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Letters to the Editor
What you need to know for 02/25/2017

Beware presidential power to spy on, and kill, Americans

Beware presidential power to spy on, and kill, Americans

*Beware presidential power to spy on, and kill, Americans *Lengthening school day, or year, won’t wo

Beware presidential power to spy on, and kill, Americans

Many serious issues bombard us each day, to the point of being distracted from the most dangerous threat to every individual citizen. I refer to FISA [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act] and the killing of U.S. citizens upon presidential “order.”

Un-American, Orwellian thinking has been put forth, wrongly, to justify these dictatorial measures. It is illogical and unacceptable to resort to the means and methods of tyrants and dictators in defense of our (once) noble nation and the true values of our country, our Constitution and our people. Foolish lawyering cannot alter this truth.

Please, speak out clearly against these practices to bring them to an end. Now. Otherwise, a darkness will gather over our land. A secret government, not one of the people, will take hold to spy upon and self-righteously kill citizens of the land formerly held by the people, for the people.

Douglas P. Conlan

Clifton Park

Lengthening school day, or year, won’t work

It has been in the news recently that some schools will be lengthening their school days and years [Feb. 1 Gazette]. As a high school student, I am appalled.

It is not fair to students to do this. Right now, we have to get up very early in the morning every day and then sit through hours of work. The teachers are just doing their jobs, but after a while, it can all sort of blur.

I, for one, am a well-performing student, but after a long day of learning, I get tired and burned out. It won’t be very effective to make the days longer, because we will retain less information due to exhaustion.

One of the main reasons schools are doing this is to give low-performing students a chance to catch up. That’s great, but it doesn’t have to be done in a way that every student is involved. If all teachers [allow] students to stay with them for a few hours after school, it will be much [less expensive] and can still help the underachieving kids succeed.

The only way this can be successful is to add extra days to the year, not hours to the day. Then we will get the same amount of learning spread out. However, this will become pricey. To add 300 hours, as planned, the teachers will require a hefty sum of money.

Gov. Cuomo and the rest of the states are dreaming if they think [this] plan will work.

Matthew Prosper

Glenville

Sheriffs, deputies right about strong-arm tactics

On Jan. 24, two letters were sent to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, one by the New York State Sheriffs’ Association representing the 58 county sheriffs and the other by the union representing the Saratoga County deputy sheriffs. Both were extremely critical of the new state gun law for the manner in which it was hurried through the Legislature with no public participation.

The Sheriffs’ Association declares that testing the boundaries of a constitutional right (in this case the Second Amendment) should only be done with great respect for those boundaries. The governor misused the message of necessity to force the bill’s passage without allowing the required three days for review by legislators and the public. The Senate leadership failed to exercise its responsibility and acquiesced to the governor.

The Sheriffs’ Association approved of several parts of the act — expanded background checks, requirements for safe storage of firearms, increased penalties for illegal use of weapons — and found several others they would approve if amended. They and the Saratoga County deputies, however, strongly disapproved of the core of the act (arbitrary definition of assault weapons, depriving people of legitimately used semiautomatic firearms, reductions in the capacity of gun magazines, restrictions on the sale of ammunition, etc.).

Much of the law will affect only law-abiding owners of firearms, will mandate severe restrictions of one of our constitutional liberties, and will do nothing to reduce gun violence in New York.

It seems particularly telling that men and women who have dedicated their lives to enhancing public safety, including shielding citizens from gun violence, find this new gun legislation ill-conceived, ill-advised and threatening to our liberties.

Ronald Winters

Clifton Park

Right to bear arms can’t be unconditional

A recent Quinnipiac poll [showing] Gov. Cuomo’s approval rating dropping from 74 percent to 59 percent has given gun right advocates the false impression that New Yorkers are opposed to recent gun control legislation. However, that same poll also found that over 60 percent of New Yorkers either agree with [our] recent legislation or say it doesn’t go far enough.

In 2008 the Supreme Court decided in Heller vs. District of Columbia that the Second Amendment “protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia.” But the decision also stated: “Like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.”

As such, it seems reasonable that, given the government’s constitutional responsibility for the general welfare and the fact that over 30,000 people die as a result of gun fatalities each year, government has the power to regulate what is not in the best interests of the general welfare — i.e. arms designed to kill as many people as possible in the shortest amount of time.

To be sure, the current gun control laws won’t end all, or even most, of the gun deaths; because until we address the root causes of crime, especially income inequality, poverty, lack of educational opportunities, lack of employment options, poor housing and the lack of hope, gun violence will continue.

But when the Centers for Disease Control projects that gun fatalities will exceed traffic deaths by 2015, to do nothing would be an unconscionable abdication of government’s responsibility.

John Pagoda

Rensselaer

Let’s hope drug dealers aren’t on welfare, too

It is not amazing to me the number of people who were arrested in [last week’s] drug sweep [Feb. 6 Gazette]!

They live a life that the normal taxpaying citizen could not and would not want. However, I would love it if [Gazette reporter] David Lombardo could research and find out how many of these drug traffickers are receiving benefits from the state — including food stamps, health insurance, Section 8, etc.

I am sure it would be eye-opening! I would venture to guess that the taxpayers are paying for their extravagant lifestyle!

How do we take their drug profits and put them back into the state, where someone really needs the help?

Sue Tucci

Glenville

If VA care is mediocre, Stratton is an exception

The news media likes to focus on bad news, so when we hear tales of woe from various Veterans Administration [VA] hospitals, we tend to believe that is the case for all VA hospitals.

Nothing could be further from the truth with regard to Albany’s Stratton VA Medical Center. My dad, a World War II veteran, has received spectacular treatment there.

His primary care physician is exceptionally diligent, even to the point of calling after hours to let us know the results of his tests. She is positive, upbeat, not only clearly concerned about my dad’s health but also quick to credit his caregivers. She has always been able to squeeze time into her busy schedule to see my dad on short notice.

The staff is pleasant and helpful, making sure my dad gets the various tests he needs, etc.

So when you hear the media criticize the VA, let the public know that their family members will be exceptionally well cared for at the Albany VA.

Richard Moody Jr.

Schoharie

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