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Letters to the Editor
What you need to know for 01/16/2018

State must provide funds to keep helping neglected kids in court

State must provide funds to keep helping neglected kids in court

*State must provide funds to keep helping neglected kids in court *‘Four linked clauses reveal 2nd A

State must provide funds to keep helping neglected kids in court

The League of Women Voters [LWV] of Schenectady County has had a strong interest in the court system and has supported many progressive programs, such as alternatives to incarceration, drug and mental health courts and the Integrated Domestic Violence Court. All of these programs have been supported by state and national League positions.

One of the programs that has been a valuable asset to the Family Court and children and families in distress is the CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) program, which works with well-trained volunteers who follow individual cases of children in abuse and neglect proceedings.

While children in Family Court are assigned attorneys to represent their best interest, these guardians for children do not have the time to follow each case more intensely. The CASA volunteers are assigned to conduct more intensive investigations and eventually submit a report with recommendations to the court.

In Schenectady, the volunteers are trained and supervised by the CASA director, who works out of the Center for Community Justice office. The director administers the programs for Schenectady, Albany and Rensselaer counties. In 2012, the three counties had 159 cases, followed by 39 volunteers. Schenectady County alone had 878 abuse and neglect petitions, with many of them involving the same child and family. Just one staff person trains and supervises all the volunteers for the three counties, which makes it a very frugal operation from the point of administrative cost.

In past years, the Office of Court Administration [OCA] has funded some of the administrative costs of the program. The 2011 OCA budget cut CASA by 38 percent, and the proposed 2013-14 OCA budget eliminates all funding.

The national CASA Association, which has 1,000 programs in 49 states, has filled an important gap in serving children in dire need of finding positive, permanent solutions for their future. In New York state, 800 volunteers assisted more than 3,200 children in Family Court proceedings in 2012.

The League wants to draw attention to the serious funding problem and invites constructive suggestions to resolve the funding crisis for the sake of children in desperate need of a permanent home.

Helga A. Schroeter


The writer is judicial chairwoman for LWV of Schenectady County.

Four linked clauses reveal 2nd Amendment’s meaning

Did the modifiers of the Constitution state exactly what they meant in the Second Amendment? Or did they intend to allow citizens to provide their own interpretations? I think the former is true.

The framers stated — in a single, declarative sentence with four connected parts — why the amendment was needed and what it entailed. Readers who understand English sentence construction will notice that the initial premise, “a well-regulated militia,” is subordinate to the second one.

Today we have the Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force, which are certainly organized and regulated very well. As we have realized since the 9/11 attack, we need to augment them with the National Guard, Homeland Security, Border Patrol and Coast Guard for our collective defense. Most Americans would agree that having an organized fighting force, “being necessary to the security of a free state,” is a wise thing.

It also seems reasonable that back in 1791, when this amendment was proposed, “the right of the people to keep and bear arms” was necessary for recruiting citizens prepared to transition into soldiers. After all, we just fought a war with England. Native American Indians were also a local threat, so families needed to protect themselves.

Some 222 years have passed since it was declared that this right “shall not be infringed.” But remember, they had only single-load muskets back then. Today, assault weapons with 30-bullet magazines need only be distributed and regulated by our military forces in time of war.

Notice that the amendment identifies no other reasons for this right. Not for self-protection, though it seems reasonable there was a need. Not for hunting, though citizens needed to shoot game to feed their families in that era. Though not specified therein, it seems harmless to allow sportsmen to shoot at face-painted melons on a distant fence post for practice with their muskets.

Words have meaning, especially when arranged in a simple, complete, declarative sentence.

David Lucier


Wind turbine would be a beacon for miSci

Schenectady’s Museum of Innovation and Science [miSci] needs a new design to be noticed. With the proper design, the museum could become a beacon for tourism and growth in our city.

The RPI architectural students have come up with some excellent proposals [Jan. 9 Gazette]. I, however, would like to propose a design that would call attention to the museum and incorporate our city’s past, present, and future.

Schenectady is home to the General Electric Wind Turbine Division. Why not combine the museum with GE research in wind power and construct a wind turbine on the museums grounds?

The museum and General Electric could use the turbine for a teaching model. Cost to the museum would be minimal, and it could use the power.

At a height of over 300 feet, the whole Capital Region would know where the miSci museum is located.

Joseph Kaczynski


Can’t liberal media find new gun whipping boy?

The media’s liberal bias is never more obvious than with its use of political cartoons. I don’t know how many attack cartoons I’ve seen against the NRA, but the one Jan. 15 prompts this letter.

It depicted Wayne LaPierre, NRA executive director, holding a newspaper with a headline reading, “Flu Epidemic,” saying, “Clearly, the only way to fight this is with more citizens carrying guns.” This attack on Mr. LaPierre only makes the cartoonist look stupid.

I heard the speech he gave before a room full of media people a week after the tragedy at Newtown. Amidst jeers from the likes of Code Pink, who were there to heckle him, he gave a very good presentation about keeping children safe in schools; the full transcript of his speech is available online.

He chastised his liberal press audience for not going after violent video games. He showed a brief clip of one game called “Kindergarten Killer,” and asked his audience why they had not found this when his staff had readily found it? Yes, you can still play it, but no one is saying anything about that. Can’t touch that industry.

No one is saying anything about the violence coming from Hollywood, either.

As for Mr. LaPierre, his ideas for keeping our children safer in schools are derided and put aside as a joke, when in reality they are a whole lot saner and make a whole lot more sense than the knee-jerk reactions we’re seeing from New York state and Washington.

Alice Baum


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