected. And it has been dramatically successful. Since 1999, incumbents in the state Legislature have had a 96 percent re-election rate. Only 53 incumbents since 1982 have lost a general election because districts are drawn in a way that results in discouraging competition. The New York State Senate has been controlled by the Republican Party every year but two since 1965, and the Assembly has been run by Democrats every year since 1974.
To establish their incumbents’ protection program, LATFOR carves competitors’ homes out of a district. They draw weirdly shaped districts while dividing communities and diminishing their ability to advocate for their interests. And they marginalize growing minority groups to protect the old guard. Here in Queens, the most ethnically diverse county in America, it took until 2000 for the first Latino to be elected to the state Senate and it was not until 2004 that the first Asian American was elected to the Assembly.
But Queens and the rest of New York have spoken loud and clear on the drawing of district lines. The public wants an independent commission — not the partisan, Legislature-controlled LATFOR — to draw district boundaries according to fair and objective criteria while allowing for robust public input into the process.
The Queens Civic Congress is part of a diverse redistricting reform campaign, ReshapeNY, united behind creating a more independent redistricting process.
Of the state Legislature’s 212 members, 184, including most Queens lawmakers, pledged or cosponsored bills that would change the state’s rigged process for drawing district lines. Lawmakers need to end partisan gerrymandering and authorize an independent commission to draw impartial district lines.
Redistricting can’t wait until next year, which means next decade. Queens and the rest of New York deserve better than 10 more years of delay.
President, Queens Civic Congress
The story of no
Even at this late date, imaginative scenarios keep popping up as to why our country lost its AAA credit rating. It’s a foolish waste of time, since Standard and Poor has repeatedly told us why.
How could S&P possibly not downgrade our country’s credit rating after witnessing a portion of the United States Congress threatening — and some even cheering —the prospect of reneging on our debt and not raising the debt ceiling for the first time in our country’s history? The reason our credit rating was lowered was entirely the fault of the new clueless freshman elected to Congress in the 2010 midterm election. They “Just Say No” to anything and everything proposed by the Democrats. They have made a farce of a functioning government.
And now we have this committee of 12, six Democrats and six Republicans. They will decide how to balance our country’s budget as we reduce its deficit. At face value, the solution, although painful, is obvious. Reduce spending and increase revenue. Simple, but only if the approach by all 12 is fair and balanced (I can’t believe I used that tainted phrase).
However, the six Republicans on the committee all signed a pledge authored by some self-anointed guru, Grover Norquist, that under no circumstance would they agree to raise taxes. Their world of “No” includes not ending the Bush tax cut for the wealthy, not closing tax loopholes, not curtailing tax credits — nothing that would impact on their benefactors, the wealthy and corporations. In their warped world — sanctioned by our present equally warped 5-4 Supreme Court — these corporations are “people.”
I fear our six Republicans will be counting on their six Democratic colleagues performing theirritual cave. Let us hope that by now a harsh lesson has been learned, that there is no compromising with “No.”