I hope Long Island voters have a good memory in November and remember Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's statement about how a railroad strike would be "a real pain, maybe, but not a disaster" ["The Cuomo question," News, July 16]. It shows just how out of touch he is with Long Island.
He made the statement in response to a question posed upstate, before people unaffected by a Long Island Rail Road strike. Then he takes credit, with a goofy smile on the front page of Newsday, as though he stepped in at the last minute to avoid a strike. He made a phone call! How politically convenient for him.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority should start putting its money first into safety, such as gaps at stations, and making sure employees are doing what they are supposed to be doing.
It should stop pushing for "public approval" and spending on making the customer a little more comfortable. Other countries shove their passengers in like animals going to slaughter.
People, stop crying about every little thing you see wrong and start appreciating what the LIRR is really all about, safe passage from one point to another. Take your eyes off your cellphones and enjoy the ride.
I am an infrequent LIRR commuter, but have observed the following on every trip: Tickets are only shown or punched twice on each ride on the Long Beach branch.
The people who get on the eastbound train after Jamaica -- at more than a handful of stops -- get a free trip. That's a lot of lost revenue. These folks know the system and abuse it. Conductors seem uninterested.
In addition, I receive the same antiquated paper ticket I received 60 years ago. In other countries, you swipe a card when you board and again when you disembark. No free rides.
Gabriele K. Libbey
New housing not
an efficient model
In the news story "Old school's new life" [July 11], Artspace says it is creating affordable housing from the former PS 109 in East Harlem. But what the organization should say is this is like hitting a casino jackpot for the tenants and developers.
First, New York City gave the building to the developer for $1; I'm sure its appraised value had to be several million dollars. The developer then spent $52.2 million renovating the building into 90 apartments.
That divides into $577,777 per apartment, and if you used an interest rate of 3.25 percent amortized over 30 years, the occupant of each unit should pay $2,511 a month. But instead the tenants will pay only $494 for a studio and $1,022 for a two-bedroom. Most of the $52.2 million came from government agencies, with some from private contributors. Via low-income tax credits, taxpayers will subsidize the heat, hot water, taxes and common charges forever.
This is just unsustainable. This isn't a project that should be sugarcoated as a great thing to be replicated.
Questionable spending in Nassau
When I saw the letter about Nassau County's new police crime lab, I cringed ["$20 million for new crime lab's no steal," July 20]. The writer was correct: They didn't need a new place when they already had a lab.
It's confusing that County Executive Edward Mangano enjoys privatizing as many services as possible to save money for residents and has been sending most of the crime lab work out to private labs. Why not continue this and save the $20 million?
Editor's note: The writer is a retired sewage plant laboratory director for Nassau County.
The fact that Nassau County paid millions to part-time employees illustrates the problem of patronage, and tax money spent for friends and family members ["County paid $26 million to part-timers," News, July 22]. If these public jobs are so important, wouldn't it make sense to search for better, more qualified people? It seems County Executive Edward Mangano streamlined the county government, but he made sure he took care of his friends.
Newsday shouldn't just look into the county government. This problem also exists in the Town of Hempstead and other taxing districts. Hempstead seems like a family-owned and operated business, with several members of families collecting huge benefits.
Editor's note: The writer is president of the Elmont East End Civic Association, and was a Democratic candidate for State Assembly in 2010.
Why are cigarettes still legal?
Maybe I'm a little ignorant but if a jury awards the widow of a smoker $23.6 billion in damages, why is R.J. Reynolds allowed to keep making and selling its cancer sticks?
Ban cigarettes, save lives. Is there any good that comes from smoking that justifies so many people dying from lung and other cancers?