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Letters to the Editor
What you need to know for 01/21/2018

Historian Rittner was worth well more than his $25,000 salary

Historian Rittner was worth well more than his $25,000 salary

*Historian Rittner was worth well more than his $25,000 salary *Schenectady County tax hike a big-ti

Historian Rittner was worth well more than his $25,000 salary

One has to wonder what was occupying the space between the ears of Schenectady County legislators who adopted a budget cutting out the salary of county historian Don Rittner [Oct. 23 Gazette]!

County spokesperson Joe McQueen tells us it was a “cost-cutting measure,” but what about the cost to future generations of Schenectadians?

Prior to Mr. Rittner becoming county historian, I and many others read about our history from Larry Hart, who gave us never-ending views into our past. When Don Rittner took over, I was a little skeptical, but my fears were soon relieved as Don carried on this tradition and did it well.

One of Schenectady County’s biggest failures is that its past is often forgotten! Once the greatest industrial capital of the world, with ALCO and General Electric being responsible for bringing us into the modern age, Schenectady is in need of visionaries instead of small-minded legislators who fiddled instead of bringing in new industry.

History tells us of what was, and we can’t learn without it. The history of Schenectady is rich with feats by Edison, Steinmetz, Westinghouse, and a host of others who shaped our country. Without the Larry Harts and Don Rittners, most Schenectadians would never know of this heritage.

If the county Legislature is really serious about cutting costs, there is a simple way that makes more sense than doing away without historian. District 3, with five representatives should be cut to four; and District 4, with four legislators, should be cut to three. In short, the county board is “top heavy” and needs trimming.

The economic impact fostered by Don Rittner’s lobbying of movie companies, to the tune of $2 million, should have been put into the equation when voting to remove his salary. I believe in “cost cutting,” and with Schenectady’s population, we could do with far fewer legislators on the county Legislature and elsewhere.

Gary P. Guido


Schenectady County tax hike a big-time letdown

At one point I looked to the Schenectady County Legislature to step up and lead. Does the smallest county in New York state need a city government, town government, village government and whatever else to get the job done?

I really believe that county government could do it all. The sheriff’s office could take over police activities. There would be one county transportation department, one assessor’s office and who knows what other savings.

What does Schenectady’s County government do? It wants to raise taxes by 5.9 percent when there is a 2 percent tax cap. Of course, this action is led by tax-and-spend Democrats; who else?

We have a do-nothing Congress in Washington, we have a do-nothing Legislature in Albany, and we have more problems in Schenectady County.

I have had enough of politicians with their only goal being to get re-elected. Where is the leadership?

Joe Tomkowski


Unions’ cash also has too much influence in politics

In her Oct. 17 letter regarding political influence of corporations, Livia Carroll omitted one of the largest, if not the largest, offenders: The unions and their super donations.

Otherwise, a decent letter.

Don Vanderwarker


Schoolkids learn from Halloween celebrations

I have been saddened by recent decisions of some area elementary schools to end or limit their Halloween celebrations, citing loss of instructional time and security concerns [Oct. 25 Gazette].

Many valuable educational activities are integrated around the cultural events for which these parties serve to culminate. They endeavor to enrich and deepen our shared experience. Some of your happiest childhood memories probably recall just these moments.

By removing this tradition, we seem to discount the role fun plays in motivating young students. In order to gain instructional time we may be better off eliminating some standardized testing, which has garnered more than its fair share of preparation time.

Also, during my neighborhood school Halloween parade, a police officer happily stands guard over our besmudged hoboes, bejeweled princesses, ghouls and goblins so that they may acquire their own indelible remembrances.

David Orcutt


The writer is a retired elementary school teacher for the Niskayuna Central School District.

Election letters

The deadline for election letters is 5 p.m. on Oct. 31. We will continue to run selected letters on local races through Saturday, Nov. 3 in the print edition. More election-related letters will appear in the online edition.

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