DSIC must do more for small businesses, not just Proctors
Reading the Nov. 28 article about the dispute between the Downtown Schenectady Improvement Corp. and local merchants, I came to the following conclusion: DSIC Executive Director Jim Salengo’s main talent seems to be making excuses.
Nowhere in the article does Salengo dispute the complaints of the Jay Street merchants and Kat Bird Shop owner. He speaks of plans for 2013, but doesn’t seem to want to take responsibility for the numerous failures of his agency in the recent past.
I frequently shop at many of the Jay Street businesses, like Open Door, Orion, Re-Collector, Lennon’s Irish Shop, Bliss and the Kat Bird Shop. On many occasions, I have heard the store owners complain about being left out of a downtown event or, as Kat Bird’s Kathy Fitzmaurice pointed out, being told at the last minute of an event that had been planned weeks earlier.
If I were a small business owner in that area, I would be very angry with the DSIC. It appears they have received little in return for the money they have invested in the agency.
The other thing I got out of the article was that Proctors seems to be the main focus of the DSIC, both financially and promotionally. I wonder how Proctors’ head Phillip Morris would react if they were either left out of a downtown event or told about it at the last minute?
There’s no denying that Proctors is the jewel of downtown Schenectady, and the major tourist attraction, but it shouldn’t be the only thing that DSIC promotes. I recall that only a few short years ago, the city had a thriving Art Night, with dozens of studios and local artists on Jay and State streets near the theater opening their doors to the public. Lack of support from the DSIC has made Art Night a faded memory of a great idea that was never seen to completion.
I urge Mr. Salengo to use the petition from the local merchants as a wake-up call and take a good, hard look at what he’s done — or more importantly, what he hasn’t done. When you neglect the small businesses that have chosen to invest their money and hard work in downtown, you potentially weaken all of the businesses in the area.
Look beyond that small stretch of real estate near Proctors, Mr. Salengo, and you will see a whole different downtown Schenectady just waiting to be unveiled to the public.
State should spend more to stop smoking
The New York State Tobacco Control Program saves lives and saves money.
In 2009, 25,400 lives were prematurely lost due to tobacco use in New York. Those were 25,400 mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, grandmothers and grandfathers. People are losing their lives due to products that are not only addictive, but deadly.
An estimated $8.17 billion is spent annually on treatment for tobacco-related illnesses in New York, including $2.7 billion in Medicaid costs. With the Medicaid burden being put on local governments, the increasing costs of treating tobacco-related illnesses is making it more difficult for municipalities to provide the necessary police, fire, and EMT services for their citizens.
The information, services, and outreach that the New York State Tobacco Control Program provides to the state helps smokers quit, educates youth so they do not start smoking, and protects the general health of all New Yorkers.
With current funding, the program is losing the ability to do all of these very necessary actions. Even though New York state collects over $2 billion annually through taxes on cigarettes, the program is only funded for $41 million.
According to the American Cancer Society, there are currently over 2.7 million adult smokers in New York. We have a long way to go to reduce these numbers and we need the funding to save lives and money.
The writer is program coordinator of Reality Check HFM for Catholic Charities of Fulton & Montgomery counties.
Why single out Farley when they all do it?
This is regarding Mark Vermilyea’s Nov. 28 letter “Farley should just give the pension money back” and The Daily Gazette’s Nov. 23 editorial “Farley should fix problematic pension law” regarding “double dipping” by elected officials.
The editorial did not list Rep. Paul Tonko as also being a “double dipper,” as he receives a New York state pension in addition to his federal salary. Sure, legally he can do this, but does that make it any more ethical than Sen. Hugh Farley receiving his pension in addition to his salary?
People will take all they are entitled to and a lot they are not; that is human nature and not found solely within the confines of government employment.
You will find that 99 percent of government employees are just like the average person. And you would probably find that most elected officials are honest and hard-working individuals. To single out individuals to put on the public carpet does not serve the public interest.
Economy too far out of whack for tax cuts
The Bush tax cuts were a bad idea 10 years ago and are still bad idea today. It is time to let them cuts expire. This will return certainty to the markets and get the economy going.
Borrowing money from China is only a hidden tax, and will need to be paid by future generations. I am embarrassed to vote myself lower taxes today only to increase taxes for my children and grandchildren in the future.
Once we get to a balanced budget, we can then consider lowering taxes. But not until.
Mythical walk offers new perspective on life
Neil Yetwin’s Nov. 25 mythical walk through Schenectady’s landscape reawakened in me a sense of hope. I was already grateful for mid-November sunshine, loved ones gathered at my table and a peace I’m convinced the world can create through compassionate and cooperative problem-solving.
Yetwin’s words remind me that peace and a sense of prosperity come through the exercise of our imaginations. I will now look for a sacred grove in my neighborhood’s trails. I will hike the city’s hills ready for a mythical great blue heron or some bossy squirrel or crow messenger from the gods.
That Yetwin carried his childhood wonder at the very sound of Schenectady and held to the importance of our heroic past for over 50 years is no small thing. May his practice of savoring the landscapes of life remind us all to notice and find wonder in the places we walk, work and play.
May we mine what we consider our “simple” pasts for mystery and metaphor so as to imagine new ways to employ peace in a still-quite-troubled world.
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