After we review LIPA, let's review Albany
Two of our New York State senators called for a review of the Long Island Power Authority's performance . While I agree that many Long Island communities were put through tremendous hardships last weekend, in LIPA's defense the underlying cause was an extremely powerful storm that ravaged our region.
If these two senators would like to review LIPA management's actions, so be it - but they should at least acknowledge the efforts of LIPA's line workers and the line responders of our local municipalities, many of whom had to leave behind their own problems to try to help our communities.
After the senators conduct whatever kind of review of LIPA they would like, I strongly suggest they then call for a review of the performance of all of our elected officials in Albany. I am quite sure they don't have a force of nature to blame for one of the most unproductive, uncivil and, quite frankly, embarrassing years in our state government's history.
Last-gasp effort is unconstitutional
Where is the hue and cry calling for investigations? Where are the banner headlines calling for the heads of various politician? I am talking about the unconstitutional maneuvers by the Democrats to force through the health care bill. The Democratic leadership is trying to craft the "Slaughter Solution" to allow the House Democrats to vote for a bill and have that bill affirm another bill. This attempt by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi et al is in clear violation of the Constitution.
Time for Congress to stand up for change
In the past few years I have seen my health care costs increase dramatically - from expensive to absolutely unsustainable. I know friends and neighbors who have had to fight insurance battles while simultaneously fighting to live through cancer. I am sick and tired of watching big insurance companies abuse my loved ones. And I cannot understand how so many Americans can suddenly turn their backs on the larger American community.
I voted for President Barack Obama and my representatives in Congress because I believe in health care reform. It's time for our members of Congress to stop talking about reform, and take action: Stand up for Long Islanders, stand up for working men and women, stand up for Americans - by standing up for health care!
Billions for Iraq war could be better spent
Friday marked the seventh year of U.S. occupation of Iraq. In addition to the human costs of more than 4,300 U.S. troops, 300 other coalition troops, and 1 million Iraqis killed in this war and occupation, there are financial costs that are nearly as intolerable and outrageous:
Since 2003, according to the National Priorities Project, taxpayers in Nassau County have paid $7.8 billion, taxpayers in Queens have paid $7.7 billion and taxpayers in Suffolk County have paid $7.5 billion for this illegal, unnecessary war that President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney lied us into, and which President Barack Obama is continuing by planning to station 50,000 U.S. troops there after the supposed 2011 withdrawal of most U.S. forces.
How much health care, infrastructure repair, needed housing, tax relief, and how many jobs could have been provided on Long Island by this total of $23 billion wasted on the Iraq war and occupation?
Diocese cutbacks target wrong groups
While I believe there are steps necessary to alleviate the financial crisis in the Diocese of Rockville Centre and certainly don't envy Bishop William Murphy's decisions to send out severance packages, I do take exception to two of the groups that were targeted .
The first is the parish outreach coordinators. These are the people who flesh out the gospel in everyday encounters with the growing numbers of people suffering from the effects of the recession. Our church can't afford to lose even one of these valiant and unrecognized ministers.
The other is the elementary school teachers. My mother was a shop steward and my brother was an officer in his union; I'm a life member of the Suffolk County PBA. To ask the most experienced teachers to consider a severance package is unconscionable. My daughter, who is a substitute teacher, could certainly use a full-time teaching job, but if she took the job of a 20-year veteran to save the diocese money, my mother would turn over in her grave.
In a crisis people tend to shoot at the wrong target. I believe that this is the case in this situation.
'Past practice' doesn't justify car perk
Yet another slap in the face for the Long Island taxpayer. Judge Elena Cacavas ruled that the Town of Islip must reinstate the use of town vehicles for county employees and pay these employees retroactively for their commuting costs, even though the use of these vehicles was never in the contract "Workers get perk back," News, March 10]. But because this outright abuse of the public money has gone on for more than 20 years, it now has gained legal precedent as a "past practice."
This is the same reasoning used to justify the state pensions for those lawyers "working" full time for five different school districts at the very same time they are working full time in their own law practices: "That's the way it's always been done." In what alternate universe do these people live?
Past-practice theory cuts both ways
Once again, Newsday takes an anti-worker stance and only tells half the story . The theory behind past practices, which Newsday trashes, is that if the employer and employees behave in a certain manner for an extended period of time, then the parties can expect that behavior to continue unless otherwise mutually agreed.
What Newsday fails to do is to cite the other side of the coin: If employees agree to perform extra-contractual duties for an extended period of time, they may not discontinue those duties unilaterally, even if they do no appear in a collective bargaining agreement. Newsday's editorial, by omitting this important fact, makes it seem like a past practice always benefits the employee. Nothing could be further from the truth. You may argue that the Islip cars are an unnecessary benefit, but you cannot pretend that past practice always works against the employer and the public interest - it does not.
Daniel A. Bahr
Editor's note: The writer is former Suffolk regional director for the New York State United Teachers union.