City should cite itself for condition of roads
Re May 11 article, “Schenectady code sweep upsets homeowners”: I believe that the city had one hell of a nerve giving some taxpaying citizens code violations and the mayor stating that if the citizens “put their interests above the common sense of the good of the community, then I don’t want them here as property owners.”
He’d better also give himself and the city fathers citations in regard to the terrible condition of all the city streets. I have lived here all my 83 years and never have I seen the streets in such a deplorable condition. It certainly shows no interest or any good common sense for this city as a whole.
What say you Mr. Mayor?
Article spotlights the need for bail reform
For those who read Kathleen Moore’s May 10 article, “Low bail doesn’t mean you get out,” you were probably surprised, shocked or infuriated. Ms. Moore touched on a very real aspect of the inequality that exists in our justice system. Most have followed the media-sensationalized police shootings and arrest-related events of Ferguson, Missouri, North Charleston, South Carolina, New York City and Baltimore, Maryland.
However, until Ms. Moore’s article, few in the media have covered this second part our justice system, the step that follows an arrest. Ms. Moore has shown that this part of our system is unfair and inequitable to those with little or no financial safety net, the disenfranchised of our society, even in Schenectady.
Ms. Moore uncovered that those with little or no reserve capital (we call it cash) are unable to post bonds for even the mildest of nonviolent infractions, such as loitering, misdemeanor “criminal impersonation” or trespassing.
A bail of $1,000, $500, $200 or even $100 is out of their reach. How about a credit card? Do they accept American Express? I doubt many homeless, sometime-homeless or indigent individuals have a credit card. So they spend days or weeks in jail, until they can see the judge to challenge the charges.
Then, because they will have to spend more time in jail as their hearings drag out, they plead guilty, with time served, even if really innocent. Now they have a criminal record. This affects future job opportunities. The justice system is stacked against the less fortunate of us from the beginning; the spiral is downward.
For those with money or influence, the justice system works differently. We all know someone who had once been charged with a relatively minor first infraction as a young man or woman. Mom or dad knew someone, or knew someone who knew someone; the charged person was released on his/her own recognizance (no bail), or more likely, released from custody with no charges filed.
Sometimes the offense is even egregious, with many victims, like Wall Street CEOs and public officials. But they have money and influence. Do you recognize these two influential people?
u Sen. Dean Skelos: arrested, charged with federal extortion, bribery and trading influence for $200,000; released without bail;
u Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver: arrested, charged with federal corruption (up to $6 million in illegal income), making illegal investments of $750,000; released on bail of $200,000, which he clearly could afford from his possible illegal activities.
We are creating a financial oligarchy, where those with money and influence can manipulate the justice system to their advantage. Our poor friend from Schenectady pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge and was sentenced to up to 45 days in jail.
Look at Wall Street and we find the likes of HSBC (money laundering, transacting with terrorists) and Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch and Deutsche Bank (defrauding investors, “cooking the books”). Their CEOs and executive officials gained settlement agreements that provided no arrests, no jail time, relatively nominal fines and “no admission or denial” of guilt.
If you are poor or disenfranchised, you spend time in jail for the least little thing; if you have money, influence or both, the system protects you from the gravest of infractions. We need to work hard to change this unjust justice system. I commend the Center for Community Justice for trying to create better options for the Schenectady judicial system.
Robert W. Unger
Androids have many benefits, one big flaw
Primitive androids, i.e., fully mobile computers with Watson-like intelligence, will have visual and auditory acuity; they will serve as caregivers for the baby boomers.
Within 20 years, they will have the diagnostic skills of an MD, know the signs of a stroke and heart attacks in men and women, which present differently, diagnose other health issues, call 911 sooner and save lives. They will do many of the tasks that a caregiver would do, e.g. monitor meds, be alert, never tire or get bored, and they will regale their patients with everything from idle banter to bawdy limericks.
Within 50 years, mass-produced fully “human” androids speaking all languages will cost less than $100,000. At this time, they will give shots, draw blood, change IVs and do all the tasks an RN would otherwise do.
They will dominate care within intensive care units, greatly reduce hospital-borne diseases through superior hygiene, reduce medication errors and replace four to six full-time staff, i.e. work as an RN, a 160-plus-hour work week, and handle all administrative duties. This will reduce ICU labor costs by 90 percent. Androids can also work below minimum wage.
We should invest $100 billion per year in Pentagon android research, a pittance compared to the stimulus package and a $10 trillion industry; America could again dominate the economy of the world, but will suffer massive unemployment.
Richard Moody Jr.
No choice but to take Time Warner’s terms
As Florida snowbirds, we take a break in Time Warner service for five months each year. We pay a monthly fee to keep our account on “vacation.”
Every year, Time Warner assures us we will have the same plan and price when we return, but it never happens.
In late March of this year, we called to arrange resuming service in April. Once again we were told the cost of our service would be much higher for the same package. After nearly an hour on the phone speaking to several service reps, we were assured of a price we agreed on. We were told that price quote would be “in our file” and would be honored when service resumed.
Of course, once again that did not happen. We were hit with a bill several days ago that was shocking and sickening.
After nearly 45 minutes on the phone with a sales rep and a manager, the quote still was not honored. For the first 30 minutes, the quote in our file “wasn’t found” — then it was located. We were given one option: Take a new promotion that included all kinds of channels and a box we did not want for $30 more than the agreed package, or resume our previous package for an even higher cost than the one with all the perks. Unbelievable.
We were supposed to feel better when the manager calmly said, “I understand your frustration.” We seriously considered switching to Verizon, but it is not available at this time in our area. Our only recourse is to discontinue service in the Fall, return all equipment and hope we get an almost fair price when we resume service as “new customers” in the spring. The manager advised that this was indeed the best option. It is a financial disadvantage to be long-term loyal customers.
If we discontinue service for five months, will we have to worry about having to take a new phone number and make dozens and dozens of changes? Time Warner knows there is no option but to be forced to take what they give us for whatever they decide to charge, or give up everything we’ve come to depend on: our phone, TV, WiFi.
Quite frankly, it’s apparent that Time Warner feels this is a fine way to do business.
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