Look to amputees for inspiring stories

*Look to amputees for inspiring stories *Family of fire victim grateful for generosity *Family of fi
PHOTOGRAPHER:

Look to amputees for inspiring stories

Refreshing — Bill Buell’s March 22 “Over 100 still standing,” helps to heal the Jay Street tragedy. Don Klose’s model train replica is exquisite.

However, the article contains an unanswered bigger story. Buell notes orphan Albert Stevens, a future wealthy politician, at age 14 lost both arms in an accident. Decades later, Stevens owned the Seneca Building and many others. In the last century, amputation and artificial limbs were a nightmare trauma. The world begs for brave, joyful survival stories among the handicapped. Excavate the facts and share the joy.

Rob Curtiss

Schenectady

Family of fire victim grateful for generosity

I would like to say thank you to everyone who helped out at the fundraiser for my brother, Jay Street fire victim Ron Crandall, at the VFW on Draper Avenue in Schenectady on Sunday (March 29) — from all the people that donated food, goodies for the bake sale and prizes for the auctions to all the people that worked all day in the kitchen, waiting on the tables and selling tickets. We had a great turnout. A really big thank you goes to Aimee D’Ambrosio, who set the whole thing up.

David Crandall

West Coxsackie

Parking garage denial a chance to do it right

The Saratoga Springs Zoning Board of Appeals has denied a variance request by the City Center Authority. The variance would have allowed the construction of a parking garage that would have shaded solar panels on the roof of the adjacent Mouzon House Restaurant.

It’s good that we have an ordinance — and a board — to protect investments in solar energy.

The City Center Authority has been playing chicken with the zoning ordinance since it first announced its parking garage proposal 21⁄2 years ago. Building a head of steam behind the design, the authority got the planning board to drive into the ditch, despite the best efforts of the chairman to hold onto the wheel. The ordinance sensibly requires that parking garages downtown be situated in the center of a building lot, hidden behind vibrant mixed-use buildings or public open space.

Nevertheless, one planning board member actually said at a public meeting, “We haven’t done that for any other parking garage, why should we do it here?” Most of the others agreed.

Emboldened, the authority careened along with a design that would have created a continuous four- to five-story fortress wall 530 feet long from Broadway to High Rock Avenue, including three stories of parking in a bridge over Maple Avenue. They refused to present serious alternatives to address important zoning issues and major public concerns. They barreled ahead. But the Zoning Board of Appeals held the road.

This was no way to plan the development of such a key piece of city-owned land. The City Council has to take over. Instead of letting the developer call the shots to benefit the developer, make parking a component of a complete vision for the land that will serve the long-term interests of the entire city in harmony with the neighborhood.

Then put out a request for proposals. Maybe the private sector would even build the parking. We don’t get many second chances. Let’s not blow this one.

Richard Fenton

Saratoga Springs

GOP’s health care plan no improvement

The Republican congressional majority’s plan to eliminate Medicare by replacing it with “Voucher Care” is truly ironic, given how many tea party patriots in 2009 screamed: “No to Obamacare. Don’t touch my Medicare.”

What the GOP is proposing in 2015 is trading Medicare for Obamacare.

This is not to demean the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), which despite some hiccups is now working well. According to the conservative news magazine, “The Economist,” it is increasing efficiency and lowering costs of health care while providing affordable medical insurance to millions of Americans. This is a program that needs to be adjusted and built upon, not eliminated.

However, it should be noted that the ACA does require significant out-of-pocket costs for those who purchase private health plans from the government exchanges. With an annual income just under $30,000, my “Bronze Level” plan from MVP Health costs $330 monthly, of which I have to pay $170; the annual deductible is also $3,500 for in-network treatment.

Signing up wasn’t easy, trying to figure out which private plan was “right for me.” I also had trouble when it came time for renewal the next year. It wasn’t automatic like auto insurance. Imagine how senior citizens would fare navigating such a complex health care marketplace.

And don’t forget that health care costs usually spike during the last few years of life. Given that the ACA’s private insurance scheme only works financially if millions of young and healthy people sign up — how much would it cost to publicly subsidize for-profit companies to sell health insurance to the elderly?

Trading Medicare for Obamacare absolutely makes no sense. If the GOP Congress absolutely opposes all government involvement in health care, then it should just repeal both Obamacare and Medicare and wait for the voters’ response come Election Day.

Benjamin Turon

Ballston Spa

Love of America can come in many forms

A March 21 letter to the editor extolled former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s statement, “President Obama doesn’t love America.” The letter writer endeavored to prove the undebatable truth of the mayor’s declaration. Three of the author’s “proofs” stood out for me; a) as a child, in Hawaii, Obama was mentored by a socialist; b) his father was a Muslim who didn’t hang around much, and c) his Kenyan grandfather, labeled a “terrorist,” was jailed by the British.

Contemplating this letter, I began to wonder whether or not I loved America. The only socialist I ever knew was a World War II veteran, who had been awarded a Silver Star, Purple Heart and a nice new wooden leg for action in Europe. He worried about our less-fortunate fellow Americans, and what we, as a society, could do for them.

My father, a Methodist, not a Muslin, did stick around. A patriot, well over draft age, he gave up a well-paying job to join the Army during World War II, becoming a major.

My two grandfathers, a railroad man and a country doctor, were never jailed by the British, or anybody. So far, so good, I sighed.

I served honorably in the Marine Corps during the Korean War. Nothing there to prove I don’t love America.

Then I remembered an ancestor, a captain in Washington’s Continental Army, who fought against George III’s British army, like Obama’s grandfather fighting against the same colonial power. “Whoops,” I thought.

Generations of my family have proudly venerated our patriotic ancestor, who risked his life to make the America he loved. And, so do I, warts and all. America may not be perfect, but we do what we can to help it along, and I’ll bet that goes for the letter writer, and President Obama, too.

Cliff Ammon

Saratoga Springs

Why does New York gov’t spend so much

Re March 31 article, “Details emerge on $142B budget”: Spending in New York state budget is out of control. Look at the whopping $142 billion budget.

If we divide that huge number by our population of 19.5 million, we get spending of about $9,000 per person. If we look at two other very populous states, Texas at 26 million people and California at 39 million people, we find spending per person about half of New York state.

Texas budgets about $4,000 per person in a $100 billion budget. California likewise budgets about $4,000 per person in a $165 billion budget. So what’s the story in New York?

Daid Buckbeee

Rexford

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