Homeless funds have wide impact

WHERE WERE YOU and what were you doing August 1 of this year? Whether or not you can recall, odds are you weren’t homeless. But as many 130 people in Columbia County didn’t have a home of their own that day.

A few years ago agencies that track and provide services to homeless people changed their method of assessing the homeless population to a “snapshot” approach, selecting particular days and having all the agencies report how many active cases they have open on that day. That’s where the date comes from. The new approach is supposed to be more revealing than the data previously available, though it too undoubtedly misses a lot of people, just like unemployment figures do.

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Who should sacrifice?

IT WILL TAKE SACRIFICES to cut our heavy tax burden. But as anyone in politics will tell you, whenever people insist they know what programs government should cut first, you can be sure it won’t be anything that inconveniences them.

Federal, state and local officials talk about consolidating government activities to reduce duplication of services, and some recent steps taken here suggest that this approach might benefit taxpayers. A couple of years ago, for example, the state made a hefty contribution toward new county snowplows, and the county now plows some state roads in a deal that saves money on equipment and labor.

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That’s government for you

WHAT’S THE MOST dysfunctional, disheartening and downright disreputable place on the face of the Earth? Mogadishu? Baghdad? Albany? Nah. Must be Washington, DC. 

Seems like there isn’t anything the federal government gets right. Just take Cash for Clunkers, which, okay, did make money for car dealers, who employ folks around here, and gave some workers their manufacturing jobs back and made a tiny but important contribution to reducing air pollution and global warming. But look at how the government screwed up. 

Just like the auto industry, Washington failed to read the collective public mind, didn’t anticipate how eager consumers were to buy new, more efficient cars. So now the program’s bogged down in paperwork meant to prevent unscrupulous dealers from ripping off taxpayers who are paying to bail out, um, taxpayers who are actually spending their money on private businesses and increasing economic activity, which might just get the country out of this recession. There has to be something wrong with that, doesn’t there?

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Does town need a new hall?

NOBODY VOTES IN SUMMER, do they? Okay, maybe in Afghanistan; but Hillsdale? And yet, there’s a special townwide election to consider a proposition next Friday, August 28. The ballot question asks voters whether the town should buy the Roe Jan Library building in the hamlet and make it the new town hall. 

The town has the $245,000 to buy the building and has squirreled away enough tax money so that it also has the additional $205,000 officials estimate it will cost to remodel and upgrade the vintage 1925 structure. The property is already tax exempt, so it would have no effect on the tax rolls.

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Tea Party? Not here

ANYBODY LOOKING FOR A DRAMATIC confrontation last Saturday at the Golden Harvest farm store on Route 9 in Kinderhook went away disappointed. It was mostly talk and very little shouting, and probably didn’t change anybody’s mind, either. 

If Saturday is any indication, that’s the way the debate over healthcare reform is shaping up. There are two sides separated not by a middle ground or even uncertainty. The gulf is filled instead by rancor, mistrust, propaganda and ignorance. 

The occasion was Congressman Scott Murphy’s meet-and-greet with constituents of his 20th District, in sessions now called Congress on Your Corner. For his predecessor, Kirsten Gillibrand, audiences for these events were largely local residents. So it was a little unusual to find people at Saturday’s event who came from Albany suburbs, from Dutchess County and a few from outside the district. But they have a right to talk to a congressman just like every other citizen.

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