Fight for tenants
As a former LeFrak City tenant, I read last week’s story about rent increases in LeFrak with great interest (“LeFrak rent hikes spark protests,” Feb. 11, Central Queens edition). My family moved to LeFrak City when I was a little girl.We were priced out of Rego Park, and the affordable housing LeFrak offered was the only way we could stay in Queens. A few years later, I was priced out of LeFrak City when my rent was increased to $1,375 per month, not including utilities.
Our community leaders can make a difference. I know this from experience. As a community liaison in former state Sen. John Sabini’s office, I worked closely with all residents of LeFrak City. I recall one 90-year-old woman who was on SSI, supplemental security income, and receiving only $720 a month — not enough to even pay the $800 rent on her studio apartment. I placed her on a special program that gives her assistance with the remainder of the rent and her utilities.
This rent increase will hurt her and many other people like her struggling to stay in their homes during this recession. These $10 and $20 increases may seem small, but they are crippling our working families. For seniors and those on fixed incomes, these small amounts can mean they have to leave Queens.
Tenants of LeFrak City and other affordable developments throughout Queens are ignored because they don’t have influence in the back rooms of our state’s bureaucracy. When I fought for tenants as an aide to Sen. Sabini, I got immediate results because I was working with a senator. Our leaders need to stand up for tenants in affordable units, or the neighborhoods of our city will change forever.
The writer is a candidate for the Democratic nomination for state Assembly in the 28th District.
Lot 3 housing? Maybe
With regard to your story on Municipal Parking Lot 3, (“Housing set for city parking lot,” Feb. 11, Northern Queens edition),it is important to note that at this time the city has no firm plans for the development ofthe site. We are in the preliminary exploratory stage and will fully engage the community in anyplanning process should the city determine a future development project is viable here.
Rafael E. Cestero
Commissioner, NYC Department of Housing
Preservation & Development
Busing in Flushing
Former Borough President Claire Shulman’s recent proposal to build senior housing on the Flushing LIRR station parking lot, should call into question how much she knows about the population she is claiming to represent (“Housing set for city parking lot,” Feb. 11, multiple editions).
Shulman justifies her project by claiming that it would make the LIRR station more attractive and reduce overcrowding on the 7 train. I disagree. Even if the utilitarian railroad station were given a postmodern makeover as Jamaica recently did, this will not boost ridership. In this economic climate, it’s about the fares.
When LIRR fares can compete with subway fares, more urban commuters will take the trains. Until then, the urban commuter would rather stand on a crowded train. An alternative to the MTA are the Chinese shuttle buses, which provide a one-seat ride to Elmhurst and Chinatown, at a competitive price.
If there’s anything that Flushing needs, it’s a bus terminal, where all the buses can converge in one spot. Under current conditions, the bus map looks like a spaghetti plate, and new visitors have no idea where to find their bus as they exit the Main Street station.
Crooks in suits
It’s time the people in the AME church that Rev. Floyd Flake has used as a front wake up and demand his resignation. He left Congress to “serve his community and God?” No, he left Congress to serve himself and make millions off of those who trusted and loved him as their reverend.
He was partners with, mentor to and a cohort of Congressman Gregory Meeks and state Sen. Malcolm Smith. Can't you see they are really the mob? John Gotti has nothing on these white-collar thieves, for they robbed the poor and those who trustedand loved them. They stole monies from people who were vulnerable and in dire need after Katrina. They set up nonprofits and made big money in the name of God and community.
The feds have been quite busy, and hopefully they will follow the other crooked pols and go to prison where they belong, not preaching and serving in Washington or Albany. If the feds don’t send them away, it’s time for southeast Queens to listen to Obama and make the changes needed for your community. That includes voting these thieves out, taking away their power and demanding the resignation of Floyd Flake, who left Congress to make millions with his wife.
Probe CB over Aqueduct
Shame, shame on Community Board 10 for participating in the Aqueduct Race Track casino debacle and having the unmitigated gall to recommend approval of this Democratic scandal.
Offering their support and making positive statements regarding this proposal while obviously being in the pocket of the politically elite is a disservice to and betrayal of our community.
This disgraceful scam, perpetrated against the people while working out back room deals in supporting an unqualified and unethical group and saying, “to hell with the real community,” must be investigated.
The governor and his Democratic cronies arbitarily selected the AEG group over more qualified, financially stable and otherwise superior operative groups.
The leadership of the board should be investigated for a conflict of interest because of its connections to the Democratic Party.
Hopefully this proposal will be defeated and a more qualified group will be put forth. The leadership of the board should be removed while being investigated for its complicity in this matter.
Name withheld upon request
Last week a special election was decided in the 24th Assembly District pitting myself against David Weprin. The results of that election are now tarnished due to my opponent’s use of political hate mail tactics:specifically a disturbing flier that arrived in mailboxes four days prior to the election, giving me little or no time to respond.
The flier, which was approved by David Weprin and mailed to thousands of voters in the district, associated my name with a crime scene, the word “extremist” and the Nazi swastika. Attacking my character, distorting my positions and defaming my reputation by sending a flier with Nazi symbolism to Jewish homes for political gain is repugnant. As a civic leader, when I embarked on my political journey, I knew politics was a dirty business, but nothing prepared me for the vicious smear attacks and slanderous onslaught exhibited by my opponent.
I was labeled an extremist with Nazi symbolism because I had the audacity to say, “All crimes are hate crimes and all victims deserve equal protection under the law.” That is not an extremist position. Extremism is photoshopping swastikas onto campaign literature and then mailing it to Jewish households. Extremism is using Nazi symbolism to exploit people’s pain and suffering for personal gain and political expediency. Extremism is saying you support hate speech laws and then using the very tactics those laws seek to suppress.
Mailing political hate literature with Nazi imagery in a campaign is vicious and offensive to people of all religions. It goes beyond anything I have seen in a campaign. Because I am Jewish, I also received it in the mail and was sickened by it, as was my father, a World War II veteran.
David Weprin has yet to issue an apology for the hate mail flier. Instead, his campaign manager, Corey Bearak, continues to defend it on his behalf.
Voters need to ask themselves why they are so willing to elect someone who would allow such a flier to be disseminated. Are dynasty candidates simply immune from from the rules of fair play and given a free pass?
And will Mr. Weprin now reward Mr. Bearak, the architect of the piece, with an Assembly staff position? That would be a slap in the face to every civic leader that called for Mr. Bearak’s resignation from the presidency of the Queens Civic Congress and every resident that found the flier to be offensive.
As a civic leader and president of Glen Oaks Village, a multi-ethnic community of 10,000 residents, I have worked hard to unite people, not divide them. The hate speech tactics and politics of personal destruction chosen by Mr. Weprin to win an election at any cost, and his inability to exercise sound judgment, will always tarnish the results for many in the community, especially the nearly 40 percent of the voters who chose to vote for the other candidate.
Schools and the city
Re “Corona slams plan to build school,” Feb. 4, Western Queens edition:
A new school was just finished at Roosevelt Avenue and 99th Street in Corona. Stop busing children in from other areas and make room for the locals. The city raises property taxes every six months, and it’s difficult for us seniors to pay. Eminent domain is unfair as there are other solutions.
The Fire Department is on the same block, and one block away is the 110th Precinct. They’re always on 42nd and 43rd avenues, National and 99th streets and 97th Place. The results could be catastrophic. We will fight this.
Save community boards
We must prevent our community boards from becoming victims of budget cuts. The proposal to cut 30 percent of the boards’ budgets would be a lethal blow to the efficiency of a very needed and productive part of our city government.
Presently most boards consist of a district manager and a staff of two or three assistants, with approximately 50 volunteer members. The members, serving without compensation, are a cross section of the community: homeowners, businessmen and women — all contributing the expertise of their various positions, such as lawyers, architects, engineers, school teachers or civil employees. They assess the needs of their own neighborhoods, such as zoning variances, traffic problems, city budget needs, deteriorating housing, utility problems, sanitation and police needs. All donate their time as proud residents of their community. How can a community function without such valuable and important input?
To cut the staff in these boards would be an injustice to every neighborhood.
Presently each board is scheduled to plant approximately 30 trees at a cost of $1,000 per tree. It is certain that greening the city is extremely important, but in this present economy using the funds to keep the community boards operating at their present capacity is a priority.
Queens Community Board 4 member
It’s Obama’s fault now
This is in response to Anthony Pilla’s Feb. 11 letter, “Supreme mistakes,” and his perception that the Supreme Court has made major errors in some of its decisions.
Mr. Pilla, week after week your letters appear in numerous Queens County newspapers. In each case, your message is the same.Sounding like a worn-out 1960s liberal, you do nothing more than blame Republicans, conservatives and George W. Bush, and find racism in every issue, every court decision, every news story.
If you are still angry over the high court’s decision in the 2000 presidential race, why don’t you look beyond Mr. Bush and the Republicans whom you claim “stole” the election? Look at the entire picture, as the Supreme Court did.
As far as the recent and present administrations, as a Republican and conservative, I will do what liberals won’t.I agree that Mr. Bush’s policies and administration played a part in hurting our economy.But the time to blame Bush is over. President Obama has been in office over a year, and Democrats have had control of both chambers of Congress since his inauguration.They have had enough time to turn the economy around, create jobs, reform immigration, get stern with terrorists, reduce taxes. Little, if anything, has been done. They can blame Bush and the Republicans no longer. The blame lies entirely with them.
That is not just my opinion.A look at recent elections, particularly in districts and states where Republicans normally don’t fare well, obviously shows many American feel the same.
Face up to it, thechange Obama promised has been a sour disappointment.
I’m sure you and the diehard liberals will blame the next blizzard and earthquake on Bush as well. Accordingly, you can name the plate that moved and caused the tremor “Bush’s Fault.”
Catholic crime cover-up
Yet another Catholic priest is arrested on charges of yet another child sex crime (“Priest implicated in feds’ kid porn probe,” Feb. 4, Central Queens edition). We sympathize with Catholics who must wonder, “Will the church’s clergy sex and coverup scandal ever end?”
The answer, sadly, is that it won’t end, especially because bishops continue to focus on short-term public relations strategies instead of long-term, substantive reform.
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
Teachers who inspired
My wife Eva and myself had our good old friends Dave and Marion over for dinner the other night. Dave and I ended up talking about our old high school, Thomas A. Edison Vocational and Technical High School in Jamaica.
I pulled out my 1968 yearbook and we reminisced about our teachers, friends and fellow classmates. I asked, “What ever happened to a lot of these guys?” Dave said some had died in Vietnam, some from drugs and others from various diseases.
The sixties were a most difficult time, and a lot of us were trying to find our way, and some of us did that at Thomas Edison. I remember we were taught skills in the building trades and acquired academic knowledge, but we were given more than that — we were given moral directions and taught to respect one another.
For example, I had a most remarkable social studiesteacher named Mr. Feinstein, who said in our political world there is not only black and white or right and wrong but there are shades of gray that we need to take notice of as well. He further would point out we need to read and to be informed about the world around us and to be involved in the community. But most importantly, he said, we need to vote, for that is where democracy lives — in the ballot box. We must never give up that right and say we don’t care. I have never forgotten that.
Our principal, Mr. Francis Carlin, said to us graduates something that I believe is as important now as it was then. He said, “Every irresponsible act of prejudice, lawlessness or selfishness is a rent in the cloth which cannot be mended without loss of time and inevitable scarring of the finished garment.”
I only hope our youth today are as luckly as we were then to have such dedicated teachers with such high ideas that inspired us.
Frederick R. Bedell Jr.