FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT www.qns.com NOVEMBER 12, 2015 • THE QUEENS COURIER 29 for breaking news visit www.qns.com NOVEMBER 12, 2015 • times 13 oped A LOOK BACK letters & comments ‘DARWINIAN DIVISION’ ON THE 7 LINE My husband and I decided to move to Sunnyside more than 2 1/2 years ago. There were four factors weighing our decision, including that it had one of the best trains in New York, the reliable and frequent No. 7. It was with sadness and frustration that we came to the conclusion that the train was not for us. In order to get to the platform, you have to climb more than 60 steps in a steep incline, and we are no longer young people. I am in my early 70s, and my husband is in his early 80s, and he has a history of heart problems. Getting to the train involved being exhausted before the trip even begun. We are talking about at least a third of the population (probably more) who are either elderly, handicapped or have young children in carriages, and have no access to the 7 train, and have to content themselves with the much slower buses, traffi c congestion and street construction. While getting to Grand Central Station from the 40th Street stop takes less than 20 minutes by train, doing it by bus can amount to between 45 and 60 minutes. There are no elevators or escalators until you get to Woodside-61st Street. That is a very long section of the 7 line without senior or handicapped access. It has almost become a Darwinian division: the strongest and fi ttest in the train, the old and weaker in the bus. I have tried to reach representatives from the MTA, Mayor de Blasio’s offi ce and Councilman Van Bramer in order to get an answer to the question of train accessibility. I feel that it is unfair that so many vulnerable people have to suffer the problems created by lack of access to the 7 train. Diana Saal, Sunnyside SCHOOL ‘PEN PALS’ AN IMPERFECT SOLUTION TO PROMOTING DIVERSITY Chancellor Carmen Farina wants kids from across the city to “understand that they live in different neighborhoods, but they’re basically the same kind of kids.” She wants to connect kids of different “backgrounds” by making them “pen pals.” We all know what Farina means with her vague observations. Kids are reminded by innumerable prompts in their daily lives of those “basics” and disparities. No need to spell it our with precision and clarity. Ambiguity avoids infl ammation. The “pen pal” idea is a harmless, scaleddown, intellectualized social-engineering project that may be a “baby step” toward achieving the DOE’s diversity goals. It’s certainly no equalizer and isn’t billed as one. The narrow lens of children’s perspectives won’t be long affected after they look out their windows. But if the pen pal correspondence is free and not edited by adults, it will open up avenues and minds, at least a little. But how will it be implemented? Chancellor Farina raised the concept at a Town Hall meeting in response to a question about how she would make the city’s “elite high schools” more demographically representative. Was the “pen pal” notion a fully evolved plan at that moment, an unformed suggestion under consideration, or maybe just a spontaneous and whimsical reply? Whether or not pen pals come from the “designer” side of the tracks, they all have their struggles and they all belong to the humanity brand. So let there be commerce between them! Ron Isaac, Fresh Meadows LETTER GRADING THE CITY: WHY M/WBEs ARE A KEY TO OUR ECONOMIC FUTURE BY NEW YORK CITY COMPTROLLER SCOTT M. STRINGER Earlier this month, I issued my second-annual “Making the Grade” report, which examines how effective city agencies have been in engaging minority and women-owned businesses (M/ WBEs). The results, while an improvement over last year, were not encouraging. We looked at how 31 city agencies and the c o m p t r o l l e r ’ s offi ce spent more than $13.8 billion to purchase everything from pens and stationary to auditing and food services. There were some bright spots—one agency, Housing Preservation and Development, received an ‘A,’ and eight agencies scored higher this year than last. But there were also far too many low grades, with four agencies declining, and 20 seeing no progress at all. And when we looked at the city as a whole, we found that just 5.3 percent of the total budget was spent with fi rms owned by women, blacks, Asians and Latinos. In a city as diverse as New York, 5.3 percent is unacceptably low, and as a result the city’s overall letter grade was a D+. Today, there are more than 46,000 vendors doing business with the city, of which less than 2 percent are minority or women-owned. It’s clear that we have our work cut out for us. We also made a few recommendations: Subcontracting, for example, needs a lot more focus. Here’s why it’s important: subcontracting provides M/ WBEs and other small fi rms a way into the system, and can offer them the best chance to compete for city contracts. So it’s essential for us to be able to track how much work is going to these fi rms. And we should be able to—regulations require city agencies to collect data about subcontracting from the fi rms they work with. But two-thirds of them just aren’t doing it. This has to change – we need every city agency to deliver subcontracting data so we can get a clear picture of how much work is really going to M/WBEs, and how much is going elsewhere. In addition, the city is ramping up a new disparity study, which will show whether M/WBEs are getting their fair share of city business. We’re calling on the administration to make sure the study adheres to best practices and the highest possible standards. Finally, we’re looking to all city agencies to redouble their efforts and bring their grades up before next year’s report. The bottom line is that all of these goals are attainable. We have the power to give these fi rms contracts, so they can grow, hire from local communities and spread economic opportunity to every part of this city. Boosting spending with M/WBEs is one of the best tools we have to put a dent in income inequality, and empower New Yorkers to achieve the American dream. A LOOK BACK With eyes turning toward the holiday season, we thought we’d share this photo of friends gathering together at a Ridgewood bar during the 1940s. The picture was taken at a time when local taverns, such as the former Linden Inn at the corner Myrtle Avenue and Linden Street, served free roast beef and roast pork sandwiches along with beer and other beverages. Have an old time photo of Queens that you’d like to share with our readers? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to A Look Back, c/o Queens Courier, 38-15 Bell Blvd., Bayside, NY 11361. All mailed photographs will be carefully returned to you.
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