2007-03-02 / Columnists

Addressing The Issues

Back To The Future
By Geraldine M. Chapey Democratic District Leader

Dr. Geraldine Chapey
Dr. Geraldine Chapey Queens Borough President Helen Marshall gave an outstanding 2007 State of the Borough presentation. She looked back on the proud history of the Borough of Queens and looked ahead to the present and the future.

Marshall proudly pointed to a time 350 years ago when a group from Queens led by John Bowne wrote a letter to the governor - Peter Stuyvesant- condemning his position opposed to religious freedom. This Flushing Remonstrance was conceived making Queens "the birthplace of religious freedom in America and set the stage for the bill of rights." Marshall is bringing this original letter back to Queens to be exhibited in the Flushing Library during 2007 - the anniversary year of its signing. She covered many important areas in her talk including health care, community policing, education and libraries.

Health care was an important area of concern in Marshall's remarks. She notes that even though Queens houses the two biggest airports serving the Metropolitan area we are not equipped with a certified burn unit. She is working to get one.

Marshall finds that health care as it exists today is not "financially sustainable." She is working with the chair of the City Council Health Committee Helen Sears and proposes four steps to accomplish a financially sustainable program: (1) Queens should be its own health region. Currently all of New York City is grouped together. (2) Marshall agrees with the Berger Commission that a new state of the art hospital should be built in the Rockaways. She would also add another hospital in western Queens. (3) She wants to attract more specialized doctors to Queens so that the residents will not have to leave the Borough to seek medical assistance. (4) Marshall proposes that the CUNY Sophie Davis Medical School open a satellite at the Queens Hospital Center. She states "the need is great, the land is available - so what are we waiting for?" To implement her recommendations Marshall is creating a task force of health care professionals. She vehemently disagrees with the Berger Commission recommendations to eliminate beds in Peninsula Hospital. She feels that our growing population in the Rockaway's justifies her demands. In the Rockaways at St. John's Episcopal Hospital South Shore, Marshall notes that they are celebrating their 100th anniversary by raising funds to re-do their emergency room.

Marshall demands community policing. Policing and crime prevention are very important to Marshall because she cares deeply about the safety of our citizens. She believes that in order to attract more recruits we need to respect "policing as a profession" and increase the starting salary for police recruits. Police should be strongly aware of diversity issues because we are the most diverse borough in the nation. Community policing would allow our officers to know our seniors, our youth and our business people. This would "enable them to be more responsive in crime prevention and law enforcement." Marshall notes that since 2002 New York City has lost more than 1,100 officers. She wants to work with residents to "demand" the replacement of these officers and "an increase in their ranks."

Marshall, as a former educator, recognizes the importance of a quality education. She welcomed the opening of a high school for "construction trades, engineering and architecture with its almost 1,000 seats." Marshall is extremely proud of the five CUNY institutions in Queens: York College, Queens College, Queensborough Community College, LaGuardia College and the CUNY Law School. Last year, LaGuardia opened the "new design center" that "transformed a factory building into the region's first business incubator for the design industry." What an advantage that gives to our students.

In the Rockaways, Marshall is truly a great leader because she is funding a restoration of the Court House on Beach 90 Street as a satellite of the City University of New York. She is calling it CUNY by the SEA! Marshall and Dr. Gail Mellow, the President of LaGuardia Community College are working together to launch a CUNY-on-Wheels which will "offer information on credit and non credit programs, CUNY admissions counseling and registration." Marshall had this available for everyone to tour when they entered the building to hear the State of the Borough address.

This mobile information center will be available throughout the Borough. Marshall is also looking forward to opening a new school in the Arverne by the Sea area.

Marshall feels that the library is the "foundation of our neighborhoods." Last year she allocated over seven million dollars to improve many library branches including the one in Far Rockaway. She is lobbying Mayor Bloomberg so that he will allocate "the five million fine levied against Met Life for pulling jobs out of Queens" and use it for a new Queens West library.

Marshall, who is in her sixth year as Borough President, is a capable, innovative, vivacious and energetic professional. She brings to her current position a fantastic background, having served as a member of the New York State Assembly and the New York City Council. Marshall's remarks reflect the fact that under her leadership Queens is on the move. She specifically mentioned the kite festival in Riis Park, which draws international visitors to our area. Marshall gives a whole new definition to remarkable, futuristic leadership.

This article is based on the State of the Borough address given by Queens Borough President Helen Marshall.

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