Down the Fairway: Gifford on a roll, even without trusty driver

Even without his favorite weapon, Jim Gifford is continuing to enjoy one of his best seasons on the links in recent memory.

Gifford, the long-hitting former Shenendehowa High School and Siena College golfing standout, lost his favorite driver recently, and he’s frantically searching for a new one that fits his game. But even with some borrowed and/or experimental big sticks, he’s been adding to his impressive resume with several excellent performances.

Gifford, 33, hasn’t played much tournament golf in the last several seasons, mostly because he and his wife have been adding to their family. Their daughter is 2 1/2 years old now, and his son is just 4 months old.

Because of work and family commitments, he didn’t compete in the Saratoga County Amateur for the past three seasons, but he finally returned to one of his favorite events and captured his fifth title last weekend at Eagle Crest Golf Club and The Edison Club, respectively. His other triumphs came in 2006, 2010, 2013 and 2016.

Not only did he return to the top in his county championship, but he also teamed up with Jim Welch to win the Shaker Ridge Invitational, and also paired with Dan Russo to win the Little Brown Jug Two-Man crown.

“It’s been pretty good this year,” Gifford said. “I’ve had quite a bit of success in the last four or five weeks by winning a couple of two-man events. But it hasn’t been pretty. My driver cracked at the Jug in the middle of that tournament. I tried different drivers in the County Am, but they didn’t really work out the way I wanted to, and I didn’t make a putt for two days.

“But it’s been a busy summer after a slow start,” Gifford noted. “Once they canceled all the USGA events and state tournaments, I didn’t play much golf early. But then they revamped the schedule, and I kind of got asked to play in a few two-man events. That got me going. In both of the team events that we won, we triumphed in playoffs. We got to feel the stress of hitting shots under pressure, and that’s definitely what competitive golf is all about.”

Gifford is one of the few “younger guns” to give his good friend Russo a consistent challenge in recent years. He has won a Tri-County Match Play Championship, several Edison Invitationals and also finished in the top five in numerous New York State Golf Association events. He is most proud of the two USGA national events he qualified for, the USGA Four-Ball Championship with partner Chad Stoffer and the U.S. Mid-Amateur.

He and Russo are headed to play in the Berkshire Hills Two-Man in October, and they are also going to attempt to qualify for the USGA Four-Ball again.

“We always have fun playing together,” Gifford said of him and Russo, the Capital Region’s all-time leader in major tournament victories. “We kind of mesh well together. Our personalities and our games complement each other. He’s been the best player in our area for as long as I can remember. He’s fun to watch and to play with. I love to see how consistently he still hits the ball.

“I’m looking forward to playing with Dan again at Berkshire Hills,” Gifford added. “I’ll figure out something with my driver. I’ve got a driving iron in my bag if I need it. I can hit the 2-iron 250, 260 yards, so I’ll figure out something. I’ll see Scott Berliner [Saratoga Spa Golf Course assistant pro] and see if we can get something ordered, but I’ve got to customize it for my game.”

Meanwhile, Eagle Crest Golf Club owner/general manager Bill Paulsen Jr., recovering from hip replacement surgery earlier this season, won his 11th Saratoga County Amateur senior division title.

A SPECIAL VICTORY

Justin Hearley dedicated his victory in this week’s Northeastern New York PGA Match Play Championship to the late Doug Evans, the section’s tournament director and assistant executive director who died recently of a heart attack while administrating a Player Abilities Test at Schenectady Municipal Golf Course.

Hearley, 30, an assistant pro at Normanside Country Club, added to perhaps his best season by knocking off Mohawk Golf Club head pro Jeremy Kerr, 5-and-4, in the finals Wednesday at Colonie Golf & Country Club. He earned a check for $2,200.

Hearley, who is second to Scott Berliner on the NENY PGA Player of the Year points list, earned his first major championship in the section with some spectacular play, including five birdies (one conceded) and an eagle. He never trailed after rolling in a 35-foot, late-breaking birdie putt on the opening hole. He tacked on birdies on the third (thanks to a drive of 350 yards , leaving him an approach shot of just 137 yards), fifth and eighth holes to stretch his advantage to 4-up. Hearley picked up another hole on No. 10 when Kerr got into some tree trouble — hitting three different trees trying to escape from the woods in the left rough. Kerr then conceded the hole to Hearley before the CBA and SUNY Delhi grad even had a chance to hit his approach shot.

After Kerr won his only hole of the match with a par on the 12th hole, Hearley eagled the par-5 13th to push his advantage back to five holes. Both players bogeyed the 14th hole, ending the match.

“That was for Doug,” Hearley said after the match. “That was my first major victory, although I won the Assistants Match Play Championship a few years ago. I tried to keep the ball in play for the most part, and I made some putts that I don’t normally make. I just wanted to control the tee, hit some good shots and force Jeremy to do the same.

“I never considered myself a good match play player, but my hot putter changed things today,” Hearley said. “I made some good birdie putts, as well as some good 4- to 5 footers for par. I’m definitely very happy, but I’m upset at the loss of Doug. Not seeing Doug’s face here was hard. He’s always been there for us right from the start. He was a great guy. This is a major loss for the section and for Capital Region golf in general. He gave his life to golf.”

Hearley, who marked all of his golf balls with Evans’ favorite quote, “You Got It,” said when he first heard the news about Evans he immediately asked his wife to let him hug their 1-month old son, Caiden. “It shows you the true priorities,” he said.

This was the second runner-up finish in a row for the 47-year-old Kerr, who was a dominant player in the section as an assistant pro at Shaker Ridge CC years ago before becoming the longtime head pro at Mohawk.

“Some time I’ll get it right,” Kerr said with a chuckle. “I love match play. It suits my game. I won 18 straight matches back in 2001 through 2003. I’m playing more now, and that helps.”

Kerr won the regular NENY PGA Match Play crown in 2003, and was the Assistants Association Match Play titlist in 2001-2003. He was the Assistants Association Stroke Play winner in 1996, 2002 and 2005.

Kerr said he’s able to tee it up more after Mohawk’s new owner, Mike Rutherford, took over the pro shop, allowing Kerr to concentrate on playing and teaching.

Like all of his peers, Kerr said he missed not seeing Evans out on the course running the tournament.

“Everybody played with a heavy heart this week. It was shocking and saddening,” Kerr said.

“But Justin played awesome today, He did everything well, from his tee shots, to his irons, to his short game and his putts. He deserved to win.”

Kerr advanced to the final with a 1-up victory over CC of Pittsfield head pro Eric Mabee, who had five birdies on the front nine. Hearley beat former Match Play champion Scott Battiste of Eagle Crest Golf Club, 1-up, in 20 holes.

CHIP SHOTS

Airway Meadows will hold its 21st annual Oktoberfest on Oct. 11. Entry fee is $118 for non-members riding solo in a cart, or $115 for non-members sharing a cart. Entry fee includes Continental breakfast, lunch at the turn (hot dogs, chips, soda and draft beer) and a steak dinner with German side dishes. There will be three or four flights divided into men, women and seniors (age 65 and older). Call 518-792-4144 for more information.

The NENY PGA has changed the site of its Omega Tour Championship from Berkshire Hills CC to Wyantenuck CC on Oct. 6-7. The top 20 NENY PGA pros from the Player of the Year list earn free entry. Other NENY PGA Class A pros can register to compete in the season finale for $200.

The Bill Moll Triple Play Championship, named after the late local standout who won three Schenectady Classic crowns, five Schenectady Senior Classics, the Eagle Crest Shootout and numerous Eagle Crest club championships, is set for Monday at Eagle Crest Golf Club. The 27-hole event will feature nine holes of two-man scramble, nine holes of two-man alternate shot and nine holes of two-man best-ball. Entry fee is $240 per team.

Teams in this gross-only event can have two amateurs or one amateur and one pro. There is already a banner field signed up, including pros such as Eagle Crest head pro Scott Battiste, nine-time NENY PGA Player of the Year Scott Berliner of Saratoga Spa Golf Course, CRAGA Stroke Play and Schenectady Classic champ Dan Russo and his teammate, former pro Joe Fitzsimmons of Shaker Ridge CC. Call the Eagle Crest pro shop at 518-877-7802 to see if there are any more openings.

Briar Creek Golf Course’s annual October-Fest is set for Friday. The four-person scramble will have a 10 a.m. shotgun start and a 9 a.m. registration and Continental breakfast. Entry fee is $70 per golfer and includes cart, lunch and dinner. Beer and soda will also be provided. Call 518-355-6145 to reserve your group.

Mark Armstrong shot below his age with a 73 while competing in the Bugundi league at Schenectady Municipal Golf Course.

HOLES-IN-ONE

Mike Lawson aced the 141-yard fifth hole with a 7-iron at Stadium Golf Club.

At the Edison Club, Kim Skiba collected her first hole-in-one with a 9-iron on the 11th hole.

Bill Ebert aced the 173-yard ninth hole with a 5-wood at Airway Meadows Golf Club.

George Lindemann swung an 8-iron from 115 yards to ace the 11th hole at Mechanicville Golf Club.

At Amsterdam Municipal Golf Course, Bob  Kelly aced the eighth hole with an 8-iron.

Also at Amsterdam Municipal, Joe Torani holed out on the 13th hole for his first hole-in-one.

Rick Mitchell recorded a hole-in-one on the 17th hole at Ballston Spa Country Club.

At Western Turnpike, Chandra Dixit used a 7-iron for a hole-in-one on the 191-yard eighth hole on the blue nine.

EAGLES

Harry Morgan eagled both the third and 10th holes during the same round at Amsterdam Municipal Golf Course this week.

Stan Dybas also eagled the 10th hole at Amsterdam Municipal.

Bob Bartow of Rotterdam registered an eagle-2 on the par-4 second hole at Canajoharie Golf & Country Club with a pitching wedge from 68 yards out.

Joe Aragona, 77, posted his first career eagle on the second hole en route to a 42 at Schenectady Municipal Golf Course. Aragona reached the green with a 5-wood and sank the eagle putt.

Jim Geiger eagled the par-5 10th hole at Amsterdam Municipal Golf Course

Reach Bob Weiner at [email protected] or @BobWeiner58 on Twitter.

 

Friday night Schenectady shooting victim dies

SCHENECTADY — The victim of Friday night’s shooting at State and Kelton streets, identified as an Albany man, has died, city police said.

While Elnahcere S. Vincent, 22, of Albany, was initially listed as in critical condition after the 7:57 p.m. shooting, police said Saturday he was pronounced dead shortly after arriving at the hospital.

Police said the initial call was for shots fired near the intersection, and the first officers on the scene found Vincent, who had been shot multiple times, in the area of 1142 State St., where Star Liquor is located. Medics from the Schenectady Fire Department transported him to a local hospital, where police said he was pronounced dead.

The investigation is ongoing, with no suspects in custody as of Saturday morning. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Schenectady Police Department TIPS line at 518-788-6566.

It was the fifth shooting homicide to date this year in Schenectady, which had no shooting homicides in 2019.

Letters to the Editor Saturday, Sep. 26

Install tip jars to aid grocery store clerks

One of the few places that I’ve visited in the last six months is the grocery store. When I’m there, the essential workers are all going about their chores wearing their face masks.
They are exposed to many people every day making their tedious work even worse than normal. These loyal employees deserve a bonus.
If the management is too frugal to pay them directly, I have a solution to this inequity. The stores should install tip jars at each check out. I think most customers understand this situation and would gladly leave a tip.
Thomas Singer
Delanson

Not paying for your irresponsible acts

Let us speak of helmets and seat belts. And masks. Some people claim they have the right to self-destruct.
Where exactly in the Constitution is that right defined? In any case, if your extreme freedom and entitlement to risk causes you to become severely sick or injured, who will pay the bill?
If you have health insurance, it may not be enough. If you cannot work, who will support you? Other people – the rest of us — will be required to pay to help you.
Personally, I resent having to subsidize someone else’s lack of responsibility.
Marilyn B. Guidarelli
Schenectady


Show records of conservative judges

The Gazette would provide an important public service by publishing a guide to how conservative justices vote on key issues.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg was not just a pioneer on civil rights issues, but an advocate for positions that have majority support in this country.
Too bad many voters just cheer for their team to get the next appointment without really knowing what these justices really stand for. Perhaps on the abortion issue the lines are clearly marked, yet amid the clamor few realize that a majority of the nation supports reasonable abortion policies.
Do the voters know that no conservative justices are pro-corporation when balancing environmental interests, workers’ rights, etc. Do they know conservative justices defer to racist legislators on issues of gerrymandering and voter suppression tactics? Do they know the conservative justices defer to a president’s authority no matter how capricious or arbitrary (or xenophobic or racist)? Do they know conservative justices are likely to overturn the Affordable Care Act?
Let’s honor the death of a great justice by making informed choices, not just treat politics like cheering for a football team.
Al Singer
Glenville

Why commercials during 9/11 tribute?

“9/11 Remembered: The Day We Came Together” was a very moving and inspirational program. It brought me to tears. But why the commercials? It was upsetting and frustrating.
Certainly we should have had one hour to remember, reminisce and take it all in again without interruptions of commercials. Some were even repeated.
You can be sure that there won’t be any commercials when President Trump and Joe Biden are on the platform debating and playing politics. Thank goodness for the mute button.
Alice Knizek
Rotterdam

Cobb won’t represent true North Country

Well it’s the time of the year for an election post. I’m now retired after over 40 years as a construction worker. I have to comment about a descriptive word commonly used.
The word is “COB,” it is normally used as “a Cob Job.” That statement describes a shoddy job, many times using inferior materials backed up by less than decent workmanship.
Electing Tedra Cobb will produce a COB job. We have more than enough New York City type thinkers supposedly representing us. We need someone that has real North Country ideals and knowledge, not a Cuomo acolyte.
She claims she is good for the North Country but many of her ideals and ideas say much different.
We have more than enough onerous rules, taxes and gun control just to name a few. We need a real North Country person, not a New York City wannabe. Do not do a cob job at this election time. Vote for Elise Stefanik if you want your real North Country representation.
David G. DeMarco
Hadley

Santabarbara against protecting babies

Assemblyman Santabarbara advocates for the humane treatment of dogs, while he votes for the inhumane murder of human babies. The Reproductive Health Act repealed NY Public Health Law section 4164, which required doctors to provide medical care to babies who survive abortion.
Santabarbara removed this law that protected babies in order to legalize their murder.
Santabarbara remains silent on his vote for infanticide, while he talks tough against gun violence on dogs. “I will not tolerate crimes of attacks against animals,” he cries.
Santabarbara fights to make shooting dogs a felony, but killing a full-term baby with lethal injection; that’s a legal abortion.
While Americans should love animals and advocate for their humane treatment, we should never give animals greater legal protection than human babies. We should value babies more than we value dogs. Santabarbara disagrees. He devalues babies by removing laws meant to protect them, in order to kill them in a way that we wouldn’t do to a dog or a cat. Santabarbara followed his party and voted for infanticide. His lack of leadership proves how Democrats follow their party at all costs, even if the cost is innocent babies.
Jennifer Richards
Burnt Hills

Candidates would focus on downstate

I usually agree with John Figliozzi’s superb columns, but I take exception to his Sept. 20 op-ed (“Fix the Electoral College, don’t replace it”) in which he abruptly dismissed the National Interstate Popular Vote Compact proposal to fix the Electoral College in favor of “awarding electoral votes proportionally by in-state popular vote.”
On the face of it, that method would reflect every voter’s wishes. But here’s the problem. If, as an example, we distributed New York’s 29 electoral votes proportionally, the total would be skewed toward the New York metropolitan area because its population heavily outnumbers the rest of the state. Presidential candidates would concentrate their efforts downstate because that’s where most New Yorkers live.
The other option is to require electors to be chosen by congressional district, as Hamilton and Madison proposed. That would ensure a more democratic allocation of votes, but the core of the problem would remain because, by my count, 19 of our 27 districts are carved out between Rhinebeck and the eastern tip of Long Island.
The other eight districts represent the whole area north and west of Paul Tonko’s district (Amsterdam). Presidential candidates would take scant interest in the affairs of the whole North Country and the rural areas of the Southern Tier.
But, by far, the most serious shortcoming of this option is the problem of gerrymandering. If you think there’s too much mischief now, watch how much worse things will get with a presidential election at stake.
Fred Como
Burnt Hills

Retain commission gov’t in Spa City

As someone who has enjoyed living in Saratoga Springs for 40 years, I totally support the commission form of government.
It is unbelievable that some people want to radically change what continues to be one of the most successful cities in New York state; in fact, one of the more accomplished cities in the whole country.
Even though the citizens of our fair city have voted three times in the past eight years against changing our government, they continue to ignore us.
They can write all the gobbledygook they want, but no way will their proposed charter improve our wonderful city. The risk they want us to take is way too high.
Their 2020 version continues to make absolutely no freaking sense. In fact, it’s significantly worse because they added ward politicians who will divide our city. Saratoga Springs is not Albany.
And as Commissioner Madigan rightly pointed out in 2017 (and it’s also true today), their financial analysis is way off the rails and will cost us more for an inferior government.
Finally, it would be a tragic and costly mistake to change our successful form of government. Vote no on Saratoga Springs charter change.
Michael O’Brien
Saratoga Springs


Do the right thing by voting in person

Go vote! If you shop at (Price Chopper, Shop Rite, Hannaford, Aldi’s, Walmart, Target, BJs, Boscov’s, Bed Bath &Beyond, Hobby Lobby, AC Moore, TJ Maxx, Marshalls, Home Goods, Dollar Tree, Dollar General, Michael’s, mall shopping, CVS, Walgreens, Tractor Supply, Lowe’s, Home Depot, Bellview Builders, then you can go out and vote in person on Nov. 3.
If you’re using the excuse of COVID-19 not to vote, then you shouldn’t be shopping at any of the stores I just listed. As an American citizen, it’s your right and privilege to vote in person. Of course, wear your mask on Nov. 3. Do the right thing, simply put.
Paul Dolhy
Rotterdam

Serving shouldn’t be about most money

My question to everyone out there is: When did money become the reason someone was elected?
I thought it was about what they have done for we, the people, or will do. And for those haters of the current president, why not do your research into what has been done? You will not get it on local ABC, NBC, CBS. I watch all three, PBS, FOX and some CNN. You have to at least listen to all voices to make a choice.
It should not be about who has spent the most money on ads or TV time.
Louise Wasson
Rexford

Nation must admit, address state of grief

The loss of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has left me sad, and unfortunately it is placed on top of so many other losses due to COVID-19, social unrest, climate change, unhealed historical trauma and its impact on the mental and physical health of people of color and a political system growing void of integrity.
I have been promoting the need for sanctioning grief within our communities and nation since the onset of this pandemic to ensure grief is not thought of as a disease or character deficit.
Our nation is in a state of grief and grief is a change agent. Elizabeth Kubler Ross identified five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. When I witness the behaviors across our nation, I witness the stages of grief.
Consider the denial that accompanies this pandemic and the empty bargaining from our political leaders. Or the anger and violence related to systemic racism. Let’s not forget the parents and teachers outraged and overwhelmed by the task of normalizing the abnormal.
It’s clear to me that our nation is in a state of grief.
Loss changes us, and unless we officially validate grief, our nation will cycle through the stages of grief and get trapped in anger resisting the necessary changes we all need to make.
I want to recognize my sadness in the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and I want my grief to have meaning and not just another loss on top of another loss.
Deborah Faust
Schenectady


Trump’s curriculum would ignore reality

Donald Trump wants to use what children learn in school to his political advantage. In an effort to promote ‘patriotic education,’ he would sign an executive order through the 1776 Commission, which would denounce the impacts of racial injustice for Black Americans. He claims that schools are teaching students to hate this country and is calling for a curriculum that teaches American exceptionalism.
There is no truth to his claim that history teachers are indoctrinating students to hate the United States.
If Trump turned off Fox News and read a book, he will realize that our children (citizens) love this country. He would learn that we can teach how slavery formulated so many inequities that still exist today, while still teaching the greatness of America.
Students should learn about the Emancipation Proclamation, as well Jim Crow laws and achievements of people like Thurgood Marshall. It is good for students to understand the ‘oppressive’ history of the United States, while appreciating the country’s success, progress and achievements. Instead, Trump’s narrative suggests that America is a place of opportunity for everyone, while ignoring the struggles that many marginalized groups have long faced. Another example, of the dip into fascism.
Maxine Brisport
Rotterdam

Trump disregards our safety and security

Donald Trump often boasts about his intellectual capabilities, yet he has not been able to grasp the simple fact that unless COVID-19 is contained, there cannot be a sustained economic recovery nor can there be a safe return to classrooms.
In April, following a flattening of the curve, Trump encouraged states to reopen their economies “as soon as possible” without providing data-based guidelines for a phased process. Many states followed Trump’s lead and then witnessed the consequences of rushing to open without enforcing mitigation protocols.
These states clearly demonstrated that economic recovery cannot be sustained without controlling COVID-19.
In spite of these outbreaks, Trump then urged schools to reopen classrooms at the start of the academic year. He did not provide any data-based guidelines for safely reopening schools. Trump clearly did not learn from the disastrous experience of states reopening their economies too rapidly. Classrooms cannot reopen safely in the midst of major COVID-19 outbreaks.
Trump’s obsession with reopening the economy and schools is driven by purely political motivations. His callous disregard for the health and well-being of Americans is astonishing.
His only concern is about winning reelection at any cost.
Don Steiner
Schenectady


America is fast on the path of hatred

In his book “Killing Crazy Horse”, Bill O’Reilly wrote “I know what it is to hate,” Cloud states. “I hate those white soldiers who took us from our home. I hate the soldiers who made us keep walking through the snow and ice toward this new home that none of us ever wanted. I hate the people who killed my mother and father. I hate the white people who lined the roads in their woolen clothes that kept them warm, watching us pass. None of these white people are here to say they are sorry that I am alone. None of them care about my people. All they ever saw was the color of our skin. All I see is the color of theirs. And I hate them.”
Samuel Cloud, great-great-grandson of Native American Chief Samuel Cloud, wrote the above. Samuel survived The Trail Of Tears when Cherokee Indians were forced to march. Nearly 25% died.
There is hate to go around in America today. A Trail Of Tears of the soul is taking place. It is not based on skin color; that will be a justification. Past injustices like hate are forever.
History’s lesson: hate. The Bible’s lesson, “Hate the sin, not the sinner.”
America is entering a cycle of hate based on false premises. Revenge, false justice is the action of the abused who becomes an abuser.
History wins, the Bible loses. The struggle continues between good and evil.
Edmond Day
Rotterdam

Credit socialists with attempt at fact check

Regarding Mr. Sator’s Sept. 20 letter (“Looking for rational conservatives,”) it is refreshing to see that some Democrat Socialists attempt to use facts to bolster their opinions. Unfortunately, it is a new experience for most of them and they tend to misstate.
For instance, the senior Bush was first elected to Congress in 1967, so was unable to vote on the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
But, I do agree that southern Democrats were the party of the KKK, Black codes, Jim Crow, and segregation and that they maintained that position into the 1960’s (Dixiecrats in Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, North and South Carolina and Virginia totally voted against the 1964 Act).
Today, they have morphed into Antifa and BLM (the Communist Organization, not the motto), and the socialist thirst for power is evident in all of their un-American activities.
From cancel culture and silencing opposing thoughts, to denying due process, the Dixiecrats of old would be proud of the new generation’s drive to destroy the America that has given freedom and hope to the entire world. If the United States was so terrible, why would hundreds of thousands risk life and limb to come here?
Oh, back to the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Black Americans are way smarter than what the Democrat Socialists give them credit for.
Jeffrey Falace
Schenectady

Use more of lottery money for school aid

I am very glad to see Assemblyman Santabarbara is going after Albany politicians again, this time for the lottery money that was supposed to be used for education.
I read in The Gazette about his proposal that would get more of that money to our schools where it was supposed to go in the first place. I can’t believe how little of it is actually used for education. I, along with many others I’m sure, always thought all of that money was being used to pay for education all along.
I agree with Assemblyman Santabarbara. Schools trying to reopen during this time of covid are in desperate need. I hope that others support his legislation that would right a great wrong that has been going on for more than 50 years here in New York state.
Maria DiMeo
Schenectady

Thanks to Leonard for localizing history

Much thanks to Chris Leonard, Schenectady city historian, for his very informative articles on World War II.
It is always nice to read about the home front and what was going on. Plenty of books and movies have been written and made about soldiers in the war effort, but there have been minimal done on what was happening at home.
Though far less glamorous, it was this backbone of the United States that provided the difference between the Allies and the Axis during the war.
Gerard F. Havasy
Clifton Park

Gazette shouldn’t make endorsements

This year, I would like to ask The Schenectady Gazette to refrain from exercising its right to endorse a candidate or a political position during the upcoming election. In this hyper-polarized campaign season, a newspaper that endorses one candidate or position over the other is seen as a spokesperson for that individual and significantly weakens its objective of fair and balanced reporting.
Instead, I would like to see The Gazette take several pages to identify the principle candidates and referendums and list their positions on the major issues without judgment. Then let the voters decide for themselves come Election Day.
It will go far to restore a degree of journalistic integrity to an industry that is being rightfully challenged for its lack of objective reporting of multiple viewpoints.
Ken Moore
Schenectady

Invest more in reliable sources of energy

When you pull up your electric car to a highway charging station, can you select the origin of the power source you want? Can you only accept electric current from wind turbines or solar panels? Does electricity come in different colors?
When the wind blows too fast or too slow, wind turbines don’t spin or automatically shut down. There are upper and lower thresholds for power generation. In hurricanes, forget it. Will blades and towers in offshore installations survive tropical winds? Ask Puerto Rico.
When overhead clouds from the Southwest prevail, perhaps caused by an ensuing tropical storm, how much power will solar panels produce? What about flooding and surface disruption like St. Croix experienced in recent storms? Ask Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority (VIWAPA) management.
As ideal as renewable energy sounds to unknowing citizens, there are always limitations and unexpected consequences in power generation, as well as in transmission and distribution.
Don’t be so quick to dismiss energy sources like natural gas and turbines that generate reliable, peaking and emergency power.
They can all be modified to mitigate any harmful exhaust emissions, as many already have. Why not create thousands of jobs by making these improvements to installed and exiting power plants?
David Lucier
Niskayuna

Biden will restore intelligent decency

This letter is in regard to your recent article with some Democrats suggesting Joe Biden might need a higher gear.
The strong and decent man that Trump insultingly calls Sleepy Joe must indeed be tired of it, and aren’t we all? We’re sick and tired of the name calling and a man who has made fun of the disabled, a POW, a Gold Star family, military leaders and anyone else who disagrees with him.
We’re sick and tired of all the lies, the incompetent political appointees, the crooks and chaos of his administration. We’re sick and tired of the animosity he’s generated throughout our country where folks are afraid to post opinions online or even a sign on their front lawns.
We’re sick of his gun-toting militias claiming to be patriots when it’s really the worst form of oppression. And finally, we’re sick of his mocking and denying the science that could have saved thousands of lives and continues to cause terrible climate change.
The choice in 2020 is very clear: More madness and degradation with Trump/Pence or a return to intelligent decency with Biden/Harris.
Virginia Newton
Burnt Hills

Will USPS be able to deliver the ballots?

I don’t care if you’re a Democrat or Republican, but I was just reminded of the incompetency too often exhibited by some of our government agencies and current politicians, and voters need to know about it.
I recently sent of envelope to the Ballston Spa Country Club after affixing a Forever stamp and providing a legible, numbered street address with precise Zip code. After more than a week, the envelope was returned to me with a large, felt-marked notation along with a stamped label stating, “Return to Sender; No Mail Receptacle; Unable to Forward.”
Apparently, the Ballston Spa Post Office, serving a metropolis of just over 5,000, was unable to ascertain where the envelope was intended to be sent.
Remember, there are politicians (and others) currently advocating that the USPS be given the responsibility to deliver millions of ballots in the upcoming November election. Are they (the politicians) insane or is it just their continued effort to undermine anything they can?
I considered sending an account of this incident to my congressman, Paul Tonko, but he apparently doesn’t give a hoot about it and my correspondence would probably be returned to me anyway – undelivered.
Ken Stevens
Clifton Park

Online letters

Commenters to online letters who fail to follow rules against name-calling, profanity, threats, libel or other inappropriate language will have their comments removed and their commenting privileges withdrawn.
To report inappropriate online comments, email Editorial Page Editor Mark Mahoney at [email protected].

Focus on History: Progress Exposition showcased Amsterdam in 1925

America was prospering 95 years ago as local business and industry staged Amsterdam’s Progress Exposition and Auto Show in September 1925.

“In the twenties, that was the heyday here,” said anthropologist Susan Dauria.

“The population was about 35,000, the biggest it’s ever been.”

Dauria wrote her doctoral dissertation on the rise and decline of 20th century manufacturing in Amsterdam.

The Progress Exposition was organized by the Board of Trade, a predecessor of the Fulton Montgomery Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Inspired by a similar exposition in Schenectady, the event was held for eight days at Ross’s Flats in the East End, next to the railroad tracks.

Admission was 25 cents for adults and 10 cents for children.

The Recorder reported that on opening day people “stormed the entrance” which was dominated by a large windmill to emphasize Amsterdam’s Dutch roots.

Mayor Carl Salmon opened the festivities saying Amsterdam had “diversified industries” and it was time to show people what was “made and done here.”

State Senator William Byrne, a native of the nearby town of Florida, said it was time to put Amsterdam on the map.

One “mammoth tent” was dedicated to the display of automobiles.

Standard Oil of New York showed off a gasoline pump.

Schenectady General Electric furnished floodlights.

There were large tents containing more than a hundred booths where manufacturers and businesses showed and sold their wares.

During the lead up to the event, downtown department store Holzheimer and Shaul increased the number of booths it rented from five to nine.

Holzheimer’s booths looked like store windows.

A cardboard cutout of a young girl was behind a new Hoover vacuum cleaner.

A mannequin wearing an apron was amid a display of Glenwood gas and wood stoves.

To tout the city’s role in making rugs, Holzheimer’s put a Sanford carpet on the sidewalk in front of its East Main Street store during the Exposition.

The carpet mills—Stephen Sanford & Sons and Mohawk—had booths in the Exposition, as did other manufacturers.

The whole city is “in gala attire” wrote the Schenectady Gazette.

The Gazette reported that a Main Street parade preceded opening night, “All the industrial concerns and stores in this city have been invited to have their old employees in point of service participate in the parade, as the parade will feature those who have had a part in the building up of Amsterdam.”

The city health department held a perfect child contest to promote healthy children and 150 children entered the competition.

Winner of the infant and toddler category was Gloria Yerick, 20-months-old, from Mathias Avenue.

Winner of the older child contest was four-year-old Donald Feldeman of East Main Street.

There were also fashion and pet shows.

Among the entertainers was a precocious five-year-old local dancer, Elaine Marie Caruso of Grant Avenue.

For the exposition’s last night, Larrabee’s hardware store manager E. Warner Leavenworth secured a native Hawaiian band.

In Amsterdam since 1882, Fitzgerald’s Bottling Works offered ginger ale for 5 cents a bottle.

“The safest drinks—kills disease germs,” stated a poster.

The Walter Elwood Museum in Amsterdam has a book of pictures of the Progress Exposition taken by local photographer Emil Zillgitt.

One picture shows the booth of Monroe Gray who was selling suburban lots at Tribes Hill Heights, west of Amsterdam.

“A lot means a home and a home means a lot,” stated a poster.

Gray was seated, smartly dressed in a three-piece suit with well-shined shoes, holding a rolled up blueprint.

Gray had blueprints of the lots and pictures of homes stacked on a table underneath an American flag.

Schenectady police investigating shooting

SCHENECTADY — City police are investigating a shooting that left one man in critical condition on Friday night.

The shooting occurred in the area of State Street and Kelton Avenue, said city police, who responded to a call at Star Liquor at 1142 State St.

One male victim is currently in critical condition, police said.

Police blocked off State Street between McClellan Street and Kelton Avenue late Friday. Authorities were on scene, with the investigation centered around Dunkin’ located at the intersection.

This story will be updated as additional information becomes available.

NTSB’s final report on limo crash due Tuesday

The federal government’s nearly two-year investigation into the stretch limousine crash that killed 20 people will come to a head on Tuesday, with a meeting of the National Transportation Safety Board that will look at findings, probable cause and any recommendations from the Schoharie crash.

The NTSB’s virtual meeting Tuesday morning in Washington, D.C., will come just a week short of the second anniversary of the horrific crash at state Routes 30 and 30A, which killed 17 passengers and the driver in a stretch limousine, and two pedestrians in the parking lot of the Apple Barrel Country Store.

The crash and resulting revelations about the stretched 2001 Ford Excursion and its history of failed regulatory inspections have already resulted in changes to state law to tighten limousine regulations, and the Capital Region congressional delegation has proposed changes at the federal level — yet to progress through Congress — that could get a boost from any NTSB recommendations.

The NTSB issued an interim report in October 2019 that recommended new limousine seatbelt standards that have yet to be adopted by the U.S. Department of Transportation, and late last month the NTSB issued hundreds of pages of factual findings about the crash — detailing an investigation that delved into Prestige Limousine’s efforts to avoid stringent regulations, road conditions at the intersection, and the details of what occurred on Oct. 6, 2018, the Saturday of Columbus Day weekend.

The federal investigation has taken place mostly quietly as state criminal investigations have gone forward and state and federal legislators have pushed for limousine safety changes.

Following a state police investigaion, prosecutors believe the limousine suffered catastrophic brake failure coming down a mile-long hill, due to poor maintenance of the vehicle and its brakes. Limo company operator Nauman Hussain, 30, faces 20 counts each of second-degree manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide in Schoharie County Court.

The defense is arguing that Hussain relied on the Mavis Discount Tire store in Saratoga Springs to service the vehicle, and he was unaware of any shortcomings. Mavis, which is not charged criminally but has been named in numerous civil lawsuits by victims’ families, denies responsibility. Hussain’s trial is on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with discussions underway about a possible plea bargain. The most recent virtual attorneys’ conference was held on Wednesday, the court clerk reported, with another expected in the future.

The passengers were all young adults on their way from Amsterdam to a weekend birthday celebration in Cooperstown, who rented the Prestige Limousine vehicle that morning after plans with another limousine company fell through.

A reconstructed timeline put together by NTSB investigators shows the vehicle left Amsterdam about 1 p.m. that day, following a very indirect route if the destination was Cooperstown — west on the state Thruway to Exit 28 at Fultonville, then south on Route 30A to Central Bridge in Schoharie County. There, the limousine made a left turn up Route 7 on a long hill — the same hill it would soon fatally descend. The vehicle was not equipped with GPS, the NTSB determined.

A witness travelling north on Route 30 stated he observed the limousine turn right from Route 7 onto Route 30 south, heading towards the intersection of Route 30 and Route 30A. The report said the witness was able to observe the driver as the limo passed and described him as looking “confused” or “frazzled”. As the witness stopped at the intersection of Route 7 and Route 30, through his rearview mirror, he said he observed the limousine pull off the road to the right.

Two other witnesses who were in a different vehicle said they saw the limo pull over on Route 30, and they then passed it. The witnesses continued, stopping at the intersection of Route 30 and Route 30A. The witness driver said she heard a loud noise, looked in the rear-view mirror, and saw the limousine approaching from behind at a high rate of speed. She described the noise as being like a “jet plane”. The limousine swerved into the oncoming lane, proceeded through the intersection, and crashed. “The witnesses did not hear any braking or see brake lights on the limousine,” the report said.

The crash occurred at 1:55 p.m., just under an hour after the vehicle left Amsterdam. The weather was clear and sunny.

Approximately 20 minutes before the crash, one of the passengers engaged in a text conversation with a person not in the limousine, stating in that conversation that “the limo sounds like it is going to explode”, “it’s a junker”, “the motor is making everyone deaf”, and “when we get to brewery we will all b deaf,” the NTSB report said.

Families of the victims have filed numerous lawsuits against Hussain, his father and uncle as owners or purported investors in the limousine company, and Mavis Discount Tire, which is accused of inadequately servicing the limousine. Some lawsuits have also been filed against the state departments of Transportation and Motor Vehicles, alleging regulatory failures.

With the deaths of 20 people, the Schoharie crash was the deadliest transportation accident in the United States in nearly a decade.

Supreme Court nominee spurs reproductive-rights discussion

The debate surrounding abortion rights is picking up again with the recent death of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and with a 40 Days for Life campaign starting this past week in Schenectady.

Ginsburg advocated for women’s rights — including financial independence, access to education, and reproductive rights — throughout her time on the court. On Saturday, President Donald Trump is expected to formally announce Judge Amy Coney Barrett as his nominee to replace the late justice. She is a conservative nominee who supports restricting abortion rights.

According to Zoe Oxley, a political science professor at Union College, it’s a possibility.

“It’s very likely that Donald Trump will nominate someone who is clearly in favor of restricting abortion rights, perhaps overturning Roe v. Wade. If that type of justice gets nominated and then confirmed then there would be clearly five justices on the court who are in favor of some level of restriction of abortion rights,” Oxley said.

That doesn’t sit well with politicians like U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, who said in a statement: “We lost a daughter of New York, and a role model to countless women, including myself. We have to honor her legacy and fight to protect access to health care, reproductive rights and to uphold Roe v. Wade.”

It’s also concerning to Planned Parenthood, an organization that provides abortions among other healthcare services.

“Justice Ginsburg fought for equality, immigrant justice, LGBTQ+ freedoms, and health care for all – including access to safe, legal abortion. During a time when we should be honoring her legacy, we, unfortunately, are forced to defend it,” said Pascale Bernard, the vice president of organizing and political affairs at Planned Parenthood of Greater New York Action Fund.

Amidst a national discussion on the topic, an anti-abortion 40 Days for Life campaign kicked off earlier this week in Schenectady, with volunteers holding vigils outside of Planned Parenthood on State Street.

This is the 22nd campaign of its kind that has taken place in the Electric City. They’re typically held twice a year, in the spring and fall, led by Viviane Strain. She said she was first was attracted to the 40 Days for Life, which is a national not-for-profit organization that runs anti-abortion campaigns, because it was peaceful.

“We’re a very peaceful campaign; we are not there to point the finger at anybody,” Strain said.

During the campaign, volunteers stand vigil and pray outside of Planned Parenthood seven days a week between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. for 40 days.

“You can imagine you need a lot of people. We don’t always fill up all the hours. Sometimes people come in groups but we do expect to have at least two people per time period,” Strain said.

Even with the pandemic, she said people were more than willing to volunteer and be a part of the vigils.

“Actually, throughout the pandemic, a lot of Christians have come out and prayed even more so than usual. We’ve had great participation and if that’s the indication then we’re hoping for a bigger campaign,” Strain said.

According to Jacquelyn Marrero, the director of media relations for Planned Parenthood of Greater New York, the 40 Days for Life campaign is not peaceful.

“This is not a peaceful act based on prayer. It’s an aggressive intimidation tactic designed to block patients who are trying to access vital sexual and reproductive health care,” Marrero said.

When asked about whether the campaign has been impacted by the recent Supreme Court news, Strain said “that has nothing to do with it.”

“Our campaign is there to inform women about what abortion is and to pray that hearts will be changing,” Strain said.

According to her, there’s evidence that women suffer after having an abortion: “We need to help women, not hurt them. Abortion hurts women,” Strain said.

Planned Parenthood, which has continued to offer health services in New York during the pandemic, through telehealth and in-person visits, sees it differently.

“Abortion is an essential part of comprehensive health care and must remain safe, legal and accessible during the pandemic and well after the confirmation of Justice Ginsburg’s replacement,” Bernard said.

Local politicians and candidates have varying viewpoints on reproductive rights.

Congressional candidate Liz Joy of Glenville, who is running for the 20th district seat vs. incumbent Paul Tonko, said she’s “pro-life from the womb to the elderly.”

“My concentration is on bringing down the abortion rate in New York State,” Joy told the Gazette in a recent interview.

She’s hoping to decrease that number by increasing funding to pregnancy centers.

“. . . nobody’s talking about this perspective. I’d like to bring those numbers all the way down as much as we possibly can and give those voices a chance to grow in our state from the womb all the way to the elderly,” Joy said.

Some local officials say they are pro-choice and are frustrated that there’s a debate still surrounding the topic 47 years after Roe v. Wade.

“At this day and age, I can’t believe that it’s still at risk,” said Schenectady City Councilwoman Leesa Perazzo. “It’s one of those things where you’re like ‘Really? I’m still talking about this?’ Because in some ways, as women, we’ve come so far, and in other ways, we are still vulnerable to the opinions of others.”

“I believe that the Supreme Court in the Roe vs. Wade decision provided that women have the constitutional right to make that decision within some limits,” said State Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner of Round Lake. “It would be my hope that that precedent remains.”

In other recent Supreme Court nomination processes, abortion has been at the forefront of the discussion; however, this time around, there’s perhaps a different sense of urgency.

“I think it’s a high profile issue and there are a number of laws that were pasted across the states in recent years to restrict abortion rights,” Oxley said. “Many of those have been challenged in the courts and they’re working their way up through maybe to the Supreme Court. So it’s very likely that the Supreme Court in coming years will be faced with dealing with abortion rights.”

It’s unlikely that the court will revisit the issue before the year is out, said Oxley, in part because the justice confirmation process takes time — an average of 70 days according to The Washington Post.

Boggs leads CBA golf past Shenendehowa

Dixon Boggs fired a 38, and three of his CBA teammates turned in 39s as the Brothers edged Shenendehowa 238-240 in a Suburban Council golf match Friday at Town of Colonie Golf Course.

Ryan Komp paced Shenendehowa with a 37, and Aidan Campbell and David Quattocchi both carded a 38.

Schalmont rode Tyler Pepicelli’s 44 to a 193-197 Colonial Council win over Voorheesville.

Tismark Boham carded a 38, and Ichabod Crane topped Mohonasen/Schenectady 170-186.

John Bruno checked in with a 27, and Middleburgh defeated Berne-Knox-Westerlo 8.6-6.5 in a six-hole Western Athletic Conference match. Will Boltri was low for the Bulldogs with a 30.

BOYS

Suburban Council

CBA 238, Shenendehowa 240

C – Boggs 38, Van Epps 39, Strong 39, Daggett 39. S – Komp 37, Campbell 38, Quattocchi 38, VanDecar 41.

Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake 270,

Colonie 299

BH – Goldman 42, DiCaprio 43, De Lalla 43.

Colonial Council

Schalmont 193, Voorheesville 197

S – Pepicelli 44, Smith 49, Amedore 50, McKelvey 50. V – Carrow 47, Farney 49, Mazuryk 49.

Ichabod Crane 170,

Mohonasen/Schenectady 186

IC – Boham 38, Yankowski 42, Pelesz 43, Spensieri 47. MS – McKernan 45, Daunais 45, Coats 47, Leach 49.

Western Athletic Conference

Middleburgh 8.5,

Berne-Knox-Westerlo 6.5

M – Bruno 27, Hall 35, Churchill 33, Lawyer 38. BKW – Boltri 30, Swain 34, Schrader 37, Cyr 37.

Thursday

Fonda-Fultonville 15,

Berne-Knox-Westerlo 0

FF – Kowalski 29, Saltsman 30, Egelston 30, Monty 30. BKW – Boltri 33, Schrader 38, Cyr 40, Lounsbury 42.

New push to get census filled out

With response rates to the U.S. Census continuing to lag, community leaders on Friday again pushed for anyone who hasn’t yet filled out a household census form to do so.

Information provided Friday showed that Schenectady County’s overall response rate to date is 66.4 percent — or 3.3 percentage points lower than during the 2010 census.

Breaking the numbers down, the county’s poorest communities have the lowest response rate. The response rate from residents of Hamilton Hill is as low as 34.7 percent, while the response rate in the county’s most-affluent community, Niskayuna, is 79.8 percent. The Hamilton Hill response rate is 6.7 percentage points below the 2010 figure, while Niskayuna’s is off 2.4 percentage points.

The story is much different in the city. Schenectady’s overall response rate is 52.7 percent, down from 60.6 percent last time. The downtown/Stockade, Eastern Avenue, Mont Pleasant, Hamilton Hill and Northside neighborhoods all have response rates below 50 percent this year. Community organizations suspect the COVID pandemic and concerns about how information will be used have kept some people from responding.

There could be a negative impact for not responding: Medicaid, Medicare, transportation capital investment, social services programs, and school funding are among the federal programs that allocate funding based on the census.

A federal court in California on Thursday ordered the Trump administration to keep the count open through Oct. 31, at least temporarily suspending the administration’s plan to end the counting of the entire U.S. population on Sept. 30 — four weeks ahead of the original schedule. The administration is expected to appeal, contending the count needs to wrap up early so a final count can be delivered to Congress by Dec. 31.

The court ruling was the latest development in a federal lawsuit over the administration’s decision to shorten the timeline for the national head count. The judge in northern California found that the administration’s truncated census schedule is likely to produce inaccurate numbers about historically undercounted groups, including people of color and immigrants.

“We don’t think we’re out of the woods. We don’t know if it will be extended another full month,” said Bob Carreau, executive director of the Schenectady Foundation. “Those numbers are critical because we suspect those areas are also the census tracts with the highest need, and if our folks aren’t counted, we won’t look like we need the kind of federal aid we actually do.”

Carreau said the census form doesn’t require anyone to provide their personal information, and the information collected is confidential. “We are just going to continue to put this out there, and let people understand you’re not imperiling your private information, they don’t require any personal information,” he said.

People can fill the form out online at my2020census.org., or can call toll-free to 1-844-330-2020. “It just takes a couple of minutes,” Carreau said.

EDITORIAL: Have state attorney general handle police prosecutions

Just because the former Rensselaer County district attorney was cleared Thursday of all charges related to his handling of a police shooting of a civilian, it doesn’t justify his decision to prosecute the case in the first place.

In truth, the fact that criminal case was brought against him at all makes it even more clear that whenever a police officer is charged in the death of a civilian, the state attorney general’s office needs to step in and take over the case from the local district attorney.

Joel Abelove was cleared by a Columbia County judge of all charges relating to his conduct in which it was alleged he steered a grand jury proceeding so as to clear a Troy police sergeant in the fatal shooting of 37-year-old Edson Thevenin in April 2016.

The case against Abelove alleged he rushed the shooting before a grand jury, withheld critical evidence from grand jurors that might have supported criminal charges against the sergeant, and granted the sergeant immunity from prosecution so he couldn’t be charged in the death.

State prosecutors termed the DA’s efforts in the case “half-baked rush job that didn’t even bear a slight significance to a search for the truth.”

Police and prosecutors are perceived to be part of the same team when it comes to arresting and prosecuting criminal suspects.

So when questions arise about the criminal conduct of a police officer in the death of a civilian, the district attorney who relies on police to provide them with evidence and support in prosecutions understandably would seem to favor the police officer.

While the judge in this case didn’t convict the DA, the fact that legitimate questions were even raised about the prosecutor’s conduct in relation to his handling of the police shooting underscores the fact that DAs can’t be allowed to handle such cases.

Take away the potential conflict of interest.

Take away the doubts of the families of victims in police shootings about whether the case was prosecuted fairly and aggressively.

Take away the suspicions of favoritism and the allegations the prosecutor tanked a case against an officer because of the symbiotic relationship between police and the district attorney’s office.

In other words, remove all doubt about whether justice was being served.

Even with this verdict, there are still doubts.

There didn’t have to be.