Letters to the Editor for July 17
Overtime should play no part in pension calculation
As outraged as everyone seems to be about [retired Fire Chief] Robert Farstad’s pension padding scam, I wonder why. After all, every year the “Top 10” list of town employees are firemen and police who have been busily padding their OT [overtime] (and, therefore, pensions). Sometimes, it’s ludicrous how much OT they manage to have their last year, frequently doubling their salary. Nobody seems to care about that, and it’s an annual event.
In my opinion, pensions should always be based on an employees’ base salary. OT should never ever be included in pension calculations. When it is included, you have a self-created opportunity for blatant scamming at the taxpayer’s expense. I always wonder, year after year, how the police and firemen (and a few select others) manage to keep this in their contracts.
As a state worker, I have seen the creation of tiers. As a Tier IV, my contract is a bit better than a new Tier VI. But it is way worse (for me, not the taxpayers) than a Tier I. I suggest we cut the contract shenanigans now, and make a new tier for all the members of public pension funds. If they change only the loophole of using OT in pension calculations, it will save billions.
I can only imagine the outrage by those who get this outrageous benefit, but really it’s time to stop the gravy train for all of them, not just Farstad.
How about parents stopping cyberbullying?
Voila, with a stroke of a pen, Gov. Cuomo and the New York state Legislature have ended cyberbullying and harassment of students [July 10 Gazette]. It’s miraculous.
The governor has stated that: “We must do all we can to ensure that ever child in New York state feels safe in the classroom.” But, alas, there is a flaw; nowhere is it mentioned in this new law that parents must be responsible for their children. Instead, it is once again the school districts that will be required to establish protocols to curb online bullying or harassment of students.
In this new law, school districts will have to name or hire an official responsible for receiving bullying reports, and teachers who witness such acts must notify this official verbally within one school day, and in writing within three days.
One more bureaucratic block of salt has just been put on the school’s shoulders, and it has nothing to do with enhancing learning or reading, writing and arithmetic.
Electronic communication takes place largely outside the school setting, and it usually comes from a computer in the home. Until we require that parents take an active role in the human development of their children by observing and counseling, we will just keep putting that responsibility on the wrong shoulders — shoulders already overburdened by state mandates.
Allen R. Remaley
More on mountain bike race would have been nice
The past few months you did a nice story on the Tour of the Battenkill and another short story on the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup race in Windham, but you never finished your stories.
This World Cup race brought over 100 of the best mountain bike racers in the world to our area and one of them was Todd Wells, who grew up in this area and managed to finish in fourth place against the best in the world, and you didn’t even mention it.
You cover all other sports with results but not bike races. Results are easy to find — just go online.
But to take thrilling pictures [of the mountain bike race], you had to be there.
There are a lot of riders in our area who would have enjoyed more coverage.
What part of watering ban don’t they get?
As I walk through my neighborhood each morning, it amazes me how lush five or six lawns are, even though there have been at least two watering bans in Rotterdam [July 12 Gazette].
It’s evident to me that these people are watering, probably very early or during the night, as I can see the water residue on the road. These are the same people who water every day, even though it’s not their specific day. There are police checking the area every so often, but I have never seen or heard of them giving a citation or even a warning.
Why is it that some people feel that they are special and not subject to the rules the rest of us have to follow? Where is the sense of fair play? Why do so many Americans have a “hooray for me — the-hell-with-you” attitude?
Onrust picture brighter than story made it look
Unfortunately Kathleen Moore's July 13 article about the Onrust came off a little bleak, which I am sure was unintentional.
The Onrust is doing just fine. Volunteers have been working on the finishing touches of the ship every week, and that includes over the winter. There are no "classrooms" in the conventional sense; the ship itself is the classroom. We are creating areas in the hull where students and the public sit -- the original hull was one large open space.
The "museum" is actually articles and artifacts that are used for teaching purposes. We do not need Coast Guard certification unless we want to have paying passengers. In these tough economic times in order to afford maintaining the costs associated with running the ship we will obtain it, but we could easily be a docked ship and provide educational services without it.
However, the article made it look like the world was coming to end without it. For those quoted in the article (who have not been on the ship in two years) that the ship is just "sitting there," well, that is what educational ships do. They visit a site and then sit in the water. The Onrust has and continues to be an educational vessel, and for those thousands of visitors (especially the kids) who were on the ship two weekends ago at the Steamboat Festival [in Wateford], the ship continues its successful mission. We continue to use the construction of the ship as an educational tool as well, as more than a dozen Russell Sage student volunteers will tell you from a few weeks ago.
Our major concern is to make sure everything on the ship is safe and to Coast Guard specifications. We are not in a rush. We will take our time to make sure that the Onrust is safe and secure before we take her out and begin our educational programming, no matter how long it takes. The safety of our passengers will always be our No. 1 concern.
The writer is president of The Onrust Project.
Tedisco and staff have indeed aided animals
I read the July 13 letter by a woman telling her story and her feelings towards our assemblyman, James Tedisco, and his work with preventing animal cruelty.
Several years ago, I was in downtown Schenectady and witnessed animal abuse firsthand, something my son and I will never forget. A man was abusing cats in broad daylight. My son and I ran to Assemblyman Tedisco’s office, and he and his staff helped me find out who I should speak with, who I needed to call and what we all could do to stop this individual. With Assemblyman Tedisco’s help, this criminal was caught and convicted, under Buster’s Law, for animal cruelty.
Assemblyman Tedisco is dedicated to working across party lines to stop animal abuse, which is a bridge crime, and ensuring those who hurt our animals do not go on to hurt people. Let’s take the politics out of this important issue and get back to what really matters — protecting our pets.
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