Sound Off to the Editor

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To the editor,

I would like to commend Max Jaeger for his excellent investigative work regarding illegal conversions and zoning issues within Community Board 10. I would like to add and clarify some thoughts about his article, “Up, Up, & Away” (March 27), written in response to the mayor’s affordable housing plan.

Max stated that the reason given for up-zoning in our community district was to allow for more affordable senior housing. Community Board 10 has four senior housing projects, started from the ground up, i.e. the community: the Norwegian Christian Home and Health Center, Shore Hill Housing, the St. Nicholas Home, and Pope Paul John Apartments. We also have the largest population of seniors in the city. Something is obviously working here for seniors.

There is no logic or proof that creating more density brings down prices. Look at Park Slope, they recently up-zoned Fourth Avenue and not one unit of affordable housing has been created. In fact, prices have risen to record highs and many of those new “luxury” buildings are already failing structurally.

What could really help seniors and all people stay in Community Board 10 is to fix the real estate property tax scale, so that owners are charged according to what their properties are worth. Instead Bay Ridge area property owners are now paying 60 percent more in property taxes than those whose properties are assessed at higher values in other Brooklyn neighborhoods. This would also reduce costs for apartment owners who would pass it on to their tenants.

We should be replicating Bay Ridge’s model as a community because it fosters economic and ethnic diversity, and serves as a place for people of all ages. We should be preserving and replicating what we have, not destroying it. If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.Victoria Hofmo

Bay Ridge

Shav basher

To the editor,

Henry Finkelstein, how long will you continue to accuse “A Britisher’s View” columnist Shavana Abruzzo (“No thanks, Shav,” Sound Off to the Editor,” March 13)?

I and my family and friends say, “Thanks a lot” to Shavana. Henry, you repeat — again and again — that this isn’t Europe or the Middle East, that we’re different here. Please explain to me what the difference is between the Muslims of Europe and the Muslims of America? They are the same! They hate our lifestyle. It’s true that not all Muslims are terrorists, but most terrorists are Muslims.

You think Muslims and Jewish communities are living in peace here? Jews are afraid of their Muslims neighbors. The City Council is talking about American-born citizens fighting for the Islamic State. What will they doing when come back? People like you Henry Finkelstein bring harm to our country. You are the one who needs to be deported.Carina Gen

Coney Island


To the editor,

I get it — don’t cross Shavana. Shavana Abruzzo doesn’t like Hillary Clinton, but not because of something substantive like Clinton’s record as a U.S. senator or as Secretary of State. Rather, Abruzzo is ticked off because Clinton allegedly lied about taking questions at a public appearance in Canarsie nearly 15 years ago. Abruzzo recently devoted an entire column to recounting the purported affront in great detail (“Hillary fibbed in Canarsie,” A Britisher’s View, Apr. 3). And they say elephants never forget.Arnold Kingston

Sheepshead Bay

‘Carpetbagger’ Hill

To the editor,

How can anyone take Hillary Clinton as a serious candidate for president? In the mid-1970s, when she was a young attorney involved in the Watergate investigation, her own boss fired her for being unethical and dishonest. Had the investigation not shut down when Nixon resigned, she most probably would have been disbarred. As the First Lady, she was up to her eyeballs in scandals concerning her and her husband’s actions, both while in the White House, and even before that, back in Arkansas.

After the Clintons left the White House, Hillary Clinton needed a job, so she did what Bobby Kennedy did, she became a carpetbagger senator from the New York, where she had never lived until about 30 days prior to the election. As senator she wrote no laws and did not even sponsor a street naming somewhere. In short, she accomplished nothing. Fast forward to the presidency of Barack Obama. She was appointed secretary of state. She flitted around the world, doing nothing special and managed to make a fool out of herself with that stupid “reset” button that she gave to the Russian president. Then she failed to do her job during the Benghazi debacle where four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens, were murdered in a most savage and barbaric fashion after an eight-hour gun battle. She took no action to help them whatsoever, even while there was still time to help them. The term “dereliction of duty” comes immediately to mind. Then she had the utter gall to say the attack was caused by a YouTube video, which she knew was false. She was attempting to deflect attention from her lack of any action. So, that’s another job with no accomplishments.

It has recently come to light that she used her private email account to conduct government business which is a crime. She was conducting government business “under the radar” so that her activities could not be monitored. It has also come to light that she accepted a whole lot of illegal contributions from Middle East countries. Admittedly some good was done with some of the money, but that, of course, was not the reason for the donations. Hillary Clinton has no ethics, no honor, no core beliefs and is dishonest to her bones. That is Hillary Clinton from the beginning of her adult life. With a resume like that, her face should be posted on post office walls. We have already seen the results of what a president with those attributes can do to the country. We cannot endure that again.David F. Podesta

Marine Park

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 is 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



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



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

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


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.

Cop cop-out

To the editor:

Is excessive force the new norm? The police go through an extensive period of training in hand-to-hand combat, use of a nightstick, pepper spray, and Taser guns. The purpose of this training is to keep the cops safe, have his orders obeyed and in the event of a physical altercation, for the other person to survive and face justice. Killing a person should be the last resort and then, only on the rarest of occasions.

This is not the case: excessive force is the new norm. This allows cops to use excessive force with impunity. Whether this occurs out of malice or fear is irrelevant, the result is the same — dead civilians, and cops who go on as if nothing happened.

As a first-year college student at Bard’s BPI campus, a victim of the criminal justice system, and a man who has studied and practiced law for the past 16 years, I am well aware of how our criminal justice system works, or rather does not work. In my own case, the district attorney and every witness testified that I used a .38 caliber revolver. At the age of 17 that was used to indict and convict me. According the medical examiner and an NYPD ballistics report the victim was shot with a 9mm gun. Guilt, innocence, and evidence are irrelevant, the district attorney will trump all else.

Cops, who are not given consequences for killing civilians, sends a message that cops can kill with impunity. No race of people is safe, as cops kill more white people than any other race. It has been reported that cops have killed everyone from kids to old ladies. None of these cops are locked-up. This encourages a cop versus civilian atmosphere. A civilian has no way of discerning a good cop from a bad cop, a killer cop from one who will not kill them or someone around them. People have video footage of some of the deadly incidents and have seen the footage explained away as inaccurate. This leaves people in danger at the hands of the police, prosecutors, and judiciary. Accountability for cops is not on the horizon.

A civilian that kills a cop is put in jail, generally with no bail, or bail that should be called a ransom. They will remain in jail for years facing either a death or life sentence, before the case is adjudicated. Their conviction is almost certain. In contrast, a cop whokills a civilian, in the extraordinarily rare instance they are charged and indicted for the person’s death, will remain free on bail for years. They will usually not be facing a death or life sentence. Once the case is resolved, which statistically results in an acquittal, or a conviction of some lesser included offense, but not the murder they will go about life with no more than a slap on the wrist. This reinforces the notion that cops are beyond the law, and their lives are more valuable than civilians are.

Michael Kirshtein

The writer is an inmate 96A7220 at Eastern Correctional Facility, Naponoch, N.Y.

Jes’ saying

To the editor,

I came across a poster that read: “If the USA can’t afford to provide basic medical care, feed the poor, protect the environment, maintain our infrastructure, or teach our children anymore, then what exactly is our bloated military budget defending?”

This question has been asking umpteenth times and never seems to be acknowledged and addressed by those whom are elected to office to represent the welfare of the citizens who put them in office.

The electoral and political systems in place in Washington D.C. and in most state legislatures represent and focus on the welfare of those who pay to put them in office, the so-called one percent corporate class.

Extreme party gamesmanship and partisan politics has taken over this country. I do believe the GOP has been, since the day President Obama has taken office, purposefully and maliciously obstructionist to prevent this administration from having successes, and will continue to do so until a new president is sworn into office in 2017. Despite all denials to the contrary, obstruction seems to live in the hearts of many Republicans, as does a perceived racism which includes disdain for the poor.

Reasonable discourse and ideas need be put on the table by all sides of a debate with compromise ruling the day so that advances and laws and such can be put in place that do address the needs of the country, of the citizenry. This is not happening at all. The GOP can claim to have made effort, but in reality all they do is knock down ideas put forth that do appear to have the best interests of “the many” at the core of the discussion. They also tend to create many distractions, that though some may be valid concerns, in reality they shut down all conversation and thus possible movement.

I think many politicians on both sides of the proverbial aisle are inept, partisan, and do not have our best interests at heart.

To quote the great John Lennon: “everybody’s talking and no one says a word...everybody’s runnin’ and no one makes a move...strange days indeed...most peculiar.”

Barry Brothers


Tunnel vision

To the editor,

Your story “Tunnel Aversion” (March 26) concerning the proposed Cross Harbor Freight Tunnel which might connect New Jersey to Brooklyn and Queens is under consideration again. In theory, it might move thousands of trucks on a daily basis off the roads and on to railroad tracks for significant portions of the journey between New Jersey and Long Island. It reminds me of the long-forgotten proposed tunnel between 69th Street in Bay Ridge and St. George on Staten Island. The concept was to extend subway service from Brooklyn to Staten Island. Ground was broken with entrances at both ends in the 1920s, but the project quickly ran out of money and was abandoned to history. When living on Shore Road in Bay Ridge, friends and I would look to no avail in attempting to find the abandoned site filled in decades earlier. Flash forward almost 90 years later and we have the proposed “Cross Harbor” rail freight tunnel project.

Construction of any new freight, public transportation tunnel or bridge project can take years if not decades by the time all feasibility studies, environmental reviews, planning, design, engineering, real estate acquisition, permits, procurements, construction, budgeting, identifying, and securing funding is completed. This is before the project reaches beneficial use. Construction for the 2nd Avenue subway began in the 1960s. Bond money intended for this project in the 1950s was spent elsewhere. The latest completion date for the first segment of three stations between 63rd and 96th streets on the upper east side of Manhattan is 2016 at a cost of $4.5 billion. Construction for the original tunnel to support bringing the Long Island Rail Road from Queens into Grand Central Station began in the 1960s. The latest completion date is now 2023 with a cost of $10 billion. No one can identify the source for the estimated $16 billion to build a new tunnel for New Jersey Transit and Amtrak known as the “Gateway project” to gain additional access to Penn Station from New Jersey. Ditto for paying back the $3 billion federal loan which covered a majority of the estimated $4 billion for replacing the Tappan Zee Bridge in Westchester. Any guess who will find $5 to $10 billion or more needed for construction of a new Cross Harbor Freight Tunnel? This may be just another in the continuing series of feasibility studies sponsored by various governmental agencies and public officials over decades. They generate some money for consultants, along with free publicity, for elected officials who promise a bright future, but all to often move on to another public office before delivering. You are frequently left holding an empty bag with unfilled promises. At the end of the day just like the long abandoned Brooklyn to Staten Island subway project, don’t count on seeing any shovel in the ground before the end of this decade. Don’t count on completion of any Cross Harbor Freight Tunnel in our lifetime.

Larry Penner

Great Neck, N.Y.

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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