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Tear 6


By banning the MTA from using "biometric identifying technology" as a tool to combat fare beating, which costs taxpayers three-quarters of a billion dollars annually, New York State has bought into the fallacy that facial recognition, which has proved useful in many applications not limited to law enforcement, is inherently racist and classist and an invasion of the right to privacy.

The right to privacy ends when it enables the commission of a crime. That principle is valid whether it is an economic peccadillo or bomb-making. In the past, when turnstile jumpers were taken into custody and processed within the system, it was not infrequently discovered that they were fugitives or suspected violent felons. 

Supporters of the ban argue that such surveillance would target "marginalized communities,” be weaponized against people of color and "criminalizes poverty.” That patronizing claim reeks of bigotry masquerading as civil libertarianism. 

Is the technology reliable? On what basis is the determination made? Does it violate constitutional protections?  

If it is legally permissible under specific conditions, what are they and where are they authoritatively spelled out? In our theoretically relatively free society, how do we choose sides in the tug-of-war between mutual security and individual freedom?

No community is an outlier. We are all "in this" together. We are all weakened by a society in decline. Let's stop associating defiant behavior with specific communities. It is condescending and insulting and invites a self-fulfilling prophecy of dysfunction and decay. Lawbreaking is not a cultural expression. Tolerating and being resigned to it as though it were, is a venal stereotype perpetuated even by some self-styled "progressives.”

On both sides of the debate over the "greater good,” there is more smoke and mirrors than in an Atlantic City casino.

And that will continue to be true as long as those gambling palaces are the only worksites in New Jersey that are exempted from indoor clean air regulations. A risk/benefit analysis has apparently concluded that economic gain is worth the loss of employees' health. 

These folks are experts at calculating odds and the house always wins.

We don' t need the surgeon general to tell us that putting our mouths over the tailpipe of an idling bus  is not a good idea. We know the stakes. And the casino bosses know that second-hand smoke is knocking off their workers. 

You can bet your bottom dollar that in the 18 years since these laws went into effect, many people have contracted lung cancer and emphysema as a direct result of exposure. Unlike other categories of victims for whom lawyers advertise on television, there won't be any class action litigation on their behalf. 

They can't suck in  oxygen but they must suck in their destiny.

If the government gave a rat's ass about our lungs, they'd never have legalized weed. One whiff of it from a car in the next lane, waiting for the red light to change, sears through my brain like undiluted Clorox fumes and makes my nostrils run like Jesse Owens.

As the casino workers see it, they need a job for a roof over their head and bread on the table, so they must take the chances imposed upon them by their bosses. As the owners and managers see it, warm bodies are a renewable, or at least replaceable resource. 

Corporate profits have in recent years been hit by the lethal caprices of Covid. Putting workers' lives on the line to save the corporate bottom line is a business, not personal decision. Knowing that, they can take heart between puffs of their inhalers.

New Jersey has taken the lead on green energy. They've got windmills off the coast and incentives for the purchase of electric vehicles. But green energy that counts most is the green of money. That's the ultimate propellant.

The United Auto Workers, which has won some landmark victories lately even beyond the area of car manufacturing, is suing in New Jersey Superior Court on behalf of employees at Bally's, Caesars and Tropicana. They want to clear the air. 

But Local 54 of the Unite Here casino workers union of 100,000 members, which claims to be the largest union of gaming workers in the world, fears that prohibiting smoking might cost them their jobs by driving already struggling casinos out of business.

Who knows, maybe the Grim Reaper will get distracted by the slot machines and forget all about them, at least until they're off the payroll.

By giving a special pollution dispensation to the casinos, the government has given its blessing to a unique "death benefit" for the workers. It's a different kind of "death benefit" from the kind that is part of pension plans.

"The wheels of justice turn slowly but grind exceedingly fine." That's not normally the case with pension reform, whose brakes tend to seize up and lock, due to corrosion of the entrenched political process. 

Yet the recently finalized New York State budget is encouraging, although "there is a lot more work to do to create fairness" as we "seek to reverse a historic injustice,” said Michael Mulgrew, the president of the United Federation of Teachers, referring to changes in public employees' Tier 6, the punitive and vastly inferior plan that has been in effect since 2012, birthed by  former Governor Andrew Cuomo's administration.

Further incremental improvement is widely deemed essential for the city to recruit and retain its high caliber employees. Prominent among the people whose efforts were instrumental in moving the needle, is State Senator Robert Jackson, chair of the Civil Service and Pensions Committee, who praised "collaborative efforts with labor.”

Until the new budget was passed, Tier 6 members had to wait until age 63 to retire without a reduced pension. Contributions were mandatory for their entire careers, and the rate of contribution increased in tandem with their salary, up to 6 percent. Final average salary was determined by the average of five highest consecutive years. Now it will be three straight years, and overtime earnings will be excluded, at least until March 2026, from calculations of the employees' pension benefit contribution rate.

"A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” That may not apply to Middle East peace, but it does to pension reform.

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  • Pension reform is needed to improve tear 6 but it may cost at both ends. While we wish changes are made without cost to any side both sides will figure out a improve pension but it will more than likely cost those in tear 6 to add additional payments by 1-4 % on top of what they contributing to get something close to what tear 4 has. Govt won’t allow changes without some cost and without increasing tax payer $$$. Unions should not lie to members that no cost will be a factor in improve changes to the present pension system. ( this including age requirements ) it maybe lowered but maybe to 591/2 or something in that range. Politicians / news papers and corporations will lose there minds of such talk and look to increase age to 65-70 if not 99. Unions losing ground to future computer technology that will create a weaker trade off. Wishful thinking isn’t a option Education, being direct and truthful to membership and stop the smoke screens than maybe better adaption to the real world will make things more accepting!

    Thursday, May 16 Report this