Who makes these decisions, anyway? Who at the 100 Precinct decided not to send a patrol car to Shore Front parkway to make sure that the speed limit would be enforced? Is this the same person who makes sure that thereare plenty ofpatrolmen to give tickets to any car over it's limit by as much as 30 seconds on Beach 116 Street?
Who is the person who made the decision to turn Shore Front Parkway, a beautiful piece of four-lane Rockaway roadway (probably the only beautiful piece of four-lane Rockaway roadway) into a two-lane roadway with bigger shoulders than my 1980's disco dress?
Who is the person or persons who decided that instead of enforcing the law, it would be better to diminish the function, beauty, and daily travel on a road that cost us so many of our tax dollars to build?
Is it possible to find out who is in charge of the people in charge? Is it possible to find out before the next election?
Disagrees With NY Times Terrorist Disclosure
I strongly disagree with your article "From the Editor's Desk," defending the New York Times' disclosure of the U.S. Treasury Department's program to monitor international financial transactions for terrorist activity. As Yogi Berra said, "It's dj vu all over again!"
On June 17, 1942, the Chicago Tribune ran a front-page article headlined, "Navy Had Word of Jap Plan to Strike at Sea." The Chicago Tribune wrote that the size and location of the Japanese fleet had been "well known in American naval circles several days before the battle began." The paper gave a detailed description including the names of specific Japanese ships. The Tribune's information was from "reliable sources in...naval intelligence."
While it was not expressly stated it was obvious to even a casual reader that the U.S. had broken Japanese naval codes also known as JN-25. The ability to read the enemy's encrypted communications was one of the major Allied triumphs of the Pacific war and exposing that could have cost the lives of thousands of American servicemen.
I think in a time of war the press should consider whether the public's need to know outweighs the consequences of publishing the information and when in doubt err on the side of caution. I believe it was Sir Winston Churchill who said, "The truth is so valuable to our enemies that it must be protected by a bodyguard of lies and deceptions."
In the recent case of the NY Times, the paper was asked not to publish the article by the Bush Administration, Tom Kean, Lee Hamilton, chairmen of the 9/11 Commission, and Democratic Rep. John Murtha of Pennsylvania- an outspoken critic on the war in Iraq. Yet the NY Times went ahead and published it anyway. This is the same paper that didn't publish the Danish cartoons depicting the prophet Mohammed. I am not suggesting that they should have published the cartoons, but it seems that freedom of the press is rather selective.
You wrote in your article that the NY Times argued that the terrorists already knew about the program, and that the public had a right to know. In your opinion Jefferson, Hamilton and the other Founding Fathers would have agreed. I am sorry; I think that their little white wigs would have been in a tail spin. I could be wrong but I doubt Thomas Paine's paper "Common Sense" would have published articles detailing where the colonists kept their ammunitions, or provided Paul Revere's route. But as my father always said, "Common sense isn't common."
Concern Over Treatment
I am writing to give a voice to those who perished in the van accident on July 12 in Broad Channel. Who is going to be held responsible for their horrific deaths? The services that are provided to the developmentally disabled are driven by "cost effectiveness." The vans or "ambulettes" (as one spokesman referred to it) carry as many as 15 adults. These vans are often old, poorly maintained and some are without air conditioning. Safety is not a concern, as is evidenced by the lack of background checks of the drivers, as well as the occupants not wearing seat belts. This is typical of the transportation of the disabled. Yet this van company billed Medicaid for over a million dollars a year!
The Brooklyn Manor was cited for abuses and violations years ago. The New York State Department of Health, which is the agency responsible for the facility, already was stating that it was unclear what authority it may have had over the van company. Everyone is now going to be unclear about their responsibility for the care and transportation of the disabled residents. Well, someone must be held accountable for the abuses, violation and torturous deaths of our most vulnerable people.
We must demand that our elected officials investigate how the owner of The Brooklyn Manor, who was married to a former state senator, prevailed in court when the NYSDOH tried to close the facility? Was the Department of Health ineffective in its responsibility to regulate the facility? Meanwhile, the residents endured inhumane conditions for years. Someone must be held accountable.
Did we need this tragedy to effect change? Is this how we value our disabled population? The respect, care and dignity we show to our disabled define us as a people. May William Smith, Miguel Cruz, Jose Alvarez, Mario Gonzalez, and James Lawson rest in peace.
Simple As 1, 2, 3... 4
Sidewalks are for walking, strolling, wheeling a baby carriage.
According to the Vehicle and Traffic Law #1234:
Upon all roadways, any bicycle shall be driven either on a usable bicycle lane or, if there is no such lane provided, near the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway so as to prevent undue influences with the flow of traffic.
Persons riding bicycles shall not ride more than two abreast.
I have seen bicyclists riding on the sidewalk brushing by, sometimes zooming right through pedestrians.
Bicyclists who do the right thing and ride in the street are to ride with the cars, not against the flow of traffic.
Drivers of cars, approaching a corner, look to the left to see oncoming traffic. They do not expect a bicycle coming from the "wrong" direction.
Bicyclists who ride on the sidewalk or in the street, coming from the "wrong" direction, against the flow of traffic, are not safe, especially when there are hedges or fences on many corners.
This letter is not meant to reprimand. Neither is it a call for more tickets. It is meant to prevent an accident or two, perhaps save a life.
It is as simple as that; simple as 1234.
Questionable Ethics Reform
The New York State Legislative Session is now over and it's time to consider worthy accomplishments as well as what is still left undone.
The Assembly deserves praise for passing an important Ethics Reform Bill, one that was supported by Assemblywomen Audrey Pheffer and Michelle Titus. This bill would strengthen both current restrictions on personal use of campaign funds and the ban on gifts from lobbyists to lawmakers. It would also slow the "revolving door" which saw legislative employees leaving their jobs, only to return shortly thereafter to lobby their former colleagues.
But it takes two state legislative bodies to enact a law, the Assembly and the Senate. Once again, state senators kept putting off a vote until the session ended without the much-needed reforms.
We all have too much at stake: our environment, the cost of drugs, the schools, energy policy, and the very voting machines we use to elect them. We are all affected by what our representatives do. It's past the time for New York's Senate to vote, as the Assembly did, to enact true ethics reform.
The Flag Not Safeguarded By Our Reps
I see that Congressman Weiner recently replaced vandalized American flags for a number of his constituents in Brooklyn. I'm willing to wager that he didn't pay for these replacement flags out of his own pocket and guarantee that this pandering photo opportunity will become the centerpiece of his campaign mailings. What the voting public should be aware of is that where it really counts, as our legislator in the U.S. House of Representatives, he voted against the flag protection amendment.
Congressman Weiner could have made a strong statement to protect the symbol of our democracy, but didn't. In the Senate, Schumer and Clinton also voted against the safeguard. I believe that this trio does not represent the opinion of the majority of the people they represent. Make your feelings known to them at their respective offices and at the ballot box.
The 'McMansion Wives'
I appreciated realtor D. Brian Heffernan's full-page ads laying out his opposition to downzoning, I chuckled when I read the anti-downzoning letter from Fern Liberman and Sharon Clayman, and felt another sort of emotion upon reading your July 13 coverage of the Rockaway Beach downzoning meeting.
Heffernan is, like everyone else, entitled to his opinion. I happen to respectfully disagree with him.
Liberman and Clayman claim that their opposition to downzoning is not so as to enable the spread of "McMansions"; they only want homeowners to have the requisite space to accommodate returning adult children, and to care for elderly parents. Those are, word for word, McMansionista talking points. That makes Liberman and Claymanthe McMansion Wives.
There's an easy way to accommodate a returning adult child: Give him his old room back! Meanwhile, the wave of Rockaway residents caring for elderly parents at home must explain the closing of all of the local nursing homes, which had made the Rockaways the world's capital for this sort of business. Not!
During the twelve years I've lived on this Rock, the number of people I've seen take elderly parents into their homes is ... one.
Liberman and Clayman assert that houses today are 40 percent larger than they were in 1974. That is not true of the Rockaways, where the houses (divided by the families sharing them) are getting smaller. But since lots are not getting larger, if their assertion is true nationally, it means that houses are taking up at least 40 percent more space on their lots. That means little or no yard space. It means increasingly blocked sightlines for neighboring houses, unless they join in the building race. It means ... McMansions.
People who aren't satisfied slathering flimsy Styrofoam-and-stucco shellson their houses that you can punch your fist through, will never be satisfied!
Then there's the Rockaway Beach zoning debate, at which developer Jay Terline reportedly argued "that downzoning the property he owns is illegal and that 'I didn't buy it for that. You can't illegally confiscate people's property.'"
Terline didn't make me laugh, because while Liberman and Clayman were fibbing, he was telling a boldfaced lie. In a democracy, you can downzone an area. Is Mr. Terline starting a movement against all zoning ordinances? Did he fight the previous ordinance? I didn't think so. Also, like it or not, the U.S. Supreme Court said last year, in its Kelo decision, that it is perfectly legal to seize people's property. (Next thing you know, Mr. Terline will claim that it is illegal to contradict him!)
What Terline and those who similarly oppose downzoning won't say is that they are looking to bring about a real estate panic and make a killing, which will harm many of their neighbors in the bargain.
The pace of development in the Rockaways has already harmedthe quality of life in many neighborhoods, and threatens to ruin many more, by taking family-oriented neighborhoods with a small-town atmosphere, and making them dense, ugly, increasingly anonymous, urban nightmares, where people shoot each other over parking spaces. The development may also hurt many homeowners' property values, not to mention their sightlines. (As in, everyone who does not expand into, or build a McMansion, especially those whose homes are encroached upon by McMansions. Hmm; it sounds like Terline & Co. are seeking to "confiscate people's property.")
But let's say that the wave does lift all boats. Most people will not profit from the inflated housing market. They will make their "killing" here, only to have to plow every nickel back into a new house with an equally inflated price tag elsewhere. With the exception of some empty nesters, who can sell the homes in which they raised their kids, and then buy much smaller homes, the only people cleaning up in the present inflated market are real estate agents and developers. The rest of us will have our neighborhoods and schools ruined, while the McMansionistas send their kids to ultra-expensive private schools out on the Island.
The Rock has some of the city's best and worst neighborhoods, and I've lived in both. When I moved to Far Rockaway in 1994, I couldn't understand why so much prime beachfront real estate had sat vacant (or with just beach cabanas) for 20-30 years. The last couple of years, I can't understand the building boom.
But here's what I do understand. This boom is making some developerswho do not live here, and who don't give a damn about the community, very rich. Some residents are also looking to make a killing, so that they can move to ritzier addresses (though given real estate prices, that might not even work out for them). Those of us who came here (or grew up here) and hoped to raise our children here in safety, beauty, and relative calm, must protect ourselves from the aforementioned groups. Up with downzoning.
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