TIMES, THURSDAY, JULY 3, 2014 • 24 At Hearing & Protest, Rowdy Residents Blast Elmhurst Homeless Shelter Among those who spoke during the hearing’s public forum was resident Regina Pratt, who claimed safety was taking a backseat in an effort to house “people that don’t want to work.” She also took umbrage with Pan American security, claiming to have witnessed shelter residents drinking and using drugs after hours. “Our crime has already started going up,” she said. “They’re out there at 11 o’clock drinking so the cameras obviously aren’t working.” Resident Howard Moskowitz asked “I wonder why there is another homeless shelter in my neighborhood.” “We are already overburdened. We will not be bulldozed into complacency,” he said. Robert Valdes-Clausell, a member of the Newtown Civic Association, said “my first question is where is the owner of the Pan- Am? I don’t see him here.” He plans to file a request under the Freedom Of Information Law to investigate the process that ended with homeless housed at the hotel, and implied that a shady backroom deal between the city and the owner was likely. He stated the building was sold recently and, for the amount paid, operating a hotel was not financially realistic for the rates that would be charged. “There’s a $16 million mortgage on that property. No one would have done that unless profit was coming,” he said. Apple further attempted to tamper the controversy by vowing to work with the community from this point forward. “We will have a community advisory board and a hotline will be accessible and available to you. That is our commitment, so we can have a civil and open dialogue.” Stevens, DHS first commissioner, spoke on the challenges the city faces housing homeless. There are 54,000 people currently in shelters, “this is a city-wide crisis and 23,000 are children,” she said. “In NYC we have a right to shelter.” Bill Kregler, a member of Community Education Council District 24 addressed the strain he believes more families will put on already overcrowded local schools. “CEC 24 is the most heavily populated school district in the city. There are no seats for these 90 families,” he said. Kregler addressed previous statements made by Black at a May public hearing in Middle Village on the proposed Glendale homeless shelter. At the time, she claimed the Pan Am was unsuitable for use as a homeless shelter. “You were misled. You were lied to by public officials. The big picture is people lied,” Kregler told the crowd. Further, he believes Samaritan Village and DHS should be investigated and believes “subpoenas (should) be issued,” and “sworn testimony for an investigation,” is necessary to hold people responsible. John Schaeffer, a member of the Communities Of Maspeth and Elmhurst Together (COMET) civic association, believes reports of homeless shelters on Queens Boulevard in the center of the -CONTINUED FROM PG. 1- Nearly a thousand protestors rallied against the placement of homeless at the Pan-Am Hotel, holding signs and chanting while a hearing was held on the issue inside the Queensboro Elks Lodge in Elmhurst Monday, June 30. (photo: Noah Zuss) Ben Carson News & Opinion -CONTINUED FROM PG. 4- have a difficult time obtaining congressional approval. This administration seems to have a penchant for redefining words to make them conform to its ideology. Obviously, if an individual can redefine anything anytime he wants to, he can manipulate virtually any situation into a favorable position for himself. If he is clever and no one notices, he can fundamentally change the foundational fabric of a society. Passing a law in the usual legitimate fashion and then unilaterally changing that law is another thing this administration seems to cherish. Obamacare is a prime example of this tactic. For example, it would be like a ruler and his council passing a law against the growing of Brussels sprouts, much to the pleasure of his constituents. He then discovers that his favorite brother, who lives in Province A, is the largest farmer of Brussels sprouts in the region and is also his biggest financial supporter. He then unilaterally amends the law to exclude Province A, much to the displeasure of the populace, about whom he cares nothing. The point is that it is inconsistent with fairness to establish rules and then change them in the middle of the game without the consent of the other participants. This article and many others could be spent detailing all of the instances that support the argument for executive branch overreach, but the truly important thing is to begin asking ourselves how we can reestablish a truly cooperative and harmonious balance of power aimed not at the enhancement of one political party or the other, but rather at providing life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for the people. This is clearly what the people want, as indicated by their voting to put a liberal president in the White House and a conservative majority in the House of Representatives. The people of this country are not comfortable with runaway government in either direction. Some will say that previous presidents issued even more executive orders than Obama. In some cases, this is true, but it is not the number of executive orders that is important. Rather, it is the effect of those orders, how they impact society and what precedents they set. When something is clearly wrong, citing a previous misdeed by someone else does not serve as adequate justification. This is like the kid who gets in trouble for hitting someone and says, “He hit me first.” Because there is so much childish behavior in Washington, perhaps government officials need the same explanation as the children who fight: No one should be hitting anyone, and we should divert that energy to understanding the nature of the conflict and resolving it. Civil conversations obviously would go a long way toward helping us as a nation to solve our problems. However, as Saul Alinsky said, “Never have a conversation with your adversary, because that humanizes him, and your job is to demonize him.” This is why we see so much name-calling and fingerpointing these days, which is antithetical to our success as a nation. When the pendulum swings once again to the right, it is vitally important that people with common sense govern according to the Constitution and in a way that respects the separation of powers. There can be no picking and choosing of laws to enforce, and no favoritism. The only special-interest group that should be considered is the American people. Ben S. Carson is professor emeritus of neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins University and author of the new book “One Nation: What We Can All Do To Save America’s Future” (Sentinel). IF YOU SEE BREAKING NEWS CALL The Times Newsweekly at 1-718-821-7500 News From The JPCA DHS Commissioner Taylor To Homeless: Drop Dead! Last month, Gary Giordano, District Manager of Community Board 5, wrote a letter to Gilbert Taylor, commissioner of the Department of Homeless Services (DHS), which included questions and concerns of proposing a homeless shelter next to a large chemical storage facility. Samaritan Village, a not-for-profit organization, and DHS have proposed a 125-unit transitional housing facility at 78-16 Cooper Ave. in Glendale. On Tuesday, June 24, Mr. Giordano received Commissioner Taylor’s response. Among other things, Taylor said in a two-page letter, that “the clients’ (homeless families) experience living next to a chemical plant adjacent to the Cooper Avenue property will not be dissimilar to those residents who have lived in the proximity to the facility for years.” But Robert Holden, president of the Juniper Park Civic Association, said that Commissioner Taylor’s response is both irresponsible and callous. “There are only a few homes that are located across the railroad tracks and none as close as the proposed shelter,” he said. “I don’t believe anyone, given a choice, would choose to live next to a dangerous chemical plant filled with highly flammable and toxic chemicals.” Yet that's exactly what the DHS and Samaritan Village are proposing for more than 300 women and children who don't have a say in the matter. Last month, Holden visited 79th Place (just south of Cooper Avenue) and revealed that Independent Chemical Corporation produces and stores hundreds of chemicals in two buildings next to the proposed shelter. Dozens of plastic drums labeled “hydrochloric acid” can be seen from the street; many were stored outside within feet of shelter. Concentrated hydrochloric acid (also known as fuming hydrochloric acid) forms acidic mists. Both the mist and the solution have a corrosive effect on human tissue, with the potential to damage respiratory organs, eyes, skin, and intestines irreversibly. Chemical plant is a danger on many levels Dr. James Cervino, a scientist and expert in the field of hazardous chemicals, contamination (water or soil) and its impacts on humans and marine life, said that this site is dangerous and many of the chemicals are cancer causing, caustic to breathe, and can cause blistering third-degree burns to the skin if the drums are opened/damaged by a super storm event, as well as accidental occurrence. Dr. Cervino agrees that this facility is a severe fire hazard. Plant owner worries about July 4 fireworks display near plant In fact Jonathan Spielman, an owner of Independent Chemical Corporation, said in front of NY1 reporter Ruschell Boone and civic leaders that he most worries about the Fourth of July and the dangers of fireworks hitting the facility. To compound Mr. Spielman’s worries, the Atlas Park Mall, located less than a block from his chemical plant, plans a fireworks display on July 5. borough is bad for local businesss and could frighten tourists away. “My first question to the mayor is what is going on with our tourist trade here in central Queens. We’re actually losing income for the city by closing down the hotel,” he said. “The Pan Am hotel is the only major hotel here. When they come to Queens, they spend money at our businesses. This decision brings a bad reputation to the hotel business in central Queens,” he added.
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