Tony the Tiger
As a retired community activist in northeast Queens and a candidate for the City Council in 2001 against now-state Sen. Tony Avella, I must say I am proud heisa senator today.
I really never liked Avella, yet thought he was doing pretty well as my councilman. I wasn’t happywhen hebeat Padavan, sincePadavan was always there when I needed him, and he wasn’t even my senator.Today, I must admit I am not only happy, but proud Avella won. I also give kudos to Richard Hellenbrecht, acting president of the Bellerose Commonwealth Civic Association.
Mr. Hellenbrecht’s July 7 letter to the editor, “Shady Creedmoor deals,” brought back memories of when we fought to prevent dorms and housing development on Fort Totten, fought the hacks who supposedly “represented the community” on the Fort Totten redevelopment authority ... yet were backing private interest developers or a university that had clout to build housing or 300 dorms on the fort. I was going to suggest if the disrespect for his community continues, that Mr. Hellenbrecht up the ante and have rallies or stop traffic in front of Creedmoor, if necessary.
However, after reading the article “Pols duke it out over Creedmoor” in the same edition, I knew I didn’t have to advise him to become more radical with Avella on his side. Tony Avella knows how to organize and get his point across. Yet, as a senator he doesn’t really have to. He exposed the hacks and the closed-door deal they made for contributions.
I was asolutely in awe reading how honest and forthright Avella was. He is an example of an advocate for the people, unlike Barbara Clark and the Weprin boys. Sen. Malcolm Smith’s involvement is reason enough to have the inspector general investigate this done deal.
How many investigations can a senator prompt? Ask Sen. Smith; he seems to attract them.
Sen. Avella, you have my vote, and Mr. Hellenbrecht, you have my respect, for ifpeople stayed quiet ... God knows what weour communities wouldbe surrounded by
for some political hacks financial gain.
Cycles of danger I
It disturbs me to think that another asinine law will be passed allowing motor bikes free access to sidewalks (“Senate considers electric bike bill,” June 30, multiple editions). It is bad enough that unmotorized bikes are destroying our right to walk on sidewalks. Tell me, you addled-brained politicians, where do we walk? In the street?
This is another example of fat-cat business people running our towns and cities, while coercing pols to pass these dumb laws. OK, so we own China trillions, but that is no excuse. This is America!
Cycles of danger II
I’m just wondering how long it’s going to take before there is no bike riding on sidewalks. Or do we just wait until someone is hurt?
And electric bikes may be faster, but to my knowledge you have to have a license to drive a motor bike. No lights, no insurance, etc. — who pays for anyone injured or anything hit?
‘Bikes’ get a free ride
We used to call them scooters. But now the difference between an electric “bike” and a scooter is the scooter generates income for the city, state and insurance industry.
In Queens, every little business had bikes and scooters. The scooters had to have something on them that we called a license plate. They also required a license to drive them. Both generated income for the state, which in turn meant income for the city.
But these electric bikes don’t pay the state anything — no taxes, no fees, nada.
Place one of these electric bikes next to a bicycle. Which do you think it resembles, a bicycle or a scooter?
Maybe we should ask one of the teachers who’ll get laid off because the state is running out of funds.
Recently, there were some disturbing comments in the press from residents of Bellerose about whether South Asian immigrants and individuals of South Asian descent who are relative newcomers to the neighborhood are serving our country in the armed forces (“Tensions high over illegal immigration,” June 16, and “Fight at CB 13 meet almost turns violent,” June 30, multiple editions). There were also some disrespectful statements about how our country deals with immigration.
I believe it is time for all of the residents of Queens to start showing appropriate respect for our new immigrants and neighbors.
Like my forebears and those of many of my neighbors, today’s immigrants come to this country for freedom and economic opportunity. They come because they know that in the United States their success will depend on how hard they work, not on the color of their skin or their religion. There are many South Asian Americans serving in our military and in the New York City Police Department.
One, Corp. Gurpreet Singh of the First Battalion, Fifth Marine Regiment, First Marine Division, gave his life for our country on June 22.
Negative comments about South Asian immigrants dishonor the ultimate sacrifice he made. Instead, we should be thanking his family and keeping his service at the forefront of our minds when we see new neighbors. These immigrants are paying taxes and raising their children in this great nation. They love this country too.
Mark S. Weprin
NYC Councilman for the 23rd District
Corporate crooks and pols
Highway robbers are back again!
Today, they don’t cover their faces with bandanas, step out from behind rocks or bushes, hold up the stagecoach and ride off, before the sheriff and posse arrive. No, now they operate in the open. They have office hours, wear tailored business suits and are called business executives. However, behind this facade of respectability, many still are the same breed, the highway robber.
Each year they takemillions of dollars without waving a menacing pistol. Read the financial pages to keep up with their latest exploits. I’m describing those corporate leaders who receive large compensation packages from the companies they control with the acquiescence of their board of directors. The average shareholder, like each citizen, has a right to vote on matters regarding company policy and practices. Whenmeetings and elections are held they are carefully controlled by the powers that be. Proposals are carefully worded to favor management, while those benefiting shareholders are discouraged and rarely enacted. Divide and conquer isthe rule.
On the national and local political scene, the situation is similar. Once they’re in office, it gets harder to replace those elected whose interests do not lie wholly with their constituents. Finding colleagues of the same ilk, they vote themselves handsome salaries, benefits and other perks not available to the public they are supposed to serve.
This democratic concept of the people electingrepresentitives to promote the general interest has gone astray. Unfortunately, it is difficult to get voters, a large diverse group, to realize this and act in concert for change.
It willtake a major spark to set off a major change.
Charlie Le Tan
Deutsche Bank blame
Regardless of what Capt. Al Hogan, president of the Uniformed Fire Officers Association, noted, the deaths of Robert Beddia and Joseph Graffagnino in the Deutsche Bank fire are the blame of the FDNY inspectors whose job it was to inspect that building site before the fire started.
To say they didn’t notice the 42-foot section of a basement standpipe was missing is a weak argument for not doing their job.
These FDNY inspectors should be fired and lose their pensions, which is a small price to pay for their ignorance, incompetence or simply not doing their job, costing the lives of two of their own.
The FDNY should quit trying to blame someone else and take responsibility for the fire safety of this building site regardless of what contractors do or don’t do.
Answer the DOE survey
(An open letter to parents)
The Department of Education is using a Family Feedback Form to learn what information families want to know about their children’s education and how they want to receive it.
The Family Feedback Form represents an opportunity for the DOE to better understand constituents’ needs, and to provide families with the tools and information they need to promote student achievement.
To participate in this very valuable survey, please go to familyfeedback.org or text “FAMILY” to 877877 to share your feedback. The survey will be available through July 25th.
I would also like to take this opportunity to remind you that the first day of school is Thursday, Sept. 8.
Have a great summer!
NYC Councilman for the 25th District
The writer is a former city school teacher.
Obama’s jet tax flip
President Obama recently came out in favor of ending a special tax break for corporations who purchased private jets. Yet, this same tax break was included in the 2009 stimulus package that the Democrats passed with only three Republican votes.
If the tax break is so bad, why did Obama include it in his must-pass stimulus bill? I just thought I would ask.
More aid for vets
Recently the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans Of America released some very troubling statistics. In May the unemployment rate for new Veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan has increased from over 12 percent in May to over 13 percent in June, while the national unemployment rate for everyone else is about 9.2 percent. Unemployment among young veterans under the age of 30 is nearly 20 percent. With these troubling statistics, something must be done to correct this problem.
This past weekend U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand held a press conference in Manhattan to introduce the Hiring Heroes Act of 2011. This act would require all departing service men and women to receive training in job search skills through the governments Transition Assistance Program (TAP).I commend the senator for proposing this bill, which is a step in the right direction. However, TAP is broken and it does not do anything to help veterans find jobs.
TAP is basically a seminar held over the course of a few days before a service member is released from their service. It is supposed to be a refresher course in how to look for a job. I have spoken to many veterans who went through this program, and they all say it did not help prepare them for getting a job. I do not think we should be throwing more money at a failed program. TAP needs to be reworked first.
What is needed is increased funding to the government’s employment programs for veterans. Currently the U.S. Department of Labor has $28 million allocated for employment programs. This is a very small amount of funding which is only able to help a small amount of our nation’s veterans. Congress should consider increasing DOL’s vets budget. After risking their lives and defending our great nation, this country’s veterans deserve more from us. No veterans should ever be left behind.
Democratic State Committeeman, 26th AD
Murdoch’s bad news
The crumbling of Rupert Murdoch’s media empireis a huge boon to mankind worldwide.Imaginethat godawful propaganda machine that redefines bottom-feedingfor conservatives and idiots (same thing) —silenced! All Fox, New York Post, Wall Street Journal, many others internationally —all gone! It couldn’t come fast enough: then balance, intelligence and journalism will win.
“Fair and balanced”?If it’s fair to balance truth and lies, smart and stupid, thoughtful and reactionary, extreme and centrist ... Good riddance, Rupe!But then who’ll cover Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann?
J. Andrew Smith