Letters to The Editor for July 2023

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The End of Copper Wire Landline Service in Syosset Is A Step Backwards

My mother relies on her landline to communicate in Syosset. She has a cell phone, but she has trouble using it, and often misplaces it. She needs a phone that always works and that she’s comfortable using; it’s why she’s kept her landline, even as prices have gone up over the past 10 years.

That’s why I was skeptical when her landline provider “upgraded” her service to “digital home phone service” – a landline alternative that tied her phone to her internet rather than old-fashioned copper wire.

It brought her bill down significantly, but it came with a cost. The call quality is terrible, and since her internet is spotty, her phone often doesn’t work at all.

When we couldn’t get her old service back, I discovered that last August, the FCC deregulated the telecom industry, and authrorized phone companies to shut down traditional landlines nationwide and switch users to internet-based services.

Landlines are lifelines for 2.6 million seniors in New York. Having to rely on expensive landline alternatives that have poor call quality, stop working during power outages, puts seniors like her at risk.

I understand that landlines may not be profitable for the phone company to provide anymore. But this is why our Government exists – we regulate essential industries like telecommunications because not doing so leaves our most vulnerable people in the dust.

If the FCC won’t look out for our seniors, the Government should step up. I implore our local leaders in Syosset to advocate for the most vulnerable members of our community, and fight to keep true landline phone service alive.

-Larry Gonzalez, Syosset

Local Restaurants and Businesses Beware

The proposed Sands mega casino is projecting that visitors will lose “in excess of $2 billion” each and every year. County Executive Blakeman frequently boasts that it will be the largest grossing casino in the U.S.

Sands is targeting consumers within one hour driving distance of Uniondale – all of Nassau and Suffolk counties with some visitors off Long Island. However, Queens and Westchester will likely have their own casinos, so visitors from NYC and beyond will be limited. It is very unlikely that these visitors will seek to visit the local communities given everything they need would be at Sands – casino, restaurants, bars, spa, and hotel. Sands will have a cafeteria for its employees so even they won’t be visiting local businesses.

Sands will also have many new restaurants with “celebrity chefs” competing with Long Island restaurants.

Long Islanders only have a limited amount of discretionary dollars for entertainment. Annually diverting $2+ billion of such dollars into gambling losses represents an enormous threat to our local restaurants and downtown businesses. These businesses and their local chambers of commerce needed to wake up to this threat and get involved in fighting the proposed casino.

-Rich Catalano

Let Us Solve Homelessness Now

So much of our everyday frustrations is to see and shake our heads about homeless people sleeping on our streets and panhandling money for personal items like cigarettes and meals. Many times we feel helpless and/or at a loss to even try to understand how a person can live on the mean streets of our towns.

Fortunately, intelligent research is going on to determine what key factors may be chiefly contributing to this social breakdown in our society. At the University of California in San Francisco, one of the biggest research case studies since the
1990s have been completed. That research study, the California Statewide Study of People Experiencing Homelessness, suggests four factors most likely influence why there is long term homelessness in all our major cities. First, there is definitely a mental illness component to these cases.

However, the research suggest it is anxiety and depression and not necessarily major psychotic disorders. As the person remains homeless, the depression and the anxiety overwhelms the person and they act and talk strangely. Second, many homeless person ARE from some form of institutional living prior to becoming homeless. The lack of adequate and available halfway house suggest there are no referrals available to move these persons from our streets.

Third, the cost of living (rent) is becoming a larger expense every year and basic salaries are not rising to meet those higher costs. People are homeless in many cases because there are no rent controlled or low cost housing options in our communities. And fourth, research suggests that close to two-thirds of all persons who eventually become homeless do not ask for help prior to them becoming homeless. Thus, once they are homeless it becomes a crisis placement for social services or persons being “put out on the street.”

Before social programs engage; there are families and many times persons needing shelter are rejected by family due to the person’s mental illness problems; addictions; or poor primordial history with their family. They are essentially alone; traumatized; have an incarcerated background many times; lack the financial resources to find adequate shelter; and they want to be independent to solve their problems on their own, if possible. Overall, the answer to homelessness is still elusive however the best part of being a caring society is to not turn our back on our own fellow Americans. Finding answers to eliminate it in society will need to be commitment and intelligent social policy. It still remains possible with our tenacity it can indeed be solved!

-Joe Abate, Island Park


Ironically, the conversion of sales taxable local purchases into non-taxable gambling losses will also translate into lower sales tax revenues to both Nassau and Suffolk counties. There are significant negative economic consequences to the proposed casino that our Nassau County elected officials failed to analyze before approving the lease transfer.


Rich Catalano