2012-09-14 / Letters

Ceremonial At Best

Dear Editor,

How disappointing to read about Queens Borough President Helen Marshall spending a significant portion of her work week taking care of her ailing husband Donald Marshall at either her East Elmhurst or Sag Harbor homes instead of being at Queens Borough Hall. (Source: “Beep is Helen on Wheels,“ New York Post by Gary Buisco and Michael Gartland – September 3). Hardworking career municipal civil servants and private sector workers have to show up daily for work. Ten percent of Queens residents are out of work along with another 7 percent who have given up looking. Many, many more are working for minimum wage or part time. There are several hundred thousand Queens residents who would be glad to perform her job full time for $80,000 or half of her $160,000 salary. Since abolishment of the old NYC Board of Estimate, the role of Borough President is primarily ceremonial. Other than appointing people to Community Planning Boards and distributing a few million dollars in funding to favored community groups out of a limited budget, there are few executive responsibilities. The Queens County Democratic Party boss, Congressmember Joseph Crowley, like his predecessors, predetermines who will hold this office. The Borough President controls dozens of well paying political patronage positions. Along with the Board of Elections and Courts, these three institutions comprise the glue which holds the Queens County Democratic Party clubhouse machine together. At 82 years old, Helen Marshall has had a distinguished career serving as Manager of the Langston School Library for 5 years, elementary school teacher for 8 years, State Assemblymember for 10 years and NYC Councilmember for 10 years. This affords her several pensions not counting Social Security. This provides a comfortable living without the Borough President’s salary. Queens deserves full time hands on Borough President. Her husband Donald deserves the full time attention from a loving wife of 50 years. It is time for Helen to do the right thing and step down as Queens Borough President today. She can still leave office with dignity instead of going through the motions for another 16 months.

LARRY PENNER

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