FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT www.qns.com DECEMBER 31, 2015 • THE COURIER SUN 11 oped A LOOK BACK Winter is here, and even though it got off to a mild start, there’s still a good chance our fair borough will see at least one good snowstorm this season. This week’s picture, again courtesy of our Facebook friends at “You must have lived in Ridgewood if you remember...”, shows the exterior of Eddie’s newsstand on Forest Avenue off Putnam Avenue following a snowstorm in the late 1970s. Look carefully at the store’s window and you’ll see an advertisement for “The Empire Stakes,” a multi million-dollar raffl e that served as the fi rst New York State Lottery game. We want to see your historic photos of Queens! Email them to firstname.lastname@example.org, or mail them to The Queens Courier, 38-15 Bell Blvd., Bayside, NY 11361. All mailed pictures will be carefully returned to you upon request! letters & comments MONEY ISN’T EVERYTHING FOR LIFESAVERS Regarding the comments about minimum wage “not being a life saver,” as published in the Dec. 17, 2015, Queens Courier. As I read this column, I strongly agreed that the minimum wage was not to support a family; it is intended to help support and aid people to live a better lifestyle. It is also to encourage them to seek better paying jobs, and motivate them to move onwards and upwards in fi nding higher-paying jobs so they can support their family or themselves. Except when I read further on, the author noted that New York City is looking to pay lifeguards $13.50 per hour, not the $15 an hour that is being considered and debated. This caught my attention simply reading between the lines to see what is being implied. It takes a certain type of person to want to become a lifeguard, an EMT, a police offi cer or a fi refi ghter. People who get into the dangerous business of saving lives, often putting their own lives at risk to help others, do this for many types of reasons — and it’s obvious that money is not priority number one. Keep in mind that fl ipping burgers at all hours is also putting your life on the line and underpaying at times. There are a lot of underpaid workers putting their lives on the line, and my heart, prayers and thanks go with them. Charlie Daly, College Point KEEP FLUSHING MEADOWS FOR THE PEOPLE OF QUEENS The City Council has voted overwhelmingly to support the developers of the Willets West megamall at Flushing Meadows Corona Park (FMCP) by passing a resolution authorizing the Council to issue an amicus brief in support of the developers in the case that is pending. Only Councilmen Paul Vallone and Rory Lancman voted against the resolution. Councilman Barry Grodenchik abstained. I understand that City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito sponsored the resolution and no public hearing was held prior to the vote taken by the City Council. It is my opinion, and the opinion of many others, that parkland belongs to the public and must remain undeveloped and should be used for recreational purposes by the people. Under the proposed deal, the developer building the megamall would get the multiacre site for only a pittance. This is public property! This deal is really outrageous and I am truly astonished at the Council members who voted to support the developers without even hearing from the public. What also seems to be ignored in this situation is the impact that a megamall will have on traffi c in the proposed area and the effect of a megamall on the surrounding communities and businesses. There is another part of this story. The mayor is proposing to have special events like concerts and the like at FMCP. However, the promoters of these events would be allowed to take over the park and close it for days at a time to the public so that these events could be set up and then dismantled after the event was over. Again, doesn’t parkland belong to the people, and shouldn’t they be allowed to access the park every day? The people who live near FMCP use that park extensively. It’s their backyard! It also belongs to anybody who wants a place to relax and enjoy green space. Imagine if Central Park or Prospect Park were to be closed off to the public for a for-profi t happening or if part of those parks were to be developed for a private for-profi t business venture. The public uproar would be audible throughout the city! FMCP and all parks need to remain as oases for relaxation and recreation for all! Henry Euler, Bayside CITY NEGLECT PARTLY TO BLAME FOR JAMAICA MURDER Christmas is over and it only took a few hours after before Donald Reed was shot and killed in South Jamaica. That area is a major problem, but then the powers that be in this city have allowed such nonsense to go on for decades there. Business as usual in the hood. QNS user Joe Bringing back commuter tax not an option BY LARRY PENNER At a recent rally opposing MoveNY’s plan to toll free East River Bridges, Assemblyman David Weprin renewed his annual call for reintroduction of a non-NYC resident commuter tax. His proposal calls for half of the generated revenue to go to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the remaining 50 percent to NYC. Mayor Bill de Blasio, with the support of City Comptroller Scott Stringer, Public Advocate Letitia James, City Council Speaker Mellisa Mark-Viverito along with virtually all other City Council and city-based Assembly and state Senate members, will be on board, as usual. Remember that Governor Andrew Cuomo promised to fi nd over $8 billion in additional new funding to support the proposed MTA $28 billion 2015-2019 Five-Year Capital Program. Watch when the state Legislature reconvenes in January 2016 for Weprin and company to once again attempt introduction and passage for legislation to reimpose a 1 percent non-resident commuter tax. It will be interesting to see if Governor Cuomo will also support this legislation as a means to help fund a signifi cant portion of his $8 billion plus promise to the MTA. Democratic State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie controls 103 votes out of the 150-member Assembly. He starts off with 58 votes including his own out of 61 city-based members. All he needs for passage is another 17 out of 45 other Democratic members of his caucus. There are 24 upstate Democratic caucus members who could vote for this commuter tax with no political consequences. This is because they have no constituents who work in NYC that would be impacted by this legislation. Meanwhile, Republican state Senator Majority Leader John Flannigan has only 31 members in his GOP caucus. Assume that all 26 members of Democratic state Senate Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins’ caucus will be joined by Democratic Independent Conference Leader Jeffrey Klein and his three colleagues for a total of 30 votes supporting passage. If that happens, it will require the vote of every GOP state senator to defeat it. There will be intense pressure on Republican state Senators Marty Golden of Brooklyn, Andrew Lanza of Staten Island and Brooklyn state Senator Simcha Felder, a Democrat who caucuses with the Republicans. If any one of the three comes out in favor, the bill could actually pass the state Senate and be signed into law by Governor Cuomo. Our metropolitan New York area comprising NYC, Long Island, northeast New Jersey, Hudson Valley and parts of southwestern Connecticut is in competition against other metropolitan areas around the nation and world. Each weekday several hundred thousand Long Island and other suburban residents travel to jobs in NYC, the economic engine of our metropolitan region. Many others enjoy sporting events, the theater, museums, restaurants and shopping. A growing number of NYC residents have become reverse commuters to jobs in Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester, Rockland and Putnam counties along with New Jersey and Connecticut. Other NYC residents attend sporting events, shop, dine and visit other places on Long Island. It is naive to believe that NYC can survive economically in today’s ever-changing technology and global economy without Long Island and the rest of the Metropolitan New York. The suburbs around the Big Apple are equally dependent on the success of NYC. Residents of Long Island and NYC in the end have much in common. We should work together as neighbors and not adversaries. Reintroduction of a commuter tax on one set of non-residents could trigger an economic tariff war among neighbors. With the fi nancial crises on Wall Street followed by our economic recession last decade, thousands of commuters outside of NYC lost their jobs. Most of these jobs have never come back. At the end of the day, everyone could lose with implementation of any non-NYC resident commuter tax. Larry Penner is a transportation historian and advocate who previously worked in the transportation fi eld for 31 years.
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