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oped letters & comments
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Our businesses are
suff ering enough
BY RICHARD LEE
are the backbone of
our economy. One
would think that
with the pandemic,
the city would
do everything in its
power to help our
small businesses survive. Yet, as businesses
face hurdle aft er hurdle, the city
has instead taken this opportunity to
issue needless fi nes as a mechanism to
Mr. K., who wanted to remain anonymous,
owns a restaurant in Murray
Hill, Queens. His restaurant was forced
to remain closed for in-person dining
in the early months of the pandemic.
Yet, instead of worrying about losses,
he donated hundreds of meals to frontline
When the mayor announced outdoor
dining, he spent thousands of dollars
to set up his outdoor structure, making
sure he complied with stated guidelines.
When the Department of Transportation
stopped by, they even remarked how
great of an outdoor dining setup he had.
However, aft er operating for several
weeks, the Fire Department stopped
by for an inspection and indicated that
his structure violated fi re code, issued
him violations and forced him to take
down the structure immediately. Mr.
K.’s experience isn’t isolated. Other
business owners have exclaimed similar
Our city has major fi nancial problems;
we get that. But it shouldn’t be trying
to balance its own budget on the backs
of small businesses. Small businesses
should not be getting hit with violations
and fi nes without the chance to resolve
the infractions that they had no idea
about in the fi rst place. Th ere needs to be
an opportunity for corrective measures
rather than burdensome fi nes.
Th ere also needs to be open lines of
communication and clearer standards
for our businesses to meet. Small businesses
should know what’s allowable and
what’s not from the get-go and not be
forced to pay fi nes or close because one
city agency said one thing while another
agency said something diff erent. Th e
mayor needs to immediately form an
inter-agency task force on small business
that will create a uniform set of
standards for small businesses to follow
amidst this pandemic, and moving forward.
We can, and must, do better if the
small businesses we all love are going
to get through this and continue to be a
part of rebuilding the Queens economy.
Th ey deserve it.
Richard Lee is a candidate for the City
Council in the 19th District. He currently
serves as Budget Director for the Queens
Borough President. He and his wife also
operate a small business in Queens.
GIVING THANKS TO THOSE
WHO HELP OTHERS
During this season of gratitude, I want
to off er my heartfelt thanks to all our
neighbors who make helping others a
priority in their lives. Th eir commitment
to service takes on added signifi cance as
our communities face this global pandemic
I extend a special salute to our region’s
health care heroes who continue to sacrifi
ce so much to help our region get
through this crisis.
Daily I am humbled by our Red Cross
volunteers, who share themselves to help
the most vulnerable prepare for and
recover from life-changing disasters —
like fi res, fl oods and building collapses
— locally and nationally. Th is year,
following historic wildfi res out West
and relentless hurricanes along the Gulf
Coast, many traveled far from home to
deliver hope and help to thousands of
Th ank you to our partners who share
with us a common purpose and community
spirit that extends our reach
and helps connect more individuals with
critical humanitarian support.
And thank you to our supporters who
allow the Red Cross to deliver emergency
relief 24/7, 365 days-a-year.
Wishing you all a happy and safe
Th anksgiving. Let’s continue to look out
for one another.
Mary Barneby, Regional CEO,
American Red Cross in Greater NY
Th ere are other options which MTA
Chairman Pat Foye should consider
regarding a solution to the $12 billion
shortfall, besides asking Washington for
a second CARE COVID-19 in the same
amount. (“Biden’s election bodes well for
MTA,” op-ed by Patrick J. Foye, Nov. 19)
Within the 1953 master agreement
between NYC and NYC Transit are
escape clauses. NYC has the legal right
to take back at any time control of its
assets. Th is includes the subway and bus
In 1953, the old NYC Board of
Transportation passed control of the
municipal subway system — including
all its assets under a master lease and
operating agreement — to the newly created
NYC Transit Authority. NYC owns
the NYC Transit subway and bus system.
MTA is the management company
hired to run it.
Why has the MTA not asked City Hall,
their boss, rather than Washington for
a second $12 billion bailout to avoid a
40 percent threatened reduction to bus
and subway service? Ditto for Albany
to avoid a 50 percent cut to LIRR service.
Albany provides the MTA signifi -
cant annual funding under the Statewide
Transportation Operating Assistance
Why hasn’t the MTA asked Governor
Cuomo, state Senate Majority Leader
Andrea Steward Cousins and state
Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie to
increase their contributions?
Washington, via Federal Transit
Administration grants, riders via farebox
and motorists via tolls, continue to
pay their fair share. Uncle Sam did even
more by providing $3.9 billion under the
fi rst CARE COVID-19 aid package.
Taxpayers and businesses contribute
via property transfer and mortgage
recording taxes in NYC, fees for licenses,
motor vehicle registration and auto
Actions speak louder than words. It
is time for City Hall and Albany to pay
their respective fair shares as well.
Larry Penner, Great Neck