Sound Off to the Editor

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To the editor,

In a self-congratulatory letter to his constituents, Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz (D–Sheepshead Bay) recently announced that he had facilitated the installation of a traffic light at the busy Sheepshead Bay intersection of Voorhies Avenue and E. 18th Street.

While welcome, the new traffic signal only treats a symptom of a larger problem — the over-development of the greater bay area. Developers with no stake in the community and concerned primarily with lining their pockets are building “luxury” housing on every lot they can gobble up. New construction is everywhere you look. For instance, condominiums recently replaced a medical center on Ocean and Voorhies avenues. Additional construction is underway on the former site of the popular El Greco Diner.

The 28-story high-rise under construction on the site of the old Verizon parking lot on Voorhies Avenue is the latest and most egregious example of development run amok. When completed, the building will tower over all else in the area and cast a long shadow over the neighborhood. It has no place in this community of low-rise housing.

The uncontrolled development of Sheepshead Bay is irreparably altering its character and quality of life. The serene fishing village feel that once gave the bay its unique charm has been replaced with bumper-to-bumper traffic, congestion and noise. Crossing certain streets is difficult and hazardous especially for the elderly or infirm. Street parking, once readily available, is now at a premium. Sanitation along Sheepshead Bay Road has become a problem. Public resources, such as the local library, the post office and mass transit, have all been stretched.

Equally disturbing is that for all the problems the bay’s construction boom has created, it has done nothing to increase the area’s stock of affordable housing. All of the new housing priced beyond the means of the many with middle-class incomes and resources. The new traffic light heralded by Assemblyman Cymbrowitz is tantamount to putting a bandage on a gaping wound.

What is needed are measures to rein in the uncontrolled development of the bay. For one thing, community input and approval should be required for future development projects. Developers cannot be allowed to build as they see fit. Unless we wrest control of our neighborhood from self-concerned real estate interests, Sheepshead Bay as we have known it will become a faded memory.

Arnold Kingston

Sheepshead Bay

Stan’s fans

To the editor,

I really enjoyed reading your column, Stanley Gershbein, about Sam-I-Am, your family Labrador retriever (“It’s a dog’s life, but it mattered,” It’s Only My Opinion, online Oct. 5).

How lucky your four young children were to have helped raise a dog. It’s a lot of work, but I’m sure they had their doggy responsibilities to tend to, didn’t they? Rain, shine, snow — having a dog is a lot of work, but it’s worth it all.

I love animals. I have two black cats, but I love to look out my window to see others walking their dogs up my block. I often stop them and ask if I can pet their dogs. I even keep dog treats in my car to occasionally give to a dog on a leash. Silly, but true.

Joan Applepie

Mill Basin

• • •

To the editor,

I usually enjoy reading Stanley Gershbein’s column, “It’s Only My Opinion”, but I am very upset about something he wrote in his last column about his beloved partner, Carol, “It would be wonderful if she and all of her close friends have guns with them,” (“Stan’s America by the numbers,” It’s Only My Opinion, Oct. 30).

Stan, Do you really think that Carol, and all of our loved ones, would be safer if everybody carried guns? What if somebody attempted to attack or rob Carol and, before she could pull out and fire her gun, the attacker grabbed it and shot her? What if Carol was able to fire her gun and she accidentally shot an innocent bystander? What if Carol was driving and some hotheaded driver with a gun shot her for taking his parking space? If Carol could carry a gun so could everyone else.

Every day somewhere in America innocent people are shot by hotheads for no reason or for stupid reasons. Even the most “normal” people can lose their tempers. How many of us would reach for our guns when provoked if we had them? Stan, would you really want your grandchildren to go to a school where everybody carried guns? Gun violence in schools and colleges gets worse every day. Would you want your grandchildren to carry guns?

You and I are senior citizens, Stan. Do you ever go to a senior center? Would you really want to see members of your center, friends and fellow seniors walking around the center with guns in their pockets or handbags? I know that I would be petrified to go to my center if my fellow members were carrying guns. Stan, we need to get rid of guns, not add more of them to our already violent city.Elaine Kirsch


Parking hogs

To the editor,

W. 13th Street, between Avenues U and V, has become a parking lot for trucks. With alternate-side parking four days a week and the transit center on the same block, parking for residents has become impossible. There are days we have buses, tractor-trailers and regular trucks, all at the same time.

I wrote to Councilman Mark Treyger (D–Coney Island) back in August. Lot of good that did. Never received any response. I’m sure I’ll hear from him when he runs for election. If his office can’t acknowledge a constituent’s cry for help, why re-elect him?

Frank Monaco



To the editor,

I went to my Marine Park polling place on election day, just as I have done on every election day since 1969. After the workers finished clearing up a small “snafu” with the election district 37 ballots, I signed the register and was handed my ballot.

I stood there for a second looking at the sheet, and then gazed outside to see if the American flag was still flying. The ballot looked as though it was printed by the former Soviet politburo. The same five names on each of the five elected positions to be filled were found in all of the Democrat-Republican and Conservative boxes.

I would never think of not voting, as I take this responsibility to heart, although after seeing the 2015 city ballot, I know that somewhere, Karl Marx is laughing!

Robert W. Lobenstein

Marine Park

Thanks, Richie!

To the editor,

Thank you to Richie Hecht for his letter highlighting the problems with bicycle lanes on the Verrazano Bridge (“MTAwful,” Sound off to the Editor).

I travel frequently to Staten Island, where I have family, and resent the expensive plan to build bike lanes when I am already paying the highest bridge tolls in the U.S. If this plan goes ahead, bike riders certainly need to pay a toll to use the facility. As Richie mentioned, bike riders obey no traffic rules and travel at night without reflective clothing, all without any penalty. Many bike lanes presently in service in Bath Beach go unused and add to traffic issues.

Let’s get bike riders licensed and in compliance with traffic regulations before gifting them with a very expensive auto-driver-financed perk like bike lanes on the bridge. Maybe there should be a referendum on such an outrageous outlay of tax payer funds. Catherine Berntsen


Right on, Andy

To the editor,

I agree with Andrew Feinstein a thousand percent (“Bam-boozled,” Sound off to the Editor, Oct. 30). I have been saying the exact same thing since the beginning of my teaching career in 1971. The knowledge I acquired was nothing I learned in college, including a few choice curse words I had never heard. Talk about culture shock.

With all due respect to former President Clinton — I support Hillary, too — we need to stop taxing Social Security. This is the time we need more money, not less. Only our incomes are going down.

Name withheld upon request

Consumer Menin-gitis

To the editor,

City Consumer Affairs Commissioner Julie Menin’s campaign to encourage all business owners with 20 or more employees to sign up for federal transit benefits worth up to $130 per month or face fines up to $250 per day may be an abuse of power.

Menin reminds me of the godfather making businesses an offer “they can’t refuse.” This program popularly known as Transit Check has been previously marketed since 1993 by many other organizations. That is why today more than 700,000 New Yorkers are already active participants. Menin will waste taxpayers dollars to launch a public advertising campaign to inform both businesses and their employees of a program virtually everyone has been already aware of for years.

Strange that Menin overlooks the city’s largest employer with more than 300,000 employees, the City of New York along with City Hall and the City Council. Real leaders set an example for others. Has Commissioner Menin given up her municipal car to use public transportation and previously signed up for Transit Check? How many of her agency employees have signed up?

Will Commissioner Menin send out notification letters to Mayor Bill DeBlasio, Comptroller Scott Stringer, Public Advocate Letitia James, Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, and her 50 Council colleagues, along with all other city agency commissioners to sign up along with all their respective employees as well?

Larry Penner

Great Neck, N.Y.

Unruly students

To the editor,

The security guard in the South Carolina high school should be given a ticker-tape parade for his actions in removing an unruly student from the classroom. Naturally there is no video showing the disruption this recalcitrant was causing that prompted such action by the guard.

When are we ever going to learn that any disruption can’t be tolerated in the classroom? Remember when schools were for learning? Why didn’t the student leave when she was told to leave by the teacher and assistant principal?

Don’t children who want to learn have rights? All we do is cater to the disruptive child. No wonder our schools are in the condition they are in!

Ed Greenspan

Sheepshead Bay

On track

To the editor,

I whole-heartedly agree that express service should be restored to the F train in Brooklyn. I was able to enjoy the benefits of express service until I retired in 2003. However there was, and still is, another problem with F service, and probably with other trains going to and from Coney Island as well. Many trains terminate at Kings Highway, five stations away from the last stop, Coney Island. Passengers going further have to wait on the elevated platform in boiling hot or freezing cold weather until another train arrives.

I understand the need to avoid congestion at the Coney Island station. What I don’t understand is why they can’t get the arriving trains out of the station at the last stop as soon as they unload, either by sending them right back to Manhattan or to the train yard. I would rather wait five minutes on a heated or air-conditioned train while other trains are being cleared out of Coney Island than to be forced to leave my train and stand on a snow-covered platform shivering until another train comes in. Winter is coming! It’s time to take all trains to the last stop.

All stations are used by senior citizens and people with disabilities, at one time or another. All stations need elevators or escalators. Many stations need repair work, especially on stairways at elevated stations. Fares keep going up, but transportation services and stairways do not get any better. Many seniors who need elevators cannot use the subways in their neighborhoods. They are forced to use Access-A-Ride.

The city would save money in the long run, if it spent more on making subways accessible to seniors and other physically-challenged, would-be passengers, and would improve the service on city buses. Then fewer people would need to use Access-A-Rides.

Elaine Kirsch


‘Useless’ agencies

To the editor,

Of all the city, state, and federal agencies, I admire the National Transportation Safety Board the most because whenever there is a major plane crash, a train derailment or a tragic highway crash, they put 100 percent into their investigation on what caused the accident.

Never once have they sugarcoated the cause of an accident. Although it may take many months of a year or two for their conclusions, they often make recommendations that in the future will save countless lives.

When has the Department of Transportation ever listened to the concerns of the residents about any changes being made? How about never. Another useless city agency is the Parks Department. When there was an outcry about putting concrete on the Boardwalk, Parks claimed it was easier to maintain and that there was no way to get rainforest wood. What they never mentioned was that the design commission stated that recycled wood from out of state could be used just as easily.

Both these city agencies are deaf to the public’s concerns, so why do we even need them?

Solomon Rafelowsky

Brighton Beach

Frankly, Jerome

To the editor,

Jerome Frank seems to think I favor the upper one percent of Americans that achieved their wealth through hard work and a drive to do better (“Income inequality,” Sound off to the Editor, Oct. 16).

Maybe in his case, his attitude and the attitude of so many people who bemoan the fact that they are not rich are self-repressing them to the lower rungs of society.

My family emigrated from Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia, and other European states prior to 1900. Nothing was handed to them on a silver platter. They knew that to succeed in the new land, they had to learn its language and get together, getting their hands dirty, to scratch a living out of whatever they chose to do.

I pride myself, in some little way, of championing the rights of the workers, as I once was a vice president in a local union. During my tenure I learned a lot of the so-called one percent versus the 99 percenters. I saw how the different attitudes of the workers determined how far they progressed or regressed through the ranks. Those individuals with a sense of drive and determination climbed the ladder of success, ultimately leaving the ranks for management positions. Those with an attitude, a socialist-communist attitude of I-deserve-everything, were always in trouble with the boss, calling upon me and others in the union to help bail them out.

I invite Jerome to learn the true history of his favored socialist parties and understand that even with them, there was an upper one-percent-plus crust of political hacks enjoying a very good living while the people, under their tutelage, were the true working “slaves of the state.”

Capitalism ain’t perfect, but at least under its reign and our hard-fought-for-and-won American freedoms, one has a chance to stand up, excel, and achieve a higher income and attitude status.

Robert W. Lobenstein

Marine Park

‘Weakened’ Chuck

To the editor,

I am not surprised that according to a recent poll conducted by Quinnipiac University, Sen. Charles Schumer’s (D-N.Y.) most recent favorable approval rating is down to 52 percent. This represents his lowest approval ratings since May 2000.

There are two reasons for this decline: One, like the cowardly lion from the Land of Oz, Schumer came out against the proposed treaty with Iran, but with a wink and nod to President Obama refused to lobby his fellow senators in joining him to oppose the treaty. Many Jewish and non-Jewish friends of Israel are not happy with his abdication of leadership on this issue.

Two, since 1981 under Schumer’s watch as both a congressmember and senator our national debt went up by $17.4 trillion, increasing from $1 trillion in 1981 to $18.4 trillion, today. No wonder Schumer never talks about this at his standard Sunday news conferences. It is nothing to be proud of.

Besides conservatives and Republicans, many mainstream moderate Democrats and independent voters are not happy with his fiscal mismanagement of Washington. Younger voters who will have to pay off this debt are especially displeased.

Schumer faced unknown Republican challengers with no-name recognition, money or party support in 2004 (Howard Mills) and 2010 (Jay Townsend). New York Republicans now have a surprising opportunity in 2016. Given Schumer’s weakened poll numbers, perhaps a brave Republican candidate with both name recognition and the financial resources to offer a serious alternative will finally step forward to challenge him in 2016. It might make for an interesting contest as opposed to another Schumer coronation.

If New York Republicans give Schumer a free ride for the third time, he will be free to run around the nation in 2016 assisting other fellow Democrats running for the Senate. Democrats only need a net pick up of five seats to regain control of the Senate. Schumer will use his well-oiled, pay-for-play fundraising machine — he already has $20 million in the bank for his 2016 race with no announced opponent — to raise whatever it takes, be it $100 million or more, so he can become the Democratic Senate majority leader.Larry Penner

Great Neck, N.Y.

Classroom trenches

To the editor,

As Warner Wolfe used to say, “Let’s Go to the Videotape,” when he would want something investigated further. Similarly let’s go to the school records of violent criminals, or better yet, do something with them in their formative years so that they don’t resort to such violence. If you opened the school records, you would see evidence of cutting class, constantly disrupting the class, roaming through the hallways, cursing, screaming, fighting, and causing all sorts of mayhem.

The city’s school system has failed these students and others by their complete refusal to deal with disruptive youth. As a result, the latter become more emboldened with each passing year, and their deviant behavior worsens until an innocent life is lost.

We keep such students in regular classes if the parent refuses to sign for special placement. As a result, chaos results as teachers desperately try to keep order with burgeoning class sizes. When are we going to face this problem head on and not keep sweeping it under the rug? This is not a racist problem. Disruptive pupils come in all races, religions and all backgrounds.

Empty out the regional and district offices and get teachers back in the classroom. We need more psychologists and psychiatrists in the schools. Less suspensions will not solve anything.

So-called staff development is a complete joke and everyone knows it. Let all the militants, ultra liberals and critics of teachers get themselves teacher licenses and get a taste of what it is like in the trenches.

Ed Greenspan

Sheepshead Bay

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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