Albany squeezes us again

HEY, BUDDY, CAN YOU spare 10 bucks? It’ll help out a neighbor who’s deep in debt and can’t find a way out. You already know some members of the family involved. It’s not too much to ask for a good cause, is it?

It depends. Even in this economy, what’s $10 if it can help lighten a neighbor’s load? But what if the neighbors in question are the 19 million people who live in the State of New York, and the folks with their hands in your pocket whispering that this little bitty extra contribution won’t hurt at all are the leaders of state government? And what if that $10 won’t make a significant dent in the multi-billion-dollar budget hole the state faces. In other words, it’s quite likely the state will be back for more. Much more.

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Does this election matter?

THIS OFF-YEAR ELECTION doesn’t really matter, does it? All races are local, so no TV ads tell us which candidate threatens puppies, national security and helpless grandparents. How many people even know when or where to vote?

Actually, in Columbia County, quite a few do. More than 80% of county residents over the age of 18 are registered to vote, and turnout is higher than the national and state averages. Voters here understand the importance of selecting the officials who will determine our town and county tax burdens. The decisions these officials make affect everything from whether our roads get plowed to the kind of neighborhoods we’ll leave for the next generation.

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E-voting imperils basic right

WHAT IF YOUR VOTE didn’t count? Forget about Afghanistan, it’s happened plenty of places in the U.S.–take Florida, for instance. And it could happen right here in Columbia County.

When voters go to the polls Tuesday, November 3, most will still use the same old, bulky, mechanically operated booths with their satisfying metallic rattle that announces another set of votes has been recorded.

But somewhere in each of the 58 polling stations in Columbia County is a new, electronic system, part of which is called a ballot marking device. It allows people with all sorts of disabilities that might prevent them from using the mechanical machines to cast their ballots at a public voting site rather than use a paper ballot or forgo voting altogether.

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Ichabod Cr-odack School District?

BUSINESS WISDOM HAS IT that in order to make money you have to spend money. But what if you want to save money? Is that also a reason to spend? 

People who want to sell something assure their customers it is. Imagine what you’ll save if you buy a better car (telephone, sofa or sweater for your goldfish…)! And sometimes they’re right. Take the Cash for Clunkers program.

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Fires are about to go out

TURN YOUR BURN BARRELS into planters. A state regulation takes effect next week that extends the ban on burning household waste to all parts of the state, instead of just communities of more than 20,000 people. No word yet whether the new rule applies to torches carried by irate trash burners.

The new ban covers every town in Columbia County.

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