Will’s conservative thinking insulting to most Americans
George Will, propagandist for conservatives, is sometimes too impressed with his own pedantic blather, in this case opposition to pre-K education [Jan. 5 Fox News].
Joe Conason, however, disagrees [Feb. 3 Gazette], citing less-obscure sources, such as pre-K teachers and people directly involved with the program and results.
Much less impressive is Mr. Will’s penchant to promote the discrimination and bigotry of the repressive social ideology of the GOP. In “Gibson’s House seat one of few up for grabs” [Feb. 2 Gazette], Mr. Will lauds Rep. Chris Gibson’s military career as qualification for election to Congress as a tea party member. Whether this preparation also leads to prudent representation is less clear. What is certainly not laudable, however, is Mr. Will’s derogation of Mr. Gibson’s election opponent, Sean Eldridge, as being married to his “husband,” Chris Hughes. Are we to infer that Mr. Eldridge is, therefore, unable to represent his public, all of them, because of his gender identification?
Mr. Gibson would do well to distance himself from this comment, unless it also represents his own intolerant view. It is ironic that GOP conservatives, who are fond of citing constitutional rights and less government, nevertheless seek to be moral arbitrators of GOP theocracy via congressional legislation to turn back the clock on certain civil rights.
GOP misogyny on a woman’s reproductive rights is innate, like a knee-jerk reaction, now likewise for same-sex marriage; all are characterized by Mr. Will as being “progressive,” and thus indicators of America’s decline. Not satisfied with mere discrimination, the GOP proceeds with efforts to obstruct and manipulate one’s right to vote at all levels. Indeed, with freedom and justice for all?
George W. Putman
City will have to repay HUD demolition loan
Last year, when Schenectady’s City Council was talking about demolishing derelict buildings, I went to the Bellevue neighborhood meeting and told the group that their wish was going to come true. The eyesores in the city would be razed, but with a hefty price tag for taxpayers. A council member in the room disputed my statement, declaring the money was coming from HUD [Housing and Urban Development].
The March 7 Gazette reports that the HUD money is a loan. Loans must be repaid. Payment will come, $100,000 annually, from the back room political sales tax deal made between city and county Democrats. Schenectady lost $3 million of yearly revenue from the county sales tax in exchange for $100,000 a year to pay back the HUD loan. When a city financial official went public with the information, he was fired.
There is another issue related to the city’s eyesores: The three buildings shown in the Gazette story are located on heavily littered streets. Unless the city’s litter problem is seriously addressed, the eyesores’ removal will only leave a gaping hole on the landscape of the city.
I suggest that neighborhood groups use money from their treasuries to hire workers to clean the litter. TA one-time spring photo shoot will not correct the problem. If the city wants to move forward, it must clean its dirty face first.
The writer was an unsuccessful candidate for City Council last November.
State Scaffold Law absolutely too strict
Bruce Trachtenberg [March 6 letter, “Scaffold Law is not really strict liability”] seems to want to split hairs over technical legal terms.
The Scaffold Law is in fact an “absolute” liability statute — although the terms “strict liability” and “absolute liability” are often used interchangeably.
Regardless of what you call it, the Scaffold Law, as the Court of Appeals recently noted, “imposes liability even on contractors and owners who had nothing to do with the plaintiff’s accident; and where a violation of the statute has caused injury, any fault by the plaintiff contributing to that injury is irrelevant.”
As for the “recalcitrant worker” defense, it is of little value since a plaintiff need only demonstrate that a contractor or property owner was as little as 1 percent at fault to win the case. It has had virtually no effect on the tide of lawsuits, which have surged by 500 percent since 1990 — even as the rate of construction injuries has fallen.
As an attorney, one would think Mr. Trachtenberg would support reforming this law to give both sides their day in court, and allow liability to be determined in proportion to fault — as is the case in virtually all other areas of civil law.
I do not regard the situation described above by the Court of Appeals as anything even remotely resembling a fair system — but perhaps Mr. Trachtenberg’s vision of justice is more flexible than mine.
Scott W. Hobson
The writer is a legislative analyst for Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York.
Yepsen walks nice tightrope on casinos
You sure can’t envy members of the Saratoga Springs City Council these days.
After a statewide referendum permitting casinos was approved by voters last November, a process is legally in place that was intentionally designed to minimize the weight given to local sentiment. Yet hundreds of residents — after remaining largely silent as two consecutive state Legislatures set the stage for the referendum that brought us to this point — are regularly attending council meetings with vocal demands that the City Council do something about it.
Under these circumstances it is an amazing accomplishment that Mayor Joanne Yepsen was able to craft a unanimous resolution that was viewed favorably by members of both contending factions on the issue, SAVE Saratoga and Destination Saratoga.
The mayor has acknowledged and honored the anti-casino opinions of many residents while resisting the counterproductive “no-negotiation” demand that she give up her chance to make the city’s case when decisions are made in the future.
While key pieces of the casino siting process are still unknown, I applaud Mayor Yepsen for her understanding of this complex issue, her openness to hearing residents’ concerns and her determination to do her utmost to protect the interests of our community as the matter unfolds.
The writer was the city’s mayor from 2000 to 2003.
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