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Punishing biased real estate agents

Sen Kevin Thomas speaks during the Newsday Live

Sen Kevin Thomas speaks during the Newsday Live Long Island Divided forum in the Van Nostrand Theatre at Suffolk County Community College in Brentwood on Jan. 30, 2020. Credit: Jeff Bachner

Newsday’s “Long Island Divided” investigation shone a spotlight on realtors’ persistent racial steering [“Experts tackle housing bias,” News, Jan. 31]. Until now, methods to combat it have focused on punishing individual agents who get caught. The argument against systemic reform always is, “Agents are private contractors, so they have to be treated individually.”

When hard evidence emerged in the 1970s that individual bankers were denying home mortgage loans to minorities and women because of racial and sexual biases, Congress passed the Community Reinvestment Act to combat bigoted lending. Banks that scored poorly on CRA tests could not add branches or merge with other banks, and their CRA scores were public.

A residential Realtor may be a private contractor, but he or she needs to be affiliated with a broker to sell homes. Most work for real estate firms. Why couldn’t an anti-discrimination, CRA-like rating system be applied to those firms? Low ratings could be imposed on firms that don’t advance fair housing and weed out racist agents. The penalties for low scores could include a prohibition on firms expanding or taking on new agents. The firms would consider their public scores crucial to their reputations. Tax benefits could be provided to those with good scores.

CRA caused a revolution in extending credit to low- and moderate-income Americans because banks learned that equal lending was good business. Why not a CRA for residential real estate that makes it good business to treat all Long Islanders equally?

Jim Morgo,


Editor’s note: The writer is the former head of the Long Island Housing Partnership.

Baseball scandal can lead to charity

The Houston Astros cheating scandal has really tainted the baseball world, and the fallout from the Boston Red Sox cheating is yet to come [“Green upset about scandal,” Sports, Feb. 8].

Since they both won World Series titles in the years they were caught cheating, and Major League Baseball will not remove their titles, how about we put the onus of remorse on the players, who were culpable but not punished?

The commissioner of Major League Baseball, Rob Manfred, should “suggest” to the players in a news conference that they donate their entire World Series shares to a charity of their choice. The World Series share per player for Houston in 2017 was $438,901. This is on top of their already egregious salaries.

Let some good come out of all of this. Let peer pressure, fan base pressure (and possibly even their own conscience) steer the players into turning some of this mess that they willingly created, and repeatedly participated in, into something positive for people much less fortunate than they are.

Robert Gerver,

Kings Park


We must not overlook global warming

In his State of the Union speech, President Donald Trump barely mentioned the most important issue facing our nation and the world — climate change. His speech [“Economic gains are touted,” News, Feb. 5] showed the frightening lack of scientific understanding he has on global warming.

Carbon levels have reached 410 parts per million in the atmosphere, and the rate is rapidly accelerating. The United States produces the most carbon per capita every year. China produces the most carbon on a national level. The United States may be the world’s leading economy, but by denying the impact of climate change it is becoming a scientific laggard.

Instead of focusing on trade deals we need to address climate policies. Climate change is a dark reality that Trump and our nation must face. Environmental catastrophes await us. Just look at Australia for a lesson.

William Lemmey,


‘Crown thy good with brotherhood’

My childhood school days always began with the morning Pledge of Allegiance to the flag. The flag represented our country and all its good values such as honesty, kindness, respect, transparency and freedom.

Today, I question our country’s status as a moral leader to our citizens and to the world.

Conducting trials without witnesses; serious political party bickering; separating children from parents with immigration issues; thoughtless, drunken drivers menacing our roads; corporate greed over concern for the middle class; irrational prejudice regarding differences of faith or skin color; a seeming lack of trust in our institutions, etc. all make me yearn for the land that I grew up loving.

I pray for America’s soul to end division and find unity in diversity because this is our strength.

Susan Martin,


Editor’s note: The writer is a religious educator in the Diocese of Rockville Centre.