for breaking news visit www.timesnewsweekly.com APRIL 23, 2015 • times 13 FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT www.couriersun.com APRIL 23, 2015 • THE COURIER SUN 23 oped letters Irate at Cuomo over state budget perks The 2015 state budget is a travesty for the average New York resident. Governor Cuomo and the Republican-controlled state Senate have eliminated many taxes on the wealthy, including sales taxes on yachts costing over $230,000 and private planes. State Senator Sanders of South Ozone Park remarked that when he tried to find yacht and jet owners in his district, he couldn’t find any. There are none in my district either. The senate also lowered the top estate tax rate, increased the threshold from $1.1 million to $5.5 million and indexed future estate taxes to inflation. In addition, lawmakers voted to raise their own salaries, but refused to increase the minimum wage or index it to inflation. Instead of increasing funding for public schools, charter schools will now receive the same amount of money per student as public schools. Charter schools are publicly financed but privately run and by law, they must be given free space in our public schools. If we don’t protect our public school system, we will have a hodgepodge of privately run schools with little oversight and accountability. Once again, politicians have voted to provide loopholes for the rich and powerful at the expense of the average person. Governor Cuomo calls himself a Democrat, but Republican state Senate Leader Dean Skelos calls him a “good moderate Republican.” Now that Cuomo has shown his true colors, he needn’t bother to pursue higher office, because Democrats will not be fooled into voting for him again. Linda Imhauser, Whitestone Oversight of Federal Reserve long overdue The Federal Reserve Bank has controlled our economy since its creation 100 years ago. It has encouraged investment “bubbles” with large expansion of credit and cash. It has caused financial “busts” and ruin by suddenly limiting credit and lessening the cash supply. The Federal Reserve Bank is a corporation with a board consisting of representatives of large international investment banks. Even though the president has an apparent say as to who will be the head of the Federal Reserve Board, the policies are decided by the bankers. The fact that so much of our economy is affected by the board’s decisions and involves public trust suggests an examination and oversight of their banking would be in order. The “Fed” operates in secrecy. Its loans are guaranteed by our tax funds. When we see prices go up dramatically, the Federal Reserve is the cause. The large profits flow to the banks. Any bank in the U.S. is subject to audit and examination to prevent fraud, embezzlement and other crimes affecting depositors. The same standard of accountability needs to be applied to the “Fed” for the same reasons. If people were angels, we wouldn’t need government oversight, but they are not. Neither is the Fed. Vytautas Vileniskis, Fresh Meadows Council budget shortchanges cash-strapped MTA It appears that City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and Council members have failed to provide any additional funding to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) in their proposed new $77 billion municipal budget. These funds are needed to help bridge the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s $15.2 billion shortfall in the proposed five-year 2015- 2019 $32 billion Capital Program. This deficit will result in the MTA having to make some difficult choices in deciding how to prioritize the expenditures of scarce resources. The result will be consideration for deferral of many critical capital improvement projects into the next 2020- 2024 five-year Capital Program. Riders can look forward to additional service delays and more fare increases beyond the next scheduled for 2017. Many Council members have staff to drive them around town along with private parking privileges at City Hall. How many ever considered using mass transit for commuting to work like millions of their constituents do daily? Do any Council members have a MetroCard and use it regularly? Check out the City Hall parking lot when the Council is in session and see for yourself. Larry Penner, Great Neck A LOOK BACK We bet many readers in the Glendale and Middle Village area would have a hard time recognizing this place, even though it’s right near their border. This January 1936 photo shows 80th Street looking north at the Long Island Rail Road crossing in Glendale, long before the city constructed a bridge over the tracks. Two historic structures are included in this picture: the silos of the Eagle Coal Company (at left) and the Hemmerdinger Building (at right) at the heart of what was once Atlas Terminals. Though the Eagle Coal towers are long gone, the Hemmerdinger building was converted into office space at The Shops at Atlas Park. A human life is worth far more than $50 By CITy COuNCILWOmAN KAREN KOSLOWITz A constituent contacted my office informing me that she had been injured while riding in an Accessa Ride vehicle. The circumstances were that the driver of the van had been texting while driving and rear-ended a vehicle. She wanted to know, among other things, what was the penalty for such behavior. I researched the matter, wanting to know myself what were the penalties. You cannot imagine my disbelief when I discovered that under existing law, if your texting while driving contributes to someone’s death the punishment is a fine ranging from $50 up to $200. Imagine someone losing their life due to another’s willful negligence and $50 settles the matter. I decided to attempt to do something to criminalize this type of behavior. I will submit to the New York City Council for their consideration on April 28 a resolution calling upon the state legislature to criminalize “distracted driving” that results in death or serious injury. Distracted driving is defined in law as “using a hand-held electronic device while driving.” I am urging Albany lawmakers to create laws which make distracted driving that contributes to a death a felony, and that which causes serious physical injury, as defined in the state Penal Law, a misdemeanor. The City Council does not have the legislative ability to pass a felony sanction, only the state. This is why Albany needs to be petitioned in the form of a Resolution. There is no question that cellphone use is a major factor in the carnage that we are witnessing on the roadways. A study by the National Safety Council concluded that: • Reported cellphone use while driving leads to 1.6 million crashes each year. • Nearly 330,000 injuries occur each year from accidents caused by texting while driving. • 1 out of every 4 car accidents in the United States is caused by texting and driving. • Texting while driving is six times more likely to cause an accident than driving drunk. • Answering a text takes away your attention for about 5 seconds. Traveling at 55 mph, that’s enough time to travel the length of a football field. • Texting while driving causes a 400 percent increase in time spent with eyes off the road. Despite this clear correlation between distracted driving and vehicular accidents, the public does not seem to be serious about the gravity of the situation. According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control: • 31 percent of U.S. drivers ages 18-64 reported that they had read or sent text messages or email messages while driving at least once within the 30 days before they were surveyed. • 69 percent of drivers in the United States ages 18-64 reported that they had talked on their cellphone while driving within the 30 days before they were surveyed. It was too many years before society took drinking and driving seriously. The time has long past whereby distracted driving needs to be recognized statutorily for the menace it is. A human life must be worth more than 50 dollars. Councilwoman Koslowitz represents the 29th City Council District, which includes all or parts of Forest Hills, Kew Gardens, Rego Park and Richmond Hill.
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