Sch’dy landowners have civic duty to shovel snow
In my seventh Schenectady winter, I remain amazed at how few owners clear the sidewalks in front of their personal and business properties.
As the Dec. 17 Gazette story points out [“Unshoveled sidewalks add to Schenectady’s snow removal burden”], the city is challenged to keep up with the foreclosed properties it owns, but the problem is certainly not limited to unoccupied buildings. Even in areas where some owners clear their sidewalks, if the owner on the corner does not clear the plowed-in corner, people are forced to walk in the street.
As an absentee landowner in southeast Michigan, if I fail to arrange for snow removal within 24 hours of one inch of snow, I receive a warning in the mail. If the snow stays another 24 hours, I will receive a fine. If the situation continues or repeats, I will be subpoenaed to court.
It is past time for Schenectady to substantially fine owners who fail to execute their civic duty to provide safe passage on sidewalks. Until then, perhaps we can count on citizen brigades to help out our elderly or infirm neighbors with snow management.
We can also complain directly to the business owners who fail to clear sidewalks along their properties.
It takes all of us to make a livable, pedestrian-friendly city.
Valerie Mapstone Ackerman
Poor need more help to quit smoking
Many of us help the less fortunate during the holidays by donating to food and toy drives, but the people who need assistance with food and gifts likely also need our continued help and support to quit the deadly habit of smoking.
According to the American Cancer Society, despite a significant decline in New York state in the last 10 years, smoking rates have not declined for the poor and less-educated, and smoking rates among the very poorest are practically unchanged.
Sadly, New Yorkers with less than a high school education smoke at a rate three times greater than New Yorkers with a college education.
Unfortunately, programs that help educate and assist the neediest New Yorkers quit nicotine addiction are significantly underfunded in New York state and continue to be cut every budget year, even though these programs have been proven to save lives and money.
Educate your local elected officials about the overwhelming need to assist the poorest New Yorkers quit smoking successfully and have a better chance at a tobacco-free life.
For more information, or to get information on quitting, visit www.nysmokefree.com or call 1-866-NYQUITS.
The writer is program coordinator for Reality Check of Saratoga, Warren and Washington counties.
State should dole out all veterans’ pension benefits equally
Article 20 of state Retirement and Social Security law allows certain honorably discharged veterans working in the public sector to purchase up to three years’ military service to credit their pensions. However, the law in its current form, excludes all peacetime veterans. It also excludes many veterans who served in designated periods of conflict.
Legislation introduced by Assemblywoman Amy Paulin and Sen. William Larkin would extend the benefit to all honorably discharged veterans in the public sector. This bill has solid bipartisan support. However, the potential cost is leading to resistance among some lawmakers.
There is an alternative bill favored by some because it less costly. This bill, A7632C/S5745A, would extend Article 20 eligibility only to veterans of Afghanistan. The bill is well-intentioned but does not go far enough. It would continue dividing veterans into more- or less-deserving classes, as no legislation should.
Article 20 in its current form is capricious and arbitrary in scope. Veterans who served in World War II, Korea and Vietnam are included regardless of where they served. Those veterans who served after the draft was abolished, to include the Desert Storm-era, must have served in the theater of operations of a conflict in order to be considered eligible.
That is not consistent with how Desert Storm-era veterans receive other benefits in New York state. Civil service test points and property tax exemptions are given to Desert Storm-era veterans solely based on when they served. I know this because I have been the beneficiary of both programs.
I was stationed in the Netherlands for the runup to the Gulf War (Desert Shield) and the beginning of the war itself. My base sent planes and airmen to Turkey and launched several sorties from there during the war. One of our pilots shot down an Iraqi fighter. Article 20 currently excludes both the troops from my base who stayed behind in support and even those deployed to Turkey from the pension buyback program.
Peacetime veterans should also be recognized. The soldier who serves near the demilitarized zone in Korea is one diabolical action by North Korea away from being involved in an all-out war. The pilot who flew sorties during the Cold War in Western Europe served as a deterrent to the Soviets until the communist regimes in Eastern Europe and ultimately the Soviet Union itself collapsed.
The cost of the legislation should not make it problematic. Funding cut from Office for People with Developmental Disabilities programs in the current year’s state budget was restored after an outcry from advocates for the developmentally disabled. Similarly, the money for this program can and must be found.
Please encourage your local assembly member and senator to support and co-sponsor A6974/S4714. Contact Gov. Cuomo and deliver the clear message to him that there are no second class veterans.
The writer is a state employee.
Scare tactics a success for Rotterdam GOP
I feel it necessary to clarify the issue with REMS [Rotterdam Emergency Services].
The Republican Party, through the leadership of Chairwoman Tracy Donovan, sent out a mass mailing and made a robo call on Election Day in an effort to scare the citizens of Rotterdam, especially the elderly. Both the mailing and telephone calls were patent lies as they urged voters to vote Row “B” (the Republican Party) to save REMS. They even had the gall to imply that if the Republicans were not voted in, no one would come when Rotterdam residents called 911.
As a result, all Democrat-endorsed candidates lost. The Republicans’ behavior in the 2013 election was absurd and offensive. Joe Villano, Rick Larmour and Larry Lamora (the Republicans who won as a result of these scare tactics) had nothing to do with saving REMS. In fact, current board members Bob Godlewski, Nicki DiLeva and Mike Viscusi, none of whom are Republican, saved REMS!
Rotterdam lost a lot of good people and are stuck with three liars who intimidated the Rotterdam voters to victory.
Shame on you, Rotterdam Republicans!
The writer is a member of the Rotterdam Democratic Committee.
Revolution needed for us to reclaim government
Re Ric Wells’ Dec. 16 letter, [“Voters must band together to replace government”]: I would ask you to run it daily for the next two weeks. It really needs wide exposition to open the eyes of the American electorate.
This is the second revolution that must happen if we are to stay the end of America as we know it. Checks and balances must be restored. Consent of the governed must dominate. Government of the people, by the people and for the people must be restored.
James Madison said a constitutional government can only prevail in a moral society. Since the late ‘50s, we have been traveling a dark road.
The question is, can America reclaim the pioneer spirit?
NSA is hardly the only one spying on us
Everyone is upset about the NSA spying on us.
Have you used your computer lately? Open a website and your profile goes out to businesses — where you shop, vacation, etc.
Then open your email and see the companies that know everything about you.
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