‘Free’ lunch to be offered in Sch’dy schools far from free

Friday, August 23, 2013
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‘Free’ lunch to be offered in Sch’dy schools far from free

I take exception to your Aug. 21 editorial, “The tradeoff for getting kids to eat in school.”

Right after the celebration in my kitchen rang out: “Free french fries!” I had to remind my teenagers that these are not free lunches, but rather lunches paid for by taxpayers.

Why should the goal be to get 100 percent of students eating a government-provided, taxpayer-funded lunch? As far as the stigma attached to a free lunch, according to my kids that attend the high school, it is impossible to tell, since they all swipe the same cards to pay for their meal.

Isn’t it possible that some parents don’t want their children to eat the “free” lunches? I pay for, prepare and send a healthy lunch to school with my children each day. Now I will be paying twice and wonder if the healthy lunch I prepared or the “free” fries will make it into my daughter’s mouth.

While I know the school tries to provide some healthy options, given the choice between a salad or fries, which do you think teens will choose? And if this program is “successful,” will the follow-up be a taxpayer-subsidized program dealing with childhood obesity?

Now that we have removed the stigma of free lunch, I hope we have not created one for students who will continue to carry a brown bag to school each day.

My parents always taught me “there was no free lunch.” What are we teaching our kids?

Nancy Spencer


Being a ‘brony’ nothing to be ashamed of

In his Aug. 14 article [“Overboard worshipping ‘the Ponies,’”], John Kass expresses his confusion and revulsion concerning the presence of “bronies.” He correctly identifies brony as a term that refers to men and boys who have varying degrees of interest in the TV show “My Little Pony.” After which he casts aspersions on the brony community while simultaneously quoting sources in support of this phenomenon.

“My Little Pony” is a show about cartoon ponies, yes. But, more importantly, it is a show that teaches friendship, teamwork and cooperation across a diverse spectrum. The main characters each represent a different aspect of friendship (honesty, loyalty, generosity, kindness and laughter). They all have very different ways of seeing the world, and sometimes their personalities seem incompatible. They are not perfect, but together they compensate for each other’s weaknesses and save the world and each other many times.

Despite the fact that this is a sound message, and that Mr. Kass quotes sources explaining the positive influence of the show, he still goes on to shame bronies through the reinforcing of gender stereotypes.

He writes further and seems to lament that this brony subculture is not the result of “ulterior, hormonal motives.” The implication is that men who use traditionally feminine interests to manipulate women into bed are the norm. By contrast, men who value friendship and cooperation are presented as suspicious or bizarre. If the norm is manipulation and deception of women, what norm is he really defending?

Honestly, if we distrust men who value what we teach our children through these shows, why are we teaching children these values in the first place? When Mr. Kass writes “grow up,” does he really mean forget the moral values we were taught as children because that’s just not adult or “masculine” enough?

This to me reflects a larger societal problem.

Alexandra Weisse


State should stay out of it on swimming pools

Re Aug. 16 editorial, “Rules for pools are there for good reason”: I had a pool company (in Schenectady County) install an above-ground pool this spring, and was never advised of the required “improvements.” Not until my pool was installed did I request a permit for the upgraded electric system, and was advised by the town of what was needed to comply with the law.

I had to revise my plans for the deck, secure an alarm system, and install a swinging/self-latching gate. A licensed electrician installed the electrical (including grounding the water) and then two inspections, as

third-party inspections were needed. Why two inspections? The town inspector also advised me that a permit is needed when replacing the liner, as this is 50 percent of a pool repair!

I have an exterior camera system that secures footage of what transpires. Thus, who am I protecting: my family, trespassers or vandals? Why am I responsible for protecting uninvited guests? Why aren’t people responsible for their own actions?

I understand this is a state law and not a local/town issue. However, this is Schenectady County and not New York City, where housing and zoning are very different.

Are these upgrade “improvements” going to raise my taxes? The prior owner of my home had a hot tub, which raised their taxes; but once removed, the taxes did not decrease.

I think the state has too much control over what should be governed in our counties and towns.

Nancy Ostapow


‘The Butler’ movie about past, but also today

Just watched the current movie, “The Butler.” Very well done with lots of familiar faces, but the important part of the movie was the reminder that we make our own history.

By our action or inaction, we make or allow things to happen. Our American history requires all of us to play our part — either as a steady volunteer, like the Freedom Riders during the time of civil unrest, or as citizens today who say “enough is enough,” in all the ways we are allowed to say it and even some that we are not.

Our inaction creates history, also. For those who want the United States to intervene militarily in the fight for Egyptian independence, I would ask if they are in for the long haul? Are you willing to spill more American blood long after the war is no longer “exciting,” as we have in other complex situations.

I understand the precarious balance in the Middle East is at stake at this time. We, civilized nations, have tried foreign intervention before, which has set up many of the current-day problems. Perhaps this time the people of the nations need to work things out themselves, just as we did during the civil rights/Vietnam War time. If you are against the intervention, have you called your representatives?

As in the fight for civil rights, the basis for the movie, there are many unintended consequences in trying to push changes onto a society, and there is always bloodshed. To change society, often people have to die; even for the placement of a new stop light or a more active police presence, people have had to die. Certainly for the formation of a new nation, people will have to die.

Hopefully, the reaction to the military takeover and preparation for review of the constitution with bring a bit of peace for this suffering country.

The movie, “The Butler,” is a reminder that many people died to give us the rights that we have at this time in history and we need to be watchful and active to prevent their limitation or abolition. We need to loudly and firmly speak out against the change in the Voting Rights Act that would limit the rights of many people to vote. We need to speak loudly against the degradation of the workers’‘rights to decent pay and safe conditions.

Why? Because what happens in one area of society, again as shown in the movie, affects the rest of society.

Janice Walz


Placement of Erie Blvd. lights makes no sense

One of the goals of the Erie Boulevard reconstruction project was to make use of the abundance of space by incorporating vegetated medians and formal on-street parking.

The transportation engineers charged with the design apparently overlooked the fact that this region experiences events called snowstorms. The ornate street lights now in place have been located directly adjacent to the curb. Worse, for aesthetic reasons only, those same lights were placed without the typical, unflattering, concrete base, which is there solely to protect the light.

You are urged to visit the project site soon. Once the first plow comes through, those carefully selected retro lights, which can easily cost $20,000 each, will no longer be at right angles to the road surface.

With all that space to work with, why those lights were pushed right to the edge of traffic defies logic.

Rick Beerle


Where’s the view on Western Gateway Bridge?

I travel the Western Gateway Bridge every day. The solid wall attached to the sidewalk is a disappointment, You can’t see the river at all. I always enjoyed the view. The wall looks like a barrier at a U.S. embassy in the Middle East.

I have traveled this bridge for at least 50 years and don’t recall anybody going through the side barrier into into the river.

Thomas J. Walsh


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August 23, 2013
6:39 a.m.
wmarincic says...

Nancy Spencer, you live in a Liberal City, in a Liberal County in a Liberal State. These moves are to desensitize our children to government handout. Democrats have gone the way of Communism with big government, look how the Welfare and Food Stamp programs have grown under Obama. Just like our children are being taught to be anti-gun. Did you see that California passed a law that says if a person feels that they are another gender that they may use any bathroom or locker room in school. How would you like your 14 year old daughter to be taking a shower after sports with a bunch of 14 year old boys? This country has gone insane.

August 23, 2013
7:37 a.m.
gina99 says...

Rick Berle-the entire Erie project makes no sense. The street lights are also too tall to help any nonexistent pedestrians. Erie Blvd is not the Champs Elysee. Meanwhile, State Street below Erie continues to totally implode with Bangkok Thai joining the dozens of shuttered business. Total City assessment are collapsing while clueless Democratic "leaders" help their old buddies. Unless major changes are made in both the County and City this November call in the State Control Board.

August 23, 2013
9:48 a.m.
muggy says...

French economist Frederic Bastiat talked about the "seen and the unseen." This applies to the $15 million dollars being spent on the Erie Blvd renovation/restructuring project. It's the brainchild of masterminds, lead by Ray Gillen, to revitalize downtown Schenectady. It will look pretty and nice. It will also drain millions from the private sector. We will be able to see the pretty, empty sidewalks. What we won't be able to see is the private sector output that would have resulted from that money being spent by businesses, making real-world decisions in a free market. But we'll see the ribbon cutting ceremony, with all the politicians taking credit for "helping" Schenectady. What a farce.

August 24, 2013
6:12 a.m.
Santino says...

Thomas J. Walsh, perhaps you should be paying more attention to your driving and less time on "enjoying the view".

August 24, 2013
6:33 p.m.
robbump says...

While I agree that Thomas J. Walsh should be watching the road, not the river, I do question the construction of the bridge. The old one had ... well basically fencing at the edge of the bridge to keep pedestrians from falling into the water, and guardrails to protect pedestrians from cars.
It would seem that per linear foot, a fence and a guardrail would be a lot cheaper than one solid concrete barrier, and offer better protection to all the users of the highway.
Come the winter, snow will be dumped onto the sidewalk, and just where will the pedestrian walk? Even if he attempts to stay on (above?) the sidewalk, he may easily slip down the mountain of snow ... directly into paths of cars.
It's poor design, whether the view is important or not.

August 24, 2013
11:19 p.m.
jjhehir says...

Yes Nancy, the next goal for the compassionate do-gooders who thought this up will be to fight child obesity, so your child will not be allowed to bring extra food to school, but a more important goal will be to insure that Democrats are re-elected. Their battle cry will be, "Elect Republicans, and they will take away free lunches from your children.”

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