Opinion: Shutdowns and showdowns

By former Assemblymember Steven Sanders

The federal government shutdown is over, at least for now. This lull before the next budget deadline is a good time to reflect on recent events. Does the president really have an appetite for putting 800,000 federal workers through that financial trauma again? Does he really want to again halt essential functions rendered by FBI agents and air traffic controllers, persons running national parks or those dispensing critical human services to the needy?

Some years ago, when budget delays were common in New York State for lack of an agreement between the legislature and the governor, the state at that time enacted a policy whereby legislators would not be paid until the budget was passed. This was done both in the hopes of spurring agreements as well as punishment for negligent and tardy behavior. So here is an idea:

Come February 15, if there is no budget in place in Washington D.C. and hostages need to be taken, have the members of the executive branch of government, including the president, vice president, the cabinet and their staffs go without their pay until the issues are resolved. And do the same with all members of Congress and their staffs. Whether elected officials are paid bi-weekly, bi-monthly, or once a year, it is legal.

Rumor has it that there is legislation to do just that which is actually being proposed in the House of Representatives. Good. Let them put their money where their mouth is.

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USPS fights back against ‘fishers’ with new mailboxes

Two of the new mailboxes at the corner of Fifth Avenue and 23rd Street are considered higher security due to a slit for inserting mail rather than a pull-out handle. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Mailbox fishing, a type of theft aimed at stealing checks that can later be altered, has just gotten harder.

This is because the United States Postal Services is currently in the process of replacing 5,000 mail collection boxes throughout the city with higher-security models. Xavier Hernandez, a spokesperson for the USPS, said the project is being done in coordination with law enforcement agencies.

The main difference between the old boxes and new is that there is no longer a pull-down handle, but a narrow slot where letters can be inserted and dropped. Areas throughout the five boroughs that are considered “high needs” because they have been popular targets for theft, have been getting their mailboxes replaced first.

The USPS can usually tell when their collection boxes have been tampered with, because they are scratched up or have glue inside or in some cases, evidence of someone having tried to pry off the fronts. Hernandez declined to share which neighborhoods were considered high-need, explaining that thieves have managed to exploit that information. Tips on suspected theft have come from the NYPD, postal employees and customers who call if they believe they’ve had a check stolen.

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