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Editorial: A sucker’s bet

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It’s hard not to cheer when the governor announces a plan that will raise hundreds of millions of dollars for the city’s public schools. However, Gov. Pataki’s plan to raise money for schools by introducing hundreds of video gambling terminals is a bad bet for the families of New York City.

In his State of the State Address, Pataki said his gambling scheme could raise $325 million this school year and grow to $2 billion over the next five years. The problem with this plan is that gambling operations only make money when gamblers lose money. To raise $2 billion in five years, an endless succession of suckers will have to throw away at least $3 billion. Some will use disposable income to make bets that they can easily afford. But a great many others will be betting rent and grocery money. In fact, without thousands of people being willing to bet over their heads Pataki’s plan cannot succeed.

Unlike the state’s lottery games that turn a profit because millions of people make relatively small bets, the video gambling machines will target a smaller number of gamblers who will find it all too easy to gamble away hundreds of dollars in one session.

We agree completely with state Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Bellerose ) who issued the following statement criticizing the governor’s plan: “Proposals to fund education on the backs of hopelessly addicted gamblers and people of lower socioeconomic status are absurd and cruel. The governor won’t say he’s proposing new taxes, but everyone knows gambling is a regressive form of taxation.”

We urge the legislature to turn a thumbs down on video gambling. There must be a better way to fund our schools. Bankrupting families already living on the economic fringe is not an acceptable solution.

Editorial: Gang violence

The stats look good. Crime, including violent crime, continues a sharp decline in nearly every precinct of the city. Nevertheless, two senseless killings in the past month remind us that our children are far from safe.

In both incidents, seven young men are accused of taking the life of an unarmed victim for no apparent reason. In the first assault, a Latin-American man from Ridgewood and six other Latinos were arrested on charges of beating a Russian-American construction worker to death with a baseball bat outside a Brooklyn bodega. In the second tragedy, a gang of Asian-American teenagers attacked two youths in a quiet Flushing neighborhood, killing one of the victims with a knife.

The race and ethnicity of the victims in the second case has not been revealed. Both attacks are clearly hate crimes, even if they don’t meet the formal definition.

These attacks happened in the same month that a Queens judge was handing down sentences of 23 to 25 years to a gang of Mexican-American thugs who brutally raped a woman in Flushing Meadows park after beating up her boyfriend.

Residents in the Flushing neighborhood say the gangs are a growing problem. They say that the fighting is happening every day. It is not unusual, they say, for a kid to get jumped for a book bag or a coat.

It’s time for the NYPD hammer to come down hard on the youth gangs, whether they are organized with names like Crips and Bloods, complete with rules and secret handshakes or just a bunch of punks who share a common heritage.

Editorial: Talk is cheap

When the Hip Hop Youth Summit Youth Council announced that they were planning to introduce a music program in four schools in southeast Queens, we were the first to cheers. The program was supposed to begin September, but so far it’s no where in sight.

With the backing of mega-millionaire Russell Simmons and the Sony Corp., the Queens Village-based Hip Hop Summit Youth Council was going to bring southeast Queens teens into music studios to teach them about the production aspects of the recording industry.

It sounded like a great way to capture the imagination of teenagers living in southeast Queens for whom there is no more powerful influence than music, especially hip hop music. It was easy to see how such a project could help develop business skills creativity and teamwork. But so far the only lesson is that when it comes to public service in southeast Queens, Simmons and Sony are very good talkers.

The principal of August Martin High School said she met with Randy Fisher from the Summit Council about one year ago and hasn’t heard from the Summit Council since.

The way we see it, Hip Hop owes something to the children of Queens. These young people have spent millions of dollars on rap CDs and concert tickets. Much of this music glorified drugs, violence and irresponsible sex.

We have noted in the past that performers like the rapper 50 Cent, whose claim to fame was being shot, going to prison and having sex, are pumping poison into the minds of impressionable children. The barons of the music industry who profited from the sale of such poison owe something to Queens. So far all they are offering is talk.

Posted 7:02 pm, October 10, 2011
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