Officials should set example on masks
We see you in the papers and on the news. We see you not wearing a mask.
Maybe you have already had covid. Maybe you have had two shots plus a booster.
Maybe you’re counting on your supply of Ivermectin or maybe you’re one of those people who believe that the virus is just a hoax.
But if you are an elected or appointed official and out in public view, can you please wear a mask?
The advice from the medical community is that masks do help prevent the spread of disease.
The majority of infected people are unaware of their status, so wearing a mask becomes even more necessary to slow the spread.
Elected individuals, whether from Clifton Park or Rotterdam or anywhere else in the Capital District, are often in the public view.
We turn to these leaders to, well, lead.
Sometimes that leadership requires one to act for the betterment of the community and not for personal and political expediency.
No one likes to wear a mask, but refusing to wear one doesn’t make you a hero.
If you are out in the community, making a public statement or just having your picture taken for posterity, do the right thing.
Wear a mask because you may save someone from getting sick or dying. Set an example.
It’s really about the rest of humanity so show us some of yours. Lead the way.
Article conclusions difficult to support
Mr. Cropley’s article (“On vaccination, and east-west divide”) published in the Sunday Jan. 9 Gazette tries to draw conclusions which are hard to support.
Looking broader, particularly over the last seven days it is hard to say from this regional look that vaccinations make a difference.
One example is Lewis County which has a 50% vaccination rate yet only 147 cases per 100K population compared to Schenectady County with a 76% vaccination rate and 237 cases per 100K.
Fulton County which is mentioned in this article has seen only 165 cases per 100K in the last seven days. Population-rich counties like Kings and Queens have both high vaccination rates (88% and 73%) and high case rates (436/100K and 508/100K) (source: coronavirus.health.ny.gov).
What is more important is the outcomes of the vaccinated versus the unvaccinated, and I think Mr. Cropley’s article should have been focused here.
From the state Department of Health vaccine effectiveness data as of this writing, 4.6/100K of the vaccinated were hospitalized whereas 58.3/100K of the unvaccinated were hospitalized.
That means that the vaccines are 92.3% effective in keeping you out of the hospital, and that’s what’s important (source: coronavirus.health.ny.gov breakthrough data).
I am writing this opinion because I have seen so many cases of people refuting the conclusions of articles that draw valid conclusions but are based on statistics that are hard to defend.
In today’s environment, we must make ironclad cases to support the benefits of vaccinations and then let the individual decide.
Maskless brazenly jeopardize our health
“If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands.”
No, I am not happy, so I will not clap my hands today to the beat of this children’s classic.
In fact, I am furious, furious at the audacity of those who deliberately break the rules of today’s fragile society to the jeopardy, welfare and health of the rest of us.
“Where was such selfish behavior observed?” you ask. At an area Walmart where at least one-quarter of the shoppers wore no mask at all.
I was informed by a Walmart greeter that only the manager can enforce the mask mandate, so I asked to speak with the manager. After waiting more than 15 minutes, the greeter had not even gone to find him or her. Displeased, I went on my unmerry way.
So, to warn you, if you go shopping and observe maskless folks all around you, get out! By the way, each one appears brazen and walks with a swagger as if to say, “Confront me about going maskless and I will counter punch with words you really don’t want to hear.”
Virginia L. Mee
Consider helping a child as foster parent
While the holiday season and the new year are positive for most of us, that’s not always the case for children in foster care.
For a child removed from their home due to abuse, neglect or other safety reasons, the holidays and new year often bring up a lot of conflicting feelings and emotions.
Being a foster parent takes a lot of commitment, understanding, and requires plenty of support. Foster parent training helps equip prospective foster parents with tools to successfully foster.
At Northern Rivers Family of Services, our staff is on call 24/7/365 to serve our foster parents and children in care. We have a therapeutic foster care team prepared to assist with any crisis that may occur. We work with our families prior to them accepting a child to determine the type of child best suited to the experience, capabilities, talents, and interests of that family.
We’re especially grateful to the multiple foster families we get to work with in the Capital District area. Hopefully we’ll be able to add more families to our list.
If you’ve wondered about being a foster parent, we encourage you to contact us with any questions. Long-term and part-time foster parenting is needed in our community.
If interested in more information, you can call me at 518-257-2919, if in Schenectady County or Stephanie Klein at 518-223-3828, if in Rensselaer or Albany County.
You can visit our website www.northernriversfostercare.org and our Facebook page @northernriversfostercare for more information. If not you, then who?
The writer is a Foster Care Home Finder for Northern Rivers Family of Services.
Biden and policies have been a failure
I read Francis Pugliese’s Dec. 5 letter (“Can’t blame Biden for price hikes, etc.”) and Charles Rielly’s Dec. 29 letter (“Base your views on Biden on facts”), and it’s clear facts no longer matter.
Pugliese claims prices have gone up forever. Under President Trump, inflation was non-existent. By paying people $300/week to sit home, Biden has created the supply chain crisis.
Instead of people being responsible and paying rent, they have been buying luxuries. With people sitting home, the factories and plants are understaffed and there is a shortage of products. It’s simple economics. But being a CNN viewer, I don’t expect you to know this.
As far as Biden’s character, Biden claims he was in the top half of his law school class. He was 76th out of 85. He claimed he graduated from undergrad with three degrees. He has one. His 1987-88 run for president ended when it was discovered he plagiarized two or three times.
Joe Biden is a liar.
Regarding the gaudy numbers, our economy is showing, we were closed for a year. When the economy opened up, it grew because it was closed, and unemployment numbers had to go down.
Biden has done more harm to this country than any president in my lifetime. He is a failure, period.
Remove the stigma from substance abuse
Accidental overdose deaths will continue to rise until we recognize this epidemic as a chronic treatable disease and not a moral failing or shortcoming.
In 2021, more than 100,000 overdose deaths occurred — the most ever recorded in a single year, a 30% increase.
SAMHSA estimates 40.3 million people living with Substance Use Disorder (SUD) and 2.7 million with Opioid Use Disorder (OUD), however, only 7% and 11% respectively, are receiving treatment. Why?
The answer is stigma. We’ve made strides recognizing SUD & OUD as chronic diseases. However, old stereotypes remain. As a result, many continue suffering in silence.
A recent survey on stigma showed 75% of people don’t believe addiction is a treatable chronic disease and 45% of providers think using medication to help treat addiction is swapping one addiction for another; 46% of those with addiction said they felt ashamed.
Treatment needs to change, like other chronic diseases. Success treating SUD & OUD is more than 12-step programs. They must include available FDA-approved medication assisted treatment (MAT), counseling and behavioral therapy, mental health monitoring and treatment, as well as support groups. In addition, novel therapies like FDA-authorized prescription digital therapies (PDT’s) which are 24/7 and improve retention and abstinence rates, currently are not widely used or covered by insurance or Medicaid.
It’s time we recognize this as a chronic disease. Stop blaming people afflicted as morally flawed or socially irresponsible and appropriately direct resources and reverse the number of lives lost.
New Nisky board is off to a rough start
The Jan. 1 Gazette article (“Supervisor names deputy, assigns committees”) outlined Niskayuna Supervisor Jaime Lynn Puccioni’s committee assignments
Only one board member, a Republican, did not receive an assignment, despite receiving the most votes in the election. Puccioni claims partisanship was not an issue. Partisanship has its role during a campaign, but is inappropriate in government operations.
In Glenville, the supervisor gave his only Democrat three committees, citing respect for the voters. What a contrast between the two towns. I want our new town board to be successful, but if the partisanship game is replayed, our town government will not be successful.
Deputy Supervisor Jessica Brennan, stated she will be available when needed to fill in for the Supervisor. How can this be?
She is a full-time Niskayuna school district employee (social worker) who is being paid by the taxpayers to be a full-time employee. When Rosemarie Jaquith was a board member, I questioned her being on two boards — town and school. I was concerned with establishing a precedent, not with her qualifications (legal, budget, administrative expertise). Mixing school district with town politics is never good. Rosemarie stepped down as a school board member, but Jessica cannot step down as a full time employee. Politics and education do not promote a good educational situation.
We also need to re-establish a sound fiscal structure to the town budget. I don’t believe this can occur if the comptroller is living out of the state. This issue must be addressed. It is the fiduciary responsibility of the board to do so.
Mobile sports betting will increase addiction
Many New Yorkers were excited to hear that they could place a sports wager on their mobile device as early as Jan. 8.
But for a number of others, the availability of Mobile sports betting could lead to a gambling problem.
When gambling opportunities expand, the increased availability leads to increased problems. Having access 24 hours a day with endless wagering possibilities makes an already-troubling issue worse. The combination of sports wagering and technology attracts a new, younger demographic of bettors and leaves young people more susceptible to developing a problem.
Mobile sports betting has been legal in Pennsylvania and New Jersey since 2017 and 2018, respectively. Pennsylvania has seen a 285% increase in calls to their helpline. In New Jersey, about 50% of those in treatment for a gambling problem have a problem with sports betting. If New York sees a similar trend, which we expect to, we need additional funding beyond the 0.05% currently provided for problem gambling services and a more comprehensive counter-marketing, prevention, treatment and recovery plan to ensure anyone negatively impacted by gambling can get the help they need.
If you or someone you know is wagering more than they can afford, preoccupied by sports and gambling, neglecting responsibilities, or feeling stressed and anxious, the Northeast Problem Gambling Resource Center is here to help. Call 518-801-1491 or visit NYProblemGamblingHELP.org for local, confidential support.
You don’t have to struggle alone.
The writer is a team leader at the Northeast Problem Gambling Resource Center.
Kudos to Gazette carrier for awareness
When awards are given out here’s the story of the year.
The Gazette paper delivery man who was so keenly aware of his surroundings that he noticed a customer might be in need of help. Her papers were not being brought inside and her lights were on. He did some checking and called authorities.
She had fallen and had been on the floor for two days – that could have been anyone of us.
My “Blue Ribbon” goes to him.
Expect better from political cartoonists
Another day, another political cartoon from Gary Varvel (editorial cartoonist for The Indianapolis Star) in the Jan. 10 Daily Gazette.
As far as I can tell, Mr. Varvel must binge watch Fox News 24/7, turning out cartoons that are occasionally racist (a Black man mugging a blonde woman), pro-insurrection and scientifically illiterate. Perhaps The Gazette should start running columns from Tucker Carson?
I’m not against the paper running conservative cartoons. There is plenty of legitimate criticism and good fun that can be heaped upon liberals.
And I find the cartoons of that mean-spirited liberal cartoonist – who draws so badly I can’t read their name – the paper also runs as also being ugly, dumb and offensive. At least Mr. Varvel can draw clearly and concisely.
But running these Varvel cartoons is equivalent to The Gazette in World War II running pro-Axis cartoons from Das Reich and the Asahi Shinbun. The same should apply to the medical disinformation and political divisiveness that Mr. Varvel peddles to the benefit of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.
Interviews with and letters from people who question pandemic restrictions are fine. That is the same as The Gazette in World War II running letters from American war opponents and quoting Axis officials in broader news articles full of context.
What I desire in a political cartoonist is some objectivity, self-reflection, good humor and artistic ability – but apparently that is too much to ask.
Grateful to radiation oncology staff at Ellis
Thank you for printing many of my letters on the return of the statue replica of Lady Liberty to Gateway Park. I guess nothing is going to happen this winter.
I would like to write today about a group of people that I call “Angels of Compassion.”
These dedicated people are part of the Radiation Oncology staff at Ellis Hospital under the direction of Dr. Christopher Dolinsky and RN Susan.
Recently I received a series of radiation treatments for skin cancer.
The staff that includes Julie, Paul, Kathy, Hassan, Amy, Susan, Jessie, Chrissy, Kim and Banita made my treatments so pleasant that I didn’t even know that I was receiving them.
From the minute I arrived at the clinic for my appointed time there was nothing but smiles, greetings, and the deepest of concern for what I was there for.
My daily appointments scheduled Monday through Friday were always on time. First was the greeting, with a smile, and then an outstretched arm to lock in with mine to steady and direct me to the treatment. The conversation during that time was always calm, and instructive on what was going on. All questions that I asked were answered immediately, and helpful.
I received a “Certificate of Completion” for the program and will see the staff in six weeks for a follow up. I truly can’t wait for the final words, but I also will be extra glad to see this great staff.
James A. Wilson
It’s deja vu all over again in Niskayuna
Happy New Year Niskayuna, an opportunity to start the year off fresh, clean the slate, and hopefully shed the dirt and embarrassment that has plagued the town for years.
That optimism was quickly diminished before the clock struck midnight, unfortunately.
First, we hear there were no swearing-in ceremonies on Jan. 1, as they are “…only symbolic” —maybe, but symbolism to highlight the changing of the guard, might be important to Niskayuna right now to send a message of integrity, transparency and positive change. Sounds like a convenient excuse, as the new supervisor was on a multi-week vacation in Hawaii.
Tough start, bad optics, move on. … The Gazette releases news that the supervisor-elect has appointed Jessica Brennan to be her deputy supervisor – this on the heels of Puccioni reassuring all that she will be a full-time supervisor.
“Brennan said as deputy supervisor, she will be able to step in on behalf of Puccioni…” Further in the same article, it’s announced that Brennan will chair the Public Safety Committee, as well as the Community Programs Committee.
The icing on the cake was that Jason Moskowitz, the top vote getter in all Niskayuna races, the lone Republican, was snubbed of any committee chair positions. He’s the same gentleman that has worked in public safety his entire career and could actually restore leadership to a police department that has endured its share of controversy.
So as the holiday festivities subside, so does the hope for anything other than business as usual in Niskayuna.
Spa government not working effectively
After recent headlines about Saratoga Springs, readers must have been surprised to see the opinion of Connie Woytowich and Jane Weihe that “Spa commission government is working” in the Jan. 10 Gazette.
As a former member of the Saratoga Springs Police Reform Task Force, I have to disagree.
Implementation of the task force recommendations was seriously hindered by lack of cooperation between Mayor Meg Kelly and Public Safety Commissioner Robin Dalton, painfully evident in the video record of City Council meetings.
In response to Black Lives Matter protests about unfair policing, Finance Commissioner Michele Madigan headed in one direction, seeking mediation.
Meanwhile, the police department under the supervision of Commissioner Dalton headed in the opposite direction through actions that seemed intended to intimidate protesters. The effort at mediation stalled, while the police actions gave rise to a civil rights investigation by the state attorney general.
This is not the record of an effectively working government. The commission form is not the sole cause of the mess, but it is the pot in which the other factors came to a boil, and it certainly did nothing to turn down the heat.
Contrary to Woytowich’s and Weihe’s claim, I suspect that so many candidates ran in the last City Council election because the present government was obviously not working, and they thought they could do better.
It would surely be better if the successful candidates could lead us toward a replacement of the dysfunctional commission form of government.
Think Trump was bad? Look at others
To you who are on Trump’s back:
As a businessman, he took all the tax credits and loopholes just like everyone else.
Why don’t you check Pelosi, Schumer, Gillibrand and the whole of Congress? Maybe you would see that he did no different than them.
I think it’s about time you check them out first instead of trying to hang Trump. One good thing he did was trying to build the wall.
The only reason the Democrats don’t want to stop them is because they want the votes. How many of them are criminals?
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