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Recently, I attended a news conference where state legislators expressed their opposition to the new flight patterns the Federal Aviation Administration has unleashed upon the citizens of northeast Queens. Low-flying, high-decibel, ear-piercing jets climbing over once-tranquil streets are not new to Queens, but such offensive patterns have been brief and temporary.
That is, we have tolerated the annual diversion of takeoffs from LaGuardia Airport during the two-week US Open tennis tournament.
But now, the FAA is experimenting with making these damaging patterns permanent. In Bayside, I have noted multiple takeoffs per minute at certain times during the day.
It is great that community boards and civic leaders have come out against the plans of the FAA’s Washington, D.C., and New York leaders. The voices of state legislators and their election opponents are welcome as well.
But to state the obvious, the FAA is a federal agency. The FAA’s punitive plans for Queens should have been a major campaign issue in the ballyhooed race for the congressional seat being vacated by U.S. Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-Bayside). Thankfully, City Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone) has come out against the FAA’s scheme, but in a recent wide-ranging interview, state Assemblywoman Grace Meng (D-Flushing) was silent about the FAA.
Right now, the elected Democrats of Queens are in an unique position to exert tremendous influence over the FAA, if they choose to do so. We vote for president only once every four years, and U.S. senators serve for six-year terms. The leadership of the FAA is appointed by the president and the New York administrators of Federal agencies are often approved by our senators.
Imagine our elected Queens Democrats writing this letter:
“Dear President Barack Obama and U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.):
“As you know, the individuals you have appointed to lead the Federal Aviation Administration have developed a plan to divert more jets departing from LaGuardia over the residential neighborhoods of northeast Queens. This plan has already harmed the quality of life for Queens residents, hampered their ability to live in peace and may have long-term health implications. Property values for homes under the FAA-approved takeoff routes have already been affected.
“The policies of the FAA under your leadership require an urgent reversal of the flight patterns now in effect over Queens. Because the 2.3 million Queens residents we represent need immediate relief from FAA actions and arrogance, we demand that, prior to the election, you order the FAA to permanently rescind their plans for the LaGuardia flight patterns currently harming these innocent citizens.
“Until and unless you guarantee to us and to the people of Queens that you have reversed FAA policy, we are suspending our support for you. That is how strongly we feel about this issue.
“Sincerely, (insert name)
“Elected Queens Democrat”
If our Queens elected officials wrote such a letter to the president and Gillibrand, how long do you think it would take before the FAA changed its LaGuardia flight pattern policies?
About a New York minute.
Herbert W. Stupp
City Department for the Aging
©2012 Community Newspaper Group
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