Thursday, December 30, 2010

This Week's Forum South and West

Looking Back: 2010

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Blizzard of 2010

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The Year in Editorials

This year we offered commentary on a wide range of topics—some registered anger, others humor, sadness and joy. But regardless of the diverse subject matter, there is always one common thread at The Forum—it is our privilege to serve as your community newspaper.

For the last 34 years, you have counted on us to cover your neighborhood news, and we look forward to renewing your trust in us each and every year ahead.

We are grateful to both our readers and our advertisers for their continued support. It’s because of all of you that we look forward to coming to work each day.

Now we invite you to look some of the editorials we found most impacting for 2010.

January 28 Terrorist Should Face Military Tribunal

The trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed could cost the city of New York more than $400 million. We agree that there are reasons to take this trial out of the city. We need no more reminders. More that any of history’s recorded events—whether a triumph or a tragedy—September 11, 2001 is a day which can be made no more devastating.

Our objections lie in moving this trial from a military courtroom to a civilian one. We feel this decision best serves those to be tried rather than the victims of 9/11 or the people of New York who must face a trial that could loom dangerously over them for a long time.

February 4 When New Direction Means No Direction

Once again the world of politics in Queens is providing more head shaking, stomach turning material, this time from Congressman Gregory Meeks and state Senator Malcolm Smith. The two lawmakers are very involved in the New Direction Local Development Corporation, a local nonprofit organization, which does very little developing at all. It has been labeled a slush fund by critics...since funds have been coming into the charity and gone out in any direction but where they were supposed to have gone. Money was used for meals and entertainment and of course...for consulting fees.

Still have doubts about whether Queens has been tainted by more corrupt elected offiials? Perhaps the recorded announcement from the phone company at the charity’s listed number acts as an indicator—“I’m sorry, the number you have reached has been disconnected. No further information is available.”

March 4 Bring It Back

Someone broke into the church at St. Helen’s in Howard Beach and took a chalice belonging to Fr. Rob Keighron in the middle of the night. I would like to use the editorial space this week to address the individual who stole the chalice.

The value of what you have stolen cannot be measured. It is indeed a treasure. You are not the first person to do something like this and unfortunately, you will not be the last. What you could be instead, is someone who is honestly sorry for having done something so thoughtless and so damaging; someone who now has the chance to make amends and to restore faith.

Wrap it up and leave it in the back of the church. Leave it at the doorstep of the rectory. Please just bring it back.

April 1 Beware of Blind Spots

A dangerous “blind spot” was revealed in the local news when three men were stabbed on a Manhattan train. Two victims died from their injuries and a third was seriously wounded. Their attacker left the scene without a trace and the subway station where the attacks occurred did not have a security camera.

Of the 4,313 security cameras that have been installed in the city, more than one-half don’t work because of mechanical difficulty. Mayor Bloomberg said, “...the MTA does not have enough money to provide the level of security...we should have.”

In addition, $93 million in budget cuts have resulted in unmanned token booths and a shortage of officers to patrol the stations, bridges and tunnels.

A system which is responsible for transporting more than five million New Yorkers every day is not secure and remains an attractive prospect for criminals and terrorists.

The MTA...must initiate and maintain whatever they must so that subway riders in NYC are not faced with deadly blind spots.

July 22 At What Cost Privacy

Governor David Paterson can best be described as shoddy and ineffective. But, to that description he also added irresponsible and dangerous, when he stripped the NYPD of a tool which helps them protect the good guys—us.

He signed off on State Assembly Bill A11177A/S7945 which mandates the eradication of a database containing the list of the names of individuals who were released without having legal action taken after they were stopped by police conducting stop and frisk operations.

While we do not favor the unfair infringement or any investigation based solely on the race of any law-abiding citizen, clearly common sense says we’ll all fare far better in a database than as a statistic.

August 26 And Just When You Thought It Was Safe to Go Grocery Shopping

The Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) released a report detailing that almost half the supermarkets in the city are guilty of numerous violations that seriously affect consumers.

The violations included inaccurate check-out scanners, lack of prices on individual items, taxation of items that are not taxable, improperly weighed foods and unavailability ofscales for customers. Queens’ area supermarkets, approximately 45% in total, don’t meet requirements.

We urge shoppers to hold their favorite supermarkets accountable for all policies with regards to pricing as well as date freshness and health issues.

September 2 Do Not Build It

As we draw near to the nine-year anniversary of September 11, the recollection of that day has recently become even more difficult for many as a result of the proposal to build a mosque within a stone’s throw of the hallowed ground where the Twin Towers once stood.

The Forum has already developed a stated position of opposition to this construction. This week we offer our editorial space to Jay Burke who lost his son Matthew in the attacks. thoughts race forward to...the day of 9/11 horror, the day my son, Matthew J. Burke,...was murdered as he sat at his desk. Nothing will ever erase the memory of that day.

His life and the lives of all those murdered that day must never, ever be forgotten, but remembered with love, dignity and respect.

Something which runs counter to the need for such the plan to build a mosque adjacent to ground zero. The placement of such a building is a symbolic insult to the victims, their families and the great people of this nation.

The desire to place this building less than 1,000 feet from the site of the worst tragedy in our nation’s history is...a conscious effort to demean and desecrate this hallowed ground.

It is ironic and sad to will probably be built before those buildings honoring our fallen at ground zero. It is time to stand firm in our beliefs, reaffirm our trust in the American dream...and speak out. We must not let our country be attacked from outside or undermined from within.

September 23 Forget the Text—Get This Message

A major nationwide effort has been launched to stop distracted driving. Virginia Tech Transportation Institute has identified texting drivers as being 23 times more likely to crash or have near-misses as non-texters.

Another study by Car and Driver magazine...determined that an unimpaired driver tool approximately one-half of a second to brake, a legally drunk driver stopped the car four feet later than an unimpaired driver, while a driver reading a text stopped 36 feet later and another who was texting came to a stop 70 feet further than an unimpaired, non- distracted driver.

Don’t drink and drive. Don’t text and drive. Don’t e-mail and drive. Don’t talk and drive. Just drive.