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Queens Chronicle

Letters to the Editor

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Posted: Thursday, October 27, 2011 12:00 pm

Biden’s Bible

Dear Editor:

Democrats have always practiced the politics of fear but Vice President Biden has really outdone himself.

In a recent speech, Biden declared that if Republicans do not support the Obama jobs billlocalities will be forced to layoff police.The result, according to Biden, will be more robberies and rapes.So, if you support the Republicans, you do not care what happens to the women in your family.Obviously, our distinguished vice president did not take Obama’s call for civility to heart.

It seems that it never occurred to Biden that localities could reallocate existing funds from non-essential services or renegotiate health and retirement benefits with their workers to put them more in line with the private sector. Actually, he probably did think about it, but such a policy would go againsthis base of supporters.

I have not heard any Democrats denounce what Biden said.Should anyone be surprised that Americans are more divided than ever?

Lenny Rodin

Forest Hills

Zuccotti Park’s meaning

Dear Editor:

This was not a day of visiting dignitaries, actors, religious leaders or rock stars. Thank God for an average day in a not very average world. And it was raining, so there was an early morning quietness in Zuccotti Park, as people slept and lived in real or makeshift tents.

This was a park which had grown in fame and infamy due to its current occupation by different people with similar axes to grind.

The message is clear: There are huge amounts of offshore money and corporate profits which are not being used to employ Americans, who were previously laid off or just not employed, including recent college graduates.

The sound of drumming, usually an evening affair, was done by a massive grouping of people, providing the same spirit and energy as drum circles have generated around the world throughout history.

Most people’s concern was the covering and enshrouding of personal areas of ownership, as you would in most camping situations when the weather became uncooperative.

A few people nodded at me or said hello. No one asked me for funds, which my group paranoia had expected.

I saw a few overused Port-O-Sans and watched one man urinating against a tree.

Elsewhere there were people serving drinks of the nonalcoholic kind.

A young man dressed in old Army fatigues and brown Army boots tried to bum a cigarette from me, but my health had forced me to stop smoking years before. His name was Jim. He had served in Iraq, experienced war and survived. Then he told me he had been stupid and re-enlisted. On the day he was due to report he deserted and has been AWOL ever since.

Jim didn’t ask, but I gave him some money when I moved on into the crowd.

I began to think of my personal relationship with the armed forces. I remembered which friends of mine, older than me, had fled to Canada. I remember being an enlisted radar operator in the Air Force, in frigid St. John’s, Newfoundland atop an icy mountain with 75 other men. I remembered the Columbia University riots later when I was a student there.

I had enlisted at 17 and I was terrified and wanted my mother all the time. But a psychiatrist in New York had told me that I needed discipline, so there I was, trying to get some but not knowing how. In retrospect I imagine his fantasies of my need for discipline involved slapping my bare behind red, but I thought the armed forces was what he meant, at the time.

Later on there were all the civil rights demonstrations, be they black or gay, taking me to Central Park and Washington.

And later yet, the fight we won in New York’s Soho, making it legal for artists like my wife and me to live in the former slave labor lofts that abounded there.

Then I am back in the now of Zuccotti Park. I cross Broadway to Cedar Street. I look over my left shoulder for a final gaze at the people in the park, a place I knew I would return to.

The fight for rights in this country must always continue.

Carl Eden

Jackson Heights

GOP wrong again

Dear Editor:

We all know that GOP candidates consider the Obama presidency to be a total failure! Let me focus on just one of many areas to prove them all wrong.

On May 1 the President announced that his CIA-Navy Seals team killed Osama Bin Laden. Bush 43 never really tried in his eight years in the Oval Office.

When the Libyan revolution started last spring, President Obama ordered a limited, but effective, military role within NATO’s broader help for Libyan freedom fighters, so that they could overthrow the Muammar Khadafy’s “terrorist” regime. Obama’s GOP cri˝ics called him a “clueless” leader when it came to foreign affairs. They added that the war was in “stalemate mode.” Well, Khadafy is dead! Libya is a free nation! Two world “terrorists” killed on Barack Obama’s watch – three if you count Anwar al-Awlaki.

Another Republican criticism was that Obama’s support for the revolution may bring into power an “Iranian style” government. Let me shoot that one down too. Abdul el Ardi, a member of the Libyan National Transition Council, stated that the new form of government will be based on the Turkish, not Iranian style. The NTC will draft a constitution which must be OK’d by the national congress and the Libyan people.

Just a brief, but informative side note of contrasting GOP views on Muammar Khadafy. President Ronald Reagan considered Khadafy to be “the Mad Dog of the Middle East.” Contrast that to what Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) said on Aug. 6, 2009, while a guest of Khadafy at his compound in Tripoli: “I am having an interesting visit with an interesting man.” Folks – just think... he almost became our 44th president!

Anthony G. Pilla

Forest Hills

Unbiased stories on bias

Dear Editor:

I want to commend your newspaper, and your Assistant Editor AnnMarie Costella, for the fair and extensive coverage and reporting over the last few years of the U.S. Justice Department’s discrimination lawsuit against the New York City Fire Department and the City of New York.

As an elected official, a Democratic district leader for more than 30 years, I have witnessed the meager efforts by five city administrations to diversify the FDNY. Needless to say, there has been no meaningful change in the diversity of firefighters in the department: The formula has generally been over 90 percent white males, 6 percent Latinos, 2 to 3 percent blacks, and 1 percent others. This has been the reality, give or take a percent or two, for as long as I can remember.

In July, 2007, The Center for Constitutional Rights petitioned to be a party to the U.S. Department of Justice’s lawsuit against the FDNY and the City of New York. In 2009, Judge Nicholas Garaufis, of the Federal District Court here in New York, ruled that the FDNY and the City of New York had discriminated against Blacks and Hispanics, stating that the exams given by the department in 1999 and 2002 were discriminatory. The judge further stated in his 2009 opinion, “that these unlawful practices barred over 1,000 additional Black and Hispanic applicants from consideration” “Priority hiring” of black and Hispanic applicants was contemplated, as a remedy, with specified damages to the plaintiffs in the case.

Other city uniformed forces show a much higher diversity of personnel. The Police Department is 53 percent white, 18 percent black, 23 percent Latino and 6 percent Asian and others. The Correction Department is 15 percent white, 64 percent black, 18 percent Latino and 3 percent Asian and others. The Fire Department is 90 percent white, 3 percent black, 5 percent Latino and 1 percent Asian and others.

New York City has the least diverse fire department of any major city in America with only 7.4 percent blacks & Latinos. In Los Angeles the department is 57 percent black and Latino; in Philadelphia it’s 51 percent; Baltimore, 30 percent; Chicago, 23 percent; and Boston, 40 percent.

Judge Garaufis’ decision this month, rendered after exhaustive testimony, study, and review, is a victory of enormous dimensions. Hopefully, it assures finality and closure to the illegal practice of discrimination within the FDNY and, indeed, the Civil Service system in New York. Such a system must guarantee fundamental fairness for those men and women who aspire to serve as firefighters. As a native New Yorker, I am embarrassed and ashamed that the officials who run this great city can’t be trusted without a court-appointed monitor to assure fair and just hiring in the Fire Department for the next 10 years.

Why did it have to come to this?

Personally, what troubles me most of all is Mayor Bloomberg’s conduct: disparaging Judge Garaufis, a distinguished federal judge, because he disagreed with the decision. The mayor even refuses to acknowledge that there has been a past pattern of discrimination in the Fire Department. This conduct was particularly offensive to me, as African Americans and other minority groups have relied on the federal judiciary to be the protector of our civil rights and civil liberties, as the courts guided us through the civil rights movement, in recent times.

Elmer H. Blackburne

Democratic District Leader

29th Assembly District, Part B


Ads can never hurt me

Dear Editor:

Re “Tobacco ads seen through kids’eyes,” Oct. 20, multiple editions:

When confronted with speech you don’t like everyone is free to counter it with more (opposite) speech. That’s the American way.

What the prohibitionists would rather teach is the use of censorship. Don’t like what you’re hearing or seeing? Demand that it stop! That’s a more damaging lesson to our youth than pictures and words on a poster. That and ingraining in them the notion that they are too weak to resist whatever it is they think they shouldn’t have and creating a society of non-independents.

“I couldn’t help myself” will be the refrain of the future day. Legislators who pander to this for an easy vote because it’s “popular” should remember that it was once popular to segregate. Popularity is not a measure of what’s right.

Audrey Silk

Founder, NYC Citizens Lobbying Against Smoker Harassment


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