Fix environmental problems with unclaimed nickels
It’s clear from your coverage of the state Legislature’s budget talks that the state’s finances are a mess.
The governor and legislative leaders seem so desperate, they have even proposed raiding the Environmental Protection Fund for $125 million. They plan to spend this money covering shortfalls in other areas of the budget.
History shows us that delaying vital environmental projects is unwise. It only costs us more grief and expense later on.
There is a better way to raise this money without harming the environment. In fact, more than $200 million per year is being given away to some of America’s largest and most profitable corporations — for no reason. Sadly, it’s money that rightfully belongs to the people of New York.
Have you ever wondered who keeps your nickel when you don’t return soda or beer containers to the market to reclaim your deposit? It’s not the local store. It’s not the local beverage wholesaler. It’s the national bottlers: Coca-Cola (Atlanta, Ga.), Anheuser-Busch (St. Louis, Mo.), Miller Brewing (Milwaukee, Wis.), Coors (Golden, Colo.) Schweppes (England) and others.
Every year New York consumers fail to return billions of soda and beer containers. Some are recycled, some become litter and some go into our landfills. All three options are costly to taxpayers and the environment. The unclaimed deposits amount to an annual windfall of $200 million that goes directly into the pockets of the bottlers. Not one cent is used for New York environmental programs.
New Yorkers can no longer afford to hand out welfare checks to America’s richest companies. It’s time to change the bottle-deposit law and reclaim this mountain of lost nickels. All of the reclaimed revenue should go into the Environmental Protection Fund. Then, it can help solve some of the environmental problems that the industries have caused.
The only way this will happen is if Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Gov. David Paterson agree to change the law. Let them know New York can’t afford to give away its environmental future to rich, out-of-state corporations.
John F. Sheehan
The writer is director of communications for The Adirondack Council.
Strock was insensitive to Obama’s plight
Re March 20 Carl Strock column, “Obama: transcending race no longer”: I am shocked at Carl Strock’s assessment of Barack Obama’s speech! It seems so out of character with his broadmindedness, and reminds me more of some Christian right opinions from whom he has vehemently distanced himself.
By focusing on the Rev. Jeremiah Wright (whose remarks apparently were made some years ago, and taken out of context), he has missed the point that Obama was trying to make. He was asking us to look inside ourselves, at our prejudices, and try to imagine the history in which Rev. Wright and the black population have grown up.
If Carl has not read the Obama books — especially “Dreams From My Father,” he will not know the turmoil which Obama found as he was growing up, and his struggle to fit into our culture as he came of age. He saw the divide and tried to transcend it. His point is that as a country we must all acknowledge that the divide still exists and both sides must be part of the solution, not exacerbate the problem.
Carl’s passion for the Muslim men in Albany who were railroaded without understanding why, makes me know he has a better self. And, that’s all Barack Obama is championing in his brave, reasoned, and incredibly intelligent speech.
St. James Square less desirable than it seems
In response to the March 15 editorial, “Don’t make St. James Square part of Metroplex”: As the point person in the marketing effort of Phase II of St. James Square and de facto sounding board for any questions about why the entire center isn’t fully leased, let me clear up some misconceptions regarding the property.
St. James Square was constructed in two phases on separate tax parcels at the intersection of Balltown Road and Nott Street Extension in Niskayuna. Although the building appears to be a single structure, they are in fact located on two separate parcels. Pyramid Brokerage Company was engaged to sell Phase II of the complex one year ago. That portion of the property consists of a 47,500 square-foot structure on 4.7 acres on the eastern most portion of the development.
The two different phases of the development were purchased by different entities, when the initial developer was losing the property. Phase I was purchased by a downstate development company — a transaction in which our firm had no position. We continue our marketing effort and hope for success in the eventual sale.
Your editorial makes a comment regarding the physical status of the buildings, stating that they are “in fine, nearly new condition and are perfectly habitable.” Quite the opposite is true, Almost 50 percent of Phase I had its heating and air conditioning system cannibalized by a previous tenant — hardly habitable.
As I indicated, Pyramid was charged with selling Phase II. To increase the value of the property, the sensible course of action would be to lease the vacant space. Unfortunately the tax burden on Phase II has been $4.57 per square foot. Compare that to the average of $2.80 per square foot in my office in the Colonie/Latham office market, and you can see an issue for potential tenants.
Sensible people can debate the proposal by Metroplex for involvement in the St. James project, but I for one am pleased that Metroplex Chairman Ray Gillen called to inquire about the status and the issues on site. As the only true suburban office space in the county, it’s natural for county economic development agency to make inquiries as to why such a unique offering has been so troubled for so long.
The writer is director and principal broker for the Pyramid Brokerage Co.
NYSERDA project fails cost-benefit analysis
I read Jason Subik’s March 20 article [“Airport, CDTA enter joint project to use hydrogen-powered vehicles”] about the hydrogen-powered vehicle project and was aghast at the amount of money ($1.2 million) for a paltry savings of $5,000 a year. Can’t anyone do the math?
Paul Tonko, president and CEO of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, should be ashamed to admit his part in it — and he comes away praising the project!
It includes $80,000 each to modify two Silverado pickup trucks and two Toyota Prius sedans — a total of $320,000 for fuel mods on vehicles that already have engines!
Granted, the big people haulers eat fuel, but to modify a Prius (50 to 60 mpg), one must wonder about anyone trying to do economics!
I think lawmakers and the bureaucrats at NYSERDA lose their brains when spending other peoples’ (our) money.
Gerard F. Havasy
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