Editorial: Stealing dreams

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Peter Cheung makes his living stealing the dreams of the city’s newest immigrants. Last week he pleaded guilty to fraudulently promising to get greens cards for Chinese Americans living in Flushing.

In return for his plea, he was sentenced to six months on Rikers Island and ordered to pay full restitution to his victims. This heartless predator is only one of the many white-collar vultures who prey on new immigrants. Six months is not much punishment for a man who took people’s life savings in return for a false promise to give them the help they need to live and work in America.

Editorial: Not guilty?

There is a dramatic difference between being found not guilty and actually being innocent. The four Christ the King students accused of having sex with an underage girl were given a conditional discharge. If they do community service and don’t get into any more serious trouble, the sexual abuse charges will be dropped.

That doesn’t mean that they didn’t act immorally. As often happens in cases like this, the alleged victim was reluctant to testify. But these boys should know that they have brought shame on themselves, their families and their school.

Editorial: The quality of mercy

Activist minister Herbert Daughtry is asking the judge to show leniency to a Queens Village couple convicted of nearly starving their 16-month-old daughter to death. Like Silva and Joseph Swinton, Rev. Daughtry is a vegetarian who will not eat any animal-related food.

We do not agree with the reverend that the verdict represents a miscarriage of justice. After all, this miserable child was so malnourished that she nearly died. But we do agree that the couple was not intentionally trying to hurt their child. Although they showed remarkable bad judgment, it appears they were trying to do what they thought was best for the child.

Nothing will be gained by putting this couple in jail. On the other hand, we do not think the Swintons should get their children back until they have received better training.

Editorial: Unions drop the ball

In last-minute negotiations, the city’s unions failed to reach an agreement that would save 2,000 jobs. The unions came to the table too late with too little to offer. Because of that, as of Saturday, 2,000 city employees are out of work.

Although the unions are pointing a finger at the Bloomberg administration, it is hard not to conclude that it was the union leaders who dropped the ball. In good times, the role of union leaders is to make sure that their members get a fair share of the wealth. In tough times, the first role of the union leaders should be to protect jobs.

Would it not have been better to offer concessions such as a longer work week, greater productivity and fewer benefits in return for the chance to save at least some of the 2,000 jobs? These unions had to know that the mayor was not posturing. And they had to know the devastating impact that the layoffs would have on 2,000 families. Already some workers say they will be forced to sell their homes. Some will not be able to pay college tuitions for their children.

The good news — if indeed there is good news — is that the layoffs are not irreversible. If the leaders came can up with concessions that will save the city $600 million, then all or at least most of these jobs can be saved.

Editorial: Stop the race baiting

Last week several organizations, including the 100 Black Men in Law Enforcement, charged that the layoffs were having a disproportionate impact on minority workers. It is unfortunate that any organization would choose to play the race card at such an emotionally charged time.

The decision as to who would be laid off had everything to do with contractual obligations and nothing to do with race. In most cases, with the exception of provisional labor, the rule is simple: last hired, first fired. Although in many cases the younger employees may be more conscientious and energetic workers, but the rules demand that the people who were hired last must be the first to go.

The people who were accusing the mayor of being racist know that he is obligated to follow the union rules. To introduce race into the discussion was shameless.

Editorial: How not to raise revenue

We have long been convinced that the city should not look to fines to balance the budget. Parking fines have already nearly doubled and the police contend they are being pressured to meet quotas for handing out tickets.

We do not want to return to those chilling days of yesteryear when David Dinkins was mayor and sanitation police ticketed store owners for gum wrappers thrown on the sidewalk in front of their stores. And just last week the small business owners complained that they are suddenly getting tickets for having too much writing on storefront awnings.

Fines should be used strictly to promote public safety or to encourage people to act in a responsible manner. The purpose of fines is to control behavior, not to raise revenue.

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