Here’s a look at recently published opinion content:
Sunday, Nov. 21
Hudson crossings: Editorial
We assess various proposals to include transportation across the Hudson — the recently abandoned tunnel, an expansion of the No. 7 subway line and plans to construct a new Tappan Zee bridge — and come to the same conclusion of Lt. Gov. Richard Ravitch, who last week released a report criticizing the state’s lack of transportation planning. We write:
… What these newly arriving proposals still fail to address is, what to do about the crumbling transportation infrastructure already serving — or poorly serving — the region. The latter question was crystalized in a new report from Lt. Gov. Richard Ravitch, who puts yet another grand problem on the plate of the next governor. He wrote last week that New York “has no credible strategy for meeting future (transportation ) needs.” Billions of dollars are needed simply to maintain existing transportation infrastructure; “expansion of the transportation network to facilitate economic growth, meet population increases and improve quality of life will take billions more.”
The enormous challenge set forth by Ravitch begs for real planning and coordinated efforts from Washington — certainly something better than the unilateral actions and reactions of mayors, governors and their companion members of Congress. …
Westchester budget: Commentary
Christopher O’Callaghan, chairman of the Business Council of Westchester, writes a commentary in which he endorses the proposed 2011 budget put forth by County Executive Rob Astorino. O’Callaghan writes:
… The current economic downturn provides an ideal opportunity to make real, fundamental reforms in the way our county government conducts business. The proposed 2011 county budget should be viewed with the following goals in mind:
• Constructing a more competitive and friendly business environment in Westchester County that fosters economic development;
• Establishing long-term reforms in government spending and fiscal policy.
Rob Astorino was elected county executive with a campaign promise that he would make the difficult choices and bring about structural fiscal reform.
In crafting his initial budget he did just that. He concluded that reduced government spending was the only course of action, given the fact that our current level of spending is unsustainable. He did what any family or business would do when faced with a similar financial crisis: reduce expenses and live within its means. …
Westchester budget: Commentary
Kathleen Halas, executive directorof Child Care Council of Westchester Inc., and Cora Greenberg, executive director of the Westchester Children’s Association, write in defense of social service programs that would be hurt by cuts in the proposed county budget. They write:
The latest census data reported that 16.7 percent of Westchester children under 5 years of age are living in poverty, up from 9.6 percent in 2005. This alarming revelation received little public attention as it was quickly overshadowed by the recent announcement that Westchester had retained its spot as the county with the highest property taxes in the nation. The implications of this dramatic jump in children’s poverty in Westchester deserves careful thought and much more public discussion, particularly in light of the proposed cuts to child care, Early Step Forward, and Invest-In-Kids in the 2011 county budget. …
Giving thanks: Reisman
Phil Reisman gives thanks for the companionship of his family’s dog, Amy. He writes:
… One day, about a month ago, she couldn’t get up. Her hind legs, a bugaboo for aged labs, had simply given out. She couldn’t walk.
Thinking this was it, we sadly wrapped her in a blanket and lifted her into the car and drove her to the vet. I didn’t bother to bring her leash. Practically in shock, I felt like I was driving my dog to her execution.
But when we pulled up to the office, she miraculously rallied. As if to say, “Hold on, I’m not ready to go yet,” she started to walk again.
The vet prescribed three different kinds of pills, which Amy now takes every day along with two jags of insulin for the diabetes. We didn’t think she would make it to the holidays, but thanks to the medicine which allows her to take short, plodding walks, we have abandoned that grim forecast.
Still, I know that she’s on borrowed time. And I’m thankful for every single beat of her wagging tail. …
Tuesday, Nov. 23
Hate crimes and acceptance: Editorial
We take note of a Sunday Journal News story that featured Rachel Buckner, a Hendrick Hudson High School student who is openly gay and who started a Gay-Straight Alliance at her school to foster acceptance and awareness. We write:
… Buckner will doubtless leave her mark on Hen Hud, but much heavy lifting remains beyond the school. The FBI on Monday released its annual compilation of America’s worst — the hate crimes report for 2009. The encouraging news was that the number of hate-crime incidents and victims declined from 2008. Total incidents fell from 7,783 to 6,604; the number of victims fell from 9,691 to 8,336. Nearly half the incidents were motivated by racial bias and nearly one out of five by religious bias or sexual orientation.
Tempering those findings were new data from the Southern Poverty Law Center, which studied hate-crime data for 1995-2008. It reported that homosexuals were far more likely to be victims of violent hate crime than any other minority group. Homosexuals, or those perceived to be, were more than twice as likely to be victimized as Jews or blacks; more than four times as likely as Muslims; and 14 times as likely as Latinos.
Efforts like the students’ will doubtless help turn those numbers around; so too will the sustained attention of wise parents; dedicated school, community and religious leaders; and vigilant police and prosecutors. Under our system, the Westboros of the world certainly are free to stand and protest, but it should be increasingly clear that they stand alone.
Ramapo stadium: Editorial
We comment on the expected transfer of 61 acres in Ramapo from the town to the
Ramapo Local Development Corp. A minor-league baseball stadium is proposed on the site. We write:
… [Ramapo Supervisor Christopher] St. Lawrence, chief government proponent of the stadium, has not yet explained to taxpayers how this scenario honors the will of local voters. In August, they rejected a St. Lawrence proposal to have the town guarantee $16.5 million in ballpark financing to LDC. After the referendum was defeated by a 2-to-1 margin, St. Lawrence said, “I got the message,” and pledged to stop spending public money on the project.
Since making that pledge, St. Lawrence and the Town Board have approved spending money for a traffic study around the site, and for site improvements, which the supervisor maintains is for the benefit of the surrounding public park, not for the proposed stadium. These expenditures, like the transaction up for consideration this evening, most certainly constitute an investment in Project Grand Slam. …
Phil Reisman examines the politics of a proposal to merge the detective bureaus of the Village of Larchmont and Town of Mamaroneck police departments.