It has come to my attention that due to the deep budgetary cuts that are existing in our city, many of the libraries in our borough of Queens will be suffering a cutback in services.
I raise my voice in indignation and disappointment, as I write this letter.
Reading is a wonderful gift, a right that is fundamental under a democratic and free society under which we live and a right that is given to us by our Creator which enhances our freedom, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Where would our society be without books, reference materials, magazines and the ability to read them and borrow them without charge?
Libraries are the windows upon the literary world and without them our windows will be shut and ignorance and illiteracy will unfortunately become part of our society.
So many people cannot afford to purchase books of their own and the public libraries enable everyone to enjoy books. Also, so many people do not own computers due to budgetary problems and libraries afford many free access to the world wide Web.
We urge our lawmakers, our governmental officials and the powers that be, to please think twice before closing libraries or reducing services.
Libraries are our oasis in the desert of illiteracy.
Let us all get our pens together to sign petitions and write letters and let us raise our voices and stand up together to lobby in order to convince our public officials that libraries are much too precious to close.
Long Island City
Mark David Chapman, John Hinckley and David Berkowitz—what do they have in common? They acted on impulse, doing damage and causing death with impunity. They are more than mere felons. Chapman is serving 22 years behind bars. He was recently denied parole and will be up for discharge again in two years. Hinckley, 21 and counting, the Son of Sam also has been denied parole, perhaps deservedly so.
These criminals have much in common. But even more so than the usual lifetime chance-for-parole servers, they got their hands on weapons illegally like parasites. This availability can be traced to people who sell firearms to make a profit and support the National Rifle Association. Still, they, the killers, premeditated their murders.
No matter how sick the criminal, we must make sure they atone for their actions. In the very least, I, for one, believe in calling for restitution as I do retribution. Let those three offenders out on partial if not full parole. By this, make them earn their freedom, or pay, by serving society in some way, shape or form.
They have tried their hardest to do well while in prison. If they show true remorse for their trespasses, then indeed I think they deserve a chance. However, they should feel thankful they were not given the more serious capital punishment, like the gas chamber, electric chair and lethal injection.
On November 5th, voters will confront a referendum proposal to change the New York City charter. They should vote no. The proposed change came about through a rushed process that produced flawed results. This is simply bad government.
This summer’s hastily organized Charter Revision Commission was charged with exploring nonpartisan elections and changing mayoral succession. All this plus reviewing the entire 600-page charter was to be done, in only 44 days. No charter commission before now has ever been asked to do its work in such a short period.
I spoke at one of the commission’s public hearings to recommend that the commissioners reject both proposals. I suggested that they defer making any revision recommendations until there was more time to review and discuss all the implications of the changes. Many distinguished New Yorkers joined me in speaking in favor of a better process, including former Mayor Edward Koch and many of my colleagues on the City Council. We all said that the rush to judgment was unnecessary and unwise. As a matter of fact, the only people supporting the recommendations under consideration were Lenora Fulani and other members of her Independence Party.
In the end, the commission dismissed the two proposals under consideration. Yet, out of the blue, they voted on a change to the city’s charter never discussed at any public hearing. The proposal put on the ballot seems only to shorten the time before a special election if a mayor leaves office unexpectedly. In fact, it also takes away the public advocate’s power to preside over the City Council.
Why is this proposal flawed? First, there was no discussion during the hearings of how these swifter special elections would be carried out. Under the proposed system we could have as many as four mayoral elections in rapid succession. Imagine the confusion and chaos this could cause in the crisis period of a sudden mayoral vacancy. Under our current system, the public advocate serves until the next general election when a successor is chosen. This system is better than the hastily framed alternative.
How much has all this thoughtless referendum proposal cost the city? Just sending out a guide to every voter cost $1.6 million—an expense that would not have been incurred if a referendum were not on the ballot. The city recently deferred the latest new training class of the Fire Department to save money. Amount saved? $1.6 million. You tell me if that’s a wise expenditure in this time of budget cutbacks.
Additionally, the commission gave no thought to our campaign finance system. How much would four mayoral elections in one year cost the taxpayers? Would candidates be able to meet the campaign finance standards that require raising $250,000 from 1,000 city residents in 60 days? Won’t this exclude all but the rich and well connected from running for mayor?
These are questions that should be explored, but we have run out of time. The proposal is on the ballot already. This is a poorly thought out proposal for which the public had no input. The only responsible action is to vote no.
Councilman 23rd District,