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Letter: A tactical error in support for new Manhattan tolls

Vehicles arrive in Manhattan after crossing the Williamsburg

Vehicles arrive in Manhattan after crossing the Williamsburg Bridge, Manhattan on Feb. 26, 2019. Credit: Charles Eckert

While our Center for Cost Effective Governance disagrees with Newsday’s enthusiastic support for a tax on motorists via congestion pricing, we appreciate your call for the State Legislature and the governor to finally seek control of the outrageous spending patterns inherent in the bloated Metropolitan Transportation Authority [“A huge boost to build transit,” April 1].

Unfortunately, you let the horse out of the barn by supporting the tolls before pushing the legislature to change the archaic work rules and salary and benefit scales that have brought the authority to the point of fiscal collapse.

Whether it was the imposition of the MTA payroll tax in 2009, the negotiations with the transit unions in 2014, or this latest congestion-pricing scheme, additional revenues and perks for the MTA workforce should have been nonstarters until the unions finally agreed to real structural reform. The MTA doesn’t have a revenue problem; it has a spending problem.

Steve Levy,

  Bayport

Editor’s note: The writer, a former Suffolk County executive, is executive director of the Center for Cost Effective Governance, a public-policy organization.

Beware of unintended consequences. Tolls to enter the area of Manhattan below 61st Street will force people out of cars and into the already overcrowded mass transit system. The toll revenue officials expect to raise for mass transit will not materialize, and we will end up with more crowded trains and no money to upgrade anything. It’s a great plan.

Kevin McGrath,

  Northport

After all these years, we are finally going to tackle traffic congestion in lower Manhattan with tolls. Can someone please tell me why tolls were not charged on all crossings going into Manhattan years ago? It seems to me that would have been the first option to raise revenue.

Steve Pryke,

  Long Beach

NYC park displaced blacks and Irish

The gorgeous drawings that launched the iconic Central Park, although quite fascinating, fail to cite the history of the African-American community living there in the 19th century [“Drawings detail park design,” News, April 4].

Before Frederick Law Olmsted designed Central Park to rival the English style, it was not simply “full of marshes and rocks,” as your article said, but home to Manhattan’s first prominent community of African-American property owners, according to historians.

In 1851, Mayor Ambrose Kingsland agreed to evict the mostly black and Irish residents from Seneca Village, as it was then called, leaving more than 260 residents homeless and without a trace of their existence. Isn’t it remarkable that his decision still reverberates in racial inequality today?

Rissa Zimmerman,

  Dix Hills

Go further with rules for safe limousines

In the just-completed state budget, New York State legislators addressed safety problems with stretch limousines. They toughened punishments for violating safety rules, raised inspection and insurance requirements, and forbid U-turns on most roads for limousines that can seat 10 or more people.

The eight families of victims of the 2015 limousine crash in Cutchogue understand the horror endured by the families of 20 people who died in the 2018 limousine crash in upstate Schoharie [“Rallying for limo safety,” News, March 25]. Before the end of Albany’s session in June, we wish to propose amendments in the legislation.

We believe it is vital to require operators of stretch limousines to hold commercial driver’s licenses. Drivers must prove they have the skills to navigate these large vehicles. School bus drivers are mandated to possess these licenses with endorsements for passengers, so why not limousine drivers?

We understand that legislative hearings will be held soon regarding limousine safety. We hope legislators will pay careful attention.

Further, we strongly urge the state to require the installation of seat belts and air bags. The combination of a trained driver and safety equipment will ensure that every limousine is optimally prepared to protect its occupants. The new legislation is incomplete without these amendments.

If you had lived through the nightmares of Cutchogue and Schoharie, you would understand our requests.

Nancy DiMonte,

  East Northport

Editor’s note: The writer’s daughter was seriously injured in the 2015 Cutchogue crash that killed four young women.

Why wasn’t the full $800G recouped?

Two former Oceanside sanitation supervisors received $800,000 in payouts that were made illegally by a past sanitation board. The present sanitation board sued and agreed to accept reimbursement of $285,000 [“Ex-sanitation heads repay $300G payout,” News, April 4].

Why didn’t the sanitation district recoup the entire $800,000? Why isn’t someone in jail? Is it any wonder the people in Nassau County are fed up with the taxes we pay, and rightly so? When does the corruption end?

Lynn Burke,

  Seaford

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