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Schenectady’s problem with blight starts with graffiti

Sunday, May 12, 2013
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Schenectady’s problem with blight starts with graffiti

I agree wholeheartedly with Betty Hughes [April 30 letter, “If Latin Kings are so good, let them clean gag tags”] that the gang tags [should] be cleaned up in her neighborhood.

A few years ago, I held Schenectady’s first graffiti summit at Proctors. It was attended by junior and senior high school students, two City Council members, several downtown residents and a local Schenectady artist, Tony Ladiccio, who is now head of the burgeoning arts scene in Albany.

The summit was held mainly [because of] the graffiti vandals, leaving their trademark scribbling on private property throughout my neighborhood. They not only hit abandoned buildings and railroad underpasses, but also our homes and businesses!

I contacted Keep America Beautiful — which sent me several brochures and posters on what other communities are doing to combat blight. I gave a poster to Schenectady City Hall to display. It never went up.

The myriad politicians I’ve contacted over the years, and countless City Council meetings [I’ve attended] have [produced] no takers to prevent this ever-growing, prevalent blight.

What gives? It’s certainly not a lack of political power, but willpower. I was told by a downtown businessman who’s been targeted by vandals several times that the city and Metroplex and Chamber of Commerce view the blight problem as someone else’s. They’re really embarrassed because they’re trying to bring downtown back. The excuses I’ve been given are a tired refrain.

I even contacted Albany City Hall and spoke to the gentleman who oversees the graffiti program there. He was more than eager to help me. Again, no takers after presenting my ideas to the Schenectady City Council.

Albany has two people who go out Monday through Friday with a graffiti-buster van to clean up any graffiti they see, or residents call in.

I travel monthly to Boston and its environs, and I don’t see nearly the blight and vandalism I see in Schenectady.

The proof that it works is out there. Get school-aged children and teens involved. Perhaps the gangs would help in this worthwhile endeavor to foster civic pride.

The City Council must act on this quality-of-life issue. Also, more city residents need to complain and volunteer to clean it up, as I and others have. All it takes is the right approach and a sincerity that we all benefit from eye candy, not eyesores.

Let’s all get on board, and not just once a year, and remain vigilant against any and all vandalism wherever it occurs.

Gerald Plante

Schenectady

Only thing great about Nisky schools are taxes

The Gazette’s May 1 article on the school tax cap highlighted 15 local school districts’ proposed budgets vs. their tax caps. Fourteen of the districts were under the cap, with [tax increases] in the 2 percent to 4 percent range. One district’s proposed budget exceeded the cap. Not surprisingly, it was Niskayuna.

Even with a generous “2 percent tax cap” of 4.55 percent, they are proposing an increase of 5.76 percent — over twice the rate of inflation.

Shortly after, the school district mailed out its “Your Schools” newsletter (at taxpayer expense), telling us what a great job they have done. This was followed by a Gazette article May 8 with the district’s leadership once again telling us what a great job they had done minimizing costs.

Over the years, the Niskayuna school district has consistently overspent at two to three times the rate of inflation and left it up to the taxpayers to pick up the tab. Even with a very “soft” tax cap, the district continues its reckless ways. Not only does it depend on over-the-top tax increases, it has a history of digging into its reserves.

It’s time for the district’s taxpayers to say “enough is enough.” We need to reverse the trend. A good place to start would be in the administrative area. Personally, I’d like to see one school district for Schenectady County, with neighborhood schools. Just think of the administrative costs that could be eliminated. One superintendent vs. seven, three or four assistants vs. 15-20. The savings would be substantial, with no direct impact on the classroom.

While this would not be feasible in the short term, it needs to be considered. In the interim, Niskayuna could take substantial costs out by scaling down their overstaffed administration.

There also has to be a serious look at benefits for all employees to bring them in line with the reality of today’s working world.

I hope all Niskayuna taxpayers take the time to send a message that times have changed, by voting “no” to this budget. I [also] hope they take a close look at who is running for the school board and vote for some new faces.

Jim Vincent

Niskayuna

SAFE Act will only affect the law abiding

The SAFE Act recently rushed into law is not about safety, but about Gov. Cuomo’s political agenda.

The tragedy of Newtown, Conn., provided him with an opportunity to push his long-held agenda of gun control into law. While he ran on a transparency-in-government platform, the passage of the SAFE Act was anything but ethical, and fairness be damned. Newtown was too good a tragedy to pass up.

Now that the SAFE Act is law, one must ask, are we any safer? If so, how? Will it prevent another Newtown, the Boston bombings, the theater shootings in Colorado, or the constant gun violence in Hamilton Hill? No.

The premise that if we just make another law, lawbreakers will have an epiphany and obey the new law is wrong. So is the premise that a gun buyer’s background check will prevent a mentally unstable person from killing people. This is as disingenuous as the politicians who passed the law.

Drugs are illegal, yet the drug trade thrives and is arguably responsible for many, if not most, crime. When politicians figure out how to legislate morality and human behavior, then they may be onto something.

The results of the “unSAFE” Act are:

1) Ammo is scarce and expensive (Cabala’s no longer will ship to New York state).

2) A stigma is now attached to every man, woman and child who uses a gun for sport or self-protection.

3) For druggies, thieves, killers, rapists, terrorists, it’s “game on.” Can’t find it on the street? Just go break into someone’s house.

4) It has created an environment where it is now more difficult for a law-abiding parent to protect his or her family.

Thus it provides criminals with one more incentive to prey upon the weak unarmed.

John Osterlitz

Glenville

The easiest way to quit smoking is not to start

My dad is addicted to smoking. It’s horrible to think one of your family members is dying each time they puff. My father says he smokes because he’s always under a lot of stress; and when he smokes it calms him down. He started when he was about 19 or 20, and ever since then he has always regretted it.

That’s usually the age people get influenced to do things [they shouldn’t] do! Every day, nearly 4,000 kids in the United States try a cigarette for the first time. And every day, 1,000 kids become daily smokers.

Teenagers and young adults are usually pressured to do stuff they don’t want to do — peer pressure. Almost all teen smokers plan to quit within five years, but more than 60 percent are still puffing away many years later.

I get it how most smokers do it for the stress relief, and it makes them happy, but their bodies think otherwise.

Don’t start and then regret it. It’s better when you don’t start at all! Your body is like a temple, don’t let one puff blow your body, life, and future away!

Fathima Noordeen

Albany

Turn greedy, crooked politicians out of office

I can’t understand why the senators that have been brought up on charges [May 9 Gazette] have to embezzle. They make a lot more [money] than the average citizen and have lots more perks that go with the job.

I think they have forgotten that they work for the taxpayers, not the other way around.

People, remember this come November. If they were in the private sector, how long could they keep their jobs?

Anne Fringo

Middleburgh

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comments

May 12, 2013
5:50 a.m.
wmarincic says...

Gerald Plante All you have to do is look at who has been running this city the last 5 years, King Gary McCarthy and his merry band of stooges. He does not care about quality of life issues, he cares about growing government and raising taxes. We need Mayor Al back or someone like him.

May 14, 2013
3:50 p.m.
safny says...

i do not agree that the problem of blight starts with graffiti - it starts with abandoned properties. People squat in them, committ crimes, scare their neighbors, set fires, etc. How many abandoned properties have graffiti on them?

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