2006-06-30 / Columnists

The Progressive

Have You Noticed?
By John Paul Culotta

Our media has been busy with many issues in the past few weeks. This week the progressive will ask you if you noticed some issues that you may have missed. We all know about celebrities' babies, tragic car accidents, threatening weather, and the debacles overseas.

I want to remind you of some other issues.

Have you noticed the increasing number of out of state license plates that our neighbors have on their automobiles? Recent media reports indicate that the increasing numbers of out of state license plates are a part of the increasing rate in insurance fraud by consumers. We all are injured when neighbors do not share the liabilities of living in New York City. Maybe, it is time for the federal government and all the states to have a conference with the business groups to establish a nationwide system of insurance rates. This will stop the fraud of using out of state addresses to obtain cheaper rates for automobile insurance.

Have you noticed that the Gulf Region is still reeling from the effects of the two hurricanes of last year? It would appear President Bush's promises to the citizens of this nation regarding the area are not being fulfilled. This conservative administration is using the area as an experiment in education by increasing funds for charter schools and unrestricted use of illegal immigrant labor. Much of the region is still not being rebuild. It took a little over 400 days to build the Empire State Building and the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in 1929.

Today, Ground Zero is still a wasteland and New Orleans and the Gulf Region are still at their ground zero. Crony business and political corruption appears to be at the root of this dilemma.

Fires are now raging in New Orleans. It appears that delays in receiving insurance funds from the insurance industry and the government is causing residents of the Crescent City to set their homes aflame.

Shoddy building practices and a lack of regulated construction standards before the hurricanes caused the storms to yield more damage. The Army Corp of Engineers and state officials were negligent in their levee maintenance and construction. No one has been charged despite the pain and suffering this corruption caused the residents of the Gulf and this nation. The associated Press on June 6, 2006 reported: "Illegal immigrants helping to rebuild this shattered city (New Orleans) are working in hazardous conditions without protective gear and earning far less their legal counterparts," a study says.

The report went on to say: "Illegal immigrants also were paid significantly less -if at all- earning on average $10 an hour, compared with $16.50 for documented." It was also reported: "Nearly one-third of the workers interviewed reported working with harmful substances and in dangerous conditions." 19% were not given protective equipment according to a Tulane University study.

I know one laborer in New Orleans who told me many of the workers are coming down with diseases. Is this the "fair" society President Bush promised in Jackson Square last year?

Did you notice that Governor Pataki vetoed legislation that would allow 52,000 home based day care workers to join a union and have pension rights? Other states, according to a New York Sun article on June 9, 2006, including Illinois, Iowa, Washington, and Oregon, have allowed these workers to organize.

Most of the day care workers are minority women. They provide an important service for all of us and not just the parents of the children they serve. This legislation would establish safeguards for the entire community. They are paid wages that do not guarantee a living wage. Randi Weingarten, the president of the United Federation of Teachers, wrote to the New York Post on June 6, 2006: "Family day-care providers and the parents they serve are trying to get off welfare and go to work, something Robert B. Ward's Business Council would no doubt support."

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