Fix Community Board
The Community Board, while advisory in nature, should serve as a forum for community debate and consensus building, not merely a rubber stamp for City agencies. Towards that end, I have two ideas that should lead to better debate and decision-making,
- ) Get rid of the requirement to sign-up in advance for public speaking. Most residents who attend Board meetings go there to listen and learn, not make canned statements. The requirement to sign up in advance marginalizes those people who may have a question or comment which discourages public discourse and limits the conversation.
- ) Don't vote on important issues until you hear all sides. In January CB 14 voted 2-1 to support Select Bus Service (SBS) after only hearing the Department of Transportation's (DOT) side of the story. Two months later the Board invited the Queens Public Transit Committee's (QPTC) to present the other side of the story. The vote that followed was almost unanimously against SBS.
Hooray, right? Not so fast. Last month a special Board meeting in Bayswater discussed the critical issue of re-zoning downtown Far Rockaway which included plans for two 15-story buildings. NYC Economic Development Corp (EDC) did an hour-long presentation selling the idea while residents were given just one-minute to speak. Worse, the Bayswater Civic Association was not allowed to formally present their strong objections and suggestions for improvement. Predictably the Board overwhelmingly voted to support the City's plan.
Recently DOT made two presentations regarding Shore Front Parkway (SFP) “improvements.” The Rockaway Beach Civic Association (RBCA) was allowed a brief rebuttal, but it narrowly focused on two issues and presented just one point of view.
Unfortunately, the QPTC nor any other "pro-transportation" group was invited to advocate for more efficient use of SFP including the restoration of the two lanes removed by DOT and a more reasonable 30 mph speed limit. The community deserves to hear from transportation experts with innovative ideas such as smart traffic lights, flashing crosswalk lights and other technology that will help cars and pedestrians coexist safely and efficiently.
If incomplete and flawed information leads to poor decisions, why do we keep doing it? Board members are volunteers who deserve all the information necessary to make good decisions. So why then are they continually denied the opportunity to hear both sides of the story? Do you wonder about that too?
Please print this letter sent to Betty Rosa, Chancellor NYS Board of Regents.
Dear Chancellor Rosa:
The NY Post reported last week that CUNY professors would be defying their responsibilities to protest politics on May Day, Monday May 1. The news item quoted the president of CUNY's Professional Staff Congress, Barbara Bowen, urging fellow instructors to “teach resistance” by “integrating into our classes an examination of Trump’s policies as they are relevant to your subject, whether it be biology, finance, nursing or history."
Don't you think Madame Chancellor that curriculum re-development on an ad hoc basis is a bit beyond the responsibilities of NY educators?
And, Madame Chancellor, should New York's educational system be run by a class of 'banana-republic' political hacks in which politics trumps a science education, a fine arts education, a medical education, or even a liberal arts education?
In our 'Excelsior/Ever Upward' state, as Governor Cuomo likes to say, NY State families and students alike take on great financial obligations to educate themselves through CUNY & SUNY to improve their own careers and naturally to improve all society.
They are being cheated by these professors.
I ask you Madame Chancellor, to investigate and then, if true, prosecute these professors to the fullest extent of state policy. Thank you.
Dear Peter Mahon:
Pete, your column regarding "Luddites" reminded me of an old "one box" cartoon (I think from the New Yorker). It was a cartoon of a woman at a desk wearing an operator style headset with a microphone in front of her. She was smoking up a storm with a pile of used cigarettes in the ash tray and she appeared to be nervously shaking. At the bottom of the cartoon was the following: "At the tone, the time will be 10:02 and ten seconds. At the tone the time will be 10:02 and twenty seconds. At the tone...".
Another source of amusement I found was Woody Allens' old skit about the elevator getting even with him for punching the toaster. If you have a chance, it's five minutes well spent for a good
Enjoy your column. Keep 'em coming!
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