EDITORIAL: You want privacy?

WHAT DID YOU HAVE FOR DINNER the last time you went to a restaurant in Columbia County? Sometimes you forget, so wouldn’t it be great if you could get an email the next day, reminding you what you ate and drank, where and at what time you ate and drank it and asking you how you liked what you had?

It might have been a good meal, but maybe not quite good enough to require preserving it forever on the internet. If only you had a choice. Assuming you use a credit card you already know that card transactions are immortal in ways that only members of the digital nerd-o-sphere understand. Now it seems we must accept ever greater intrusions into what’s left of our privacy. We’re told it’s all for the sake of progress.

And there it was in my email about two hours after paying the bill at this Chatham restaurant: not only a detailed meal receipt but a handy map to remind me how to find the restaurant, which is a block from my home. Also included was a schedule of upcoming restaurant events and a choice of two proto-emojis–a smiley face or a sad one–with a request to rate not the food but the “experience.” There was also the name of the company that supplies this service. Read more…

EDITORIAL: Kids need your vote

RELAX, IT’S ONLY $187 MILLION. If voters in the six school districts headquartered in Columbia County approve the annual budgets for their local district, that’s what we’ll be spending to educate our kids over the next school year.

That amount accounts for the combined operating budgets of the districts. To get a better picture of the full economic importance of schools, look at the propositions on the ballots for capital improvements and school buses, etc. That adds a few million more, and though these capital costs are spread out over many years, this type of school spending nudges the total over $200 million annually.

This is real money, but oddly, it gets only modest attention now, as the budget making process is about to conclude. Next Tuesday, May 15, all voters registered in Columbia County can help determine whether their local school district is doing a good job managing the money we give it. By contrast, we shake our heads, pound the table and say unpleasant things when we open our school tax bills in the fall. By then it’s too late to do anything about it. Read more…

EDITORIAL: Who’s responsible for this?

DOES THE DATE NOVEMBER 6 sound familiar? It’s a Tuesday six months away. It’s Election Day 2018, but it might as well be next week for all the politicians seeking public attention, voter support and money.

Residents of the north and east Columbia County just voted in special elections last week for members of the state Assembly in two seats left vacant by the resignations of former Assemblymen Pete Lopez (102nd) and Steve McLaughlin (107th). And though the outcome of the race for the 102nd Assembly District was a cliffhanger, last week’s contests feel like ancient history. It’s going to get more confusing.

Here’s a taste of what’s happening now:

• The day after the special Assembly election Senator Kathy Marchione (R-43rd) made big news by announcing that she would not seek reelection to another two-year term. Her district includes all of Columbia County as well as most of Rensselaer County and parts of Saratoga and Washington counties. She won election to her first term in 2012 and her conservative views, her focus on constituent service and a hefty plurality of GOP voters have returned her to office two more times. Read more…

EDITORIAL: More to be done

THE WISE MAN returned to Columbia County this week. He was greeted by an enthusiastic crowd far larger than the year before. He showed many slides with numbers that nourish his wisdom. No one can know the future, he reminded his listeners, but the slides tell him the economy should be, ummmm, okay for awhile.

The wise man is Hugh Johnson, chairman of Hugh Johnson Advisors, LLC, an employee owned investment management services firm in Albany. He was the keynote speaker Tuesday, April 24, at the annual meeting of the Columbia Economic Development Corporation (CEDC). The meeting was packed with business people and politicians eager to hear Mr. Johnson’s rapid-fire analysis of recent economic trends and what that tells him about the year ahead in terms of employment: likely to continue its “anemic” growth because of technology and an economy becoming “less labor intensive”; inflation: “not going to see much”; tax cuts: “The public debt is going to get higher” and could drag down economic growth by the year 2020.

And his conclusion? Because “we have further to go in the current cycle” of business growth, it’s “good news for now.” There was applause. Wisdom is always welcome when the news is good. Read more…

EDITORIAL: Special election matters

THE RESIDENTS of northern Columbia County have nobody representing them in the state Assembly. That will change next Tuesday. On April 24 voters in who live in the Towns of Austerlitz, Canaan, Chatham, Hillsdale, Kinderhook, New Lebanon, Stockport and Stuyvesant will help elect people to fill two vacant seats in the state’s lower house. But this being New York, it gets complicated.

There are two separate special elections in two different election districts.

Voters in Austerlitz, Canaan, Chatham, Hillsdale, Kinderhook, New Lebanon are in the 107th Assembly District, where there are two candidates: Cynthia Doran on the Democratic, Working Families and Women’s Equality Party lines; and Jacob C. Ashby on the Republican, Conservative, Independence and Reform Party lines.

Residents of Stockport and Stuyvesant live in the 102nd Assembly District. Three candidates are seeking that seat: Aiden S. O’Connor, Jr. on the Democratic, Working Families and Women’s Equality lines; Christopher Tague, on the Republican, Conservative, Independence and Reform lines; and Wesley D. Laraway on the Best Choice line. Read more…