Government should serve the people. Constituents have a legitimate expectation of goods and services from their government. "Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness," remains the bedrock of our greatness as a nation. In our own constituency of Glendale, the desire and goal of getting its own zip code is an overdue right and expectation of residents and taxpayers, and this omission is a burning issue that cries out for a long-awaited solution.
Prominent groups and associations such as the Glendale Property Owners Association, led by its hardworking executives President Brian Dooley, Vice President Robert Kozlowski, and Board member Jack Zwerenz, have lobbied ad nauseam to anyone who would listen, but to no avail. Dorie Figliola, a spirited advocate and member of Community Board 5, is fed up crying in the wilderness. Their collective pleas have all fallen on deaf ears. One of the beautiful features of Glendale residents is the sense of community, and that is severely affected in the morass of this problem.
Community identity has kept people together, enabling them to grow economically. It is this same sense of neighborhood belonging which gave birth to G-COP, an exemplary community policing group, which has established itself as one of the oldest, largest, and most effective civilian policing groups in New York City, a model worthy of emulation across America.
A few years ago, I advocated on behalf of the residents of Rochdale Village in neighboring Southeast Queens, a Mitchell-Lama Housing project and the second largest co-op in the world, with over 25,000 residents. After their efforts to get assistance were ignored and suppressed, I assisted them in bringing a lawsuit at considerable personal expense and time. They wanted urgent solutions to their problems, such as steep fuel charge increases, a 12 percent carrying charge increase, frequent blackouts, rodent infestation, security, sanitation, parking problems and other issues. But their most important gripe was that their finances were being mismanaged. My lawsuit sought an order directing the Board of Directors to employ an independent internal auditor as regards their finances, assets, and investments; another order for the Board to explain and account for the depletion of the Contingency Reserve Fund from $30 million to $8 million; judgment for $25 million against the Board and managers for conversion, waste, and depletion of the said fund; an accounting of all transfers of funds made by the Board to all organizations, individuals and groups; an injunction restraining the Board from further transfers of the assets of Rochdale Village; an order enjoining the Board from permitting the managers from making decisions reserved to the Board; and an accounting by the Board as to how $80 million in debt was contracted on the backs of shareholders. My initiative brought the necessary relief they hoped for, and the Board and management were replaced.Glendale presents another quality of life issue. Why is that Glendale, with a combined population of over 95,000 people with Ridgewood, cannot qualify for its own zip code, when the threshold is 30,000, and the reality is that Glendale, by itself, has the requisite population? "Many communities are smaller than us, yet they have their own code," is a common gripe.
A multiplicity of problems has burdened Glendale residents because of this. They have complained of the small inadequate substation that is undoubtedly a revenue-earning federal Post Office, and the poor services due to lack of staff and space. Deliveries are erroneously sent to wrong addresses in Flushing, Ridgewood, and Middle Village. Some are returned to sender, while Glendale residents must trek to the Ridgewood post office to pick up packages. A separate zip code will only improve mail delivery. Adding to these indignities is the fact that an Internet search for an address or business in Glendale often shows the location as being in Ridgewood. Revenue earned from this Post Office should be spent to relocate it within Glendale, with better and bigger facilities and personnel.
Even drivers who use modern navigation devices, such as GPS, are often lost. Many end up in Ridgewood, because of the shared zip code. Heaven help the stranded driver waiting for help, as long time resident Jack Zwerenz will confirm. Delays in vital services such as ambulance services, the delivery of prescription drugs, bank and credit card statements, meals, home health care, professional visits, and locating residents are only a few of the humbugs Glendale residents are forced to endure. Vulnerable groups, such as seniors and the disabled, are subjected to untold pain, frustration and suffering, and sometimes, death. Non-delivery of mail results in delinquent accounts, late payments and credit ruin. Surely, Glendale residents deserve better?
Positive action from the federal government is needed immediately to address this issue. Councilwoman Liz Crowley and State Senator Joe Addabbo have brought new energies and a new commitment and perspective in advocating for its success, but the issue remains a federal one, which places the ball in Congressman Anthony Weiner's court. To his credit, he has shown interest in finding a solution to this problem, but residents have waited and endured long enough. We therefore reiterate our call to all elected officials and agencies to give Glendale its own zip code.
When the zip code is changed, it will not be a moment too soon for Glendale residents. Time is of the essence. The federal government must fulfill its mandate to serve Glendale residents. A speedy solution will convince us that the new Obama administration means business, and that it really cares about taxpayers.
Precedent is on Glendale's side. Recently, the Postal Service approved plans to split Manhattan's elite 10021 zip code, home to Mayor Michael Bloomberg and media mogul Rupert Murdoch, into two codes, citing the area's growing population. It went a step further and issued the vanity code 10022-SHOE to the Saks Fifth Avenue department store as a way for the retailer to brand its new women's footwear salon.
Rest assured that Glendale's request is a reasonable one. It is based on necessity, not vanity, and a desire for equal and fair treatment from the powers that be, who must act now!
Albert Baldeo is an attorney and community advocate. He is a former State Senate candidate for the 15th District, which includes Glendale.