James Jordan Recap – Change is coming on Maglev

The Biden administration has plans to improve our rail system and I am convinced they will. But because we are a very big country, we need to do better than European rail systems, and we can. Maglev is a system that will be less expensive to build, less expensive to power and faster than anything they have built in Europe. This is exciting technology that the Japanese Rail company copied from our scientists and incorporated into their Maglev version.

It is a brave new world of ground transportation. James Jordan, Maglev advocate and fellow co-author of Maglev America will be our speaker on March 19th. Join us on Zoom for an interesting discussion, and read more about Maglev technology here.

Mr Boomgarten recap

On March 5, St. Joseph’s College President Donald Boomgaarden, Ph.D., spoke at the LIMBA (Long Island Metro Business Action) meeting to discuss the effects that the COVID-19 pandemic had on the educational system. Dr. Boomgaarden said the pandemic has had a significant impact on universities over the past year — not just on students and faculty, but on administrators. During a recent meeting with Catholic university administrators in New York, he learned of the passing of Dr. Dennis DePerro, the president of St. Bonaventure University, from COVID-19.

Around the same time last year, Dr. Boomgarden learned that a COVID case was confirmed at the college’s Brooklyn campus. As a precaution, he ordered both campuses to be shut down during spring break and then made a determination whether to allow students to return to campus. “Soon, it was clear we were not coming back,” he said. “We had to shift to a new modality.”

St. Joseph’s had already offered online learning, with 27 courses being fully offered online. By the start of t he fall semester, 70% of classes were via remote learning, and 30% on campus; those classes were labs and freshman classes to help them get acclimated to the campus. Dr. Boomgaarden taught his American Roots Music class once a week online, which was a different experience for him. It also gave him a chance to see what the students and faculty are experiencing.

“My experience is similar to that of other professors and students,” Dr. Boomgaarden said. “It’s different from teaching from behind the podium.” He also said that hybrid and remote learning will play a greater role in how students are being taught. “Across the U.S., college faculty are being forced to teach remotely,” he said. “Some of them initially resisted the idea, but now they found it easy to work with.”

The biggest challenge, however, was how the medical students could continue their lab work during the pandemic. To solve the problem, Dr. Boomgaarden said, the school reopened the lab rooms and installed partitions at each station. “We’ve continued to teach many labs on the ground, so we haven’t shifted those important classes into remote modalities,” he said.

Unlike other colleges and universities on Long Island, St. Joseph’s does not rely on revenues from dormitories or dining halls, but it had been able to stay financially afloat during the pandemic, with no layoffs or furloughs of its full-time employees. Meanwhile, enrollment numbers started to improve and may be higher than in 2019. 

He recalled being at Loyola New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina hit; the university administrators were unsure if or when they were able to recover, so, in a panic, they started laying off faculty and staff, but when the city recovered and the campus reopened, the faculty returned “demoralized and unprepared,” he said.

Dr. Boomgaarden said he recognized how the pandemic affected students’ mental health and well-being. He announced that, starting in the Fall 2022 semester, the college will launch a Program in Social Work. The program will prepare students for jobs as mental health consultants and help meet a rising demand in mental health services.

To help students in need, Dr. Boomgaarden announced the formation of a COVID-19 relief fund. This is for students who are having difficulty paying tuition or who are facing food insecurity. He said he has had students telling him that they cannot attend class next week because of their job. A majority of students, mostly those in the Brooklyn campus, are first-generation students. “They don’t come from wealthy families,” he said. 

He said the community has been vey generous, providing students with devices and WiFi connectivity so they can keep up with their online classes. “They didn’t have the problem of how to use the technology,” he said. “They just didn’t have the machines.” 

When asked about the concept of free education for college students, Dr. Boomgaarden said “there’s certainly merit” in that, but issues have to be addressed, such as who will pay for it, how much will it cost and if the students will receive a quality education. He pointed out that, during the pandemic, the private schools seemed to do a better job in educating the students, while the pandemic “showed limitations” of free education. “Education is not cheap,” he said, adding that the concept of free education needs to be “grounded in reality.”

Dr. Boomgaarden said St. Joseph’s is the least expensive private university on Long Island and New York City. The school also offers special discounts on tuition for students, which makes the pricing “comparable” to public city and state universities. He pointed out that the Excelsior scholarship program that Governor Cuomo began only applies to state schools, which he called “a huge mistake” and wondered why the program couldn’t be applied to private schools. “Private schools are a huge generator of financial improvement and a tremendous resource for the state of New York.”

A question was raised about the “deficits” students will face regarding learning. Dr. Boomgaarden said that he has confidence in these students, in that they will have the resilience to overcome the way classes are taught. He added that “one of our primary duties” as instructors is to keep students engaged during the learning process. 

The Significance Of Black History Month

I never thought much about that very specific body of knowledge. This is an important and significant segment of our population.

When programs about Black History started I was curious and began to listen. What I learned is that the black history is very rich and varied. In terms of music, science, art and literature It is at least as rich as any ethnic group that ever set foot on this continent. When you consider that the black presence goes back four hundred years, it stands to reason that their story is so interwoven with the entire American experience.

But that is only half the story. There is an equal benefit to the rest of America. It is incumbent on all of us to know our own heritage as well as the story of the many other ethic contributors. Knowledge of each other is important if we are ever going to respect each other.

We all owe a great debt to each culture that made us the intellectually and culturally powerhouse that is America.

Black history is important to the self image of our black brothers and sisters. It is a story that gives them a firm footing to participate in the politics and economy of this great country
But part of their gift to America accrues to the rest of us. Let us rejoice in recognizing black America and thank them.

Ernie Fazio

Ryan Madden recap

Click here for a link to an an upcoming forum on this topic
Here is a list of resources provided by the speaker
The speaker can be reached at 877-235-6537 or rmadden@lipc.org
Click here for more information.
This link was sent about information related to the Isias storm.

On February 19, Ryan Madden, Sustainability Organizer for the Long Island Progressive Coalition (LIPC), joined LIMBA (Long Island Metro Business Action) to discuss “Reimagining LIPA and The Municipalization of Power.”
Mr. Madden discussed how LIPC was an integral part of passing the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act in 2019 which will help to ensure the New York economy will end its reliance on fossil fuels. He also explained why power should be controlled by local municipalities. Public power will be more efficient, save money, and result in greater customer
satisfaction. There would no longer be tens of millions of dollars being paid to PSEG management. The municipalization would also allow LIPA to receive federal government funding such as FEMA grants.

After Tropical Storm Isaias hit Long Island, LIPA launched an investigation into PSEG in an attempt to uncover errors that were made. Mr. Madden said there is now distrust and dissatisfaction with PSEG because of the failures and the hiding of information that occurred during the storm. LIPA understands that a change needs to be made. He said, either LIPA will
negotiate new terms with PSEG, or LIPA will bring everything in-house and municipalization will occur. The LIPA Board of Trustees are responsible for making the decision. If municipalization does occur, the line workers from PSEG will still continue to do their job, and they will not be
laid off. The line workers would be paying community members and have more of a say in policy.

The municipalization of power would also give LIPA the opportunity to move towards more sustainable power sources, according to Mr. Madden. By 2040, Long Island must have 100% renewable energy, such as solar panels and wind turbines. In addition, LIPA will be legally required to move away from fossil fuels. He also said there is a possibility that the Peaker Plants will be decommissioned in order to create space for power storage sites. Plans are underway for the purchase of a power wind facility, possibly funded by private investment, and ratepayer fees.

The municipalization of power would not mean that LIPA would fully take over, Mr. Madden explained. LIPA would take over the management grid but not the generation of power, (LIPA already owns power lines, poles, and distribution.) The PSEG union would carry over to the new New York system.

While considering this transition, there has been research into places around the United States where public power is being used. California has transitioned to a fully municipalized power infrastructure. In New York, there are villages that have publicly operated power. Some of these
villages include Greenport, Rockville Centre, and Freeport, all of which have reported a good record in cost and reliability for many decades.

The catastrophic snow, wind, and ice that occurred in Texas was alarming to many. Mr. Madden said failure in Texas was due to the lack of supply to meet the incredibly large demand. The grid operator failed to add the supply that was needed. This is an example of why it is important to
have a transparent plan with stakeholders and a plan for emergency response, he said.

Citizens can advocate for this change by calling the Governor Cuomo hotline at 866-961-4293 or signing the Reimagine LIPA statement HERE.

President’s Day Musings

President’s Day Is a consolidation of Washington’s and Lincoln’s birthday. Recently it has become a recognition of the services of all presidents. That was a a noble thought but a misguided one.

Washington and Lincoln made major contributions to the creation and later to the continued existence of this magnificent experiment.

When we break free of this present pandemic and subsequent economic setback we have suffered, we will be back on this ever-imperfect quest of creating a “more perfect union.”

Having the privilege of living in this great country, I have memories oh the administrations of Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George HW Bush, Bill Clinton, GW Bush, Barak Obama, and Donald J. Trump.

Among that group there were a few giants but none of them came close to the legacy of Washington and Lincoln Here’s why these two extraordinary presidents deserve our devotion.

Washington was in a unique position. He had the option to serve as king with no such notion of terms. Instead, he chose to serve two elected terms as president and then he retired to his farm. Powerful people rarely walk away from a position of power, but those choices set the example for other presidents that followed him. The two-term legacy lasted until Franklin Roosevelt made the case for not “changing horses in midstream.” Truman corrected that unwise change.

Lincoln was great for a different set of reasons and a change of opinion that led to the Emancipation Proclamation. Lincoln did not start out with a passion for the freeing of the slaves, but he was a man that was on a constant growth pattern. That growth brought him the friendship of Frederick Douglas and other intellectuals. When the Civil War was over, he declared “malice toward none and charity to all”. His determination saved the union and his attitude to the South was generous and forgiving. Had he lived to administer the “reconstruction” that followed that era would have been considerably different, but he did save the union.

Recently we have re-learned that democracy is incredibly fragile. We will last as a democratic nation only if we are careful as to who we elect to that powerful office. Never fail to vote.