LI benefited from Mario’s practicality

Newsday’s editorial “The poet and pragmatist” beautifully captured Mario Cuomo’s seemingly paradoxical mix.

As the first president of the Long Island Housing Partnership, I witnessed Cuomo’s pragmatic idealism. Long Island’s business community created the partnership as an economic development initiative: Its mission was to stem the tide of the Island’s young workers leaving in search of homes they could afford.

In April 1988, Cuomo provided instant credibility when he spoke at the 4-month-old organization’s first annual meeting. He did not talk, however, about middle-income home ownership. Instead, he spoke eloquently of the needs of the homeless and what a safe, secure rental means to poor families.

Cuomo accepted the speaking engagement because of the practical benefits of an alliance with Bob McMillan, the partnership’s founding chairman and an influential Long Island Republican. However, it was a policy position of Cuomo’s that enabled the partnership to actually begin its work.

He championed a state program of home-ownership grants to middle-income, first-time buyers despite the fact that the program was an initiative of the GOP-controlled State Senate. The Democratic Assembly was insisting on a program to create rentals for low-income and homeless New Yorkers. Cuomo forged a deal that got both programs approved. In doing so, he enabled the creation of thousands of homes - rental and owned - for low- and moderate-income New Yorkers.

Jim Morgo

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Bayport

MTA instructs its riders on courtesy

Cathy Young’s column analyzed space hogging on public transit and the MTA’s “anti-spread campaign” [“The obsession with ‘manspreading’,” Opinion, Jan. 6.] I’d like to make another point.

I am tired of the MTA’s campaigns focused on customers. The Long Island Rail Road also has a rider courtesy campaign, where customers are told how to sit, talk on the phone and sneeze.

This is particularly offensive coming from a railroad with some of the rudest conductors on the planet. In 17 years of riding, I have seen doors closed on people, questions disregarded and a general insensitivity to rider hardship. I would say to the MTA, worry about your own manners and courtesy first.

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Alan Woodruff

Floral Park

Don’t understand opt-out movement

I just finished reading yet another article regarding Common Core testing [“Opt-out voices rise at Bohemia forum,” News, March 19], and the very vocal push by a loud minority of mostly educators to have students opt out of these tests.

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Educators have a personal stake in the outcome of these tests, in the form of potentially lower ratings on their evaluations, so it’s easy to understand why they would like these tests to disappear. However, as a parent of children in the fifth and seventh grades, I am struggling to understand why parents are so eager to have their children opt out.

The only arguments that I have heard are that the tests are too challenging and are causing undue stress for children. The tests are extremely challenging, but by allowing children to opt out, we’re effectively telling them that we don’t believe that they are up to the challenge. And we’re teaching them that it’s OK to simply avoid things outside their comfort zone.

I’m at a loss to understand why children experience so much stress over these tests. Common Core tests are simply a tool to aid in evaluating progress and identifying areas in which a student may need extra attention. There seems to be no direct relationship between the test results and a student’s academic standing, so why all the fuss?

I’ve heard some students complain that they were told in class that if they didn’t do well, their teachers may lose their jobs. I hope it’s not true, because it would be very troubling to discover that educators were pushing their own personal agenda to children in the classroom.

Mike Bompane

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Nesconset

Input for teacher evals

New York’s quest for a fair teacher evaluation system needs to include those most affected: teachers, administrators and students [“Albany finally earns an A,” Editorial, April 1].

We on the front lines don’t deny that improvements are necessary. We welcome changes that would allow those of us who go above and beyond to be evaluated on the work we are doing.

We would welcome a change in the narrative of what is said about teachers, instead of constantly hearing about what we don’t do, how we don’t do it, and how good and easy we have it.

Rissa Zimmerman

Editor’s note: The writer is an elementary schoolteacher.

Nassau Coliseum plan is too small

As Hempstead Town Board members prepare to evaluate a plan for a new 13,000-seat arena to replace the antiquated Nassau Coliseum, they should carefully consider the numbers - not the cost so much as the capacity [“Not yet shovel ready,” News, April 30].

While a 13,000-seat arena would certainly provide intimate seating for concerts and minor league sports, such a capacity would be too small to qualify as the home arena for any NBA or NHL team. Why limit the county’s options from the start?

More isn’t always better, sometimes it’s just more. Not in this case. More seating would enable Nassau County to once again, at some point, become the home of a professional sports franchise.

Keeping all options open is good business. And you can’t put a number on that.

Lee Nober

Old Bethpage

Editor’s note: The writer teaches sports management at Walt Whitman High School and Farmingdale State College.

Boy Scouts reflect American evolution

The story about the Boy Scouts of America changing its stance about participation by openly gay adults quoted former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, now president of the Boy Scouts [“Scouts rethink gay ban,” News, May 22].

He said, “We must deal with the world as it is, not as we might wish it to be.” What a statement!

If only all the people who are anti-gay, anti-women, anti-black, anti-Hispanic, anti-immigrant, anti-health care, anti-same sex marriage, etc., would read and understand that statement. This country is clearly evolving into a more diverse, more accepting, more tolerant and more inclusive society, and we’re all better off for that!

Mike Bergen

West Babylon

Welfare? Not so fast

The letter “Trump’s appeal is the pocketbook” included the statement, “People like the idea that perhaps if we secure the borders, taxpayers will stop having to pay welfare benefits to immigrants here illegally.”

This concept of having to pay welfare to immigrants here illegally is erroneous. And yet, it is becoming the fear mantra of all of our politicians. Repetition eventually creates the perception of fact. I’ve heard this welfare concept repeated as “fact” by those I once believed to be informed leaders. I have heard this “fact” from leaders and volunteers of outreach programs who serve immigrants. Why don’t those at the front of this debate and those serving immigrants directly have a clearer understanding of social service entitlements?

I ask immigrant advocate organizations to clear up this concept. Use clear language, documented agency sources and indisputable figures. Repeat the truth as the mantra.

Even legal permanent residents must pay into the Social Security and Medicare systems for 10 years before they are eligible to receive benefits when they retire. In most cases, these legal residents can not receive Supplemental Security Income, which is available only to U.S. citizens. They are not eligible for means-tested public benefits until five years after receiving green cards.

Advocates for immigrants should say this, and also speak about the requirements for hospitals to continue their nonprofit status. Talk about contributions from immigrants here illegally through taxpayer identification numbers for benefits they will never withdraw as noncitizens.

It is time to bombard with the truth!

Janet Liotta

Farmingdale

Editor’s note: The writer worked with immigrants for 15 years as a founder of Farmingdale Citizens For Viable Solutions, an advocacy organization.