Travelers warned of false B&B claims
Re: The April 26 column ("State AG heavy-handed in dealing with Airbnb") by Sara Foss.
She was defending the Airbnb booking service for travelers looking to save on the cost of a hotel stay. The issue for the attorney general is that these underground services are breaking the law. They don't collect sale taxes and it is assumed that the owners in many cases are not reporting the income.
Ms. Foss stated she assumed that the large hotels were behind the state's interests investigating Airbnb. What she fails to understand is that there are many small businesses, like mine, also affected by this questionable activity.
As a legitimate bed-and-breakfast owner, I am concerned about any service that misrepresents itself as a B&B. They are, of course, booking accommodations that are a far cry from being anything like those in a genuine B&B. However, by calling themselves a B&B service, they are leading travelers in many cases to believe that there will be a host at the property and that the room(s) meet certain standards.
As the owner of a bed-and-breakfast for more than 20 years, I am very concerned for travelers who put themselves at risk; booking stays at properties represented by companies such as Airbnb. Most of these properties do not carry specific B&B liability insurance, since ordinary homeowners policies do not cover transient guests. Fall down the stairs, suffer injury from another guest, experience theft or a fire, and you might be on your own. Be sure to pack smoke- and CO2 [carbon dioxide] detectors, since there might be no one checking to see if these items are working or even have been installed.
Ms. Foss stated that her room wasn't as clean as she had hoped. When you book through a service like Airbnb, most likely you are renting an unhosted property. Who, then, is responsible for cleaning and changing linen? Is there time between guests for a cleaning service to arrive before you check in? Who slept in the sheets the night before? Did they leave behind any little guests for you to transport home, such as fleas or bed bugs?
My bed-and-breakfast is my home. I am on-site to greet my guests, introduce them to our area, make dinner reservations, and to portray a positive image for our city. I take great pride in providing my guests with an immaculate and safe environment. After all, they are sharing my home.
Next time you plan a trip, be careful. The price offered by companies such as Airbnb may seem like a great deal, but is it worth the risks?
The writer is the proprietor of VanVoast Bed and Breakfast.
Rail companies must pay for crude danger
On the south side of Schenectady, oil trains travel to Albany. They have the explosive potential of death and destruction. They also could spill into the Mohawk River, fouling our drinking water.
The possibility of an accident rests solely with CSX Corp. Will they spend the money necessary to property maintain the line? Is Selkirk an example of their maintenance?
The oil industry knows the dangers of Bakken crude. Yet, they force as much on the railroads as they will accept. The railroads also know its explosive nature, and use DOT-111 tanker cars. Both are making big money while risking our lives.
If New York communities are taking all the risks, then they should be compensated. Every oil train should have to pay a toll to those communities. This should be done until such time as the crude is no longer explosive. Whether degasification is mandated or done voluntarily, it could be a long time coming.
If you agree, notify Sens. Hugh Farley and Kathy Marchione. Also, Assemblyman James Tedesco. Their support could get things rolling. Send a message to Big Oil and the railroads: Playing with our lives could blow up in their faces.
Cartoon missed point on Jesus and prayer
First off, I'm not speaking to the issue of Christian prayer vs. other religions' prayers at public meetings. I'm only addressing the May 13 editorial cartoon depicting Jesus addressing a City Council, quoting his own words in Matthew about praying in private.
Was Jesus telling us we should never pray in public?
In citing a line from Matthew 6:5-6, the cartoonist used only part of what Jesus said. The rest of the passage has Jesus attempting to tell people not to be like the hypocrites who desire to be heard in order to show how pious or religious they are.
The idea is not to be flashy about it in order to cause others to think we have some special insights into God and the Bible that others don't. Jesus also speaks this way of giving. By the cartoon's rationale, should there be no public giving? What about public fasting to bring awareness to social justice issues? Is that wrong also?
In general, we should keep our personal dialogues with God private. I believe Jesus' point was not that we should not pray in groups, or that if we do, we should not allow the contents of our prayer to be heard. His point, I believe, is that our motivation for humble prayer should be to be heard by God, not to be admired by men for our religious devotion, no matter which religion you follow.
The Gazette wants your opinions on public issues.
There is no strict word limit, though letters under 200 words are preferred.
All letters are subject to editing for length, style and fairness, and we will run no more than one letter per month from the same writer.
Please include your signature, address and day phone for verification.
For information on how to send, see bottom of this page.
For more letters, visit our Web site: www.dailygazette.com.