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Voters have nothing to fear over Spa City charter change

Sunday, October 14, 2012
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Voters have nothing to fear over Spa City charter change

Smart people don’t vote based on fear. They take the time to find out the facts.

A group of over 200 concerned citizens have been educating themselves and educating the public for over three years, exploring more efficient forms of government for the city of Saratoga Springs.

Many letters to the editor concerning charter revision are from people who have never attended a public meeting where they could talk to a visiting city manager and ask the questions that are behind their fears.

Fact: A city manager is the same position as Saratoga County administrator. Our county has elected supervisors and an administrator who answers to them. Ask [County Administrator] Spencer P. Hellwig what his job is like and if he answers to the supervisors.

Fact: Taxes will not go up, because we have a trained professional helping the city council. Taxes depend on a budget that elected officials vote on. That will not change if we have a city manager helping the commissioners become more efficient.

Fact: Saratoga being a great city and winning national awards has to do with the efforts of forward-thinking city leaders, the Downtown Business Association, and civic-minded groups — not our form of government. We will continue to elect citizens who love and care for our great city.

Fact: The referendum is changing only one aspect of the charter, having to do with department heads vs. elected council people and a city manager. We changed a great deal of the old charter back in 2000. Now we are being asked to consider whether elected officials should make policy or run a department such as public safety with less time to focus on the vision of the city.

When listening to people who are afraid of change, ask them if they have talked to a city manager. Ask them how they have educated themselves. Do their letters promote fear over facts?

Attend a meeting. City managers will be available to answer your questions at the library on Oct. 22. The League of Women Voters will hold a debate Oct. 25 at the high school. Look at the web pages of the Saratoga Citizen (www.saratogacitizen.com) for facts and meetings times.

I invite the Success team, the City Council, and all concerned citizens to the upcoming meetings. Facts, not fears, should be what decides this referendum.

Amejo Amyot

Saratoga Springs

Used judiciously, ‘red light’ cameras can help

I would like to comment on the Oct. 6 editorial, “Get out the boot, but keep it out this time.” My comments are directed at the portion of the editorial that [endorses] the installation of “red light” cameras to improve safety and potentially increase revenue.

As a traffic engineer, I would like to point out that when signal timing is developed, the engineer is required to calculate a clearance interval — [first a] “yellow,” then all red. These calculations include variables such as the speed at which a significant portion of the drivers are traveling — or the speed limit — whichever is higher; the roadway geometry and the perception-reaction time of the driver.

The yellow light permits a driver to safely stop at the near stop bar using normal braking. The “all red” is required to account for a vehicle that passes the point where it is safe to stop in advance of the intersection and provides time for that vehicle to clear the intersection to a point beyond the far stop bar or crosswalk. The clearance and change intervals have legal basis in the Vehicle and Traffic law.

If the city were to consider the implementation of “red light” cameras, it should ensure that the clearance and change intervals are correctly calculated and installed in the traffic signal’s controller. I have observed numerous occasions where vehicles enter an intersection even after the change interval is completed. These vehicles should be targeted for this kind of enforcement.

However, it should also be pointed out that this violation is generally a “moving violation,” according to Vehicle and Traffic Law and requires identification of the driver — a difficult task when privacy concerns are involved.

Dennis O’Malley

Delanson

St. Adalbert’s festival hit on all cylinders

After reading the enjoyable, well-written articles in The Gazette about The Church of St. Adalbert Polish Harvest Festival, I decided to attend.

I toured the 100-year-old stunningly beautiful church and learned a great deal about it and the Polish community. The food was absolutely incredible; I even tried the Polish pizza, which was delicious.

The bands were great, with a nice mix of Polish polkas and oldies; it was such a treat to see everyone having such a good time. I went home with loaves of homemade babka and other sweets, a lovely handmade apron for the holidays and a feeling that one of the reasons Schenectady is special is its ethnic diversity.

I’m looking forward to next year’s festival. Thank you, St. Adalbert’s, for a great day.

Andrea Herman

Wilton

Schalmont music chief deserving of high praise

In response to Hayden Labelle’s Oct. 8 opinion of Schalmont High School Music Director Sean Lowery’s teaching style, I can only surmise that Mr. Labelle is harboring some repressed resentment toward Mr. Lowery, since he waited until months after graduating and hid behind a newspaper to vent. This was a cowardly approach on his part. It is obvious he did not learn much from Mr. Lowery.

I am a 2009 Schalmont graduate and had the privilege of being Mr. Lowery’s student for four years. He is very adamant that his students not only practice their instruments, but convey the importance of a strong work ethic and moral behavior. He only reinforced the values my parents instilled in me.

Labelle feels that “He [Mr. Lowery] believes his job above teaching music is to inspire his children to act with integrity. He is wrong. His job is to educate students musically by demanding a high expectation of practice and participation.”

Well, here’s the thing: Mr. Lowery’s job, as any teacher’s, is to inspire, and teach students to “act with integrity.”

I have learned more from Mr. Lowery than from most teachers, both at Schalmont and during my college career. No, he did not just teach me about music, but about life. He has always been there for me and for my fellow classmates, no matter what. His office door is always open, whether one needs to talk about music or about life issues; Mr. Lowery is even there for students who aren’t in his class. And I still go back and visit, just to chat about life or ask him for advice.

Schalmont should be very proud of its music department and the teachers who run it, especially Mr. Lowery.

Edda Sacco

Rotterdam

Foodies’ social network site seems a sure hit

Re Oct. 1 article, “Area woman creates a social network site for foodies”: Since I am a “foodie” myself, I was very intrigued by Laura Laz’s social media food concept. I think it’s a brilliant idea and I would definitely support her.

My mom is always looking for new recipes and new restaurants. I would immediately direct her to sign up for this food network. The connection with people and seeing common interests make the experience of food that much better.

Laura states that common features of successful social media networks are that “their interface is clean, simple and intuitive.” Therefore, her food network will be a success!

This article also inspired me because it proves that “anything is possible.” You never know what will spark a genius idea.

Jackie Behar

Schenectady

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comments

October 14, 2012
6:38 a.m.
wmarincic says...

Dennis O’Malley
Many states have the cameras along with radar cameras in school zones. It is an income generating tool only as no points are given because you can not identify the driver. If the registered owner of the vehicle does not pay the fine in a timely mannor then their registration is suspended.

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