Common Sense: “New York City’s Best”

March 24, 2017 JERRY KASSAR
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The members of the New York City Emergency Services system (known as “New York City’s Best”) do what is often a dangerous job with some of the lowest pay, worst hours, most difficult work conditions and least amount of recognition of any city uniformed service worker.

Now a division of the FDNY, for most of its history, it was a separate service.  Back in 1996, the city reorganized to take EMS out of the Health and Hospitals Corporation and place them it the Fire Department which helped raise the morale of the service and provided a stronger voice for those who ride the “trucks.”

Most often, the dangers involve aiding and transporting emotionally disturbed individuals or reporting to an active crime or fire scene. Other times, it could be high risk field contact with a serious pathogen. It could be as simple as flying through traffic in response to a call.

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And, as we saw last week, an ambulance crew could become victims of a criminal with a long record who had no business being on the streets. Jose Gonzalez, age 25, who has been charged with the death of EMT Yadira Arroya in a most horrific incident, was arrested and convicted in several dozen crimes over the past few years.

How could a 25-year-old with several dozen convictions be on the streets? Whatever happened to three strikes and you are out? The judicial system is at fault as well as the liberals who keep on telling us repeat offenders deserve another chance.

If the prosecutors and judges had not failed us, Yadira Arroya would still be alive, her five children would still have a mother and Yadira’s partner would not be in critical condition as of this writing.

May she rest in peace! A speedy recovery to her partner. And prayers for their families.

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Only a few hours before this tragedy, State Senator Golden (whom I serve as chief of staff) and I appeared with the President of the EMS union Izzy Miranda and a large number of his members on the steps of City Hall to announce legislation introduced by Senator Golden and Assemblymember Abbate which reforms the mechanisms used to establish the legitimacy of an appealed disability pension application for city workers.

EMS, Sanitation and Correction employees are in a different pension system than police and fire, and go through a different process in order to receive a disability pension.

The bottom line is that the system attempts to outlast the applicant with road blocks being placed in the way of an appeal, so that, even when a judge agrees with the application, he or she does not have the ability to act. This simple change gives a judge more authority to make a final decision if he or she feels the case has merits.

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Apparently there was (or is) a move a foot on Staten Island to get former Congressmember  Michael Grimm to run for office as I mentioned in a column two weeks ago.  I was only guessing, although I suppose it shows I have decent political intuition.

The Staten Island Advance is reporting that a private poll was conducted which seemed to be focused on people’s views of Grimm and Jimmy Oddo.  The Advance interviewed Grimm and others.  Grimm would not confirm anything nor would he deny it. You might say he went silent.

The Advance then conducted its own unscientific survey and found that a relatively small majority who participated thought Grimm should not return to politics.

For his part, Staten Island Borough President Oddo did not seem concerned. He feels he has done a good job and that will carry him through any re-election.

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