Bring Alco museum back to Schenectady
Now that elections are over and Gary McCarthy is back as mayor, Schenectady is ready for a rebirth. General Electric has also turned a corner and as a world leader in industry, we can expect a return in the job market.
As a young boy, I can remember the years when Broadway and Erie Boulevard had more traffic than a California freeway. There were as many as 43,000 workers at GE, and along with American Locomotive, Schenectady was called “the city that lights and hauls the world.” Many of my school friends spent their entire lives working at GE, making a good living and raising families.
Today, GE is still the company that “lights and hauls the world,” as its diesel/electric engines count for two-thirds of all new locomotives in the country. These are high-tech engines called the “GE Evolution Series Tier 4” and they were designed and built in the United States by American craftsmen and women.
Although the size of GE’s operation in Schenectady is not what it once was, there is hope for a better future. Mayor McCarthy and the City Council need to work with industry and the jobs it brings to communities for them to flourish. In all my optimism, I do wish Schenectady would find a place for a museum dedicated to the American Locomotive Co. (Alco) that once led the world in production of steam locomotives.
Every time I read about the ALCO museum being located in Amsterdam, I cringe and wonder why in a city as large as Schenectady, a place couldn’t be provided to keep our heritage where it started. Between the city and county, I am sure a place could be found to house the collection now in Amsterdam where Schenectadians could take a walk back in time to when “steam” was king.
Our history goes back to the Dutch settlement of the Hudson Valley and people like John Ericsson, George Westinghouse, Charles Proteus Steinmetz and Thomas Edison, who have shaped our past. We owe it to future residents to let them know Schenectady’s contribution to the entire world.
With the building of the new train station, I would ask Mayor McCarthy and our county legislators to make finding a place for Alco’s treasures a priority as we start a new era.
Gary Philip Guido
Happy for paper ballot, but don’t trust scanner
“Through the scanner darkly.”
We have now come full circle. Yes, we have paper ballots.
But should we let the scanner read them?
U.S. shouldn’t go on same path as Nazis
My father served in the U.S. army during the last year of World War II in Europe and the first year of the German occupation after the war ended. As a Jew, he took special interest in trying to help people who survived the Holocaust. Some survived under assumed identities. Others were liberated from the death camps. Dad only spoke of his experiences in the last years of his life.
Dad was good with languages and loved to get to know people. Since he grew up speaking Yiddish, he easily picked up German and interacted with many Germans during his year there. He came home convinced that there is nothing unique about the German character that led to the Holocaust.
Most said they preferred to live their lives as farmers, workers or shopkeepers without being bothered by politics. Yet they were certainly willing to support a regime that put the German nation first, while blaming problems on “others.”
Dad thought that just as the Germans got swept up in the passions of the time, so could Americans. We are really no different. That is why we need to stay vigilant. Dad’s lessons stayed with me for my entire life. I’ve always felt that America’s diversity is its biggest strength. Most Americans can look to their family’s recent or more distant past to see some form of discrimination.
All Americans, with the exception of the original Native Americans, came as immigrants and most were not received well by those who preceded them.
Today, we have politicians targeting an entire religion for the destructive actions of a small number. Donald Trump has gone so far as to call for a “database” of Muslims in America and surveillance of Muslim houses of worship. Other candidates haven’t used such directly distasteful words as Trump, but they have supported similar measures. I’m sure that many of Hitler’s supporters wouldn’t have used Hitler’s language, but still supported his policies.
Demagogues such as Trump have always played on people’s fears. These anti-Muslim ideas are no different than the early Nazis’ anti-Jewish ravings. How is a Muslim database any different than German Jews wearing a yellow star? We are not different than the Germans in the 1930s. Germany, to its credit, has faced its history and vowed never to repeat it. America cannot be allowed to go down a similar path.
Schenectady should enact plastic bag fee
Plastic bags are ubiquitous; they are in our houses, in our grocery stores, in shopping malls, in our dumps, and almost everywhere else in our environment. They have become so common, that it is likely you wouldn’t think twice about using them for everyday tasks. What could be more convenient?
Unfortunately, numerous studies indicate that plastic bags are meant for a short-term use, but they cause long-term negative impacts. Due to their light weight and composition, plastic bags easily blow about, ending up on the streets or in waterways, where they diminish our city’s beauty, clog storm drains, and jeopardize the health of local wildlife.
Schenectady also spends a large amount of money on the disposal of plastic bags each year, despite the fact that numerous local recycling programs exist. It is clear that a voluntary approach is not working to mitigate the damage plastic bags can do to human and environmental health.
I believe that Schenectady should join the numerous other cities that have already adopted local legislation to limit plastic bag use. In other cities across the world, a 5-cent minimum charge has already been proven to be an adequate incentive to significantly reduce plastic bag usage by local residents.
We need to act now to impose a plastic bag fee for the sake of the health of the city and everyone and everything living in it.