By Newsday Readers
Originally published on Newsday on March 10, 2020.
It is commendable that Suffolk County is trying to claw back the compensation of these three convicted felons: former District Attorney Thomas Spota and his top aide Christopher McPartland as well as Suffolk Police Commissioner James Burke [“Suffolk seeks pay return,” News, March 9]. While they all abused their positions of power, it also highlights another abuse of the system these protected county employees take advantage of.
Former Police Chief James Burke retiring with a lump sum payout of $630,000 for unused vacation and sick days needs to be addressed. The days of rationalizing these rules by comparing public- to private-sector compensation are over. Reasonable accrual language is not unreasonable. It all starts with our legislators who need to put the taxpayers needs ahead of the support of these unions and their reelection aspirations. Then again, maybe we should take a closer look at their contracts.
Edward Lynn, West Gilgo
Lowering graduation standards
Despite per-pupil spending at or near the top of all U.S. states, New York managed to achieve mediocre ranking in graduation rates: No. 38 compared to other states [“Graduation rates struggle,” News, March 2]. Instead of firing the leadership of the state Department of Education, as would happen in private industry, we look for alternate routes (easier requirements) toward graduation, where New York could require students to do less and still graduate.
School curriculum is designed to ensure that students have sufficient knowledge in various subjects so they can participate in a democratic society as voters. We should not lower those standards.
If New York is not smart enough to figure out how to get our students to accumulate sufficient knowledge to graduate, and it seems that we can’t, maybe we should just contact New Jersey or Iowa educators and ask them how they do it and copy them.
Martin D. Kennedy, East Northport
Let democracy play out in court
Mark Thiessen’s op-ed on Democrats’ “threats” to “pack” and “intimidate” the Supreme Court [“The future of SCOTUS on 2020 ballot,” Opinion, March 9] is laughable. After the GOP’s unprecedented scuttling of Merrick Garland’s nomination and success in placing two conservatives on the court and President Donald Trump’s criticisms of Chief Justice John Roberts, just who politicized the court?
If Democrats win the presidency and both houses of Congress this year — certainly not a given — of course they will have the opportunity to name more liberal justices. I think that’s called majority rule and democracy. As for Thiessen’s nightmare scenario (for the right wing) of a restructuring of the Court, be real. It’s not going to happen.
Tom Casey, West Sayville
‘Patriotic Millionaires’ is truly patriotic
How refreshing it was to read Morris Pearl’s op-ed on taxing the wealthy [“Taxing NY’s rich more? Why not?,” Opinion, March 8]. Being part of the wealthy 92% of New Yorkers, he supports being subsequently taxed for his wealth. He is thinking of the cuts to schools, infrastructure and programs for the needy, such as Medicaid, if the wealthy don’t share the burden through taxes.
He is part of a group called “Patriotic Millionaires.” To me, it is truly patriotic to support such important programs rather than padding greedy pockets. I wish that more of the wealthy thought like Pearl instead of complaining about how much it costs them in taxes and finding loopholes to hold onto every penny they have.
Diane McGuire, Northport
Schumer SCOTUS comments debated
The letter writer who said Sen. Chuck Schumer should leave office [“Schumer should resign over remarks,” March 6] needs to look beyond this one poorly stated comment, for which the senator apologized. The writer appears to forget some of the horrific comments by Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), which often have been racist. A terrible double standard is in effect. It seems elected Republicans can say whatever they wish. But the slightest misstep from a Democrat and the person needs to be removed. Did the writer already forget the recent comments made by the president about the liberal justices, not to mention the endless, childish and hurtful comments he makes day after day.
Democrats, when they make a mistake, apologize. Republicans tell us to get over it and almost never consider resigning. Please don’t dictate morality to us.
Robert Broder, Stony Brook
Read the full piece on Newsday.