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Newsday letters to the editor for Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Rashon Nelson, left, and Donte Robinson said they

Rashon Nelson, left, and Donte Robinson said they were waiting for a friend for a business meeting at a Philadelphia Starbucks on the day they were arrested. Both Starbucks and police have issued apologies. Credit: AP / Jacqueline Larma

Contracts, mandates raise our local taxes

The firm hired by the Long Island Regional Planning Council to study our region’s high taxes asked me, as a former county executive, for my thoughts on the issue. I agreed, but cautioned that the council must not take the easy way out: to simply call for more or different types of revenues [“Seeking revenue to cut property taxes,” News, April 18].

Unfortunately, that’s exactly what the council did.

The root of high taxes on Long Island is not a lack of revenue, it’s excessive costs that emanate from exorbitant municipal contracts and state mandates.

We don’t need a higher sales tax, we need an end to state mandatory arbitration that’s given us $200,000 police salaries. We need to eliminate overtime in pension calculations, limit termination pay for unused sick days, and end 20-years-and-out retirement plans. We need to eliminate the Triborough Amendment, which continues step pay increases even after a public contract expires. We need to convert taxpayer-guaranteed pensions to private sector-type 401(k) pensions for future public employees.

The report laments that these needed changes will not come about because they require state legislation. But rather than restating the obvious, that taxes are high, why not pressure the state to change these burdensome laws?

Steve Levy,Bayport

Editor’s note: The writer is executive director of the Center for Cost Effective Government, an advocacy organization, and was Suffolk County executive from 2004 to 2011.

Fallout from Starbucks incident

Why is it that any negative interaction between white people and people of color is assumed to be racially motivated?

In Philadelphia, two black men entered a Starbucks, purchased nothing, and sat down. They said they were waiting for a friend. They were asked to leave and refused [“Starbucks eyes training on ‘unconscious bias,’ ” News, April 17]. What gall! Police were called.

Why did these men believe they had the right to take up space provided for customers without supporting that business? Suppose they entered a restaurant and sat at a table to wait for a friend? Or any business, office or clinic that provides seating for customers?

It’s not racial. These days, we’re encouraged to say something if we see something. Any person loitering raises concern about possible violence. It’s the times we live in that make people react in ways that they ordinarily wouldn’t.

Chris Monzert, Lynbrook

I was disgusted by the situation at the Starbucks in Philadelphia. An employee called the police on two young black men because they refused to leave.

There was no indication that a crime was committed. The men were questioned and arrested. This issue has caused multiple protests, and remarks against Starbucks. I was intrigued to know the employee was no longer working at that store, and the Starbucks CEO apologized to the men.

Starbucks has decided to shut down 8,000 stores in the United States for one day for training to prevent bias. The training is a great idea. However, sessions should be held at least every three months, and focus on race and gender, and how to communicate during and deal with stressful situations. Employers should also encourage employees to contact a supervisor during a serious situation.

Andrea Armfield, Wyandanch

Cuomo’s parolee-voter decision is an insult

I’m outraged that Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo will restore voting rights to parolees [“Gov: Parolees can vote,” News, April 19]. These people lost their right to vote because they were convicted of felonies and served more than a year in prison. They have shown a total disregard for the laws of New York State.

What will Cuomo do next, allow sex offenders to work in day care centers? This is an insult to law-abiding people.

Lawrence Paul, West Sayville

Editor’s note: The writer is a retired Suffolk County police officer.

How are schools ensuring safety?

“Threats spike at LI schools” [News, April 2] sparked my concern for the mental health of students. The constant threats could be interfering with students’ learning because they have to worry about their safety.

The story said Suffolk County police had responded to 189 threats this year, and 74 since the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, in February. That’s almost double the number from last year, and 2018 is not even half over. Nassau County police reported similar trends.

Local school districts have re-examined their safety plans in response to the increased threats. Obviously, it’s important to take threats seriously and thoroughly investigate each one. But what are we doing on a larger scale to ensure the safety of children in schools? Some schools require students to use see-through backpacks, but how does that solve the problem of threats and violence? It should also be noted that this article didn’t address threats or acts of violence that have occurred outside of school.

Brianna Oliveri, North Babylon