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Sch’dy landowners have civic duty to shovel snow

Friday, December 20, 2013
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Sch’dy landowners have civic duty to shovel snow

In my seventh Schenectady winter, I remain amazed at how few owners clear the sidewalks in front of their personal and business properties.

As the Dec. 17 Gazette story points out [“Unshoveled sidewalks add to Schenectady’s snow removal burden”], the city is challenged to keep up with the foreclosed properties it owns, but the problem is certainly not limited to unoccupied buildings. Even in areas where some owners clear their sidewalks, if the owner on the corner does not clear the plowed-in corner, people are forced to walk in the street.

As an absentee landowner in southeast Michigan, if I fail to arrange for snow removal within 24 hours of one inch of snow, I receive a warning in the mail. If the snow stays another 24 hours, I will receive a fine. If the situation continues or repeats, I will be subpoenaed to court.

It is past time for Schenectady to substantially fine owners who fail to execute their civic duty to provide safe passage on sidewalks. Until then, perhaps we can count on citizen brigades to help out our elderly or infirm neighbors with snow management.

We can also complain directly to the business owners who fail to clear sidewalks along their properties.

It takes all of us to make a livable, pedestrian-friendly city.

Valerie Mapstone Ackerman


Poor need more help to quit smoking

Many of us help the less fortunate during the holidays by donating to food and toy drives, but the people who need assistance with food and gifts likely also need our continued help and support to quit the deadly habit of smoking.

According to the American Cancer Society, despite a significant decline in New York state in the last 10 years, smoking rates have not declined for the poor and less-educated, and smoking rates among the very poorest are practically unchanged.

Sadly, New Yorkers with less than a high school education smoke at a rate three times greater than New Yorkers with a college education.

Unfortunately, programs that help educate and assist the neediest New Yorkers quit nicotine addiction are significantly underfunded in New York state and continue to be cut every budget year, even though these programs have been proven to save lives and money.

Educate your local elected officials about the overwhelming need to assist the poorest New Yorkers quit smoking successfully and have a better chance at a tobacco-free life.

For more information, or to get information on quitting, visit or call 1-866-NYQUITS.

Justin Hladik

Ballston Spa

The writer is program coordinator for Reality Check of Saratoga, Warren and Washington counties.

State should dole out all veterans’ pension benefits equally

Article 20 of state Retirement and Social Security law allows certain honorably discharged veterans working in the public sector to purchase up to three years’ military service to credit their pensions. However, the law in its current form, excludes all peacetime veterans. It also excludes many veterans who served in designated periods of conflict.

Legislation introduced by Assemblywoman Amy Paulin and Sen. William Larkin would extend the benefit to all honorably discharged veterans in the public sector. This bill has solid bipartisan support. However, the potential cost is leading to resistance among some lawmakers.

There is an alternative bill favored by some because it less costly. This bill, A7632C/S5745A, would extend Article 20 eligibility only to veterans of Afghanistan. The bill is well-intentioned but does not go far enough. It would continue dividing veterans into more- or less-deserving classes, as no legislation should.

Article 20 in its current form is capricious and arbitrary in scope. Veterans who served in World War II, Korea and Vietnam are included regardless of where they served. Those veterans who served after the draft was abolished, to include the Desert Storm-era, must have served in the theater of operations of a conflict in order to be considered eligible.

That is not consistent with how Desert Storm-era veterans receive other benefits in New York state. Civil service test points and property tax exemptions are given to Desert Storm-era veterans solely based on when they served. I know this because I have been the beneficiary of both programs.

I was stationed in the Netherlands for the runup to the Gulf War (Desert Shield) and the beginning of the war itself. My base sent planes and airmen to Turkey and launched several sorties from there during the war. One of our pilots shot down an Iraqi fighter. Article 20 currently excludes both the troops from my base who stayed behind in support and even those deployed to Turkey from the pension buyback program.

Peacetime veterans should also be recognized. The soldier who serves near the demilitarized zone in Korea is one diabolical action by North Korea away from being involved in an all-out war. The pilot who flew sorties during the Cold War in Western Europe served as a deterrent to the Soviets until the communist regimes in Eastern Europe and ultimately the Soviet Union itself collapsed.

The cost of the legislation should not make it problematic. Funding cut from Office for People with Developmental Disabilities programs in the current year’s state budget was restored after an outcry from advocates for the developmentally disabled. Similarly, the money for this program can and must be found.

Please encourage your local assembly member and senator to support and co-sponsor A6974/S4714. Contact Gov. Cuomo and deliver the clear message to him that there are no second class veterans.

Don Mance


The writer is a state employee.

Scare tactics a success for Rotterdam GOP

I feel it necessary to clarify the issue with REMS [Rotterdam Emergency Services].

The Republican Party, through the leadership of Chairwoman Tracy Donovan, sent out a mass mailing and made a robo call on Election Day in an effort to scare the citizens of Rotterdam, especially the elderly. Both the mailing and telephone calls were patent lies as they urged voters to vote Row “B” (the Republican Party) to save REMS. They even had the gall to imply that if the Republicans were not voted in, no one would come when Rotterdam residents called 911.

As a result, all Democrat-endorsed candidates lost. The Republicans’ behavior in the 2013 election was absurd and offensive. Joe Villano, Rick Larmour and Larry Lamora (the Republicans who won as a result of these scare tactics) had nothing to do with saving REMS. In fact, current board members Bob Godlewski, Nicki DiLeva and Mike Viscusi, none of whom are Republican, saved REMS!

Rotterdam lost a lot of good people and are stuck with three liars who intimidated the Rotterdam voters to victory.

Shame on you, Rotterdam Republicans!

Sheila Schaninger


The writer is a member of the Rotterdam Democratic Committee.

Revolution needed for us to reclaim government

Re Ric Wells’ Dec. 16 letter, [“Voters must band together to replace government”]: I would ask you to run it daily for the next two weeks. It really needs wide exposition to open the eyes of the American electorate.

This is the second revolution that must happen if we are to stay the end of America as we know it. Checks and balances must be restored. Consent of the governed must dominate. Government of the people, by the people and for the people must be restored.

James Madison said a constitutional government can only prevail in a moral society. Since the late ‘50s, we have been traveling a dark road.

The question is, can America reclaim the pioneer spirit?

Raymond Franklin


NSA is hardly the only one spying on us

Everyone is upset about the NSA spying on us.

Have you used your computer lately? Open a website and your profile goes out to businesses — where you shop, vacation, etc.

Then open your email and see the companies that know everything about you.

Peter Grippo


Letters Policy

The Gazette wants your opinions on public issues.

There is no strict word limit, though letters under 200 words are preferred.

All letters are subject to editing for length, style and fairness, and we will run no more than one letter per month from the same writer.

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December 20, 2013
5:39 a.m.
+0 votes
Phils2008 says...

Raymond, we can all thank the Democrats for that dark road. They always yammer about corporate greed, but its personal greed that Democrats have been dandling in front of their ignorant base for years. They have worked diligently to buy an amoral society based on taking from the responsible and giving to the irresponsible. They have systematically destroyed the education system, respect for authority, the Family structure, parental rights, the Constitution, our Judeo-Christian values and the fundamental American foundation of a work/reward system. They are dragging whats left of true Americans kicking and screaming over the cliff to third world status. You can thank many of the brain dead Nyers you see every day for whats ahead.

December 20, 2013
12:01 p.m.
+0 votes
cidbil says...

Sheila Schaninger: you are a prime example of the "pot calling the kettle black" if the Democrats in Rotterdam have never employed the same type of've got some forget, that's how politics work these days...

December 20, 2013
3:03 p.m.
+0 votes
gina99 says...

Funny letter from Sheila. Boo Hoo! For once the Rotterdam GOP fought back from the tidal wave of lies from Democrats. The Democratic Supervisor wanted to dump REMS. Too bad he wasn't also opposed in November. Maybe the City voters will soon also wake up?

December 20, 2013
6:35 p.m.
+0 votes
wmarincic says...

Sheila Schaninger quit whining you sound just like Obama.

December 22, 2013
11:11 a.m.
+0 votes
ThePhilistine says...

Civic duty lol

December 22, 2013
10:07 p.m.
+0 votes
robbump says...

Valerie M. Ackerman ("Sch’dy landowners have civic duty to shovel snow") is absolutely right. Schenectady is far too easy on its property owners in getting sidewalks cleared.
I24 hours is enough time to clear ones sidewalks, especially commercial property.

Especially maddening are the commercial properties where the PARKING LOT has been cleared down to dry pavement, but the sidewalk is still a mess. The only thing worse is when snow is pushed onto the sidewalk in order to clear the parking lot snow.
I propose this for commercial properties where snow is not promptly removed:
Revoke whatever permits allow them to open their doors for business.
Be it occupancy permit, restaurant permit, permit to perform motor vehicle inspections, sell food - whatever business they are in. They, in failing to clear snow/ice, have created a dangerous condition. Dangerous to the public, dangerous to employees, and dangerous to customers.
Close them down until they correct the problem.
It might be argued that why should property owners have to clear sidewalks, when roads are cleared by government? Well, government COULD clear the sidewalks, but how much additional tax do you wish to pay? Besides, unless you have owned your property for a VERY long time, the requirement to clear your sidewalk was there when your bought your property; your acquisition of the property was agreement with that requirement.
Now there IS a way to cut taxes here.
I would estimate that messy sidewalks slow down my walking speed to 25% to 33% of my normal speed on dry pavement. If we only spend enough money clearing the roads to where cars should be able to travel 8 to 10 mpg, and the roads are no more or less clean then the sidewalks, then we all can share in the tax savings, and we can all share the inconvenience of slower travel.
But is that what the public really wants?


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