Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The forgotten and ignored middle class

We were promised change and a better lifestyle

But promises were all that we got

We were dazzled with speeches and blinded with style

And change did we get…We did not

So our taxes go up and our jobs disappear

Paying four dollars a gallon for gas

Paycheck to paycheck we live now in fear

The forgotten and ignored middle class

Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Cut and Paste Generation

More and more states are on the verge of bankruptcy and the federal government just continues to toss good money after bad. Has anyone wondered why we are in this situation? Here is our take. The problem is that we have become a cut and paste society and original thinking has all but disappeared from this generation. Just ask any student when was the last time they visited a library to do real research. Why should they when with the click of a cursor they can get all of the information they need. Ask them to write an essay and see how many spelling errors or "text abbreviations" you find. And you can forget about grammar all together. But why do they need to worry when they all have spell and grammar check on their computers. And it is not only the student's fault. School rankings are based on success in standardized tests. So students are taught to pass those tests. Shortcuts are instituted to bypass anything that is not covered on these standardized tests. And the problems just get worse and worse. An entire industry now exists to teach students to pass High School entrance exams and SAT tests. Shortcuts....shortcuts....shortcuts. And this extends to the business world as well. These same students have become today's executives. The majority of who have never worked their way up the corporate ladder. No real on the job training and more importantly no common sense. Personal gain overshadowing corporate responsibility. And why not! This is a generation that has been able to fast forward most of their lives while skipping over or deleting anything that has gotten in their way. A generation of "Guitar Heroes" who can't read a note of music. A generation who do not know the value of a dollar and whose lives are "PRICELESS" or who "WON"T LEAVE HOME" without their credit cards And these are the people who are now making the corporate decisions that have brought our country to the brink of bankruptcy. They are the same people taking these ideas into government who think that a $14 trillion national debt is not a concern. The same people who pass bills without reading them. So we will have to work till we die as our 401K's disappear and Social Security goes bankrupt. As the new cut and paste generation takes the place of the old cut and run generation before them We can only pray that the day will come when they begin to realize that Real Life is not something you watch on MTV. And hopefully that day comes soon.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

9/11: Politics and Money vs. Commitment

Ten years ago many promises were made. “We will never forget the victims of this tragic day” seemed to be on the lips of every elected official. Shortly after these same elected officials took every opportunity to praise the brave first responders who worked tirelessly to find survivors before they took on the task of finding remains of those lost in the rubble. But that was ten years ago and many of those promises have been forgotten. There is already talk about not reading the names at the 9/11 ceremony after this year. We are also all aware that the first responders are not even invited to this year’s ceremony. So much for not forgetting. Prominent elected officials are falling over themselves to be in attendance this year. Many of these have never been there before or only showed up on the 5th anniversary as if the other years did not matter. Many of these will be to too busy running for office to attend next year unless they are behind in the polls in New York. This is the type of hypocritical behavior has been prevalent over the last 10 years. Many have made and continue to make millions or have built their political careers off this tragedy. And these same people have forgotten or only remember when it serves their agenda. Mr. Mayor why don’t you ask some of the survivors who made it out because of the brave first responders if they think these heroes should be able to attend. Or ask a family who were able to respectfully bury their loved one because of the efforts of these same people you look to exclude from this year’s ceremony. As for the reading of the names going forward I ask that you ask all of the 9/11 families not just the select group that you always refer to that have rubber stamped any decision you wanted to make regarding Ground Zero. It has never been a problem reaching out to all of the families when it comes to asking for donations for the memorial so it should not be a problem reaching out to all of them for their opinion on this. While we are speaking about the memorial has anyone even considered how you are going to deal with the tens of thousands (mostly tourists) who are going to want to visit every day if you cannot even handle inviting the first responders for one day. We hope that those in power will take these things into consideration when decisions are being made. Unfortunately when it comes to 9/11 politics and money have always come before commitment.

Friday, August 12, 2011

To All,

As we approach the 10 year mark we thought we might look back as to where we started and thank all those who stepped up after 9/11. Below is an article written shortly after 9/11 documenting the beginning of or organization and the small role we played.



Dennis McKeon
Executive Director
“Where to Turn Inc.”

St. Clare’s WTC Outreach

On September 11, 2001 America as we knew it was changed forever. 2,759 lives were senselessly lost and it would be difficult to find anyone not impacted by the tragic events of that day. In Staten Island, New York the parish of St. Clare lost 29 of its parishioners. Monsignor Murphy called together a small group to see what we could do for the families of the victims. Jim Mazzarella, Tony Cimaglia, Tom Gisonda, Bernice Fisher, Maureen Atkinson, Jim Connors, Stephen Rynn, Jack Lamantia, Daniella LaRocca and I got together and formed the St. Clare’s WTC Outreach Committee.
Knowing that something needed to be done but not really knowing what we immediately asked the members of the parish if they would be willing to help. At once we had over 200 volunteers who were at the ready to do anything from baby sitting to cooking meals. We had over 100 activities covered in a matter of days.
We then proceeded to review individually the 223 organizations that were listed on the Attorney General’s WTC Relief Website. We knew that the families were in no state of mind, or even have the time to access the data, so we did it for them. We prioritized what needed to be done and came up with a First Steps of Recovery guide to what the families needed to do. We listed the organizations that needed to be contacted (e.g., Federal Emergency Management Administration, American Red Cross, New York State Crime Victims etc.) and their contact information and shared it with the families. We then sent out a letter to each family letting them know that we were available if needed and if they preferred we would meet with them individually.
During the first few weeks following 9/11 we received very few calls. In late October, we received our first call for a meeting from the sister of a woman who had lost her husband. Armed only with our “First Steps to Recovery” guide, as well as many doubts and uncertainties, Jim Mazzarella and I met with the family. It was immediately obvious that the family was still in shock and confused and uncertain as to what they needed to do. We listened to the victim’s wife and father and attempted to answer any of the questions that we could. We made sure that they had any applications for assistance that they needed, and made them aware of any filing deadlines that had been established. There were many questions that we could not answer, but we promised to find and return with the answers. We spent about two hours with the family before telling them that we would be back in touch shortly and giving them our contact numbers in case they had any additional questions. Upon leaving them that night, Jim and I were not sure if we had actually done any good. Little did we know that this was the beginning of an incredible journey.
Shortly after this meeting we began getting calls from other families and began making appointments to meet with them. At least two Committee Members participated in each meeting, and with accrued experience, we became more confident and informed. In the meantime we continued to accumulate information and researched the questions we had received. If we could not find the answers on the web we would contact agencies directly until we got an answer. While we were putting a structure to this program, St. Clare also put together a 9/11 Bereavement Program for the families. Under the guidance of Marty Philips, this group began to meet every week. Slowly but surely this group grew. After a while Marty asked if I would be able to speak to them and explain our program. The following week I went to the meeting, explained what we were attempting to do and handed out to the seven family members in attendance the package of information that we had put together. Later in the week, Marty called and asked if I would be able to present again at the next meeting. He explained that he had gotten requests from some family members who had missed the meeting. I was shocked to find almost twenty five family members in attendance when I returned the following week Once again I explained the program and handed out our information. I also told the group that I did not want to interfere with the work of the Bereavement Group and that I would ask Monsignor Murphy if we could schedule our own meeting once a week. For the next year and a half we met every Tuesday night. The local newspaper ran an article about the program and before we knew it, we had family members from all over Staten Island as well as Brooklyn and New Jersey. At times, we had fifty to seventy five family members in attendance. As attendance grew, so did our scope and responsibilities.
The primary focus of the St. Clare’s WTC Outreach Committee was always the needs of the families. We structured our meetings around family requests. We discussed any issues deemed necessary by the families and, when necessary, we brought in representatives from support organizations and elected officials to answer questions or address concerns. I believe there were two reasons why we succeeded: We always listened, and we never treated the family members as victims. We provided an environment in which they felt safe. They were not afraid to say what was on their minds. We gave them an opportunity to vent their frustrations among other survivors who in turn became friends. We were also there, when things needed to get done, to ensure that they got done. Members would often put something off because they did not want to deal with it. As a group, we made sure that they realized that it was in their best interest and we were able to move forward and get through some difficult times.
Over the course of the last three years we covered topics ranging from development at Ground Zero to the Victims’ Compensation Fund. When the city turned down the families’ request to have the closing ceremony at Ground Zero on the weekend, we held our own. We supplied buses to family events during the year as well as transportation to Ground Zero on 9/11. We convened information forums which gave the families the opportunity to meet face to face people they had only contacted over the phone. We scheduled family days and events for the children throughout the year. Most of all we kept things simple. If there was a question we got it answered. If an issue arose, we got it resolved or at least tried. We never made promises that we could not keep, but made sure that other organizations and elected officials made good on the ones that they had made.

Role of the Internet – Post 9/11

As we moved forward with the program we received more and more inquiries. People who could not attend the meetings wanted to know how they could receive the information and support we were providing. We began an e-mail distribution list that soon grew to 1,500 families, support organizations , elected officials and media outlets. With the help of a few individuals we were able to create a 9/11 family network that continues to distribute information across the nation. In the course of gathering this information we met many individuals who were also attempting to keep the family members informed. One such person was Arnie Korotkin.
Arnie was the Director of Community Development United Way and became a 9/11 contact person. In this capacity he contacted local families that had lost a loved one on September 11. In the course of his outreach he spoke with many family members who were in a state of shock and finding it difficult to understand or accept their loss. During a conversation with a mother of four who had lost her husband, he learned that she had stopped reading the daily newspaper or listening to the radio and television news reports in the days following 9/11. Believing that it was essential for 9/11 families to stay informed and connected he began sending her regular e-mails containing articles and information relevant for her to access services that had been established after 9/11. He informed her that these e-mails would assist with the myriad of problems (financial, emotional, etc.) she was facing and that she would have the option to read them when she in a state of mind to do so.
Arnie built on this idea and began to send daily e-mails to a growing list of 9/11 families and organizations. This activity became part of his daily routine and reaffirmed the vital role that e-mail and the internet could now play in the recovery process. No longer did the families have to rely on traditional media outlets. The use of e-mails and the internet now provided them 24/7 access to timely information. Others including Bill Doyle and Alan Duncan joined in the information sharing and soon the network was providing families with newspaper and magazine articles as well as information for social and human services, financial resources, scholarships and support groups.

The distribution continued to grow and now reaches thousands of people every day. We share all new information so that the families get information from a variety of sources. Government offices and Major Support Organizations have used this distribution network to get word out to the families about upcoming events. Press releases as well as media requests are shared by most news outlets as they know that they will reach the 9/11 families. At one point I was receiving over 200 e-mails a day and sending close to 100. Even today I process nearly 20 e-mails to the distribution on a daily basis.
Thanks to the internet we have become a 9/11 information conduit that the 9/11 families rely on. It is important to note that we distribute a variety of opinions and views along with general information. Anything distributed is for informational purposes only and we let the readers decide for themselves what they think is the correct course of action. We have built a trust with the families that we hope never to lose.
Our St Clare’s Group continued to meet on a regular basis through June of 2004. At that point it was decided that regular meetings were no longer needed but the distribution of information and the availability of support are, and they continue today. When we began the St. Clare’s WTC Outreach Program we pledged to be around as long as the families needed us and we plan to honor that commitment.

Where To Turn

Over the past three years we learned many lessons about recovery. We found that too often groups are too set in their ways and too protective of their territories to make changes. Many times this results in unnecessary problems for the victims. Also, it seems that at times researchers and support organizations get so caught up in studies and statistics that they lose site of the fact that the individual victim’s needs should come first. By now we all know that there is no road map to recovery and that every individual has his or her own path to follow. We need to continue to make sure that information that the victims need is readily accessible. We also need to assure that programs are being developed for all the populations that need them. Too often we have multiple organizations competing for a specific population while others who need help are being neglected. Unfortunately, this seems to have become more the norm then the exception.
Over the past year, a few members of the St. Clare’s WTC Outreach Committee (Jim Mazzarella, Jim Connors, Stephen Rynn, Jack LaMantia, Tim Rice and I) decided it was time to address this issue. We decided to take all of the lessons learned after 9/11 and put together an organization that would provide any victim of tragedy a single place to go to look for help. We decided it was time to let any victim know “Where To Turn”.
The concept of “Where To Turn” is fairly straight forward. We plan to create and maintain a database and a web site which will enable any victim of tragedy to easily locate and access what aid and support is available to them both locally and nationally. We will also provide a showcase that will enable local grass root programs to share with a national audience what they have developed. Most of all we will provide a voice for the victims. We will allow them to help us help them by giving them an avenue to provide direct feedback on what is working and what is not.
Beginning in the fourth quarter of 2004, we began accumulating data on support organizations across the country. We first verify and sort the organizations by program and location. We then link these organizations to a single web site and enable any victim to access the data. If your home burns down in Topeka, Kansas or if you lose a loved one in an accident in Santa Fe, New Mexico you will be able to find what support is available both locally and nationally. We will also make you aware of what support groups are doing around the country. Basically, we will let you know “Where To Turn.”
We plan for this organization to grow based on input from the victims themselves. We will spotlight programs and organizations on a regular basis. We will also open a call center so that people without computers will be able to access this information. We will also look for ways to accommodate the concerns of non English speaking victims. We will develop the program so that it is accessible to all populations including all immigrant and minority groups and attempt to address the multiple language issue. We will also attempt to aid community projects for victims and most of all we will act as a clearinghouse of information for all victims of tragedy.
Some may think that this is an unrealistic project. If 9/11 has demonstrated anything it is that, not only is this realistic, but it is necessary. Too often valuable programs never reach their intended audiences. Too often, great ideas never get the opportunity to be developed because they never get presented to the right people. Too often, victims remain victims for their entire lives because they never get the opportunity to know that there are people out there willing to help. They need to be put in touch with people who have gone through similar circumstances and were able to move on. We need to let them know that there is hope and we need to get this sense of hope out to all victims of tragedy.
It is important to note that we are not counselors, psychologists or trauma experts. We are attempting to connect these victims to the experts to help aid in their recovery. We hope to bring common sense back to the recovery process. We hope to break down some walls, or at least install a few windows, that will enable people on both sides to see that there are alternatives. Too often victims are lost because their spirits are broken early on. We hope to rekindle that spirit and bring hope back into their lives.
A few days after 9/11 Wendy Pellegrino found a picture of one of the victims of 9/11 that had been left in a vacant lot near her home on Staten Island. Wendy cleared a small area of the lot and made a makeshift memorial for the victim. As the days passed, more and more pictures where dropped off at the site and Wendy continued to create individual memorials. She started with candles, which were replaced by lanterns. At dusk she would make sure that each memorial was lit and at midnight she would return to put them out. With the help of Fred Ariemma, a local landscaper, she transformed this vacant lot into a beautiful memorial which, as of this writing, includes 188 tributes. She named the memorial Angels Circle and it has done more to comfort and support the victims’ families then countless sophisticated programs developed by so- called experts. A simple gesture of kindness has grown into a meaningful memorial
Such innovative programs will only develop if you continue to get feedback from those affected. We need to create an environment where new ideas can flourish. We need to give a voice to these ideas and maybe get some of these long-standing organizations to make some changes not just for the sake of change but because it is the right thing to do.

Looking Forward

Aldous Huxley once said “Experience teaches only the teachable.” We must continue to allow ourselves to be teachable. Shortly after 9/11 the country as a whole came together and many families whose lives were devastated on that tragic day were able to keep going because of the love and support that was shown. Many of the programs were developed by everyday people who just wanted to help. People like Arnie, Bill and Alan who took it upon themselves to keep the families informed. Organizations like the St. Clare’s WTC Outreach program were successful because they were adaptable. They were not bound by any bureaucratic rules. They saw a need and did whatever was necessary to fill it, and many families benefited. People like Lisa Orloff who created Septembers Space which provides a place where victims can go and meet and heal. Simple ideas, great results. We need to continue to cultivate an environment where new ideas in the field of recovery are permitted to grow. For example:

The most underserved population in terms of recovery appears to be the teenage children of victims. While they attempt to be strong for their surviving parent or younger siblings, they are not giving themselves the opportunity to heal. Let’s create programs where they might be able to mentor younger victims at camps or after school programs. In helping others they may be able help themselves under the watchful eye of professional counselors. We can help them without them even knowing it.
The parents of victims are also almost always forgotten. We have found that just enabling them to interact and communicate with other parents has made a world of difference. Let’s embrace this concept and foster lines of communications between parents of victims and let them help heal each other.
Let’s make it easier for the everyday person to get involved. We have already started the “Gift of Life for 9/11” program. Through this program we are hoping to get 10,000 everyday people to commit to either donating blood or performing a community service four times a year in memory of those lost on 9/11.
These are just a few ideas and I am sure that there are thousands of others out there as well. Through “Where To Turn” and the use of the internet we hope to be able to rediscover these programs and share them with the victims of tragedy. We do not have to recreate the wheel but I think that it is time to replace a few of the spokes. We cannot continue to treat victims as numbers or statistics. We must not lose site of the fact that we could just as easily be in there situation. They are friends and, over the past few years, many have become family.
We all need to take a step back and look at the whole picture. On September 11, 2001 America was devastated but not defeated. Families were broken but not destroyed. Our faith was shaken but hope was not lost. With the eyes of the world upon us we pulled ourselves up. Petty prejudices were forgotten. The lines that so often have separated us were forgotten. No one spoke of race, religion or political affiliation. We were one family that had been severely hurt and, we responded as a family. We did not ask how or why we needed to help. We just did. We need not forget how we as a nation responded that day as a nation and we need never forget that every member of our collective family deserves the same treatment today. No tragedy is too small, no trauma to insignificant for it is never too far removed from each and every one of us especially in today’s political climate.
So let’s continue the work of Arnie, Bill, Alan and Wendy. Let’s follow the examples of St. Clare’s WTC Outreach, September’s Space and Where To Turn. Most of all, let us continue to be teachable and never forget that every problem has a solution. We just need to find it.

For Too Long We Have Delegated "Authority"

So the Port Authority is going to raise tolls by $4.00 on all New Jersey crossings. Is anybody surprised?

And it’s just a matter of time before the MTA starts claiming that they are broke and will be demanding fare increases for less service. Since these autonomous agencies were first created by Robert Moses back in the 1930’s as a way to circumvent local government they have been nothing but a cash cow for those involved. Decades of mismanagement caused by executive ranks filled with unqualified employees who got their jobs solely based on their political connections have cost New York hundreds of billions of dollars. And while no one seems to have any control of the authorities it is always the taxpayer that has to bail them out time and time again. The PA, the MTA, the TBA the list goes on and on we have basically given them the authority to steal taxpayer money by not having any system of checks and balances in place to control them. We couldn’t even require the PA to rebuild Ground Zero according to NYC Building and Fire codes, but that’s another story. Although we have very little faith in Albany this would be a great way to show that they are actually attempting to bring back at least a little fiscal responsibility. But if they are going to do it they need to do it right. There is currently no need for any of these Authorities and they should be disbanded altogether. Like a cancer they have spread to areas far outside the scope of what they were created to handle. Has anyone even asked why the Port Authority is in the real estate business and what did the World Trade Center ever have to do with the ports of NY and NJ? It is time to shut them down and make all of the high paid executives get some real jobs. And while we are at it the Mayor should do the same with the myriad of agencies that have been created at the city level that use the Authorities as their role models. Agencies like the LMDC that spends over $4 million a year with little or nothing to show for it. An agency that has spent nearly a billion dollars on the dismantling of a single building that still stands at Ground Zero. This is where we need to begin and we have been calling for this for the past 9 years. Time and time again they have proven that they are not able to handle the authority that was delegated to them. It is time we took it back.

Monday, August 1, 2011

There Are Twice as Many Slot Machines in the US as There Are ATM's

As the economy continues to falter and budget deficits continue to swell more and more states are pursuing legalized gambling as a way to generate revenues. At last count there are 38 states that now support some type of state sponsored gambling. To the government this looks like a quick fix to the budget crisis. Unfortunately they are gambling with our future. Studies have shown that more people are gambling than ever before. And as the economy gets worse we will only see these numbers grow. (See below) As people look for that quick score to pay the bills. People who cannot afford it particularly seniors are getting caught up in the "Dollar and a Dream" hype and are now spending grocery money on scratch off or trips to casinos. More of our children watch the World Series of Poker than the World Series. World Series games don't start until almost 9:00 PM and don't end until after midnight while gambling shows are on around the clock on multiple channels. And it is only going to get worse. As the Governor looks to expand slot machines at local race tracks and LOTTO spends millions on new ad campaigns more and more people are losing their savings and in some cases even their homes. Many have already lost their retirement plans thanks to our friends on Wall Street and are now looking to gambling as a bailout. This is the worse possible time for the government to be expanding its gambling operations. But as usual they will not be able to pass up a quick fix with no regard for the future. Awhile back we asked our local electeds to support an effort to at least stop state sponsored advertising for gambling (see below) But none of them even considered it. Don't you think that the millions spent on the "Little Bit of Luck" and other ads could be put to better use? Obviously they do not think so. So they will continue to try to draw more people in to inflate their short term revenues as they continue to spend more and more on advertising and administrative costs.

As they continue to gamble with our future.

Over the past few years there has been a significant increase in the number of seniors who have taken up gambling as a new form of entertainment.
Unfortunately it is not entertainment
The gambling establishments have created various incentive programs and innovative advertising gimmicks to lure them into a dark world. The end result is a senior with a self destructive behavior pattern and low self esteem.
They constantly receive enticements such as:
Tired of staying at home with nothing to do, come down and visit us we will make you feel at home.
Free live entertainment awaits you.
Buffets and exotic restaurants
Make new friends
Not only will we pay for the transportation with coupon vouchers, we will also throw in free lunch at our buffet. You are getting a full day of entertainment and we will feed you too.
ATM machines, cash advances and line of credits are available
The result has been that many seniors are losing their pensions, losing their life savings and some even losing their lives.
In New Jersey alone on over 15% of the callers to the 1-800-GAMBLER© HOTLINE are over the age of 55.
The situation is not much better with the youth of America.
On line gambling, World Series of Poker on every day with other gambling shows on cable and now even network channels.
Texas Holdem Tournaments everywhere.
In a recent study 70% of students interviewed between the ages of 13 and 17 stated that they had gambled.
In a Florida study 12.5% of adolescents interviewed reported they had purchased a lottery ticket in the past year.
And what is the government doing about this problem…….nothing.
As a matter of fact more and more states are legalizing gambling as a means of generating revenues.
Don’t be surprised if you wake up one morning and hear about Governor’s Island becoming a casino destination.
While we know that there is nothing we can do about commercial gambling establishments (although there should be) there is something we can do about government sponsored gambling.
For example the NY State Lottery.
Why is it necessary to advertise?
Why are we going after other people to gamble?
If the state wants the lottery that is fine but instead of spending millions on advertising they should use these funds for gambling treatment and education for which funds are almost nonexistent.
Don’t they know that more people die as a result of gambling then drugs and alcohol combined?
Why the need to draw new people into this addiction.
They have warning labels on cigarettes and ban soda from schools but actively recruit people of all ages?
We hear of stores being fined for selling cigarettes to minors but when is the last time you heard of the same for someone selling lottery tickets?
Well we want something done.
We are going to continue to call on our elected officials to ask them to call for a ban on gambling advertisement similar to the one on cigarette and liquor ads.
We hope that you will join us in our effort.
We are also going to coordinate seminars with the DA’s office to schools for both parents and students to make them aware of the warning signs and preventive measures to take.
We hope to be able to make a difference.

Below is a letter we sent to our state electeds in 2008 and we have been reminding them every year since.

Hopefully we can get their attention.

Dennis McKeon
150 Greaves Lane # 312
Staten Island, NY 10308

150-L Greaves Lane # 312
Staten Island, NY 10308
Phone: 718-966-6531 Fax: 718-966-6515

January 14, 2008

State Senator Diane Savino
State Senator Andrew Lanza
Assemblywoman Janelle Hyer-Spencer
Assemblyman Michael Cusick
Assemblyman Matthew Titone
Assemblyman Lou Tobacco
District Attorney Daniel Donovan

Knowing of your concern for the youth and senior citizens I would like to ask your assistance in addressing a growing problem impacting both groups.

Over the past 10 years gambling has become a major problem with both the youth and senior populations.

Seniors have lost their life savings, their homes and in some cases even their lives after being drawn into the dream of winning it big by both the private and public gambling sectors.

The NY State Lottery spends millions on ad campaigns to draw unsuspecting seniors into the world of gambling, while the casinos lure them with promises of free meals and coped rooms.

A recent study showed that in New Jersey alone over 15% of the callers to the 1-800- Gambling Hotline were over the age of 55.

The problem is no better with the youth in America. Through online gambling and the host of poker tournaments on cable and network TV we are presenting gambling as a positive alternative to hard work and education.

A study in Florida showed that 12.5% of adolescents interviewed reported that they had purchased a lottery ticket this past year and that 70% of students between the ages of 13 and 17 stated that they had gambled.

I am sure that if studies were done in New York we would find the numbers to be similar if not higher.

I know everyone has to right to “legally gamble” and that we really cannot do anything about the casinos advertising but why does the state of NY have to contribute to this outreach.

If New York wants the lottery that’s fine but instead of spending millions on advertising to try to draw more people into gambling they should be using these funds for gambling treatment and educational programs about the dangers of gambling.

Don’t they realize that more people die from the effects of compulsive gambling then the effects of drugs and alcohol combined?

The government places warning labels on cigarettes and bans soda from schools but continues to actively recruit people of all ages with their concept of a “Dollar and a Dream”

We hear of stores being fined for selling cigarettes or beer to minors but when was the last time a store was cited for selling lottery tickets to underage kids.

We are asking for your help to address this issue.

To start would it be possible to at least propose legislation to ban advertising for state sponsored gambling?

We currently have such bans on liquor and cigarette ads.

Would it not make sense to do the same for gambling ads?

We are in the process of working with the DA’s Office to develop seminars to outreach to schools to warn students of the dangers of gambling. These seminars will also be available to parents to make them aware of the warning signs of teenage gambling.

We hope you will join us in this effort to protect our seniors and students,

We are available at your convenience to discuss this further.


Dennis McKeon

Executive Director

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

And They Wonder Why We Lose Faith In Our Government

The United States Department of Health & Human Services announced today that there is insufficient medical evidence to support a link between the exposure to Ground Zero toxins and various forms of cancer at this time. The government strikes again. It was nearly 10 years ago when former EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman knowingly released falsely reassuring and misleading statements of safety after the September 11, 2001 attacks. Even though the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York found that her statements were "without question conscience-shocking." Even though The court also found the facts "support an allegation of a violation of the substantive due process right to be free from official government policies that increase the risk of bodily harm" by Whitman's misstatements regarding the air quality of the affected area. The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals stated that she could not be held liable for her actions. Now 10 years later people who worked at Ground Zero and believed Christie Todd Whitman because she represented the government continue to get sick. And what does the government do? It takes cancer, the disease that represents the largest number of claims in the Zadroga Bill, and makes anyone who contracted cancer as a result f their work at Ground Zero or Fresh Kills ineligible for aid. So our government which is about to raise the debt ceiling once again because they just cant control their spending on anything else decides to save a few bucks here at the expense of 9/11 victims. If we try to fight them on this they will probably use the same excuse they did back then when the Appeals Court stated that legal remedies are not always available for every instance of arguably deficient governmental performance. But we must fight them just as we fought them to get the Zadroga Bill passed. We owe it to those who helped and are now sick. We owe to all of those who have died of cancer after working at the site or at Fresh Kills. It is our responsibility to make sure our government holds to its commitments to the victims of 9/11. This September is the 10th Anniversary of the attacks and this is no way to honor the memory of those who died that day. Teddy Roosevelt once said "Justice consists not in being neutral between right and wrong, but in finding out the right and upholding it, wherever found, against the wrong". That is what we need to do today. Let your voices be heard. Lest We Forget Dennis