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Letters to the Editor
What you need to know for 01/20/2017

Ten good reasons for getting rid of Schenectady’s graffiti

Ten good reasons for getting rid of Schenectady’s graffiti

*Ten good reasons for getting rid of Schenectady’s graffiti *Why no hue and cry over science class c

Ten good reasons for getting rid of Schenectady’s graffiti

For the past decade and more, Schenectadians have been embarrassed by displays of graffiti, yet the problem persists.

Here are my top 10 reasons why graffiti should be stopped:

1) Graffiti creates a negative first impression of our city.

2) Graffiti is often gang-related; its existence is often assumed to indicate gang power.

3) Graffiti creates an environment which does not encourage families to buy property in the city.

4) Graffiti lowers property values.

5) Graffiti reduces the tax base.

6) Graffiti raises taxes for current property owners.

7) Graffiti, at the cost of less than $1 per tag, offsets the aesthetics of the fine improvements downtown.

8) Graffiti reflects negatively on the police department.

9) Graffiti is bad for citizen morale.

10) Graffiti, created by artistically and morally challenged egomaniacs, is just plain ugly.

It is a shame this problem is just too difficult to solve.

Fred Heitkamp

Schenectady

Why no hue and cry over science class cuts?

It is disappointing that in this era of the STEM (Science, Technology and Math) Initiative, the Schenectady school board and community have had such strong feelings about proposed cuts to the arts, but have had no interest or reaction to the proposed cutting of our Regents science class lab time.

We now meet every other day, and next year, we will only meet one day in four — cutting our lab time in half. No one has objected to the loss of lab time or the loss of science teachers at the high school.

In this day of APPR [Annual Professional Performance Review] evaluations, teachers and districts are being judged by our passing rates and, yet, next year we will have less contact time with our students. It gets worse. No one has yet said what our class size will be; but the superintendent has said that class sizes will increase.

If there is only one day of lab and there are 30 students in a class, there really will be no lab whatsoever. We have very diverse classes of teenagers who need one-on-one help with lab procedures and performance. It would be unsafe and ineffective to have more than 24 in a lab class.

I hope our board and community are paying attention.

Colleen Morris

Schenectady

The writer is an earth science teacher at Schenectady High School.

Northville’s chimney swifts deserved better

Re April 26 article, “Passage of time alters avian tradition”: What am I missing here, people of Northville?

For over 100 years, chimney swifts have been returning each year to your community. You’ve held parties, picnics and just generally celebrated their clock-like return.

People in surrounding areas have come to help you welcome back these high-flying, bug-eating acrobats of the skies. Every year the Gazette carries a picture on the front page of its local news section, filling us all in on their return and your welcoming committee.

So what happened? Last year, you allowed their home to be torn down! I know, the owner was afraid of possible lawsuits from falling debris, etc. But come on, you couldn’t have gotten together as a community and found a creative solution to the problem? Raising funds to stabilize the existing structure or build a new one? People from outside your community, like myself, would have gladly donated had we known there was a problem!

You have lost so much by allowing an entire ecosystem to vanish from your area. New generations will only be able to hear stories of the “flying cigars” that once filled the evening skies over your neighborhood, and then those too will be lost.

What happened to the old hippies in your town, who grew up in the 1960s and ’70s, who should have chained themselves to that chimney at the first sign of the wrecking ball? With prior knowledge of this event, something should have been done to avert this tragedy!

James Myers

Ballston Spa

Fundamental differences between guns, cars

Paul Donahue’s May 2 letter, “We regulate cars for safety, why not guns?”, illustrates with precision the fundamental and unbridgeable chasm between gun owners and gun banners.

That difference is evident when he compares drinking and driving with modern sporting firearms’ capacity for cartridges (not bullets) in the magazines (not clips). In this analogy, he equates bad, even illegal, personal behavior (drunken driving) with possession of an inanimate object. This is simply another iteration of the “guns are bad” mantra repeated by progressives. Progressives always seek something to blame for bad or irresponsible personal behavior.

Mr. Donahue then dissimulates, as most gun banners do. He says, “no one is suggesting we confiscate guns to reduce gun violence.” That statement in demonstrably false. Vice President Joseph Biden, however, did say that the gun regulations he advocated would not substantially reduce gun violence.

Mr. Donahue compares losing the privilege of driving (as a result of trial and conviction for the offense) to gun crimes. This is incorrect. He proposes to infringe upon the rights of all citizens in a futile attempt to prevent the misbehavior of a few.

In a more [accurate] analogy, a ban on firearms and magazines would be comparable to banning automobiles, or perhaps cellphones, because some people are violating laws and regulations. The speed limit in New York is 65 mph; why not prohibit the sale of motor vehicles that can exceed this speed? Why not require all registered vehicles to be modified with governors to limit speeds above 65? Surely this would reduce fatalities on our highways and save gasoline.

Mr. Donahue notes that cars are registered, and asks why not firearms? First, as he notes, driving an automobile is a privilege; while owning a firearm is a right protected by the Constitution.

Second, motor vehicle registrations, cars, trucks, boats, trailers, ATVs, etc., are a tax; inspections are about safety, registrations are about revenue.

Third, one can own an automobile without registering the vehicle. This might compare to hunting. I could, until recently, own a gun with a large-magazine capacity. I could not hunt water fowl, however, with a firearm that has the capacity for more than three cartridges. Those cartridges could not contain lead shot. The state and federal government place restrictions on the privilege of hunting, not the right to own guns.

Firearms today, used as directed, are safer than motor vehicles. Recalls of firearms happen much more infrequently than automobiles. Most “accidents” (I do not believe being hit by a drunk, or a driver on a cellphone, is an accident) are not caused by automobiles’ design flaws.

Similarly, incidents in which people are harmed by firearms are almost always deliberately willful or, at best, negligent, acts. The heinous act in Connecticut had absolutely nothing to do with firearm safety. Although the terrorists in Boston had firearms — illegal, unregistered [ones] — they used materials available to each and all of us to construct their infernal devices of mass destruction.

Art Henningson

Rotterdam

Students’ success due to families, not schools

Before you vote for another school budget, and reinstall the board that makes it, you might consider that the success of the students is due to quality of family life and background — rather than the money spent on their “administration.”

Larry Felpel

Niskayuna

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