Letters to the Editor for April 27
Deficiencies leading to woman’s death must be addressed
Case not closed [for] Rafeena Rahaman, the Guyanese Schenectady woman brutally murdered [Feb. 25 Gazette].
Although the city seems to be moving on, there are still many questions that should be formally answered before we accept that adequate change has happened to govern future situations of domestic violence.
The Police Department admits to some errors [March 1 Gazette]: that policy was violated when the offender was first arrested. The officer involved issued an appearance ticket, allowing him to be freed without a bail hearing. Department policy indicated he should have been held until he had been arraigned before a judge.
Why would an attempted murderer be freed before he faced a judge? Were there special considerations? A police supervisor, who should be very familiar with department policy, called Judge [Guido] Loyola to discuss the situation. Why? What was discussed and what was the judge’s input?
The spokesperson for the court system said that the judge had no role in making the decision to issue an appearance ticket. So why was he consulted? And why were not more serious felony charges filed, such as second-degree kidnapping, a Class B felony; unlawful imprisonment, a Class E felony; or first-degree coercion, a Class D felony? The use of a knife and the threat of force and injury should be enough to make more significant charges.
The district attorney admits his staff made mistakes. The victim had requested a full, stay-away order of protection. When the case came before the judge the next day, the assistant district attorney did not request a full stay-away order, but rather a lesser one. This allowed for some contact. Why did the ADA not ask for the more restrictive order?
The district attorney’s office had at least two people looking at the case: the crime victim advocate and the ADA responsible for prosecuting the case. Why did they not request a full order? How could they have disregarded the victim’s request when a knife was involved? Are there standard procedures, as in the police department? Why didn’t the ADA recommend more serious charges herself?
The victim sought shelter in the YWCA domestic violence program. Was she provided an advocate? Did an advocate help her to get a full, stay away order of protection? If not, why not? Was a YWCA advocate in court, and did she speak to the ADA?
There may be more questions that a person more knowledgeable about domestic violence might identify as important before this case can be “closed,” before we can be sure that proposed remedies actually address the lapses in this case.
We need to avoid a rush to get this tragedy behind us, and ensure, for public safety reasons, that the best responses are being implemented by the district attorney, the police and the YWCA.
Schenectady Stand Up Guys suggests that they be addressed in a formal, written report submitted to the mayor, City Council and county Legislature. And the report should identify how the proposed solutions will actually address the admitted failures that may have contributed to Ms. Rahaman’s death.
Rafeena deserves no less!
The writer operates Schenectady Stand Up Guys.
War hits home, and one can’t help but question
When you hear that a close friend’s nephew, serving in Afghanistan, is critically injured after the military vehicle he was in was blown up and his partner killed, one asks, “Why are we remaining in Afghanistan?
Then you read in the Gazette that after most foreign forces leave in 2014, this country, under an agreement with the Afghanistan government, commits the United States to defend Afghanistan from any outside interference via “diplomatic means, political means, economic means and even military means.” This sounds like a never-end to the guerilla war that is going on in Afghanistan.
Have we not learned from history? Korea and Vietnam were guerilla wars from which we had to withdraw completely, without winning, because the enemy could attack and then run back over a border, only to attack again.
It boggles the mind that this is not a major campaign issue. What about the caring for our servicemen’s lives in Afghanistan by all the politicians, president included?
If they had a critically injured nephew facing multiple surgeries in Walter Reed Hospital, maybe they might be concerned.
Betty L. Younglove
Public nursing homes never self-sustaining
Almost uniformly, when the topic of Maplewood Manor comes up, someone suggests it should break even.
In Saratoga County’s 220-year history, the county home was never expected to break even. Prior to Maplewood, there was the Homestead Infirmary, and prior to that, the County Farm, which operated from the 1820s to the 1960s.
Out of curiosity, I reviewed the reports of the superintendents of the poor from 1880 through 1889. In that 10-year period, the average yearly cost of the County Farm was $11,532, and the average county budget was $186,168.
In those days, people were more warehoused than cared for, and it cost the county 6.19 percent of its total outlay. At the time, the budget depended almost completely on local taxation.
It is impossible to make a correlation between the cost of government today with that of 130 years ago. But it is clear that caring for the infirm was never meant to break even, and our commitment to them should not shrink from that of our ancestors.
John J. Cromie
Feds are spending us into the poorhouse
Re April 20 John McLoughlin column, “So many questions, so few answers”: The whole country is outraged over the high cost of gasoline and the cost to heat our homes. Shouldn’t we be equally outraged by the overspending in the federal government?
Take the General Services Administration for instance; employees took a lavish junket to Las Vegas and ate sumptuous meals ($4 per shrimp) and had gala parties at the taxpayer’s expense.
The average salary for GSA workers is $92,000 a year! They don’t have to produce anything or put a manufactured product out in the competitive market. Nor do they worry about making a profit to sustain their jobs and keeping the company afloat. Nope, the money is just there.
What does the [House] Ways and Means Committee do? It has ways to get your taxes and the means to spend them as they see fit.
If Obamacare gets the nod by the Supreme Court, the administration plans to hire and train 10,000 new federal employees to implement the plan!
It is time to reign in the wasteful spending and downsize federal government.
No excuse not to vote, even in GOP primary
Shame, shame, shame, on citizens for not coming out to vote in Tuesday’s Republican Primary.
I rang over 100 doorbells encouraging people to vote. I got to my voting place at 4:30 p.m. and was No. 3. The first two were the ones who were registering me.
Perhaps statements like the one in your April 24 article, “Republicans encouraged to get out and vote,” had an effect: “But there really isn’t a reason for people to get out and vote,” [said] John F. “Jasper” Nolan, Saratoga County Republican chairman.
Don’t people know what it means to have the freedom to vote? They think everything is OK. But their freedoms are slipping away.
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