We the People: Billions for defense, but how much for weapon maintenance?

Defense Secretary Hagel announced the Pentagon must spend billions for emergency fixes due to “systemic problems” with the nation’s nuclear weapons infrastructure. It was reported the crews that maintain the ICBM arsenal must share a single specialized wrench to attach nuclear warheads to the missiles.

The maintenance problems were unaddressed for so long it discouraged personnel from reporting them. It is alleged that staffing is so short and parts so scarce at submarine bases that our nuclear submarines stay off patrol for far longer than scheduled, which weakens this crucial deterrent force.
Where is the peace dividend promised by President Obama? Where is the money saved from our huge defense budget? I’d like to ask former Secretary Rumsfeld why we skimped on tools for our costliest strategic weapons while trillions of dollars were spent on war in Iraq.

The Obama administration has promised to upgrade nuclear labs and retrofit aging nuclear weapons. It OK’d Pentagon plans for 12 new missile submarines, 100 new bombers and 400 land-based missiles. The cost of the investment and maintenance could top $1.1 trillion over the next three decades. It is hard to explain that investment for an administration that entered office talking about elimination of nuclear weapons and reduction of defense spending.
Cooperation between our city councilmember, the NYPD, the State Liquor Authority and Community Board 10 has led to the revocation of Café Remy’s liquor license. It failed to comply with the law and it was a bad neighbor for residents who complained in vain about problems with its patrons for years. This is notice to businesses that fail to comply with the law or are unresponsive to legitimate complaints from the community.
Mayor de Blasio delivered on another promise with passage of New York City’s new 25 mph speed limit. Some people are concerned that enforcement will just become a revenue-raising tool for the city. However, it is indisputable that the law will save lives. It will reduce fatalities from pedestrian/automobile accidents. That is enough to justify its enactment.
The city still has 20 mph “slow zones” but we do need the entire city to become a slow zone. Our urban highways and arterial roads need higher speed limits. We need enforcement of existing rules and regulations by the NYPD truly to safeguard pedestrians and motorists.

Bay Ridge is a naturally occurring retirement community where many independent senior citizens walk everywhere to get around. Seniors must be able to cross the streets in safety. Parents must be confident that children are safe on the streets. The Fourth Avenue Safety Corridor is still not implemented despite the need for safety improvements that spurred its development.

The NYCDOT with fresh leadership has hinted it may consider previously unthinkable approaches for safety issues. Better street lighting and anti-speeding enhancements along Fourth Avenue would be welcomed. The reduction and elimination of pedestrian deaths, not speed limits, is at the heart of Mr. de Blasio’s Vision Zero Plan. Let’s obey the law but let’s start making Fourth Avenue a safer thoroughfare.
The mayor’s “tale of two cities” rhetoric may come back to haunt him if New York City becomes a more dangerous and dirty city when he leaves office. He has made good on promises of increased fairness, diversity, accountability and opportunity but he must not forget safety or quality of life issues.

New York City’s economy is now based on tourism. We need that revenue and must protect tourists and citizens from the possibility of New York City sliding back to the days when Fort Apache in the Bronx had 200 murders a year instead of two, and the city was associated with the Charles Bronson “Death Wish” trilogy of urban horror instead of culture or entertainment.

We have problems in New York City and we will always have problems but the out-of-control social, economic and political problems of 1970s should never be visited again on this wonderful metropolis.

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