New York

Letters to the Editor for Monday, Oct. 29

Your Voice
A portion of downtown Schenectady in 2016
A portion of downtown Schenectady in 2016

Time to revisit the charm of downtowns

With malls struggling, towns and villages might take a look at their downtowns and bring back the unique stores that in bygone days made them so different.

Going to the mall doesn’t compare with the individual shops where the owners actually knew their merchandise and would offer some valuable assistance and product information.

I have great memories of taking the bus with my grandmother to downtown Schenectady. We would visit the Carl Company and take the elevator to the upper level with the help of the elevator operator. 

We would shop at Barney’s and Wallace’s, stop at the soda fountain in Woolworth’s for lunch and a treat, and spend the rest of the day looking at clothing in Lerner’s. Just spending time with my grandmother going store to store was a great day, even if we didn’t buy much. On Thursday nights, the stores were open until 9 p.m. 

There were several theaters as well, where I saw my first movie with my dad. At times, you could barely move on State Street with the crowds.

Downtown is just much more fun than any mall. Once you’ve been to one mall, you have been to them all. They all have the same stores and none are unique.

Gina Sauter


Tedisco is a strong voice for education

A couple of years ago, I proudly wrote a letter in support of Jim Tedisco. As the 2018 election cycle moves full steam ahead, I would once again like to share why I am on Tedisco’s Team.

As an educator myself, I appreciate Jim’s tireless devotion to advocating for students and teachers alike. In fact, I recently heard someone refer to Jim as a “children’s and parent’s political guardian angel.” He has fought tirelessly against the Common Core and has advocated for the state to stop the overuse of standardized testing. Jim has sponsored some very important pieces of legislation, including Jacobe’s Law, to ensure schools notify parents when children are bullied. 

Jim supports fair funding for schools and has secured money for some of the neediest districts in the area. Jim truly puts his “money where his mouth is” since he is one of the only elected officials that has actually ever stepped foot into a classroom. When those in office try to create policies that are not in the best interests of children or teachers, you better believe that Jim will be there fighting against those practices and ideals. He will continue to be a strong voice for children, parents, and educators in the 49th Senate District. 

Rita Rhodes

Ballston Lake

Also today in Opinion

Elect who we need not who we have

U.S. Interior Department adviser Downey Magallanes finished shrinking Native American monuments (land) for drilling and mining corporations and scaled back ocean rules (remember BP oil spill?) before moving onto a high-paying “government affairs” job for BP Oil.

New York state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli’s assistant, who pushed Big Oil stocks in the state retirement fund (which lost NY taxpayers billions), just retired and took a 1/3-million-dollar board position (six meetings a year) with Williams Companies, an oil pipeline corporation.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo made a Williams Companies lobbyist (Maggie Moran) his campaign manager.

It’s one thing to sell their souls to Big Oil, but they’re selling our kids’ future. We can’t vote for these corporate crony politicians.  I recommend moral, clean, Green Party candidates Howie Hawkins and Mark Dunlea for governor and comptroller. Perhaps it’s better to vote for what we need until we get it than to keep voting for what we don’t want and keep getting that.

Peter Looker



Save benefits of St. Clare’s employees

In the 20 years I lived on Willow Avenue, I got to know the St. Clare’s employees who lived in our Central State Street neighborhood. 

It’s devastating to read the Oct. 21 Gazette article that 1,129 former employees of St. Clare’s Hospital now face the termination of their pensions or a reduction in benefits. 

A Jan. 18, 2008, Daily Gazette article about the closure of St. Clare’s Hospital noted: “St. Clare’s is a key part of the safety net that provides primary care services to people with little no or health insurance in Schenectady County. Its emergency room is the third busiest in the Capital Region, but more than half of its visitors have little or no coverage.”

So the irony is that these dedicated employees who were a “safety net” are now facing an uncertain financial future where they may not be able to afford medication, quality medical care, and a wide number of other expenses. This is happening to them while many are, to be blunt, in the last decades of their lives and unable to seek new jobs. 

That 2008 Gazette article also noted that “Ellis received a $50 million grant to fully cover St. Clare’s employee pension obligations, totaling $28.5 million, and to settle St. Clare’s debts, for employee severance and medical malpractice costs and to cover operating costs associated with the McClellan Street campus.” 

I urge The Gazette to keep covering this story and seek solutions for this injustice.

Betsy Sandberg



Press distorts record to humiliate Trump

The press coverage of the disappearance and apparent murder of Jamal Khashoggi would be humorous if the event wasn’t so tragic, or if the coverage wasn’t such a sad commentary on those that control information in the country.

Turkish President Recep Erdogan is among the biggest enemies of free press in the world. Just two years ago, mass arrests gave Turkey the distinction of being the largest jailer of journalists in the world. But now, according to Dr. Henri Barkey (PBS NewsHour Oct. 23), details of murder and torture leaked by Erdogan’s regime are reported as fact, though there’s no corroborating evidence of their accuracy.

Dr. Barkey isn’t a pro-Trump hack: rather he’s a renowned Middle Eastern scholar and a former member of the Clinton State Department. Dr. Barkey also cast doubt on Turkish claims of recordings in the embassy. 

Why would the press dance to Erdogan’s fiddle? Because it’s a chance to embarrass the Trump administration over its relationship with the Saudi royal family. Any enemy of Trump is their friend. While painting the Saudi dilemma as Trump’s problem, they forget Barack Obama was a zealous apologist for the awful human rights records in the Kingdom, that Obama fought efforts to pass laws that would allow 9/11 victims to sue the Saudis, and that his secretary of state’s foundation accepted millions of dollars from them.

I’m no Trump fan, but I wish the press attacks would stop short of serving the likes of Erdogan.

Norman Perazzo



Hold presidents to higher standards

“Starving The South” by Andrew F. Smith doesn’t make the Union look good at all. “Colonization After Emancipation” by Magness and Page talk about Lincoln’s plan to deport blacks out of the United States after the Civil War. Eisenhower has been accused of starving hundreds of thousands of German POWs after World War II.

There’s also those we know did a lot of bad: Roosevelt, Truman, Johnson, Nixon, the second Bush, Obama and Trump had brutal wars and of course there was Bill Clinton. If we’re going to hold high standards for a Supreme Court nominee, should we hold even higher standards for the presidency?

Now Saudi Arabia is in the news. Kavanaugh’s treatment of women got a lot of attention, while Saudi Arabia’s treatment of women gets a lot less attention, all things considered.

The presidents talk about human rights a lot, but if we care more about Saudi Arabia’s oil than about their treatment of women, that doesn’t look too good. It’s for reasons like that some of us believe conspiracies.

Colin Yunick



Ackerley is best choice for Sch’ty county clerk

Cara Jasenski Ackerley is the clear choice for Schenectady County clerk. She has a unique combination of experience, departmental knowledge and passion for customer service, having served as deputy county clerk under current County Clerk John Woodward since January 2012.  

She also led the relocation of the DMV office from downtown to the Woodlawn neighborhood in the city, which has benefited both DMV customers and the neighborhood business district.

The county clerk must have an eye for detail. The smallest error can mean a world of difference when it comes to deeds, mortgages and other legal documents. The county clerk collects, accounts for and disburses hundreds of thousands of dollars. These transmittals must be accurate and timely.

Cara will carry on the tradition of service and high standards set by John Woodward, who has endorsed her to succeed him. I know that she will do a great job for the people of Schenectady County, and that’s why I will be voting for Cara Jasenski Ackerley on Election Day.

Ed Kosiur


The writer is a Schenectady city councilman.


Santabarbara works to protect our health

It has been my honor to serve the children of Amsterdam and the surrounding areas as a pediatric specialist for 47 years. Their health, well-being and education have always been my top priority, and that’s why I’m supporting Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara’s re-election.

I’ve watched Angelo consistently put the health of our kids, families and community first. He’s made sure the voices of individuals with disabilities are heard so their needs can be met and they get the support they need from a young age. 

One of his most important accomplishments this past year was standardizing early autism screenings. I know first-hand what a difference early intervention can make. It can help young children with development and learning.

I’ve also seen how Angelo’s work is helping protect families. I’ve supported him in his fight to combat Lyme disease. I’m hopeful that together with Angelo’s work, we can continue keeping our families healthy.

I’m proud to support Angelo Santabarbara’s re-election so that he can continue his great work protecting the health, safety and well-being of our community.

Govind C.K. Rao 



Cobb won’t cave to the NRA’s lobbyists 

After living overseas for seven years, I returned to a very different United States than the one I left. 

Assaults on our freedoms and protections combined with hyper-partisanship have spurred me toward political activism for the first time in my life.

I attended my first political march earlier this year, the March For Our Lives in Washington, D.C. 

The students from Parkland and elsewhere shared their horrific experience at the hands of an unstable person with access to a military weapon designed to kill multiple people simultaneously. Why would anyone allow this to reoccur?

I can’t support Rep. Elise Stefanik’s vote allowing gun ownership by individuals who a court has deemed incompetent to manage their own affairs. Why did she also vote in favor of allowing residents of other states to carry concealed weapons into New York state? Both of these positions defy common sense. They point only toward someone who ignores the interests of her constituents and caves to interests of the NRA lobbyists instead. I intend to make my vote count this year. I will vote for someone who has not taken money from the NRA and therefore can be an independent voice. I will vote for Tedra Cobb.

Stephen Sassaman

Saratoga Springs


Vote against GOP deficit and cutbacks

Fiscal responsibility has been abandoned by the GOP. Sen. Mitch McConnell and Rep. Paul Ryan appear more than willing to make Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid cuts while the federal deficit explodes beyond tenable.

The wealthiest Americans benefited from the huge 40 percent tax cuts recently. The federal deficit ballooned 17 percent from $666 billion to $779 billion. The president is now suggesting a middle class tax cut of 10 percent as a ploy to garner votes. Conveniently, Congress can’t vote on this proposal until after Election Day.

Congressional leaders are facing significantly reduced tax revenues. Cutting Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid benefits to many Americans in order to keep the deficit below $1 trillion seems challenging and disastrous to millions of us. Who benefits?

Short of ending the Social Security withholding cap, current GOP administrators may have the dubious distinction of having created a record-breaking trillion-dollar deficit. That disastrous burden falls on the shoulders of my children and grandchildren.

Make America with Great Deficit is not the hat I want to wear. Consider these repercussions on Nov. 6. Please vote your conscience.

John Coffenberg



Fight supervisor plan to raise Nisky taxes

I was alarmed by Niskayuna Supervisor Yasmine Syed’s proposal to raise taxes on town residents. It’s particularly concerning given the negative impact President Trump’s new tax law, which because of its limits on deducting property and income taxes in excess of $10,000 per year, has disproportionately inflicted more pain on residents in towns like Niskayuna than in other towns in America.  

Ms. Syed ran on her “expertise” in budgetary issues and her commitment to lessening the tax burden for Niskayuna residents — be it through more vigorous scrutiny of existing expenses, improved management of spending or by gaining a larger share of the county tax pie. 

Yet in her first budget cycle, she has accomplished none of these. More concerning is her seeming lack of engagement in the process. After releasing her budget, she has been virtually silent on it. 

When the 2 percent tax cut for 2018 was discussed, there were citizens questioning whether this cut was a political move to secure votes. The Town Board members, all of whom were on the board when the cut was passed, today remain committed to retaining that cut for 2019. The only new member of the team – Supervisor Syed – has proposed an increase.  I hope those same concerned citizens will speak out again. 

Ms. Syed’s lack of budgetary discipline, coupled by her party’s recent federal tax legislation, threaten to take more money out of the pockets of Niskayuna’s families. I applaud the Town Board’s willingness to improve Syed’s proposal.

Kaleigh Reid



Cobb has the right experience, positions

I recently attended a rally for Tedra Cobb in Gloversville. She’s running for U.S. Congress in New York’s 21st District stretching from Route 50 in Ballston Spa all the way to the Canadian border and St. Lawrence River. I was impressed with several facets of her experience. 

First, Ms. Cobb has lived, worked and raised a family in this district since college.

She’s run several businesses and nonprofits in the district, so she knows fiscal discipline. She’s been elected to her county legislature three times, so she already knows what constituent service is all about.

And her work experience includes energy renewability. She’s extremely focused on renewable energy and health insurance issues and how she can improve each. As to her personality and character, she told us that three of her most respected female political mentors happen to be registered Republicans.

She’s a Democrat, but clearly believes in working with anyone moving in the same direction on issues, regardless of party. On Nov. 6, I urge voters to consider Tedra Cobb for U.S. Congress.

David Gibson

Ballston Lake

Also today in Opinion

Ostrelich will fight to ensure health care

All Americans deserve health care as a right, not a privilege. This guarantee of protection should never be dependent on job coverage or economic earnings. A health care system where individuals in need have to determine whether they can afford uncovered prescription or medical costs is a broken system. No one should ever have to rely on Go Fund Me for economic help during a medical crisis.

Here in New York, the Health Care Act passed several times in the Assembly, only to be stalled in the Senate. Sen. James Tedisco serves on the Health Committee and has a viable seat at the table. All 31 members of the Democratic Caucus have signed on to this bill. If the New York Senate can flip just one seat this Nov. 6, this act could pass.

The Rand Corporation, a national and non-partisan think tank, issued a study that confirms billions of dollars could be saved yearly by reducing administrative costs, insurance prices and high drug costs due to the tremendous bargaining power the state would have with providers after passage of the Health Care Act.

Michelle Ostrelich, the Democratic candidate running against Tedisco, has my vote because she will fight for the New York Health Care Act and bring the right of equal and affordable medical care to all New Yorkers.

Donna Wojcik



Keep armed security in Saratoga schools

I’m relatively new to Saratoga Springs and love living here. After all, what’s not to like? Well, nothing, except knowing that the school board has decided to make our schools and our children less safe by disarming the specially trained and experienced staff who have protected the schools and children with no adverse incidents for 30 years.

Decisions like this have consequences. I’m not sure what the intended consequences were, the (I hope) unintended consequence is less safety for the children in the schools.

Evil is real, and it does exist, and it has occurred in other schools. It hasn’t occurred here – yet – in at least some measure due to armed safety personnel in our schools. 

Armed school personnel have two vital roles: as a deterrent because they make our schools a “harder” target; and as a force to repel or stop an evil assault in the most timely fashion possible.

Yes, school board trustees are entitled to their own views and I’m sure there must be some intended benefits to disarming the safety staff in the schools. But the unintended (I hope) consequences can be disastrous. Their decision is contrary to the advice given them at a recent board meeting by state and local police and by local safety and security staff, including their own former chief of police who has offered to help them implement a better plan. It also apparently ignores the preponderance of evidence showing the real benefit of armed staff on school campuses.

Their decision must be reversed. And we should not have to wait until the next school board election in May 2019 to do so.

Laura Bradigan

Saratoga Springs


Santabarbara fights for what’s important

On Election Day, Nov. 6, I ask you to join me in voting for my friend and a friend of Rotterdam, Angelo Santabarbara.

If you live in this town, you know Angelo because he’s always around finding ways to help our town. He led the fight to save Rotterdam EMS here in our town. Like many Rotterdam residents, I have a deep appreciation for Rotterdam EMS and understand how important it is that it remains a part of our community. Unfortunately, not too long ago we came close to losing Rotterdam EMS. Like many residents, I was very worried that we couldn’t stop this from happening.

Assemblyman Santabarbara was the only one who stood up for us and made sure our voices were heard. Because of his help we still have Rotterdam EMS today and its dedicated volunteers to serve our community when we are sick or injured.

I support Angelo because he fights for us – there’s nothing too big and nothing too small. He’s been there to fight against unfair cable TV pricing and overcharging, to make sure people get the propane they need to have heat in the winter, to fight against National Grid rate hikes and fighting for General Electric retirees to get back the health care benefits they’ve earned.

Whenever we need Angelo, he’s always here for us. He cares about Rotterdam. That’s why I hope you’ll join me in voting for Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara on Nov. 6.

Fran Pugliese



Cobb will support what matters to us

The midterm congressional election on Nov. 6 is considered the most important in a generation. If you are undecided who to vote for in the 21st Congressional District race, please let me offer a thought. Ask yourself: “What do I believe in?”

• Do you believe that affordable healthcare is a basic human right?

• Do believe that our environment is precious and we need someone who will fight the polluters and dirty energy?

• Do you believe that Social Security is an earned benefit, not an entitlement, and is worth protecting?

• Do you believe that public service should come before political gain?

• Do you believe that big money and special interests have distorted politics?

• Do you believe that your elected representative should actually live and pay taxes in NY-21?

• Do you believe that your elected representative should have regular open town hall meetings with voters?

• Do you believe that people are more important than party?

If you answered ‘yes’ to even half these questions, your choice is clear. The North Country needs a real champion in Congress. Vote for someone you can believe in – Tedra Cobb. 

Jill Nadolski



Support charter changes in Spa City

Saratoga Springs Mayor Meg Kelly’s approach to charter change has been consistent with her refreshing focus on consensus building in city management.  Her goal was to rework the charter to reflect the evolving demands of running our city. 

She selected her fellow council members and their deputies as her charter commission’s members.  No one would better understand the problems engendered by the current charter’s requirements in running the city than the people who are in the trenches every day. 

The council members also brought with them the legitimacy that they were leaders elected by the people of our city. Not all had supported the commission form of government in the past, but all were committed to working cooperatively to make improvements in our current charter, and all changes that will go to the voters were unanimously approved by all commission members.

Chaired by the city Attorney, Mayor Kelly’s commission has produced a thoughtful document with plenty of input from the public. The city was well served by this commission and its work deserves approval by the voters by voting yes on ballot Question No. 1 on Nov. 6. Ballot questions will appear on the back of the ballot.

John Kaufmann

Saratoga Springs

Also today in Opinion

Categories: Letters to the Editor, Opinion

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