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Letters to the Editor for Saturday, Feb. 15

Letters to the Editor for Saturday, Feb. 15

Your Voice

Focus on the state of U.S. education

The State of the Union address is supposed to tell you what the state of the union is and what might be done.
For instance, fix the state of education and all schools instead of giving a better education to one young girl.
Ellie Peters

Trump devalues the Medal of Freedom

With the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, being given to divisive conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh, the award has lost its value.
The award was established by President Kennedy to recognize “any person who made praiseworthy contribution to the national interests of the United States, world peace or significant cultural endeavors.”
Limbaugh was a guest of Trump at the State of the Union address, where he was presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. This award was notable for two reasons. First, it was controversial because Limbaugh is a polarizing political figure. And second, this marked the first time that any president awarded a Medal of Freedom during a State of the Union address.
In his address (filled with lies, falsehoods and deceptions), Trump thanked Limbaugh for his “decades of tireless devotion to our country.”
What achievements or contributions can be positively attributed to Limbaugh? Is it all the racist, sexist, bigoted and xenophobic statements that he has made about decent American citizens?
The list is long. There is no doubt that Trump awarded the medal to Limbaugh as a reflection of himself. Is there anything sacred within the United States that Trump will not devalue?
Maxine Brisport

Costly taxation is driving people away

Now the politicians want to make a contest out of the mass exit of people and businesses from New York state.
If politicians don’t know by now, they will never know. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure it out: exorbitant amount of school taxes, redundant taxes on items over and over again, regulations, and too many people on the New York state payroll.
Seems to me, elected persons fear rocking the boat when it comes to taking a stand on what’s right to do. And they’re afraid of not being elected again. The bigger issue is the amount of school taxes, which alone would push people out.
As husband and wife, never having had children, being 80 years old, why should we have to pay an exorbitant amount of school taxes, or any?
Our open land that we own and wooded areas are eating the CO2s that are brought in by all the developments. Why shouldn’t we be tax-exempt? Costly taxation on open land is not environmentally sound. We are lifelong residents of the town of Halfmoon. Who’s paying for this cash prize money?
Mike and Diane Stiles

Councilman needs to go “back to school”

The Schenectady sidewalks fiasco is reminding me of the classroom scene in the ‘Back to School’ movie, where the economics professor who lacked any real business experience was lecturing his students on establishing a fictitious factory to produce a fictional product using unrealistic financial figures.
Rodney Dangerfield, who played the role of an established businessman that went back to school to be with his son, laughed at the proposal and suggested that no bank will finance the professor’s project, as the professor left out a bunch of stuff and the proposed factory could only be built in fantasy land.
Here, our Schenectady councilman and economics professor John Palomini, proposed a new sidewalks program using unrealistic financial figures and somehow convinced the Schenectady mayor to finance the project using our tax money.
The city hired a contractor, who eventually completed the project at more than twice the professor’s original costs estimates after he received a carte blanche from the mayor to spend other people’s money.
That will teach us to never trust an economics professor with no real business experience when proposing a new project using made up financial figures, especially in an election year.
Mohamed Hafez

Comments about Trump defense unfair

I knew it would be just a matter of time before some CNN or MSNBC watcher wrote in about President Trump’s defense team and the way the Republicans were running the trial in the Senate.
Mr. Angilletta’s Feb. 1 letter (“Trump defense team shows his character”) repeats the typical liberal comments regarding Ken Starr.
Clinton was impeached for lying under oath, not for having lurid sex in the White House. Regarding Mr. Starr defending Epstein, I have never heard Mr. Starr laugh about getting Mr. Epstein off of the charges.
Mr. Dershowitz is a Democrat. He is no fan of President Trump’s. He just loves the country.
The Democrats are desperate to find a way to remove President Trump from office. He has raised our country out of the Obama years. President Trump’s enemies will continue to make up stories because they know he cannot be beat at the polls.
Dave Edwards

Return Lady Liberty and sign to old spots

I seem to remember activities of about 90 years ago when I was a member of the Boy Scouts of America, Troop Eight. Mr. Louis Tripp was scoutmaster.
At about 1930, boys did not have more than a few coins in their pockets. I might have had a nickel or two. But we were challenged to raise money. So, we worked at it. Likely, patriotic citizens, parents, neighbors and friends, Scoutmasters and men associated with each Boy Scout troop contributed.
I seem to remember hearing a Boy Scout leader speak from the second-floor balcony at the front of the YMCA building on State Street to the crowd already gathered. He may have been urging patriotic contributions or thanking those who had already given.
Where is Lady Liberty now? She should be standing in Liberty Park near the old YMCA building, where she can be seen by people coming off the bridge over the Mohawk River from Scotia and into downtown  on State Street. Or by people coming down State Street and over Washington Avenue toward Route 5S.
There used to be a sign about 2-by-3 feet on a pole about 15 feet tall facing cars coming off the Scotia Bridge with the name “Schenectady” at the top and descriptive words below. Such a sign is needed there now.
George Thiessen

GE Foundation cuts bad for local charities

Effective April 16, the GE Foundation will no longer match donations from retirees. GE Foundation will focus on STEM education, enhancing workforce diversity and enabling better access to healthcare in underserved communities.
This is terrible news.
The GE Matching Gift program has donated a large percentage of the funding to non-profits. For example, GE Match was 37% of the revenue for Concerned for the Hungry’s budget in 2018. Ironically, the absence of this funding will make the emphasis on STEM education moot because: You can’t do STEM if you’re hungry. You can’t do STEM if you are freezing or sweltering hot. You can’t do STEM if you live in your car or move every 3 months. You can’t do STEM if you or a loved one has an addiction problem. You can’t do STEM if you did not learn basic reading and math skills in lower grades.
Without GE Matching Gift support, agencies that provide supplementary food to low-income families will struggle. Habitat for Humanity of Schenectady builds houses for working poor; they depend on the GE Match. Schenectady Community Action Program offers essential social services to low-income families; they will feel the loss of GE Match funding. Bethesda House, City Mission, and the YWCA provide shelter for the homeless and they rely on GE Match support.
Let’s hope the generous people of Schenectady will fill the gap left by the departure of GE Foundation support.
Larry Lewis

Going green is not always best solution

Going green is not always the best solution. Heresy? Google search: Puerto Rico 2017 wind turbine failures; then try solar farm failures there. Aerial photos show Hurricane Maria’s destruction, toppling towers and breaking off blades of offshore wind turbines.  Solar farms were wiped out. Puerto Rico is vulnerable to wind, rain and flooding. And now a 6.4 earthquake on Dec. 28 hit west of Ponce.
In the mid-1980s, GE successfully addressed carbon dioxide (CO2) exhaust emissions set by the EPA.
New fuel nozzles allow water or steam injection into the combustors. On Puerto Rico, St. Thomas and St. Croix, desalination water plants have functioned for decades. American islands have had GE gas turbines for decades with special nozzles.  One 25-megawatt plant requires only 3 acres of land and provides power for 10,000 homes or small businesses.
Transmission of power over long lines is not ideal in regions threatened by hurricanes, tornadoes and earthquakes. This applies to coastal regions on the U.S. mainland, too.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has assigned the New York Power Authority (NYPA) to assist recovery efforts on our Caribbean islands.
Upgrades and modernization options are offered by GE and others for well-maintained turbines.
Finally, I doubt that residents of Puerto Rico cared about power sources when they languished many months before distribution systems were restored. Solar panels and wind turbines are still under repair and remain vulnerable. There were no reported gas turbine failures in 2017.
David Lucier

Modern approach to learning is needed

In the Gazette Feb. 8 article (“Survey: Upstate CEOs pessimistic”): “Respondents also expressed discontent about workforce suitability.”
The problem is twofold. Too many of our schools are teaching 20th Century skills to our students.
What they need to be learning is what is going be needed now and when the robots take more of their last-century jobs. Creativity, collaboration, communication, information literacy, media literacy, technology literacy and flexibility are all aspects of PEAK learning. (Purpose. Essential skills. Agency. Knowledge).
Business leaders and our school system can also use creative models from PEAK learning that emphasize this modern skill-set.
Both need to join together to offer more flexible apprenticeships to high school students. That will be a win-win-win for the students, the schools and the businesses. There are many workable models nationwise that are already successful. By the way, these students tend to score better and get into great schools and jobs.
Ronald Hunt

Change behavior to fight climate change

Since rational thinkers — meaning those not persuaded by the propaganda from self-interest energy companies — agree that climate change is real and caused by carbon emissions, it’s about time that New York state starts making the necessary changes to reduce our carbon footprint.
A civic-minded individual should be advocating to his or her representative to make the changes needed at the state level. If that representative doesn’t do what is right, the next step is to vote for a sane thinker.
Beyond that, there are opportunities for us to change our personal habits.
Homeowners should visit the NYSERDA website and set up an energy audit. This will help identify areas of improvement and give advice on what will fit a personal budget.
Getting electricity from a renewable source such as solar aggregates like Common Solar and Dynamic Energy are sensible alternatives.
Lowering the thermostat by 10 to 15 degrees overnight can reduce energy use by 5% to 15%. Another easy change is using LED light bulbs. Despite what this current administration thinks, LED is much more efficient. Also, contrary to our Polluter-in-Chief, using low-water-use appliances has a big impact on energy usage. Lastly, watch for energy vampires. Unplugging chargers and appliances when not in use can save up to 10% on the electric bill, according to research.
The time to face reality is long past. Change can be hard, but when it comes to our carbon footprint, changing our behavior is necessary.
Bill Brooks

Honoring Limbaugh shows Trump’s soul

I was shocked Rush Limbaugh was awarded the Medal of Freedom honor, and a few days later Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who was honored with a Purple Heart, got fired and escorted out by three police officers.
Rush Limbaugh made fun of Michael J. Fox, who has severe Parkinson’s disease. He made the comment that Fox was faking. You can see the video on YouTube, which is proof.
This is proof that Donald Trump is a lost soul.
Concetta Cannizzaro

Cuomo, Bishop: Do right by pensioners

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Bishop Edward Scharfenberger need to do the right thing for the St. Clare’s pensioners.
Almost 45 years ago, after graduating from nursing school, I started my nursing career at St. Clare’s Hospital. For the following 30-plus years, I assimilated into a family of dedicated caregivers who worked diligently caring for our patients with compassion and dignity. It was this work ethic that kept me within our family for so long.
As part of our condition of employment we were provided with a “deferred benefit,” “our pension. As part of this “benefit” our wages were slightly less than the average “non-benefit” employees of other hospitals. I was fine with this considering the peace of mind it gave me about my retirement future.
Over a year ago, more than half of our dedicated St. Clare’s family lost their retirements in their entirety with the remainder taking a substantial reduction. This unforeseen catastrophe has caused extreme hardship on the same caregivers who dedicated their lives caring for the sick. Not much of an appreciation for our many years of dedicated service to say the least.
The financial decisions that were made and obviously mishandled are having real consequences on real folks who did nothing more than dedicate their lives caring for the sick.
It’s time for the people and institutions responsible for this mismanagement to make our pensions whole again. I will continue to pray that these folks will find the compassion and decency to simply “Do the right thing.”
Maria Peart, RN
The writer is a St. Clare’s pensioner.

Rep. Tonko is right to oppose trade deal

I read Peter Struzzi’s Feb. 3 letter (“Tonko votes against helping economy”) concerning the city of Amsterdam and our hometown hero, Rep. Paul Tonko.
The letter mentioned Tonko’s vote on USMCA. I think the congressman was right to reject the deal for what he called “its failure to address the growing threat of Climate Change,” saying “I cannot support a deal which fails to even acknowledge the global climate crisis that future generations will be left to bear.”
The USMCA also includes damaging proposals for working Americans, does little to prevent job outsourcing and includes troubling benefits for pharmaceutical industries.
Congressman Tonko observed that for 25 years, we have watched NAFTA outsource American jobs and that under this agreement, we will see the continued outsourcing of pollution and jobs.
Congressman Tonko has long opposed NAFTA for its negative effects on the environment, American jobs, U.S. trade deficits, drug prices, food securities and consumer protections.
I’m proud to support a person who isn’t afraid to stand up and fight for everyone, not just his voters. His love and dedication for his country should be recognized, not criticized.
Christopher Carpenter

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