Long Island Rail Road commuters stand by as a train...

Long Island Rail Road commuters stand by as a train pulls up to a platform Penn Station on June 28.  Credit: Craig Ruttle

Transit historian Larry Penner offers some common-sense solutions that would surely improve efficiency for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority while achieving the necessary, taxpayer-friendly economies of scale [“Real solutions to improve the MTA,” News, Aug. 12].

Unfortunately, he ignores the vagaries of collective bargaining, which is a two-way street. What is the MTA prepared to give up to gain union concessions? The writer leaves us with a list of demands that plays well to the public’s ears, but the op-ed lacks a strategy for the MTA to achieve those goals.

The answer ought to be obvious: The MTA can give up its reorganization plan, which would cost some union jobs, and be left with the status quo.. Doing so might result in achieving some of Penner’s quite necessary suggestions with no real loss to the MTA.

Unfortunately, if politics gets involved, achieving anything that’s actually sensitive to taxpayer needs will turn out to be merely wishful thinking.

Alan Lichtenstein,


Cross-endorsements for judges make sense

As a practicing attorney, I read with interest attorney Thomas Liotti’s federal lawsuit to ban judicial cross-endorsements [“Attorney sues to end judicial cross-endorsing,” News, July 27].

While it is difficult to conceive of a system of judicial selection free from political influence, the work of a judge is essentially nonpolitical. Legal ability, a good judicial temperament and good work habits are what count. Yet the public has little or no basis for evaluating candidates for judicial office.

Cross-endorsements allow sitting judges whose work is generally respected to stay in office, regardless of whatever election contests voters are presented with elsewhere on the ballot.

Without cross-endorsements, most voters will choose their own party’s nominee without knowing anything about that candidate. While the system of judicial cross-endorsements is imperfect, and can lead to political horse-trading, it also often allows highly qualified judges who otherwise lose their offices to continue to serve.

Howard E. Sayetta,


Past time to clean up mess in Farmingdale

The Aug. 8 news story “Town wants derelict buildings to be razed” reported that town and state elected officials are asking the state to demolish derelict aircraft-industry buildings on state land near Republic Airport and remediate the site for future use. It’s about time our politicians do the people’s business instead of self-promotion and raising funds for reelection. This mess has been in plain sight for years.

Bob Dickson,

  Huntington Station

Other ways to teach kids about nooses

State and local elected officials propose to require that schools teach the meaning of symbols of hate [“Lessons in hate symbols,” News, Aug. 13]. But do we really need another law mandating the teaching of something we all should learn at home or in houses of worship — to tell a new generation about hurtful words and symbols of hate?

When I was growing up on Long Island, the swastika to me was only silly lines that a simple-minded person might draw out of ignorance. The noose was sometimes used to execute all kinds of people found guilty of very serious crimes. Why not practice “Say no evil, hear no evil”? Better yet, how about, “Love thy neighbor as you would love thyself”? We already have these moral laws to live by.

James B. Calfa,

  Mastic Beach

Honest commuters make up for MTA loss

The Aug. 10 news story “Black people make up majority of fare evasion arrests: NYPD data” says people of color made up 589 of 682 arrests in New York City in April through June.

Attorney Anthony Posada of the Legal Aid Society was quoted as calling this “basically a crime of poverty.” He took the NYPD to task for disproportionately targeting communities of color.

Yet turnstile jumping is against the law regardless of color. What Posada fails to realize is that the estimated $225 million in revenue lost by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority from fare evasion in 2018 has to be made up on the backs of honest passengers in the form of potential fare hikes down the road.

Gary Anderson,


Other countries have illnesses, video games

Newsday carried several letters about the recent mass shootings [“Readers sound off on shootings,” Aug. 11]. Something was overlooked, however: Other countries have mental illness and violent video games, too, but most also have strict gun laws, and they don’t have the number of mass shootings that we do.

The solution is simple: We must ban assault rifles and have strict background checks. It must be made more difficult to get a gun in this country. Polls have shown that 90 percent of Americans want stricter background checks. So why does the president listen to the NRA and not the majority of Americans?

Lyn Mendelsohn,