City has many nice places to take a walk
Here are my thoughts about a walkable downtown Schenectady.
I actually live in the area that Sara Foss talks about in her Oct. 16 opinion piece. The area is quite walkable and interesting.
State Street between Erie Boulevard and Clinton Street is already very walkable. The sidewalks are wide and clean; the people are interesting; at night, it’s lit up and lively. Jay Street has many shops that one can pop into.
But most of all, there’s the Stockade. Even with the utility work, it’s pedestrian-friendly, historically significant and borders on a beautiful river. Early fall, if one waits a minute, an eight-man or eight-woman crew might row past Riverside Park. Or a yacht.
What will make a big difference in my immediate neighborhood is the day when the street-level work is finished on the Frog Alley project, and the businesses move in and the perhaps-too-expensive apartments are occupied.
State courts in need of significant reform
Since 1962, those in search of justice in New York needed to navigate a complicated trial court structure that includes: a Supreme Court, a Court of Claims, 57 County Courts, 58 Family Courts, 62 Surrogate’s Courts and 61 City Courts.
Janet DiFiore, the state’s chief judge, wants to change this.
Under her proposal, instead of having a Court of Claims to hear cases against the state, a Family Court to hear most domestic matters except divorces, a Surrogate’s Court to deal with wills, estates, trusts and guardianships, a County Court to adjudicate felonies, and a Supreme Court to hear most other major disputes, there would be a single Supreme Court into which those other courts would be merged.
The 65 lower courts would be abolished and combined into a single Municipal Court that would hear minor criminal matters, housing cases, small claims, and other small civil disputes.
Chief Judge DiFiore’s proposal is simple. Implementing it is not.
Similar proposals in the past have run into the opposition of long-entrenched, politically powerful interests that favor keeping the outdated structure. The present proposal requires an amendment to the state constitution.
It must weather this opposition while being approved by two successive state legislatures, followed by a public referendum.
Despite the obstacles, the Legislature must take up court reform in January. This effort must be successful if New York is to have a court system that meets the needs of a 21st Century public.
Hon. Felix J. Catena
The writer is administrative judge of the New York State Unified Court System, Fourth Judicial District.
Trump column not backed by examples
The title on the Opinion column by Noah Bookbinder in the Oct. 20 Gazette was a glaring example of “Fake News.” The title “Trump using his office for personal profit started long before G-7” motivated me to read the entire column expecting to find multiple examples of ethics transgressions. None were there. The piece did, however, do a credible job of commenting on the G-7 matter. Assuming that such a contract did or would exist.
Jaquith overcame adversity to succeed
Starting kindergarten can be an exciting experience, perhaps nerve-wracking, and certainly life-altering. Do you wonder what that must be like for children who start in American schools and don’t understand English? I know someone who is running for the town board in Niskayuna who knows that experience firsthand.
As an adult, Rosemarie Perez Jaquith is the director of administration and administrative counsel for the state Legislative Bill Drafting Commission, and was chosen to be the Niskayuna school president. Yet she was once a girl who showed up to school speaking no English.
Rosemarie has lived in Niskayuna for almost two decades. She has served our town as a volunteer for most of those years. As Niskayuna becomes more diverse, we will do well to elect someone with not just a proven track record of public service, but also the personal experience of being a girl who spoke no English on the first day of school.
Company put money over public health
Three juries in California have concluded that Roundup weed killer is to blame for causing Non Hodgkin Lymphoma, a potentially deadly form of cancer.
Monsanto’s parent company Bayer was ordered to pay a California couple $55 million in compensatory and $2 billion in punitive damages.
The jury found that Roundup had been defectively designed and that the company failed to warn of the herbicide’s cancer risk and that the company acted negligently.
The German chemical giant faces more than 13,400 U.S. lawsuits over the herbicide’s alleged cancer risk. It would appear that 160 other countries had sense enough to ban this product.
They put the health and well-being of their people above all else. The governmental agencies entrusted with our health have not and are not doing their job, or this and other such products like this would never have been allowed on the market in the first place.
I guess that the answer to all this is to follow the money. Apparently, the money is more important than the health of the American people.
Robert A. Van Vorst
Impeach Trump to prevent more harm
President Trump’s erratic foreign policy decisions have caused me to be concerned that he will bungle us into a war with Iran.
Severe sanctions have not brought the Iranians to the negotiating table nor weakened their aim to dominate the Middle East.
Iran has responded to our withdrawal from the nuclear deal by enriching its nuclear material and showing its hostility to us, short of provoking a war. The hard liners have increased their political power. All this makes me uneasy that the president could stumble us into a catastrophic war that will kill and destroy and end in a stalemate.
President Trump’s incredibly deceitful sellout of the Kurds, who valiantly fought ISIS with us, is a military and moral foreign policy blunder that disgraces America.
The fact that he made this decision based on his gut feeling tells me that only in his alternate world is he the wise genius he claims to be. In the real world he is a vulgar, corrupt, ignorant, immoral fraud unfit for the presidency.
I support his likely impeachment by the House and hope the Senate will vote to terminate his presidency before he does more damage to America.
Look at benefits of free SUNY tuition
Regarding the Oct. 22 editorial (“Free Tuition is Still a Bad Idea”), there isn’t a huge number of us still around who remember this, but a college education at SUNY Albany in the early 1960s could cost as little as $50 a semester, depending on your family’s economic status. Per today’s dollar value, that’s roughly $500. Tuition forgiveness rested on teaching in New York for five years. I don’t recall anybody who thought this was an excessive burden.
My husband paid $50 a semester and covered the rest of his expenses with a summer job in a grocery store. He taught high school English in New York for 32 years and eventually earned a Master’s and a PhD.
In the1960s, the state funded state colleges at a much higher level. The result was a generation of first-in-their-family college graduates, a majority of whom became teachers. Rather than “a dog of an idea,” it merits a serious look at how free, reduced or forgiven tuition at state colleges could work to everybody’s advantage.