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Newsday letters to the editor Monday, May 1, 2017

Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas, with acting

Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas, with acting Police Commissioner Thomas Krumpter and Suffolk Police Commissioner Timothy Sini, announcing a major narcotics take down on April 4, 2017, in Mineola. Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

Help local families deal with drug crisis

“Opioid toll rises on LI” [News, April 10] comes as no surprise to those of us working to increase awareness of the heroin epidemic and to change the culture of substance abuse.

The first thing we need to accept is that there is a crisis of prescription drug misuse, heroin use and heroin overdoses in our backyard. We need to acknowledge that “those people” are our people. This is our problem, and we need to work together to make a difference.

We desperately need to find ways to intervene before the first use. We need to teach about the science of addiction and how our brains form and grow, and what puts people at risk. We need to figure out where all the emotional pain is coming from and teach our young people how to manage it. Or, teach them that sometimes we all have pain, it’s OK, and we just need to get to the other side.

We need to help our families set loving and clear boundaries. Our children will benefit from role models who do not manage their stress with alcohol or drugs, but rather with talk and support.

Margaret A. O’Connell, Massapequa

Editor’s note: The writer is a coordinator of the Massapequa Takes Action Coalition, a network of parents and educators.

Blame Congress for Amtrak’s failures

Don’t blame Amtrak for all of Penn Station’s troubles [“Make a switch at Penn,” Editorial, April 9]. Blame Congress for underfunding Amtrak. Republicans don’t believe in investing in our rail infrastructure; even the latest Trump administration’s budget cuts Amtrak funding.

When will Congress finally realize we need a strong rail system in this country?

Richard T. DeVito, Long Beach

Wind-power plan is very promising

The April 17 news story “Study: Wind farm to fall short” cited our University of Massachusetts study of the proposed South Fork offshore wind project.

That article gave a misleading impression about the potential value of the project and distracted attention from the fundamental conclusion that the project would be beneficial in many ways.

First, it would supply a significant fraction, approximately 42 percent annually, of the regional electricity requirement, without burning any fossil fuels. There would even be some excess electricity that could be used to supply part of the load elsewhere on Long Island or stored for use later.

The project would have a significant and positive effect on the peak electricity demand, reducing the amount of power needed from peaking plants.

Finally, the project would provide a model for the necessary, large-scale transition away from fossil fuels and should best be seen as a harbinger of a better future for all of us.

James F. Manwell, Amherst, Mass.

Editor’s note: The writer is a professor at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst and director of its Wind Energy Center.

Reword the proposed air-water amendment

Everyone should have clean air and water; there should be nothing controversial about that [“Who could oppose a right to clean air and water?,” Editorial, April 25]. However, I am very troubled by an aspect of the proposed amendment to the New York State constitution that would grant rights to those clean resources.

To explain why, it’s important to recall something today’s historical superstar, Alexander Hamilton, warned against.

In the Federalist Papers, he argued against a Bill of Rights partly because he was concerned that people would mistakenly believe that rights were granted by the government, when our constitutional structure is based on the notion that we the people inherently possess these rights. That’s why the First Amendment is a negative proposal: Congress shall not abridge the right of free speech that we already have.

So it is emphatically not for the legislature — state or otherwise — to “grant” us rights to clean air and water, but to acknowledge our pre-existing rights to the same, and then take concrete steps to protect those rights.

The proposed amendment should read, “The State of New York shall guarantee the right of every person to clean air, clean water and a healthy environment.”

Aaron Eitan Meyer, Oceanside

Editor’s note: The writer is a lawyer.