Regarding "Priority 1: Settle LIRR impasse" [Editorial, June 3], is there such a thing as a good time to strike?

Let's set the record straight for all the experts, critics of labor and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. The unions have done everything in their power to prevent a strike! Labor has waited out a long and difficult process to finally have the legal right to take the next step.

Union leaders have requested an extension on the final cooling-off period to delay a strike, in an effort to spare riders and summer businesses any hardship, and to allow time for a peaceful resolution. Any accusations about a political agenda just feed the blame game. Local politicians know that Long Island Rail Road unions have always cared about the needs of the public and have acted professionally.

Both sides have had the opportunity to present their cases, and there were compromises from both sides' original offers. It's time for the MTA to accept the expert ruling of six members of two presidential mediation panels and move on.

Anthony Simon, Babylon

Editor's note: The writer is spokesman for a coalition of five of the eight LIRR unions, representing more than 75 percent of the members involved in the contract dispute.

Pre-K funds elusive for LI schools

With fanfare, New York State included in its recent budget $340 million for much-needed pre-K programs.

Surprisingly, $300 million was set aside for New York City, with only $40 million left for the rest of the state. Even that $40 million is of little use to Long Island, because as we are just learning now, accessing it has been made so difficult.

The need for pre-K on Long Island is great. Only half of our school districts offer it, serving fewer than 9,000 of the about 30,000 4-year-olds. Yet, while all other state education funds are provided to districts in the current school year, that is not the case for this pre-K funding.

In this case, the state will reimburse providers only up to 25 percent by April, with the rest coming after the school year has ended. Districts must secure most of the funding from their own revenue in the current school year, while still remaining under the 2 percent tax cap.

This funding process is not adequate and should be fixed. Otherwise, many of Long Island's 4-year-olds will miss the opportunity to gain critical skills that would prepare them for school success.

Jennifer Marino Rojas, Garden City

Editor's note: The writer is vice president of grants and operations at the Rauch Foundation, a private organization that researches and advocates for Long Island communities.

No basis for pot leading to heroin

Columnist William F.B. O'Reilly says that marijuana is a gateway drug to heroin ["From pot to heroin in no time at all," Opinion, May 30].

I find that rather obtuse. He says that he experimented in his teens with pot, which led to trying a variety of drugs and rehab. But he has had no experience with heroin. He isn't a psychologist or expert. He is neither a researcher nor a statistician.

For him to issue this opinion is like saying that hot weather in India is likely to influence ice cream sales in the United States. A change in ice cream sales can be attributed to almost anything. However, correlation is not causation.

Alcohol is more of a gateway drug to heroin than marijuana. Most heroin users predated their use with alcohol. However, it would be ridiculous to say that alcohol use led to heroin.

The issue is that marijuana will be legalized very shortly in New York State. It has incredible medicinal significance, helping people deal with pain from multiple sclerosis, sciatica, cancer, migraine headaches and more. This is well documented.

O'Reilly also fails to mention that those who suffer from addictive personality disorders are going to find a way to self-medicate -- as he did -- whether drugs are legal or not.

Lyle Weiser, Manorville

Editor's note: The writer is a clinical psychologist.

As a professor who teaches research, I continually face the challenge of teaching my students the skill of differentiating between relationship and causation. When two concepts are highly related, it is often because they are both being caused by a third factor.

In the case of pot and heroin, use of both of these could be initiated by other factors, such as risk-taking or thrill-seeking. When studies are done to see what percentage of people who use marijuana go on to use heroin, the percentage is minuscule. Keeping marijuana in the same category as street narcotics, which need to be obtained illegally, makes it easier for those using marijuana to be exposed to heroin.

Confused reasoning prevents educated discussion about the use of medical marijuana. While the use of opioids and narcotics -- which are synthetic chemical relatives of heroin -- is widely accepted in health care, those who suffer intractable nausea and vomiting related to chemotherapy, glaucoma and other serious illnesses must obtain their treatment drug illegally.

Lois Biggin Moylan, West Hempstead

Editor's note: The writer is a professor of nursing at Molloy College.


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