Friday, October 26, 2007

JFK Airport Cats Receiving Free Transportation

For many decades, the descendants of abandoned, escaped and lost cats have roamed the terminals, grounds and runways at JFK. This has caused unsafe and unsanitary conditions throughout the airport. Kindly airport workers who leave food for these feral cats may unwittingly be attracting birds too. Birds fly into jet engines which may cause expensive repairs and dangerous flying conditions. Recently, “cat roundups” have taken place with the participation of federal wildlife officials. Sadly, most of these cats may be euthanized (because they're unadoptable) but their removal makes conditions safer for both passengers and air crews.

Seems logical enough, right? Not for some of the most vocal cat lovers it isn’t! Valerie Sicignano of the NYC Feral Cat Initiative volunteered her group to trap, neuter and vaccinate the cats for free. She said that cats that could be put up for adoption would be, but that the rest would be returned to the airport! The Port Authority rejected her group’s offer. I agree with the P.A.’s decision. It's common sense (which is far from "common" nowadays, it seems). Ms. Sicignano’s proposal was only a partial solution to a serious problem when only a complete solution will ensure safety. Animal activists do good deeds and deserve support ... to an extent. That extent being that they must come up with comprehensive ideas that rationally balance the people's
rights with the animals they’re trying to protect.

“Superbug” Finally Lands In NYC

My heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of Omar Rivera, a 12-year-old student in Brooklyn, New York. His is the first known death of a New Yorker from MRSA (methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus), a highly drug-resistant staph infection bacteria. Any death saddens and diminishes us; a child’s most of all.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta issued a report stating that in the United States in 2005, there were 94,360 MRSA infections resulting in 18,650 deaths. For whatever the reason, New Yorkers have been spared the ravages of this deadly bacteria … until now.

Staph infections typically spread by skin to skin contact with an open wound or the sharing of personal items. All New Yorkers are urged to practice good personal hygiene including frequent hand-washing. Short of each of us living in a protective bubble, what more can we do?

Omar Rivera’s death may serve to protect others by alerting us all to this new threat. Those wishing to send letters, gifts or donations to Omar’s family might try contacting his school: I.S. 211, John Wilson Intermediate School, 1001, East 100th Street, Brooklyn, NY 11236. Attention: Principal Buffie Simmons-Peart. Tel 718.251.4411.

Good Garbage Vs. Bad Garbage

Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty is expanding the distribution of the familiar green and blue recycle bins. They’ll be placed in city parks and in the Staten Island Ferry terminals. This effort will hopefully encourage people to recycle waste when out in public just as they’re required to do at home. Good idea Commissioner!

While you’re at it, how about more of the regular trash bins too? More often than not it seems, New Yorkers must balance their refuse on top of overflowing garbage pails. The green and blue receptacles will likely be filled with “bad” garbage and not recyclable material otherwise.

Fair Fare Fear

MTA Executive Director & CEO Elliot Sander and his staff are dedicated to controlling costs while coming up with ways to increase mass transit traffic. Their innovative solution for us? More fare hikes for commuters; beginning next year and currently planned at two year intervals thereafter to keep pace with inflation. We're so very fortunate to have their expert management skills working on our behalf.

I realize operating expenses steadily rise and fares must rise accordingly. I just find it hard to believe that every option to cut waste and make money with the transit system to defray costs has been examined. How did the transit system run so well for so many years with so little money by comparison (See below.)?

Officer, I’d like to report a mugging.

NYC Mass Transit Fare History (1904-Present)
1904 $0.05
1948 $0.10
1953 $0.15
1966 $0.20
1970 $0.30
1972 $0.35
1975 $0.50
1980 $0.60
1981 $0.75
1984 $0.90
1986 $1.00
1990 $1.15
1992 $1.25
1995 $1.50
2003 $2.00
2008 $2.25 (projected)

A Real Sewer Doer

Even in 2007, not all neighborhoods in NYC have sewers. Mayor Bloomberg announced that the Annadale section of Staten Island will be getting their sewer system built and connected in June of 2009. Rats not included.

Calorie Count Cops Menu Mania

City health officials are still looking to force some fast food restaurants to post calorie counts on their menu boards. They recently lost a similar case in Federal court. Undaunted by that defeat, they’re pressing forward now with a new plan to make these demands on chain eateries of only 15 or more outlets. I wonder if city-run food programs for the poor and homeless are as meticulously managed.

Admittedly, too large a percentage of New Yorkers are overweight or obese (government employees especially … or is that just my imagination?). It would be a healthful thing for many of us to lose some weight, I agree. But, do we really need government involved here to unfairly compel fast food establishments alone to list calories? To my knowledge, not a single upscale restaurant with “white linen” on the table will be affected. Seems unfair and besides, we eat more at home than outside anyway. If their honest goal is for us to lose weight, then when will they begin to lay down the law about posting calorie counts on our cabinets and refrigerators?

Astroland Won’t Be "Lost In Space" Just Yet

On September 9th, it appeared that Astroland in Coney Island had entertained its last customer. Thankfully, a deal was reached with Thor Equities to extend the park’s official closing one more year. Thor also extended eight other attractions by the Boardwalk. It’s an unexpected, but very welcome surprise that a settlement was reached.

Thor’s $100 million dollar investment to redesign and develop Coney won’t save Astroland or many of the other places we know. That means New Yorkers and tourists have just one more season to enjoy what remains of old Coney Island before “Corporate Coney” replaces it. Future images of this world famous attraction look more like a generic Disney theme park than a unique Brooklyn experience. That's sad. We can only hope that Coney Island will become as wonderful and distinctive a place as it once was, many, many, many years ago.