U.S. should support new nation for Kurds

*U.S. should support new nation for Kurds *Better manage water threatening Stockade *Moral responsib
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U.S. should support new nation for Kurds

After World War I, Britain and France were successful in dividing and controlling large areas of the Middle East. One of their goals was to create a country for the Kurdish people called Kurdistan.

However, due to the strong Turkish pressure and also Arab opposition, Britain and France backed away from creating an independent Kurdish nation. Instead, the Kurdish people now found themselves living in four nations — Iraq, Turkey, Syria and Iran. The Kurdish people’s desire for their own country would not happen.

In recent times, we see the Kurds fighting a vicious war against ISIS. While Iraqi soldiers flee from ISIS forces, leaving behind massive amounts of weapons — many supplied by the United States — the Kurds stand and fight. Their efforts have been successful on many fronts.

It is hard to understand why the United States continues to supply the Iraqi army with massive amounts of weapons when they simply do not have the will to fight, as opposed to the Kurds who do fight and receive few American weapons — except for air support.

I believe it is time for the United States to call for the creation of a Kurdish nation — they have earned it. At the very least, it should include large parts of Iraq and Syria. It would be a bright spot in the war-torn Middle East.

I feel strongly it would be a democracy. The area would then have two democracies, Israel and Kurdistan.

Jonas Kover

Amsterdam

Better manage water threatening Stockade

We have been following with keen interest the articles on Stockade flooding.

My wife and I first moved to the Stockade in 1970 when we fell in love with America’s oldest urban neighborhood. Over the years, my wife, Barbara, and I have worked to preserve and protect the Stockade by serving on The Stockade Association Board, The Heritage Foundation Board and many committees and events. We currently live at 19 Washington Ave., which is “inches” above the 500-year flood plain.

Nevertheless, our quality of life and financial investment in the Stockade (our home) are seriously threatened if a significant number of houses in the flood plain become blighted; and that is in addition to the irreparable harm that will be done to New York’s First Historic District. We believe fear of future flooding and escalating flood insurance rates make that blight inevitable unless something is done.

The best solution to this problem would be that better water management by the New York State Canal Corp. and the operators of Gilboa Dam could demonstrate, by analysis and procedure, to the Federal Emergency Management Agency that flooding of Stockade houses could be precluded. Then, the flood plain lines might be able to be redrawn so as to eliminate the flood insurance burden. That analysis should be performed, but I am not optimistic.

The nearly 24-hour duration of flooding from Tropical Storm Irene, and the very high flow rates of up to 130,000 cubic feet per second, make me believe that any measures would be overwhelmed before flow rates dropped appreciably from the peak.

Hardening houses against flooding will help reduce repair costs, but would not remove the burden of unsustainable flood insurance rates, which will make the houses unmarketable to all but a few risk takers who can pay cash up front.

In our opinion, that leaves the only financially viable alternative to be the raising of houses. But we find unacceptable the piecemeal raising of houses. It would, for most houses in the Stockade, irreparably harm the streetscape.

Thus, in our opinion, we come down to raising all the houses and the streets and sidewalks as the only good option. After much thought since Irene, we have come up with a plausible way to do that. Government grants would help, but not be critical, to our funding strategy.

T. Gregory Sauer

Schenectady

Moral responsibility to pay a livable wage

Recently, I testified at the Wage Board hearing in Albany. Since I was No. 171 of 173 on the docket, I had the opportunity to hear the testimonies of many people of all ages who work for fast food restaurants.

I was inspired, touched, enraged and heartbroken as I listened to them. Most of them had more than one job because not only do most fast food restaurants offer only minimum wage for their front-line workers, they also keep their hours below the number required to offer health insurance. To make things even more difficult, they change those hours week to week. The stress those work environments added to their workers’ lives was heartbreaking and unnecessary.

In contrast with stereotypes, the vast majority of those who testified were supporting children and families, and a couple of teenagers were even supporting their disabled parents or contributing to the inadequate wages of a parent who also works in the fast food industry.

Many of them had high school diplomas and some even college or other certifications, but had been unable to find better jobs in this lagging economy. They spoke of not being able to pay basic expenses of living and of the constant fear of being homeless. A number of them wept.

As a Christian, I know that God wept with them.

Some people tell these workers to get an education or find another job — but that advice is disingenuous. Most low-wage workers can’t afford schooling, if they can even find the time when juggling two or three jobs with shifting hours. Unfortunately, too, there are few higher paying jobs available. The reality is many of these workers are stuck, and that is a problem for all of us.

It’s an economic problem, because low wages are keeping working people from being able to spend money in our communities to help grow our economy. But more important to me, it’s a moral problem. My faith teaches that each and every person is valuable and worthy of dignity and respect. To pay a worker less than he or she needs to survive disrespects their humanity. To condemn workers and their families to poverty — with no way out — is unfair and immoral.

Raising the wage for fast food workers to $15 would make an enormous, immediate difference in the lives of those 180,000 workers, and it would be a first step toward raising wages for all workers who don’t yet earn a living wage.

Rev. Aline G. Russell

Stillwater

The writer is the interim pastor for the Stillwater United Church.

State audit vindicates Princetown practices

On Dec. 28, 2013, former Princetown Town Clerk Carol McClaine resigned her position without warning under the pretext that the Town Board, staff and myself were partaking in “financial irregularities.”

Ms. McClaine resigned her position just days before being sworn in for a new four-year term she narrowly won in November. She said she feared being associated with these “financial irregularities” she claimed she witnessed in Town Hall (Gazette, Dec. 31, 2013, “Princetown clerk quits, blames Town Board”). A few days later, The Daily Gazette published an editorial stating that McClaine’s allegations were “concrete and appear to be serious” and that the state should investigate them.

In January 2014, it published a full editorial supporting the position that these allegations be investigated. [Note: the town still has not seen a copy of the allegations that McClaine had sent to The Gazette or to the New York State Comptroller’s office.].

As town supervisor, I responded to these allegations with a letter to the editor, saying that not only do I support and encourage an audit, I would write the Office of the State Controller a letter requesting an audit, which I did.

In January 2015, OSC auditors executed the on-site audit, and the process was completed after five weeks. As noted in your June 12 edition, Princetown was the only town, of 10 audited, that had a positive report. There were “No Findings — Zero.” And in fact the OSC auditors made a special note to commend the town “for designing and implementing a system of controls over the approval and payment of vouchers.”

McClaine waited until the last Sunday of 2013 to send an email stating her intention to resign, effective Dec. 31, 2013. The town had little more than 48 hours to prepare for the busy season — tax collection. McClaine and others have made allegations against my administration and all have proven to be false. As with the results of their four previous discrimination complaints, these audits showed there was no wrong-doings.

Seven months after she was out of office, McClaine filed a complaint against the town for her third time, and for the third time — no wrong doings, no findings. The results of these unfounded allegations has been unnecessary financial cost to the taxpayers, stress and the additional hours to support the audit, and 400-plus man hours for the state auditors, along with the legal costs for the discrimination complaints. Most importantly, these false public statements have undermined the residents’ trust in the Town Board.

Princetown is a small community. The upheaval and wasted resources that McClaine’s allegations have caused cannot be undone. We should expect a higher level of personal responsibility from an elected official, who had sworn an oath to serve the residents that elected her.

One can only wonder about her motivations and whether she actually has the town’s best interest at heart.

Michael Joyce

Princetown

Categories: Letters to the Editor

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