Call back Legislature to address flood issues in Fort Plain
In response to the extreme flooding that devastated portions of Montgomery County last month, I introduced legislation that would allow, at local option, people to seek a lowered property tax assessment for their flood-damaged homes and businesses.
The Montgomery County Board of Supervisors unanimously endorsed the measure because it would help the people of Fort Plain to rebuild their lives, their homes and their businesses. And, because as a simple matter of fairness, it is reasonable that we allow property owners to pay taxes that are based on the current, post-flood condition of their home.
It is imperative that the state Legislature return to Albany and approve this measure before local property tax bills are sent out.
I have spent many days in Fort Plain since the flooding, and have seen firsthand how incredibly resilient the people here are. But I've also seen just how overwhelming this tragedy has been, and it is clear that Fort Plain needs help.
Fortunately, there has been some assistance. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) did approve disaster relief for the roads, bridges and buildings in those communities, but denied it for homeowners and local businesses. Thankfully, Gov. Andrew Cuomo stepped in, and was able to identify and redirect $16 million in state aid to the affected communities throughout the Mohawk Valley.
Additionally, I recently brought together local business owners with investors and economic developers to discuss the tools and resources that are available to begin the rebuilding of the community.
However, more needs to be done. Property owners will be focused in the months ahead on replacing their furnaces, repairing their electrical systems and removing hazardous mold from their homes. They should not have the additional burden of an unfair tax bill, based on the pre-flood condition of their property, looming on the horizon.
Returning to Albany would also allow the state Legislature to compensate local municipalities for the loss of tax revenues. The flood-damaged towns and villages have suffered greatly, and spent so much on clean-up and assisting people in need. If they opt-in to help their residents rebuild, the state should be there to help them absorb the loss of revenue.
These issues can, and must, be addressed by the Legislature as soon as possible. Bringing the Legislature back to Albany for action does not require that the governor call for a special session. The Senate and Assembly currently stand adjourned, and can be recalled to Albany by their respective leaders at any time.
What is required is the commitment of our leaders to finish that which was left undone. There is no time, nor reason, to wait.
The writer is a state senator.
Letter identified the real problem: business greed
[I] would like to thank Frank DeSantis of Gloversville for his terrific Aug. 3 letter ("Greedy businesses, not government, to blame for mess we're in).
It's nice to read a letter to the editor that is well-written, historically accurate, and helps to explain a current situation. The sad reality is that much that is spewed in this section is based largely in ignorance.
I often find myself thinking: What has this person read on the subject? Clearly, Mr. DeSantis has read a lot on the subject, and I suspect has a few titles he could suggest to the uninformed.
Private-sector abuses, and especially the financial sector, have a history of "blow ups" that goes all the way back to 1813, and Mr. DeSantis is correct: They happen about every 15 years. And given the current congressional circumstances, unless there is a huge turnover in 2014, we can look forward to another one in 2023, if not sooner.
Herbert K. Spencer
Cold War over, danger of nukes remains
Aug. 6 commemorated the 68th anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombing of Hiroshima, which ushered in the nuclear age.
President John F. Kennedy stated: "Every man, woman, and child now lives under a nuclear sword of Damocles hanging by the slenderest of threads, capable of being cut at any moment by accident, or miscalculation, or by madness."
Popular films like "Dr. Strangelove" and "Fail-Safe" point out the absurdity of these weapons. On Jan. 25, 1995, the United States launched a multistage rocket off the coast of Norway to study the northern lights. Russia had previously been notified, but the message was not passed up the chain of command. Russian radar picked up the launch of our missile, and they prepared to launch a counterattack.
President Boris Yeltsin had five minutes to decide whether he should launch a nuclear attack against the United States. If he had followed their military protocol, he should have launched the attack. For some reason, he did not.
As Kennedy said about nuclear weapons: "The weapons of war must be abolished before they abolish us."
If we forget history, we will repeat it.
REV. RICH BRODERICK
Punish, don’t excuse, food stamp cheats
Re Aug. 4 article, "Food stamp fraud: Some recipients used cash to pay for rent, power and toilet paper," by Kathleen Moore: My jaw dropped as I read the spin put on the poor people who defrauded every taxpayer's trust by illegally using their food stamp allotment for anything other than its intended use. That's regardless of the reasons stated (and by the way, in case you didn't know, everyone in prison is innocent and wrongly accused).
As for Mr. [owner of Cheese Bakery and Grocery] Singh, the man who states he was just trying to help our community, how magnanimous of him to offer 50 cents on the dollar and be so kind as to help his community by profiting off the misfortunes of the people on assistance.
No matter how small, this needs to be punished to the fullest extent -- what's wrong is wrong. I also feel anyone on assistance of any kind should be drug tested. Many workers are drug tested before employment so they can earn money to pay the bills that entitlements pay. So why not test the people collecting any subsides to ensure the integrity and worthiness of the entitlement? And when a test is failed, they lose their subsidies.
It is time to put integrity and rules in place to ensure our tax dollars are spent as they were intended to be spent. Fail to follow the rules and you are done, period.
Don’t apply residency law to Sch’dy assessor
Schenectady Assessor Tina Dimitriadis is losing her job. We the taxpayers, especially seniors, want our city to operate fairly and honestly and this is exactly what Ms. Dimitriadis has been doing. All this bunk about not living in the city is just an excuse to put someone else in her position.
Former Mayor Brian Stratton hired her because she was best qualified. She moved from Troy to Colonie to help care for her elderly father. After working for the city of Schenectady since 2011, she has been given an ultimatum -- move to Schenectady or lose your job. What a decision to make!
I was impressed with Ms. Dimitriadis the first time I met her at the assessor's office. She was very pleasant and took the time to answer my property tax questions. She did not rush me or make me feel uncomfortable.
I believe Ms. Dimitriadis is being treated unfairly. She enjoys her job and does it extremely well, and at the same time is concerned about the welfare of her father. Someone doing a good job doesn't deserve to lose it over a residency law -- a law that doesn't appear to be applied to everyone equally.
If exceptions can be made for the Schenectady general services commissioner, fire chief and the police chief, then certainly an exception can be made for the assessor.
Music Haven named appropriately in Sch’dy
Recently, my son Howie and I attended a spectacular free concert, Dona Oxford the "Goddess of Soul," at Central Park's Music Haven, sponsored by area businesses and facilitated by Price Chopper executive Mona Golub, artistic director.
In these days of domestic and world turmoil, declining U.S. economy and a non-working Washington Congress, it is so positive and upbeat and cleansing of spirit to attend Music Haven on Sunday nights at 7 p.m.
Particularly after a hard day, to relax in a chair and listen to performers and groups play great vocal and instrumental music that "rocks and rolls" and "gets the joint jumpin'."
At the age of 92, I've gone from Benny Goodman to Beyonce and also enjoy Bach and Beethoven, but my hands were clapping and my feet stomping as I marveled at, and enjoyed, the happy notes of this terrific summer park free series of melodic concerts.
Please see what I mean and come to the final presentation on Aug. 11 with the acclaimed Alex Torres & His Latin Orchestra.