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Letter: Wrong prescription for family leave

I was heartened to read that writer Kristina Rasmussen of the Illinois Policy Institute shares my interest in giving women more control of their lives. But her response to my proposed Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act -- a plan to give all working Americans paid family leave -- misses the reality facing today's working families ["A better benefit for maternity leave," Opinion, Aug. 11].

Currently, if an employer won't provide paid leave for the birth of a baby, a parent's illness, or a son or daughter who was wounded in the military, families are stuck with the choice between earning a paycheck or caring for their loved ones. The truth is that right now, only the wealthiest few can have it both ways.

The fact that the United States is the only industrialized nation without paid maternity leave does not mean our women are freer than other countries' women. This legislation would make it so that men and women will no longer have to choose between providing for their families or being there for a baby or a loved one who suddenly needs a few weeks of care.

Most families can't afford to put away enough money to cover weeks without a paycheck. Just as Social Security provides an important path to retirement, this legislation would provide an earned benefit that doesn't add a cent to the deficit. The ability to care for a family member should not be a luxury only for those who can afford it.

Kirsten Gillibrand, Brunswick

Editor's note: The writer is a U.S. senator representing New York.

Judge bears blame in Williams death

The blame always seems to fall on the police department ["Unprotected: The death of Santia Williams," News, Aug. 10].

Judges issue orders of protection, but this is like suspending a driver's license. A person can still drive, and in the case of an order of protection, a person can still kill.

Judges must use their authority to remove people like Jason Jenkins from our society and protect the people they endanger.

Sanford Schneider, Island Park

SUNY mismanaged takeover of hospital

I read "No hospital deal yet" [News, Aug. 8], about the delay in Southampton Hospital joining Stony Brook University Hospital's health care system. I noted the mention of "the LICH effect," meaning that SUNY's experience taking over Long Island College Hospital brought with it too much debt.

As a registered nurse at LICH for more than 30 years, I can tell you that Southampton should be concerned about "the SUNY effect."

LICH came to SUNY with millions of dollars in state grants to make improvements. Those improvements never fully happened. Where that money went is now being reviewed by the state attorney general's office.

The fact is that LICH was not "losing $13 million a month" before it was closed. As I testified before the State Senate committees on higher education and health in June 2013, that "loss" happened only after SUNY cut off sources of LICH revenue.

The fight to save LICH by doctors, nurses, health workers, community residents, organizations and local elected officials, including the winning mayoral candidate, lasted so long and was so strong because LICH was viable and important to the many communities that it served.

LICH was not the failure in this merger. LICH didn't "lose" millions. It was thrown away by SUNY.

Julie Semente, Brooklyn

Dismayed about country's divisions

Should the United States of America continue to be called by that name? Given the current state of affairs, it seems like a mockery.

Doesn't it seem bizarre that House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) is considering suing President Barack Obama ["Divided House votes to sue Obama," News, July 31]? It doesn't matter if you're a Republican, Democrat, independent, etc. This is just wrong!

There was a time when our country was united, with each state playing an integral role. Sadly, that concept appears to be replaced by the worst partisanship. We have become like two separate countries within one.

Our country appears weak and petty to the outside world. Americans need to re-evaluate their priorities and remember what it is that has made us unique: not our differences but our strengths as one united country.

Maureen King Cassidy, Malverne

In the right over power plant

Although my organization's opposition to the proposed Caithness II power plant was controversial, the overwhelming negative economic and environmental impacts required opposition ["Concessions on power," News, Aug. 8].

Long Island needs a 21st-century renewable energy plan, and the Affliated Brookhaven Civic Organizations is proud to be on the right side of history.

The Long Island Power Authority's analysis is best described as mythological power loss planning. Once exposed, LIPA's predictions appear irresponsible and irrational.

Long Island dodged a bullet. Ratepayers will not have to foot billions to build Caithness II. Now it is time for alternative energies such as solar, wind and geothermal.

MaryAnn Johnston, Stony Brook

Editor's note: The writer is the organization's president.