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Plumegate

On June 26, I attended a hearing at Great Neck South Middle School, held by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) regarding a Superfund site near my home. For years, the Sperry Company used toxic chemicals in their manufacturing operations on a large site at the intersection of Lakeville Road and Marcus Blvd.  The chemicals have seeped into the ground and infected the water table.  The pollution has been labeled “the Plume” because it is expanding, mostly north and west.  According to the map, it seems to be under my street, and is slowly commuting to Queens.

UNISYS_070414AOfficials have known about the Plume for 17 years, and have been diddling with temporary fixes.  Now, they want to do a big fix, and the hearing was held to decide how big a fix we need.  The choices are #1, which is doing nothing at a cost of $00.00, to #5, which would restore the site as much as possible to its pre-polluted state, and which would cost $34,000,000 and $5,500,000 per year.  The DEC officials are leaning towards #2, at a cost of $8,600,000 and $1,4000.000 per year.  Northrup Grumman now owns the site, and they are paying for the fix, so, obviously, a smaller fix is better for their bottom line.

I want to know why the experts seem determined to pursue remedy #2.  I realize that they may never be able to restore the site in question to its pre-polluted state, but don’t you think they  should give it their  best shot, and try?

To that end, I wrote to Girish Desai, NYSDEC Project Manager, asking him to please explain why solution #2 is better than solution #5.  I received a response stating that I will be alerted when the NYSDEC makes its final decision.  Comments are being accepted through July 14 at gvdesai@gw.dec.state.ny.us.  I encourage you to write immediately to express your opinion on this matter.  You can also sign up to receive fact sheets from the NYSDEC at www.dec.state.ny.gov/chemical/61092.html.

We must pressure our officials to make the best decision for our environment and for the residents of Great Neck.

Ruth Shalom

Birnbaum Should Resign

Like many of my fellow Nassau County residents, I was deeply troubled by County Legislator Ellen Birnbaum’s dismissive and offensive remarks regarding the Yes We Can Community Center.
While I believe Ms. Birnbaum took office in the hope of making a difference, her words clearly fall somewhere on the spectrum between insensitive and racist. Where she lands specifically on that spectrum makes little difference. People were deeply offended. Because of this, I join the leadership of Nassau County Democrats, including legislative Minority Leader Kevan Abraham and Nassau Democratic Chairman Jay Jacobs in calling for Ms. Birnbaum to resign.
Community centers like Yes We Can are meant to inspire unity in our community by providing a space for Nassau residents of all backgrounds to exercise, play sports and study. Projects like this one are meant to level the playing field and move all of us forward together.
Nassau County Democrats share this goal of working together towards progress for each and every Nassau County resident, and these comments fly in the face of that dream. As we work together to improve the lives of our neighbors through forward-thinking ideas and progressive policies, we must have zero tolerance for divisiveness based on prejudice. For healing to occur, and for Nassau County to move forward, County Legislator Ellen Birnbaum needs to step down.
Adam Haber, NYS Senate Democratic candidate, Seventh District

The Importance Of Speaking Out

I could not agree more with “Express Yourself — Concisely” (Editorial — May 28 – June 3). The Great Neck Record has consistently offered readers a chance to speak out. Weekly newspapers tend to offer more space for writers than daily newspapers. Some daily newspapers have quotas of no more than one letter every 30 or 60 days per writer.
Being a prolific letter writer doesn’t always guarantee publication on a regular basis by anyone. It helps to have a snappy introduction, good hook, be timely, precise, have an interesting or different viewpoint to increase your odds of being published. You have always welcomed letters commenting on your own editorials, articles or previously published letters to the editor.
We continue to be fortunate to live in one of the few remaining free societies, with a wealth of information sources available. Sadly, most American cities and suburbs are down to one local daily or weekly newspaper. Newspapers have to deal with increasing costs for newsprint, delivery and distribution along with reduced advertising revenues and declining readership.
Many of us have opinions on news not only from Washington, and Albany but also neighborhoods and local issues which impact our communities and daily lives.
I continue to be grateful that the Great Neck Record along with other daily and weekly newspapers afford both me and my fellow letter to the editor writers the opportunity to express our views, as well as differing opinions on issues of the day. Thanks to you, ordinary citizens have the freedom to comment on the actions and legislation of elected officials in any Letters to the Editor section. Public officials use taxpayers dollars to promote their views, via mass mailings of newsletters, news releases, letters to the editor and guest opinion page columns. In many cases, they are produced or written by campaign or office staffers who are paid for by taxpayers. The rest of us have limited time to submit a letter. In the marketplace of ideas, let us hope there continues to be room for everyone, including the Great Neck Record and all other Anton Community Newspapers. Let us thank those few brave souls who are willing to take on the establishment and powerful special interest groups in the pages of your letters to the editor section. They fill a valuable niche in the information highway.
Please join me along with your neighbors in reading your favorite local weekly community newspapers. Patronize their advertisers; they provide the revenues necessary to keep them in business. Let them know you saw their ad. This is what helps keep our neighbors employed, the local economy growing and provide space on a daily and weekly basis for your favorite or not so favorite letter writers.
Larry Penner

Don’t Leave Veterans Waiting For Claims

As your readers may know, the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA) has come under fire for delays with veterans’ benefits and care at their facilities. While I have already called for a criminal investigation into wrongdoing at the VA, I am writing to inform readers of my bill that would enact a common-sense solution to ensure veterans aren’t left waiting for claims.
Currently, New York veterans wait an average of 297 days to receive disability compensation and benefits, a time table that falls far short of the 125-day goal the VA has set for filling these claims. This is unacceptable.
That’s why I introduced the Veterans Backlog Reduction Act. This bill would give provisional benefits to veterans filing for disability if a claim hasn’t been processed within 125 days. The provisional benefit would be based on what a veteran with a similar disability receives or would be calculated based on a 40 percent disability rating. Put simply, this legislation would ensure no veteran filing a claim has to wait more than 125 days for the benefits they’ve earned.
To date, my office has recovered more than $7.4 million in back pay and owed benefits to my constituents by cutting through the red tape at the VA. If you, or a veteran you know, needs help with a VA benefits claim, please make my office your first resource.
You can reach my office at 516 505-1448. We are eager to help.
U.S. Rep. Steve Israel

Village Of Great Neck Budget

I’m writing in response to the May 5, 2014 story on the Village of Great Neck’s 2014-2015 budget and the subsequent letter from the chief of the Vigilant Fire Department.

Let me set the record straight by saying that there was no discussion of the ambulance budget at our meeting and I offered no quote on the issue. What were referenced in the article were clauses taken from my annual budget message – a copy of which is available on the Village’s website. Those clauses speak to various increases to the Village budget over the course of seven years. At no time, either in writing or during the meeting did anyone suggest an increase in taxes is directly attributable to emergency services.
Once again let me reiterate my belief that our ambulance and fire volunteers provide a critical service to the residents of our Village. They will always have my support and I commend them on their devotion, training and dedication to our community.
Ralph Kreitzman, mayor, Village of Great Neck

Don’t Celebrate On-Time State Budget

We should not celebrate Governor Cuomo and the State Legislature passing a budget on time. This is what they get paid to do. This budget was negotiated behind closed doors by Governor Andrew Cuomo, State Senate Republican Majority leader Dean Skelos, State Senate Democratic Independent Caucus leader Jeffrey Klein and Democratic State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.

Only they, their key aids and many of the infamous Albany State Street lobbyists were privy to the details. Democratic State Senate minority leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Republican State Assembly minority leader Brian Kolb along with virtually all members of the State Senate and Assembly including our own State Senator Jack Martins and Assemblymember Michelle Schimel were left out of the process.

Did members of legislature take an Evelyn Wood speed reading class to absorb the thousands of pages contained in this spending bill? They received these only hours before being asked to vote up or down. Liberal or conservative, Democrat or Republican, we would all be better off if our State Assembly and Senate member took the time to actually read, line by line, any proposed legislation before voting. Their legislative actions impact both our economic and civil liberties. Future generations may have to pay for and live with the consequences. [Read more...]

Election Letter Hypocritical

I am writing in response to the letter by Ruth Shalom who voiced her concerns about corruption free elections and legislation written by State Senator Jack Martins correcting an unfair situation within the catering industry.

Ms. Shalom desires elections that are clean and free of corruption but hypocritically pens a letter that factually misleads the reader on the catering issue and falsely accuses the Senator of impropriety. By doing so she herself stands guilty of corrupting the election process. Both misleading the public and throwing false charges in the air surely corrupts the process and produces elections that are unfair. If we are truthful with the facts then the public can cast an educated vote.

The Senator’s legislation concerning the catering industry, which received support from both Democrat and Republican State Senators, concerned the unintended consequence of a poorly written legal decision. The catering industry had used accounting procedures approved by the N.Y.S. Dept. of Labor and were consistent with Federal and State tax laws. [Read more...]

Fair Elections

As a long time Great Neck resident, I have watched both federal and state elections become much less honorable and controlled more and more by wealthy campaign donors and less and less by merit the public interest or democratic principles.

We now have an opportunity to support Fair Elections and comprehensive campaign reform in New York State that could bring to Albany a fresh group of candidates who have good ideas and ethics but no network of millionaires or billionaires.

I think both our State Assembly members and senators should let their constituents know where they stand of Governor Cuomo’s lead in including a system of small donor matching funds in his budget to counteract the influence of big money and increase participation in fair elections. [Read more...]

Martins vs. Waiters

I am a resident of Great Neck and a constituent of Jack Martins. I confess that I eat out a lot.

Waiters and waitresses are among the hardest working people I know. They have to carry heavy trays, deal with rude customers, and stand on their feet for hours. Are you aware that catering companies on Long Island made a habit of pocketing gratuities meant for the staff? In 2008, the state’s top court ruled that catering service charges must be paid to workers if the customers had a reasonable assumption that it was a gratuity.

As a result, lawsuits were filed against the caterers by restaurant workers who claim they were cheated out of millions of dollars in gratuities. However, the caterers found a friend in Senator Martins. He took $56,000 in campaign contributions from them, and then wrote a bill that would grant them immunity from multiple lawsuits, already filed by workers, seeking tips dating back to 2004. [Read more...]

Old Village DPW

I would like to commend Supervisor Lou Massaro and the Old Village Department of Public Works for the excellent work they’ve done to keep our streets clear and safe through this difficult winter. Despite the misery of the constant snow and ice, we don’t want to overlook how fortunate we are to be able to drive on our streets so quickly after each storm.

Thank you to Lou and his team for an exceptional job!

Herb Zibulsky