Scotia-Glenville can use eminent domain

*Scotia-Glenville can use eminent domain *Don't single out guns for storage regulation *Woerner not

Scotia-Glenville can use eminent domain

On Jan. 14, The Gazette reported that the Scotia-Glenville Central School District will propose to buy three parcels of land, about 7.3 acres, with two houses and a business, adjacent to the high school on Sacandaga Road aka ST-147.

The Gazette quotes both Superintendent Susan Swartz and the school board president, presenting this as a one-time opportunity, although they have no current plan for use of the property, including the cost of development on these properties at further expense. A public meeting will be held on Feb. 8 at 6:30 p.m. at the middle school.

They propose to buy properties, valued by the town of Glenville assessor at perhaps $700,000, for $999,000. While I highly doubt the assessor’s valuation, the lack of government stewardship is astonishing. Like it or not, the government always has “eminent domain” authority under the “takings clause of the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution,” to seize property and recompense the property owners for the fair value of the seized property.

Both sides have an opportunity to hire independent appraisers. And as harsh as it may seem, our forefathers understood that the public’s interest superseded individual interests. If Scotia-Glenville needs this property, it will always be available. This is not a one-time opportunity. And since the property owner rarely gets attorney fees or costs, they should jump at the $700,000.

In 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court, in Kelo v. City of New London, greatly expanded this authority to allow the city to seize private property to give to another private property owner. This was done to revitalize New London, home of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. I write with some irony that prior to this, my grandfather’s house and many others a block from the Academy were seized by the Coast Guard so the Academy could expand. The Academy is across the Thames River from Groton, Conn., home to a major Navy submarine base with good jobs.

The proposal to pay nearly a 50 percent premium at taxpayers’ expense, with no plan, reflects a lack of sophistication. When the Thruway bridge in Montgomery County tragically collapsed, engineers within days had developed a proposed bypass. The Thruway Authority used eminent domain to seize farmland to build a road to the bypass.

The Scotia-Glenville Central School District can knock down every house on the other side of the high school and can acquire these three properties and do the same — it is not “landlocked.”

The lack of stewardship reflected in this proposal is disturbing. Go to the meeting and express your concerns.

Robert T. Dillon


Don’t single out guns for storage regulation

As a hunter safety instructor, I actively and assertively support safe gun storage. However, before we legislate what people do in their own homes, we should examine our legal principles: the blindfold that is seen on the image used to represent Justice is there to indicate that the principles of the law should be applied universally, not turned on and off for specific individuals, specific groups or specific issues.

The Albany city government has enacted mandatory gun storage regulations that include threats of fines and jail time if individuals don’t store their firearms according to the city requirements.

If an “improperly”-stored gun is stolen and used in a shooting, the owner of the gun is automatically subject to the maximum penalties listed under the law. One supporter asserted that if the law just saves one life, it will be worth the intrusion and penalties.

If we neutrally apply this principle, there are numerous laws that must follow. We know, for example, that heroin addiction is killing people across our state and that abuse of opioid pain killers is a leading pathway to heroin addiction. Neutral application would mandate storage requirements for Vicodin and Oxycontin.

Accident and mortality statistics show that far more deaths are caused by alcohol consumption than are caused by firearms. Alcoholism and alcohol-related trauma correlate heavily to underage drinking, and parents’ beverages are often the first source. Safe storage laws for alcohol and mandatory fines and jail sentences if consumption of stolen alcohol caused injury or death are quite likely to save a life.

Less than 2 percent of accidental child fatalities involve firearms. If we want to protect children from accidents and apply the Albany principle, then we would impose controls on the primary causes of child fatalities: storage requirements for household chemicals, house plants, etc., that cause poisonings, and fall protection around all stairs and windows.

Although I urge caution in all of the areas cited above, we have traditionally granted the right of all Americans to balance the risks within their home. We should be zealous in our efforts to educate, but we should be extremely hesitant to legislate. Justice shouldn’t peek around the blindfold to serve specific political agendas.

Norman Perazzo


Woerner not fighting against corruption

The recent convictions of former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos demonstrated how much time and energy those corrupt politicians spent exploiting their positions to enrich themselves and their families instead of focusing on the people’s business.

Silver was never elected to the speaker’s chair by the people. He was selected by his fellow Democrats. This came after all of his previous scandals. Among them were protecting his former staff council, who was accused of sexual assault, and later misusing over $100,000 to hush other staffers who were sexually harassed by his ally, Vito Lopez.

Our assemblywoman campaigned as a reformer. Yet her first official action was to repay Silver for the $388,082 he poured into her campaign by keeping him in power. When Silver was arrested, it took her an entire weekend to find her voice — which is supposed to be our voice — to finally call for him to step aside.

Rank and file lawmakers often fear stepping out of line with their “leaders” because of the enormous power they wield. That’s something our assemblywoman inadvertently acknowledged while discussing the Silver fiasco.

The assemblywoman would later select New York City’s Carl Heastie to replace Silver as speaker. Heastie in April appointed an all-Democrat group to deliver proposals to reform the Assembly. Except for two members from the city of Buffalo, everyone else in that group is from the metropolitan New York City area. Worse yet, this merry band of reformers operates in secret and is said to be “more concerned with perception and political power than moving on major reform.”

This past Tuesday [Jan. 12], Assembly Republicans forwarded 13 common sense reforms designed to empower all assembly members and the people they purport to represent. Claiming unexplained “technical problems” with the reforms, our assemblywoman voted against each and every proposal and told a reporter that she’s looking forward to the report by that very same secretive so-called reform group.

Carrie Woerner’s votes against reform are proof that she’s little more than a “go-along-to-get-along” enabler of the same old abuses of power that fostered the corruption we’ve been plagued with. Citing one of the reforms Woerner voted against, one media outlet asked: “If the Assembly can’t even pass a rule to stop votes on legislation that members have not read, what hope is there?”

The answer is a free press, an informed public, and Election Day.

Chris Boyark


Categories: Letters to the Editor

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