EDITORIAL: What’s the weather like?

THE TIME-LAPSE radar images of this week’s snowstorm, courtesy of the National Weather Service in Albany, looked a lot like one of those clear plastic winter-scene trinkets that produces a flurry every time you shake it, over and over and….

On the computer screen waves of snowfall rolled off the Atlantic and made their way across the Berkshires to Columbia County in a generally eastward flow, while out at sea the storm center lumbered northward. It reminds you why they call these storms nor’easters.

This one was noteworthy not only for the amount of snow it dropped on these parts but for its duration—Sunday afternoon until early Tuesday morning. It also seemed a little different because the disturbances that shaped it were apparent off the coast of California a week ahead of the storm’s arrival here. That left time to prepare and an opportunity for TV news to obsess about the storm’s track, feeding the anxiety of holiday travelers during a quiet period traditionally considered a “news drought.” Read more…

EDITORIAL: Where will you shop?

YOU KNOW THE TUNE, whether it brings warm memories or summons a feeling of dread from endless loops of holiday music frozen in time. So let’s try some new lyrics:

Making a list

Clicking it twice

Gonna buy lots

On my mobile device,

Cause Am-a-zon is coming

To town….

If you buy much of anything, you know that Amazon is already here. Some Postal Service letter carriers spend the first part of their day dropping off packages all over the county, each parcel prominently marked with the Amazon logo. But that’s just the final leg of the company’s reach. Read more…

EDITORIAL: ¿Como estas?

WE ALL HAD TO HAVE Spanish names in eighth grade Spanish class. My name was “Pedro.” It is purely coincidence that I now have a son-in-law with that name. Neither of us had a choice. In my case, my mother was the only Spanish teacher in my junior high school.

This was in the early 1960s. The Space Race had erupted. American political leaders were determined to improve public education as a key part of their strategy to win the race. It wasn’t just more science and math. Languages were important too. So the smart kids were taught Russian. The rest of us, well, Buenos dias.

Our teacher, my mother, was very patient, very fair. I was very bad. This led to awkward moments at the family dinner table, as in, “Guess who was sent to the principal’s office today?” I had no defense. No dessert either. Read more…

EDITORIAL: Show us the numbers

WHY DON’T THE VOTERS of Columbia County know who won the elections last week? The technical answer is that the results won’t be final until all the absentee ballots are opened, a process that starts next week.

But for decades the county Board of Elections has produced “unofficial” results based on the numbers now collected Election Day from electronic ballot scanners. What the public saw the next day was how each candidate or proposition fared. Those totals were good but not infallible predictors of who had won what office and who had lost despite absentee votes.

This year we didn’t have anything at all from county election officials on Election Day after the polls had closed and little the next day other than a website screen that said the results would be posted as soon as possible—just a click away. Click, click, click…. Read more…

EDITORIAL: We won’t always have Paris

THE POLLS HAVE CLOSED on the 2019 election in Columbia County but as this is written the results are still rattling around the computers and tabulating tabletops at the Board of Elections at the County Office Building at 401 State Street, Hudson. They can wait for a moment, because it feels like there’s more to think about now than the numbers, as important as they are.

Since he was a candidate for the office, President Trump has promised to pull this country out of the Paris agreement on combating climate change, and this week he made it official by having Secretary of State Mike Pompeo put the United Nations on notice that the United States will withdraw from the agreement by this time next year. That’s not a surprise nor is it local news except for the question of where that leaves us here in Columbia County.

We’ve seen what climate change can mean in other places, California for instance. We had some wind gusts here last week. They made for a properly creepy Halloween and some folks lost power for a while, but it was nothing like the hot, dry winds that led to the incineration of thousands of acres, whole neighborhoods leveled and nearly a million people whose power was deliberately shut off to prevent even more fires. Read more…