Good morning. Here’s a look at opinion content published today and over the weekend:
Police, fire salaries inflated by arbitration
Greenburgh Supervisor Paul Feiner writes a Community View in which he calls for the amendment of a state law that prevents “local governments, fire districts and the county of Westchester from unilaterally deciding on the salaries of police and fire fighters.”
Yonkers Police Department cuts put public safety at risk
In a Community View Keith Olson, president of the Yonkers PBA, says Yonkers Mayor Phil Amicone’s proposed staffing cuts for the city’s police department are detrimental to its ability to keep the public safe. Olson writes:
“Inexplicably, a whopping 40 percent of the proposed eliminations are from the already depleted Yonkers Police Department. Mayor Amicone’s proposed budget will reduce the Yonkers Police force to an impossibly small staff of 550 officers, a number not seen since the mid-1980s.”
Yonkers pensions draining, editorial argues
In an editorial, we assess the heavy weight of pensions on the coffers of the city of Yonkers. We write:
“Pension costs are draining city coffers and contributing to cuts in essential services. Hiring freezes, furloughs and layoffs are now the order of the day, including for teachers, police officers and firefighters. Part of the blame is slack management and oversight of overtime hours worked. That leads to bloated earnings in employees’ final years of service — the basis for calculating their guaranteed pension benefit in retirement. Because the benefits are guaranteed, the costs to taxpayers grows even more during tough economic times, when earnings from stock market investments are in decline. The buck always stops with taxpayers.”
Schumer ID card plan would infringe on privacy
Linda S. Berns, president of the New York Civil Liberties Union’s Lower Hudson Valley Chapter in White Plains, writes a Community View in which she criticizes a plan supported by Sen. Chuck Schumer that would require “anyone looking to work in the United States [to] obtain a government ID card bearing their photograph and encrypted with biometric data, such as their fingerprints, an iris scan or a scan of the veins on the backs of their hands.”
Berns continues: “Essentially, this proposal would force American citizens to obtain the government’s permission to start a job. It would set the framework for a national identification system that will enable the government to track our daily activities and pry into our private lives.”
Call to Action campaign seeks Albany shake-up
Bill Mooney, president of the Westchester County Association, writes a Community View to promote support for his group’s Call to Action campaign, a nonpartisan movement aimed at drastically reforming Albany. Mooney writes:
“Being the highest-taxed state, ranking 49th as a favorable environment for businesses, ranking second in salaries and benefits paid to state-government workers, and being first in the number of residents leaving the state are just some of the areas where New York is the leader. Obviously being at the top of these lists is precisely where no state wants to be.
“… It is with this backdrop that last week we launched our “Call to Action Campaign to Save Our State.” We are literally sending out an SOS before our state sinks to the bottom. As a business-membership organization we have a front-line perspective on the impact the state’s financial mismanagement is having on companies large and small. We are seeing businesses shrink their employment bases in Westchester and the neighboring counties. We are watching as other businesses pull up stakes entirely. And we are acutely aware that there are very few new businesses coming to our area. Businesses can, by and large, choose where they want to be. At this stage not many want to be here.
“Why does all of this matter? Without a robust business community, the state will be in desperate financial trouble, unable to support the programs and services it now offers. It’s the taxes paid by private sector businesses that provide the financial fuel for the state government.”
BP oil spill highlights need for a decline in energy use
Melissa Everett, executive director of Sustainable Hudson Valley, argues in a Community View that the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is proof of the need for Americans to increase their reliance on clean energy. She writes:
“The fallout from the Gulf Coast BP oil spill is a slow-moving reminder of an opportunity in disguise: to grow the market for clean-energy jobs with a movement of households, businesses and institutions that choose to use energy as the precious, risk-filled resource that it is.
“The need and opportunity are clear. American households generate 38 percent of the country’s carbon footprint, which is 8 percent of the world’s footprint and larger than that of any other country except China. That means the choices of individuals and community.”
Larvicide cuts are the wrong bite to take from county budgets
In our editorial today, we question Rockland County’s decision to forgo the placement of larvicide pellets in roughly 35,000 catch basins this year. The move, which would save the county about $130,000, is a danger to public health, we argue.
Albertus Magnus expulsions ought to serve as an example
Writing in a Community View, Joseph J. O’Brien Jr., an independent college admissions counselor with College Planning Services Inc. of Chappaqua who lives in Upper Nyack, argues that the recent expulsion of six Albertus Magnus students should not be ignored by college-bound teens and their parents.