New York

Letters to the Editor for Saturday, May 23

Your Voice

Categories: Letters to the Editor, Opinion

Hope covid spurs lifestyle changes

Although contagions, such as the coronavirus clearly need to be taken seriously, an equal amount of time and effort should be emphasized on the risk factors of hospitalizations and death when such contagions are present.
A recent study in the AMA Journal of New York City patients indicates 94% of COVID hospitalizations had at least one chronic health problem, 88% had two or more.
The top four are high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, and COPD.
Putting this in perspective, according to CDC, 872,000 deaths per year are attributed to these four conditions.
I would hope the message from Gov. Cuomo, CDC and Dr. Fauci would put less emphasis on age as a risk factor and more on the presence of these more obvious risk factors, mostly caused by lifestyle habits.
Poor eating/exercise habits and smoking being the most evident causes. There are genetic and environmental factors in these conditions, but these represent a clear minority.
There are plenty of older Americans that appear to be no more at risk than their younger counterparts due to positive health practices.
The media likes to show the outliers, the few younger and healthier that are affected more seriously by COVID-19.
We don’t have all the answers to COVID-19, but we do know that any serious contagion will be deadly to the citizens in the poorest of health. The pity being that better health and better resistance to disease can be achieved with changes in lifestyle. Will this pandemic be a wake-up call?
Thomas Houghtalen
The writer is a doctor of physical therapy

Love reading our hometown paper

Great “high fives” saluting former Gazette staffers in the Sunday, May 17, edition (“Former Gazette staffers are making their mark.”) I am 72 years old and have been reading The Gazette forever.
Growing up here, my parents had the paper delivered since 1954. Even when I lived in Virginia for a couple years, yes, I had it delivered.
Great reports come from a great hometown paper and staffers. Love my hometown paper.
Diane Sanders Hombach

It’s time to kill Dead End signs

It’s time to kill off the Dead End sign. I can’t believe it’s been almost 50 years since the first Dead End sign was utilized in the early 1970s. It originated in the 1930s. I’m finally seeing the newer “No Outlet” signs being posted on developing streets. No Outlet is a friendlier phrase than Dead End. Contact your local highway department and ask them to update the Dead End sign to No Outlet.
Otherwise, until then, I’m not going down that street no matter how beautiful it may be.
Mitch Walsh
North Greenbush


How has our country come so undone?

This probably isn’t the most educationally crafted letter, but I’m frankly mentally exhausted by the blame game the politicos are playing, and the national news is eating it up like the tastiest meal ever and terrifying the American people.
I’m just wondering why the most powerful country in the world has managed to come to its knees in just two months so easily. And before anyone freaks out and says it’s the coronavirus you dummy, look at the past. This country managed somehow to not completely fall apart.
Kathryn Harding

History backs need for a Democrat now

We need a Democrat to rescue us from Republican destruction of the nation. When Republican President Herbert Hoover led the country into the 1930s Great Depression, it was Democrat President Franklin D. Roosevelt who saved us.
When Republican Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush created the 1990s budget deficit, it was Democratic President Bill Clinton who established a surplus. Republican President George W. Bush squandered the surplus, cutting taxes and spending over a trillion dollars on the Iraq War that generated the Great Recession.
It took Democratic President Barack Obama two years to lead us into the Great Recovery, saving the auto industry and banking system from total collapse. After riding Obama’s recovery the first three years of his presidency, Republican Donald Trump wasted two or more months in 2020 ignoring the COVID-19 crisis, destroying the economy. So, there is more than enough history to show that we need an experienced Democrat, Joe Biden, to lead us out of this wasteland. Trump is willing to kill us with COVID-19 which is sure to send the economy into a Depression. Biden has successfully managed the Ebola response and the Great Recession. It’s time to be rescued by Democrat Joe Biden.
Raymond Harris


Passing along mom’s wise lessons for life

My mother taught me:
1. Pull your hat down and don’t make eye contact.
2. If people insist on being stupid, don’t waste your good time. A deck has no roof; a porch has a roof. Simple.
3. An engine is gas or diesel; a motor is electric.
4. Men are geared to boss; I was born with a brain. Don’t boss; help.
5. Auntie Acid says, “If you don’t like where you are, move. You’re not a tree.”
6. My father taught me, “Stay out of debt.”
7. One day you’ll just be a memory to some people. Be a good, honest one.
8. People only understand from their level of stupidity. (Auntie Acid)
9.  Common sense is not common. Most people don’t have it.
10. Save “for a rainy day.” A lot of people have not; too bad.
11. Get to know your bank manager.
12. One world government, communism, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton wanted that. It would have been a world dictatorship. Thank heaven they got slowed down some.
13. Being rich won’t make you happy, but you’ll have more money, so learn how to take care of it. Happy is free.
14. Don’t say “Sorry” unless you really are, and don’t do it again. Don’t be a jerk.
15. Maxine said, “Nobody would look at my rear if it weren’t for my bumper stickers.”
Eunice Kilmer

Fondly remembering Newest Luncheon

I was sorry to hear about the passing of Mr. Pananikos the owner of Newest Luncheon.
I was born and raised in Schenectady. From the time I can remember, my friends and I always headed to the restaurant after a dance or event to get those good ‘ole hot dogs with the mysterious sauce.
Even though we were young “negroes,” (as we were called back then), we were never disrespected or discriminated against. The staff was always courteous. I can’t remember any of us being disrespectful or raucous.
It was a place where both white folks and “negroes” gathered for lunch. Whenever I was home, the first place I went was to Newest for my hot dogs.
Things have changed since then, but I will always remember Newest as a place of peace. Please convey my condolences to the family.
Hazel Hall
Dover, Delaware

Trump demonstrates why he’s not like Ike

Here are two Republican presidents in contrast.
Army General and future president Dwight Eisenhower writing in 1944 in the event the D-Day invasion had failed: “Our landings in the Cherbourg-Havre area have failed to gain a satisfactory foothold and I have withdrawn the troops. My decision to attack at this time and place was based upon the best information available. The troops, the air and the Navy did all that bravery and devotion to duty could do. If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt it is mine alone.”
Our president talking in 2020 on COVID-19: “No, I don’t take responsibility at all.”
“We have more cases than anybody in the world, but why? Because we do more testing. When you test, you have a case. When you test you find something is wrong with people. If we didn’t do any testing, we would have very few cases.”
James Fogarty

Why single out vape flavors for banning?

A total of 54 deaths linked to vaping products have been confirmed in 2019 mostly from vitamin E acetate (black market products), flavored cigars. (They are not for smoking the tobacco.)
More than 88,000 people die from alcohol-related deaths each year in the United States. Here are a few alcohol flavors: green apple, orange, cranberry, raspberry, citrus (lemon), vanilla, strawberry, black cherry, watermelon, lime, blueberry, white grape, melon (honeydew/cantaloupe), pomegranate, passion fruit, pear, peach, glazed donut, bubble gum, buttered popcorn, caramel apple, pizza, S’mores, cookie dough, peanut butter and jam, even electricity (yes, really). Sounds like kid stuff to me.
In the United States, these are the annual average number of deaths from: skiing 39; children choking on food, 70; canoeing, 180; bicycling 800; heat-related, 1,300; swimming 3,536; jogging/running 4,000; motorcycle riding deaths 5,000-plus; and gun-related, 37,000.|
Some cannabis flavors available: bubble Jack, Mandarin cookies, grape pie, papaya, witches weed, cactus breath, hazelnut cream, Frankenberry, alien rock candy, bordello, to name a few. Pot is moving toward legalization.
So, let`s not take on any real issues. Let’s just pick the lowest hanging fruit, vaping. Protecting our kids with this flavor ban? Not seriously until, you are all ready to dump your flavored booze.
Brian Baldwin
Burnt Hills

Cuomo imitates, as he criticizes, Trump

Has anyone noticed? Our governor, Andrew Cuomo, is imitating President Donald Trump’s method of addressing the coronavirus epidemic.
Gov. Cuomo has decided to divide New York state up into regions and then allow them to decide how to reopen various businesses and activities on their own. He urges them to act carefully and make decisions cautiously. State government would provide guidelines and assistance.
This is how President Trump months ago chose to respond to the epidemic on the national level, leaving it to the individual states to act cautiously and make decisions carefully. Guidelines were provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a part of the administrative branch of the federal government, and the administration would provide assistance.
Given Gov. Cuomo’s frequent and harsh criticism of President Trump, you might expect the news media to jump on this story. For example, here’s a possible headline: “Cuomo the critic imitates his nemesis.”
Instead, anchors and reporters are finding other ways to criticize Trump, echoing the slippery New York politician’s focus on politicizing every issue to enhance contributions and ensure his reelection.
Forman Phillips
Ballston Spa

Who could have done better than Trump?

Most negative opinions in the paper call out the president for being too slow in addressing the pandemic, which I feel is ridiculous.
Remember after learning the Chinese were having trouble containing the disease in their country, he curtailed flights to and from China on Jan. 30 except for U.S. citizens wanting to return home. This action was taken 29 days after the first confirmed case reached our shores. As we know, he was roundly criticized for taking the action. So much for being too slow.
While the Democrats were busy with impeachment at the beginning of February, the president was busy with his staff forming the largest task force since World War II to address the crisis. He enlisted members from the public and private sectors, as well as renowned infectious disease experts. So much for not taking the crisis seriously enough.
All 50 governors have thanked the president for his leadership in responding to their needs.
If you have a name, not a Republican, who could have led this effort better, please let us all  know. To my knowledge, no opinion writer has suggested one so far.
Ron Belli

Crisis has given us  all time to ponder  

On the positive side, the “pandemic” has caused many of us to ponder what has transpired. You don’t need to be a Rhodes Scholar, as the saying, goes to develop your own thoughts on the subject matter of coronavirus.
Like, whatever happened to just quarantine those who have come down with this sickness like we did in the past, instead of quarantining the sick individual with others in sometimes crowded home?
Like, whatever happened to mandating that those with a cough or illness of any kind wear protective face masks and maybe even gloves to stop the spread of instead of all of us?
Many of our elected officials forgot or worse yet didn’t know their responsibilities when the “pandemic” surfaced and claim as the result that this is all new to them. Read your respective constitutions and enabling laws.
For example, did you know that the governor of New York under the state constitution has the duty to enforce the laws and the power to approve or veto them. The state Legislature has the sole right to establish the laws.
Also, did you know that the responsibility for the safety and welfare of the people lies with local governments, as set forth by the state constitution?
What state law passed by the state Legislature and approved by the governor says that we must all wear face masks in public and be at least six feet away from each other? Montgomery County has passed such a law to its credit.
William D. Wills

God’s work can be seen in our response

Last month the governor remarked that “it wasn’t God” who was responsible for people being healed and slowing the spread.
A recent writer drew a conclusion based on a calculation of the number of people “brave enough to pray for God’s healing from the virus.”
In my experience, it doesn’t take bravery to pray; it requires humility and faith, along with gratitude and thanksgiving for all His many blessings. He also concluded that “God didn’t heal people or slow the spread because of the prayers of a few people.” In fact, God does hear and answer every single prayer, spoken or unspoken. We can lift up our heart’s desires or heartaches to Him. We can make supplication to Him in our joys or tears. He doesn’t count the number of people praying.
This virus didn’t take God by surprise or catch Him off guard.
In truth, He began to answer our prayers before we asked for His help by the God-given talents and wisdom (honed by humans), which our medical providers and researchers put to great use. The God-given gifts of self-sacrifice, empathy, selflessness and hospitality are on display in the medical community and also in our police, firefighters, manufacturers, truck drivers, farmers and everyday citizens who have gone the extra mile to be God’s hands and feet during this crisis.
In His love and sovereignty, His great mercy and grace, He already laid the groundwork for many of the practical solutions which are being used to combat this virus.
Susan Hover

Maybe it’s time we bust out of doghouse

“You’re in the Doghouse Now.”  
When Brenda Lee sang that song in the early 1990s, her lyrics did not make reference to shut-ins and the sheltering-in-place we are experiencing at the moment.
However, the title of Lee’s song seems to have relevance now. When COVID-19 hit, Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx, two prominent medical scientists, advised Americans to quarantine themselves and stay at home, i.e. in the doghouse. Well, not really. But we must admit that there is a similarity.
Think of the six-foot rule. That’s the length of our chains. The masks? Those are our muzzles. Try to break those restraints and see what happens.
Our grocery stores place signs at their entrances reading, “If you are not wearing a mask, please do not come into our store.” Then there is the case of the young female hair salon owner in Texas. She needed to work and earn a living to pay bills and feed her children. She opened her shop. The local judge sentenced her to seven days in jail.
The young woman was not sentenced because she broke the law. She was sentenced because she refused to apologize to the judge for breaking the law. That case has now been resolved. However, she was in the doghouse for a while. Might it be time to break our chains and show our teeth?
Allen R. Remaley
Saratoga Springs

Everyone deserves to receive regular tests

Every person who gets near Donald Trump is tested for the novel coronavirus.
Visitors to the White House are taken to a special medical facility for a rapid coronavirus test before they are allowed to meet with Trump. Donald Trump’s staff and family are tested on a daily basis.
These measures are being taken to protect Trump, as much as possible, from contracting COVID-19.
However, Trump has decided the rest of us do not need the same protection, or any at all. He blocked use of tests developed by the WHO, and for 10 weeks blocked development of our own tests. He said that widespread testing would “make us look bad,” apparently by showing the real number of infected people.
It is reasonable that Trump would want to be protected from this terrible virus, but unconscionable that the rest of us — workers in meat-packing plants, doctors and nurses treating sick patents, police officers, firefighters, EMTs and workers in grocery stores — do not have the same level of protection. Our presidents are not kings. They are simply citizens chosen to lead the Executive Branch for a limited number of years. We all deserve to be tested and tested regularly.
Victor Roberts
Burnt Hills

Zhao responsive to needs in Niskayuna

I write today to ask Niskayuna school district voters to re-elect Jennifer Zhao as a member of our school board.
As a board member, Jennifer has strongly supported provision of mental health and social work services to students (three school social workers added in 2019). She has supported pursuit of outside grants and partnerships that help maintain educational programs and resources.
Her ready knowledge of the details about decisions before the school board shows that Ms. Zhao routinely does the diligent research that is necessary for hard decisions by the school board on how to sustain a solid educational program for our children in a manner that is affordable by residents of the district.
Jennifer supports improvements to safe pedestrian and bike access to our schools. When I have contacted Ms. Zhao about school issues, she has provided me with a prompt response by phone or by email.
In my view, Jennifer Zhao has provided good service to the Niskayuna school district and she will continue to do so in a second term as a school board member.
William R. Chapman

Cut military’s budget to serve other needs

The Navy won’t stop the oceans from rising, the polar ice caps from melting or our cities from flooding.
The Army won’t prevent droughts and subsequent crop failures. The Air Force is unable to prevent hurricanes or tornadoes and COVID-19 is undaunted by the Marine Corps.
Many species of plants, animals and insects are going extinct each day. The military cannot provide the security we need and is creating conditions which worsen climate disruption by being the largest institutionalized user of fossil fuel, and discharging enormous quantities of chemical and nuclear waste into the environment, not to mention the destruction caused by war.
The Pentagon’s enormous budget takes needed monetary resources from the EPA and health care and other important social programs.
We need to cherish our planet, the plants, the animals, the earth, the air, wind and water. And we must consider love and truth.
Tolstoy said, “Everything I know I know because I love.” And concerning truth, “The first casualty of war is truth.” We need both love and truth desperately if we are to save humanity from extinction. Finally, a nuclear war would make this current pandemic look like a Sunday picnic. It is time to cut the military budget and begin caring for our environment and our citizens.
It is our choice. Will we choose wisely or continue down the road to extinction.
John Amidon

Teachers deserve recognition for work

I was happy to recognize two of my valued colleagues from Schenectady High School in the May 10 Sunday Gazette article “SPAC opens its doors – virtually” in the Life & Arts Section. I would like to draw attention to the subjects in two photographs from the article that went uncredited.
In the top photo (and in the lead photo in the online version), Jhimly Sarkar appears on the right, and in the bottom photo, Eric Hatch is with Dennis Moench. Both are having fun dancing and instructing.
We acknowledge and credit both as dedicated teachers at the high school. Jhimly teaches science, and Eric teaches dance. They continue their mission for the education and betterment of all.
Brian Anderson
The writer is a Schenectady High School science, physics and forensics teacher.

Coping more difficult for disabled in homes

Today’s world is hard to understand. For people with autism, it can be impossible. Please consider the families in our community and what they are dealing with. Sure, having school-age children home presents challenges for all families.
For parents who live with autism, many times there are no explanations to give children who miss their friends, teachers and, maybe most of all, their structure. Change is often not tolerated and that’s all we have now. For a neurotypical child, that may mean crankiness and boredom.
For a family living with autism, that may mean daily violent tantrums, self-injurious behavior, destruction of property and more.
For adults living in community residences having to socially distance themselves in their homes and wear masks isn’t just an annoyance. Challenges with tactile stimulation and abstract understanding of an unseen threat is often impossible. It may mean frustration and regression.
Perhaps most challenging is the inability to go to their family of origin’s home. Regulations prohibit individuals from going home for a visit and then returning to their community residence. That means a very important comforting support is gone. For some, not understanding the regulations may mean visits from family are too disturbing because they aren’t able to make a home visit. Families can’t risk the intense emotional reaction that can occur when an individual doesn’t understand they can’t go home.
There’s no doubt we’re all up against this. We all have challenges. But please consider your neighbors who live with disabilities.
Tom Schreck
The writer is director of communications for Wildwood Programs.


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