New York

Letters to the Editor for Saturday, July 11

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Categories: Letters to the Editor, Opinion

Don’t support fossil fuel divestment act

What is the difference between Washington, D.C., and Albany?
Washington’s willingness to ignore the rule of law and the Constitution.
However, we may soon be joining them.
State senators have submitted a bill called “The Fossil Fuel Divestment Act.”
Environmental lobbyists are demanding the state Legislature circumvent the state comptroller’s authority, as written in the state constitution.
No matter how honorable their cause is, they are forcing the Legislature to ignore the rule of law. We’ve seen enough of this in Washington.
Recently, 78% of New Yorkers said no to the constitutional convention. We stopped lobbyists from changing our constitution to meet their personal interests.
Didn’t that mean anything?
And what if Comptroller Tom DiNapoli divests? The stocks will be bought, and nothing changes. Will the EPA change its policies? No. Would India, China, and Russia stop polluting? No. Would the environment be better off? No.
Washington has set the ethical bar to an all-time low. Demanding the Legislature to ignore constitutional authority is not only reckless but also un-American.
Should the comptroller surrender his authority on every issue that comes up? If retirees want to keep their pensions, I think not.
George Hebert
Cohoes

Nation needs leader who does his job

You know, our Gov. Cuomo is the consummate politician.
He knows how to deliver a message and achieve maximum political success. It’s OK though. It’s what ya gotta do in the political world.
There are folks who may not like him, and that’s also OK.
For me it all works, because with or without the political game, the man does his job.
With more than 100 daily news briefings, he has guided us successfully through the coronavirus.
With his guidance demanding that we always follow the science instead of gobble-de-goop, New York state went from the worst to almost the least contaminated state in the nation.
Just makes you wonder… How much better off would the country be if we had a president capable of doing the same for the entire nation?
How many people might still be alive if he cared enough (about us) to do the same?
Livia Carroll
Schenectady

Sad about situation in Minneapolis

On June 26 there appeared in this newspaper, among the many articles reprinted from the New York Times (“Neighborhood’s vow not to call cops faces test”), a surprisingly balanced account of the lives of residents of the Powderhorn district in Minneapolis.
It seems that they got together and decided they would never again call the police, no matter how serious the crime.
And now they are hostages to their beliefs, scared to death about what has happened to their neighborhood (anarchy, violence) and unable to do anything about it.
Their city council has voted unanimously to abolish the police force and replace it with something less forceful, rather than reforming it. Having lived in Minnesota for 36 years before moving back to Schenectady, I am sad about what has happened to the once-great city of Minneapolis. Who would move there? Who would start (or even keep) a business there?
Roger Sheffer
Schenectady

 

Look at history, then push for equality

Do we have an intrinsic and pervasive race prejudice problem in this country? How could we not.
How could any white country not? If you know history, remember how the world’s white race has treated the people of China and India, the people of the Pacific islands, the Australian natives, the indigenous people of North and South America, the “American” Indians and the Africans. We have quite a sordid history, and our mind-set and behavior linger. It is something that will endure, and do harm, unless we face it and own it.
When our thinking and behavior are “cured,” then the objects of our prolonged maltreatment will be free to stand with pride and make a good life for themselves. We will need to help them, which is only fair.
The poorly treated (Black, brown, native, Asians, etc.) are not asking for privilege, but “only” for equality, which is guaranteed by our Constitution, by the way. Shall we have progress?
Marilyn B. Guidarelli
Schenectady

Flying Confederate flag promotes racism

Your rather shocking image of the Pro-Trump boaters simultaneously flying the Confederate and American flags July 5 reveals instantly their reasons for displaying the Confederate battle flag.
Anyone with any appreciation of history or heritage realizes that one cannot be both Confederate and American at the same time.
Even the dullest Trump supporters should be aware that the Confederate States fought to leave the United States. Therefore, flying the American flag alongside any Confederate banner is very offensive, particularly in a state that had thousands of her troops slaughtered fighting for the United States in that war. Therefore, it is hard to conclude such a display was intended for legitimate heritage reasons, but rather, it was done as an easy way to instigate hate and racism.
Steve Stoessel
Niskayuna

Don’t go halfway on school reopening

I worked in schools for nearly 50 years in every capacity. No public school in New York state is set up to deliver effective online instruction across all grades. So if that is the plan, it would be better to close the schools period.
Further, opening schools at half capacity, social distancing etc. can be done, but at a huge cost because at least two sessions (shifts) per day would be necessary, including double bus runs, additional staffing and expenses would be cost prohibitive. Neither Gov. Cuomo nor any other politician has a clue as to what it would take to open schools per the above scenarios.
So the choice is fully open the schools or shutter them for the year and furlough or lay off staff. Not a good choice. Open them up!
Dr. John Metallo
Slingerlands
The writer is a retired teacher, principal, and superintendent of schools.

Enjoy nature to offset covid stress

“Take a hike” is an old expression that is sometimes used to tell someone to leave because we have grown weary of them. But it is also good advice in these stressful times.
Getting back to nature, whether on a hike or sitting by a babbling brook or even working in a home garden is a great way to restore the soul.
Many studies have shown that being in a natural setting provides medical, psychological and spiritual benefits. And, as little as 20 minutes a day seems to help. We are fortunate to live in an area that provides many opportunities to experience these wonders of nature. As more and more people look for ways of coping with the current climate of stress brought on by COVID-19 concerns and political divisiveness by venturing into the woods, we need to keep mindful of the impact we have on these therapeutic places.
No one wants to see used tissues, discarded water bottles and other detritus.
Furthermore, no one is going to follow behind picking up what has been left behind. We all need to be kind to the environment and to those that follow us by adhering to a no trace left behind practice and carry out what we carry in.
Bill Brooks
Scotia

Make state agency leaders independent

Your 4th of July editorial about the Declaration of Independence contained “How much are appointed justices today compelled to bend to the will of their appointers?” The same could be said for New York state agency commissioners.
Much of the reason we endured “bomb trains” rolling through many downtowns a few year back, hazardous waste burning in Cohoes, a dump operating right next to a Rensselaer school, and tires perhaps soon to be burned next to two schools in Ravena, is because the state health (DOH) and environmental conservation (DEC) commissioners are appointed by the governor, who can also fire them.
These commissioners must keep him happy while they often ignore or reject best practices, health, safety and science, facilitating public exposure to dangerous substances.
We can do better. The state Legislature could enact legislation granting commissioners five-year terms the governor cannot shorten. Electing an independent public advocate, as New York City does, or having the Legislature appoint an inspector general for each agency, might put integrity and transparency into these agencies’ decision making processes.
The Legislature could deny the governor the power to appoint DEC and DOH commissioners, as is done with the state education commissioner. The Legislature could appoint Boards of Health and Environmental Conservation regents who would select the DOH and DEC commissioners.
We should be mindful of who is profiting from the pollution and ask why the governor allows the profits of large corporations to trump environmental health.
Tom Ellis
Albany

Great work on 1918 pandemic history

I enjoyed the excellent articles on the influenza pandemic of 1918-1919. Interesting, educational and a good object lesson for us today.
Jeff Wilkin and Bill Buell deserve accolades for their work.
Lorraine Davis, MD
Howes Cave

Public transportation a great investment

July 2020 marks the 56th anniversary of federal support for public transportation. The success of public transportation can be traced back to one of President Lyndon Johnson’s greatest accomplishments, which continues benefiting Americans today. On July 9, 1964, he signed the “Urban Mass Transportation Act of 1964” into law. This has resulted in the investment of several hundred billion dollars into public transportation.
The Capital District Transportation Authority has benefited by over $630 million in grants from the Federal Transit Administration (previously known as the Urban Mass Transportation Administration), going back to 1973. A majority of the CDTA bus capital program — including buses, para transit vehicles, bus garages, fueling stations, fare collection equipment, automatic vehicle locator equipment, real time communications, shelters, bus stop signs and other support equipment — were all paid for primarily with federal funding.
Try riding a CDTA local or express bus.
The ability to travel from home to workplace, school, shopping, entertainment, medical, library etc. is a factor when moving to a new neighborhood. Economically successful communities are not 100% dependent on automobiles as the sole means of mobility. Seniors, students and low- and middle-income people need these transportation alternatives. Investment in public transportation today contributes to economic growth, employment and a stronger economy. It is one of the best investments we can make.
Larry Penner
Great Neck
The writer previously worked for the Federal Transit Administration Region 2 NY Office.

We need leaders who will bring us together

As a student and teacher of United States history, I am seeing some worrisome and familiar patterns of behavior. A history lesson might focus on the year 1933. Radio was an immensely popular medium of mass communication. In his recent book about events leading up to World War II, author Peter Fritzsche describes this medium as “bringing the world into the living room.” Radio was used by the leader in Berlin for “cheer-splattered declamations against ‘enemies’,” and by the leader in Washington, D.C. for “fireside chats” among “friends.”
We now live in the age of social media, whereby communication is instant and seemingly intimate.
You can easily become part of a like-minded community and be continually encouraged by others who speak the same way. This medium doesn’t demand that you research or question, only that you agree, or at the very least, be entertained.
In 1933, the popular leader of Berlin understood the power of entertainment to exploit feelings of ultra-nationalism. He rallied his followers with exciting spectacles: banners, flags, slogans, chants and salutes. He preached a theme of Them against Us. “Them” consisted of clearly identified individuals and groups to blame for all the miseries in the life of “Us.”
In its often-troubled history, our nation has tried to bring to life the ideals set forth in its founding documents. In hard times, good leaders have pulled us together to overcome adversity by appealing to those ideals. We need such leaders today.
Kermit Ackley Sr.
Scotia

Cuomo is no hero for his covid response

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been championed as a hero for his leadership in the coronavirus pandemic. I view him as anything but a hero.
The tragedy that resulted from his disastrous nursing home policy should be enough for us to realize the kind of “leader” he is. His policy for instructing nursing homes to admit recovering coronavirus patients was no innocent mistake, nor was he simply following federal guidelines. In his executive budget for this fiscal year, he snuck in his usual policy, as he always does.
This year, he granted an immunity provision for nursing home and hospital executives from being held accountable for sloppiness in how they handle, or don’t handle, the coronavirus situation.
This provision occurred well before disaster struck. Why would he put a provision to prevent liability in the state budget? Well, it’s simple.
He was paid to do so by the same executives he is protecting. He has received hefty campaign contributions from health care industries for many years now, and in return he gives them protections like this for their own malpractices. Over 6,000 deaths have resulted from this policy, and families who have lost loved ones can do nothing about it.
At a time when accountability and transparency is so necessary, our governor doesn’t seem to think this rule should apply to him.
Sarah B. Killeen
Ballston Spa

Taxpayers shouldn’t pay political costs

It’s unfortunate that the article (“How the GOP convention created money woes in two cities”) in the Sunday July 5 Gazette regarding Charlotte and Jacksonville was not printed in its entirety.
I read the same article online the previous day, and the following disturbing tidbit was part of it:
“Patrick Baker, Charlotte’s city attorney, said in an interview that the city itself had spent roughly $14 million preparing for the convention. Much of that went toward insurance and security costs, he said, and the city expected to be reimbursed in full through a federal grant from the Justice Department.
The focus of the City Council has been to make sure, at a minimum, that we’re made whole and not left holding the bag,” Mr. Baker said.
Really, a federal grant from the Justice Department? Since when does the Justice Department subsidize political conventions? Oh, wait, of course, it does, when Billy Barr is in charge.
Why isn’t the Republican National Committee or the Trump campaign footing the bill? Why is a federal grant (taxpayer money) reimbursing expenditures for the Republican convention? This smells of illegal use of government funds for political campaigning.
The sooner this corrupt administration is history, the better.
Cynthia Swanson
Niskayuna

Cuomo rides covid for his personal gain

On Independence Day, I’m reminded of the sacrifices hundreds of thousands of patriots that made possible the freedoms that we enjoy today. I’m saddened by the apathy displayed, in response to the overreach of some governors and mayors, who ignore those freedoms.
Our governor is using this pandemic as a political gift horse and is riding it for his own personal gain in concert with a dishonest media. Our freedoms, welfare and economy, be damned.
Collateral damage done by denying access to our jobs, health care, education and church caused an increase of drug, alcohol, spousal and child abuse.
Blowing his own horn for 100 brutal days, two useful precautions evolved — social distancing and using disinfectants. Several days ago, he berated everyone for not wearing masks.
The “emperor” says to wear (paper/cloth, dust) masks to prevent the spread of a virus so small that it’s sub-microscopic.
Rebreathe your exhaled carbon dioxide. No mention of the N-95, which provides partial one-way filtration. It’s like erecting a chain link fence to keep mosquitoes out of your backyard. Wal-Mart, grocery markets remained open,; churches, schools, YMCAs, small businesses: all deemed incompetent to safeguard against the spread of COVID-19, closed.
Business owners and freedom-loving people are now choosing common sense above dictatorial edict. Patriots all.
Jack Osterlitz
Glenville

Glendale Home staff puts residents first

During this time of COVID and the many restrictions that are placed to keep loved ones safe at nursing homes
I’m proud to be an essential worker and be part of a team of employees that come together to help our residents through this tough time. I work at Glendale Nursing Home and could not be prouder of the staff that I work with. Not only am I speaking of direct care staff, but everyone who is employed at Glendale. The employees at Glendale treat residents as if they were their own family. We try very hard to lift their spirits by helping them to see family through video visits, telephone visits and window visits.
We are able to give the hugs that they need when they cannot physically get them from family. I know there are other facilities out there doing the same, working very hard to help residents through this tough time but I can only speak for the staff at Glendale Home.
We know we still have a long way to go with COVID but keeping our residents and staff safe is our number one priority. If I could stress one thing; please know we love your family and are proud to be given the opportunity to care for them. The staff at Glendale is doing a fantastic job and I am fortunate to see this firsthand every day. I would like to thank all employees at Glendale Home for all that they do for our residents.
Katie Valley, FNP-BC
Ballston Lake
The writer is director of Clinical Services at Glendale Nursing Home.

Lessons for today found in old songs

While listening to music on my favorite station 100.9, I realized there were a lot of the old songs playing such as, Peter, Paul and Mary with “Blowin’ in the Wind” and Marvin Gaye “What’s Going On.” It occurred to me, here’s a small solution, perhaps a new start.
Instead of leaving the training and perhaps expectation even of public behavior and what is expected in the world to the families of non-Caucasian background, shall we say, we start with all school children in kindergarten. Let’s include home schooling.
These songs and others like them from earlier times become standard learning material, not just in music class but mandatory real learning of words, meanings and trueness of it all. Teach not only those who wrongly expect and rightly fight against shameful behavior, but all children, to hold the world and their behavior to a better and whole new way. Real change, not just political rhetoric. I’d support that.
Theresa Rickard
Schenectady

City should replace tattered U.S. flags

During my morning walks in Central Park, I have observed the American flags in front of the park headquarters and on Spruill Field are extremely tattered. I would hope Mayor Gary McCarthy and the City Council could find in the city budget sufficient money to replace these flags. If they cannot find the money, provide me with the dimensions of these flags and I will buy new flags for display.
Even though I am a senior citizen on a fixed income, I take pride in being an American.
Jim P. Kirby
Schenectady

Fund charter schools to support equality

So, you want to take a meaningful stand against racism? Then help elect leaders who support school choice. Charter schools provide the fastest track to eliminate racial disparities in education. They are very popular with African American families.
According to a California State University of Sacramento study, for the most part, traditional schools have struggled to effectively educate African American and Latino students, while some charter schools (“charters”) have not only closed the gap but have enabled their lowest performing students to surpass their more affluent and white peers.
The achievement gap in our government schools not only hurts the African American and Hispanic communities, but increases economic inequality and decreases social mobility.
For decades, the teacher’s union has kept poor minority students trapped in failing government school systems. Charter schools give parents an option that they might not be able to afford otherwise. Presidential candidate Joe Biden has promised if elected to ban public funding of charter schools. A good education is a blueprint for a better life and helps to level the playing field.
School choice matters.
William Aiken
Schenectady

Thin blue line’ shows support for police

Before commenting on symbolism in his July 4 letter (“Do research before displaying symbols”) perhaps Mr. Shultz should heed his own advice regarding research.
The “Thin blue line” symbol has been in existence for decades. As a matter of fact, its origins may even date back to the 19th century, referencing a thin blue line in a Scottish Highlanders regiment.
Since then numerous times in law enforcement history, the symbol of a “Thin blue line” has referenced one thing, the line of law enforcement standing between anarchy and society. It means nothing more and nothing less but support for police. It does not condone any police malfeasance in any manner.
His research seemed to consist of what he wanted it to in his mind. To denigrate a business for your own suppositions of intent is ludicrous and just reveals an individual’s own pursuit ideology, that he attempted to mask by saying he supports police. The same ideological interpretations are trying to destroy an entire profession for the actions of so few.
Alan Buzanowski
Saratoga Springs

Dr. Schummer left  great memories

It is so sad to drive by 170 Route 50 in Glenville, the former office of Dr. John Schummer. My family members have been patients of his for over 40 years. We have watched each other’s families grow up from toddlers to adults.
The good doctor took away the fears of going to the dentist to looking forward to each visit. His compassion and expertise with people of all ages was outstanding.
I’m glad he is retired and enjoying life after 40-plus years working at a career that was so successful.
It’s just sad to drive by and this building no longer in use. Too many good memories of good jokes and conversation still exist. To us, he is gone but not forgotten.
As the late Bob Hope once sang, “Thanks for the memories.”
Paul St. Onge
Charlton

Think of rights of others above yours

As a veteran of war, my view of personal rights is best defined by my rights ending at the other man’s nose.
When you are in a war, you are really not fighting for your personal rights. By participating, you are actually serving up your life for others.
Perhaps it would be better to think of the rights of others as more important than your own. Maybe that’s real patriotism.
Calvin Moore
Argyle

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