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To the editor,

Community Board 10, which comprises the neighborhoods of Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights, is a wonderfully designed community offering green space, waterfront access, main streets, supportive institutions and a diverse quality housing stock. The latter allows people of all economic circumstances to live together. Our built environment has served the community well for 100 years, as is evidenced in the neighborhood’s diversity in terms of age, economics, and cultures. Long-term residents remain and new comers are welcome.

However in the last few years, this delicate equilibrium is toppling. The U.S. housing market crashed six years ago, so what caused Bay Ridge rents to rise higher than any other neighborhood in the city over the last year? Why are the prices of homes increasing more rapidly than any other neighborhood in the city? The proliferation of illegal conversions by real estate speculators.

Mayor DeBlasio’s has made affordable housing a priority. Yet, the opposite is happening in Community Board 10 and many other communities around the city. A few affordable units created in a luxury high-rise cannot replace the thousands of affordable quality housing units that exist in our district. Long-term residents are being displaced from all economic levels, newcomers cannot afford to live in what was one of New York’s last remaining affordable neighborhood, real estate taxes in our district are exorbitant, and will increase further as we continue to subsidize landlords who are only paying a fraction of the real estate taxes on the multiple units they have created.

Unsafe living conditions that were eradicated almost 100 years ago, are back. Many of the residents in illegally converted buildings are being exploited by the landlords, as we have seen a substantive increase in human trafficking and indentured servitude. Local residents, home owners, agencies, and institutions are left to deal with the mess and the social problems being created by absentee landlords who are in some cases literally getting away with murder. How can we stop this?

Fix the city’s Department of Buildings, which is inept, still not computerized, and does not follow up on outstanding violations or in the majority of cases inspect violations. It is corrupt in some cases, as inspectors have been indicted on bribery charges, and are responsible for the proliferation of illegal conversions because they allow post approval amendments that break our zoning laws.

Pass legislation that allow inspectors to use circumstantial evidence to gain entrance to and properly inspect a property. Make landlords accountable for the unsafe conditions they have created for residents, neighbors and first responders. Make landlords pay back real estate taxes for a multiple-unit dwelling, rather than a one- or two-family home, instead of having law-abiding taxpayers subsidizing their illegal behavior. Make landlords responsible for restoring the property to what is legal in the zoning. Have the mayor keep his promises and prioritize the preservation of New York’s existing, quality, affordable housing stock and to stop the displacement of New Yorkers from their neighborhoods. Immediately commit to the creation of a task force to address and overturn illegal housing conversions. We need to stop the madness now.

Victoria Hofmo

Bay Ridge

Thanks, Shav

To the editor,

For some odd reason I tend to keep papers and articles that appeal to me. Years later I reread them and discard them or put them in postage-paid envelopes for some stranger to read, if interested. Yeah, I’m a nut. I enjoy spreading engaging, riveting papers.

Anyway, I unearthed an article titled “Is the US destined to become a refugee camp?” (by “A Britisher’s View” Shavana Abruzzo) which appeared in your Feb. 11–17, 2010. Sound familiar, Shavana?

I love “... The prospect of granting civil freedoms to self-deficient illegals, such as ... is a travesty that inflates welfare costs, increases poverty and dumbs down the nation ....” On and on the article goes with such truthful lines it’s scary.

Shavana, I imagine when you put your head on the pillow at night, you are still creating sentences, articles for your next column. Don’t stop! You’re always right on the money. I wish you could stand on a pedestal, figuratively, and get reality out to everybody. I pray your editor appreciates you. Your readers surely do. Thanks, Shavana!Gerry Smith

Bensonhurst

No thanks, Shav

To the editor,

Now for the rest of the story omitted by the foreign Shavana Abruzzo (“A Britisher’s View”). The three terrorists apprehended last week are not from Brooklyn (“Terror grows in Brooklyn,” March 6). They are not even American citizens, naturalized or otherwise. They were all born and raised in the former Russian totalitarian republics of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. They were kept under surveillance, by local and federal authorities through the vigilance of loyal Americans of the Islamic faith whose work was indispensable to the continuing investigation of threats to our national security.

Ms. Abruzzo has no idea what Brooklyn is like, outside of the upper crust neighborhoods of Brooklyn Heights and Dumbo. If she ever ventured into the heart of Brooklyn like, Midwood, Kensington, and Boro Park, she would find the Islamic communities and Jewish communities living in peace, harmony, and cooperation with hardly any notice of the friction that the bigots try to promote. This is not, Britain, France, Europe, or the Middle East. This is Brooklyn. This is America. We are different. Let the foreign ideologies keep out. God Bless America. Deport all those with dual loyalties.

Henry Finkelstein

Sheepshead Bay

Erring Tom

To the editor,

Tom Allon erred when described Iran as “the most powerful Arab country in the Middle East” in his “Political Spin Cycle” column (“Politics clouds substance of Bibi’s speech,” March 6).

Iranians are not Arabs or another Semitic people ethically. Their civilization dates to ancient times (re: the Battle of Marathon, Alexander the Great) well before the spread of Islam from the Arabian peninsula. I know of Iranian New Yorkers who celebrate the Persian New Year in addition to the Islamic New Year. While written in Arabic script, the national language, Farsi or Persian, is an Indo-European language, that is, it is related to almost all languages of Europe, of Afghanistan and of northern India.

Hence, Iran is a predominantly Muslim country as is neighboring and more powerful Turkey, where the language is neither Indo-European or Arab or Semitic, yet is written in the Latin alphabet.

Lawrence Stelter

Bay Ridge

‘Ahl’ right

To the editor,

Greg Ahl is right on target (“Driver’s road rage over city’s traffic flow,” Sound off to the Editor, March 6).

The city does everything to slow down traffic in the name of Vision Zero, but does nothing to improve the flow of traffic causing bottlenecks and chokeholds throughout the city. Pedestrians and bicyclists also need to be educated on the part they must play to ensure their own safety. Not by jaywalking, sauntering across the street texting or cellphoning, waiting for light to change, when they do, almost in the middle of the traffic lane, etc. etc etc.

Bicyclists are another issue, thinking they are above any laws of the road, and the city giving them this sense of entitlement by hardly ever enforcing their misdoings. That goes for pedestrians also. By the way exiting from the Gowannus to the Belt, (Brooklyn-bound) has become quite a feat, especially for drivers unfamiliar with this change. The two right lanes and extreme left lane go on to 278 W, while the third lane from the right goes onto the Belt. The signage for this pattern change is atrocious, there is one confusing sign about a mile before this exit, and two very small orange signs right at the point of the exit, causing cars trying to get onto the Belt exit lane at the last second. It’s a big accident waiting to happen.Richie Hecht

Bay Ridge

Cell hell

To the editor,

Public school teachers have enough to put up with disruptions as is, now we’re allowing cell phones in school. Recalcitrant, defiant students will never surrender their phones to teachers. In fact, they will look to provoke the teacher and then have one of their classmates snap a picture of a teacher attempting to take a phone away by making it appear that the teacher was assaulting the student.

Students will use such phones to text other students in and out of the classroom. Whether it’s the police or teachers, we have a problem of a clear refusal by people to accept authority. These new rules are coming from a mayor and chancellor who are trying to end suspensions for unruly students to begin with. Instead of attempting to enforce discipline in our schools, those in charge are making an already bad situation even worse.

It is also shocking that the unions agree with lifting the ban. Perhaps, if they were made to teach classes they would see what teachers have to put up with during a course of the school day.

Ed Greenspan

Sheepshead Bay

Terrorist scum

To the editor,

It is a crying shame to see that Sony entertainment knuckled under to the demands of terrorist scum. Their cowardice has again empowered low-lifes to threaten our people and land, and possibly carry out another 9-11 attack. Each time Americans cower under threats we sink faster and faster into a shivering, sniveling, third-world power.

I say that the people of America, its leaders, military, and corporations come to terms of how great this country really is, grow a big pair, then stand up and launch a large scale 9-11 attack of our own. It’s time to silence and ignore the spineless, politically correct jellyfish that control our once-proud government, and put our full answer to terrorism where our military is.

The world is being taken over by threats from North Korean slime, Taliban cretins, and other religious and governmental dictatorships. The longer we and the remaining democracies let things slide, the more terrible the inevitable war between them and us will become.Robert W. Lobenstein

Marine Park

Cop-n-community

To the editor,

What really bothers me when I hear my neighbors in Brighton Beach and Coney Island complain about the lack of adequate police protection: Gee, the only time there are more police presence is during the summer, and mostly in Coney Island.

So the bottom line is other precincts lose officers because they are on detail elsewhere. Under Mayor Bloomberg he decided to cut the starting pay for police rookies, so why would anyone think of becoming a police officer

Where are the auxiliary cops that once were a presence in Brighton Beach? What happened to the uniformed officers I’d see on a daily basis walking up and down Brighton Beach Avenue? I’m aware that the 60th Precinct has undercover cops, but seeing uniformed cops would be a greater deterrent to any potential crime.

I’ve have been going to the community council meetings month after month, and the constant concerns from the resident about shootings seems similar to Chicago. To quote Councilman Mark Treyger (D-Coney Island), the police force needs to keep pace with the city’s population growth,

Many years ago Chicago had high-rise projects where crime was rampant. People did not know who their neighbors were, and shootings became a way of life. What the smart politicians finally did was to take down the projects and replace them with small townhouses. Then people began taking pride in their neighborhood and got to know their neighbors. Jerry Sattler

Brighton Beach

Toll-light robbery

To the editor,

The article on the toll of the Verrazano Bridge was more telling than you know (“Bridging the gap: MTA wants to raise Verrazano tolls to balance budget,” Nov. 20). So there are 180,000 vehicles crossing the bridge daily with a daily revenue of $936,000, according to a transit spokesman. If you take half of the 180,000 and they pay $10 for EZ-Pass and have the other 90,000 vehicles ride free, that would still bring in a revenue of $1,800,000. Realistically, where is all the money collected in tolls really going?Joe Donato

Park Slope

Problem students

To the editor,

It has often been said that teachers and the police know the city best. Both have been under the gun by either the Bloomberg or DeBlasio administrations. What’s the liberal answer for unsatisfactory schools? More teacher training. What’s the liberal answer to alleged abuses by police? More police training.

Let’s stop the nonsense and put the blame squarely where it deserves to be put. Our schools are failing because of the students who get away with everything and as a result feel that they can continue their disruptive ways as adults. Hence they meet confrontations with the police and soon learn that with the police you don’t play.

Let’s examine the school records of all those accused of crimes, and who did not follow police instructions not to resist.. We would find unsatisfactory behavioral records in schools. As students, they caused such mayhem that the teacher probably got blamed for not being able to “control” them and therefore received unsatisfactory ratings. Let’s end this cycle of stupidity and concentrate on the students who are disruptive in school. When nothing is done, they will invariably become emboldened criminals as adults, fully eager to challenge authority. There is a complete lack of respect for authority figures. That’s when our problems begin.Ed Greenspan

Sheepshead Bay

War heroes

To the editor,

When I read that soldier Brent Grommet’s German shepherd was taken from him when they returned from war, it made me very sad and as mad as hell. This young soldier and his dog, Matty, were together from the beginning at basic training to deployment in Afghanistan. Both were injured by a roadside bomb.

Specialist Grommet suffered traumatic brain injury, hearing loss, chronic pain, and post-traumatic stress disorder. This soldier who fought for his country, sustained serious injuries, and was almost killed only wants his partner and best friend back with him. This is not only a very small price to ask for, but it is also the law. Robby’s Law passed in 1990 and was signed by Bill Clinton.

This hero was told by higher-ups not to speak to the media about Matty the dog or he would wind up in Leavenworth. Talk about loyalty. These two want to be together again and deserve to be. Didn’t the government already do enough to disrespect and harm our veterans with the Veterans Administration scandal? I’m not holding my breath for the return of the dog to his best friend, after we saw the way the U.S. Marine Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi was held in a Mexican prison for more than 200 days, but I sure will be praying that Specialist Grommet and Matty are reunited. I would hate to think some bigwig took the dog home to his family and won’t give it back or worse. This is the very least we could do for one of our hero’s who was willing to put his life on the line for us.

I think those monsters being held in Gitmo are being treated better than we treat our own veterans. Our president authorized the release of five monsters for the return of one army deserter. Mr. President can’t you authorize the release of one dog for a hero?Rosie Boxer

Rockaway, N.Y.

Edu-vacation

To the editor,

I saw in the paper that so many children were absent more than 10 percent of the time during the last school year. This doesn’t take into account the students who are marked present and then proceed to cut classes and cause mayhem during the day.

My favorite was when parents would come to school and inform me and other teachers that they were going on vacation for 10 days to two weeks and demand that we give them the work in advance so that their child wouldn’t fall behind. This is absolutely ridiculous. If the child was not there when the work was being taught, the best the teacher could do was to give them pages to read and questions to answer from the texts. The supervisory staff should have stepped up to the plate to remind the parent that school was in session and that these vacation days were totally illegal. This was never done because principals fear parents.

Years ago if a child was absent excessively, the child was not promoted. This would never occur today, as supervisors look to get rid of children who are chronic discipline problems and whose absences are a relief both for them and the teacher.Ed Greenspan

Sheepshead Bay

Dems the breaks

To the editor,

Yes, it’s super important to be informed and to have opinions but a constant, repetitive drone of negativity, cynicism, anger, and fear accomplishes nothing. It’s far too easy to be critical of others. It’s much more difficult to devise something positive and or good, or to invest the time and effort necessary to become actively involved in local or larger issues and programs in place, or to spend some time trying to offer up something positive: an idea, a movement, or even something already in place that might spark change for the better.

C’mon, two wrongs do not make a right. Just because the other (red) side does it does not mean “we” should too. “We” lost the 2014 midterm elections because the right messages weren’t getting put out and what was being said did not engage the voters enough to get them to actually vote. Maybe it’s time to try other tactics?Barry Brothers

Homecrest

MTAaaargh!

To the editor,

There was a time long ago when the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s etiquette campaign to bring back good manners — “It’s A Subway Car, Not A Dining Car” and “Stop the Spread Please Its a Space Issue” — was not necessary. In the 1960s it was common to find both penny gum and soda machines dispensing products at 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.

Today riders have to deal with conductors who close the doors while crossing the platform attempting 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 aggressive panhandlers, people eating as if at home or in a restaurant, those hogging two seats, yawning, coughing or sneezing without covering and the release of flatulence. Women are periodically accosted by gropers while perverts engage in other unhealthy sexual activities.Larry Penner

Great Neck, N.Y.

Helping hand

To the editor,

I remember when you could get a Kit Kat chocolate bar for 50 cents. In my Brooklyn neighborhood there are places you can get one for a dollar, but a few nights ago, with a certain hunger in my stomach I walked past a certain drug store and when I handed the clerk my Kit Kat bar I was reminded that the last time I was in there I was surprised that it cost $1.51. It seemed outrageously high, but like I said I was hungry, so I said to the clerk, “It’s $1.51, isn’t it?” She smiled while scanning it and said, “Yes.”

I said, “If I had travelled through time from 30 years ago and was told $1.51, I would be stunned.” She smiled and took my two dollar bills and handed me 49 cents in change. I walked outside the store and thoroughly enjoyed the eating experience of the four long, thin pieces of chocolate that make up the bar. So to the point and so sweet. Now, somewhat less hungry I made my way up the avenue. looking forward to my arrival home to have a full dinner. Maybe because I still had a growling in my stomach I stopped in my tracks when I saw a bedraggled-looking man who seemed to be homeless leaning against a building with a sign in front of him with a cup out. I reached into my pocket and thought if I didn’t have any change I didn’t want to give him a whole dollar. Then I remembered the 49 cents change from the outrageously overpriced Kit Kat bar. I dug deeper into my pocket and even though I could feel no change I knew it was in there and I kept digging until I found that one quarter that was in there. When I located it I pulled it out and walked over to the man and before I even dropped the quarter into his cup he looked at me with appreciative eyes and said, “Thank you so much.”

I heard the coin hit the other coins in the cup and I wished him well. He smiled and then I noticed what his sign said: “Thank you for any kindness.” So to the point and so sweet. I resumed my walk home and about a minute later it hit me — the Kit Kat bar had not been outrageously overpriced. It had been the right price, for it enabled me to have that quarter change to give to that man. It reminded me that whatever hunger I have in my stomach there are people much hungrier, and when we can, it’s good for us to lend a helping hand.

Alan Magill

Midwood

Martial schools

To the editor,

I was about to come up for tenure when Hugh Carey defeated Malcolm Wilson to become governor of New York in 1974. The United Federation of Teachers wholeheartedly supported Carey. No sooner was he governor than tenure was changed to five years, and therefore myself and others had to wait two additional years to achieve this job protection.

At the time the union urged membership to donate to vote for the Committee on Public Education to get the tenure back to three years.

Gov. Cuomo is falling into the same trap as Gov. Carey did. It doesn’t matter how many years of teaching is required as long as the system allows us to work under the same abysmal conditions. City classrooms have the largest classroom registers and consequently disruptive children in them. No matter what is tried nothing will work until we attempt to resolve the problems of class size and children who refuse to behave themselves in school. It is ridiculous that people who never spent one day in the classroom as a teacher attempt to make rules that classroom teachers have to work under.

When it comes to class sizes, the union pointed out years ago that it had established an expedited grievance procedure in dealing with large classrooms. What expedited procedure? I’ve been retired now for nearly 14 years and the problem persists. Similarly the problem of disruptive children is ignored because no one wants to touch the issue. It is much easier to blame the teacher for the behavior of children who either will not or are unable to control themselves in classrooms. The 600-schools for problem children were done away with years ago, and now the mayor and chancellor are talking about eliminating suspensions for the unruly. The mayor and other critics of teachers desperately need to get back into a classroom and see what goes on during the course of a day.

Stop with the liberal nonsense of total child, alternate assessments, and other jokes, and institute military discipline in those schools requiring it. Any teacher cannot teach without discipline — Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina knows that.

Ed Greenspan

Sheepshead Bay

TV ‘drivel’

To the editor,

It was sad to see that the only “free,” 24-hour, over-the-air news station, CBS-TV digital channel 2.2 has ended. In its place is another mindless series of old TV shows from the 1950s and 1960s.

Since the inception of digital television almost a decade ago many stations have added many sub-channels, which are nothing more than bastions for old movies, vintage television series that no one watched even when they were new, and other “fluff” to fill in the hours.

CBS-TV gave viewers not wanting to be shackled to cable or satellite TV a much-needed flow of news, information, traffic and weather reports. Now due to greed, yes greed, it is gone. It seems as though they will make much more from advertising revenues ending the news and replacing it with garbage.

I guess that the 80 some odd channels of Spanish language sitcoms, Chinese docudramas, Indian comedies, and the usual network drivel will push me, and thousands of other New Yorkers, back to the radio and Internet for news from now on.

Robert W. Lobenstein

Marine Park

Pataki’s DOA

To the editor,

One, two, three strikes you’re out! At the annual Conservative Political Action Conference presidential pool of Republican Party primary activists former Republican Gov. George Pataki came in dead last behind all other potential GOP 2016 presidential candidates, including undecided with 0.1 percent of the vote. Just like in 2008 and 2012 Pataki’s presidential aspirations are dead on arrival.

It is time he set his sights on something more realistic. Perhaps consider running against Sen. Charles Schumer in 2016.

Larry Penner

Great Neck, N.Y.

Oaf-icials

To the editor,

Looks as though the veterans’ affairs chief was caught with his foot in his mouth, lying about his military service, and on camera too! It is a sad state of affairs as one by one, our leaders, our so-called impartial newsmen and the people that seek the trust of the populace are exposed. Especially when they boast of experiences they never had or college degrees they never earned, though, most have an excellent B.S. in bull!

My generation was taught not to trust anyone over 30 (I’m 63 now), and my father had a saying that pretty much covered his opinion of politicians and glad handlers: “They all lie — like a rug!” As each politician is disgraced or carted away in handcuffs, it only reinforces my opinion of these leaders. Dad was only too right.

Robert W. Lobenstein

Marine Park

Jeb Boo-sh

To the editor,

If Jeb Bush runs for president he will not get my vote. He is a job killer. Back in 1989 he outlawed “dwarf tossing” in Florida. Many little people lost their income because of this ban. It was a safe sport mostly played in bars. The dwarfs wore helmets and other protective gear and were tossed onto a mattress or against a wall of velcro. They made a pretty good living until then-Gov. Bush stopped it. Who is he to decide what people do for a living?

Nick Finer

Hallandale, Fla.

Bad economics

To the editor,

Is there real reason to celebrate the 22nd anniversary of the New York City Economic Development Corporation? New York City prospered and successfully grew prior to creation of this group and it’s predecessor, the N.Y.C. Public Development Corporation which was created in 1966. In 1991 the N.Y.C. Public Development Corporation (P.D.C.) was merged with the N.Y.C. Financial Services Corporation (F.S.C.) to form the N.Y.C. Economic Development Corporation. In many instances projects supported by these government corporations have been heavily subsidized by taxpayers, commonly known as corporate welfare. Between direct government funding, low-interest and below-market-rate loans, and long-term tax exemptions, the bill to taxpayers in the end is greater than the so-called public benefits.

There is also a relationship between pay-for-play campaign contributions from developers to elected officials looking for favorable legislation, private-property condemnation under eminent domain, building permits, public infrastructure improvements, along with direct and hidden subsidies. In some cases city and state development corporations actually compete against each other attempting to outbid each other in offering potential investors the best deal. This translates to the highest subsidies at taxpayers’ expense.

Don’t forget the conflict of interest for senior staff from municipal regulatory and permitting agencies. Too many leave in the twilight of any mayoral administration to become employees or consultants to the same developers they previously oversaw.

Take Seth Pinsky, former executive director of the N.Y.C.E.D.C. who went on to become executive vice president of the RXR Realty. Some developers try to purchase the support of local community groups by making so-called voluntary donations. They also make promises for capital improvements, which after the major project is completed don’t always appear. Other commitments for creation of permanent new jobs and tax revenues frequently do not meet expectations. If these projects are worthwhile, why can’t major developers use their own funds or obtain loans from banks, like medium and small businesses?

Real business people who believe in capitalism build their companies on their own. How sad that some don’t want to do it the old fashioned way by sweat and hard work. They are looking for shortcuts in the form of huge subsidies at taxpayers expense and favors from elected officials.

Larry Penner

Great Neck, N.Y.

Blott Stringer

To the editor,

Comptroller Scott Stringer is a spoiled child having a temper tantrum. Perhaps he needs a time out. Who knew that taxpayers are paying for members of the NYPD Intelligence Division to serve as his personal security detail. Stringer recently fired four of New York’s Finest from this security detail because they were late in picking him up from his expensive Manhattan home one morning. Is anyone aware that Stringer is the target of any terrorist groups which would merit this level of protection? I seriously doubt that al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, Islamic State or any other terrorists are even aware of his existence.

Municipal employees could never get away with the same abuses. They could not use city vehicles during work hours to chauffeur spouses around town. At a minimum, they would have to reimburse the city for the costs of all these personal trips. The Department of Investigations needs to take a look at this serious potential waste, fraud, and abuse of taxpayers dollars.

Let Stringer assign one of his several hundred staff members to serve as his personal chauffeur. Better yet he could set an example and follow Manhattan Councilman Dan Garodnick’s bill requiring employers with 20 or more workers to sign up for transit checks. Stringer could do likewise and give up both his free parking space at City Hall and his special police parking permit. He can use his transit check to purchase MetroCards. This will afford Stringer the opportunity to join several million constituents who use public transportation on a daily basis and also contribute to a cleaner environment. Stringer talks about being a friend of the 99 percent, yet he prefers the perks of a one percenter.Larry Penner

Great Neck, N.Y.

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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