Experience vital for Family Court
We urge you to vote for Patricia Rodriguez for Schenectady County Family Court judge in the Sept. 9 Democratic primary. Pat has dedicated her professional career as an attorney representing clients on custody and visitation, neglect and abuse, paternity and other family matters.
Recently, New York state added a much-needed Family Court judge to our area. The Family Court truly changes peoples' lives. It is vitally important to have someone of Pat Rodriguez' experience and dedication as a judge.
Sadly, very few people take part in the party primary elections. The Family Court primary is a rare case in which every single vote matters in terms of the winner of the election and in the consequences for our community. You can make a difference.
If you are a registered Democrat, please consider voting for Pat Rodriguez on Sept. 9.
Medical pot law took great effort by many
Re July 8 Sara Foss column, "Medical marijuana story lost its punch": Several comments by Sara Foss about growing cannabis plants legally in New York for medical purposes could be perceived as insensitive to the people who suffer daily and need immediate relief.
For her, the collective effort in recent months to pass the Compassionate Care Act became a "relatively minor issue" in comparison to other national news stories.
But for the parents in New York whose children are afflicted by uncontrollable seizure activity in their brains, not a day goes by without desperately wanting their kids to try medical cannabis. They still have to wait at least 18 months for relief, according to the new law.
Though Ms. Foss seemed to dismiss it, building support for that legislation was a monumental task, considering many years of stubborn opposition from state Senate conservatives. If only more local journalists had been, as Ms. Foss said, "amazed by the amount of time and energy" put forth by two persistent state lawmakers: Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, D-Manhattan, and Sen. Diane Savino, D-Staten Island.
Both Gottfried and Savino are familiar with a growing body of scientific research into various medically useful compounds that occur naturally in cannabis plants. Lawmakers were also impressed by the concerned parents, and large groups of persuasive advocates, who traveled to the capitol every month and demanded legal access to medical cannabis.
In addition, Ms. Foss apparently did not consider how the law may actually improve New York's economy. Eventually, the state Health Department will license five brand new companies to grow and process cannabis plants, which could create thousands of steady jobs and provide substantial new revenue to the state and municipalities.
Former mayor touts riverboat gambling
With regard to the casino being proposed by the Galesi Group on the 60-acre former Alco site; I think this is a great idea and am 100 percent for it.
However, I still believe that the riverboat gambling proposal I suggested back in 1993 should be pursued. In fact, this proposal will not hurt the Galesi proposal, but most likely would enhance it.
In 1993, as mayor, I invited two well-informed people from Mississippi, who were knowledgeable in riverboat gambling, to Schenectady. We had lunch at Glen Sanders Mansion that day, and when Angelo Mazzone, owner of Glen Sanders, heard that we were going to explore the possible use of the Mohawk River for riverboat gambling, he was elated.
That afternoon, we took a tour of the Mohawk River and measured the distance from the water to the lower part of the bridge so that we could determine the type of boats that would be required. Both gentlemen were truly impressed with the river and indeed the beautiful river banks. They also told us that, in their state, they had both riverboat gambling and casinos, and that both entities enhanced the economy in their area.
Unfortunately, a few months after they left, I had to contact them to inform them that I could not attain the legislative support to put riverboat gaming in place.
I still believe that this old chestnut, "riverboat gambling," can and must be put in place to attract tourists; enhance economic development and help reduce real property taxes. I am herein publicly lobbying for city/county support to revisit this proposal. To help attain the support we need to put riverboat gambling in place, I am herein, once again, publicly requesting that our city/county legislators provide the people an opportunity to be heard on this subject matter "via a referendum."
I sincerely believe that the people will vote for riverboat gambling to enhance economic development and, indeed, to help offset that continued increase in real property taxes.
Please, in the best interests of the people and the city of Schenectady, let's re-examine the idea of riverboat gambling to determine if it could be a viable choice for our city.
Frank J. Duci
The writer is the former mayor of Schenectady.
Pope, bishop need to be transparent
We hope that Bishop Edward Scharfenberger is not another cleric who "keeps the secrets." Your July 13 editorial ["Pope, bishop must be sincere in rooting out sex abuse"] encouraging Bishop Scharfenberger to "root out sex abuse" is clear and appropriate.
His predecessor, Bishop Howard Hubbard, did remove "at least 20 priests" from active ministry. Today, we do not know the facts of their crimes, the terms of the diocese's settlements with the victims, or the financial cost.
Some victims did receive counseling from a diocesan organization. They were required to sign an agreement to the terms with a diocesan clerical official. Were they required to keep silent about their settlements? Today, we do not know where the abusers reside. The priest next door?
In The Gazette's July 7 interview ["3 months in, bishop collecting viewpoints"] with the bishop, he talked of becoming a priest, a listener, his parents' inspiration, all those who have helped him and the Dodgers' move to Los Angeles. No mention of the abuse crisis, the shortage of priests or the role of women in the church.
The church, encouraged by Pope Francis, needs transparency. The bishop should talk about vocations to the priesthood, male/female, celibate/married. Avoiding these problems will not make them go away.
A good shepherd is hard to find.
Francis W. Rodgers
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