FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT WWW.QNS.COM JULY 25, 2019 • THE QUEENS COURIER 29
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Cuomo’s MTA plan isn’t
worth the aggravation
BY LARRY PENNER
Governor Cuomo’s reorganization
plan, like all his
previous special commissions
and advisory committee
reports, is not worth
the paper it was printed on.
Promised savings by
consolidation NYC Transit,
Long Island Rail Road and
departments have been
discussed and promised for decades by every generation
of MTA chairman, board members, executive
management and elected offi cials since the 1980s.
Th is never happened due to work rules, seniority
and contracts between diff erent labor unions at NYC
Transit, LIRR and Metro-North.
Th e same applies to anticipated savings by contracting
out work to the private sector. Th ese savings
are elusive due to union work rules, union contracts
and safety concerns for non MTA employees performing
construction on active track.
It makes no sense for the MTA to reassign management
of major NYC Transit, LIRR and MNRR capital
projects to Offi ce of Capital Construction. All
three operating agencies already have their own experienced
engineers, operations planning, procurement,
force account, quality assurance and control
employees. Th ey have successfully managed numerous
Superstorm Sandy along with other Federal
Transit Administration and local funded capital projects.
In many cases, they were completed on time,
within budget, with few design or change orders.
MTA union work rules sometimes prevent contracting
out work to the private sector. Th ird-party
private contractors require NYC Transit, LIRR and
Metro-North agency Force Account (their employees)
to provide both supervision and protection,
when they work on or adjacent to active right of way
track. Th ere are sometimes excessive numbers of
MTA supervisory or employees assigned.
At upcoming contract negotiations, the MTA
must insist that future union contracts include more
fl exible work assignments. Salary increases should
match the consumer price index. Employees need to
increase contributions toward medical insurance and
retirement pensions just as we do.
Future pensions must be calculated based on the
fi nal year’s base salary and not infl ated by overtime.
Allow employees to remain part time while collecting
a portion of their pension. Th is aff ords experienced
employees time to train replacements and be
available during emergencies. Allow unions to bid on
projects like the private sector. Off er union employees
bonuses like outside vendors when completing
projects ahead of schedule or under budget. Share
these cost savings with union employees.
Stop wasting millions on transportation feasibility
studies for future system expansion projects that
will never happen. Do not initiate any new system
expansion projects until each operating agency, NYC
Transit bus and subway, MTA bus, LIRR and Metro-
North have reached a state of good repair for existing
fl eet, stations, signals, interlockings, track, power,
yards and shops.
Without these changes, it will continue to be the
Larry Penner is a transportation historian, writer
and advocate who previously worked 31 years for
the Federal Transit Administration Region 2 New
York Offi ce.
I would like to off er my sincere
thanks once again to Congressman
Tom Suozzi for his continued support
for those living with Alzheimer’s
Disease and their caregivers. He has
recently agreed to co-sponsor two
very important pieces of legislation,
the More HOPE for Alzheimer’s Act
and the Younger Onset Alzheimer’s
Th e HOPE Act would educate providers
and individuals living with
dementia about the reimbursement
under Medicare for care planning
services. It is important that, aft er a
diagnosis of Alzheimer’s, patients and
their families are apprised of services
available in the community to assist
them during the long road that they
are about to embark upon.
Th is type of care planning consultation
would have been very helpful
when my mother was diagnosed.
Instead, we were pretty much left to
fend for ourselves.
Over 200,000 people under the
age of 60 have been diagnosed with
Alzheimer’s Disease. Individuals living
with younger-onset Alzheimer’s
primarily show symptoms of the disease
beginning in their 50s, but some
show signs of the disease as early
as their 30s or 40s. Without this
Younger-Onset Act, these individuals
and their families are unable to qualify
for much-needed assistance under
the Older Americans Act.
Th e nutritional programs, in-home
services, transportation, legal services
and respite care would have been
invaluable to my mother, who was
diagnosed at age 57, and my father
and me, who were her primary caregivers.
We look forward to continuing to
work with Congressman Suozzi to
make life more bearable for those
suff ering with this disease and their
families and to provide funding for
research necessary to fi nd a cure for
this horrible disease.
Kathy Distler, Jericho, Alzheimer’s
to Congressman Suozzi
LOUD PRAISE FOR
Anyone who thinks that silent and
black-and-white fi lms are “something
that mass audience wouldn’t care to
see” (“Grassroots Forest Hills fi lm festival
enters the big leagues with new
name and scale,” QNS.com, July 11)
hasn’t been among an audience of
hundreds at the Silent Clowns Film
Series in Manhattan.
Th ey also haven’t been among the
equally enthusiastic crowds that regularly
show up for the laughs to be
found at Th at Slapstick Show’s early
black-and-white comedy shorts
and Cartoon Carnival’s silent and
early sound animated shorts, both
at various locations in Queens and
Joel Schlosberg, Bayside
STILL TIME TO PREPARE
As this 2019 Atlantic hurricane season
continues, are we here in the New
York City area better prepared to deal
with another major storm?
While there have been some
improvements in the infrastructure
since Tropical Storm Irene in 2011
and Hurricane Sandy in 2012, much
more work needs to be done. So
much of our coastal areas remains
very vulnerable to fl ooding from high
tides and storm surges, and there are
many buildings and residences near
and along the coastal areas that have
not been reconstructed at a higher
level to avoid serious fl ooding.
Also, there are many areas where
utility lines continue to be overhead,
which will result in massive power
outages during and aft er a major
hurricane. Th e arboricultural landscape
would suff er major losses, as
thousands of trees would be uprooted
or seriously damaged by very high
winds, which could also contribute
to damage to both public and private
With the continued erratic climatic
conditions, there is no time like
the present to increase the pace at
which many more signifi cant infrastructure
upgrades can be made. Th e
federal government also needs to step
up to the plate and release additional
funding via FEMA to assist state and
local governments with the necessary
upgrades in infrastructure.
Our climate continues to change
rapidly, and we cannot aff ord to continue
to waste precious and critical
John Amato, Fresh Meadows
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