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To the editor,

Columnist Stanley Gershbein commented on Lois Lerner’s Congressional testimony in the alleged IRS scandal “Here’s Stan’s reasons for leaving New York,” It’s Only My Opinion, online March 17).

Gershbein skeptically opines that Lerner may be protecting White House officials by invoking her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. He wrongly infers that this in itself may be evidence of a cover-up.

Lois Lerner invoked her Fifth Amendment rights because she could. Legally, no conclusion can be inferred from that.

The fact is that Gershbein presents no evidence to support his claim. The alleged Internal Revenue Service scandal has been under long and costly investigation by a Congressional committee chaired by Rep. Darrell Issa (R–Calif.).

Issa’s dogged, partisan witch-hunt has established no connection to the White House, Lois Lerner’s silence notwithstanding. So, Gershbein’s opinion is only that — his unsubstantiated opinion.

He also makes a point of reporting that Lerner has invoked the Fifth Amendment twice. The fact is that Rep. Issa knew full well that Lerner would not answer his questions before he hauled her in to testify for a second time. What’s more, he violated House rules by denying Rep. Elijah Cummings (D–Md.), the committee’s ranking minority member, an opportunity to speak.

In short, that hearing was nothing more than a disgraceful media spectacle intended to garner coverage from the conservative press. It should not be construed as a serious attempt to gather facts.

I find it revealing that Gershbein has selectively targeted Lerner for his wrath. To my knowledge, he has never commented on New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie cronies Bridgette Kelly and David Wildstein who invoked their Fifth Amendment rights in ongoing investigations of the Bridgegate scandal. Why hasn’t Gershbein asked why they have refused to testify and who they are protecting?

It appears that Gershbein is concerned only when Democrats invoke their Fifth Amendment rights. Arnie Kingston

Sheepshead Bay

Thanks, ‘Standing O’

To the editor,

Just wanted to say thank you for our pipe and drum corps piece in your feature Standing O!

The guys — and one gal — love it!

Erin A. Cicalese

The writer is director of communications at Xaverian High School.

Mom jaywalkers

To the editor,

I am pleased with Mayor DeBlasio’s pledge to make city streets safer by lowering the speed limit and ticketing jaywalkers. However, there is one serious problem that still needs to be addressed, jaywalkers with small children.

Every day I see mothers dragging small children across the middle of the road or through busy crosswalks while the lights are changing. They push strollers amidst the traffic. Their only concern seems to be beating the lights and the traffic.

I hear stories every day of small children being killed by cars or trucks while trying to cross a street. I wonder how many of these children were ever taught how to cross a street safely.

When my son was little, I kept showing him how to cross the street whenever we went outside.

The public schools had a program to teach young students how to cross. They also had a slogan: “Cross at the green, not in between.”

I don’t know if any of the schools are teaching traffic safety now — if not, Mayor DeBlasio needs to start a program to train the city’s children and their parents in traffic safety and crossing streets responsibly.

Any parent who drags a child across the street against traffic should be fined. Careless crossing, with or without a child, must be stopped.Elaine Kirsch



To the editor,

Everyone is so excited to have pre-kindergarten for many more children in the city.

Sounds like a wonderful idea until you stop to consider the following: What will class sizes be like in the rooms? Will it become a baby-sitting service, with children running amok in the classrooms and hallways. Who will teach the children?

We need duly licensed teachers. When the Head Start program was initiated, parents volunteered to teach — or should I say to baby-sit. If we are not careful, all we will accomplish is bringing discipline problems to school earlier.

If everything is not in place, the pre-k concept will not be the panacea that it is being made out to be.

Let us remember that even with lower class registers, as children proceed through the grades, they will encounter larger class sizes.

Sometimes I think that it would be better to be more concerned with lowering class sizes now and placing disruptive pupils in alternative settings.

Ed Greenspan

Sheepshead Bay

Sex ed

To the editor,

I can’t believe the two female teachers at a Brooklyn high school were fired in the first place for allegedly having sex in a vacant classroom, away from anyone, on the word a tattletale janitor who could have just walked away. Let the punishment fit the crime, if in fact there even was one.

This city is paying teachers who did much worse things than what these two teachers were accused of and never lost their jobs. They have been sitting in “rubber rooms” for years, getting full pay and even raises, costing us taxpayers millions of dollars per year.

If our new schools chancellor wants to do the right thing, let her get rid of the rubber rooms and the teachers that we pay to sit there doing nothing all day, for years.Minnie Mangenugas

Astoria, N.Y.

‘STEAM’ roller

To the editor,

I applaud how Zamperla is pulling out all the stops to get the Thunderbolt attraction up and running by Memorial Day (“Thunder Rolling In,” March 14).

Zamperla has enlisted local assistance to help with recruiting neighborhood residents for jobs in the amusement area. Furthermore, Zamperla has been showing its commitment to the “playground of the world” by bringing in several hundred construction jobs and 20 new permanent positions.

As an educator and community education advocate in Coney Island, I’m always looking for ways to tie-in science, technology, engineering, arts, and math with community projects being developed in Coney Island.

Let’s talk about creating a blueprint for educational success by proposing a Luna Park Steam Education Initiative with our neighboring District 21 schools.

Imagine hearing about the new Luna Park S.T.E.A.M. Education Labs at elementary, middle, and high schools, and colleges.

This unique pathway would be a wonderful way to promote the Coney Island amusement area and empower students on different levels of education.

This blueprint for educational success is building a strong and solid foundation for our students to be successful in the 21st century workforce. Isn’t that what community commitment is all about?Scott Krivitsky

The writer is a teacher at PS 188 in Coney Island.


To the editor,

It is my contention that for many, especially those trying to “make a mark” in the mass media world of “journalism, that sensationalism often trumps humanness, or plain decency. Someone responded that for them it seems true, but it only works that way because the mainstream public like it.

My thought to that was that I do not believe that the mainstream public likes it; instead I believe that the mainstream media thinks that the average person likes to see horror or “bad news” but that, in reality, most prefer to see and hear good news.Barry Brothers


Car trends

To the editor,

One might think it trendy or hip to seal one’s license plate in one of those see-through plastic covers, but it is difficult to read the plate information because of reflection.

More importantly, you could get a ticket for covering your license plate with a plastic cover. That’s a state traffic law.

Some of those frames make it hard to read words like “dealer” or other important information.Joan Applepie

Mill Basin

Crime wave

To the editor,

I recently attended a special meeting at St. Joseph’s College on crime, auto break-ins, and theft (“Smash and nab,” March 14).

A local councilwoman and cops from the 88th Precinct spoke. Evidently, approximately 120 policemen service an area with multiple city housing developments, large apartment complexes, and public schools that is 1.5 square miles.

I have seen no uniformed patrolmen on the beat. One officer told us how a man living in the adjacent Ingersoll Housing Projects has been arrested 35 times and is a known drug addict. He will soon be re-released. Sadly, heroin again is on the rise. We seem beholden to a system unable to either keep this man in jail or better yet, rehabilitate him. It is believed he is likely responsible for nearly half of the more than 50 recent auto break-ins.

Further discussion revealed that a study on inadequate street lighting a few years ago revealed it fell way below average. Evidently, when a local college wanted to improve its lighting, the city prevented it, even though adequate light deters crime.

If I was a city policeman, I would wonder why I should bother to risk my own life to prevent crime in a system which acts as a revolving door? No one is being served. The perpetrator still has a drug problem, and the public spends more money on lawyers, judges and jails for what purpose? Where are our needed local police, on our local beat?

I finally left, after having our church burnt down in the tumultuous 1960s, our house repeatedly robbed, my grandmother mugged across the street from her home (suffering a broken hip and bed ridden till she died), as well as having two cars stolen. Our neighbor, a doctor responding to a late night call, bled to death in the street, after he was knifed in his car. No one called for help around the giant housing complex. His wife suffered a nervous breakdown and the family, like so many others, ran.

Health and safety is number one for us all. Our local public library is also shut. I see no uniformed police on a beat. I see no emergency units that you used to be able to pull, if witnessing a crime. No pay phones either. That combined with a plagued public school system makes me wonder how the city maintain its communities.Barbara Skinner

Staten Island

Schmutzy subways

To the editor,

Straphangers Campaign “schmutz study” revealed the dirty state of our city subway train cars, but it wasn’t always this bad.

In the 1960s it was common to find both penny gum and soda machines dispensing products at many subway stations. Clean and safe bathrooms were readily available. It was a time when people respected authority and law.

Previous generations of riders did not litter subway stations and buses leaving behind gum, candy wrappers, paper cups, bottles and newspapers. No one would openly eat pizza, chicken or other messy foods while riding a bus or subway. Everyone paid their way and there was no fare evasion.

Fast forward to today. Commuters have to deal with conductors who close the doors while they are crossing the platform to transfer from a local to the express train. Try looking for the proper way to depose of your old newspaper, as more trash cans are removed from more stations. Riders have to deal with people panhandling, eating freely, hogging two seats, yawning, coughing or sneezing without covering up, and flatulating. Women are routinely accosted by gropers while perverts engage in other unhealthy sexual activities.

Rather than reduce the number of garbage cans, the city should consider installing separate cans for recycling newspapers, plastic and glass, along with regular garbage. Selling advertising on sides of cans could generate revenues to help cover the costs of more frequent off-peak and late night collection and disposal. If asked, the Department of Sanitation would consider doing the same on the street adjacent to subway station entrances.

There are also solutions to dealing with waiting for or riding the subway and having the “urge to go.” Until the early 1960s, most subway stations had clean, safe, working bathrooms with toilet paper. Revenues generated from a 10-cent fee helped cover the costs. Why not consider charging a fee between 25 cents and a dollar? That would generate revenues to assign a matron, along with covering security and maintenance costs. This could help provide secure, fully-equipped bathrooms at most of the 468 subway stations.

Many riders would gladly pay this small price to ensure working bathrooms, rather than face the current unpleasant alternatives, which contribute to dirty subways.Larry Penner

Great Neck, N.Y.

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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