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Letters to the Editor for Thursday, May 7

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Categories: Letters to the Editor, Opinion

Trump breaks first rule of a president

Donald Trump is an embarrassment. And the rule is, never embarrass your country.
Philip Maddaus
Scotia

Create safer spaces for outdoor activity

As chairman of the new bicycle advocacy organization Cycle Schenectady, I heartily endorse Gazette columnist Sara Foss’s idea of creating more space on the city’s streets for pedestrians and cyclists during the coronavirus pandemic (“Quarantine fatigue? Well, you’re not alone,” April 30).
Many communities have begun doing just that.
The lockdown doesn’t mean you have to stay cooped up inside. It’s perfectly safe to get outdoors, as long as you keep at least six feet away from other people. In fact, it’s vital for your physical and mental health.
With far fewer cars on the road, many streets now look deserted. And one can see just how much street there is, a huge network of asphalt devoted to cars. At the same time, how little room there is for nondrivers (pedestrians and cyclists) to move about safely.
It’s clear that people want to be outside. Area bike paths and sidewalks are so crowded that it can be impossible to keep a safe distance from others.
Meanwhile, the relatively few cars on the road have more room than ever and are often speeding as a result.
Now is the time to reclaim some of that unused auto infrastructure. Close parks and some streets to automobile traffic so pedestrians and cyclists can use them worry-free.
Extend sidewalks. Create pop-up bike lanes, with paint or even cones. And lower speed limits.
Safe outdoor space is something that Schenectady residents need, and their leaders can easily give them, right now.
Art Clayman
Schenectady

No more delays on reopening economy

Enough! Open all businesses and government offices now.
Employers and their employees and unions are perfectly capable of implementing known, prudent safeguards for both employees and customers.
Customers will decide if a business or public office has safeguards to suit them.
Tom Minnick
Ballston Lake

Performing comes with hidden costs

Even as stages around the world sit silent, Mr. Calkins’ May 2 letter (“Stunned by what performers are paid”) needs an answer. He asked if fees James Taylor and John Legend would have earned, $600,000 and $500,000, respectively, for a (cancelled) Times Union Center show were excessive.
Well, no. Taylor and Legend built the skills and visibility to create demand for their services.  This hard work of decades went unpaid or poorly paid early on.
Both perform with top talent who cost, every day: fees for performing, travel expenses, lodging, catering, wardrobe, instruments.
Frank Zappa told me in 1988, before his last-ever tour began at Albany’s Palace Theater, he’d spent more than $1 million on auditions and rehearsals; stage, lighting and sound design – all before the first ticket was sold.
Drivers guide buses and trucks between shows, in any weather. Backstage techs supervise local labor to build the stage, rig lights and sound systems, instruments and amps; then pack them for the next show. They all must be paid, while drivers and tour techs also need catering and lodging every day on tour.
Presenting shows means building rental, insurance and house staff including security, cleaners, box office and back-office workers. Even counting box office money costs money.
So, no; the fees James Taylor and John Legend – and armies of backstage pros – would have earned at the Times Union Center are not excessive.
Michael Hochanadel
Schenectady
The writer is a Gazette music columnist.

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