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Letter: 'Centrist' Dems and Obamacare

Newsday published an extensive piece gauging the left/right ideological swing of Long Island's congressional delegation ["LI's reps in Congress: The centrists," News, March 16]. While the conclusion was that virtually all have moved to the center, their votes on Obamacare, the most consequential liberal piece of legislation in decades, went virtually unmentioned. In this story, it carried no more weight than relatively conventional votes on spending, gay rights, abortion and the environment.

It's important to remember only Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) voted against the controversial and presently unworkable health care law. The four Democrats -- Reps. Tim Bishop of Southampton, Gregory Meeks of Queens, Carolyn McCarthy of Mineola and Steve Israel of Huntington -- voted for the law and in some cases stumped for its passage.

Long Islanders bought into the liberal utopian talking points offered by their Democrat representatives. They believed the Affordable Care Act would be everything that was promised. It's been anything but.

Charter schools not comparable

A recent letter writer compares schools to pizza parlors to demonstrate school choice ["School reform troubling," March 16]. If he is trying to prove the superiority of charters, he failed to include one important detail.

A "charter" pizza parlor gets to hand-select its ingredients and is free to accept or reject any of those ingredients at will. By contrast, a "public" pizza parlor must make its fare out of whatever the delivery truck brings to its door that day.

Until charter schools are required to educate anyone and everyone and show they can do so successfully, they have no right to beat their chests.

Frederic Stark, Oceanside

Editor's note: The writer is the president of the Hewlett-Woodmere teachers union.

Don't lose LI gains in solar

In "State to take over LI solar panel rebate" [News, March 13], it's not at all clear that New York State Energy Research and Development Authority taking over would be a good thing.

NYSERDA is a competent organization. However, the Long Island Power Authority is regularly listed among the top 10 municipal utilities for annual solar installations by the nonprofit Solar Electric Power Association, and changing the administration of a highly successful program does raise some questions.

With only 15 percent of the state's population, Long Island accounts for about 45 percent of total installed solar megawatts in New York. If NYSERDA administers the program, will there be Long Island based staff? Will the institutional experience and connections with Long Island's industry be lost?

The federal tax credit for solar installation is set to expire at the end of 2016. The state rebate program is planned to end in 2017. If a strong, self-sustaining solar industry is not developed by that time, there is a danger of the collapse of the industry, continued dependence on polluting fossil fuels, and the loss of many green jobs. We should be careful to ensure that ongoing stewardship of the program is the best possible.

Andrew Manitt, Rockville Centre

Editor's note: The writer is the research director for the Sustainability Institute at Molloy College.

Bill would deter youthful violence

Your editorial, "Prison reforms good for New York" [March 14], shows a welcome trend toward more restorative justice programs, especially for youthful offenders.

Increasing the range of proven alternatives to our nation's mass incarceration of over 2 million human beings, many for non-violent crimes, is long overdue. It saves money and young lives.

Bipartisan federal legislation is being introduced this spring called the Youth PROMISE Act -- Youth Prison Reduction through Opportunities, Mentoring, Intervention, Support, and Education Act. If passed, it would implement and fund evidence-based practices related to juvenile justice and criminal gang activity, including violence prevention, drug treatment and support programs overseen by state-level PROMISE advisory panels.

This legislation is endorsed by the National Conference of Mayors and many other community organizations. Let's hope that Congress will pass this common-sense legislation.

Thomas Lyon, Mount Sinai

Editor's note: The writer is a team leader for the Peace Alliance Action Team of Long Island, which advocates against crime and violence.