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Letters to the Editor for March 11

Monday, March 11, 2013
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Why not a woman judge for Schenectady County Family Court?

Re March 2 article, “No end in sight for family court vacancy”: When Christine Clark was sworn in as state Supreme Court justice in January, it was a victory — one more woman on the state Supreme Court bench. We have the opportunity to build on this victory by filling the bench Christine left — Schenectady County Family Court — with another woman.

Having a female judge in Schenectady Family Court is a win-win for everyone. Only 30.9 percent of federal and state judges in New York are women. There is a critical need to include more women on the bench — especially in family court, where a lot of plaintiffs are women.

Having judges who resemble the people they are serving inspires trust, credibility and confidence in the judicial system. When people on both sides of the bench share the same gender and/or race, the judicial system is perceived as a legitimate representative institution. It sends a powerful message that everyone can access the judicial system’s protections, that the system will treat them equally and equitably.

A diverse bench, one that reflects the population it serves, strengthens the judicial system. Women, by virtue of their experiences as women, often bring different perspectives, different interpretations and varied applications of the law. According to the 2012 Women in Federal and State-Level Judgeships, published by the Center for Women in Government and Civil Society, of the 1,185 state level judgeships in New York state, only 374 are held by women. We know that the vast majority of those 374 women started in a court such as family court.

Having another woman on the Schenectady Family Court bench builds another bridge between a good, solid woman judge and the higher court positions that justly await her.

It’s time for New York to take a good look at its judiciary. While 30.9 percent of our federal and state judgeships are held by women, we trail many of our New England neighbors, such as Vermont (39.6 percent), Massachusetts (35.8 percent) and Rhode Island (33 percent). We also trail Montana, which sports the highest percentage in the country, with 40.3 percent.

We are making steady, yet slow progress toward balanced representation on the bench. Let’s continue that record in November when we choose the next family court judge in Schenectady County.

Dina Refki

Albany

The writer is director of the Center for Women in Government and Civil Society for Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy.

Parents, not schools, should set prom budgets

Re Feb. 27 editorial [“Schools should establish budgets for prom-goers”]: Those who are worrying about the [cost] burden of prom should think about making their own budgets, instead of the school making one for them.

Schools already have to make sure that they don’t go bankrupt as it is. They don’t need the extra burden of deciding how much should be spent on prom. If it’s that much of a problem for parents, they should start thinking about someone else handling their finances.

Also, parents shouldn’t allow kids to do half the things they allow them to do for the preparation. Being a junior at Duanesburg [High School], I know I won’t be getting a spray tan for prom.

I believe parents should learn to say no to their children if they know the financial burden would be too much on their wallets. There is no need to put yourself in debt just for one night. It’s a parent’s problem, not a school’s problem.

Teia DeCarlo

Delanson

What are Schenectady’s residents, chopped liver?

Re March 5 letter, “Why should some license dogs in Sch’dy if others don’t?: I agree with Gerald Plante, but the question is not, “why should some license their dogs in the city if others won’t,” but rather, why?

If it is “dangerous” to go door-to-door to make a count, is it OK to expose this city’s citizens to this danger every day, when it is their job to protect them?

The weather is getting nicer, and people like to take walks. In many neighborhoods that is not a very good idea with loose, unlicensed dogs waiting to attack them and their leashed pets. Along with the safety factor, there is the matter of multiple dogs and cats per family.

Unlicensed dogs lead to overpopulation because not only do the owners not license them, they do not spay or neuter them.

This costs the city and county a lot of money, trying to catch and shelter all these unwanted pets.

Overpopulation also leads to animal abuse. Every week the [media] are covering pet abuse. This is dangerous chaos. Do something, City Council!

Terry K. Hurlburt

Schenectady

Don’t expect pot smokers to make logical arguments

Re Beth Kent’s March 6 letter, “Pot users must be ready to accept consequences”: Yes, cannabis users must be ready to accept the consequences of their choices. I applaud her logical and well-stated argument.

However, as we all know, choices require the ability to make decisions, and the healthiest decisions require a clear and unencumbered mind — not a strong suit for cannabis and other users of mood-altering substances.

Perhaps a few readers will see the light when the smoke clears.

Mark DiMartino

Scotia

 
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