Getting rid of ethanol could be devastating
Amid the often vacuous electioneering by several presidential candidates, one matter has never come up — ethanol.
This corn-based fuel additive was inaugurated during an oil crisis to limit our use of gasoline. Today, with low gas prices, ethanol use seems unnecessary.
In fact, scientists have shown that this additive can destroy small engines. Its cost of production may even be higher than that of pumping it.
But to end the experiment could destroy the agricultural economy. Corn farmers have invested billions in land and equipment to raise the corn used in ethanol. Going off ethanol, which seems sensible, would ruin the banks that loaned money to farmers, since bankruptcies would follow and the price of land would sink.
Thus, the “tax cut” of lower gasoline prices could be seen as possibly devastating. No wonder Congress has not touched this hot iron.
Yet, there might be a silver lining. Maybe this corn could then go to feed people, rather than engines.
Changes needed to help We the People
“Demand good government, be vigilant, and think big,” was the advice given from U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara to the mayors of New York state, as reported in the Feb. 9 Daily Gazette.
Thank you, Mr. Bharara, for your advice and the work in starting the cleanup of the New York state Legislature. But, I would like to know where were our New York state attorney general, The New York State Police and The New York State BCI in this investigation? To me, this speaks volumes that New York state cannot effectively police itself. We the People need more help. Where do we/I get someone like you to address the corruption in our local county?
In our present system, We The People must use our own money to fight the corruption in the court system. That is, if we can find an attorney willing to take the case and if we can afford to pay him. Two big if’s.
Presently, corrupt public figures use tax dollars to pay their legal expenses, as we pay for our own legal expenses to fight their corruption.
A win-win situation for them, no? People’s money is used to prosecute and defend the case. What a great arrangement. Why does justice cost so much money in America? I believe We the People simply cannot afford justice in our present judicial system. Currently, what other avenues are available to We the People that really work fighting corrupt public officials?
Yes, We the People see and know corruption. But just try shining some light on corruption in your local community and see what happens.
Also, try getting a TV or newspaper reporter to cover the story. Good luck. Yet don’t they really want to report the news?
In our judicial system, the justices are political figures that have close relationships with the attorneys, politicians and the ethical conduct boards; it's one big “ABA” club. It seems that most judges are just looking for a way to protect the corporate interests, not our constitutional rights.
Yes, Bharara, I did think big. How about common law grand juries as a real solution. We the People, the fourth branch of government, using these juries could address and deal with the corruption immediately. It would be a great start in keeping our public leaders accountable.
Spa City should not welcome spot zoning
Former Mayor A.C. Riley’s Feb. 15 letter about Saratoga Hospital’s expansion plans criticizes our elected officials’ handling of the matter, but overlooks the Hospital’s responsibility for having unnecessarily created this controversy.
The hospital has proposed developing property at Morgan and Myrtle streets that has been zoned residential for decades. The hospital’s plans would create what amounts to “spot zoning” for medical offices affiliated with the hospital. The new office complex would be surrounded by existing residential properties in between it and the main hospital, a real hodgepodge. It does not take much imagination for people anywhere in the city to understand how disruptive this could be. It would also drain the value from the homes isolated between the two institutional structures, including my own and my neighbors on Woodland Court.
What’s really wrong about this and what former Mayor Riley overlooks, is the fact that this major change in land use was never given decent public airing during the recent Comprehensive Planning process, so it could be evaluated in the context of other land use and environmental priorities.
Saratoga Springs needs a good hospital, and I applaud everything the hospital has done to improve medical and health care services to the community. Now, they should begin improving their communications with their neighbors, so we are not blind-sided by a disruptive plan that can only incite controversy.
Former Mayor Riley concludes with the argument that if the city turns down the hospital, “other entities” may be discouraged from locating here.
Personally, I would encourage those other entities to find a community where spot zoning is welcomed. Saratoga Springs has come too far in its community -minded planning process to allow it here.
The writer was mayor from 1974 to 1980.
Hope casino is as positive as ceremony
I enjoy reading Sara Foss’ column, “Thinking It Through.” She has a knack for going right to the heart of an issue. Her facts are solid. Her approach is thoughtful, balanced. Her manner is respectful and civil.
Once in awhile I disagree with her position, but I enjoy considering a position with which I differ. Most of the time, I finish her column and say, “Right on.”
That certainly was my reaction to her Feb. 4 column, “Ground-breaking not really a big deal.” I appreciated her comparison of the casino ground-breaking to a pep rally: “Much like a pep rally, it’s designed to make people believe that great things are happening, and if everyone just believes in themselves — and in each other — their team will win.”
That sentence got me thinking about winning and losing for Schenectady. What does that look like on Erie Boulevard, State Street, Albany Street or Crane Street? Does everyone on the “Schenectady Team” win? Or will many win and others wait and wait for benefits to trickle down to them? Will some never see any benefits in the way of job opportunities, better neighborhoods, better housing?
My sincere hope is that Schenectady’s leadership is true to all the promises about what the casino will do for the people — all the people.
For example, luxury apartments are going to be built on State Street; will there be new, affordable housing for people in Mt. Pleasant or on Hamilton Hill? Housing — decent affordable housing — is scarce in these areas.
I really don’t like being a skeptic, but I grew up in South Jersey when the Atlantic City casinos were going to fix poverty in the city and restore the city to its former greatness. That promise was short-lived and what we have now in Atlantic City is frightening. I pray that Schenectady avoids that chasm.
The writer is the co-director of St. Joseph’s Place.
Provide people with all facts on sewers
The Feb. 16 article on the Hamburg Street sewers was very interesting. If you watch the video on the town website, you will see that the residents are not overjoyed by the costs of this project. I have been reading the articles on this project and reviewing the Town Board meetings and notice some facts were not mentioned.
First, I am not sure if the residents of the sewer district were informed that they can submit a petition to force a direct vote by them.
Several years ago, this option was used and the sewers were voted down. The Town Board is giving the impression that it has the sole vote on this issue.
Second, the city of Schenectady can bill the users of its system for all capital improvements it make to its sewer system. On Feb. 16, the village of Scotia, in The Gazette article, expressed concern with these uncontrollable costs. These costs were not reflected in any information that was given to the sewer district users.
The elected officials of the town have a responsibility to bring these facts and options forward.
It’s now or never to be forthright.
The writer is a former Town Board member.