Stratton has hardly instilled confidence with Canal Corp. job
I had to laugh when I read Canal Corp. Director Brian Stratton’s recent comments on impending layoffs in his department and the Thruway [Feb. 21 Gazette].
Stratton claims that the loss of 42 lower-level jobs in his department shouldn’t disrupt any operations of the state’s canal and lock system. His past history, however, leads me to believe just the opposite.
Stratton was given his current job at the start of Andrew Cuomo’s term in office as a “thank you” for his work on Cuomo’s gubernatorial campaign. At the time, Stratton’s job was considered just a very high-salaried patronage job that required little or no experience, which adequately describes Stratton’s qualifications. Even now, Stratton remains one of the governor’s good “soldiers.”
Unfortunately for Stratton and many people in the Mohawk Valley, we were hit with the one-two punch of a hurricane and tropical storm, and the new canal director’s lack of experience became painfully obvious to the residents of Rotterdam Junction, Scotia and Schenectady. Blunder after blunder occurred as Stratton chose to ignore the warnings and advice of the canal workers and took his direction from the governor’s office, which had the same [lack] of experience.
In the aftermath, many experts believed that had the locks been opened a few days sooner and the construction equipment in the river at Lock 10 moved to open the river channel, much of the destruction down-river may have been avoided.
When questioned by the press following the storm, Stratton was at a loss to explain his action, or rather inaction, to the storms and looked very uncomfortable in front of the cameras. Now Mr. Stratton wants us to believe that losing 42 of the people who actually do the work of keeping the canals and locks operating smoothly will have no effect.
It’s also pertinent to mention that no high-level administrators in the Canal Corp. or Thruway Authority will be getting pink slips; only lower-level union employees, who got their jobs by taking a civil service exam instead of being appointed by the governor or another politician paying off a political favor.
I sincerely hope we have a very quiet storm season this summer for the residents who live along the Mohawk River. I would feel much safer if it had been 50 bureaucrats who were laid off and not the canal workers. No matter how much Director Stratton assures us, I can’t realistically believe him. His track record speaks for itself.
The writer is a retired state employee and longtime union activist.
Student players surely miss old chess column
Re Feb. 25 article, “Kings, Queens pick up the pieces”: This is exactly why the Gazette should not have dropped Bill Townsend’s “Chess Corner.” As evidenced by the higher number of players in this year’s state Scholastic Chess Championships, the game continues to grow in popularity among young players.
As the adult facilitator of a local public elementary school chess club that completely fills the school library (and is taught by a high school player), I see firsthand the benefits of chess and the enthusiasm brought to the game by young players.
While we in the club are thankful that the Gazette has brought back a truncated version of “Chess Corner,” called “Area Chess,” it misses many of the best parts of the old column — the analysis of a game, the chess puzzle and the list of upcoming events.
The Capital Region has a very large and active chess community and hosts two large state tournaments every year, as well as having three active (non-school-based) chess clubs (Albany, Schenectady, and Saratoga) and numerous chess-themed events throughout the year.
Most prominent among these are the well-attended free monthly chess tournaments hosted by “Make the Right Move,” and the popular summer lunchtime event, “Chess Under the Marquis,” held every Monday in summer outside Proctors.
In an era where budget cuts are slashing money for education, and schools are responding by offering a bare-bones, teach-to-the test curriculum, the exploding popularity of young people playing chess, a game proven to strengthen analytical and higher order thinking skills, is truly a bright spot.
Please reconsider your decision to cut “Chess Corner.”
Assault weapon ban the very least we can do
Re Feb. 26 article about Saratoga County leaders backing the gun law repeal — I couldn’t help but notice that amidst all the grandstanding about God-given, fundamental rights, nowhere is it mentioned that the subjects of the law — assault weapons — are solely used to kill people; moreover, as many people as quickly as possible.
Who the heck are these gun owners planning to bear these arms against? Marauding invaders from Canada? Any intelligent person should accept the fact that the creators of the Constitution hardly foresaw the slaughter of modern technology and [should] be willing to limit their abuse.
I realize “the genie is out of the bottle” and the gun lobbies have successfully perverted the system to the point where way too many assault weapons are available to both criminals and average citizens alike, but this law, while not perfect, at least attempts to control them.
We have to start somewhere, and like the Constitution itself, laws often need adjustments and tweaking to best serve the entire population. Amend, maybe, but don’t repeal!
YWCA celebration was an inspiring affair
While the rest of the world was preparing to celebrate the Oscars, the YWCA of Northeastern New York held its 20th annual Black History and Unsung Heroine celebration Feb. 25 Gazette]. The event celebrated the accomplishments and spirit of African-American women in Schenectady who have given their time, talent and resources to benefit others.
Being an anniversary year, it did not specifically honor a certain woman, but all the women who had won the award in the past. The event did exactly what the heroines are honored for: It inspired, motivated and challenged us to hold ourselves to a higher standard.
[YWCA board member] Marsha Mortimore should be commended for the effort she put into the event this year and years past. The voices of the Duryee Choir were amazingly powerful and 12-year-old Katera Edward’s rendition of “The Greatest Love of All” was moving.
As a previous award winner of the Unsung Heroine award, keynote speaker Doris Belton did not disappoint the audience. She talked about how women come in all shapes and sizes, how far women have come, and how powerful women don’t necessarily wear suits.
To the “phenomenal women” who inspired me on Sunday, I’m looking forward to attending the celebration next year. May this be a sample of what is to come during the YWCA’s 125th anniversary year!
If Obama had told the truth, he would’ve lost
Re Feb. 25 letter, “Forget Kool-Aid cracks, focus on country’s future,” by Diane Hombach: She is correct that more people voted for President Obama, although it is my opinion that if only 2 percent more people fact-checked his rhetoric, he would not have been re-elected.
Here are but a few Obama falsehoods reported by politifact.com. His administration “has created 5 million jobs in the private sector”; we have doubled the distance our cars will go on a gallon of gas”; and “we’ve excluded lobbyists from policymaking jobs.”
It’s time to move on from blaming President Bush for Obama’s lack of leadership and success at fixing this economy. Maybe he should look at how President Reagan fixed Carter’s out-of-control economy of 15 percent hyperinflation, 18.5 percent mortgage rates and the most bank failures post-Depression in less than 18 months.
I believe President Reagan had it right when he said: “Large government is not the answer, it’s the problem.”
Wednesday’s letter by Paul Finnegan asserted that there were more U.S. combat deaths in Iraq between 2007 and 2010 than in the previous six years. That was true of the war in Afghanistan, not Iraq.
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