Grateful to volunteer help in Schenectady
On May 2 and 3, I witnessed some of the finest volunteer efforts in our community.
The Greenmarket opened outside with crowds of customers, the Rose Garden crew was busy preparing for our summertime delight and over 300 volunteers worked tirelessly to sell books and other media to support the library system. A number of these library friends worked steadily from Friday morning to Sunday afternoon, making the book sale one of the busiest events in Schenectady.
I have been a volunteer for most of my adult life and am still amazed at the enthusiasm and commitment that can be found in our community. By the hundreds, volunteers, both young and old, make up for the declining support of our government(s).
The Schenectady County Library is a good example of the effectiveness of volunteer efforts. Almost all programming provided in the library’s nine branches is funded with monies raised by these volunteers. Free computer training classes, free museum passes, free adult and children’s programs throughout the year and even large-scale funding for capital projects that would not be accomplished or completed without the funds raised by these volunteers.
These volunteers do not seek recognition or rewards for their efforts, just the satisfaction of knowing they are making their community a better place. I hope everyone who benefits from these unselfish workers will stop and thank them when the opportunity presents itself.
Need common sense over campus violence
This is in reference to the May 1 Gazette articl [“Students join Gillibrand at Union College for sexual violence talk”] of Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand hosting a roundtable discussion “to bolster efforts to combat sexual violence on college campuses.”
While I applaud any actions aimed at combating sexual violence anywhere, I am confused as to the final outcome that apparently is seen as justice on college and university campuses. The article references a male student at Skidmore College “accused” of drugging and raping a female student. He was suspended for three years from the college but not charged with a crime.
What am I missing here? There was enough evidence to suspend him but not convict him of a crime. Were there any DNA results? Were there any witnesses? And the most troubling question of all is, when did schools of higher education become sovereign nations — able to set up their own rules and regulations, and dispense justice as they see fit?
I’m sorry, but the last time I checked, drugging someone and then raping them was a criminal offense punishable by a lengthy prison term. Again, what am I missing here? Was there a crime? Was there evidence or was there just an accusation?
The article goes on to state “Colleges in New York State adopted policies in December calling for all on-campus assaults to be reported to outside police for investigation and required sharing of information with local law enforcement.” Really? Isn’t this a given? Would assaults also include robberies, stabbings, shootings, manslaughter and murder?
Let’s bring some common sense back to life here. When you go to college, you do not enter a cocoon world free to do things as you please. A criminal offense needs to be reported, substantiated and brought to justice. We don’t need more laws or proclamations for the justice system to work both on and off campuses.
Stefanic favors rich in vote killing estate tax
U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanic stood shoulder to shoulder with the wealthiest two-tenths of one percent of Americans when she voted to end the federal estate tax.
In her Weekly Update before the vote, she polled her constituents about this issue. I don’t know the results, but would be surprised if they did not favor her position. The survey question called the measure a death tax, said it was 40 percent on an individual’s transfer of assets in excess of an exemption amount, and that this tax bill could make a family’s loss even more devastating.
The question concludes by saying America was built on small, family-owned businesses, and that the tax code should not punish them. There is a lot of information Ms. Stefanic chose not to share. The first $5.43 million of an individual’s estate is exempt from taxes.
The law affects only 0.2 percent of the wealthiest American taxpayers. Only 20 small businesses and farms owed any estate tax in 2013. This is a tax that only impacts the wealthiest of the wealthy. Had this been known, would the results of the survey been the same? Ms. Stefanic characterized the vote to end it as bipartisan, even though only seven Democrats voted for repeal. Her threshold for bipartisanship is low.
You could argue that the bill passed the House despite bipartisan opposition, since three Republicans voted against it. I guess balancing the budget takes a back seat when it comes to lowering taxes on the rich. There are estimates that if this bill becomes law, the deficit could grow by $2.46 billion over time.
Remember the record Rep. Stefanic is building if, and when, she runs for re-election.
State system is ripe for abuse of powers
Regarding your May 5 editorial, “Don’t blame the system for corruption,” I would disagree for the following reasons:
1) New York state election laws promote party politics by making it very difficult for independents to run for office or get a nomination without party support.
2) The Assembly speaker and the Senate leader both have too much power and control over their members. Skelos is quoted as saying, “I’m going to control everything. I’m going to control who gets on what committees, what legislation comes through committees, the budget, everything.” The same could have been attributed to Sheldon Silver.
3) Lastly, how is it possible that any state assemblyperson or senator is allowed to work outside for any business having dealings with the state? This should be prohibited, yet they all absolutely refuse to prohibit this.
In short, politics in New York state is considered to be the politics of business, which will lead to corruption, as absolute power corrupts absolutely.
Walter “Buck” Berdan
Nursing Home Week is for family, life, love
Skilled nursing care centers across the nation are observing National Nursing Home Week (May 10-16) using the theme of “Bring on the Fiesta!”
It is a celebration of “familia, vida and amor” — family, life and love — because the human journey continues every day. These essential ingredients of everyone’s humanity allow an individual to live his or her life to its fullest potential, irrespective of age, infirmity or care setting.
National Nursing Home Week has become a time-honored tradition, first celebrated by the American Health Care Association in 1967. Care centers across the state are holding fiestas, open houses, VIP events, balloon launches, tours and other events. This is a great time for families to visit and friends and neighbors to drop by. If a person can’t come by, I urge you to make a phone call, send a card, flowers or even an email.
This special attention will surely help a resident “Bring on the Fiesta.”
Richard J. Herrick
The writer is president and CEO New York State Health Facilities Association.
Health checkups available this month
Did you think of your mother or that someone special for Mother’s Day? If you forgot, it’s not too late. May is also Women’s Health Month and Monday, May 11, is National Women’s Checkup Day.
We encourage moms to make their health a priority and take simple steps to live a safer and healthier life. While being a mother means caring for others, moms of every age can take steps to live a safer and healthier life. Depending on a woman’s age, certain important tests and exams can ensure good health and prevention. Women who take care of themselves typically live longer, healthier and happier lives.
Free screenings for breast, cervical and colorectal cancer are available throughout New York to individuals who do not have health insurance. The state Department of Health Cancer Services Program oversees a statewide, comprehensive cancer screening program providing breast and cervical screenings for eligible women (40-plus) and colorectal cancer screenings for eligible women and men (50-plus) at no cost, if they do not have health insurance.
For more information, call me at (518) 841-3726.
The writer is Health Education & Promotion coordinator of the Cancer Services Program of Fulton, Montgomery and Schenectady counties.
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Categories: Letters to the Editor