Schumer’s Smart Solution

In the past few years, at a time when New York City’s

economy has been robust, several large

investment banks and other major companies have shipped thousands of

jobs across the Hudson River to Hoboken and Jersey City. The city has been a

victim of its own success: There simply isn’t enough office space for thriving

companies to expand and new companies to put down roots, which means that New York is failing to turn its current good

fortune into long-term benefit. Recognizing that a lack of modern,

affordable office space will continue to chip away at the city’s economic base,

Senator Charles Schumer, together with former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin

and a noteworthy panel of urban planners, executives and academics, has

proposed that the city create 60 million square feet of office space in the

next 20 years, which would accommodate the 300,000 new workers the panel

predicts will be added to the work force by 2020. Those 300,000 jobs may end up

elsewhere if New York does not adopt some version of the Senator’s laudable

plan.

Mr. Schumer suggests three areas where such development

could go forward: downtown Brooklyn, Long Island City in Queens, and Manhattan

west of Ninth Avenue, between 28th and 42nd streets. The panel envisions new

office complexes surrounded by new parks, restaurants and shops. To get this

done, the city and state would need to change zoning laws, invest in public

transit and provide tax breaks where appropriate. The estimated cost to

taxpayers would be $500 million over 20 years. Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and

Governor George Pataki are behind the plan.

In order to build upon

the remarkable renewal of the city, we need public policies that will

encourage private investment in new commercial space. It is important that the

Senator’s proposal not get stuck in the realm of “big ideas.” Big ideas get

lost in the shuffle, unless someone steps forward and implements the plan.

Board of Ed Fails

Again

While working as an acting dean in charge of school safety

and security at Theodore Roosevelt High School in the Bronx, Richard Pagan

allegedly groped a ninth-grade student in a vacant classroom. He is now charged

with first-degree sexual abuse, which is a

felony. For the second time in recent weeks, New Yorkers have learned

that the Board of Education ignored clear signs that an employee might well be

a danger to students. Mr. Pagan had been arrested for drug possession in 1974 and for misdemeanor assault in

1991. But because he was not convicted on the charges, the Board of Ed

didn’t blink when he was hired to preside over, of all things, school safety at

Theodore Roosevelt.

It is hard to imagine a more outrageous example of reckless

and irresponsible conduct by the Board of Ed-unless, of course, one remembers

the recent case of the possibly H.I.V.-infected teacher in the Bronx who was

fired after allegations of sexual misconduct. New Yorkers were rightly shocked

to learn that indications of past sexual misbehavior had been ignored by school

investigators.

Do you get the sense that somebody is not paying attention?

The entire Board of Education system for selecting personnel is shameful. Why

should parents trust a Board of Ed which hires suspected thugs and perverts and

then puts them in charge of their children?

Putting Mr. Pagan in a school building is an inexplicable lapse for

which somebody must be held responsible. Our public schools are not rehabilitation centers for society’s

ne’er-do-wells. Parents have a right to expect that when they send their

children to school, they are handing them off to highly qualified professionals

who wish to impart knowledge, not assault them sexually.

This ongoing educational

abuse has got to stop. New York voters should pressure the Mayor and his

successor to create a Board of Education without an arcane and disorganized

bureaucracy.

Three Heroes

They were working the day shift, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., on

Father’s Day. All three of them were dads,

and in the hours before they sped off to a job on Astoria Boulevard,

their thoughts may have strayed to the celebrations that awaited them that

evening.

Of course, once firefighters Brian Fahey, Harry Ford and

John J. Downing put on their helmets and boots, their only thoughts were of the

task at hand: putting out a multiple-alarm fire at the Long Island General

Supply Company and rescuing any injured civilians. It was no routine job-the

fire eventually reached five alarms-but it was fought with routine bravery.

Shortly before 3 p.m., an explosion ripped through the building.

Firefighters Ford and Downing died when they were buried under debris;

firefighter Fahey was trapped in the

basement. He was conscious, and he called for aid on his radio. But help

arrived too late. Firefighter Fahey died of smoke inhalation. The three men

left behind three widows and eight children.

They will be buried with honors, their flag-draped coffins

carried to church aboard a fire truck while their colleagues in dress-blue

uniforms snap white-gloved salutes. Sad to say, some of us will pay little

attention to these proceedings, because we think we are too busy, and perhaps

even consider ourselves too important to pause for a moment and reflect on the

terrible fate of three ordinary dads who laid down their lives in service to

the city.

We take their courage for granted-so much so that in our

search for heroes, we rarely give a thought to the men and women aboard the

NYFD trucks that rumble past us, sirens wailing, every day. New York’s

firefighters never know if the next alarm they hear will be their last; their

spouses and children never know whether morning will find them widowed or

fatherless.

To be a New York firefighter is to confront death and injury

every day. This terrible tragedy is an

opportunity for all New Yorkers to pay tribute to these dignified and

brave heroes, and to honor their sacrifice by bringing newfound recognition to

their colleagues, who continue to risk their lives to protect the rest of us.

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