Parks closings have hidden costs
The proposal to shutter 41 state parks plus 14 historic sites at a supposed savings of $29 million is shortsighted and misleading . In addition to shutting off access points to New York's natural jewels, the listed savings are deceptive and hidden costs will emerge.
First, closing parks reduces revenue that would otherwise be generated for local and state government through activities associated with park use. In addition, closed parks will be vulnerable to vandalism, which will only increase future costs. Finally, there are hidden costs to close these parks. In Arizona, it's estimated that the cost of closing 13 parks will come to nearly 40 percent of the claimed savings. What will it cost us?
Pataki's expansion didn't cause woes
Are we to believe the $29 million the parks department proposes to save by shuttering our parks is really the result of former Gov. George Pataki's visionary expansion of the parks system and not the perpetual mismanagement associated with the budget process in Albany?
The truth is Pataki and former Parks Commissioner Bernadette Castro saw the forest for the trees - quite literally. Their vision gave Long Island nine new parks - a pleasure for the thousands of Long Islanders who routinely visit them and a gift to our children and their children for generations to come.
Instead of advocating for our parks, some bureaucrats in Albany criticize the expansion of the system under Pataki. This is playing politics. Instead of defending our parks against budget cuts, they want to close them. This is a dereliction of duty.
If they are successful in closing our parks this year, we will pay today. But if they are successful in undoing the good done by Pataki, future generations will suffer.
Lisa Dewald Stoll
Editor's note: The writer serves on the parks department's Long Island Regional Commission and is former communications director for Pataki.
Promote broader use to up parks' revenue
Nine parks were added under Pataki-Castro? Mostly unimproved land with no buildings or sports facilities? Now is the time to figure out how to make those parcels help pay for themselves.
Designate different areas of these parks for use by special interest sport clubs and groups, which would actually generate revenue - mountain bikers, off-roaders, dirt-bike dual sport riders, and maybe even, yes, a drag racing or auto sports facility.
These parks are quite remote when you get deep into them. If they are separated into different facilities for different groups and a yearly permit is required to ride, there would actually be a positive influx of funds instead of just pouring money into them for little or no usage. This would also help the local businesses that cater to these activities. It is parkland, and it is supposed to be for everyone to make use of, right?
Eric M. Krobath
Editor's note: The writer owns a custom automotive business.
Chiefs' 'don't ask' worries are misplaced
I could not believe when I read that the "chiefs" were afraid of the possible upheaval it would cause if the "don't ask, don't tell" policy were lifted at such a crucial time in the war ["Chiefs warn against lifting gay ban," News, Feb. 24]. Oh, I could just see it, all the gay soldiers parading in their Humvees, flying rainbow flags right smack in the middle of Afghanistan, all while avoiding road bombs - as the other soldiers stand in protest ducking shrapnel. Are they kidding?
I'm quite sure that the straight soldiers know who's gay by now and vice versa, and couldn't care less as long as they're fighting alongside of them. Let them serve openly already, and get on with more important issues - like resolving this war.
Fix son's behavior; don't demand tutoring
As an educator for 20 years, I can tell you that parents like Lynnette Lawrence are exactly what is wrong with public schools today ["Mom seeks probe over tutoring hours," News, Feb. 24].
Her son must have done something very wrong to get suspended from school for several months. Rather than focusing on his behavior and making him accountable for it, she wants to blame the school system for what it is and isn't doing to accommodate him. Why should taxpayers have to foot the bill because he gets suspended?
If she had taken the time she spent calling lawyers and demanding private services for her son, and instead tried to address his suspension issue, he might have learned a lesson from all this.
'Free speech' writer missed the point
It is disturbing that Jonathan Zimmerman sees censorship and disciplinary action as appropriate responses to young people who post offensive remarks on the Internet . The best antidote in such situations is just the opposite: more speech.
Zimmerman cites the case of Katherine Evans, a Florida high school student who created a Facebook page and invited classmates to express their contempt for an English teacher at her school. In response, several students posted favorable comments about the teacher, and Evans took the page down two days later. In this instance, more speech, in the form of classmates' comments, triumphed.
Ignorant and obnoxious words voiced on the Internet or elsewhere should invite reasoned, thoughtful responses - ones that show such sentiments for what they often are: uninformed nonsense. Exposing shallow thinking takes time and hard work, but it teaches far more valuable lessons about intelligent discourse than silencing students and sending them to the principal's office.
Editor's note: The writer is faculty adviser to the Nassau Community College student newspaper.
Jonathan Zimmerman correctly points out that we need to teach our kids how to engage in civil discourse based on shared values of reason, tolerance and decency. But he's dead wrong to suggest that limiting their constitutional rights should play any part in that lesson. The First Amendment's guarantee of free speech makes no distinction between "civil" expression and "boorish" expression.
Of course, just because a student (or, for that matter, anyone else) has the constitutional right to be rude, boorish and ill-mannered doesn't mean he should exercise it. Ultimately, it's up to society - parents, educators, role models and peers - to teach the difference between "can" and "should."
Editor's note: The writer is first vice president of the Nassau chapter of the New York Civil Liberties Union.