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Letter: 'Ludicrous' tying Levy, hate crime

LatinoJustice PRLDEF president Juan Cartagena complains that the U.S. Justice Department "made no findings of fact about what went wrong within the police force" . There is a good reason for that: There were no facts to support this false claim.

Even Cartagena himself failed to mention a single case where evidence existed warranting an arrest, and no arrest was made.

Don't you think that after five years of investigation, all the histrionics and all the media sensationalism, that at least one advocate would have come up with at least one specific case?

The killing of Marcelo Lucero was heinous, and those responsible are behind bars. But it is ludicrous for Cartagena and the illegal immigration lobby to suggest that the killing was the result of county policy regarding illegal immigration or police allegedly dismissing Hispanic complaints.

Two weeks after Lucero's death, immigrant Jose Sucuzhanay was also fatally beaten by thugs because he was Hispanic. But this occurred in Brooklyn, and no one called for federal investigations or blamed the death on Mayor Michael Bloomberg or the New York City Police Department.

Similarly, no one is linking city policy to the hate-filled "knockout" attacks where Jews are sucker-punched by African-American males.

Cartagena suggests hate crimes came and left with my administration, despite the fact that infamous hate crimes such as the assault in a Shirley warehouse and the fire at a Farmingville home occurred before my tenure, and that many such crimes continued after I moved on.

Ultimately, Newsday's headline should have read, "Suffolk police exonerated."

Steve Levy, Bayport

Editor's note: The writer is a former Suffolk County executive.

Defending choice of third-grade text

In her column "Fear of agendas and the Common Core" [Opinion, Dec. 19], Anne Michaud is right to admire "the Southold superintendent for standing by his teachers' judgment" and allowing his students to read Jeanette Winter's award-winning "Nasreen's Secret School."

Books like this challenge our kids to use new and more difficult material to engage their minds and understand the world around them.

Through books like "Nasreen," the Common Core is fundamentally changing the expectations, content and learning experience for students and teachers. The work is harder, the teaching style is different, and the results can be profoundly more meaningful.

Expeditionary Learning, a national network of more than 160 public and charter schools, collaborated with teachers to select texts for this English language arts curriculum for third-graders in New York State.

The "Nasreen" text was included because it is high-quality literature worthy of reading closely, and because it builds students' knowledge of the diversity of cultures and experiences in our world. These are the foundations for building strong reading comprehension.

With texts like "Nasreen," we believe the Common Core provides an opportunity to create learning experiences where teachers and students can do more than they thought was possible.

Cheryl Dobbertin, Manhattan

Editor's note: The writer is the director of professional development for Expeditionary Learning.

Middle class erosion hurts all

Columnist Lane Filler claims that the legend that Henry Ford paid his workers higher wages so they could afford his cars is false ["Ford didn't pay well just to be nice," Opinion, Dec. 18].

The legend, he says, gave rise to "the idea that paying higher wages than the market demands increases the size of the middle class, the buying power of laborers and the prosperity of the companies that pay those inflated wages."

Nowhere in his column, however, does Filler provide evidence to refute that greater purchasing power increases the size of the middle class. This is, therefore, still a compelling reason to increase the minimum wage today!

If the goal of this column was to convince us that the minimum wage does not need to be increased, the opinion piece fails. It doesn't really matter what Ford's motivation was when he increased the pay; the effect remains valid.

Patricia Costell, Port Jefferson Station

Whether Henry Ford raised the salaries of his workers for the social good or for the bottom line is pointless. The important fact is that he did, and both worker and company profited from this symbiotic relationship. The lesson from Ford, however, appears to be lost in the economic climate of the past two generations.

As wealth and political clout begin to accumulate in the uppermost tiers of society without trickling down, the net result is the erosion of the middle class, which must now bear the load of taxes.

Make no mistake: The only thing that prevents a return to slave labor is the worker. If anyone doubts this, I suggest they read Upton Sinclair to see how things used to be.

The unfortunates who survive will not only lack the basic necessities, they will be without hope. Without a thriving middle class, the upper echelons will make themselves vulnerable to a turbulent revolution. Just open your history books.

Harry Hauca, Northport