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Editorial: Put your money where your flag is

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The tragic events of September 11 sparked a spirit of patriotism that has not been seen in America since World War II and perhaps not even then. Even the old timers will tell you that they cannot remember a time when so many homes and businesses flew the Stars and Stripes.

It's only natural that the organizers of the annual Memorial Day parades in College Point and in Whitestone are hoping that the resurgence in patriotism will translate into increased generosity for the parades. We hope they are right.

    The parades are supported by corporate sponsors and donations left in jars on the counters of dozens of small businesses. But in recent years, the cost of putting on these parades has exceeded the donations. Fred Mazarello, the chairman of the College Point parade, estimates that this year's parade will cost about $27,000. Right now the parade is still about $5,000 short.

    Fred expects about 4,000 people to take part in the parade that will proudly march up College Point Boulevard on Sunday, May 26. State Assemblywoman Nettie Mayersohn (D-Fresh Meadows), one of the most courageous and hardworking members of the State Legislature, will be the grand marshal.

The Whitestone Parade will take place the following day. Capt. Thomas Meeks, a retired U.S. Navy pilot, will be the grand marshal.

Like the much larger Memorial Day Parade in Douglaston, these parades are a part of the fabric of life in northeast Queens. They are a throwback to less complicated time, like a scene from a Norman Rockwell painting. Most important, they are a reminder that the freedom we enjoy, a freedom that was shaken to the core on September 11, was paid for the by sacrifices of thousands of veterans.

This year, more than ever, the Memorial Day parades deserve the public's enthusiastic support.

Editorial: Culture feels the pinch

The representatives of more than 100 cultural institutions gather at the American Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria to discuss the funding cuts they face in the budget for the coming fiscal year that begins on July 1. These are painful times for the city's libraries, theaters and other nonprofits that already operate shoestring budgets.

The city is facing a budget shortfall in fiscal year 2003 that could top $5 billion. It is the City Council's responsibility to assess the potential impact of the mayor's executive budget on the delivery of services. Nevertheless, we are not certain what was accomplished by last week's hearing.

Like most city agencies, the Queens Public Library has been asked to cut its budget by 15 percent. We doubt there is much fat, if any, in the library system. The cuts will mean that libraries will have less books to offer and will be open for shorter hours.

It is hard to argue with the director of the Queens Public Library, Gary Strong, who told the City Council panel, "In an ever changing and unpredictable world, the public library remains a bastion of tranquility, education and stability. Now, more than ever, after the attacks of Sept. 11, libraries are needed in every community."

But in the debate over city funding, ultimately there are only two possible solutions. Either the council finds ways to increase revenues - ways that will not result in driving away businesses and residents - or it cuts spending for other services. Which service is not essential? Can the city make even greater cuts to the police budget without a resurgence in crime? Can Sanitation be cut without risking a return to the Dinkins years when the streets were a national disgrace?

From here on in, every cut is painful. Every proposal to increase revenues is risky.

Posted 7:04 pm, October 10, 2011
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