editorial 26 THE QUEENS COURIER • MARCH 17, 2016 FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT www.qns.com SNAPS QUEENS SPRING IS COMING/ PHOTO BY MICHELLE LONG Send us your photos of Queens and you could see them online or in our paper! Submit them to us tag @queenscourier on Instagram, Facebook page, tweeting @queenscourier or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org (subject: Queens Snaps). Hate graffi ti must be stopped Some may call it art, but graffi ti illegally painted or etched onto properties in Queens is often viewed as a blight on the borough. For the most part, the tags painted are personal symbols made by individuals looking to make a statement, the rule of law be damned. Too often, however, graffi ti turns out to be more than a few colorful letters strung together; they often serve as signs of gang activity or even racism in one of the most diverse places on Earth. The state Senate recently passed legislation increasing penalties against convicted graffi ti vandals, with the highest penalties going toward those who paint gang symbols on public property or defaced property within places of worship. Those individuals would face a class E felony charge punishable by up to four years in prison — a far cry from a year in jail and/or lengthy community service that most graffi ti vandals currently face. We applaud the state Senate for its proactive efforts to further punish graffi ti vandals, and we encourage the Assembly to also pass this bill and send it to Governor Andrew Cuomo for his signature. Over the years, this paper has covered numerous incidents of graffi ti vandalism across Queens, several of which involved hateful statements or symbols being painted or etched onto public property. Last year, we wrote about anti-gay statements and pornographic images drawn all over a Howard Beach school and anti-Asian messages written into wet cement slabs on a Flushing sidewalk. Both times, the community acted fast to erase the vandalism from public view, but more than just a swift cleanup must be done to stop such abhorrent acts of vandalism from happening in the future. Passing this bill is more critical than ever, as this nation is going through a tumultuous presidential campaign in which intolerance is rearing its ugly head nationwide. New York must send a message that it will not allow hateful people to tarnish the Empire State with symbols of hate. Independent panel needed to examine homeless crisis New York City is taking the extraordinary step of having the Police Department oversee security in homeless shelters across the fi ve boroughs. This action, which Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on March 15, comes on the heels of damning reports by the New York Daily News and NY-1 regarding the lack of security and safety in the shelter system citywide. The News report found that there were 1,687 “critical incidents” of violence in city shelters last year, averaging about four per day. Half of the episodes were domestic violence, with 21 percent resulting in removal and/or arrest of shelter residents. Another 19 percent were assaults between shelter residents that led to an arrest; 11 percent were sexual assaults or rape attempts. Property theft cases were also rampant systemwide, according to the News report. The reports confi rm what many advocates and even homeless individuals themselves have long feared; that the shelters in which more than 59,000 people reside every night are far from safe havens, and that the city hasn’t done nearly enough to keep all residents safe. New Yorkers of all walks of life should be outraged that this has come to pass. No homeless person should feel they are better off on the street than in an emergency shelter. Beyond merely investigating operations at the Department of Homeless Services, the city needs a more thorough inquiry of the homeless crisis and its response to it. We urge the mayor to form an independent commission to examine the situation from top to bottom and adopt reforms ensuring that the shelter system is made safe for all residents. THE QUEENS PUBLISHER & EDITOR CO-PUBLISHER ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER EDITOR-IN-CHIEF VP, EVENTS, WEB & SOCIAL MEDIA ART DIRECTOR ASSISTANT TO PUBLISHER ASSISTANT ART DIRECTOR ARTISTS STAFF REPORTERS WEB EDITOR CONTRIBUTING REPORTERS EVENTS MANAGER CLASSIFIED MANAGER CONTROLLER PRESIDENT & CEO VICE PRESIDENT VICTORIA SCHNEPS-YUNIS JOSHUA A. SCHNEPS BOB BRENNAN ROBERT POZARYCKI AMY AMATO-SANCHEZ NIRMAL SINGH ALAN SELTZER STEPHEN REINA RON TORINA, JENNIFER DECIO, CHERYL GALLAGHER KATRINA MEDOFF, ANTHONY GIUDICE, ANGELA MATUA RAISA CAMARGO KATARINA HYBENOVA CLIFF KASDEN, SAMANTHA SOHMER, ELIZABETH ALONI DEMETRA PLAGAKIS CELESTE ALAMIN MARIA VALENCIA VICTORIA SCHNEPS-YUNIS JOSHUA A. SCHNEPS Schneps Communications, 38-15 Bell Blvd., Bayside, NY 11361 718-224-5863 • Fax 718-224-5441 www.qns.com editorial e-mail: email@example.com for advertising e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Entire Contents Copyright 2016 by The Queens Courier All letters sent to THE QUEENS COURIER should be brief and are subject to condensing. Writers should include a full address and home and offi ce telephone numbers, where available, as well as affi liation, indicating special interest. Anonymous letters are not printed. Name withheld on request. LETTERS TO THE EDITOR, AS WELL AS OP-ED PIECES IN NO WAY REFLECT THE PAPER’S POSITION. No such ad or any part thereof may be reproduced without prior permission of THE QUEENS COURIER. The publishers will not be responsible for any error in advertising beyond the cost of the space occupied by the error. Errors must be reported to THE QUEENS COURIER within fi ve days of publication. Ad position cannot be guaranteed unless paid prior to publication. Schneps Communications assumes no liability for the content or reply to any ads. The advertiser assumes all liability for the content of and all replies. The advertiser agrees to hold THE QUEENS COURIER and its employees harmless from all cost, expenses, liabilities, and damages resulting from or caused by the publication or recording placed by the advertiser or any reply to any such advertisement. politics and more A TALE OF TWO TOWN HALLS On Feb. 29, Mayor Bill de Blasio visited Bayside for his fi rst town hall in the neighborhood since taking offi ce in 2014. The forum, hosted by local Councilman Paul Vallone at the Clearview Self-Help Senior Center, was a chance for residents to ask the mayor their favorite questions on everything ranging from potholes to prostitution in massage parlors. Interestingly though, two separate events took place that evening. The main stage, where the media was invited, included the mayor with his commissioners, taking questions from some of Queen’s best-known and well-respected civic and community leaders. These leaders were, for the most part, cordial and well mannered in front of the mayor, even if there was an underlying policy disagreement somewhere in the mix. Queens Politics & More BY MIKE FRICCHIONE The other event, far more raucous and cantankerous, took place about 200 feet outside the main auditorium, inside an overfl ow room that broadcasted a closedcircuit video of the mayor in front of a steady fl ow of about 100 of Queens’ rankand fi le residents. These residents were far less shy about expressing their displeasure for some of the mayor’s policies. For example, there was more than obvious discomfort in the overfl ow room when de Blasio defended the $35,000-a-year pay hike for City Council members. “They work hard and many work all day long like Councilman Vallone here,” said de Blasio in defense after being asked the question. “Yeah, I work hard too,” yelled Frank from Flushing at the television screen, “and I never heard of anyone ever getting that kind of raise before.” “They are now limited from earning an outside income,” de Blasio almost seemed to say in response to Flushing Frank, through the television. But Flushing Frank, not be out-debated, shot back by saying, “That’s because half these people couldn’t hack it in the real world.” Having spent time in the main room insulated by cadre of political staffers and local politicians, I much preferred the other working alternative, which included wild bursts of unbridled passion that often straddled the line of appropriateness. When de Blasio punted on the issue of local residential zoning permits and the proliferation of “McMansions” saying, “It’s something the administration would look at,” Queens civic leaders quietly accepted the response fully knowing what that really meant, while the grunts took hold like a pack of pit bulls and voiced their displeasure amongst each other. Just another night in the world of Queens politics.
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