EDITORIAL: ‘Yes’ on State Prop. 1

WHAT WOULD YOU DO if you had, let’s say, $4.2 billion to spend? That’s a question voters will be asked to decide on this year’s ballot, sort of.

Last year the state legislature and the governor agreed to borrow $4.2 billion in bonds to fund public works capital projects that address climate change. The measure is called the “Clean Air, Clean Water, and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act of 2022,” otherwise known as “State Proposal 1.” It can be found on every ballot in the state this year.

The state Board of Elections describes the purpose of the bond act this way: “to provide funding for capital projects for the following: restoration and flood risk reduction (at least $1,100,000,000), open space land conservation and recreation (up to $650,000,000), climate change mitigation (up to $1,500,000,000), and water quality improvement and resilient infrastructure (at least $650,000,000).

The state has lists of the types of projects the bond act can fund.” Read more…

EDITORIAL: Please check the ballot’s back side

WAIT A MINUTE! You forgot something. Not your umbrella. That disappeared years ago. This is about that long, floppy ballot you are about to mark when you vote in this year’s General Election.

Your ballot will have the names of the candidates seeking public office, including one of our two U.S. senators and the candidates for governor. So you mark your paper ballot and slip it into the vote counting machine… and then imagine if, just as the ballot disappears, you see there’s a headline on the back side that says “Proposition 1” but you didn’t read it and now voters are lining up behind you and they’re mumbling and election officials are hurrying to be sure the machine isn’t damaged as you try in vain to withdraw your ballot before the machine swallows it.

There are better ways to make voting decisions.

This year there is one statewide proposition on every ballot in Columbia County. It is “State Proposal 1, Clean Water, Clean Air, and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act of 2022.” More about that at a later date. Read more…

EDITORIAL: Oh no, they’d never do that

IT’S LIKE FINDING A GROWTH someplace on you body. Was it there before? Does it have a diagnosis? Should you make an appointment and have it seen? But that takes such a long time and by then it probably will have fallen off leaving no trace. Or it threatens to kill you.

It’s not exactly the same thing but the medical metaphor does provides a way to consider the ways that hateful, antisocial propaganda infects our everyday lives and what to do about it. Take the way the local chapter of White Lives Matter (WLM), which every few months emerges from its nest to exercise its constitutional right to make people uneasy if not fearful. The first that we had heard of them was when small adhesive-backed posters showed up attached to traffic signs. This “sticker militia” campaign asked that people contact them and join their effort to do… what, purify the nation’s gene pool? You don’t want to pretend to debate anyone who suggests that eugenics is a good idea. It’s probably better to refer that person to Vladimir Putin.

There have been other small efforts by WLM to leave its scent but which accomplished very little. And that’s also what their latest outing seems to have achieved: nothing.

But don’t count on it. Failure can be a terrific teacher. Read more…

EDITORIAL: Be a firefighter, there’s lots do

THIS AN EASY editorial to write. What’s difficult is that it has to be written at all. You could call the topic self preservation; then add the preservation of others too. Put another way: Help. Our fire departments need help.

Take this seriously. Columbia County has 32 all-volunteer fire departments. How many are staffed by paid firefighters? 0.

Think about that for a moment. Together, those departments are responsible for the 18 towns, 4 villages and a city in Columbia County. There are six school districts here too, each with its own buildings. The population hovers at around 60,000 depending on the time of day, the season and the weather. There are plenty of flammable structures of wood and modern materials. Have you checked your smoke detector lately?

Our firefighters also back up some of the departments in neighboring counties because our neighbors back up our firefighters when there’s a need. The benefits from this type of mutual aid varies depending on the distance the firefighters have to travel. Every once in a while somebody tries to estimate what it would cost to transition to professional firefighters. The number is so high it’s like toxic waste. It’s also the future. Read more…

EDITORIAL: Gun law divides supes

IN CAPITAL LETTERS LIKE THESE, the Columbia County Board of Supervisors last week denounced “AN UNCONSTITUTIONAL ATTACK UPON THE RIGHTS OF LAW ABIDING CITIZENS” in Resolution No. 396-2022. All the Republican supervisors voted for the resolution. All Democrats but one voted against the resolution or abstained. So what’s the big deal?

It’s election time and there’s a race for governor as well as all members of the state Senate and Assembly, the House of Representatives, one U.S. Senate seat, too. This year it looks like a big issue in the governor’s race will be guns, pistols to be specific, and the policy of “concealed carry.”

Since the early 1900s New York has had strict rules about firearms, referred to as the Sullivan Act. But that changed when the Supreme Court overruled Sullivan in a case called New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc., v Bruen (the superintendent of New York State Police).

In response, Governor Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, worked with the leaders of the state Senate and Assembly, both also Democrats, to craft a new law that appears to address the concerns of the Supreme Court. The county Resolution calls this a “knee-jerk, unvetted and political reaction” to the court’s decision. The county’s Resolution No. 396 says that getting a permit to carry a concealed gun is a “lengthy burdensome process”; the permit must be renewed every three years; and there are strict penalties for carrying a concealed pistol where not allowed. Read more…