Editorial: Birth of a democracy

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The other shoe will drop next Tuesday in the experiment in democracy that began with the passing of term limits. The political landscape in Queens and in all of New York City is about to change dramatically.

On Tuesday, you will be asked to elect a new mayor, a new public advocate, a new borough president and a new council member to represent your interests at City Hall.

Only time will tell whether term limits will lead to an improved city government. Every council member representing Queens will be replaced. The senior members on the council will be the handful serving a second term. Although some of the likely winners have been senior aides to the council member they are going to replace, others will be completely new to the political process.

In theory, the new government will be more responsive to your needs. The bums will be thrown out along with truly dedicated public servants. The new crew will have at most eight years to put their mark on this city.

The new council will be called upon to work with a man who will be hard-pressed to fill the gigantic shoes of Mayor Giuliani. Together the mayor and the Council will have the task of rebuilding Lower Manhattan and moving forward while keeping the city from the brink of economic collapse. The road ahead could not be more challenging.

This city has come a long way in the last eight years. Rudy Giuliani has proved that this city is not unmanageable. With the help of three police commissioners – Bill Bratton, Howard Safir and Bernard Kerik – he has proved that violent crime can be brought under control.

The new government must build on the success of the Giuliani administration. It will take courage and wisdom to put the tragedy of Sept. 11 behind us. It will take unity and a clear sense of purpose to move forward.

Editorial: Home of the brave

Last week we had some very unflattering words for the men and women who represent Queens in the U.S. House of Representatives. We condemned their decision to close the House in response to the anthrax threat.

As the fear of anthrax continues to spread, there is one group that has shown particular courage. Investigators believe that in every case the anthrax has been delivered through the mail. There is no group at greater risk than the people working in post offices across the country. And it seems to us that those working in the New York City metropolitan area are especially at risk. The letters that brought this biological poison to the New York Post and the television networks all passed through a post office. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of postal workers have already been exposed to this lethal dust.

The powder used to carry the deadly bacteria readily seeps through envelopes and into the air. No one could blame mail sorters or letter carriers if they refused to do their jobs until their workplaces were sterilized and thoroughly tested. And yet, this has not happened.

The postal workers in New York, New Jersey and Washington, D.C. have demonstrated remarkable courage. Imagine the damage that the cowards responsible for this biological terrorism could have done if they had forced the closing of a major distribution center or the entire U.S. Postal Service, just as they did with the House of Representatives.

The letter carriers, mail sorters and other post office workers have deprived the terrorists of their victory.

Editorial: No teacher freeze

It remains unclear just how badly the city’s economy will be hurt by the attack on the World Trade Center. Preparing for the worst, Mayor Giuliani has asked every agency to cut millions of dollars from their budgets. In addition, the mayor has ordered a hiring freeze.

The city agencies have been cutting budgets for eight years. The new cuts won’t be easy, but with the level of federal support still uncertain and the state reducing its support for the city, the mayor had little choice but to cut spending and put the brakes on new hires.

But we do not agree with mayoral candidate Mike Bloomberg, who has suggested that the city extend the hiring freeze to new teachers. The city is facing a teacher shortage. As a business leader, Bloomberg should know that the city’s public school teachers are leaving the city for better paying jobs in the suburbs. Thousands of other teachers will retire this year. When these teachers leave, they must be replaced.

Although there may be waste in the public school system, there is no surplus of teachers. Rather than cutting, the new city government must be fully committed to rebuilding the public school system, even during a period of economic crisis.

The city cannot afford to cut back on spending by not hiring new teachers. We cannot mortgage the future of our children to solve a temporary budget problem. The cuts put into place by the Board of Education before Sept. 11 were already devastating.

A teacher hiring freeze must be taken off the table.

Posted 7:25 pm, October 10, 2011
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