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Letters to the Editor for May 19

Saturday, May 19, 2012
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Legislature should approve plan to make Kendra’s Law better

A key bill pending in the state Legislature calls for improvements to Kendra’s Law, now a hot subject after a policeman was shot and killed by a mentally ill man in Westchester County.

Kendra’s Law is the Assisted Outpatient Treatment Law (AOT) which is of top importance to families all over the country. It enables any of us to contact the county Office of Community Services and seek to have a loved one — who is acting out of control and is potentially dangerous to himself or others — given priority attention by a special team to receive medical services in the community. The team can petition a judge to order the person to follow a treatment plan, and if he does not he can be involuntarily hospitalized.

The improvements sought in the bills (Senate 4881A and Assembly 6987A would call for an evaluation of mentally ill prisoners or involuntarily committed hospital patients prior to their release. That would enable someone to keep track of the person after his or her release so we reduce chances that there is a vulnerable person out there without any kind of watch over him. That makes sense to most of us.

Objectors to the law have mounted a malicious campaign against Kendra’s Law, contending that it is racially biased, while studies show otherwise, and making false statements against the law. They do not represent families.

On this one, we urge all families to stand up and register their support. Call Gov. Cuomo at 474-8390 or Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver at 455-3791. They’re the two most likely to intervene now.

Roy E. Neville

Schenectady

The writer is co-president of the National Alliance on Mental Illness in Schenectady.

‘Hairspray’ about more than racial differences

Re May 15 article “SLOC’s ‘Hairspray’ version a must-see”: I was a bit surprised to read that reviewer Carol King “never understood” why the part of Edna’s mother is played by a male.

On its surface, of course, the musical can seem to be simply about racial acceptance, but this piece of casting is actually the key to understanding the musical’s wider meaning — a plea for acceptance of our human differences beyond the black and white.

Paul Kazee

Schenectady

Don’t use federal money to fix North Creek railroad

Re May 15 article, “Freight rail to Tahawus can reopen”: I hope federal funds will not be applied to the extension and repair of the North Creek rail line to Tahawus mine.

If [all] they are adding to the local economy each year is $160,000, that sure is nothing! The cost of refurbishing the rail line, in all likelihood, greatly exceeds any profit to the community or the state. Rail rebuilds typically cost millions of dollars.

If the rare earths even exist in the mining slag, they must produce enough value to pay for the cost of refining and transporting them on their own.

I certainly hope my tax money, and that of my neighbors, is not spent on this project, which [Sen. Charles] Schumer and [Sen. Kirsten] Gillibrand expect to generate a whopping $160,000 for the local area.

Please do everything you can to prevent federal funding for this project. I do not oppose the project — only tax dollars being spent on it.

David Buckbee

Rexford

Fire the principal who enabled student’s beating

I just returned from vacation and was shocked to read in the Mayt 5 Gazette about the beating of a young girl at the Yates [Elementary] School.

My shock is not so much about the beating, but the pathetic reaction of the principal to the threat, and the even more pathetic reaction of the community in not demanding the immediate firing of the principal.

Also, why isn’t the Schenectady district attorney bringing charges against the principal for what amounts to abetting this crime?

Jon Fink

Schenectady

School budget votes a meaningless exercise

Your May 16 headlines — “School budgets pass easily” — are back-page news. Why wouldn’t they? If they are turned down, the school gets last year’s budget plus a raise or a new vote.

School budget voting is a joke. Essentially, voting down a budget accomplishes nothing. So all this voting is a complete waste of time and money and should be replaced with a better systems

Bernard Murphy

Scotia

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