Better support needed for annual postal food drive
On May 11, I took a long walk and decided to count how many mailboxes had bags of food for the Postal Service food drive.
If you have a mailbox, you received a plastic bag on which simple instructions were written: Put non-perishable food in the bag; postal workers will pick up the bags on May 11 and the food will be delivered to local food pantries. Simple enough.
I counted on two roads. On the first, there were zero bags out of about 30 homes. The mail hadn’t come yet, some flags were still up. On the second road, there were six bags out of about 90 homes. The six tells me that these homes did indeed receive a bag and furthermore, the mail hadn’t come yet. I confirmed that last fact by seeing the mail truck just starting its pickup as I got to the end of the block. Unless suddenly scores of people were rushing to their front doors with bags of food, the final tally was six out of 120, or 5 percent.
Hunger is not a Thanksgiving or Christmas event, it is a reality for many people all year long. I’m sure that for some people, even parting with a single can of food is a hardship. However, I think that many of the 114 houses without a food bag could have spared one can of soup or box of pasta.
The writer is secretary for Concerned for the Hungry, Inc.
Letter about blind mom rekindled memories
Michelle Prunier’s May 14 letter regarding her mother who is blind [yet] so wonderfully able in so many ways that she is probably more able than many sighted mothers, brought tears to my eyes — as well as a memory of a wonderful young mother I once knew.
She, too, was blind and had three young sons. The eldest was only 11 at the time. We were pregnant together, she for her second son, I for my youngest.
We would crochet various things like booties and blankets together. She was the one who taught me different pattern stitches, and she would check my work with her hands. She would take what I was working on and find my mistakes with her fingers, and I then had to go back and rip it out and do it over again. I was awed that she could feel my mistakes when I was too blind to see them.
Nothing daunted this courageous young woman as she kept her home, cooked, did laundry, cleaned and dearly loved her boys. Sadly, we lost touch. I do know that she went on to attain a degree from St. Rose. What a testament of courage she was to me.
Michelle, thank you so much for writing your letter and paying tribute to such a wonderful mother.
BH-BL’s state aid is anything but a ‘freebie’
The Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake community should note that frequent [references] by the school board and administration to state aid as a “freebie” are duplicitous.
The average BH-BL 2012 school tax bill is $4,400, yet each pays, on average, another $3,000 in taxes out of their other pocket just for schools. Next year, the cost to send a student to our school district will be $18,700, up 20 percent in three years! Per the BH-BL website, the equivalent cost to send a commuting student to SUNY is $11,580. Our schools are in fiscal runaway, and actions by the same board members who voted to again increase contract costs also voted to increase kindergarten costs to placate the staff, including [board member] Lee Ann Mertzlufft, running for re-election.
Parents and other taxpayers need to wake up to the truth of what’s happening to the money they are shelling out for education. As board member/GE executive James Maughan stated at the Oct. 9 meeting, as his peers voted to approve another teacher’s contract with even more compensation increases for the highest paid teachers, “The equivalent of $130,000 for an experienced teacher is a fair wage; adding 2.9 percent salary increases this year and 3.3 percent next on top of 6 percent benefit increases is not in the community’s interests, especially when it will force us to lay off more teachers.”
With average private-sector wage increases trending 1.5 percent nationally, and the district child poverty rate quadrupling, the community will not survive with 1980s-era business as usual. For whose benefit? Certainly not our kids, when deliverables continually decline; and also not for the benefit of a citizenry who are the highest taxed in the nation.
We the citizenry are ultimately responsible for allowing this. Out of some 15,000 eligible taxpayers in our school district, only 2,200 bothered to participate in the last school vote, and when one considers that teachers and their spouses vote religiously for their own entitlements and to elect board members that pander to them, even if the remainder were all student parents, that would still be less than 20 percent!
I urge citizens to turn out next Tuesday and send a message that these actions are unacceptable — by voting this budget down.
Why is electric service so spotty in Glenville?
I am writing to complain about the unreliability of electric power in Glenville.
On May 11 we lost power around 9 p.m. There were no storms in the area. We experienced 15 minutes of flickering lights before the outage.
We lose power in our neighborhood several times a year — averaging close to one outage a month. This service reliability is closer to a Third World country’s power reliability than what is normal in the rest of this country.
More than 10 percent of my neighbors have installed generators to automatically generate power during an outage. I don’t believe this is the solution!
We have lived in nine different parts of the country and have never endured this lack of power reliability before.
For workers’ sake, don’t buy Bangladeshi clothing
The events in Bangladesh, 1,100 dead and counting at the garment factory, are very disturbing in many ways [May 8 Gazette]. Eighty percent of American and European companies plan to move their outsourcing from China to Bangladesh within the next five years due to wage increases in China.
The minimum monthly wage for garment workers in Bangladesh is $37. These workers represent 45 percent of the workforce but only 5 percent of the wealth.
The country’s worker safety record is abysmal. The safety inspectors are paid by the factory owners. Two dozen of those owners are in the Parliament. I would imagine no worker safety laws are passed!
The industry uses child labor. The workers (90 percent are women) are locked in the buildings for their entire shift and mandatory overtime. The day before this tragedy, they were told if they didn’t show up for work, they would have their pay docked, even though the owners knew the building was unsafe.
I will be more cognizant in my future purchases of clothing. Buy from American companies and only if their clothing is made in America!
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