Raise Thruway tolls, don’t resort to layoffs, to finance new bridge
Is cutting jobs the New York State Thruway Authority’s best decision? On Jan. 30, the Thruway Authority confirmed an 8 percent layoff of its work force. Cutting 234 jobs from the current 2,968 is irrational, only saving $20 million annually. The reconstruction of the Tappan Zee Bridge, estimated at $3.1 billion, will take five years to complete.
Layoffs will cover 3 percent of the cost of construction during this period. The state has transferred interstate maintenance to the Thruway during poor economic periods in the past. The Thruway has an existing $3 billion in debt and no financing plan for the bridge.
The state should provide funds to decrease the amount financed by the Thruway, given the project falls directly under Cuomo’s agenda. Doing so would alleviate the need to put a portion of a dedicated work force on unemployment.
The Thruway has historically operated without layoffs and can turn to other mechanisms to ease monetary woes, including refinancing short-term debt, instituting a lower percentage toll increase for all users, freezing wages, or decreasing capital costs.
Since tolls remained unchanged from 1988 to 2005, a more steady increase could bring increased revenues to cover portions of construction. These measures, as well as state assistance, will make the project a reality.
Animal traps as cruel as they are dangerous
I would like to thank Martha Winsten [Jan. 19] and Kathleen Collar [Jan. 28] for their recent letters regarding the use of animal traps. These letters pointed out that both leg hold traps and rat traps are inhumane to animals and dangerous to people.
As a licensed wildlife rehabilitator, I have treated animals caught in body-gripping traps (which include leg hold traps). These animals suffer strangulation, lacerations, broken bones, joint dislocation, and tooth and tongue injuries as well as hunger, thirst, exposure, panic, shock and predation by other animals.
The American Hospital Association considers these types of traps to be inhumane. In addition, formal studies and anecdotal evidence show that for every target animal trapped, between two and three unwanted animals are caught, including family pets. The exact numbers are not known because, unfortunately, trappers are not required to report non-target animals caught in their traps.
As a rehabber, I have taken in hawks, owls and mammals that have had to be euthanized because they suffered for days in leg hold traps which caused infection that spread through the body. Many animals will chew off their own legs in order to free themselves. I took in a beautiful red fox who suffered for days dragging around a leg hold trap. When we were finally able to capture her, her leg had to be amputated.
Is this really the way we want to treat the animals who share our planet?
Wrong to totally decriminalize abortion
Gov. Cuomo is moving ahead with a plan to remove all reference to abortion from the penal code. The rationale presented for this law is that in rare instances doctors are hesitant to perform late-term abortions out of fear of conflict with the existing law.
The law already allows for abortion at any stage to save the life of the mother, but occasionally a patient is in the gray zone, and doctors are fearful. If the governor brought together a panel of medical experts, and carefully reworded the law to cover these unusual circumstances, I would be reluctant to criticize. But instead he uses a progressive sledgehammer to obliterate any control whatsoever from our criminal law.
Once again, governor, I ask that you walk over to the neonatal intensive care unit at Albany Medical Center. It is not far from your mansion. Take a prematurely born infant in your arms. Look that baby in the eye (you’ll have to get pretty close, as their depth of focus is pretty short) and say: “Yesterday it would not have been a crime to end your life.” You can use the term “terminate” or “procedure” or whatever euphemism your movement favors.
If you can do this, and still pursue your new law, then my disagreement with you will remain strong, but respectful. If you cannot bring yourself to face the reality of your agenda, then I call you, sir, a coward.
To the voters of New York: Please do not be taken in if the opponents to this legislation are tagged as making a war on women. Rather, all voters who have been a third-trimester fetus at some point in their lives, and are grateful that the law protected them in that state, should carefully consider the implications of this law and the agenda of those who would pass it.
Keep villages in Schoharie County, get rid of towns
Re Feb. 15 letter, “After dissolution, Middleburgh would still be Middleburgh”: Do the residents of the village of Middleburgh really want their public facilities operated by a board elected by a non-resident majority, and possibly not including even a single resident of the village? That’s what happens in dissolution.
A government elected town-wide, not village-wide, runs the show, as with the Central Bridge Water District. There, the Esperance and Schoharie town boards meet as the Water District board to handle the business of the Central Bridge water system. There may, or may not, be a Central Bridge resident on one of the town boards. (The Central Bridge Water District overlaps small parts of each town, so both town boards are involved.)
In the case of Middleburgh, dissolution would result in a government elected by, and from, 3,746 town residents taking over the facilities that serve only 1,500 village residents. Town board members often — but not necessarily — include village residents. Here, 60 percent of the town population are not residents of the village.
Villages provide services needed in densely populated areas. The cost of villages is minimal, and little if any cost is eliminated in dissolution; the costs are merely shifted to the control of a board controlled by an electorate that, in this case, is 60 percent non-resident.
A better solution for saving money would be to merge or totally abolish towns. The 16 towns of Schoharie County provide the 16 supervisors who have succeeded in making a joke of our county government. We should not allow towns to make jokes of our villages.
Driver education key to Malta roundabout
The Feb. 14 article [“GloFo: No Northway exit needed”] about the need to upgrade traffic capacity for additional chip plant expansion offered several alternatives to building a new Northway exit, among which was increasing the capacity of the roundabout at Routes 9 and 67.
When originally built, this roundabout was designed to let either lane go straight across, but after a few months of mostly slow-speed accidents, it was redesigned so that only the outside lane could go straight across in an east/west direction (Two lanes can still go straight across in the north/south directions.)
The problem: People insisted on turning left from the outside lane, running into those wanting to go straight across. There are signs (apparently ignored) which inform drivers they can only turn left from the inside lane, but to this date, there are still a lot of cars coming from the Northway and turning north on Route 9 from the outside lane.
I drive through this intersection several times a day, and particularly at evening rush hour an astonishing number of people perform this maneuver. I think they just don’t know any better.
Driver education could have prevented this situation and may allow the intersection to return to its original capacity. Law enforcement needs to station someone at the intersection and give out warning tickets. Better signage is needed to make it clear that a left turn from the outside lane is dangerous and illegal.
Let’s restore the Malta roundabout to its original capacity. People are smart enough to navigate it correctly if they understand how the traffic flow is supposed to work.
Inclusion in school beneficial to all
Re Feb. 14 article, “Time Capsule”: As a product of Pleasant Valley’s Cerebral Palsy class, I could cite reams of poignant and heartening anecdotes. I won’t, for fear of demeaning the unassuming nature of our efforts. Two distinctly different points deserve highlighting.
First is Schenectady City School District’s dedication to inclusion. Whether by design or omission, my disabled peers and I took lunch, playground and assemblies right along with regular class students. This forced a level of socialization no parent organization, 504 Plan, or IEP [individualized education program] could bring about.
The “learning” that went on in these unstructured situations helped all Pleasant Valley students become more aware, sensitive, productive citizens.
Secondly, the fact that photographer Marc Schultz drew the assignment to document yesterday’s happenings is very fortuitous. Way back when, if our class drew attention worth a Gazette article, it was his dad, Ed Schultz, who came to photograph it. I will always cherish his gentle, open manner while dealing with us.
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