Gazette editorial on Ballston Lake railroad crossing got off track
I felt that your Jan. 10 editorial [“Trains create the hazard at Ballston Lake, so let railroad fix it”] on the situation of the private railroad crossings in Ballston Lake did a disservice to the homeowners, by inspiring the false hope that they will be able to force the railroad to pay to improve the crossings.
Your statement that: “It was pretty clear from testimony . . . that the only people who favored the Canadian Pacific Railway proposal . . . are from the railroad,” seems to have forgotten that the railroad was fully backed by testimony from New York State Department of Transportationwitnesses and the official from the Federal Railroad Administration.
Your contention that the “overall safety record hasn’t been bad” will hold until someone gets seriously hurt. The railroad and DOT cited several accidents and near-misses in recent years. including one in which a teen on an ATV darted in front of an oncoming Amtrak train.
The judge also has made it clear that doing nothing was not likely to be his ruling because of public safety. The law compels that something be done, and unless all the parties come together, this financial burden will fall squarely upon the homeowners.
The law is that the landowners are financially responsible for “private crossings,” not the railroad. The state and federal funds available for grade crossings can only be used for “public crossings.” That is why both the railroad and the DOT seemed to very much want the town of Ballston to step in and take ownership of one of the access roads, so this money could be used.
Alas, the town government has made its position clear; they will not help the homeowners if it involves any financial risk. I fear that unless this decision is reversed, the residents of these lakeside homes will soon unfortunately have a very big bill to pay.
Billboards about gays should be allowed to stay
Regarding Jan. 10 televised Schenectady City Council meeting and the follow-up Jan. 11 article, “Critics urge removal of gay signs,” let’s deal with facts rather than fantasy.
Billboards do not influence or cause anyone to become gay, anymore than they can cause gays to become straight. The billboards in question are not a recruiting tool. Sexual orientation is not a choice. It is not a preference. It is part of the essence of a significant portion of our population.
How disgraceful and disappointing that a man of the cloth should denigrate an entire group of people at the City Council meeting. How sad that a day-care provider used small children as an excuse for her own prejudices, and how unfortunate that a city councilman stood in agreement. How appalling that the gallery applauded their remarks.
Where was someone with the courage to say, “gays are citizens of our community and deserve our respect, and hateful speech is not welcomed in this chamber?”
F. Julia Helfman
The writer is a school representative for PFEAG [Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays].
Consolidation can save Capital Region big time
Our new governor is in the mode of right-sizing government and making it more efficient. I can see no better opportunity than to clear out outdated laws, contracts and obstacles that prevent the consolidation of the cities, towns, villages and various fiefdoms of the Capital Region into one large metropolitan metropolis.
If you consider combining the four adjacent counties of Albany, Rensselaer, Saratoga and Schenectady, you include seven cites among the host of other municipal entities. Think of it, in this modern age, is there a need for umpteen different sets of laws and standards, fire, police, sanitation, municipal utilities, councils, supervisors, mayors, and the whole host of bureaucratic chiefs and departments?
Consolidation of the school systems would eliminate umpteen duplicate superintendents, ridiculous artificial boundaries, inefficient bus service and so on. But best of all, we would consolidate and reconstruct labor benefits to the community norm, at enormous cost savings to the tax payer.
Is there any wonder why we feel so taxed to death and inefficient?
Some may be thinking it is impossible, but consider the consolidation plan that made New York City over 100 years ago. The Capital Region is just ripe for a right-sizing opportunity now.
Andrew M. Kopach
Use spelling bee winner’s photo, instead of loser’s
Re the photograph published Jan. 5 on the front page of the local news section: We appreciate the Daily Gazette covering the spelling bee. However we are confused as to why the paper would choose to put a photo of the first child eliminated rather than one of the winners.
Also, we think it may have embarrassed Andrew and his family to find a picture of him on the front page, misspelling the word “plot.”
We think the winners would have felt pride for being in the spelling bee, but unfortunately they weren’t all recognized.
The writer is school librarian; the letter was also endorsed by the TIE [Team Information Explorers] program at Van Corlaer Elementary.
Feds should impose small fee on stock trades
Re Jan. 13 letter, “State should impose tiny tax on Wall Street trades”: The idea of Richard and Joanne Mann to tax Wall Street trading rang my bell, as I have always thought it appropriate.
If there were only a dollar tax on each 100-share trade on the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq, the income would be $8 billion annually.
But if the state imposed such a negligible tax tomorrow, we might see the New York Stock Exchange and Wall Street decamped to Hoboken.
Probably a better way to capture even that piddling revenue would be to impose a similar federal tax. Considering how much we pay to protect Wall Street, a use tax on trading seems justified.
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