As a supporter of ending marijuana prohibition, I was glad that the New York State Legislature made the incremental step of further decriminalizing it and moving to expunge records of those who were unjustly penalized by the nonsensical statutory status of a plant [“NY easing marijuana laws,” News, June 21].
I am, however, disgruntled by the stalled progress on full repeal of pot prohibition. To those concerned about the impact of reform — especially my “progressive” representatives in Albany — consider this: Any Long Islander with the time and resources can drive to Massachusetts, buy marijuana legally and, if willing to risk our state’s new $50 fine for possession of a small amount, be home in time for dinner.
The catch is that all of the tax money from marijuana sales is going to fund Massachusetts’ budgets and not our own. So the question is: How long does New York want to forgo all of that revenue?
Renaissance could invest other ways
The generosity of Marilyn Simons, as described in the June 9 news story “Taking a solo turn in local philanthropy,” made me question some of the sources of the Simons family fortune and those of employees of the Renaissance Technologies hedge fund. Generous as the family is, it’s time for a hard look at the investments that have made its members billionaires.
Renaissance is among large shareholders in the private-prison industry, including CoreCivic and GEO Group. One only has to read about deplorable conditions at for-profit facilities to know they are used to detain immigrants, including members of families separated by the government. Then, there is Sterling Construction, which has been chosen to bid on the border wall.
One of the most egregious stocks held Renaissance investors is Lockheed Martin. The military contractor made the guided missile delivered to a Saudi-led coalition that resulted in the bombing and killing of 40 schoolchildren in Yemen in 2018. The bus bombing triggered international condemnation.
I would ask Simons and her foundations, the Simons family and Renaissance employees to divest from these companies and take the lead in investing in socially responsible companies.
Myrna Lee Gordon,
Editor’s note: The writer is a member of the North Country Peace Group that has led protests at Renaissance Technologies in recent years.
How to build business for Glen Cove ferry
To jump-start the long-awaited Glen Cove ferry to Manhattan [“A Bronx sail,” News, June 25], the City of Glen Cove should join forces and share resources with the New York City Economic Development Corp. private ferry operators program. Consider adding stops at Bayside, Fort Totten, College Point, Flushing marina, LaGuardia Airport and Long Island City. This could generate more riders to financially support Glen Cove’s ferry. The transit industry knows that customers asked to pay a premium fare always prefer a one-seat ride. Fewer riders will want to change at Soundview in the Bronx to continue their journey on a second ferry.
Editor’s note: The writer is a transit historian and former employee of the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Troubled by advice regarding a Wiccan
I found comments about Wicca by God Squad columnist Rabbi Marc Gellman repugnant [“Is it acceptable to be friends with a witch?,” LI Life, June 23]. He expressed his opinion that a good Christian was right to sever a friendship with someone who became a Wiccan, a religion he said does not harmonize easily with Christianity.
Doesn’t he hear the echoes of generations past who were told Judaism is too far removed from Christianity for there to be friendship? The Jewish people suffered mightily because of exactly the same prejudices. Who decides what religion is similar enough to allow a friendship to exist? Rabbi Gellman? I am disgusted.
Cold Spring Harbor
I am ashamed of Rabbi Marc Gellman’s response to a reader who wanted confirmation that God would want her to sever a friendship with a Wiccan.
I know from my study of comparative religions and my friendships with Wiccans that Wicca is a faith based in nature that calls for doing no harm, lest harm come back to you.
So it is troubling to think that God might want a person to abandon a friend simply because her beliefs differ from your own. Since the rabbi has lauded interfaith interaction in the past, this is especially puzzling.
In his place, I would ask questions. Is this friend a bigot? An anti-Semite? Does this person abuse children? Steal? Has this person’s essence changed because you have adopted a narrower view of Christianity? If not, why would God — or a human — believe you are compelled to abandon a friend?
Since Jews have been persecuted for thousands of years for their beliefs, he really should know better.