Vote out the cowards who backed budget
The passage of the budget by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the cowards of the state Legislature confirmed that representative government in New York is dead.
They failed to listen to professionals in education and parents about the harmful effects of the so-called education reforms. It takes away local control of your schools, harms teachers and punishes students who are the target of the misguided ideas.
It also allows the big-money donors of Gov. Cuomo to buy his vote and many in the Senate and Assembly. When these cowards who voted with the governor, despite the fact that they did not like part of the education reform bill, come up for re-election, we must vote them out.
My senator, Sen. Hugh Farley, voted for this horrific bill and I will remember that at voting time and not vote to re-elect him. I will also stand by Assemblyman Jim Tedisco, who stood by schools, teachers and students, and will vote to re-elect him at the ballot box.
Lawmakers not fit to legislate on teaching
Those who can, teach. Those who cannot teach, legislate about teaching.
Bruce S. Trachtenberg
Protect public from oil train explosions
I join with others who urge Gov. Andrew Cuomo to order the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to issue a summary abatement order banning the potentially explosive oil trains from New York.
We are living very dangerously with these trains that pass through the downtowns of many cities, towns and villages as they cross the state, often within 50 feet of houses, offices and stores and only a few hundred feet from schools and daycare centers.
Risk is sometimes described as a combination of three factors: the probability of an unwanted event occurring; the potential damages from it; and our collective ability to respond to it, including treating the injured people and quickly terminating the event. While no one can predict when or where an oil train will explode into flames, derailments, crashes and spectacular explosions with large fires have occurred several times in recent years in the United States and Canada.
Should a similar or worse incident occur here in New York, the damage could be minor, major or catastrophic, depending on a wide variety of factors. A large fire could quickly spread out over many acres of built-up land and take many days to burn out. It is possible that hundreds could be killed and hundreds more severely injured.
I doubt if the Capital Region has the medical facilities or staff to suddenly treat dozens or scores of additional burn victims. Nor do our fire departments have the ability to extinguish a large multi-car or many-car rail fire. Keep in mind that at times, there are five or six lengthy oil trains containing hundreds of oil cars sitting on adjacent tracks in rail yards.
Rotterdam confuses residents with form
On first glance at the town of Rotterdam’s recent mailing to residents, “Yard Waste Collection Service Fee” appears to be a bill. Actually, it is. The bill number, billing period, property address and current charge with due date follows. Payment instructions are included.
In a rather odd placement (upper righthand corner), there is a “See reverse side for Affidavit to Decline.” The placement of this can easily be missed as the entire front page is dedicated to “Yard Waste Collection Service Fee.”
There are two choices. A resident may choose to pay a $50 fee for yard waste collection or decline. If you chose to have the town collect your yard waste, you will need to submit payment for this service. It’s as easy as that. On the other hand, if you choose to decline this service you must take the time to have this form notarized. This is an inconvenience for many.
Why does the town make this difficult for its residents when the form can be so simple? All the town wants to know is if you would like to have yard waste collection services for $50 per year. A form asking residents to check a “yes” or “no” answer should be sufficient. There is no need for the form to be notarized.
Do you remember the saying from a popular movie, “Build it and they will come?” The town of Rotterdam has created this form with a plan, “Confuse them and they will pay.”
Cuomo must restore middle-class tax cut
Re April 5 editorial, “Cuomo, Legislature need better budget strategies”: Gov. Cuomo should be ashamed of himself — granting tax breaks to millionaires buying yachts instead of his initial plan to help middle-class folks with a break on New York’s outlandish property taxes.
Cuomo’s initial budget plan had a “circuit breaker” on property taxes. If property taxes were more than 6 percent of a household income, a part of taxes above that “breaker” point would be refunded. This plan was designed to ease the burden of our high taxes on mainly the middle class. A large segment of the population benefiting would be seniors on a fixed income, often forced from their homes because their property taxes have increased over the years to be no longer affordable.
The circuit breaker idea proposed by the governor got lost in the political mess known as Albany. One of the leaders of the Legislature must have a friend who sells or buys yachts. Their tax break took precedence over the middle-class property tax break.
Gov. Cuomo, please reverse course and provide local property tax relief before the current legislative session ends.
Hope city not waiting for casino to fix Erie
On April 3, I traveled the treacherous lunar landscape that is Erie Boulevard for the last time, for I fear for my life. As the other vehicles played bumper cars to avoid the potholes, my poor little mini-Cooper was plunged deep into the depths of a gaping crevice, causing a bone-shattering metallic screech and thump. I didn’t think the car would survive.
I hope the city of Schenectady is not ignoring the perilous state of Erie Boulevard because it is to be dug up anyway to make way for the casino that nobody wants. Someone is going to be killed on that road as the cars are forced to swerve. So now I avoid that hypotenuse connecting the great city to Glenville and Burnt Hills and drive through Scotia via State Street.
I admit that gambling is far from my area of expertise, but the decision to place a casino next to a beautiful historic neighborhood and within walking distance from Union College is a head scratcher. It’s been months since the announcement, and my husband and I have not encountered a single person from the area who thinks it is a good idea. I have to wonder the extent to which the wishes of the residents of the Stockade and the families paying tuition were considered.
Is the current state of Erie Boulevard just the first of a coming onslaught of inconveniences and dangers necessary to make this casino a reality? I suppose the community college’s training of casino workers is good, but I would love to hear justification of how a gambling casino benefits humankind. I’d rather see the college’s students go into health care, social service, or anything but facilitating gambling. To me, a casino in Schenectady, which has improved vastly in so many other ways, is an embarrassment.
New York’s spending even more over top
I want to thank David Buckbeee for his April 2 letter [“Why does New York gov’t spend so much?”]. Actual numbers, like the ones Mr. Buckbee presented, are much more useful than the simple rankings that some people use, such as “highest in the nation.” However, there is an error in the math.
Using Mr. Buckbeee’s data that New York has a population of 19.5 million people and a state budget of $142 billion gives an amount of $7,282 per person, not $9,000 per person. Using Mr. Buckbeee’s data for California, namely a population of 39 million people and a state budget of $165 billion, gives an amount of $4,231 per person, not $4,000 per person. So, instead of New York spending 125 percent more than California, it spends about 72 percent more. (The excess spending ratio will be a bit lower, 69 percent, if we use the actual 2014 populations of both states.)
Mr. Buckbeee is correct. New York still spends significantly more per person than California. But the ratio is far less than that presented by Mr. Buckbeee. The question of why remains.
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