EDITORIAL: Villagers’ voices matter

SPOILER ALERT: There’s some good news here. Don’t tell the federal Interstate Fake News Commission about it. They frown on efforts to make readers smile.

This editorial fails to meet the government’s minimum standard requirement for identifying a villain. Even if a licensed editorial writer like me wants to single out manmade climate change as the bad guy, that is no longer a topic we’re permitted to write about. Besides, it’s not unusual to have a chorus line of nor’easters stomp through the Northeast in February and March. We accept government assurances that the evidence tying these storms to Chinese Army hackers is still sketchy at best.

Instead, what we did have for a short period of time was a mayor and Board of Trustees in the Village of Chatham who attempted a great leap forward. It was intended to address a real problem that reappears each time there’s a measurable snowfall: unshoveled sidewalks. Read more…

EDITORIAL: What’s a ‘civic motel’?

IT SHOULD COME AS NO SURPRISE that we’re homeowners. Nearly three out of every four of the roughly 32,800 housing units in Columbia County is a single family, “detached” dwelling, according to the Census Bureau. It’s hard to imagine life without a home.

That may explain why the county hasn’t had a designated place for people who have no home. There’s also the relatively small number of people identified as homeless. Not to mention the fear generated by the incorrect stereotypes we have of people labeled “homeless,” especially if some of those folks might live nearby.

Tina Sharpe is executive director of Columbia Opportunities, Inc., the county’s Community Action Program. Her agency’s mission is to “solve poverty” here, and she’s also co-chair of the Columbia Greene Housing Coalition. In a Letter to the Editor last week, she reports that as of the end of January the Columbia County Department of Social Services had found temporary emergency housing for 11 families, including 18 children, and altogether there were 100 people in emergency housing, otherwise known as motels. Read more…

EDITORIAL: Let them walk March 14

SCROLL THROUGH WEB SEARCH results for “school safety” and you’ll find link after link to school boards across the country questioning how to protect students and staff from an attack by a heavily-armed intruder. At this week’s meeting the Chatham school board faced that topic too.

The statements and questions by the handful of residents who spoke to the board were calm and to the point as was the response by Chatham schools Superintendent Sal DeAngelo. Without revealing specifics, he said the district has been practicing its lockdown procedures in coordination with police agencies.

In a moment at odds with these somber comments, Chatham students who built a robot for the regional robotics contest arrived at the library, where the board meets, and demonstrated their creation. The mood lightened momentarily. But after the students had ushered their creation into the hallway, Dr. DeAngelo said that he was disturbed by having to discuss school security rather than what students are learning. He said the district has a sheriff’s deputy school resource officer two days a week but now and the district expects to hire a full-time officer. He said the money for the added three days would have to come from some other part of the school budget. Read more…

EDITORIAL: What now?

THE BOY, 16, was no longer allowed to attend school. But he managed to slip into the building undetected and assemble his weapon in a bathroom. When he came out into the hall, he fired at a student and missed. An assistant principal tackled the student and knocked him to the floor. The shotgun went off, striking a teacher who had come to help. The principal subdued the boy.

This was 14 years ago at Columbia High School in nearby East Greenbush. It happened five years after the Columbine murders. The teacher’s physical wound was slight. The attack, however, was traumatic for students, school employees, families and the community. But measured against the carnage this country has witnessed since then, this incident would hardly be worth mentioning in discussions of school shootings. Except for one factor.

The teenage shooter reportedly left 20 shotgun shells in the school bathroom. His choice of weapon and his inability to use it saved lives that day. The ammunition he brought with him tells us that if he could have killed many people that day it’s likely he would have. Read more…

EDITORIAL: Tale of two consultants

THE BEST THING about consultants? You can always blame one when something goes wrong. Never mind that you hired this so-called expert–a know-it-all with nice clothes. So, the consultant gave you options and you picked the wrong one… every time. You shouldn’t have to pay for that, right?

Now, a confession: I was once a consultant. I had an office on K Street in Washington, D.C. I have recovered. I have not sold my services for decades. I know the dark side but I swear that some expert advice is worth it.

Consider municipal land use regulations. Mostly they get lumped together as zoning. The state says towns and villages need comprehensive plans that, among other things, establish goals and principles that will guide local development in the near future. Should we regulate solar farms? Are we ready for Starbucks? Driverless vehicles? Droneports? Read more…