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Schenectady County, city made mistakes firing historian Rittner

Sunday, November 18, 2012
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Schenectady County, city made mistakes firing historian Rittner

Re the Schenectady County Legislature’s recent cut of the historian’s position (and prior to that, in the city of Schenectady in 2011): The county is making a big mistake laying off Don Rittner [Oct. 25 Gazette].

Most of us in the history field strive every day to bring history and heritage tourism to the masses, and Mr. Rittner has done that above and beyond measure.

One of the goals for heritage tourism is to attract tourists and inform residents and visitor alike; hence contributing to the $5 billion heritage tourism industry in New York state.

With Mr. Rittner playing a triple role of city and county historian and film commissioner (not to mention his other roles), he has contributed to the economic health of Schenectady, attracted thousands here, supported local businesses with millions of dollars in economic activity and always included history as part of the events.

People are getting a steady dose of history, sometimes without realizing it. The Historic Albany Foundation has partnered with Mr. Rittner on programming that shows intermunicipal cooperation among like-minded organizations, and we had planned on more in the future.

Schenectady city and county, by not recognizing the benefits (they should do a cost-benefit analysis and cut [accordingly]), are making a huge mistake. Not to mention the potential for illegal actions by having no municipal historian and the loss of being able to raise grant funds as they go forward.

Both entities would be wise to reconsider their decisions.

Susan Holland

Albany

The writer is the executive director of the Historic Albany Foundation.

Rich already pay more than their share of taxes

President Obama is promoting, again, that the rich (those families with incomes over $250,000) should pay higher tax rates. He made the point that eliminating the Bush tax cuts for the rich is necessary to reduce the deficit.

He wants to negotiate with congressional Republicans a deal to avoid the fiscal cliff. But he will not agree if taxes are not increased on the rich, who, we know, create most of the new jobs by investing and taking risks with their own money.

Is this good policy or just good politics?

Allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire for the rich would produce less than $100 billion a year in new revenue. Obama’s total federal spending for fiscal year 2012 reached $3.6 trillion, and the deficit was $1.1 trillion. Thus, the added tax revenue from increasing taxes on the rich would amount to only 3 percent of total spending and reduce the annual deficit from $1.1 trillion to $1 trillion, a rounding error.

Since the so-called rich are responsible for most of the new job creation, Obama’s plan is bad policy. But it may be good politics. Polls show that most Americans agree the rich should pay more. Obama uses that argument that the rich should pay their fair share. What is a fair share?

According to 2007 IRS data, the richest 1 percent of Americans earned 22 percent of national personal income but paid 40 percent of all personal income taxes. The top 5 percent earned 37 percent of all income and paid 61 percent of all personal income tax. Isn’t that fair enough?

Don Cazer

Niskayuna

Continue coverage for stand-alone vision plans

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act calls for the implementation of state insurance exchanges, where individuals and businesses can choose health coverage.

Stand-alone vision plans are prohibited from participating in the exchanges. Only vision plans that are bundled with medical plans are allowed to participate. As a result, the future of my patients hangs in the balance, unless the New York Health Benefit Exchange board votes to include stand-alone vision plans in our exchange.

If stand-alone vision plans are not included, there will be a significant drop in the number of people who receive eye care. According to the National Association of Vision Care Plans, members with stand-alone vision plans are twice as likely to get annual eye exams, as compared to members with vision care bundled in medical plans. For children, the disparity is higher.

I have been practicing [optometry] in New York for 29 years. I know firsthand that optometrists are often the first medical professional to detect serious conditions like high cholesterol and diabetes, allowing for early treatment. If stand-alone vision plans are not permitted to offer care directly in New York’s health benefit exchange, then health care costs will increase in the long term. We should not limit access to vision care for New York residents with vision problems, but instead increase access, as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act intended.

Dr. Albert Morier

Schenectady

Things have changed, and not for the better

Over the Veterans Day weekend, some thoughts came to me. In a few generations, things have drastically changed. How did we go from a generation that believed in the American Dream, of working hard to be your own person, to one that thinks everybody should have the same, no matter what the input?

A generation that died for and respected the “Stars and Stripes,” and believed in “One Nation Under God,” to one that promotes the right to disrespect and destroy the flag, divide themselves, and complain if God is mentioned. They fought socialism; we now choose it.

When I was a kid, the previous generation encouraged me to work hard and be successful. We now tell the next generation, why bother trying? The successful are the problem! You don’t want to be like them.

Robert Todt

Amsterdam

Schenectady council acts like a bunch of bullies

I read with interest the Nov. 14 story on the Schenectady Council override of Mayor Gary McCarthy’s budget veto.

The article said, in part, “The five Democrats on the council met behind closed doors... They did not allow independent Councilman Vince Riggi to attend ...”

How childish. And I thought we were supposed to show our kids by example that bullying is not appropriate. Some example here!

Jerry Boehm

Albany

License deal only latest slap to state taxpayers

Re Nov. 14 AP article, “High bidder awarded contract to make state driver’s licenses”: New York government gone wild. First it was the New York Thruway Authority going to raise tolls on trucks 45 percent. Second it was the Schenectady County Legislature raising taxes over the tax cap Gov. Cuomo installed to help homeowners keep taxes in check.

Now we have the state Department of Motor Vehicles awarding a Canadian company the job of making new driver’s licenses — with the highest bid. What the heck is going on here?

It’s a no-brainer; the low bidder is $38 million lower. Duh! I guess the DMV commissioner needs an eye exam.

I guess New York wants to add to the unemployment line instead of reducing it. What happened to “Made in New York” or, better yet, “Made in America”? These agencies don’t care about the taxpayer; there’s no control. They do what they want and don’t answer to anyone.

This has got to change.

Paul L. Dolhy

Rotterdam

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comments

November 18, 2012
7:44 a.m.
gina99 says...

Jerry Boehm-You have not been paying attention to the collapse of Schenectady. The machine Democrats have been acting like spoiled brats for decades. If they don't listen to the opposition then it doesn't exist. Ditto for the fiscal crisis. Pretend all is well. Schenectady desperately needs more Vince Riggi's.

November 19, 2012
5:48 a.m.
cfield says...

Cazer-
The key word is "Income" Tax. Income tax makes up a small percentage of the total taxes collected by the federal and state goverments. The rest of us 96% of the income earning pay 90+% of the rest of the taxes--- Property,school,sales,gasoline taxes...etc.,etc.etc.

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