Letters, week of Dec.17, 2015

The PAC is wack

To the Editor:

It won’t matter what designer is found for the Performing Arts Center over at the World Trade Center site, especially when just about every part of it has exceeded its original costs (New designer named for WTC PAC, November 21).  In reality, there is no real reason to have such a place there anyway.

More importantly, where is the money for this going to come from?  Knowing the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, it will probably be from just raising their tolls and fares on all transportation that involves their jurisdiction.  A better idea would be to just scrap this plan altogether and forget about it.

Overall, it’s just another reason to how so much money could have been saved had they just agreed to have the Twin Towers rebuilt rather than just build what they did get built instead.

Tal Barzilai

Pleasantville, NY

Waiting for the trains

To the Editor:

The legacy of former State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver in the area of transportation leaves much to be desired.  Consider the schedule, budget and the cost for four major transportation projects that he took great pride in promoting.

Washington paid twice with your tax dollars for building the new South Ferry Terminal #1 New York City Transit subway station.  First, for almost $600 million in 9/11 funding, a second time with over $300 million in Hurricane Sandy funding to rebuild what was damaged.

The downtown NYC MTA Manhattan Fulton Street Transit Center was first paid for with 9/11 funding.  Cost overruns of several hundred million were covered by American Recovery Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funding.

Fourteen years after 9/11, the Cortland Street World Trade Center NYC Transit #1 IRT subway station is still several years away from being back in service.  If there are no new delays, perhaps the station will reopen by December 2018.  The PANYNJ & MTA fought for years over budget, funding sources, scope and schedule. Construction for the MTA portion of the project just started a few months ago.

There is no funding in the proposed MTA 2015-2019 Capital Program to initiate construction for the second segment of NYCT Second Avenue Subway north from 96th Street to 125th Street.  It will take several decades and $20 billion more for completion of the next three segments of the 2nd Avenue Subway north to 125th Street and south to Hanover Square downtown in the Financial District. The project was originally proposed in 1929!

Silver claimed to be a friend of both commuters and the 99%.  In reality, he lived the life style of the one-percenters.  Silver frequently traveled around town by his personal driver at taxpayers’ expense.  I doubt if he ever purchased a Metro Card or rode the subway like several million New Yorkers do daily.

Larry Penner

Great Neck, NY

Gateway gala gripes

To the Editor:

The politicization of this reception is disgraceful. I wonder why past honorees Kelly and Silver are persona non grata. Will Plaskin’s lame book be for sale, too?

Why not invite GP staff and reclusive GP / LeFrak managers? I’d rather meet these individuals (than callous politicians).

Enough is enough with Plaskin’s self-promotional and political agenda. We need a real tenants association that is responsive to and focused on addressing all of its resident’s concerns.

Judith Levy-Greenberg

You better watch out

To the Editor,

It’s the season of giving – and of getting ripped off.

As consumers shop online and at brick-and-mortar stores, their odds of encountering identify theft appear more likely than ever.

The transition from traditional credit cards equipped with magnetic strips to cards embedded with microchips – and requiring PINs – has been long overdue, and sluggish at best.

The cards already were fully adopted overseas, and were envisioned as a panacea to combat identity theft here in the United States. Yet, many retailers still require signatures – which can be forged – and consumers seem to encounter a different process at each venue they visit.

Consumers need to remain alert, too, at the gas pump and ATM. Skimmer fraud is a huge problem both in the United States and around the globe. Skimmers are electronic devices used to read and store electronic data, and they have advanced quite considerably over time; they have more memory and are much smaller (and more easily hidden).

The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants and Pace University reported that the United States was ranked number one in the world in terms of financial losses associated with skimming fraud in the first six months of 2011, followed by the Dominican Republic, Russia and Brazil.

There are 2.2 million ATMs worldwide, which will escalate to more than 3 million by 2016. A new ATM is installed every five minutes, and North America has the largest ATM market in the world, with the most – approximately 425,000 – in the United States.

This season, it’s important that – when shopping and traveling – consumers take necessary steps to rebuff identity thieves, from changing passwords for each account to using credit over debit to using chip cards.

Consumers also should use a hand to cover a keypad when entering a PIN and be careful of criminals “shoulder surfing”; regularly monitor their accounts, financial statements, and credit reports to be alerted to skimmer fraud or any type of identity theft; and, provide financial institutions with up-to-date contact information, including a mobile telephone number.

Steps like these, unfortunately, warrant another holiday list. But if practiced, they should make you enjoy the giving spirit of the season.

 Warner Johnston

 Warner Johnston is the Head of the New York City-based Association of Chartered Certified Accountants