Tag Archives: Editorial

Enough


| qceditorial@queenscourier.com

It is time to put aside partisan politics, reach across the aisle . . . and tackle gun control.

Last Friday’s massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, inside Sandy Hook Elementary, took the lives of 20 children and six adults. It should serve to galvanize pundits, politicians and the nation to embrace tougher legislation on guns.

Maybe it’s time to look at the Federal Assault Weapons Ban that was in place from 1994 to 2004 – and reinstate it.

President Bill Clinton signed into law the ban that prohibited the manufacture of 18 models of semiautomatic guns as well as magazines that could hold more than 10 rounds.

It expired in 2004 and, despite several attempts to reinstate it, our politicians foolishly let the ban go by the wayside.

Up until a few days after the shooting spree, you could purchase the Bushmaster Patrolman’s Carbine M4A3 Rifle, a military-style assault rifle, on the Walmart website.

Since then, Walmart officials have apparently thought better of it and pulled the gun from their site.

But the fact still remains: you can buy a gun at the same store you can purchase groceries, and gun violence takes the lives of 34 Americans every single day.

Now there is rhetoric from Texas Governor Rick Perry that individual school districts should have the ability to determine whether teachers and administrators carry guns.

ENOUGH!

Fighting fire with fire is not the answer.

The National Rifle Association (NRA) – suspiciously quiet in the days since Sandy Hook and whose Facebook page has been deactivated – has many politicians in its corner, thanks to campaign contributions.

On its homepage, in an article titled “More Guns, Less Crime in Virginia” and dated November 27, the author writes, “The point is, gun owners and the NRA have been right all along. It’s the criminals, not the law-abiding gun owners, who are the issue.”

Really?

To our knowledge, Adam Lanza was no criminal until the morning of December 14, when he used his mother’s own gun to execute her and the 26 other innocent victims.

In response to the massacre, former Congressmember and current MSNBC anchor Joe Scarborough, a self-proclaimed “conservative Republican who received the NRA’s highest ratings over four terms in Congress,” spoke out:

“Our Bill of Rights does not guarantee gun manufacturers the absolute right to sell military-styled high-caliber semi-automatic combat assault rifles with high capacity magazines to whoever the hell they want.It is time for Congress to put children before deadly dogmas. It’s time for politicians to start focusing more on protecting our school yards than putting together their next fundraiser. And it’s time Washington stops trying to win endless wars overseas and instead starts focusing on winning the war at home.”

We couldn’t agree more.

Utterly shameful


| qceditorial@queenscourier.com

It’s like adding insult to injury.

This past weekend, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) reinstated tolls at the Marine Parkway-Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge and the Cross Bay Veterans Memorial Bridge.

After Sandy left the areas devastated, Governor Andrew Cuomo had the foresight – and heart – to suspend the fare, but apparently, officials feel a month is long enough to let responders, residents and volunteers travel for free.

It’s disgusting.

The fight to eliminate – permanently – this ludicrous toll is a long one.

The toll was free for residents of Broad Channel and the Rockaways for 12 years, but was reinstated by the MTA in 2010.

And though a residential rebate program is in effect, we feel it’s terrible that we have to pay to travel within our own borough.

Add to this the fact that the toll negatively affects an already sluggish local economy and places an inherently excessive financial burden on the residents and small businesses of southern Queens and Rockaway, and you have a recipe for disaster.

And now, those kind-hearted people who are giving of themselves to help storm-ravaged areas get back on their feet are expected to pay $3.25 cash or $1.80 with E-ZPass?!

It’s utterly shameful.

We say the toll should be eliminated once and for all. Consider it a part of rebuilding after Sandy.

The meaning of Thanksgiving


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

For many of us this Thanksgiving will have special meaning.

As the tri-state area, and especially our borough, recovers from Sandy, let us each take stock of what – and who – we have in our lives, and count our blessings.

And let us not forget those who have lost so much.

Yes, we have galvanized together for the relief efforts, with literally thousands of people and businesses donating, volunteering and giving.

But the holidays will be very hard for those still reeling from the storm.

As they struggle to return to their homes, their lives and to a sense of normalcy, let us continue to help them in any way we can.

When you go to the grocery store, if you can, pick up a few extra items. Go through your closets and see if you have any spare blankets. And, if possible, make a cash donation.

Remember, many of these folks will have nowhere and nothing to celebrate the holidays with.

So let us be grateful and “pay it forward.”

Where were they?


| qceditorial@queenscourier.com

Can anyone tell us why it took TWO WEEKS for the Red Cross to get to Sandy victims in the Rockaways?

It seems that one of the areas that was hardest hit was also the most ignored by the organization.

In the days following the superstorm, elected officials, community leaders and people with heart flooded the area with help.

Conspicuously absent, though, was the Red Cross.

But despite what actually happened, CEO Gail McGovern told NBC News of Sandy relief efforts, “I think that we are near flawless so far in this operation.”

When we see the absolute devastation left in Sandy’s wake – and the lack of help from the Red Cross – “flawless” doesn’t come to mind. Rather, “disgraceful.”

 

Good idea


| qceditorial@queenscourier.com

There is talk to help Howard Beach in case of another flooding disaster.

The neighborhood lies on the edge of Evacuation Zone A, which, for Queens, includes the Rockaways, parts of Long Island City, Broad Channel and nearby Hamilton Beach.

But Howard Beach residents were not told to leave the area, putting lives on the line.

“Our lives were put in jeopardy,” said Joe Barretta, who lives on 95th Street in Old Howard Beach.

As flood waters rose, Howard Beach residents depended on the kindness – and quick thinking – of their neighbors to get them to safety.

Had it not been for heroism in the face of danger, Sandy’s death toll might have been significantly higher.

Which is why rezoning low-lying Howard Beach into Zone A is a good idea.

Going forward, it would prevent some of the massive damage to homes and threats to lives.

As anyone knows, in the face of natural disaster, preparedness is key.

Evacuating Howard Beach before a major storm just makes sense.

What took so long?


| qceditorial@queenscourier.com

So, after waiting . . . and waiting . . . and waiting . . . in line for gas, Mayor Michael Bloomberg finally heard our pleas and decided to institute the odd/even method.

And guess what? It seems to have worked.

Over the weekend lines were shorter, motorists were able to top off their tanks, and most of all, drivers were happier.

Only one question remains – what took so long?

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie implemented rationing right after Superstorm Sandy, and filling up in the Garden State went much more smoothly.

So let’s make this a lesson learned – next time, if there is a next time – follow the leader.

 

How to help


| qceditorial@queenscourier.com

Like a phoenix from the ashes, we shall rise again.

Superstorm Sandy might have knocked us down, but she did not knock us out.

In the days following her fury, our city has seen some of the worst suffering in recent memory. People have been left homeless, out in the cold, and facing an uncertain future.

There has been looting, scammers, and gas lines that stretched for miles.

And yet, despite it all, the triumph of the human spirit has prevailed.

Neighbors have sprung into action, housing those left homeless, feeding those left hungry, donating to those left without.

Entire communities have come together to cook, to collect, to fundraise – and to rebuild.

Even waiting to fuel up, Queens has come together.

Strangers’ kindnesses have been seen in such acts as buying coffee and offering coats to keep warm, to letting people into their homes to use the bathroom.

From all corners of Queens our collective efforts have focused on those areas hardest hit – Breezy Point, Broad Channel and the Rockaways.

And The Queens Courier is no exception.

From now through the end of the year, we will be collecting for the victims of Sandy.

Food, water, diapers/baby supplies, pet food, blankets, coats, shoes, candles, batteries, toiletries, cleaning supplies, etc. can be dropped off at our offices at 38-15 Bell Boulevard in Bayside.

Additionally, we will be working with local businesses and organization for drop-off locations, and will be arranging pick-ups of donations. Visit www.queenscourier.com for more details in the days ahead.

If you’d like to contribute monetarily, you can send a check or money order to our offices, 38-15 Bell Boulevard Bayside, NY 11361, made out to the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City (in memo line: Hurricane Sandy Relief).

One hundred percent of donations are being dispersed to relief efforts and organizations. The city is currently identifying immediate aid needs, including food, water and hygiene supplies, as well as long-term relief and restoration efforts.

And at our November 15 “Kings of Queens” event, we will be holding a raffle, with proceeds going to Sandy relief.

We live in the greatest city in the world – not because of our landmarks, our amenities or even our history.

New York is the greatest city in the world because of its people – people like you, our readers, who come together when the chips are down.

Unwelcome options


| qceditorial@queenscourier.com

The Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) has officially announced its proposals for fare hikes that “will bring in “vitally needed revenue to support the New York region’s transportation system.”

There are four options on the table:

Two options keep the base fare at $2.25; the other two raise it to $2.50.

The cost of a weekly unlimited MetroCard would go up from $29 to $34 and the monthly from $104 to $125. The seven percent discount for every $10 put on a MetroCard would be lowered to five percent.

The second option would raise unlimited rides to $32 and $119, but eliminate the discount.

If the MTA raises the base fare to $2.50, then straphangers would keep the seven percent discount, but pay more for an unlimited MetroCard ($30 and $112).

The final option would keep weekly unlimited MetroCards at $29, and only increase the monthly by $5, but the base fare would be $2.50, and there would be no discounts.

MTA officials also came up with four proposals for express buses. And tolls at area bridges and tunnels would go up too.

And though usually we are fans of options, in this case, not so much.

Whatever way you slice it, it means more money out of our pockets, since these hikes would be the fourth increase in five years for subway, bus and commuter rail fares.

And though the MTA is letting the public weigh in on the options in a series of public and video forums, we have the sinking — or should we say rising — suspicion that the commuters are going to lose out.

Lives Shattetred


| qceditorial@queenscourier.com

He shouldn’t have been driving.

Joseph Beer was a 17-year-old behind the wheel with only a learner’s permit when the unthinkable happened.

Under state law, someone with just a permit can drive at certain hours with someone who is 21 or older and holds a valid license.

Not only that, but reports claim that Beer was high on marijuana during the October 8 accident on the Southern State Parkway that claimed the lives of four teens — Christopher Khan, 18, Neal Rajapa, 17, Darian Ramnarine, 18, and Peter Kanhai, 18.

Beer, the only one wearing a seat belt, was also the only one to survive the horrific crash that split the car in two.

We can only wonder, had they buckled up, would they still be alive?

Nevertheless, now five families have been shattered — the four whose lives were lost, and Beer, who will never see his friends again.

The good and the bad


| qceditorial@queenscourier.com

THE GOOD

Common sense prevailed.

The first phase of a master $656 million plan to construct a new police academy in College Point is well on track to completion – meaning by 2014 NYPD recruits will be centralized in one facility.

It just makes sense.

Currently, “firearms training is in the Bronx and driver training is in Brooklyn,” according to Inspector Terrence Riley of the NYPD.

So “2,000 to 3,000 recruits are moved all around the city to get all their training over a six month period.”

To eliminate the inefficiency, “the decision was made to make really a substantial investment in a new police academy” in College Point.

We think the move is brilliant.

Not only does it facilitate training new recruits, it also means 100 brand new positions will open up for jobs maintaining the site’s power facilities.

And though the project is not without its kinks – there is a severe lack of parking spaces on site, which officials are currently working on, and funding is still being sought – developing the 30 acre site, bordered by College Point Boulevard, 28th Avenue and Ulmer Street, is definitely a sign of progress and forward thinking by the NYPD.

THE BAD

Most people love to swim, just not in their homes.

Why is it that flooding affects major swaths of Queens – from southeast to Forest Hills?

At a recent town hall with DEP reps, Forest Hills residents and business owners recounted horror stories of sewage spouting from drains, of mold – and of thousands of dollars in damage.

What was the DEP response? Sorry, we can’t help.

PREPOSTEROUS!

The DEP spokesperson explained that because sewers are designed to handle one-and-a-half inches of rain per hour, the city is only liable for damage done to peoples’ homes when rainfall exceeds that amount. Since none of the storms this summer surpassed that quantity, it is unlikely that residents will receive any compensation.

Compensation? That’s almost besides the point. How about doing your job and fixing the problem?

In true bureaucratic form, people were told to provide information to the DEP regarding the locations of suspected faulty storm drains.

But many residents recounted how, when they tried, they received a response they found unsatisfactory – or no response at all.

This is unacceptable.

Queens is a borough of homes – and homeowners take pride in their investment.

It’s time the city did too.

Getting fleeced


| qceditorial@queenscourier.com

With gas prices continuing their two month climb in New York City — approaching 2012 highs — the average price for a gallon has risen to $4.23, according to AAA’s Fuel Gauge Report. This is eight cents higher than a week ago and 17 cents higher than a month ago.

One alternative to driving? Public transportation.

But it seems that this too will soon leave your wallet a lot thinner.

According to insiders, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) is set to eliminate the seven percent MetroCard bonus – and raise fares on subways and buses from $2.25 to $2.50.

That means a monthly MetroCard would jump from $104 to $109.

The reason behind the hike?

The MTA says it needs a whopping $382 million to balance next year’s budget.

We’re all for MTA improvement projects, but this is ridiculous!

How is the average person supposed to balance his or her budget when costs keeps rising?

Pretty soon we may not earn enough to get to work!

At this point, we say it’s time for the government to step in.

Legislators must either allocate more funding or cap increases.

Either way, in the meantime the Average Joe sure is getting fleeced!

 

Never Forget


| qceditorial@queenscourier.com

Our world changed forever on Tuesday, September 11, 2001.

Hijackers flew American Airlines Flight 11 into the north tower of the World Trade Center in New York City at 8:46 a.m.

Foreign supported, funded and trained terrorists dealt the worst sneak attack since Pearl Harbor. They had hijacked four jet planes and took them on suicide missions to blow up the World Trade Towers and the Pentagon. Thousands of innocent men and women, as well as firefighters, police and other first responders died that day.

The nation went to bed that first night – at war – with an unseen, unknown enemy.

We sent our armed forces to hunt down those responsible in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Eleven years later we are still at war with terrorists – foreign and home grown – who want to strike at our Democracy.

And many of those who risked their lives, spending countless hours “on the pile” are just now beginning the fight for their lives.

The Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, passed so that first responders have proper medical care and compensation for the injuries they sustained, was just expanded to include 50 types of cancer to the list of diseases covered.

It is a start.

But it is not enough.

What about the psychological impact of the terrorist attacks? What of those people whose families were torn apart? The children who are growing up without a parent?

The agreement on the eve of the 11th anniversary to move ahead with the 9/11 museum is welcomed, as perhaps, in Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s words, it is “a meaningful victory for the families.”

Our lives, our worlds, were shaken to the core that day, and many have never fully recovered.

The adage goes that, “time heals all wounds,” but in this case, time is the enemy as more and more first responders discover they are sick.

Over years we have learned to be patient in lines at the airports. We have learned to watch and report the odd, the abandoned package, the out of place car or truck.

We must remember those who died; those who cleaned up the site and those who are rebuilding Ground Zero. We must take care of those who have become sick after working at the site too.

We are a cautious, vigilant nation, and we – and the heroes of September 11 – are still at war.

 

The sad and the ugly


| qceditorial@queenscourier.com

THE SAD . . .

We at The Queens Courier extend our sincerest condolences to the family and friends of William Bateman, a local homeless man found dead just steps from the Bayside LIRR station.

The loss of a loved one is undoubtedly very difficult, and losing someone who was so well-liked in the community is truly sad.

One Queens Courier reader wrote that he “saw Bill every day on the way to work. [He] seemed to be a man with pride who never asked for anything.”

But maybe he needed help. Perhaps the NYC Department of Homeless Services (DHS) could have stepped in and offered resources.

After all, there are many factors that might lead to homelessness, and sometimes people are just too afraid to ask for help.

We agree with our reader, who eloquently pointed out, “[It’s] sad that that richest country in the world neglects those who are left behind, for whatever reason they are out there.”

In Bayside, there is another well-known homeless man, often seen along Bell Boulevard.

Perhaps he could use some help.

With the economy the way it is, it is incumbent on DHS to do as much as possible to help those in need.

THE UGLY

Four words: State Senator Shirley Huntley.

The politician, who is currently seeking re-election, turned herself in to the state attorney general’s regional office in Mineola, as she is being investigated for state funds sent to non-profit organizations.

What we find odd is the fact that Huntley is making a circus of her ignominy.

She hosted a press conference on Saturday, August 25, at which she announced that she would be taken into custody, and, upon her arrest, she said she was not worried about the charges and she would be cleared.

“I am not concerned,” she said. “Whatever will be, will be.”

What is truly ugly is abuse of power – politicians are meant to be bastions of justice for the little guy, the voice of the people.

When those people are struggling to make ends meet, allegations that funds were funneled are downright disheartening. We put our trust in these people, we elect them to be our leaders.

In this election year, we say they should start acting like it.

 

Hear no evil, see no evil?


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

In the 1970s it was the summer of Son of Sam.

Today it’s the summer of shootings.

Just last week Sergeant Craig Bier became the 10th NYPD officer shot in the line of duty this year. The 15-year veteran, who boasts some 60-plus medals and citations, was shot in each leg during a firefight after he and his partner stopped a man who they said looked suspicious.

And, as The Courier was going to press, three people were killed near Texas A&M University when a man opened fire from a nearby house. According to reports, at least 30 rounds were fired before SWAT officers shot and killed the suspect.

This is the third mass shooting in the nation this summer, coming on the heels of the Aurora, Colorado, movie massacre and Wisconsin temple tragedy.

We ask again: WHAT IS GOING ON?

IS NOWHERE SAFE?

At this point, politicians can no longer turn a blind eye to the violence.

Our cops are getting shot, our kids are getting shot. Pretty soon we won’t be able to leave our homes for fear of never returning.

Now is the time to stand up.

Write, call, email — TODAY — and tell your local senator and congressmember, even the president, that you are in favor of gun control.

 

President Barack Obama

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW

Washington, DC 20500

Phone: 202-456-1111

 

Senator Charles Schumer: 322 Hart Senate Office Building

Washington D.C. 20510

Phone: 202-224-6542

 

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand: 780 Third Avenue Suite 2601

New York, New York 10017

Phone: 212-688-6262

The good, the better and the bad in Queens


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE GOOD . . .

Queens came out in force on Memorial Day to pay tribute to those heroes who have fought – and continue to fight – for the freedoms we enjoy.

As Mayor Michael Bloomberg pointed out, freedom is not, in fact, free, and the men and women in uniform – from our Armed Services to the NYPD and FDNY – fight every day to preserve and protect our liberties.

So it is with great pride that we say “thank you,” and are glad to have seen the patriotic displays this Memorial Day.

But let us also remember the other 364 days in the year in which to be grateful for our veterans.

 

THE BETTER . . .

Score one for the community coming together.

It was a long-fought and hard-won battle, but a Flushing Key Food will NOT be replaced by yet another pharmacy.

We say congratulations because, by coming together, the community was able to affect change.

Residents opposed the change, especially since the area has several pharmacies, including one across the street from the supermarket, but the store owner felt pressured to leave the property.

Rallies ensued, and the owner, politicians and even the locals sent a clear message – “keep our Key Food.”

We’re glad to say their message has been received.

 

THE BAD . . .

Seniors deserve respect.

The Friendship Center of the Jamaica Service Program for Older Adults (JSPOA) is just one of many facing cuts as part of the city’s budget for the 2013 Fiscal Year, which, if not restored, will phase out programs for members — many of whom are mentally and physically weak.

But aside from the visible benefits to seniors, these centers also serve as a “home away from home” for many.

Programs offered help to keep members active and healthy. Often, the meals provided are the only source of nutrition for these people.

And the benefits seniors receive through socializing at the centers are immeasurable. Most would otherwise face very lonely days.

So we implore the mayor – look beyond the numbers to the HUMAN aspect.

Look at the REAL costs of these dollar-saving measures, and, as one senior aptly pointed out, “[Don’t forget you’re] going to be old one day.”