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

Flood insurance reform needed, but not like this

Flood insurance reform needed, but not like this

*Flood insurance reform needed, but not like this *Civilian Police Review Board needs revamping *Two

Flood insurance reform needed, but not like this

Last summer, Congress enacted changes to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) that will result in dramatically higher flood insurance costs for many policyholders.

To account for the true costs of flood insurance, the bill phases in premiums that reflect the full flood risk of each insured building. Congress clearly wants to restore the fiscal soundness of the NFIP (which owed the U.S. Treasury $17 billion prior to Hurricane Sandy) and expects people who occupy floodplains to shoulder more of the costs.

The legislation phases out insurance subsidies for several categories of buildings, including: second homes, business properties, new policies, and newly purchased property. Without these subsidies, insurance costs will be based on the elevation (or flood protection level) of the structure. The resulting rates can be quite high, particularly for buildings with basements.

Other changes will affect rates for all flood insurance policies, which can rise by up to 20 percent per year. The bottom line is that premiums are going to rise significantly in future years. Unfortunately, Congress did not address the affordability of flood insurance, other than to authorize a study.

The New York State Floodplain and Stormwater Managers Association (NYSFSMA) recognizes the need for NFIP reform, but is concerned about the impact this legislation will have on business districts and real estate markets in older floodplain communities. The Association will continue to advocate for additional reforms to the flood insurance program in order to achieve the multiple objectives of affordability, fairness, and fiscal soundness.

David A. Hatin


The writer is Region 5 director for NYSFSMA.

Civilian Police Review Board needs revamping

In response to the Feb. 2 letter to the editor [“McCarthy wrong: It’s best for Police Review Board to stay neutral”] concerning the Schenectady Civilian Police Review Board: No one can guarantee that any one person is either biased or unbiased toward the Schenectady Police Department. I believe a balance of both types helps to level the playing field for both. So I agree with the mayor.

Being an advocate for city law enforcement doesn’t mean that the board would hide information. It just means that the board would work with law enforcement to build a better system to monitor activities, investigate and report complaints, and suggest alternatives to disciplines.

There first needs to be a cleaning of that review board before any candidates are appointed. There also seems to be a lack of leadership and direction. There are a few good people in there as it stands right now, but there still needs to be a clear understanding of the SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) — if there is any to begin with. A code of conduct wouldn’t hurt, either.

One person should only hold the chair for two years. Voting on new officers should be held after each two-year period. This helps to bring fresh leadership, ideas and direction to an organization such as this.

As far as preventing [bad] actions of an officer, that would be mostly impossible, unless you are a fortune-teller. Most of the actions that occurred were long- and short-term events. The Review Board has no real jurisdiction over any of the law enforcement departments. The NYCLU [New York Civil Liberties Union] describes the duties and responsibilities very nicely.

If there is to be a Civilian Police Review Board, it needs to start again and put in place all the required rules and regulations that would govern this board. When that has been completed, then and only then can the Review Board start to function as a viable resource for the city of Schenectady. Out with the old and in with the new, as it were.

Raymond Feurstein


The writer was a member of the Civil Defense Auxiliary Police.

Two sensible columns, and some sad stories

I love reading the Gazette in the “flesh,” as it were. You get caught by unexpected articles. Just the other day [Jan. 28], two columnists, Joe Conason and E.J. Dionne, wrote about our national economic situation — from different points of view, of course.

Conason’s column addressed the continued efforts of our president to keep the social safety nets in place in a realistic manner. Dionne’s column focused on the point that the nation’s economy is “being held hostage by a ludicrous cycle of phony fiscal deadlines.”

The unexpected article was, “Abuse of elderly, use of shelters rising.” The article told sad stories about people who, for various reasons, are in dire situations in their later years. The conditions that led to such unexpected events arose from many societal changes: families living away from each other; people living much longer than previous generations; and sometimes, either by strangers or by family members, the elderly are robbed of their savings.

Studies suggest that in hard economic times, abuse within family situations increases. In the AP article by Dan Sewell, he writes, “recognition of and mechanisms for dealing with elder abuse are many years behind strides that have been made in child abuse awareness.” This is not good news for a nation that is getting increasingly “older.”

What does this have to do with the two columnists? As Conason mentioned, we need to keep pressure on President Obama to push for a reasonable solution to the social safety net issue (not entitlement problem) and make sure he doesn’t make unnecessary cuts just to make a bargain. Dionne’s suggestion to “calm down” and stop using contrived debt crises, “to turn the next two years into a carnival,” should be noted in Congress.

We, as citizens, need to make our opinions known clearly and firmly. Hopefully, as elections in Israel have recently shown, the voice and vote of the people still matter.

Janice Walz


Cuomo’s proposed cuts would hurt public health

New Yorkers should be very concerned that under the governor’s proposed Executive Budget, funding for the Tobacco Control Program and the Healthy Heart Program has essentially been eliminated.

The governor has proposed taking the already-limited number of dollars dedicated for health prevention and lumping them into a competitive pool. New Yorkers do not know how much, if any, will be committed to these lifesaving programs.

Why would we jeopardize funding for two successful programs that are so vital to the heart health of New Yorkers? The facts surrounding heart disease are both startling and alarming; it is the leading cause of death in New York state.

Smoking and obesity are major risk factors for heart disease. In New York state, a whopping 8.5 million adults are considered overweight or obese. Obesity is not just a problem for adults. It has also emerged as a major health concern for teens and children. Almost one-third of New York state’s children between the ages of 10 to 17 are considered overweight or obese.

And while we have made great strides in the state’s smoking rates, over 18 percent of adults still smoke and 12.6 percent of high school students smoke. We can and must do more.

As a paramedic and educator, I see the results of all these alarming statistics with the patients who call for EMS [emergency medical services].

The American Heart Association is calling for transparency and funds specifically committed to the Tobacco Control Program and the Healthy Heart Program. For the health of New Yorkers, we can’t afford to not invest in these programs.

Bob Elling


Smoke shops not kind of business Scotia wants

My congratulations to whoever is promoting new business in the village of Scotia.

We now have two shops that sell tobacco products in a two-block area. The latest one is next to a coffee shop where a lot of young people hang out. I truly hope they won’t be tempted or fooled by the neon sign for the smoke shop.

Maybe the village could market the old McDonald’s lot for a gambling casino to feed another addiction.

Bernard Witkowski


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