Cartoon a disservice to staff at Stratton veterans hospital
I was appalled by the recent cartoon The Gazette published depicting a Veterans Administration hospital with a large skull on the front of it.
Can you imagine how demoralizing that is to the wonderful employees at our own Albany VA Medical Center? I have used the VA outpatient clinic in Schenectady for many years. The care I receive there is exceptional and timely.
I recently had a surgical procedure performed at the Albany VA Medical Center. Everything I had done was in a timely manner. The doctors, nurses and other medical personnel were outstanding. The entire hospital is squeaky clean. (Ellis take note.)
I had a VA volunteer come to my room and give me a package containing toiletries, cards, games and a beautiful handmade blanket.
Imagine combining all the drugstores in the Capital Region. That's what the VA pharmacy is, and it runs like a well-oiled machine.
This is one veteran who salutes all the hardworking, caring people at the Stratton VA Medical Center.
Rail explosions will have impact on taxes
There are many facts raised against the oil industry expansion in New York -- the possibility of danger to the public from explosions, fire or cancer-causing agents in the air, destruction of our homes and businesses and contamination of our water supply. All are real threats that are hard to deny.
Last year's fatal oil train explosion in Lac Megantic, Quebec, stops them cold.
We also face another threat that has been overlooked. While it doesn't involve life and limb, it does involve taxes.
Additional personnel will be required to oversee their operations: tax and finance examiners; railway and pipeline inspectors; emergency management and Homeland Security; Health Department doctors and nurses.
Housing authorities may have to build new homes for those nearest to the trains. Schuyler Mansion may have to be taken apart and moved. It's a priceless piece of history sitting across the street from possible destruction.
All this costs tax dollars. Do you think they will pay? Their army of lawyers say, "not them." These issues have been quietly swept under the rug. It's understood the saps will pay.
If you refuse to call the governor, remember Tax Day comes every April 15. Either don't grumble, and be forced to ante up, or call.
Still time to voice our opposition to casino
All is not lost (yet). It's time for an intervention by our county cousins to save Schenectady from the casino addiction of its political and business leaders.
Only four months ago, we were aglow over the wonderful jackpot announced by the Galesi Group: A massive but beautiful, $150 million redevelopment of the old Alco site. David Buicko, the Galesi CEO, told The Gazette (Feb. 12) it would serve as "the poster child for upstate New York redevelopment." And, The Gazette called the multi-use waterfront plan that would attract young professionals and bring many jobs "grand."
Like problem gamblers, however, the city and county legislators soon needed an even bigger rush, and were easily tempted by a $300 million jackpot in the alluring shape of a casino for Schenectady. They wagered on the casino, despite the risk they were taking of bringing an income drain and crime magnet into our community, a shiny machine that would produce more problem gamblers, domestic violence, distressed families and neighborhoods, and hungry grandmothers. No, they declared, they weren't gambling with our future or sullying Schenectady's reputation; they were doing this to give us all a grander future.
It's time for a serious intervention, based on common sense and the voice of the people. The New York State Gaming Facility Siting Board will make its selection of a casino licensee in the fall, but first will measure the level of opposition or support for each casino in the host community and those in their vicinity.
Nearby towns and villages have an important role to play in this process, and have even been given the right to make presentations at the board's public hearings. Elected leaders in each town and village can stand up for their people, as the Town Board of Bethlehem did last month, and voice their opposition to a casino in Schenectady. Unlike the county Legislature, they can reflect the large majorities of mothers, fathers, grandparents and other taxpayers in Niskayuna, Glenville, Duanesburg and Princetown who said no last November to having any casinos in upstate New York, much less one in our county seat.
If they act quickly, the towns and villages of Schenectady County can tell the siting board that we do not want to hitch our future to a casino, but -- like Mr. Buicko a few months ago -- envision a grand but far less risky development of that site.
The writer is editor of StopTheSchenectadyCasino.com.
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