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Public Advocate Office is a Waste

Dear Editor:

Those brave elected officials calling for abolishment of the Office of Public Advocate via a future voter referendum make sense. Any public opinion poll can tell you that the average citizen believes taxpayers would be better off if the useless Office of Public Advocate was abolished. It has only provided temporary employment for past Public Advocates Mark Green, Betsy Gotbaum, Bill de Blasio and most recently, Letitia James. All four used this office as a stepping stone to run for higher office, either Mayor or State Attorney General.

All engaged in a non stop series of press conferences, news releases, issuance of various reports, letters to the editor, guest columns in newspapers and publicity stunts for years. All of this was at taxpayers’ expense to raise their respective name identification with voters and grease the wheels for running for another public office.

NYC has a $89 billion budget in fiscal year 2018 with over 230,000 employees. This is greater than most states and many nations. Members of each 59 community planning boards, their district managers along with every municipal agency provide better customer service to residents that any Public Advocate does. The same is true for NYC Council members, Boro Presidents and City Comptroller who also periodically conduct audits of municipal agencies.

The Office of Public Advocate just duplicates these functions with taxpayers paying twice for the same services. No one would notice if the Office of Public Advocate was abolished. Life for NYC residents would go on without any significant adverse impacts. Funding for the Office of Public Advocate would be better spent on more critical municipal services such as transportation, police, fire, sanitation or education.

Sincerely,

Larry Penner

 


More on Powerball Drawing

Dear Editor,

Your article “Mega Millions Jackpot Swells to a History Making $900 Million; Drawing on Friday Night” is a continuation of a misleading narrative that I think needs to be put to rest.

Having expanded to a record $900 million for Friday night’s drawing, the Mega Millions jackpot is the hot ticket at convenience stores and just about any place that folks purchase their chance to win oodles of dough. After nobody won again, the jackpot rose to over a billion dollars.

What you don’t usually hear about though are the realities behind the lottery. There’s really no oversight to protect people with gambling problems, and it’s kind of sick that we are okay with gambling addicts losing all of their money so that states can use the funds to support important causes. The only problem is that the majority of the time, the money never actually winds up going towards the good things that were promised. In some cases, like in New Jersey, states even have very lucrative contracts for companies they hire to handle the lottery, even though that led to millions of lost dollars from New Jersey.

The reason more big jackpots are happening is because of rule changes made by the lottery a few years ago. The resulting high jackpots are no accident, and while there’s nothing wrong with that, the problem lies in the way media keep hyping these jackpots.

Lottery stories are like the very definition of selective reporting, which is when you give unnecessary weight to something and therefore make it seem significant, or the norm. By reporting on the winners and giving absurd advice like what to do with your winnings (spoiler, you’re not going to ever win), the lottery appears very winnable. Odds that are greater than one in over 300 million, as is the case with this lottery, are astronomically abysmal. More accurate reporting would require media to interview the millions of people who lose every drawing, but that of course would never happen.

There’s nothing wrong with having a little fun and dreaming a little, but like casino games, you have to go in with a strategy and an understanding of how the games work so that you can realistically set expectations and have fun, even though the house always wins.

Sincerely,

Curtis Pitman


The Jewish Media Summit Should be Annual Event

Dear Editor:

It has come to my attention that the Government Press Office in Israel as well as their Ministry of Foreign Affairs are once again sponsoring a Jewish Media Summit in the next week that will be held in Jerusalem. For those who are unfamiliar with this summit, it is a vibrant and informative gathering of Jewish journalists or journalists that are employed or who contribute articles or commentary to Jewish publications. These journalists literally hail from practically every country you can think of, and then some.

It is a diverse and eclectic group of intellectuals and an impressive representation of the international community of Jewish journalists.

Having said that, it is noteworthy to mention that while sponsoring such a summit is exceptionally laudable, it is the colossal failing of the Israeli government and the powers that be that such summits have only been held sporadically throughout the years.

The most important mission of the Israeli government in terms of public relations and media enhancement is to reach out assertively to journalists in the diaspora, and this is something that hitherto this juncture in time, the Israeli government has ignored or dismissed as trivial.

At the summit, hundreds of journalists gather for four days of incisive, thought provoking and informative seminars, lectures, panel discussions as well as addresses by Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. At these seminars, the give and take between journalists and government members is truly electric as lively conversation is not only generated but constructive ideas and suggestions for improvement in coverage are being promulgated.

Many journalists have commented that such a seminar is an absolutely essential tool in connecting with other journalists and the government of Israel.

In the past, the government has held summits in an arbitrary manner which sent a strong indicator that such a gathering was not exactly on the top of their priority list. If a beleaguered government who feels itself under siege by the far reaching and pernicious tentacles of the BDS movement really wants to burnish its image, then one would think that the first place in which they would turn for assistance in that regard would be the global community of Jewish journalists.

Clearly, there is not a moment that passes when Israel is not subjected to vitriolic broadsides by the bellicose media and those bloggers who are possessed by a visceral animosity towards the Jewish state.

The government of Israel should wake up, smell the coffee and sponsor these summits on an annual basis. Yes, folks, it is more crucial than we will ever truly understand.

Sincerely

Marcus Weber

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