FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT www.qns.com FEBRUARY 4, 2016 • THE COURIER SUN 17 oped letters & comments HOMELESS SHELTERS ENRICHING LANDLORDS Since taking offi ce more than two years ago, Mayor de Blasio and the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) have converted at least nine hotels into homeless shelters, most of them in Queens and Brooklyn. There may be more as these conversions are usually made in a stealthy manner and some communities are not aware of the change over until months later, as the residents of Jamaica Hills have recently experienced. Although a few of these conversions were legal, the majority were converted illegally, with no notifi cation to the community or elected offi cials until the 11th hour when it was already a “done deal.” By unilaterally and recklessly converting every hotel that is available into homeless shelters, the mayor is depleting precious accommodations for tourists and visitors to New York City. By permitting hotels to easily and illegally convert into homeless shelters, de Blasio is interfering with the natural laws of supply and demand at the expense of consumers. Since there are less accommodations available, hotel operators will ultimately increase their rates. This is disconcerting as Mayor de Blasio is not only making the landlords of homeless shelters extremely rich, he is making these hotel owners rich. If the cost of hotel accommodations continues to rise, how can anyone afford or want to host events in New York City? On Jan. 6, Samaritan Village re-submitted a revised and shortened Pan Am contract to the comptroller’s offi ce under a new entity called “Samaritan Daytop Village.” Since the last rejection back in September, no kitchens have been installed in the Pan Am shelter and there are still outstanding DOB, HPD and FDNY violations that have not been rectifi ed. As a watchdog of the taxpayers’ money, Comptroller Scott Stringer is in a unique position to set things right. As tax dollars should not be used to bail out banks that took excessive risk for their own personal gain, taxpayer dollars should not be used to subsidize the hotel industry either. I strongly urge the comptroller to reject the Pan Am contract for the fourth and fi nal time. Anna Orjuela, Elmhurst READER: WHY DO WE NEED TO WORRY ABOUT EQUAL PAY? For some time now we have been hearing our liberal Democratic politicians and candidates along with so called “advocates” demand equal pay for women. What I fi nd amazing is that either our politicians are clueless, ignorant or just trying to get publicity for themselves. If any of them or anyone in the media would take a few minutes they would fi nd out that the Federal Equal Pay Act of 1963 prohibits paying lower wages to employees on the basis of sex. I guess some politicians just want to pass more laws rather than learn about the laws already in place and enforce them. In addition, if you want to talk about pay inequality among the sexes, what about fashion models? The top female earner, Giselle Bundchen, earns about $40 million a year or so while the top male model earns about $1.5 million for the same type of work. What about tennis? The female and the male champions at the Grand Slam events earn the same prize money, yet the male players must win three sets while the females must win two sets per match, a 50 percent higher workload. Thomas Murawski, Glendale IS IT TOO LATE TO SAVE SOUTHEAST QUEENS? For years, hell decades, every imaginable thing has been dumped into Queens from poisonous waste facilities to homeless shelters, but yet it seemed very little was done from our elected leaders including folks like Archie Spignor, Leroy Comrie, Gregory Meeks, Vivian Cook and Williams Scarborough. They all had or have been in offi ce for decades while the community was pretty much a dumping ground for all kind of stuff. Now at least one, Councilman Miller, wants to do something, but isn’t it a little late after all this stuff has been dumped and the community has been turned into a low-class and poisonous ghetto. QNS user Joe TIME FOR A FAIR WAGE FOR NY CONTRACTORS BY COUNCIL MEMBERS ELIZABETH S. CROWLEY AND I. DANEEK MILLER New York City is undeniably experiencing an affordable housing crisis. To combat this problem, each year, the city provides hundreds of millions of dollars in grants and low-interest loans to developers building affordable housing. The city has committed to working with developers to spend nearly $25 billion on Housing New York, a plan that will bring affordable housing to all fi ve boroughs. Funded mainly through the New York City Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), the plan will build and preserve 200,000 affordable housing units in the city over 10 years. If our scarce city resources are so heavily invested in developing affordable housing, then we must demand the highest operating standards. That means requiring Project Labor Agreements and/or prevailing wages on all projects receiving fi nancial assistance from the city. Prevailing wages, which are set based on trade and location, call for skilled and trained workers, often members of the Building and Construction Trades Council. This leads to safer and better working conditions. The Independent Budget Offi ce (IBO) released a report this week stating that requiring a prevailing wage for the Housing New York plan would raise costs by 13 percent. Is a 13 percent increase on a project already being signifi - cantly subsidized really an elevated cost we cannot bear? Union workers start as apprentices, go through four years or more of schooling and on-the-job training before graduating as full-fl edged tradespersons. When starting an apprenticeship, union workers earn about $13 an hour plus benefi ts, and after years of training, can earn $45 or more hourly pay plus benefi ts. Tradespeople are more and more refl ecting the great diversity of our city, working hard for the middle class. In the past, too many HPD projects were built at the expense of our workers. Attorney General Eric Schneiderman recently found several HPD developers guilty of owing workers almost $12 million. Prevailing wage protects our workers from a future case of wage theft, and ensures they are receiving a fair, livable wage. This is not a new idea. In 1931, Congress passed the Davis-Bacon Act, which requires workers working on federally funded projects to be paid the prevailing wage. In New York State, State Law 220 requires workers on public projects are paid the local prevailing wage. And in 2012, the City Council passed a similar law providing prevailing wage protection for building maintenance staff. In New York City, the greatest city in the world, we have a responsibility to ensure that wealth and growth is shared with our workforce, and contractors are not padding their pockets while trades workers struggle to get a livable wage. That is why we sponsor legislation (Introduction 0744- 2015) that would require a prevailing wage to any person performing construction work on a project receiving greater than $1 million in fi nancial assistance from the city. This year, let’s use the IBO report as a guide, and push for the additional 13 percent that would ensure our city is built more effi ciently, by experienced workers who are paid fair wages. Through this, and by passing Int. 0744, we can ensure New York City is strong for generations to come. A LOOK BACK How many of our readers remember seeing these concrete silos in Glendale? These towers once stored thousands of pounds of coal for the Eagle Coal Company located on 80th Street off 71st Avenue, on the north side of the Long Island Rail Road tracks. Coal once was the popular source of heat for homes and businesses across Queens, but demand fell with the advent of cleaner fuel systems such as natural gas. The Eagle silos are long gone, as commercial buildings now stand in their place on 80th Street, by the overpass across the LIRR tracks. We want your historic photos of Queens! Email them to editorial@ queenscourier.com, or write to The Queens Courier, 38-15 Bell Blvd., Bayside, NY 11361. All mailed pictures will be carefully returned to you!
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