Dear Senator Martins,
Where have you been? We see your reelection posters up everywhere but where have you been? On a weekly basis we read about your many legislative contributions to community concerns, both large and small, meticulously reported back to us and we take pride in knowing that a Mineola boy is trying to make a positive difference in the lives of his constituents.
We sincerely thank you for your past accomplishments which include everything from state budget passage and tax reforms to cyber bullying laws and the homage long due our brave first responders.
Therefore, it came as a great surprise and tremendous disappointment that your Safety Sunday Fair this past June took issue only with car safety seats and belts and medicine bottles, completely overlooking the biggest danger of them all—the perpetually increasing danger from low-flying airplanes in the skies over our community.
There are disastrous health reports about the effects of noise pollution on densely populated areas like Nassau County. Aircraft noise has been identified as a health risk and an impediment to a child’s learning. At any given day or hour, we, living under 22L’s thunderous pathway, are subjected to 20 or more continuous hours of low flying planes spaced two to three minutes apart! Our monitored reports show that Runway 22L at JFK is used even when the prevailing winds indicate that this runway should not be used, causing impending danger to those flying in the skies and to those living under them. In addition, engine parts and pieces of suspected toilet sludge being dropped with increased frequency have only added to dangerous jet fuel exhaust, noise pollution, and unimaginable danger! This registers high on our enraged index!
It appears that the JFK’s tower’s definition of “operational efficiency” is to cram as many planes per hour into JFK ahead of safety and this should be as unacceptable to our elected officials as it is to us. Fortunately, some of our elected representatives are far from silent and have voiced their objections. At a meeting of the Town-Village Aircraft Safety & Noise Abatement Committee (TVASNAC) meeting in August, Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy (D-Mineola) said that a study needed to be conducted to address increasing aircraft noise on Long Island. She is currently trying to arrange a meeting between Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and the TVASNAC group. “There has to be a way of working it out so that our citizens can have relief.” she said. In addition, her letters to acting FAA Administrator Michael Huerta and Port Authority Patrick Foye requested that both parties address their respective responsibilities in mitigating aircraft noise, “as a starting point for residents and elected officials alike to work with both entities in a manner that reduces noise pollution over the skies of Nassau County.” Assemblymen Brian Curran (R-Lynbrook) and Edward Ra (R-Franklin Square) have also echoed an impassioned plea for a noise study in the area.
(TVASNAC, a 40-year old coalition of 13 communities has called for equitable distribution of flights into the airport’s 8 runway approaches, a ban on low flying airplanes, and a reduction of late night flights, as a way to reduce airplane noise. Port Authority records indicate that the communities under JFK Runway 22L are being subjected to about 35% of all arrivals.)
How fortunate are Queens residents to be represented by State Senator Tony Avella (D-Bayside). At a September meeting in Queens, angered and dissatisfied with responses from the FAA who had defended an unannounced flight pattern shake-up involving low flying planes, held a rally outside his office to draw attention to the airplane noise! Our question for you is this: Knowing that the problem of low flying planes was becoming a major problem for your constituents, most of whom live under 22L’s pathway, as a committee member of the NYS Senate Corporations. Authorities and Commissions Standing Committee, you promised to hold a public meeting with the Port Authority that would have forced top Port Authority executives to answer questions under oath as to their mandate responsibility of noise abatement procedures for communities under JFK flight paths. This was extremely important but the meeting was abruptly canceled without further discussion. Why?
Therefore, we ask for more than weekly updates from Albany. We need a State Senator who speaks to this horrific problem. While we thank you for your comments to the Federal Register in support of environmental testing for the Nextgen program and your willingness to meet with your constituents at neighborhood libraries, there is much more that we can do.
Please join with Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy, Congressman Peter King, Senator Tony Avella, Assemblyman Brian Curran, Assemblyman Edward Ra, and Assemblywoman Michele Shimmel and others to raise awareness in Albany that we need help in the following areas: Convincing the Port Authority and the Federal Aviation Administration to accelerate installation of noise monitors already required by FAA Reauthorization Bill # HR 658, Section 218. Giving support that encourages the Port Authority to establish noise thresholds below the current 65 DNL. European legislators have set a noise mitigation threshold for their airports that is ten times lower than New York. Please work with us to get noise limits established for JFK and LGA.
During a series of lectures at the University of Washington this fall, Professor Domke outlined the rival strategies of both parties. The Republican strategy was that this election was a referendum on President Obama. The Democrats’ strategy was to frame the election as a choice between Obama and Romney. The former would seem a good decision because it energized those who have an emotional dislike for Obama so anyone but the president was acceptable. Maybe even Santorum, Gingrich, or Perry…
I believe that the Democrats’ strategy will prevail. In your editorial you compare Obama to Jimmy Carter, every Orthodox Jew’s whipping boy, and Romney to Ronald Reagan. You need to remember that Reagan, like Romney, promised to cut taxes, increase military spending, and balance the budget during his administration. And by the way, everyone will prosper due to the “trickle down” principle. We know how well that economic theory worked!
A more appropriate comparison would be to George W. Bush since Romney’s platform wants to bring back all the policies of our former president including scrapping Wall Street regulation. Bush, to his credit, has stayed out of this campaign not wishing to remind the voters which party got them into this mess that Obama is slowly bringing the country back from—the brink of a depression.
So if you like the Tea Party with its gun toting, bible thumping, intellectually challenged swagger, then a return to the Bush years would suit you just fine. Also if you failed high school math then I suppose you can believe in Romney’s plan to do what Reagan promised—but it never added up.
Vis-à-vis Israel, the difference between the contenders could not be starker. One is a genuine friend of Israel and the other is a panderer for Jewish votes and Jewish money. Obama put Romney in his place when he responded to his challenge that Obama had not visited Israel during his Middle East tour as president. He compared his own visit to Israel as a candidate for president in 2008 when he visited Yad Vashem and Sderot to see for himself the existential threat to our people, while Romney’s visit as a candidate was essentially a fundraiser, a detour during his European tour last June.
It’s true that Romney is a better friend of Bibi’s, though the current prime minister may not be in office by the time the next American administration is over, or even as early as January 2013. No Israeli prime minister has had the audacity to lecture an American president in the Oval Office, in public, and on camera as Bibi did. I don’t confuse reaction to Bibi with support for Israel. Too often we substitute symbols for substantive choices. So and so refused to shake hands with so and so. He wouldn’t meet with Bibi. He was heard on an open mike saying something he thought was a private conversation. As if Romney never revealed his private thoughts when he thought he was among friends. Like the 47% statement last spring.
But the most important reason why I will not vote for Romney is that he cannot be trusted. He is, as Obama said during the debate, “all over the map,” a flip flopper extraordinaire. How can you trust someone who will do anything to get elected? He says one thing one day and then contradicts himself the next. Obama has a track record with Israel which has benefited that country enormously; Romney has none and I just don’t know which Romney statement to believe. Would anyone trust a president like that?
I have confidence that responsible Americans will reelect Obama to their benefit and that of Israel.
A Shonda In Brooklyn
I am deeply saddened by what is going on at the Harmony Rehab Center in Brooklyn. Fifty disabled adults are left with nowhere to go on no notice at all. Many of their parents and social workers are up in arms over the essentially hostile take-over of the Harmony board and major changes without notice.
All those dedicated staff members, including my son, have been hit three ways from the middle: Out of a job with no notice, no check for the prior pay period as of this writing, and unsure how/if they’ll be paid for any hours worked since the end of that pay period.
I am proud to note that my son reports that as far as he knows, it looks like almost every one of those staff members is far more concerned about the students they served than their own “petty” interests, although most of them, like him, have families to support. My heart goes out to all those families affected by this shonda.
S. Malkah Cohen
Kew Gardens Hills, NY
Not So Foolish
Dear Rabbi Sebrow, shlita
I enjoy your columns generally and am quite impressed with your displayed erudition and articulation in them. With regard to the recent column, “Just Plane Foolish” [October 12, p.41-2], I would like to mention that the Sefer Chassidim of Rav Yehudah Hachassid, one of the greatest early Ashkenazic religious figures, states that there are some people who learn better on their own, and if someone is that kind of person, it is okay for him to do so, even though generally learning with others is recommended, as per the Gemaras cited by R. Sebrow.
Rav Elyashiv, who just passed away, learned alone a lot, as did other Gedolim. I don’t think the rabbi would maintain that he was sinning by doing so.
Also, the example brought from the airplane mechanics, who erred in their repairs, doesn’t fit the bill exactly, as in that case it was not a lone mechanic who erred, but rather two. So each of them having a buddy alone didn’t avert the problem.
Just for the record. Keep up the good work.