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Editorial: Throwaway the keys

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Five heartless vultures slithered into a Queens court room last week where they pleaded guilty to cheating Flushing senior citizens out of a small fortune. For this unspeakable crime, they will be sentenced to 2 1/2 to 3 x years in prison. They are lucky that they are not getting tarred and feathered or drawn and quartered.

The five are part of a clan that calls itself the Scottish Travelers. According to a recent televised documentary, they travel the East Coast looking for vulnerable senior citizens. They point out an imaginary problem in the victim's home and offer to fix it quickly before it gets worse. They win their victim's confidence and think nothing of stealing the person's entire life savings.

These con-artists take more than money from their helpless victims. They rob senior citizens of their dignity and pride and the funds that gave them a fragile sense of security. In that sense, this is a violent crime. The maximum to the courts is hardly punishment enough.

When we first learned of this crime, we expressed the hope that the punishment would be so severe that the “Scottish Travelers” would avoid New York City like the plague. Somehow the message must get through to this clan of yahoos that we will not tolerate anyone taking advantage of our elderly.

It has been alleged that the phony home repair business is an ongoing criminal enterprise. Now that the state is done with the five crooks caught here, we would hope that the Justice Department would initiate a RICO action against the Scottish Travelers, confiscating every penny they have stolen and shutting the operation down for good.

We are reminded of the need for greater vigilance in our neighborhoods. The community must look out for the welfare and safety of its senior citizens. Neighbors have every right and, arguably, a moral obligation to make sure that some slick operator doesn't take advantage of an elderly homeowner on the block.

Showdown at Willet’s Point

You load 16 tons and what do you get? About 1,000 more tons of trash every day. That's how it is going to be in Willet’s Point if the state has its way. So much for the borough president's exciting plans for this area.

The state has given the green light to Tully Environmental, Inc. to build a waste transfer station in Willet’s Point on the banks of the Flushing River. There the waste from all over Queens would be loaded onto barges and shipped to New Jersey or whatever state has a landfill big enough to accept the waste. The transfer stations must be built quickly before the landfill is closed in Staten Island. By law, the city must close the landfill before the end of this year. Recently it was announced that the landfill would close on the Fourth of July, five months ahead of schedule.

Each borough is now responsible for its own waste. No one is denying that. But we question whether it was wise to build the transfer station in Willet’s Point.   As we noted last week, the city has plans to develop the area surrounding Shea Stadium. At present the area is home to dozens of salvage yards and auto parts dealers. As part of a major urban renewal, the city is hoping to condemn the area, move the junkyards out and bring in hotels, office building and other businesses.

Time is short. Nevertheless, we hope that the DEC will sit down with Borough hall, Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Flushing) and other officials to find a plan for building a transfer site that will not scuttle the enormous progress that is underway in downtown Flushing.

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