2010-05-28 / Editorial/Opinion

Cutting Services For The City’s Most Vulnerable

We understand that the mayor and the City Council have some tough choices to make when it comes to funding programs in the coming year. With revenues down and fewer bucks coming from the state and federal governments, deep cuts will have to be made in several areas. We question, however, why the most vulnerable are always the first to feel the budget ax. As of today, the city’s plan is to shut down 14 libraries in Queens, one in Broad Channel and another in Arverne. Who will those cuts impact most? Our school children, who rely on those libraries for computers, for research on school projects and for special cultural programs. Plans call for cutting more than a thousand teaching positions. Who will those cuts impact most? Aside from the teachers who are excessed by the cuts, it is the school students who will find themselves in overcrowded classrooms with fewer resources and far fewer specialized courses, especially in the arts and technology. The city plans once again to take free transportation to and from school from the city’s students. Over and over again, the impact of the cuts will fall on our children, one of the most vulnerable groups of citizens. The other most-vulnerable group is our seniors, and the city plans to cut dozens of senior centers in each borough, reducing the vital link our senior citizens have with each other and with city services. And, the city will also revamp the Meals On Wheels Program, taking away daily delivery and providing instead frozen meals that require an oven or microwave to prepare. While that food is vital to seniors, so is the human contact provided by the program’s delivery people, often the only human contact that a shut-in senior has each day. What then is the answer? We believe that the city’s first step should be to review and cut all of its consultant contracts. In most cases, there are city workers, already on the payroll, who can do the jobs now done by high-paid consultants. We believe that alone would provide the money to keep all of the other vital programs going. Who should come first, our most vulnerable or the fat-cat consultants? We already know the answer to that question.

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