Taxpayer upset with way his taxes were determined
This story may be familiar to many Schenectadians. This spring, the city's building assessor informed me that he had officially valued my house at one amount -- but was valuing it 25 percent higher for purposes of city taxation.
When I protested and pointed out that this was blatant fraud to get more taxes, he told me no problem, the matter could be reviewed -- by the city's own Board of Assessment. That board discarded my complaint because "the supporting data was insufficient" -- even though the discrepancy is clear as can be on the assessor's own report.
Apparently, the city of Schenectady has become so corrupt that it doesn't bother to hide its corruption. It is long since time that we challenge the criminality of this system.
Schenectady can never have an urban renewal as long as it is infamous as a banana republic.
Don’t just get news from a single source
I would like to comment on the June 28 letter from Jack Schaffer supporting FoxNews. He posed the question of how a news station could be propaganda if it is so popular.
Many opinions that were popular at one time or another have proven to be incorrect. History is rife with examples. Propaganda is everywhere around us and it behooves us all to recognize it. Advertisers and religious cults make heavy use of it. The scary part of this is that subjecting oneself to the same propaganda constantly may lead to brainwashing, the lack of ability to think independently.
Many conservatives I know get all of their news from Fox and right-wing radio, and then spout the exact same words to us. A letter published here a couple weeks ago was so filled with hate that it may attract Secret Service attention. Mr. Schaffer stated that you will not get the truth from any other network news. If that is true, an intelligent person would ask why. It is never good to get all your news from one source; I am a news junkie, follow several proven sources, rely on PBS, the BBC and Aljeezera America to get unslanted news, and find CBS the least spun of the major networks.
Give your mind some exercise by getting news from at least three different sources (not opinion columns), then deciding which report makes the most sense. I read recently that FoxNews went to court about 10 years ago to assure that they did not have to have accuracy in their reports. I am still trying to confirm that statement.
They have often been caught distorting graphics and omitting important facts, to the delight of TV comedians.
Tenure isn’t reason we have bad teachers
From my personal experience as a parent dealing with nine elementary school teachers so far in a large suburban school district, I have come across one teacher that I think does not deserve to be in a classroom.
The reason she is still there is because the administration chooses to keep her there, not because she has tenure (which she does). I would never want to remove any benefits or protections from the other awesome teachers my kids have had just because this one lady seems to have a "work-avoidance" issue.
People who choose to serve the public in their professions deserve our respect and support. The current rumblings against public school teacher tenure are aiming to remove important protections against groundless dismissal, etc., that our best teachers need and deserve.
Are there ineffective teachers here and there? Yes, but thinking this action will make it easier to get the ineffective teachers out of the classroom is naive. It will still be just as difficult for parents to get the administration to deal with a "bad" teacher -- it will just make it easier for the administration to remove the good and best teachers for reasons like speaking out against Common Core or getting pregnant or the principal needing to give the job to a friend (which recently happened to a friend of mine in Indiana).
If you come across an ineffective teacher, make it known to your school administrators. That is your responsibility as a parent. Contrary to popular belief, tenure does not give teachers a "job for life;" it gives them due process, which simply means the school needs to hold a disciplinary hearing before firing them.
If schools are having trouble implementing this due process, work to change that. If the administrators are not actively pursuing action against ineffective or unsuitable teachers, work to change that. Parents have a voice in this. We just need to learn how to use it.
Obama not to blame for situation in Iraq
This is in response to Alice Baum's June 30 letter. It seems that Ms. Baum does not have all of her facts in order and is repeating the Fox TV line -- blame President Obama for all the ills in the Middle East.
The current problem in Iraq was caused by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's policy of excluding Sunnis from his government, by his lack of leadership and by his gross incompetence. We spent billions of dollars and thousands of lives in an attempt to make Iraq a stable democracy and train its military.
President Obama tried to negotiate a treaty with Maliki for a strong contingency to remain in Iraq once we pulled out our troops. However, Maliki refused to negotiate, saying that Iraqis could defend Iraq.
So what happened? The minute the Iraqis were attacked by ISIS militants, they took off their uniforms, abandoned their weapons and fled. The Iraqis, like the South Vietnamese in 1975, won't defend their own country, and Ms. Baum wants American troops to do it for them. I say no. We should not get involved in an Iraqi civil war. No matter what side we support, the other will turn against us.
As for Syria, which of the many factions involved in that conflict would Ms. Baum have us support and arm? Will American combat troops bring peace to an area where the people have been fighting and killing each other for over 1,000 years? The president is caught between "a rock and a hard place." Damned if he does, damned if he doesn't.
President Obama has an obligation to defend our country and he's done so in an exemplary fashion. If there is any doubt, ask Osama bin Laden and the countless other terrorists who are no longer doing us harm. As commander-in-chief, he has a duty to protect our fine servicemen and women and not waste their lives by involving us in fruitless and endless "military adventures."
I am a retired Marine officer and veteran of the first Gulf War in 1991. I appreciate and applaud the president's policy of not using our military to solve every Middle East conflict just to satisfy the whims of the uninformed.
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