2013-07-24 / Editorials

Letters to the Editor

Safety Act Cuts Bias

To The Editor:

There has recently been a great deal of heated discussion about the two bills that comprise the Community Safety Act (Introductions 1079 and 1080), which the New York City Council passed in late June. New Yorkers have been receiving some false information on these bills, so I think the time has come to calm down and look at the facts.

Introduction 1080 does not prevent police officers from using stop-and-frisk. Police profiling based on race and other categories is already unlawful, based on a 2004 bill signed by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. Yet under both current law and Introduction 1080, police officers can include race, gender, age and other relevant information when pursuing criminal suspects.

While Introduction 1080 does not eliminate or alter stop-and-frisk, it does address bias-based profiling. This has become an epidemic over the past decade, all because of Mayor Bloomberg’s insistence that officers conduct an increasing number of quota-driven stops. Every day I hear unsettling stories of local residents, law-abiding taxpayers, being stopped on the street in their own neighborhoods for no apparent reason. Stops increased by a jarring 700 percent from 2002 to 2011 without a corresponding drop in gun violence. Introduction 1080 will not prevent police officers from stopping people, but it does reiterate that officers must have a law enforcement basis for a stop.

It has been suggested that Introduction 1080 opens the door to frivolous lawsuits, but when other states enacted similar laws, the number of lawsuits did not significantly increase. Additionally, plaintiffs in New York City cannot seek monetary damages under the bill, nor can they sue individual officers. Instead, if policies are discriminatory or ineffective, individuals can sue to have those policies changed. By prompting the abandonment of wasteful practices, Introduction 1080 will actually save the city millions of dollars.

Finally, Introduction 1079 simply allows the New York City Department of Investigation to have oversight of the New York City Police Department (NYPD). Almost all city agencies have inspectors general, as do federal departments like the Central Intelligence Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Those agencies are not held back by inspectors general, and the NYPD will not be either.

I have enormous respect for the work of the NYPD, and I would never vote for a law that would put New Yorkers in harm’s way or allow crime levels to increase. On the contrary, I supported these bills because I believe they will make our city safer for all residents.

Sincerely,
Mark S. Weprin
Councilmember

In Honor Of McCaffrey

To The Editor:

The late councilmember is now officially free from the scourge of term limits. How ironic that he was one of the first victims of term limits which is nothing more — politically speaking — than the voters’ expression of a preference for a one night stand! Akin to fickle sweethearts, we now have profound remorse that Walter is gone.

Still, now all New Yorkers can rest in peace, as undoubtedly Walter L. McCaffrey is permanently embedded in the finest outer borough: Heaven.

In the scope of Councilmember McCaffrey’s extraordinary legislative accomplishments, it might be easy to overlook the one that walked the talk: McCaffrey insisted that public pay telephones not be exclusive to Manhattan, but that the New York City phone franchise extend to all five boroughs of the city.

In that one bold and brazen act he demonstrated that he didn’t forget where he came from (Woodside), simultaneously created more jobs for pay telephone providers (many of which are small businesses), and brought more revenue to the city’s coffers.

Classic McCaffrey! Why hit a single when you can score a triple?

Oh and yes, we could all use a pay phone no matter where or when we might get stuck,“...between the moon and New York City”.

So take that quarter in your pocket and put it in the next pay phone you encounter: not in the coin slot, but in the bottom right side return coin holder. Pay it forward: there’s no better way to honor Walter L. McCaffrey.

Besides, how’s ET gonna call home?

Frances E. Scanlon, Esq.
Flushing

Eco-Warriors

To The Editor: The environmental activist mindset is curiously ironic. They denigrate our military engagements in the Middle East as smoke screens to grab local oil reserves, then fight tooth and nail against any efforts to develop the vast energy resources here at home.

The eco-warriors fail to correlate restricted energy at home with dangerous energy consumption abroad.

The American economy needs energy to run. If eco-warriors cannot stomach domestic oil and natural gas development, then they must reconcile sending our soldiers into harm’s way to secure foreign energy sources.

“Save the planet” types will no doubt argue that, on the contrary, renewables are the solution to America’s energy needs. But this position is implausible.

The Department of Energy has spent billions extending loans to flailing green tech companies. Remember Solyndra, the solar company that declared bankruptcy in September 2011 after receiving over half a billion dollars in governmentguaranteed loans? That’s just one of many renewable companies that have taken in massive amounts of American tax dollars and produced little to nothing in return.

An estimated $7.3 billion in federal tax subsidies will flow to renewable energy efforts this year. Despite all this support, solar, geothermal, hydro, wind, and biomass energy combined contribute a piffling nine percent to American energy production.

We can also thank eco-warriors for the most unsightly landscapes our nation has ever witnessed. Countless acres of American amber waves of grain are now pocked with miles of ugly, twirling contraptions. And for that abysmal eye- sore, wind is responsible for just a tiny fraction of America’s energy production.

There is a better way to meet our energy needs. Four years ago, the Canadian energy firm TransCanada initiated development of the Keystone XL pipeline to transport crude from Alberta oil sands to American refineries. Today, the project is mired in regulatory delays.

If completed, Keystone would greatly reduce America’s dependence on oil imported from unstable regimes. It would inject $5.3 billion worth of private investment into the U.S. economy, immediately create 16,000 shovel-ready jobs, and support tens of thousands additional positions over the next several decades.

Four separate government environmentalimpact statements have determined the pipeline poses no significant harm to the environment.

Additionally, policymakers need to ease up restrictions on innovative hydraulic fracturing or “fracking”. This technology enables energy developers to access previously unreachable oil and natural gas reserves.

In 2012, the Energy Information Administration reported that America saw its largest increase in oil output since the 1800s, in large part thanks to the expanded use of fracking. By 2017, the United States could overtake Saudi Arabia and Russia as the world’s largest oil producer. And natural gas obtained by fracking already accounts for 25 percent of U.S. energy.

As far as environmental concerns go, none other than Lisa Jackson, former head of the Environmental Protection Agency, has said that there have been “no proven cases where the fracking process itself has affected water”.

Still, the eco-naysayers call for delays on Keystone approval and fracking moratoriums for federal lands. Their result is enriched, unstable, foreign governments and endangered American soldiers—all in the name of saving the world. And we get the added benefit of those unsightly landscapes.

Retired Army Lt. Col. Steve Russell was involved in the capture of Saddam Hussein and is the author of We Got Him! A Memoir of the Hunt and Capture of Saddam Hussein. A military analyst for Concerned Veterans for America, he served as chairman of the Veterans Affairs Committee in the Oklahoma Senate.

LTC Steve Russell (Ret.)
Chairman, Vets for Victory
10600 S. Penn
Suite 16-284
Oklahoma City, OK 73170

Abominable Snowden

To The Editor:

Edward Snowden is not a human rights activist; he is a loathsome, abominable traitor and spy. He stated his aim was to inform the world about the surveillance programs operated by the NSA. He expressed concern that the U.S. government could monitor the communications of the U.S. public, but he did not say it occurred.

If Snowden is an activist who just wanted to expose the possible monitoring of the U.S. public, why did he go to Hong Kong (China), a totalitarian country opposed to democratic values and freedoms? Why did he go to China with his four laptops filled with NSA information, and probably allow the Chinese to copy the NSA material? If Snowden was concerned with the U.S. government infringing on our freedoms, why did he go to Russia, another totalitarian country opposed to our democratic values, a country who most likely copied the NSA information on his laptops?

Snowden could be a disgruntled individual who decided to get even with the U.S. over personal problems, possibly work related. His aim is to harm our national security. He should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law for breaking the trust we placed on him.

Donald A. Moskowitz
Londonderry, NH

Gianaris To DOT

A copy of this letter was received at the Queens
Gazette.
Janette Sadik-Khan
Commissioner
Department of Transportation
55 Water Street, 9th Floor
New York, NY 10041

Dear Commissioner Sadik-Khan,

I write to you on behalf of Dutch Kills residents who are concerned over increasingly unsafe traffic conditions in their community. I request that the Department of Transportation swiftly implement traffic safety improvements and step up enforcement of existing traffic laws in the area to make the streets of Dutch Kills safe for pedestrians.

I have been contacted by residents of Dutch Kills who no longer feel safe walking in their neighborhood. They not only cite a need for traffic safety improvements but also a need for stronger enforcement of existing traffic laws, as drivers in the area seem to disregard the rules of the road. As this area continues to grow more residential, it is important that infrastructure designed to control traffic in the area keeps up with the needs of the neighborhood.

In recent weeks residents have documented numerous accidents, including one just yesterday. Luckily, there have been no fatalities, but the area must be made safer before someone is seriously injured or worse. Dutch Kills needs stop signs, speed bumps and other traffic safety improvements. Drivers tearing through our neighborhood also need to know that if they break traffic laws they will be caught and punished.

As Dutch Kills grows with the rest of Western Queens, the city must ensure that its priority remains the safety of neighborhood residents. Too many accidents have occurred due to traffic planning that has not kept up with increased strains on our infrastructure. Immediate action in the form of traffic safety improvements and stronger enforcement of traffic laws needs to be taken to make our streets safer.

Sincerely,
Michael N. Gianaris
State Senator
cc: DOT Queens Commissioner Dalila Hall

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