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Newsday letters to the editor for Monday, April 30, 2018

A section of a Long Island Rail Road

A section of a Long Island Rail Road tunnel, seen on April 11, that will provide commuter-rail service between Long Island and Grand Central Terminal. The tunnel is part of the Long Island Rail Road's East Side Access Project that is scheduled to provide commuter-rail service to the east side of Manhattan in 2022. Credit: Charles Eckert

Starbucks shows myth of equality

Apart from excellent and overpriced drinks, people go to Starbucks because it’s a place that’s neither home nor work [“Fallout from Starbucks incident,” Letters, April 24]. It’s a neutral community place.

Starbucks gives you the luxury and flexibility to meet friends or work colleagues. So, when two young black men got arrested for doing just that, as an African-American female, it made me wonder whether this country offers anything for us. If black and white can’t be equal over a cup of coffee, where is my hope for a better future?

African-Americans have fought this fight for centuries. We’re holding on to the hope that discrimination and racism will be less for the next generation. But I’m starting to believe that equality is a myth in this society. My mother and father hoped it would be better for me, but look at us. It seems as if African-Americans can never win.

It is sad that even in 2018, I’m still writing about this. My worst fear is that so will my kids and grandkids.

Smana Seradieu, Rockville Centre

Truly sad to see no tip for the servers

It’s upsetting enough that former Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano is facing charges of fraud. But testimony at his corruption trial that he gave “very little, if any, gratuities” to restaurant staff assigned to serve him when he dined for free is truly appalling [“Favored for Sandy food contract,” News, April 24].

Stiffing the staff speaks volumes about the man’s lack of character and integrity.

Laurie Rozakis, Farmingdale

East Side Access is needed for riders

I appreciate the writer’s position on East Side Access [“In too deep to admit Grand Central error,” Letters, April 22].

In 1999, I was appointed the first director of railroad operations for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s East Side Access project and served in that capacity for two years before retiring. Before that, I spent 25 years at the Long Island Rail Road, including serving as superintendent of train movement from 1990 to 1999.

While the East Side Access project may be costly, it’s not a case of throwing good money after bad. The LIRR runs at capacity every weekday. The saturation of trains into Penn Station during the morning rush is challenging and problematic. The LIRR vies for operating slots and track space with Amtrak and New Jersey Transit, taxing the abilities of all three railroads to arrive on time. One hung-up switch or signal or delayed train, and the entire operation is affected.

LIRR access to Grand Central Terminal is necessary for the railroad, its customers and New York City. It will operate into its own eight-track terminal via a dedicated tunnel.

Penn Station, with its finite 21-track capacity and four tunnels shared by three agencies, is at the breaking point. While Grand Central Terminal might not be the optimal place, it’s not an error.

Robert A. McDermott, Centereach

Fed up with taxes for LI public schools

Here we go again! Not only will the deduction of property taxes be limited by the new federal tax law, but we will keep getting more tax increases [“LI school taxes rise faster,” News, April 22].

An average tax increase of 2.42 percent for school districts for 2018-19 is unacceptable. Every event that challenges school administrators seems to have a standard solution: Raise taxes.

As a senior citizen on Long Island, I’ve paid in excess of $400,000 during my lifetime and had only one child attend public schools. Where is the fairness? Where does it end?

I blame the system and the lack of imagination of politicians, school administrators and school boards for this unfair way of taxing residents.

Albert V. Althaus, Massapequa Park

It’s time to say no to the school budgets.

There are school superintendents who make more than $350,000 a year — nearly as much money as the $400,000 salary of the president of the United States.

Some districts have universal busing, even if you live close to the school. There is all manner of cronyism and nepotism for staff who work in the same schools that their children attend.

What level of student performance are they really responsible for? Highly educated, professional parents who take an interest in their children’s education are responsible for excellent schools, not the outrageous school taxes.

Arlene Zabary, Plainview

Consider the effects of legal marijuana

A bill from Sen. Chuck Schumer to decriminalize marijuana on the federal level sounds great [“Schumer bill aim: decriminalize pot,” News, April 21]. Schumer’s bill would not legalize marijuana, but would let states decide whether to make the drug available commercially.

However, has anybody thought about what it might mean to non-users? Would decriminalization mean that my neighbors could smoke pot in their backyard, and my children and I might be exposed to their smoke?

Giving someone the right to use recreational marijuana should never compromise my right not to inhale.

Alan Zederbaum, Holbrook