EDITORIAL: A message to ‘Sam’

THE CHILD VICTIMS ACT took effect in New York state on Wednesday, August 14. The law extends the rights of people sexually abused before the age of 18 to sue their abusers and confront them in court.

The date is important because some people who were victims had lost the right to sue their abusers once the period of time for filing a case against the abuser had elapsed. In effect, the new law turns back the clock and gives those victims exactly one year to file cases against their abusers. And because the law was signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo on February 14 of this year, the victims have had time to prepare.

The law also allows victims who haven’t yet come forward to bring a civil lawsuit against their abuser until the victims are 55 years. Read more…

EDITORIAL: Questions. Only questions

FROM THIS DISTANCE the murders in El Paso and Dayton speak for themselves. Yes, our thoughts go out to the survivors and their communities. And yes, those thoughts then drift toward wondering how long before these violent outbursts and their aftermath engulf us too.

Statistics say the odds are still in our favor when it comes to avoiding young, white males armed with military-style firearms and determined to murder as many strangers as possible. But who among us measures risk by such calculations?

Once again public attention turns to the question: What can we do? You’d think by now the data might affect the behavior of those federal politicians who normally oppose any restrictions on the ownership of firearms. Start with an estimate of how many of the roughly 40,000 firearm deaths a year in the U.S. from all types of firearms could be prevented by tightening the rules for the purchase or possession of a gun. We could calculate how many more lives could be saved if military-style rifles were removed from the equation. Put another way, how many innocent people must die before the right to own a particular type of weapon becomes too costly? Read more…

EDITORIAL: Rep. Delgado answers questions

THE WELCOME Rep. Antonio Delgado received as he opened his 17th district “town hall” meeting here this week was warm, based on applause and room temperature. Nearly 200 people squeezed into the Chatham Brewery on Main Street to hear the first-term Congressman report on what he’s been doing for the district and where he stands on a raft of issues, a list that includes impeachment.

Before taking questions from the audience, Congressman Delgado (D-19th) laid out his case for the importance he places on staying “connected to constituents.” He’s opened five district offices (the latest in Hudson), appointed four advisory groups and introduced 14 bills, 10 of which have bipartisan support. They include support for farmers–“the plight of our farmers is real”; assistance for small businesses in navigating the federal bureaucracy; and help for veterans and their families.

On climate change he said he has a “green jobs bill” that would lead to reducing carbon emissions to “net zero by 2050” and help “create a path toward a green economy.” Read more…

EDITORIAL: They irrigate digital desert

WELL, THEY TRIED. The citizens group Connect Columbia has bird-dogged cable TV and phone companies in an effort to make high-speed internet access available throughout the county. There has been progress. But internet providers, as the companies are called, can be a slippery bunch.

County residents who already have high-speed service might be surprised how many people in the county don’t. You can see it on maps. Communities east of the Taconic State Parkway and some other spots look like digital deserts, which leaves the county with some of the poorest connectivity in the state. This is not news, but a recent decision by the state Public Service Commission (PSC) giving a second chance to one of the biggest and slipperiest of the providers is worth noting.

The story begins four years ago when Charter Communications requested approval to swallow a major competitor, Time Warner Cable and its brand name, Spectrum. The PSC agreed to the merger but only if Charter/Spectrum agreed to make high speed internet access available to 145,000 homes and businesses in Upstate New York communities where the service was unavailable. Sure, sure, said Charter/Spectrum. Piece of cake. Read more…

EDITORIAL: Who will fill her shoes?

SHE GOT OFF TO A ROUGH START. The man she replaced had angered teachers and parents to such a degree that large numbers of parents refused to let their kids take the so-called high stakes tests in 3rd through 8th grades. And at first it looked like State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia might have underestimated the public’s mistrust of the Education Department.

Turns out she was both tougher and more politically astute than skeptics thought. Resistance to the lengthy tests of younger students to monitor their progress has not disappeared, but it has diminished. That happened in part because Ms. Elia oversaw a scaling back of the tests in response to what she heard from the teachers and parents—known in edu-speak as stakeholders. It was a welcome change.

She announced this week that she will resign at the end of next month after four years in what has to be the country’s most challenging job in the field of education. An interim commissioner from the ranks of the Education Department has already been named and the Board of Regents will now search for a replacement. It won’t be an easy position to fill. Read more…