Where will we find essential workers in the future?

Regarding the guest editorial on Essential Workers by Joseph A. Colangelo last week – the fact that the city administration ignored the contributions of trade-workers in the pandemic recovery is merely a symptom of a much larger problem our society faces: the systematic destruction of our nation’s once-great trade-education system resulting in many people today believing that the trades don’t deserve respect. Where does this attitude come from?

School systems across the country have disbanded and defunded training programs in automotive, electrical, and other trades for decades. The attitude among many school administrators is that the trades are not valuable or respectable careers for students. Most counselors and teachers discourage good students from taking shop classes, and direct only “inferior” students to such programs. They are under the misconception that all high school grads must go directly to college or else they have failed. This thinking is completely wrong, but so prevalent that most parents have been brainwashed into believing it and push their children to go to college even if they are not motivated or prepared to do so. The result: half fail out. 

Many young people possess the aptitude to pursue successful careers in the trades but are discouraged by the system. With proper training, those with the skills and necessary work ethic will achieve higher-paying jobs than do average college graduates. This fact directly contradicts the prevailing wisdom that has infected our educational system, which results in failing students who have no marketable skills and are buried in debt. By contrast, graduates of a high school or post-secondary trade-training program can immediately earn salaries on a par with most graduates of four-year colleges and be earning while training. For example, new members of Mr. Colangelo’s union begin working with higher salaries than most bachelors-degree holders, and in a few years are earning more than many with graduate-degrees. Like many others, I’ve had the good fortune to acquire both trade-skills and college degrees. The two paths are not mutually exclusive, but ideal. It’s time for educators to grasp this fact.

Many economists and other thought leaders have recently written about the need for more skilled-trade workers in our economy, and we frequently reinforce this idea on The Autolab Radio Show. Fortunately, some are beginning to see the light – many students are now seeking out trade-education, and schools like Bronx Community College, where I teach, have recently invested in new training facilities. Unfortunately, many schools cannot meet the demand for trade-training today. School systems must immediately return skilled-trades training to the status and funding it deserves. Without skilled workers performing critical jobs, our modern economy cannot thrive. Where do the education professionals, who often earn less than do skilled tradesmen, think the workers needed to rebuild our infrastructure will come from? We must produce enough skilled workers, or our high-tech economy will not survive.

With great hope for the return of trade education . . . before it’s too late!

Mike Porcelli

Host, The Autolab Radio Show


The 7 Line Army gets Mets fans back on the road

Since COVID-19 restrictions on gatherings have been widely lifted, (at least for the time being), baseball season is in full swing and ballparks nationwide are operating at 100% capacity. Mets fans are not just returning to Citi Field, they are also hitting the road to support their team at away games.
Though traveling to see your favorite team is nothing new for baseball diehards, The 7 Line, a supporter group and Mets-centric clothing brand created in 2009, hosts a unique experience for fans traveling to support the team. The 7 Line, which acquired an official MLB license to produce merchandise in 2014 and has a kiosk at Citi Field, creates a unique ticket package that includes a t-shirt and a “special event” patch for each road game they attend as a group.
“We travel around and hit different ballparks, last year it wasn’t a thing, but now we’re back to full-strength trying to give our guys that home field advantage when they’re on the road,” said Darren Meenan, the owner and creator of The 7 Line. “We had about 1400 fans in Pittsburgh and we’re going to Philly in a couple of weeks with almost 900, and to Boston with 1400 people in September.”
On The 7 Line’s most recent road trip, to see a three-game set with the Pittsburgh Pirates from July 8-11, a total of 1409 fans converged on the “Steel City.”
“Our Taproom is located a little over a mile from PNC Park. I’m originally from Queens and a lifelong Mets fan,” said Adam Bey, owner of Pittsburgh’s 412 Brewery. “It was great having members of The 7 Line Army stop in before the games on Friday and Saturday, seeing a flood of Mets gear at PNC, and the loud cheers for the Mets, even if they did drop two of three games to the Pirates.”
The 7 Line began hosting group outings at Citi Field in 2012 and organizing road trips in 2013. Since then, they have visited almost every National League ballpark to support their beloved Amazin’s, bringing droves of Queens-based Mets fans with them. Meehan says “The 7 Line Army will check the final NL stadium off of their bucket list on August 21st when they visit Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, where he’s already expecting a group in excess of 1,000.
Woodside resident, Angel Livreri, said her family loved traveling to Pittsburgh to watch the game with The 7 Line.
“My wife and I have been to Philly to see the Mets at away games but this was our first trip with The 7 Line,” Livreri said. “It’s a great excuse to get out to see a different area and stadium as a family and The 7 Line brings such excitement to the game, there’s really not much else like it.”
Livreri, an NYPD Sergeant, and her wife, Elia Cortes-Livreri, brought along their 4-year-old daughter, Leni Livreri.
“Leni absolutely loved it and we had an amazing time as a family. We’re thinking of going to see the Mets play in Boston with The 7 Line,” Livreri said. “It’s a great experience to bring kids with you. She had so many people stop and talk to her and they were genuinely happy to see her cheering on the Mets.”
Anthony Giordano, a Howard Beach native, and his wife Patrizia, were with The 7 Line Army for their Spring Training Outing in Port St. Lucie, Florida, in 2017. They decided to leave their kids home.
“There was lots of heavy drinking. They serve these rum buckets at the stadium (in Port St. Lucie,) and if I remember correctly there were over 350 of those buckets tied to the outfield fence after all was said and done,” Giordano said. “It was the first time The 7 Line went to Spring Training. I hear that the line of empty buckets of rum has gotten even longer now.”
Other Mets fans are finding their own path to road games.
Kathleen LaVeglia of Middle Village said she and her boyfriend attended the series in Pittsburgh without knowing The 7 Line Army would be in town. LaVeglia saw all three of the games of the series, using the between time to check out the city.
“We got to see a lot of Pittsburgh, had sandwiches at Primanti Brothers, took the Duquesne Incline to Mount Washington, and went to Southern Tier Brewery after the games,” LaVeglia said. “It’s cool that the Roberto Clemente Bridge into PNC Park and the streets around the stadium are closed to vehicular traffic. There was face painting and balloon twisting for kids, outdoor bars, and live music. I wish we had that at Citi.”

Opinion: Keep your eyes on the prize, Mr. Adams

Earlier this month, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams went to Washington to talk gun safety with President Joe Biden. He also made appearances with disgraced New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York Senator Kristen Gillibrand, two politicians who the current Borough President would work closely with if elected mayor.

However, Eric Adams has not yet been elected mayor. Although registered Democrats in New York City outnumber Republicans five to one, the former police captain must win a general election in the fall.

His opponent, Guardian Angels founder and red-beret aficionado Curtis Sliwa, is still actively on the campaign trail, visiting neighborhoods throughout New York City’s outer boroughs. This past week, he visited Middle Village for a press conference following the violent assault of an off-duty Firefighter in Juniper Park.

It is true that Adams is far-and-away the favorite in the general election. However, if he wants to play the role of Mayor already, he must start by fulfilling the duties of a mayor. When there is violence in our communities, Adams should be there. When there are concerns about public safety, Adams should be there. When people have questions of concerns, big or small, Adams should be there.

If Adams wins this fall, it would be a waste to have severed his relationships with communities that could use an ally in Gracie Mansion. The people of Queens and Brooklyn have long memories, and Adams’ absence following events like those in Juniper Park will not soon be forgotten.

Policy aside, if you want to be mayor, you have to act like mayor. Instead of “Mr. Adams goes to Washington,” the headline should read “Mr. Adams heads to Queens.”

Bucks win first NBA title in 50 years

Bucks crowned NBA champions

The Milwaukee Bucks won their first NBA championship since 1971 last week, defeating the Phoenix Suns in six games. It was a remarkable performance from Giannis Antetokounmpo that sealed the series, as he became the sixth player to score 50 points in a Finals game.
It was the second time Milwaukee overcame a 2-0 series deficit, previously coming back to beat the Nets in a 7-game thriller. They never backed down from a challenge and the hunger of Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton prevailed.
Antetokounmpo was named Finals MVP after three games with 40+ points. He joins LeBron James and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the only players to win an MVP, Defensive Player of the Year, and Finals MVP award.
After a brutal injury in the Eastern Conference Finals, it seemed like Giannis would joining a long list of star players to miss time with an injury, but the Greek Freak made a remarkable recovery and helped Milwaukee advance to the finals.
Not enough can be said about Antetokounmpo’s journey. After making money as a street vendor in Greece, he and his brothers found a path to fame through basketball, and now three of them hold NBA titles.
Now Giannis and the Bucks can look forward to a daring title defense, as plenty of challengers in the East and West are starving for a chance at a championship.

Nets need finishing touches on roster

There’s no doubt the Bucks championship will make Nets fans bitter, as they fell in seven games, beaten in overtime in their own home.
The Nets were pegged as favorites for the title, especially after the Lakers fell in the 1st round. They will likely be favored again next season, as Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and James Harden look ahead to their first full season together. Brooklyn set a franchise record .667 winning percentage (48-24 in the shortened season), with the Big Three only taking the floor together 8 times in the regular season.
The glaring issues with the Nets were their lack of depth at guard and center and inexperience at the helm in Steve Nash’s first year as coach.
Brooklyn would love to see a breakout season from Nic Claxton, the athletic big man entering his third season. Increasing his strength and longevity should earn him plenty of minutes next year.
It may be a pipe dream to bring back guard Spencer Dinwiddie. Brooklyn could offer his desired 5yr/$100M deal, but it’s more likely they deal him in a sign-and-trade or let him walk.
Brooklyn will also need role players to deliver in the postseason. The bench is a big part of a championship roster, and the Nets need to improve theirs if they want to win their first NBA title.
With the right tweaks and Nash growing more comfortable in his 2nd year, the Nets should be playing deep into the playoffs.

Knicks need a star to take the next step

The Knicks blew away all expectations this season as they finished as the East’s 4th seed. Unfortunately they only picked up one postseason win, their only one since 2013, as they fell to the Atlanta Hawks.
While New York’s rebuild was progressing well, nobody expected them to make the jump this season. A remarkable year by Julius Randle earned him the Most Improved award, and Tom Thibodeau was great at the helm, winning Coach of the Year.
It’s clear that the Knicks are in a prime position to attract stars to the lights of Madison Square Garden after losing a lot of that appeal over the last decade. The Nets were able to use a playoff appearance to help lure Durant and Irving to Brooklyn, and the Knicks could do the same.
The name tossed around the most is Trail Blazers superstar Damian Lillard, though there’s no confirmation he’ll be leaving Portland. It would take a massive package to land him, including multiple 1st round picks and players like RJ Barrett or Obi Toppin.
The Knicks have plenty of cap space to pick up a strong option in free agency. Grabbing Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, or even Lonzo Ball could give them help at guard.
The Knicks were a top defensive team last season, now they just need the offensive power to put them past opponents. New York made a lot of noise this year, and now they can keep progressing and earn the respect they’re hungry for.

Brooklyn Diocese honors act of subway bravery

Sean Conaboy, a resident of Sunset Park and a parishioner at St. Michael’s Church, was waiting for a train at the Union Square Station in Manhattan on May 19 when he heard a woman screaming.
He rushed over and found a woman being attacked by a man with a knife. Conaboy immediately tackled the assailant, who was later arrested on four felony counts.
The incident was the second violent crime at the Union Square subway station within seven days.
Last week, Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio and community members gathered at the Diocese of Brooklyn’s headquarters in Windsor Terrace to honor his bravery.
“It was an honor to be with Sean this morning and recognize him for his selfless sacrifice on behalf of his fellow New Yorker,” said Bishop DiMarzio. “Sean was the Good Samaritan here when he stopped the attack and put his faith into action.”
The Most Reverend Kevin Sweeney, Bishop of the Diocese of Paterson, New Jersey, who previously served as Pastor of St. Michael’s, also praised the actions of his former parishioner.
“Sean’s Catholic upbringing nurtured him and made him ready for that moment, with the help of the Holy Spirit and with the protection of St. Michael, he stepped into that battle and saved someone who was being attacked,” said Bishop Sweeney. “As a native New Yorker, it is great to see New Yorkers being who New Yorkers are; we respond when others are in need.”
Conaboy remained selfless throughout the ceremony, reminding those present that violent crimes have a serious emotional and physical impact on victims.
“I am moved beyond words and say thank you to both Bishop DiMarzio and Bishop Sweeney,” Conaboy said. “As honored as I am to be here, there is a victim in all of this, and it is not me. I think she deserves all of our prayers from this day forward.”
The assault Conaboy stopped was one of many throughout the year. Crime has risen significantly throughout New York City, with the NYPD reporting close to 200 felony assaults on the subway in the first six months of 2021 alone.

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