Religion not a reason to deny presidency

*Religion not a reason to deny presidency *Convicted legislator should repay jail cost *Whatever hap

Religion not a reason to deny presidency

The outlandish idiocy of the notion that Muslims are disqualified to serve as president needs to be put to rest. The Constitution itself, as many have argued, clearly states, “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States” (Article VI, paragraph 3). Nevertheless, other realities should be noted.

First of all, Roman Catholics should remember their relatively recent experience. In 1928 and 1960, when Al Smith and John Kennedy, both Catholics, ran for president, both faced scorn from those who claimed that if elected, Smith and Kennedy would be bound by obedience to orders from the Vatican — a condition which disqualified them to serve as president of the United States. Now, in similar fashion, we are being told that a Muslim president would be forced to obey Sharia Law above the U.S. Constitution. How quickly we forget.

Furthermore, if we accept their prejudiced logic, then candidates like Mike Huckabee, who is certainly not Muslim, have disqualified themselves already. He (and, I believe, several others) embrace their right to follow the “Law of God” above the judgments of the U.S. Supreme Court, especially with regard to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender, questioning rights. They certainly have the right to do so, but their decision to do so comes with consequences when they violate their oath of office to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

Finally, if Muslims place Sharia Law above the Constitution, then they are ineligible to serve in any official position that requires an oath to defend state and federal constitutions. They cannot serve in the any of the nation’s urban police forces, they cannot service in the U.S. military, they cannot serve in any state or federal political office (including county clerk of Rowan County, Kentucky), much less president of the United States.

Enough of the frivolous, obtuse, inane and fundamentally un-American rhetoric.

Denis Brennan


Convicted legislator should repay jail cost

Let me get this straight so I can understand how our system works.

William Boyland, former assemblyman, has been sentenced to 14 years in state prison for ripping the people of New York for $70,000 with false travel vouchers. He also took kickbacks and bribes to line his pockets. It was said that he has no money, so the taxpayers paid the bill for his public defenders. Just add insult to injury, he is still going to get his pension when he gets out of jail, more taxpayer money.

So for the next 10 to 14 years, we taxpayers will be on the hook to feed, house, clothe and take care of any medical issues that may come up. I’m sure the $70,000 will be a drop in the bucket compared to the total cost of locking him up.

He should have to find a way to cash in his retirement and use that money to pay back to society.

Of course, we know that this won’t happen. Some how we need to send a message to end corruption in our state.

Paul St. Onge


Whatever happened to showing respect?

In the Sept. 25 Gazette, there was an article, “Exercise your rights or risk losing them,” talking about some person, (I purposely am not using his name or the name of the writer of said article), having the “freedom” to give this police officer the finger. Yes, sadly, this is the law. But where is respect in all of this?

First of all, how many people know that this is a law and second why would anyone have to prove his/her rights by just “flipping off” an officer trying to do his job to protect and serve us? While I do not agree with the force used in this matter, the whole issue could have been a non-issue.

Respect, in some instances, has gone out the window to some within our society. When this happens, society itself is at stake. Have we become too politically correct? I think so in some cases. But we have to act as responsible citizens and know when to use our rights. It seems to me rights have taken on a different connotation in recent years. Rights like freedom to vote, practice your religion, equality for all, to name just a few, are the “rights” that were fought for.

Frankly, giving the finger to a public servant is just a sad law and is not “right” whatsoever.

Vincent F. Carelli


Due diligence is being taken in the Stockade

As a member of the Schenectady Historic District Commission (HDC), I thought it might be useful for me to address some statements made in your Sept. 16 editorial [“Time for answer on house raising”] concerning the elevating, filling and moving of the house at 4 Washington Ave. in the Stockade Historic District floodplain.

I should stress that these are my own opinions; they are not to be construed as representing positions of other HDC commissioners or of the commission as a whole.

In your editorial, you charged the HDC with “delaying” and “shirking of responsibility” because we voted to table the Washington Avenue matter until we should hear from the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (known as SHPO). Unfortunately, you did not explain why we were tabling the application.

By law, SHPO is required to opine on historic property projects that involve federal or state funding. The Washington Avenue application involves both: federal money from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and state money from the New York Rising flood-relief program.

Consequently, no matter what the HDC might decide at this moment, the project cannot proceed until SHPO delivers its findings. We at the HDC would, in fact, be shirking our responsibility if we were to proceed with this application without knowing SHPO’s opinion. That agency has vastly greater resources than we have and it employs some of the most knowledgeable preservation experts in the state. It would be foolhardy to act before we have the benefit of their opinion.

You also state that the applicant “has submitted a completed application,” and, indeed, that term was used during the Sept. 14 meeting. But, in fact, this is a misnomer. An application is not technically “complete” until all the commissioners’ relevant questions have been answered. One commissioner noted that he still has a page–long list of details about which he needs answers. I asked for information that the applicant and her architect agreed to supply but which I have not, as of this writing, received.

In addition, a complete application for a complicated project like this must include such things as scale construction drawings and specifications for fit-and-finish materials. All that documentation has not yet been provided. Also at the Sept. 14 meeting, the architect presented, for the first time, a new location for siting the building, which the commission had never seen before.

You may say that I and my fellow commissioners “wring their hands and whine,” but I would say that we are seeking to do what no one in Schenectady appears to have done in almost 400 years: we’re trying to figure out how to mitigate the terrible damage that floods create in the Stockade and at the same time preserve the integrity of what is the oldest historic district in New York state.

Frank Donegan


County can’t ignore impact of mandates

In the Sept. 26 editorial, “Don’t tempt fate on tax cap,” The Gazette compared trying to operate a complex county government to the superstitious rituals that athletes might use to keep a hitting streak going or a winning season intact.

The author seemed to think that if we only whisper in secret about raising taxes rather than being honest and open with the taxpayers, we might somehow keep our “lucky streak” intact in Schoharie County.

Holding the line on property taxes, which are already far too high in New York state, is not a matter of good luck. The Gazette was dead wrong when it implied that by openly discussing the possibility of exceeding the cap, that I as budget officer might somehow “jinx” the county. It is the public’s money we are talking about here, and they have a right to know the truth in all cases — even if the news is bad.

When it comes to county governments somehow managing to hold the line on property taxes while at the same time being forced by the state to take on more and more of their programs without being given any money to pay for them — the news is indeed bad. County government has only two sources of funding: property taxes and sales tax.

Sales tax revenues are flat or down across the state, and property taxes are capped. Even when a frugal county like Schoharie does everything it can to hold the line on spending (eliminating jobs, trimming programs, delaying the replacement of aging vehicles, for example), it doesn’t take much to drive up operating costs.

Decisions made by the Board of Supervisors relating to discretionary special projects, such as the ill-fated and bloated stream bank repair project, are certainly a part of the problem. Far more so however, are the state mandates that drive most of the county’s annual budget. In fact, the nine state mandates that counties in New York are obligated to pay for take up fully 100 percent of the property tax levy.

That means that on average across this state, not one cent of the county property taxes that you pay is used to fund the Sheriff’s Road Patrol or for snow plowing, road and bridge maintenance, E-911 Dispatching, EMT responders, or other programs. So if you live in a county where some of these programs are still intact, and where your county leaders have managed to somehow keep the lights on and the roads paved while also managing to stay under the tax cap, don’t thank your lucky stars. Thank the county employees and department heads who are constantly doing more work, and doing it with less money.

And when your county government has exhausted its financial reserves in an effort to stay under the tax cap while bending under the weight of unfunded state mandates, it won’t be because their lucky streak has ended. It will be because county government can’t keep the Department of Public Works trucks on the road and the police cars on patrol when the gas tanks are running on empty.

If taxpayers want real property tax reform and significantly lower property taxes, contact your state legislator and tell them to restructure how state government pays for its programs. Because when it comes to paying for them through local property taxes while also somehow managing to stay under the tax cap – our luck has run out.

William Cherry


Categories: Letters to the Editor

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