The Long Island Rail Road's unions have to know that Metropolitan Transportation Authority chairman Thomas Prendergast is not going to hand out 17 percent raises without any contributions to pensions and health care ["No delays, MTA says," News, June 20].

The unions also have to know that many people have made their vacation plans beginning in July, which is why they "generously" offered to delay a possible strike until September -- to inconvenience as many as possible.

These already overpaid individuals, whose average salary was $87,000 in 2012, should take the MTA's 11 percent offer. This would still be 11 percent more than just about anyone else will get.

Ed Levy, Valley Stream

Authentic whiskey style at issue

Regarding "Whiskey war" [Business, June 12], I have just one question: Who in the heck is George Dickel?

There's your answer to the whiskey war over which is the authentic Tennessee style. There has been only one name associated with the Tennessee gold, and that has been Jack Daniel's.

June Votava, Yaphank

Romney's opinions on Iran and Russia

How surprising to see Mitt Romney, denigrator of 47 percent of the American public, holder of binders full of women, and the electoral equivalent of Capt. Edward Smith of the RMS Titanic, pass himself off as prescient on foreign affairs by commenting on recent actions by Russia and events in Iran.

It's more like the broken-clock theory than deep thinking: Every politician thinks he or she has the correct time at least twice a day.

Clifford D. Glass, Rego Park

Public works and damaged property

While I don't entirely agree with "Counties should repair sidewalks" [Letters, June 16], I do feel that the county or town should acknowledge and pay for damages they cause. After superstorm Sandy, damages were treated as, "It's your problem." If someone or something on my property damages a neighbor's property, I am responsible for repair.

Why then is the town or county not responsible? When payloaders were sent to pick up debris post-Sandy, one drove up on our property and cracked and depressed portions of our sidewalk. My resulting inquiries ended with the sanitation department, the town and county pointing fingers at each other.

Somewhere there must be a record of payments to these subcontractors. The result was, we will have to foot the bill.

Linda Gundersen, Oceanside

Narrowing turnpike won't add safety

It saddens me to think yet another human being has lost her life to the traffic of Hempstead Turnpike ["Family's agony," News, June 16].

I honestly do not understand how anyone can hit someone -- or anything -- without stopping to see what just occurred. Aside from this, you cannot micromanage every aspect of the road. With all due respect to Ryan Lynch of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, who argues for more traffic-safety measures, narrowing the lanes from three to two would just create more congestion. Does he travel Hempstead Turnpike east and west daily? Most of the time it's a traffic nightmare.

Why not put the exorbitant taxes we pay into pedestrian skywalks and repaving?

Diana Blasic, Levittown

Teacher salaries aren't the problem

Columnist Michael Dobie is looking in all in the wrong places ["Voter's remorse on a school budget," Opinion, June 8]. While it's in vogue on Long Island to blame teacher pay raises for districts' fiscal ills, the answer to why West Babylon finds itself in a budget mess lies 3.5 hours away in Albany.

In 2008-09, state operating aid to West Babylon totaled $31 million. This school year, West Babylon received $27.3 million, or about 12 percent less. Had Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and the State Legislature kept pace with inflation for those five years -- instead of imposing devastating cuts on West Babylon and others, while delivering tax cuts to the wealthy and corporations, among others -- my district would have been able to protect sports teams, clubs, some academic programs and valued colleagues, while likely holding property tax increases to near zero.

Adding insult to injury, Albany's undemocratic tax cap denies residents local control of schools while creating division in the community and confusing voters. This prevents the district from raising the funds it needs locally.

West Babylon teachers have already been part of the solution. Two years ago, the union I lead agreed to contract concessions that saved the school district more than $800,000. The solution is not to keep asking teachers for givebacks or to tilt the playing field in collective bargaining to favor management. Teachers are taxpayers, too. Our salaries support local businesses, and we deserve to be compensated fairly.

Instead, Long Islanders should be demanding that Albany fund its public education system properly and equitably.

Patricia Squicciarini, West Babylon

Editor's note: The writer is the president of the West Babylon teachers union.


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