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Queens Chronicle

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Posted: Thursday, June 23, 2011 12:00 pm | Updated: 2:50 pm, Thu Jun 23, 2011.

No FDNY illiteracy

Dear Editor:

Writer Tom Fitton points out in a recent article for biggovernment.com that the Department of Justice claims that it’s not all that important for firefighters to be able to read and write. In the FDNY lawsuit, Judge Nicholas Garaufis has ruled that reading comprehension ability is not required to be a firefighter.

A rumor has been making the rounds that those who can’t read will have the test read to them, and before anyone dismisses this as nonsense, they must remember what they just read — the judge has ruled that reading comprehension ability is not reguired. The “logical” next step is not requiring reading comprehension ability for the test.

Assurances have been sought and obtained that reading will be required on the test, but the test development process bears close watching. Merit Matters (and other interested parties, such as the Uniformed Firefighters Association and United Fire Officers Association)will be watching. We have been all along, and have made repeated calls (which will continue) for the Justice Department, and the Vulcan Society,to be removed from the test development process. This story reveals one more reasonwhy our calls should be addressed and heeded.

Paul Mannix

President, Merit Matters

Bayside

The writer is a deputy chief in the FDNY.

Good move for business

Dear Editor:

To say that swipe fees are significantly hindering normal operations of my business would be an understatement. In fact, I pay close to $20,000 a year in swipe fees. So when Congress passed and the president signed swipe fee reform into law last year, I was pleased. Fair debit card swipe fees would enable me to pay my staff competitive salaries, maybe hire an additional worker and allow me to continue investing in my community.

But recently Sen. Jon Tester (D-Montana) introduced legislation to delay this critical reform, a move that would have cost small business owners millions of dollars each day that reform was postponed. While the proposal was on the table, I worried that with any further delay I face a series of tough decisions: cutting an employee, paying less competitive wages, and even worse, reducing my community involvement.

Thankfully, Congress stood behind the millions of small business owners like me, and voted to preserve common-sense swipe fee reform. As a result, we are poised to see new rules take effect next month that will change the way we do business — with benefits for businesses and consumers alike. I would like to extend my sincere thanks to Congress for making the right decision on this one.

Alan Dumain

Richmond Hill

The writer owns two 7-Eleven franchises in Forest Hills.

It’s politics, not race

Dear Editor:

Re “What about Rangel?” by Lenny Rodin, Letters, June 16:

The difference in the treatment of Charles Rangel and Anthony Weiner had nothing to do with race and everything to do with political allies. Unfortunately, what Weiner’s constituents and fans most love about him (me included), his brash outspokenness on political issues, gained him few allies within his own party. And that is how you stay in power. I don’t like it, but that’s the way the game is played.

I personally don’t think that Weiner did anything worthy of resignation. However, he is not known for being a great legislator. He got people’s attention by being the most vocal. But his scandal made him incapable of doing that. He couldn’t be the rabble rouser in the House or stir it up on political TV programs with people constantly grilling him about his personal life. So then he served no purpose to the party. To the Dems — amongst whom he doesn’t have many friends anyway — he became a distraction and completely disposable. Rangel, on the other hand, has been in Congress for four decades. He still wields a lot of power and influence politically.

Again, I don’t agree that decisions should be made this way, but this is how all politicians play the game. It has nothing do with affirmative action.

A. Brooks

St. Albans

One final slap

Dear Editor:

So much for those murky “right-wing conspirators.” Arrogant Anthony Weiner has finally met his Waterloo — and all the time it was lurking in his drawers! What a yutz!

Ann Rychlenski

Ozone Park

Weiner vs. the LIRR

Dear Editor:

In the aftermath of the Weiner controversy, his constituents are left without their David to battle the Long Island Rail Road Goliath.

I just learned from a work crew that the LIRR would be coming on Saturday to cut down yet another 100-year-old hardwood tree on their property adjacent to Forest Hills Station Square and across from the Tennis View Apartments, at 6 Burns St. After having them clear-cut most of the area back in 2007 and repeated efforts to have them replant it, we are still left with an embankment denuded and not one inch of progress with any plan to restore the area.

Congressman Weiner had championed the cause on our behalf (and was also instrumental in getting the LIRR to use more discretion in the blowing of train horns as they pass through Forest Hills). His office has been working to secure funding to rebuild the wall that the LIRR removed and replant the trees they cut down. But it seems that in the power vacuum created by the scandal, the LIRR decided that after four years, with only three days notice to the community, to cut down another old-growth hardwood tree that towers above the surrounding neighborhood, providing shade to the street and buildings and a pleasant vista to the eye.

The LIRR planted evergreens to replace the trees they removed around a Flushing station. The MTA, after clear-cutting along their branches in northern Queens, agreed to pay $460,000 to replant those areas. So why is the LIRR so reticent to make good on a promise to replant here in Forest Hills? And why, after a four-year hiatus, are we now seeing them coming in to cut more trees and shrubs in our neighborhood with no input from the community and but three days notice?

It seems strangely ironic that within earshot of the chainsaws to come there was an encampment of media waiting to pounce on the congressman should he appear, while a real human interest story that shows why his constituents are not overwhelmingly in favor of his resignation unfolded down the block. Weiner fought for us and for causes important to New York, such as the first responders bill, and we fear there will be no one to take on those fights with such vigor now.

Russ Gundlach

Forest Hills

Apologize to Muslims

Dear Editor:

(On behalf of the Arab and Muslim community of Astoria)

The Queens Chronicle article “Town hall meeting devolves in Astoria,” posted June 7 on qchron.com, describes a public meeting of community residents who came to acquire information on the many services available to them from city agencies. Attending were a variety of agency officials and elected representatives.

It was unfortunate that this important public forum, held to provide a valuable service, would become a platform for condemning Arab and Muslim members of the Astoria community.

According to the Chronicle, the leader of a community organization told a member of the Arab and Muslim community, “Your people are violent and disrespectful.” Not a single voice of protest against this vile charge was heard from the officials present. Each and every official failed to admonish the individual making those scurrilous accusations, which can be construed as accepting and condoning them.

The only voice raised in protest against this apparent act of racism, that of Moustafa Elshiekh, co-chairperson of the Queens Borough Progressive Democratic Club, was given no support whatsoever. This was a shocking display of disrespect to all of the citizens of this diverse community.

What did the individual making these vile accusations against her fellow community members have in mind? Apparently she was seeking support for her vicious attack from those in attendance. The president of a community organization typically represents the views of her members. As such her despicable attack should have been immediately condemned.

The ultimate responsibility of public officials is to serve citizens with honor and respect. Queens County, which has the highest ethnic diversification in the country, needs leaders who don’t live in a vacuum. Why did they permit ethnic racism to be projected at a public forum without speaking up in protest?

We cannot stay silent by accepting this kind of inexcusable conduct from our public officials. How can a democratic society provide proper concern and justice for their members when our leaders are unable or unwilling, knowing what their responsibilities are, to take a public position against the largest voice in the room?

Ahmed Jamil

Moustafa Elshiekh

Astoria

For stronger rent laws

Dear Editor:

How does a state senator who is pro-tenant respond to a robocall made by the Republicans claiming the opposite?

Last week the Republicans made thousands of anonymous calls to my constituents claiming I was opposed to rent regulations. Nothing could be further from the truth. I want rent laws to be strengthened, not just extended.

Michael McKee of Real Rent Reform and Tenants United has taken the same position, stating that ... an extender for 39 hours in not adequate. We need significant strengthening amendments.

It has been nearly 30 years since rent laws have been strengthened. During this period, hundreds of thousands of people have lost the protection of rent regulations. Now is the time to reverse this trend.

The use of anonymous robocalls was unconscionable. People were frightened, fearing they could be evicted. The Senate Republicans have stated that they want to end rent regulations, with one Republican Senator from Central New York calling them socialism.

I know firsthand how important rent regulations are because I grew up in a rent-controlled apartment. I want to reassure everyone that this is our priority in Albany in the closing week of the legislative session.

Toby Ann Stavisky

Whitestone

The writer is New York State Senator for the 16th District.

Bring our troops home

Dear Editor:

The United States needs to begin to immediately withdraw its forces from Afghanistan.

It seems that the the Afghan president is forever complaining aboutour forces as being more of an occupation force rather than a fighting one. Well, ourbrave servicemen and women who have been fighting over there,with so many sacrificing their lives since we started fighting there after Sept. 11, 2001 need to come home.

Let President Karzai and his government handle Afghan security and governing. Why must our nation always be the policeman of the entire world? Who is helping us? We need to letnations handle their own security — we have enough of our own problems in our country. Our owneconomy is in shambles, unemployment is very high and prices continue to rise on everything from food to medicine toclothes to fuel. Other nations in the international community need to step forward to assist those nations that are having problems. The United States cannot be everywhere all of the time.

John Amato

Fresh Meadows

Three blind officials

Dear Editor:

Former city Comptroller Bill Thompson, current city Comptroller John Liu and Public Advocate Bill de Blasio all practice “see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil” when it comes to paying fines for putting up illegal campaign posters in the 2009 municipal elections.

All three failed to take responsibility for the actions of their campaign managers and workers. They allspent thousands of dollars printing and distributing tens of thousands of campaign posters many of which ended up being illegally plastered all over town. Now they deny knowledge of these actions and have morphed into the three blind mice. All three employed hired guns representing themto fight boththe Environmental Control Board and Sanitation Departments attempting to overturn fines of several hundred thousand dollars per candidate.

Former Brooklyn state Sen. Marty Connor (for Liu) and Stanley Schlein from the Bronx (de Blasio) are well known election lawyers or lobbyists. They have faithfully servedtheir respective Democratic Party County clubhouse machines for decades in manipulating election law to keep independent primary party candidates off the ballot. In between elections, they work for various labor unions, developers and business people lobbying elected officials and municipal agencies. Theylook on behalf of their clients for favors in the form of regulatory relief, tax exemptions and development permits.

You can judge the character of a person by the company they keep and the actions taken. Thompson, Lui and DiBlasio are not really the reformers they pretend to be,but just another generation of Democratic Party clubhouse insiders. They refuse totake responsibility for the actions of those employed by them in past political campaigns who clearly engaged inviolating thelaw. As such, none has the leadership necessary toqualify forbecoming mayor in 2013.

Larry Penner

Great Neck, LI

Against gay marriage

Dear Editor:

With all New York’s problems — loss of jobs, high taxes and out of control spending — Gov. Cuomo’s answer is gay marriage. Clearly this governor has too much time on his hands.

Common sense, tradition and morals tells us marriage is between a man and woman. That’s not good enough for Gov. Cuomo and the secular progressive movement. Even California, with all the left-wing loonies, failed to legalize gay marriage. Unfortunately New York may succeed where California failed. New York is teetering on economic bankruptcy; must we be morally bankrupt as well?

Practically, gay marriage will open the door for fraud and litigation. Heterosexuals could enter into same-sex marriages for health insurance coverage and other shared benefits. If you have same-sex marriages inevitably there will be same-sex divorces and other legal issues. New Yorkers are hurting economically like the rest of the nation, Gov. Cuomo and the state Legislature’s recipe is more fraud and litigation, as if we do not already have enough! Do not be surprised when more businesses leave the state.

What is most disturbing is our state senator, Joseph Addabbo Jr., has flip-flopped from his 2009 position opposing same-sex marriage. Now Addabbo supports same-sex marriage, even though it is contrary to his beliefs. His reasoning is that a poll conducted through his office indicates strong support for same-sex marriage among his constituency. I doubt it, senator.

Is it too much to ask that Addabbo stands up for what he says he believes in? Taking a stand is leadership. Capitulating to the governor and your party, well that’s what career politicians do. It’s decision time, senator.

Michael Mossa

Howard Beach

The writer is an attorney.

Correction

The June 9 editorial “Weiner under the gun” misstated how long Rep. Anthony Weiner was in the City Council. He served six years.

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