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Letter: North-south LI transit exists now

Relative to the $78 million rapid bus plan envisioned by Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, I would argue that something like the north-south transit service he seeks already exists and is available almost free of additional taxpayer cost ["Rapid-bus plan backed," News, July 31].

The key lies in whether the Long Island Rail Road is willing to modify its New York City-based travel orientation to one that attempts to facilitate north-south travel in Nassau and Suffolk.

Between Hicksville and Babylon, two of the LIRR's busiest stations, there is a little-known stretch of rail called the Central branch. This 10 miles of non-electrified, single track provides critical flexibility for the LIRR in routing some Montauk branch trains via the Main Line. Yet virtually none of these trains has a scheduled stop at either Hicksville or Babylon. If they did, it would enable passengers to transfer from one of the LIRR's branches to another. Such transfers are available in most European rail systems.

Were the LIRR to stop all of its trains at both Hicksville and Babylon -- and perhaps even add "scoot" diesel service between these points -- the intra-county connectivity between communities and activity centers on the Port Jefferson, Ronkonkoma and Babylon-Montauk branches could be accomplished. It would eliminate the lengthier, time-consuming and more expensive transfers via Jamaica. And even though it might appear to be roundabout, travel by rail connection may be a lot speedier than navigating a north-south bus link through Long Island traffic.

Mike Licitra, Deer Park

Editor's note: The writer is a retired transportation planner supervisor for Nassau County.

Educated citizens a check on gov't

The Aug. 3 letter "Government must get out of its own way" criticized our governments for expanding and usurping power. While I am sympathetic to some of these complaints, they are simply an emotional statement of the writer's preferences without a helpful, balanced principle upon which to improve things.

We can probably agree that ideally a republic is a place where citizens choose their leaders; a democracy one where citizens have a more direct role in laws and policies. These principles suggest that governments should be limited in their functions so they would serve us, not so that we are servants of government.

Beyond those ideas, there are very serious differences. The writer suggests that the only way government can be prevented from becoming oppressive is to compress it -- perhaps to bathtub size? Wrong! Some ancient Greeks saw a better way: education for citizenship in the broadest sense. Without an intelligent, informed and involved public, neither a republic nor a democracy is possible.

If these conditions are not met and striven for continuously and vigorously, then the writer's prescription is correct. It is up to us to raise our children to be citizens, or we will be ruled by selfish and bloodthirsty elites serving themselves. Of course, they prefer to operate behind the panel, controlling the distracting flashing lights and sounds.

Robert M. Goldberg, Jericho

Summer lunch idea a vote grab

What Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) is really doing with her expanded summer lunch program is lobbying for more votes with our dollars ["Lobbying for lunches," News, Aug. 2]. Making more low-income schoolchildren "eligible" equates to making them "more dependent" on the government for handouts. She's garnering votes by giving away taxpayers' money. Maybe she should give away her own money and see if that helps before she experiments with ours.

Politicians of all parties want to buy votes instead of doing what's right for the people. They are more interested in getting elected than helping this country.

It's time to vote out all incumbents and try to start fresh.

Robert Perlow, Hampton Bays

School leaders' pensions exorbitant

Regarding "Pensions for educators: 19 of NY's top 20 led LI districts" [News, Aug. 3], this is another reason to consolidate the more than 120 school districts on Long Island.

Huge salaries soak up our taxes, and pensions add to the overall cost over time. Notice that these school administrators all had very long careers. Can a teacher last that long in the classroom?

Roy Sperrazza, Melville

Editor's note: The writer is a retired teacher.

I am a retired postal worker with 34 years of service. My yearly pension is a little more than the top-earning administrator's monthly pension. It is obscene that I have to pay their pensions with my school taxes.

I am a veteran and a senior citizen living on a fixed income. Maybe the career legislators can find it in their hearts, if they have them, to eliminate the school tax portion of the property tax bill for residents older than 70. This would improve the economy by giving seniors more discretionary funds to spend at local businesses and for local services.

I hope the administrators are able to survive on annual pensions of only $300,000, as I am living on a pension of $31,800!

Ed Kollar, Lindenhurst