Op-Ed Letters to the Editor
Finding secure retirement
for all working New Yorkers
BY DEBRA ROBLES
For New Yorkers who have spent our lives
working hard, retirement should be the time
we fi nally get to relax and enjoy our families
and free time. But for too many of us, retirement
is out of reach.
I’m 62 years old. I’ve been working since
I was 16. For many of those years I had access
to a pension and other retirement savings
accounts, and I was able to put money away.
But when my mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s
disease, I had to stop working so I
could care for her. Like the many other Boomers
who fi nd themselves in similar situations,
instead of saving for retirement, I had to take
money out of my savings to stay afl oat.
Now I’m back in the workforce, but this
time around I couldn’t fi nd a job that offers
a retirement savings plan. I’m not alone. Millions
of New Yorkers are in the same boat. In
New York State, over half of all private sector
employees 18- to 64-years-old lack access to a
workplace retirement savings plan. The number
is over 60% for Millennials (18 to 34 years
old), higher than any other age group. Many
of us wonder: will retirement ever be within
That’s why I support the Retirement Security
for All legislation that Councilmembers
Ben Kallos and I. Daneek Miller introduced in
the City Council last month.
Under their proposed law, employers with
more than fi ve employees would enable workers
to deduct a percentage of their pay to retirement
savings accounts. Employees would
be able to opt-out at any time. An estimated
2.8 million working New Yorkers would get
access to a retirement plan and employers
wouldn’t even have to pay for it – the city
would cover the costs of setting up the plans.
This is exactly what we need.
According to AARP’s “High Anxiety” report,
over one-third of Gen-Xers and over
40% of Boomers have no retirement savings
at all. We know that people are 15 times more
likely to save for retirement if they have access
to an employer-sponsored plan. Council
Members Kallos and Miller’s plan is just the
solution we need.
People clearly want to save for retirement,
and they know that they should. But in my experience,
most working New Yorkers are busy
taking care of themselves and their families,
and it’s hard to even know where to get started
to set up a retirement plan.
If passed, Retirement Security for All
wouldn’t cost businesses or taxpayers. I know
that many small businesses in New York are
also struggling. So one of the things I like
about this legislation is that no public money
will go into the accounts, and it doesn’t require
employers to contribute. All they’d have
to do is handle the paperwork. I think most
employers want their employees to be fi nancially
secure and would be happy to do this
small thing to help make it happen.
As a lifelong New Yorker, I want to see my
city do right by its residents. Passing Retirement
Security for All is a smart and simple way
to help us enjoy the retirement we deserve.
Debra Robles lives in East Harlem.
Seven years ago, the East
River swamped the FDR Drive
and reached the edge of my
building on the Lower East
Side. The fi ve days after Sandy
were traumatic: power and
communications down, dark
streets and radio reports of the
elderly stranded in the taller
buildings of Co-op Village
where I live.
I am haunted by images of
hundreds swarming white vans
to charge phones, of people
carrying buckets of water along
Grand Street and fl oating cars
careening under the Williamsburg
These memories coordinate
with the City’s concerns on protecting
thousands with planned
infrastructure in the 100-year
fl ood plain overlapping a swath
of the Lower East Side.
The City of New York has
worked on a plan whose fi rst
component is before the City
Council. It’s a good start, adequately
funded by the city and
the federal government.
It’s called the East Side Coastal
Resiliency Project (ESCR)
and we should approve it.
Approve it, because it makes
a park for the next century - a
landscape that protects people
Approve it, since it will create
a universally accessible,
continuous landscape - removing
awkward ramps, steep
stairs and bike resistant paths.
Approve it, because it’s not a
hard seawall but soft, integrating
its fl ood protection into a
landscape - not on top of one.
Criticism has focused on its
construction and the city needs
to continue answering questions
regarding interim recreation
fi elds and storm protection
as well as retaining historic
components like the Seal Park,
while promoting its quality design.
Caught between painful
memories of post-Sandy conditions
and a healthy skepticism
of local government my view
of the plan is not without concerns.
However, I maintain that city
partners and their designers,
engineers and environmental
experts will deliver the protection
We need to remember what
we endured and how we rely on
a city to survive the kind of destruction
it left when we evaluate
projects of this kind.
A universally accessible park
with trees that can survive a
salty, swollen East River, embedded
in a natural berm providing
fl ood protection, is a
good plan and demonstrates
our urban design ingenuity.
We should support the East
Side Coastal Resiliency Project
and ask the City Council to approve
its ULURP application.
William J. Rockwell
Regarding the bill to ban
overnight parking for garbage
trucks on city streets: DSNY
should fact check before commenting.
The trucks parked
on 10th Street do not provide
services to this area–they are
assigned to garbage services
above 14th Street. This lack
of knowledge does not give us
much confi dence.
On the special permits for
hotels near Union Square: City
Councilwoman Carlina Rivera
has reneged on every commitment
she made in her campaign
regarding preservation and opposing
out of context building in the
area south of 14th Street.
She has clearly been a stooge
for big real estate money and
the corrupt de Blasio administration
from day one of her tenure
on the City Council.
What a major disappointment
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Quite the view...
PHOTO BY TODD MAISEL
A bird’s eye view of the 49th New York City Marathon run on Nov. 3.
Schneps Media November 7, 2019 13