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Queens Chronicle

Letters to the Editor

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Posted: Thursday, November 10, 2011 12:00 pm

Hire on merit

Dear Editor:

Knowledge is power, but having only a little knowledge can be dangerous. District Leader Elmer Blackburne’s Oct. 27 letter about the FDNY, “Unbiased stories about bias,” revealed that he possesses only a little knowledge and precious few facts about the issue of FDNY minority hiring and this leads him to hope for an outcome that will likely prove dangerous to both New York City residents and firefighters.

He characterizes the efforts to diversify the FDNY as “meager”; over $20 million spent since 1989 on minority recruitment efforts is meager? The numerous, expensive, extensive and varied initiatives instituted to entice both minorities and women to become firefighters are meager? NYC and the FDNY have bent over backwards to recruit underrepresented groups to consider firefighting as a career and have nothing to apologize for or be defensive about. As a 30-year elected official Mr. Blackburne should be aware of these efforts.

Does Mr. Blackburne realize there was a quota for blacks to be hired as firefighters in the 1970s? This quota resulted in blacks filling almost 8 percent of the firefighting ranks, about twice what Mr. Blackburne declared in his letter. Does he realize that all the cities he cited as having higher percentages of minority firefighters than New York achieved those percentages due to quotas that have been challenged in the courts and thrown out?

When he writes of Hispanics being discriminated against, does he realize that the FDNY Hispanic Society refused an invitation to join the lawsuit because they do not want standards lowered and believe everyone should have to pass the same test?

His assertion that the Civil Service system in New York practices illegal discrimination bumps up against the fact that blacks are the most over-represented — that’s right, the most over-represented — group in city employment. At approximately 24 percent of the NYC population, blacks hold 36 percent of city jobs. If we adopt the argument that city agencies must mirror the city population we will have to either let a lot of black workers go or have a moratorium on hiring blacks until the numbers match up. Do you support this, Mr. Blackburne? I don’t.

I, and my group, instead support treating everyone equally no matter their race or gender. To advocate for quota hiring means you want the decision to hire based on their race or gender instead of their preparation, motivation, intelligence and ability. This is illegal, Mr. Blackburne, and in no way guarantees the “fundamental fairness” you say you want. It is also dangerous as it leads to arguments being made that reading comprehension ability is not required (an argument your distinguished federal judge, Nicholas Garaufis, astonishingly accepted), and neither is physical strength, if you want to be a firefighter.

Paul Mannix

President, Merit Matters

Staten Island

The writer is a FDNY Deputy Chief but does not represent the department in this letter.

Save Queens trees

Dear Editor:

(An open letter to NYS DOT Senior Landscape Architect Jim Lau)

I understand you are the state Department of Transportation landscape architect assigned to the Kew Gardens Interchange Project. Many of my colleagues and I have read in local papers such as the Queens Chronicle that 600 trees would be slated for the chopping block, as the roads undergo reconfiguration in Kew Gardens and Briarwood (“Highway plans will uproot 600 trees,” Sept. 29, multiple editions; and “Expect delays: Big road project will take years,” Aug. 18, multiple editions). I have some creative ideas, which I encourage you and the NYS Dept of Transportation to consider.

We feel there is no replacement for our beautiful, mature trees. The September 2010 tornado and the August 2011 hurricanes were responsible for the loss of about 4,000 trees cumulatively in our borough. Natural disasters are beyond our control, but proactively preserving our trees is within our control. The DOT’s potential plans to cut down 600 trees goes against my morals as a citizen and humanitarian. What may be “as of right” is not always right for the citizens. Trees convey life, beauty, are nature’s pride, purify our air, keep the ground cool, are home to wildlife, and are historic to our Queens landscape.

Statistically speaking, the significant and very successful tree giveaway event that I coordinated in MacDonald Park in June 2011, as well as the tree plantings and giveaways occurring citywide through MillionTreesNYC, will not exceed the beauty and benefits posed by our mature trees in our lifetime.

I urge the NYS DOT to creatively revise the Kew Gardens Interchange plans, in order to preserve the endangered trees. The roads can be reconfigured alternatively. In sections where revision is not at all possible, then Plan B would be to have the endangered trees moved by tree moving companies that specialize in commonly moving medium to larger size trees. Then they can be planted either in parks or on private property, and could be named in honor of victims of 9/11, or in the memory of loved ones in a broader perspective. This could be financed by any combination of the State, Parks Dept, green organizations, banks, elected officials, and citizens. Some of the trees can also be given to the tree moving companies which have nurseries, and they can be sold.

It would be a sad day or time period in our history to witness the mass destruction of our mature trees, so please work with us by exploring our ideas, and hopefully a compromise can be reached for all parties. Thank you for your consideration.

Michael Perlman

Forest Hills

The writer is chairman of the Rego-Forest Preservation Council and serves on the boards of several other preservation groups.

Great reporting

Dear Editor:

As one who lives almost directly across from the noise of the ever up and downing of Star Nissan/Toyota’s door and windows, I’d like to thank you for Liz Rhoades’ article, “Clock is running for dealer’s repair shop,” in the Nov. 3 Northern Queens edition of the Queens Chronicle.

It has been 10 years of torture and noise, and it’s a sheer miracle that no serious accident has happened with the enormous car and truck traffic and parking on our little street. We cannot park our cars (Star’s employees quickly take whatever spaces exist). We cannot enjoy the summer air without horrific fumes and noise, and are subject to all sorts of street garbage.

Your article about Ms. O’Garman and Councilman Halloran was indeed a welcome report on our plight and the city’s devil-may-care attitude.

Many thanks for the clear and concise evaluation of zoning regulations gone haywire without any foresight on how to fix the problem. Another stupidity in our city planning.

Lawrence F. Pesce


Race and the racino I

Dear Editor:

I read in last weeks paper an article about the Aqueduct casino where it was so happily stated that of the 1,350 people hired to work at the location, 89 percent were either minorities or women ("Residents say casino is new beginning for area," Nov. 3, multiple editions).

So let me see ifI have this correct. At least 1,100 workers who were hiredwere either minorities or women because there weren’t enough qualifiedwhite men who applied for a job? Nah, that can’t be right. Maybe it was because every one of the 1,100 minority or women workers who were hired were smarter, had better skillsand hadmore experience than the white men who may have applied for a job? Could that be it? Nah, I don’t think so.

Wait!I have the answer. Maybe out of the 1,350 workershired were minorities or women and not white men because of affirmative action, and laws created by our elected officialswhich, when you really think about it isracism, gender-ism and any other kind of “ism” you may want to make up along the way.

Can you imagine if the article read, “we are happy to announce that this new facility will employ 1,350 new workers, of whom 89 percent are white? Can you say, “Al, show me the money, Sharpton?”Or any of the other so called “community leaders” who pretend to fight for “their people,” not to mention the spineless politicians (most of whom are Democrats) who also create the environment of “victimization” for minorities and then pretend to be their champions of equality?

Now, many of you will read these comments and say, wow, this guy must be a racist. I say to you,“find some other sucker to accuse!” Never was, never will be. Anyone who knows me will say the same.It was Dr. King who told us to judge a person by their character and not by the color of their skin. Did that mean, unless they were applying for a job?

The disadvantage that too manyminorities may seem to have when it comes to finding a job starts from day one and depends on the family structure and how they are raised. That is where the foundation begins. Was that too harsh or insensitive? Too bad!

The sad part is that most, if notall of this reparation garbage is the result of something terriblethat happened over 300 years ago. What does that have to do with me? I never owned a slave. My ancestors came from Italy and were treated like second-class citizens when they arrived on Ellis Island in the early 1900s. Don’t misunderstand me, being mistreated and actual slavery are no comparison, but too manypeople of color today never stop complaining aboutwhat happeneda very, very long time ago.

I have an idea: quotas in baseball, basketball and football. Who cares abouthow talented the athlete is, I want to see more white guys on the field of play. Can’t shoot the ball? Who cares, as long as the person is white. Can’t catch the ball? Who cares, as long as the person is white. Seriously!Doesn’t that sound stupid?Of course it does, because it is.

I want to see the best and most qualified person perform no matter what color they are. Life is tough, but if you rely on the governmentto house you, feed you, clothe you and on and on, you will alwayslive in some form of slavery.And most of all;if youget a job based on a quota,know this, when you sign your name on the dotted line, you just told yourself you are not good enough to get it on your own.

Paul Parrinello Jr.

Howard Beach

Race and the racino II

Dear Editor:

The jobs at the racino are 89 percent taken by women or minorities. Where does that leave the new minority, namely white people?

When they went over the resumes theyeliminated any name that could be construed as Caucasian. This sounds to me like pandering.

Ray Hackinson

Ozone Park

Stop Creedmoor plan

Dear Editor:

The Queens Civic Congress, the umbrella coalition for more than 100 Queens civic organizations, congratulates CB 13 on its vote to oppose construction of two multi-story apartment buildings on the Creedmoor campus adjacent to several low-density Bellerose neighborhoods.

QCC supports services for seniors and indeed supported development of low rise, low-density senior housing elsewhere on the Creedmoor site. We are opposed to out of scale non-contextual development that negatively affects built out neighborhoods like Bellerose. ICCC’s proposal, which seeks to effectively change the existing zone to a higher density residential one, is clearly out of character with the nearby low density housing and just as clearly negatively affects its nearby neighbors—with nine-story buildings less than fifty feet from many one family, one-story homes. Without any pubic notice or hearing, the state sold the property to ICCC for far less than market value, an action that Attorney General Schneiderman is investigating.

Queens residents should be especially wary of how ICCC acquired the Creedmoor property — state-owned land. Creedmoor is not the only state-owned land in Queens. The MTA — desperate for funds — owns train yards and bus depots across Queens. In the past developers have eyed both the Sunnyside Yards and the Jamaica Yards for high-density housing. Now ICCC’s plan goes to Queens Borough President Marshall for a hearing and her advisory opinion. QCC calls on Marshall to turn down ICCC’s plan and instead support the Creedmoor Master Plan, which calls for responsible development that will better serve Queens and the Bellerose community. And we call on the Board of Standards and Appeals to reject this development, which will jeopardize a thriving community.

Patricia Dolan


Queens Civic Congress


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