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Two very different perspectives on free college for felons

Tuesday, February 25, 2014
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Two very different perspectives on free college for felons

Re Feb. 22 letter, “Cuomo’s college for prisoners a lousy idea”: James Maxfield laments that Cuomo is making a huge mistake with his proposal to allow inmates to earn college degrees while they’re in prison. He points out that, “Most of them are back in jail after serving their sentence.”

Well, James, the whole point of Cuomo’s plan is that it will lower the recidivism rate in New York, significantly. There are plenty of grants and scholarships available for non-inmates, as there should be. Finding employment is very difficult for prisoners after they are released, which leads them back to crime and prison. It’s a win for everyone for them to become productive, taxpaying citizens.

Besides being an effective tool to rehab and reintegrate prisoners back into society, Cuomo’s idea is consistent with this country’s history of giving people second chances. The results of Cuomo’s plan should be studied and evaluated. They should be benchmarks to be met for success.

If college for inmates fails to deliver what Cuomo promises, then scrap it. However, it’s worth giving it a try.

William Aiken

Schenectady

*

Gov. Cuomo’s proposal to provide taxpayer-funded pseudo college educations to state prisoners is ludicrous and probably meant just to impress his natural constituency.

Many of the potential students doubtless have difficulty making themselves understood in proper English and have commensurate reading, writing and comprehension skills. A more sensible proposal would be to ask for volunteers from the ranks of Cuomo supporters to teach prisoners to read and write. If successful, they might some day be able to get jobs when they graduate from state custody.

People flee New York because of the high level of taxation and the low level of personal freedom. Asking them to fund yet another progressive pipe dream is too much.

David Vincelette

Duanesburg

Saratoga doesn’t want, or need, casino

Saratogians have worked hard to build their city’s character, create its multitude of attractions and oversee its home-grown success over the past few decades. And today it is poised to be an even more desirable place to live and work.

Saratoga Springs already has the diverse attractions that the rest of the country craves: a walkable downtown, great schools, first-rate restaurants, bars and movie theaters. Let’s not forget our famous college, unique baths/springs/spas, music venues, museums and a skateboard park. There’s even a train to New York City, Montreal and a ski area. Did I mention the best horse track in the world?

But this gem of a town is just like the naive character in the 1966 Dr. Seuss classic “The Grinch Stole Christmas.” In this version Little Cindy Lou Who (Saratoga Springs) encounters the Grinch (gambling corporations) and asks: “Santie Claus, why? Why are you taking our Christmas tree? Why?”

How can it be? How can we sit back and let a giant gambling corporation steal our town’s luster? Clearly, the majority of residents do not want it and resistance grows stronger every day. Fifty-eight percent of us voted against the gambling referendum (it would have been a higher percentage had it not been for the ballot’s “rosy wording”).

According to a Skidmore College poll, casino gambling is the most important issue facing Saratogians. From an economic standpoint, our town does not need a casino. It may even negatively impact our crown jewel — the 150 year-old Saratoga Race Course.

But we can definitely stop it — all we have to do is let our voices be heard and take action. You in?

Charlie Samuels

Saratoga Springs

The writer is a the founding member of SAVE [Saratogians Against Vegas-style Expansion] Saratoga.

Pipeline supporters left out the bad stuff

Re Feb. 16 Viewpoint, “Time to Build”: The XL oil pipeline is controversial for good reason. The writers make important points about oil infrastructure, economic growth, creation of jobs, and energy supplies. However, they conspicuously leave out the environmental impacts of building the pipelines.

In 2014, I would hope that all energy companies would be tackling the challenge of atmospheric carbon deposits along with the mission to expand their sale of energy. The responsible tactic would be to clarify to the public the detriments of building the pipelines, and to participate in scientific and political resolutions for such concerns. The goal would be for energy companies to work with environmental institutes and government.

It is said that the tar sands cost more money to extract than conventional oil; needed and costly regulations will raise the cost of oil for this pipeline; the Alberta oil is dirtier than the U.S. oil; and the refining and transport of the oil will deposit millions more tons of carbon into our atmosphere. There are economic, energy and environmental issues which, as of this date, have yet to be satisfactorily resolved.

To focus only on the benefits and avoid the significant consequences of the pipeline is an act of irresponsibility in the face of unresolved complex environmental issues.

Bill Shapiro

Niskayuna

Our transportation infrastructure lacking

New York City’s airport and subways are a disgrace.

I recently visited family living in Madrid, Spain. I flew to Madrid from Hartford via Dallas and returned to JFK.

My experience in Madrid was exceptional. The international terminal, the subway to the city center, showed the arrival time of the next train and the bus service. The baggage carts were free at the airport. The terminal was spotless, as was the subway, and the announcements were in Spanish and English.

Conversely, my experience in New York, from arrival at JFK to the subway to Penn Station to Amtrak to Albany, was absolutely third-rate.

The customs officers at JFK are not very friendly and the arrival terminal is, at best, dreary. Exiting the subway at Penn Station amid the trash in the station and on the stairwell reminded one of the slums of some developing country. The ride on Amtrak was so bumpy that it was difficult to read a book.

If the United States and New York City in particular are to consider themselves the leading country and city in the world, maybe it is time to make a serious investment in our transportation infrastructure.

Jim Brodie

Schenectady

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comments

February 25, 2014
12:10 p.m.
+0 votes
jjhehir says...

When budgeting, priorities have to be considered; which is more important, funding the education of felons or funding the education of children?

 

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