‘Granny’ bill is encouraging, but still more should be done against abuse
The problem of crime and abuse against the elderly came to my attention on the pages of the New York Times in December 1991. As the state at the time had no criminal justice program to address it, I set out to find one. It emerged that the National Sheriffs Association, the International Association of Chiefs of Police and AARP were hard at work developing and promoting a county-level initiative called Triad (www.nationaltriad.org). In the years since, this partnership approach to protecting and defending the elderly has grown to be the nation’s premier crime prevention and personal safety program focused on our growing population of elders.
State Sen. Dean Skelos (R-Nassau) and Assemblywoman RoAnn Destito (D-Utica) sponsored a bill (Chapter 111, Laws of 1993) giving the Division of Criminal Justice Services a mandate to promote Triad. Unfortunately, the administrations of former Govs. Mario Cuomo and George Pataki had a dismal record of promoting community crime prevention programs. Neither Triad nor another bill we adopted creating a training and certification program for police Elder Service Officers have ever been seriously encouraged.
Now we have the so-called “Granny Bill” — (“New York lawmakers toughen penalties for attacks on elderly,” Daily Gazette, March 19) upping the penalties for assaults against elders as well as a separate Senate proposal to require mandatory reporting of incidents of suspected elder abuse. While it is gratifying to see the Legislature taking so seriously the problem of crime and abuse of seniors, the fact that well-conceived programs enacted in the recent past in response to the same problem have been largely ignored by the agencies charged with their implementation is not at all encouraging.
Vegetarian choices are more healthy, as well as humane
Humane-minded diners are fortunate to enjoy many Schenectady restaurants (“Veggie fare at funky downtown cafe is truly a delight,” March 16 Gazette).
More and more people are incorporating delicious vegetarian choices into their meals because of their objections to animal abuse. Factory farms and slaughterhouses routinely subject farm animals to terrible abuses that would likely result in animal cruelty charges if the victims were dogs or cats.
For more information on how to make the world a better place for farm animals, readers can visit humanesociety.org.
The writer is the outreach manager for Factory Farming Campaign for The Humane Society of the United States.
High-caliber performance by students mixed well with professionals
On March 17, the Saratoga Blue Streaks scored big. Not with a ball, bat or puck, but with wooden boxes with strings and a sticks with hanks of horse hair. The Saratoga Springs High School Chamber Orchestra under the leadership of Brooke Leighton performed Tchaikovsky’s “Serenade for Strings” at the Maple Avenue Middle School before a crowd of parents, educators and friends. The orchestra was conducted by Glens Falls Symphony Orchestra Music Director Charles Peltz, while Miss Leighton joined the first violins at the back of the section.
The Serenade is no puff piece. It is among the most difficult string ensemble compositions in the repertoire. The high school players deftly worked through the intricacies of the piece, along with 18 professional players that sat in with them. In fact, in Maestro Peltz’s words, some of the professionals were huffing and puffing just to keep up with the students.
And what an extraordinary concert it was! The music soared under the direction of Maestro Peltz. Every violinist, violist and cellist sat up straight in their chair (the student string basses stood); all the bows moved in unison; there were no meek bowings, every stroke was full when called for and every left hand moved with vibrato. The pitch was there, the entrances were crisp. This was a group of young musicians who knew the score and proudly displayed their talent.
Over a year ago Miss Leighton asked Maestro Peltz if he would conduct the ensemble in the Tchaikovsky. His initial agreement was with some trepidation and the proviso that he would make judicious cuts where necessary. Over several months Miss Leighton prepared her students for the first rehearsal with Peltz. There were no cuts necessary; the students were ready and at 85 percent concert level. The maestro was overjoyed. Without the students’ extraordinary preparation and dedication, his job to refine the performance to the 100 percent level achieved would have been nearly impossible.
Congratulations to Brooke Leighton and the Saratoga Springs schools’ music department. What was performed by a high school ensemble has rarely been heard in this area. It demonstrates what educators with talent, dedication and inspiration can achieve with students who will, if given the chance, respond mightily to a challenge.
The writer is executive director of the Glens Falls Symphony.