Dear Commissioner D’Amico and Chief Judge Kaye,
I just completed my jury duty service, which service I performed gladly and with diligence as I have many times before. However, you ask citizens to go the extra yard in completing our civic duty, but you and the system, do not go the extra yard for us. I cannot believe that the city or the state cannot arrange with a parking facility near the courthouse to provide low or no cost parking for jurors and do the same with a food vendor.
Less than two weeks ago, I participated as a volunteer for Arthur Ashe Kids Day at the opening of the U.S. Open Tennis Tournament in Flushing Meadows. This is something I do every year because I want to provide disadvantaged children with a good day and a wonderful memory. The not-for-profit organizers of the event provided me with an identifying shirt, hat and credentials neck tag, PLUS a meal ticket for lunch and a parking pass for the stadium’s parking field.
Between gasoline, wear and tear on my vehicle, parking costs and lunch costs, there is little or nothing left of the less than minimum wage stipend with which you insult us. Shame on you - you can do better.
Editors Note: Simple math will quickly show you that the cost of reimbursing jurors for meals and parking would quickly run into the millions. However, a tax deduction on your city and state taxes would be an idea.
End tree clear-cutting
The Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) is clear-cutting the trees along their right of way because the leaves that fall on the tracks apparently cause a problem for their new trains in terms of slippage. The railroad will also be installing security fencing in certain locations and cutting down trees for that too.
On the Port Washington branch, it is my understanding that the tree removal will go from Flushing out to Port Washington. Already, trees have been destroyed near the Broadway station, Flushing and Little Neck.
To me, cutting the trees down to prevent leaves from falling on the tracks is like detonating an atomic bomb to kill a few flies. Total overkill! In addition, who is to say that the wind will not blow leaves from other nearby trees onto the tracks? The railroad should be considering other viable alternatives to address their issues.
If you agree with these sentiments, please let Robert J. Brennan, Director of Government and Community Affairs for the LIRR - 718-558-7500 - know, as well as your elected officials. There are ways to address the concerns of the railroad without eradicating the trees.
Dormitory by stealth
St. John’s University’s recent decision to site a 485-bed dormitory in Jamaica Estates without consulting the community in advance came as a shock and disappointment to me and to local residents. My dismay was compounded when it became apparent that this decision was kept secret even from top community relations people at St. John’s.
Whenever any institution makes decisions and conducts major business in stealth - even from its own people - bad things happen. That is what this dorm is to us - a bad thing, a sucker punch to this community.
If St. John’s, or any institution, wants to site a facility in Jamaica Estates, or any community, it must be done in consultation and collaboration with the host community. This is simply Community Relations 101; had St. John’s top management consulted with its community relations people about the dorm, they would have explained this to them.
What St. John’s has done here is a bad-neighbor, bad-faith action of the highest order. I call upon St. John’s to engage immediately with the neighbors of the dorm, the Jamaica Estates Association and my office to develop reasonable mitigations to the deleterious impacts of this most unwanted facility.
Honorable James F. Gennaro
Councilmember 24th District,
When the Department of Education (DOE) opened North Queens Community High School in a former parochial school building for students who have failed to function in a regular school environment without informing the community, school officials should not have been surprised that the Kew Gardens Hills community was outraged.
According to DOE and its social service partners, youths attending North Queens are older teens who need a “little help” to graduate from high school because of absences or academic problems. DOE does not like the word “truant,” but any parent - or former high school student - knows that students whose absenteeism causes a transfer to a special school have problems with “truancy” or worse.
The DOE chose not to inform local elected officials, the community board, and the local precinct as well as the neighborhood civic association, all of which could be contacted with a simple phone call. DOE and its partners in operating the new school, Good Shepherd Family Services and SOC Family of Services, chose instead to sneak North Queens Community High School into Kew Gardens Hills.
The only hint that the new school was coming was a brief and sugar-coated item in the local parish Sunday bulletin and a phone call from Good Shepherd three days before opening day (Friday before Labor Day). A call to the parish was met with denials of any knowledge of the school or the twenty-year, multi-million dollar deal with the DOE.
Therefore, not surprisingly, the Kew Gardens Hills Civic Association is calling on the Department of Education to demonstrate that there is adequate security in and around the school; that the location of recreation facilities is on school grounds; and that students will travel to and from the school in a timely and orderly manner.
No one wants the North Queens Community High School to succeed more than the residents of Kew Gardens Hills. We are still waiting to hear how the Department of Education leadership is going to make that happen. Now they know where to find us.
Patricia Dolan, President
Kew Gardens Hills
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