EDITORIAL: What World AIDS Day means

 

ANYONE WHO HAS WATCHED a fellow human being die of AIDS knows that the illness has cruel consequences. There’s little to be gained arguing where AIDS ranks on the line-up of maladies, but it’s worth noting that today, World AIDS Day, the last set of statistics released said 33 million people were living worldwide with the HIV/AIDS, and in its wake the disease has left 16 million orphans.

For a day or two, or until other stories divert the attention of the mass media, the news will be full of the grim facts of HIV/AIDS along with reports on the very real progress made in stemming the growth of a pandemic that has already killed an estimated 30 million people around the globe. But it’s hard to absorb what figures so large could mean. Maybe a better starting place is the number 94.

Read more…

EDITORIAL: Yeah, I’m thankful

IT WASN’T THE BEST THANKSGIVING I remember, but it sticks in my mind as one of several when the region got socked by a snowstorm on the holiday. We had to turn back from our trip to visit friends for dinner. The snow was too deep and slippery. The turkey lovers sulked, failing to grasp the charm of a culinary adventure that featured canned spaghetti and side dishes made for the feast that wasn’t. Candles just made it worse. Forget romance. The power outage meant no TV.

I like knowing – or not worrying about – where my next meal will come from. It’s hard to imagine living without that security. I think about that when I see how much food it takes for local food pantries to find enough provisions to meet the demand just for Thanksgiving, let alone all the other days that people need help finding enough food to eat. Collecting food for a pantry you see all sorts of folks donating, and you have to resist marveling that they aren’t standing in line waiting to pick up some of the food rather than quietly offering the pantry whole shopping carts full of non-perishable items. Read more…

Editorial: Got juice?

THE TOMATOES IN MY BACKYARD will grow better next year after last month’s snows. The two separate storms only a day or so apart brought down big limbs on one of our maples. The sky suddenly appeared overhead, which means that along with a lengthier growing season, I won’t be mowing a lawn next summer of moss, mushrooms and creepy splotches of mold.

The power flickered when the snow covered the leaves, most of which had yet to fall in the Village of Chatham, but that and the cleanup of branches were the extent of the inconvenience there. Many of our neighbors to the south and east, including residents of Ancram, Copake, Gallatin and Taghkanic didn’t escape so easily. Power was out in Ancram for four days or more. And the news was full of reports of the folks in Connecticut, some of whom had no electric service for weeks. Read more…

EDITORIAL: It’s not nice to sue your neighbor

DO WE REALLY NEED another big supermarket in this county? If that’s the question about the proposal for a new Price Chopper store in Chatham, then my answer is: How would I know?

As the male stereotype of my generation, I’m seldom trusted to do grocery shopping, and though I am encouraged to contribute to the shopping list, I get little sympathy when I inquire about what’s not in the refrigerator (especially when what I want is on the shelf below the one I’m looking at). I can’t blame any of this on a lack of supermarket space. Read more…

EDITORIAL: Koweek for judge

Koweek for county judge

ONE OF THE TWO county judgeships is up for election this fall, with two candidates seeking the seat: current District Attorney Beth Cozzolino and Hudson City Court Judge Richard Koweek.

County Court judges hear criminal cases, and preside over Family and Surrogate courts too. They may also fill in at times in state Supreme Court, where many civil cases are tried, so they have to possess a broad knowledge of the law.

Before going further, here’s a disclosure: a few years ago our home was burglarized. Police quickly caught the person responsible and Ms. Cozzolino’s staff handled the case. I was impressed with the outreach from her office and with the result. The DA had services for crime victims and policies that seemed clear and consistent. In my position as a newspaper editor I already knew her as a likeable and capable public servant. I believe from all this that she has the temperament and experience to serve as a judge.

Richard Koweek, born and raised in Hudson, has a record of civic involvement that reads like a textbook on what’s best about Columbia County, everything from volunteer firefighter to coach for kids’ sports teams. He’s practiced many types of law — civil and criminal — and while he has less experience with felony cases than Ms. Cozzolino, just reading our Police Blotter reports each week reminds me that he sees a far greater variety of misdeeds and bad behavior in his courtroom than most other judges in this county.

It’s not surprising, then, that a panel of lawyers from the state Independent Judicial Election Qualification Commission for this region found Judge Koweek “Qualified” to serve as County Court judge. Judge Koweek volunteered to be interviewed by the commission, which is set up by the state court system.

What is surprising is that Ms. Cozzolino, who has been DA for 16 years, declined to say whether she went through a similar process to have her peers determine whether she is qualified. She says that the people of the county will determine her qualifications. That’s true, but those of us who are not lawyers are left to wonder how we should make that evaluation.

I’m left with my recollections of news stories over the last decade or so, a period during which I can easily recall at least three examples of cases in which the DA’s office was slow to act, leaving me questioning the judgment involved. The first case was when deputies arrested a town clerk at the request of a vindictive town supervisor, then a state trooper hauled a teenager into court for failing to return a cheerleader uniform and, most recently, a family of farmers was taken away in handcuffs for allegedly mistreating their cows.

Though charges were eventually dismissed in all these cases, they left the impression of a justice system in which, at the very least, no one effectively communicated standards or the need to exercise common sense.

It may be unfair to hold Ms. Cozzolino responsible for the mistakes of her subordinates or to critique her management style. But in the absence of an evaluation from her peers, the record is the only thing I have to go on. And the record leaves unsettling questions about her judgment, which is no small matter when choosing a judge.

Richard Koweek has demonstrated his ability to preside as a judge in a challenging courtroom. He knows the community. He has the approval of legal experts who understand what judges must know. He should be elected the next county judge.