Meeting Recap – LIRR President Phillip Eng, June 5, 2020

On June 5, LIMBA (Long Island Metro Business Action) hosted a virtual meeting with Phillip Eng, president of the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR). This was the first time LIMBA has hosted a meeting remotely.

As president of the LIRR, Mr. Eng said, his top priorities are service, reliability and safety, which are part of the LIRR’s Forward initiative. The East Side Access, Main Line Expansion, Double Track and ADA accessibility programs, are currently being performed on schedule. The agency is also continuing to work on the platforms on the west side of the Mineola station, repairing elevators at the Floral Park station and making upgrades along the Carle Place, Merillon Avenue, Garden City and New Hyde Park stations.

Mr. Eng said the employees took a proactive approach during the slowdown by working on safety improvements. They recently installed concrete ties to replace the older wooden ties. Because they are made of concrete, he said, they are sturdier, more reliable and provide a smoother ride. In addition, LIRR personnel inspected the rails for breakage; any rails that were broken or about to break were immediately replaced. The LIRR exceeds federal inspection guidelines, inspecting the rails two to four times a year; federal requirements call for inspections only once a year.

After reaching record ridership at the beginning of the year, Mr. Eng said, the number of riders dropped off significantly as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Since March 27, the LIRR has run an “essential service plan” with only 3% of ridership taking the trains. He pointed out that those riders are “heroes” — healthcare workers, food delivery workers, utility workers and transit workers.

In an effort to protect workers and riders, Mr. Eng has encouraged them to practice social distancing and, if that is not possible, to wear protective face coverings when on the trains, waiting on the platforms or taking the stairs to and from the station. He has said that LIRR employees are working hard to keep riders safe by spraying down the cars with an EPA-approved disinfectant. In addition, all LIRR employees undergo a temperature scan to make sure they do not have the virus.

The good news is that, during the pandemic, on-time performance was at 98%, according to Mr. Eng. As of now, ridership has increased to 10%. Mr. Eng said that, once New York City starts to reopen under the state’s Phase 1 on Monday, there will be more riders taking the train.

Mr. Eng has been LIRR’s president since April 2018. He first joined the Metropolitan Transit Authority in 2017 as chief operating officer. In his role, he spearheaded initiatives focused on modernizing transportation systems through innovative technologies. These include the development of new fare payment applications and testing new signaling systems. Mr. Eng also served as the acting president for New York City Transit, leading the early efforts of the Subway Action Plan.

Download the presentation PDF here.

From the USMA Alumni Glee Club

The link below is to the Vietnam Medley, a musical compilation performed by the West Point Alumni Glee Club at the Johnny Vet: Freedom Isn’t Free concert first performed in November 2017 and again last November in conjunction with Rick Ridge High School.  The sound track is from the November 2017 performance and the visuals were used to accompany the live performance.  The Glee Club is sharing this with all West Point Graduates in honor of Vietnam Veterans Day, Sunday, March 29th.  We hope your classmates enjoy this tribute to our Vietnam Veterans.

Professional Ethics- Briefly Noted

Al Vitters, PhD

Not too many years ago, a prominent business leader in New York City noted that “educating and training people on the subject of ethics was not worth the effort because it couldn’t be done”. Indeed, in business and other professional schools across the country in the 20th Century it would have been hard to find a core course in ethics or the topic even addressed in academic curriculum. More recently, ethics and corporate social responsibility have become “hot topics” in academia and in professional training and education. But evidence abounds of ethical “melt-downs” and misconduct in all types of organizations- banks (Royal Bank of Scotland), corporations (ENRON), government (George Washington bridge scandal), public school systems (changing student test scores)…This brief essay will address ethics, what causes people to act unethically, and what should be done to prevent it.

Briefly defined, ethics relates to principles, standards, and values that guide honorable behavior. It is being able to distinguish “right from wrong” and then doing the right thing. Scholars have viewed ethics from many perspectives. Absolute ethics calls for people to adhere to strict codes or commandments. Situational ethics notes that one should consider the influence of external factors in determining “right from wrong”. In his “stages of moral development”, Robert Kohlberg offers even more insight into the nature of moral and ethical decision-making. He has written elegantly about the moral stages that individual’s progress through from infancy to adulthood.

What causes people to act unethically in group settings? It is a complex, multi-faceted issue, but some of the usual culprits are: greed, dishonesty, lack of time or resources, conflicting guidance, ambition, excessive “bottom-line” emphasis, and the organizational paradigm of “producing more with less” (no matter what the collateral damage). In my experience, some of the worst ethical lapses have occurred when great pressure is put on young supervisors who are often overworked and under resourced to just “make it happen” and get results.

What can organizations do about this? Fortunately, there are many programs and strategies that can be pursued. Among these are the following: personal example of senior leaders (never underestimate this), developing an internal code of ethics, training supervisors and employees in topics related to fraud, waste, and abuse, rewarding people who report ethical lapses, instituting negative consequences for potential “bad actors”, unannounced audits, and involving fiduciaries more in oversight. Many of these steps only require emphasis, and can be instituted without great cost to the organization. Failing to proactively act, however, or hoping that issues will just go away or might never surface can be very costly. It can also greatly damage the organizations hard earned reputation.

One of the most effective strategies to use in promoting an ethical culture can be TRAINING.
Workshops can be designed to give senior leaders the opportunity to address ethics. Short cases can be developed using scenarios and examples from the business and then allowing time for group analysis and discussion. The value is in learning from different perspectives and exploring diverse views. In this manner, organizations can proactively diffuse potential issues before they occur.

Organizations are run by people, and people are capable of lapses in moral judgment and acting out of unethical self-interest. It behooves all organizations in the 21st Century to attend to the issue of ethics through policy, example, and training, just as they would other “bottom-line” challenges. Research suggests that ethical awareness and sensitivity can indeed be taught. Moral courage may then be called for to do the right thing and pursue the harder right over the easier wrong.

his essay was submitted by Al Vitters, PhD. He is a LIMBA member, Colonel (US Army-ret) and a Professor at St. Joseph’s College. He teaches “Ethics & Social Responsibility” in management courses.

Waste to Energy as an Environmental Approach

Long Island communities have two choices when deciding how their garbage should be processed. They can send these materials to a landfill or take a stand against climate change and do something sustainable with their waste by converting it into renewable energy through the Waste-to-Energy process. Seems like a no-brainer, but did you know this process has been serving many Long Island neighborhoods for three decades?

A leader in sustainable waste management, Covanta operates four Waste-to-Energy facilities on Long Island that take non-hazardous waste which remains after recycling – otherwise destined for landfill – and combusts it in specially-designed boilers. The heat from the combustion process generates steam and drives turbine generators to make energy, providing electricity to area homes and businesses. Ash is processed to recover metal for recycling while all gases are collected, filtered and cleaned before being released safely into the atmosphere. For every ton of municipal solid waste processed at a Waste-to-Energy facility, greenhouse gas emissions are reduced by an average of one ton. This is due to the avoidance of methane from landfills, the offset of greenhouse gases from fossil fuel electrical production and the recovery of metals for recycling.

About 140 million tons of waste still go to landfills each year in the United States. This is a startling number, especially since so many Americans are striving to protect our environment for future generations. Simply put, landfills are detrimental to our planet’s health. In fact, waste in a landfill can degrade there for 100 years or more. Additionally, during a landfill’s lifetime it can emit 170 different air pollutants into the air we breathe, yet landfills are minimally regulated. Don’t just take our word for it: according to both the U.S. EPA and the European Union waste hierarchy, the preferred method to deal with waste after recycling is Waste-to-Energy.

A cornerstone of the community, Covanta Hempstead demonstrates the foresight the town’s leaders had 30 years ago in implementing a different kind of waste management system. Over three decades of operation, the Waste-to-Energy facility has generated 15 million megawatt hours of clean electricity, enough to power 1.5 million homes for one year. It has also reduced greenhouse gases by over 18 million tons, saved more than 200 acres of land that would’ve otherwise been used for landfills, and prevented nearly 3 million truck trips on Long Island highways – something all Long Islanders can rejoice over.

This is but a piece of the many great benefits Waste-to-Energy facilities bring to the communities where they operate. Covanta is proud to serve Long Island and is committed to building a sustainable future through the choices we make today.

Submitted by LIMBA members:

Ed Sandkuhl/Facility Manager
Maureen Early/Community Affairs Specialist

Legacy of MLK Jr – 2020

When thinking about Martin Luther King Jr. I have often referred back to the great example of his “mentor” Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. We commonly know him as Mahatma Gandhi. Mahatma means sage, revered person, spiritual leader. I put mentor in quotation marks because the two men never actually met. But Gandhi was the model that King used to shape his mission in civil rights.
There were others examples of that model as well. Nelson Mandela of South Africa was another example. But the model is more ancient than that. One could put Jesus Christ in the same category.
The model of which I speak is one that must win out in the end. The problem is how do we get to peace and harmony by allowing ourselves to be clubbed to death, or nearly so, as in the case of Elijah Cummings when he was a young man?
Most of us will never be asked to endure what, Gandhi, Mandela, Cummings and King were willing to subject themselves. We only need to have the courage to speak out against injustice because we still live in a free society. We will not be dragged off in the dead of night never to be heard from again. We may be ridiculed and if you run a business you may lose sales or be boycotted. Those things are hard to take, but I ask. “What price are you willing to pay for your freedom?”
The Old Testament speaks of an “eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth”. Gandhi said that would only lead is to a country that is blind and toothless.
We celebrate the life of Martin Luther King Jr. not because he won military battles. His army owned none of the instruments of war. His armaments were imbedded in the ideals that make life among us possible and rewarding.
I also find it interesting that the founding fathers of this great country put the right words on paper as embodied in the “Declaration of Independence” “The Constitution” and the “Bill of Rights” even if they were not initially able to live up to those same words. But it is those words that MLK used to make his points on equality and civil rights. 
Those words were not accidental. They were there for us to grow into.

2020 Refocus

LIMBA Goals in the Past and Outlook for 2020

What We have Been Doing

The future is truly unknowable, but our planning is what we control. We move forward and try to make a difference. At LIMBA we begin by keeping informed. We produce programs that contain useful information on relevant topics

Here is what we are thinking about as we embark on the next 12 months

The environment

This is a very big topic. We had Dr. Tanecredi speak on the protection of the vital animal life, specifically the horseshoe crab and we were informed about its medical uses. We also had a discussion on the water quality of the surrounding bays
On another occasion we Had Suffolk County Water Authority Chairman Pat Halpin give us an overview of the drinking water and what we are constantly learning about maintaining the high quality water we demand

Recreations & Facilities

We are blessed with many great beaches and parks last year we had the superintendent of the Fire Island National Seashore Alexy Romero tell us more about this wonderful resource and what we need to do to protect it. From the State Parks of Long Island we had Director George Hoffman speak on the availability of parks and the state of repair


Rails LIMBA has been a supporter of improvements on the Long Island Rail Road and in fact we were instrument in the electrification of the Ronkonkoma line. We are now supporting the electrification of the Port Jefferson line

Airport at MacArthur

This regional airport has been recognized by LIMBA as being essential to the economic health of this Long Island area- Years ago we created a plan under the leadership of Paul Townsend of Long Island Business News and Dick Dunne of Grumman called “USE IT OR LOSE IT” It worked and we have to revisit that old strategy

Maglev Train System

We have been promoting the MAGLEV and we have been inquiring about the viability of a demonstration project that would run a single car on a single track from Ronkokoma to Greenport every 40 minutes making 4 stops and maintain an average speed of 160 miles per hour

We will be asking members who would like to volunteer on any project to let us know. It will be interesting!

Ernie Fazio , Bill Miller, Marguerite Moore, and Ken Nevor

A Mitzvah for Christmas Christmas 2019

A Christmas Remembered- A Mitzvah for Christmas

When I was a teenager Butch and Frankie were my closest friends. They lived on the next street right behind my house. For about four Christmas’s the three of us would set up a tree selling lot. Butch’s uncle was a truck driver and would often be in Wallabout Market in the Bronx. Each year he would pick bundles of Christmas trees for us to sell.

Bill Steck had a candy store on the avenue across the street from the Long Island Railroad. Bill allowed us to run an extension cord to the adjacent lot so we could be there at night all lit up for business. We had an oil drum with the top cut out so we could have a fire to keep us warm.

We bought the trees for $5 per bundle, there were 5 trees in each bundle.There was usually one great looking tree which we could get $5. The remaining trees were less perfect but that is where we made our profit. If a tree was a “Charlie Brown” loser we’d cut off the branches and make wreaths

In the early afternoon on December 24th a man named Eddie from the other side of the tracks came looking for a tree. He looked for a while and quietly slipped away. Eddie had 4 children and he did not want to disappoint them by not having a tree.

We were all poor in that neighborhood but Eddie was a little more poor than most of us. He walked by our lot looking wistful and sure he was out of luck. He didn’t even stop.

“Hey Eddie. Come back in an hour we’ll have a tree for you” I shouted”Ok but I don’t have much money” “Don’t worry”

Butch and Frankie looked at me and asked what I had in mind.”We’ll build him a tree”

We got out the hand drill and started drilling holes in the stem of this pathetic looking tree. We had plenty of branches left over from our wreath making and when we stuffed that stem full of branches it was a great looking tree.When Eddie returned we brought forth the tree.”What do you think?””Looks great. How much?”How much ya got?”I only have 75 cents”


Eddie gave the money to Frankie. Frankie pressed the money back into Eddie’s hand and wished him a Merry ChristmasAt that point Eddie hurried home with his tree.

About a week after Christmas we saw Eddie on the streetI asked “How did the kids like the tree””Oh they thought it was great, but few days later the tree dried out and all the branches and the ornament wound up on the floor but it was great on Christmas morning, Thanks guys”

Ernie Fazio

Thanksgiving 2019

The theme of this holiday is never hard to identify. That is because we live in a country where there is so much for which to be thankful. But one day I heard someone say “you can’t trust anyone these days”. I could not disagree more. We trust other people all the time and with important stuff. Like our lives for example.

Earlier this year I was on a tour bus threading our way through mountain roads and following hairpin turns. The terrain was most unforgiving and if that bus driver was not as skillful as he was tragedy awaited around every turn. Why was I and the rest of the passengers trusting this operator when none of us ever met him before going on that trip?

There is an army of people we may never meet. They sit at consoles guiding pilots to land and take off in a safe manner. There are train engineers we trust to read the road signs and obey the railroad guidelines to get us to our destinations. These are not super human beings. They are well trained in their craft, but otherwise ordinary people

We trust because we must. Life is not possible without that precious element. We trust the airlines to safely reach their destination without incident. We trust our doctors to successfully complete operations and keep us healthy.

We trust our government to protect our rights, our property, and our freedoms. Do we always guarantee that we will be safe? That we will not be betrayed some criminal element? No, I’m afraid that is not possible. That is why we have police to help prevent crime and courts to help us redress our grievances when they do occur

We live in a country of approximately 330 million people. The vast majority of our citizens are unfettered, and unencumbered by restrictions on our movements. That’s because until you do something that requires closer scrutiny you are free.

The next time you see a cop, a service person, any public servant and all the good people who will be working as we enjoy our holidays, just give them a smile. It may very well make their day.

Happy Thanksgiving!

From the LIMBA staff

Norman Rockwell “Freedom From Want”

Labor Day 2019

Appreciating All Who Make Our Lives Possible

Sometimes I will observe a craftsman busy at his work and you can see the concentration written on his face. You can see it in his eyes and the furrows on his brow. When you see that level of focus you can bet he or she is dealing with a problem that is “not in the book”
As a practioners in any pursuit we operate from a body of knowledge that we gained from apprenticeships or formal studies. But there comes a time when all that we learned does not seem to answer the question at hand.
This will happen with auto mechanics, lawyers carpenters or doctors. No matter how any of us make our living there will come a time when we will have to make that leap of intuition, invention or risk in order to go forward. We probably do it more often than any of us give ourselves credit.
It is this belief in the working person that creates respect. Respect is one of those outward signs that validates us all. We all like it and we are rewarded for showing it.
The attitude toward labor in the early days of the industrialization was more like labor as a commodity. It was just another ingredient that you added to the formula. Capital, Labor and raw materials and at the end of the pipeline you got a finished product. That concept is no longer acceptable. The modern worker in the industrialized west wants more than that. Frankly I think he deserves more than that. Being part of an equitable labor market regardless of where we are in that mix, we all do better.
Workers who have decent working conditions, adequate compensation and good healthcare are the backbone of a functioning democracy. Only when we have the time and some energy left to participate in our communities do we prosper as truly enlightened society.
When I began this essay I lauded the efforts of all the contributors of this economic juggernaut we are all part of, but, if we do not foster equitable rewards to the people that put their shoulder to the wheel we lose our position in the world and we risk losing our hard won democracy.
Lastly we do have a disparity of wealth and that represents an enormous difference in the resources of our citizens. Is that a problem that we should mitigate? Yes it is. But it would not be as big an issue if the bottom rung of the economic ladder wasn’t so deeply sunk the mud. No person who works a 40 hour week should be living in a Kelvinater box under the expressway.
The best way to tip your hat to the hard working people of this country is to make sure that all that toil have a living wage.

This Labor Day let’s think about, and appreciate all of the people that work to make our lives possible. We salute you. Happy Labor Day

Ernie, Bill, Marguerite, and Ken

July 4th 2019

July 4th Message 2019 — Ernie Fazio

We are about to celebrate the founding of The United States. Think about what we chose to call ourselves. The United States? Really? Are we still united? Have we allowed ourselves to drift apart? Maybe we are now like an old marriage that has grown tired and unexciting.

Let me caution those among us that think the end is near. It isn’t! But the strength of our fabric is being tested. That is not new. We have had crisis before and serious divides that we eventually dealt with. We will again.

There was nothing in our history that was more divisive than our Civil War. After killing 600,000 of us we managed to repair that horrendous chapter of our existence and go on.

Think about the positives that we embrace. With 330 million people we live in relative peace with each other. I do not wish to present this country in a Pollyanna fashion because I realize as well as anybody else, this is not a perfect country. We are like the person who once asked, “Why is it I am always in a state of becoming? Why is it that I never am?” The person who stops growing is dead either physically or intellectually.

The country that stops growing is also dead. But in the same manner as the individual, this country has grown in fits and starts. We may well be in that phase, but that hiatus in our growth will end, and growth will continue.

When I refer to growth I am looking at the way we treat our people. How we devise policies that fosters world peace. Over my own lifetime I have seen an America that created peace and prosperity for us and trading partners (The Marshall Plan). I have seen a country that treated soldiers returning from WWII fairly by offering them what came to be known as the GI Bill. (In previous wars we stiffed the veterans after the wars were over and that goes back to the war for independence)

This nation’s founders knew from the beginning that we were not emerging in the world as a “finished product”. We still had slavery, women and poor people could not vote. We made those adjustments and many others.

The Constitution was created to form a more perfect union. We were not perfect at birth. We are not perfect now, but no one can deny that we came a long way. And no one can deny we have a long way to go. I promise you we will.

The journey is not over!