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People who want livable communities are duty-bound to ‘snitch’

Saturday, October 19, 2013
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People who want livable communities are duty-bound to ‘snitch’

Re Oct. 11 article, “Bomber makes fashion statement in court”: A guy shows up in court, wearing a T-shirt that says “Stop Snitching.” It’s on T-shirts, it’s on cars, and it is, in many ways, a community ethos. Nobody likes a snitch.

But I do! What is [a] “snitch?” It’s a pejorative word for someone doing his or her civic duty by reporting what they witness or know to be wrong. When a rape victim identifies her assailant, is she seen as a snitch? She is more likely seen as a victim standing up for herself. When people witness violence in their neighborhood and report it to police, they are also victims standing up for themselves and their community. If they don’t, they must live with the knowledge of that violence and its future threat to them.

This isn’t just an inner-city problem. Nobody likes a “whistle-blower.” How many fewer people would Bernie Madoff have been able to cheat out of their life savings if those who worked for him had reported what they knew? How many students look the other way when a fellow student cheats on an exam? One needs to ask: Who are the victims of the cheater? Here’s a hint; it is neither the teacher nor the school.

The determining factor here is how a person defines his or her community. If you see your community as just those who are willing to cheat or commit crimes, then keeping quiet is protecting that community. But if your community consists of all of your fellow students or all of your neighbors or your city or your country or humanity in general, then you have a duty to come forward and disclose.

Military academies are communities for the training of our future military officers, from whom we will expect adherence to the highest moral standards.

The West Point honor code simple reads: “A cadet will not lie, cheat, steal or tolerate those who do.”

Bill Mactiernan

Schenectady

Fix traffic signals so pedestrians are safer

The Oct. 9 business page article about the old Salamack’s building on upper Union Street being renovated mentioned the improvement of the entire Upper Union Street Business District, including streetscaping.

One of the wonderful things about this part of Schenectady is that it’s really becoming a “walkable city,” where there are many services available within easy walking distance. Many of us really appreciate that. But there’s one request I’d like to make to improve pedestrian safety: Wherever there is a pedestrian walk light, traffic in all directions should be stopped until the end of the walk signal.

My experience at the corner of Dean Street will explain why: Crossing Union Street at the intersection of Dean, I pushed the walk button and waited, then started across the street when the walk signal came on. As soon as I stepped into the street, a car came around the corner, grazing my knees, me hovering with my arms stretched across the hood of the car, which had slowed almost to a stop by then. This is the third time I’ve had a car come around the corner against the walk light, and I’m sure I’m not the only one.

Although I was lucky enough not to be injured, I’m concerned because this is the third time this has happened to me at this intersection. The problem is, the cars on Dean Street get the green light at the same moment that the walk light comes on, so the car drivers think they have the right of way. (Of course, we’ve all been told that pedestrians have the right of way, but who’s naïve enough to believe that?)

A couple of days earlier, there was a fatality at a pedestrian crossing in Niskayuna. I keep thinking about my arms over that car hood, realizing I could have been that woman. We can diminish the likelihood of a fatality if we incorporate this simple change into our on-going improvement plans.

Let’s do what we can to make our city not only walkable, but safe to walk in.

Nancy Peterson

Schenectady

King shouldn’t smear Common Core critics

David Lombardo’s Oct. 13 article stated that state Education Commissioner John B. King Jr. was canceling further meetings under the sponsorship of the state PTA.

As reported, the commissioner was in Poughkeepsie Oct. 10 to talk about Common Core and got a less-than-welcoming reception. To quote the commissioner, as reported in the article, “unfortunately, the forums sponsored by the ... PTA have been co-opted by special interests whose stated goal is to ‘dominate’ the questions and manipulate the forums.”

To leave the identity of the “special interests” undisclosed creates a somewhat sinister connotation. Isn’t it possible that these were irate parents who were very vocal in expressing their displeasure with the system?

I would like the commissioner to let us know who these special interests are. To not do so only leaves us with the conclusion that he can’t stand the heat and should get out of the kitchen.

Lou Mosher

Amsterdam

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