EDITORIAL: Rep. Delgado answers questions

THE WELCOME Rep. Antonio Delgado received as he opened his 17th district “town hall” meeting here this week was warm, based on applause and room temperature. Nearly 200 people squeezed into the Chatham Brewery on Main Street to hear the first-term Congressman report on what he’s been doing for the district and where he stands on a raft of issues, a list that includes impeachment.

Before taking questions from the audience, Congressman Delgado (D-19th) laid out his case for the importance he places on staying “connected to constituents.” He’s opened five district offices (the latest in Hudson), appointed four advisory groups and introduced 14 bills, 10 of which have bipartisan support. They include support for farmers–“the plight of our farmers is real”; assistance for small businesses in navigating the federal bureaucracy; and help for veterans and their families.

On climate change he said he has a “green jobs bill” that would lead to reducing carbon emissions to “net zero by 2050” and help “create a path toward a green economy.” Read more…

EDITORIAL: They irrigate digital desert

WELL, THEY TRIED. The citizens group Connect Columbia has bird-dogged cable TV and phone companies in an effort to make high-speed internet access available throughout the county. There has been progress. But internet providers, as the companies are called, can be a slippery bunch.

County residents who already have high-speed service might be surprised how many people in the county don’t. You can see it on maps. Communities east of the Taconic State Parkway and some other spots look like digital deserts, which leaves the county with some of the poorest connectivity in the state. This is not news, but a recent decision by the state Public Service Commission (PSC) giving a second chance to one of the biggest and slipperiest of the providers is worth noting.

The story begins four years ago when Charter Communications requested approval to swallow a major competitor, Time Warner Cable and its brand name, Spectrum. The PSC agreed to the merger but only if Charter/Spectrum agreed to make high speed internet access available to 145,000 homes and businesses in Upstate New York communities where the service was unavailable. Sure, sure, said Charter/Spectrum. Piece of cake. Read more…

EDITORIAL: Who will fill her shoes?

SHE GOT OFF TO A ROUGH START. The man she replaced had angered teachers and parents to such a degree that large numbers of parents refused to let their kids take the so-called high stakes tests in 3rd through 8th grades. And at first it looked like State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia might have underestimated the public’s mistrust of the Education Department.

Turns out she was both tougher and more politically astute than skeptics thought. Resistance to the lengthy tests of younger students to monitor their progress has not disappeared, but it has diminished. That happened in part because Ms. Elia oversaw a scaling back of the tests in response to what she heard from the teachers and parents—known in edu-speak as stakeholders. It was a welcome change.

She announced this week that she will resign at the end of next month after four years in what has to be the country’s most challenging job in the field of education. An interim commissioner from the ranks of the Education Department has already been named and the Board of Regents will now search for a replacement. It won’t be an easy position to fill. Read more…

EDITORIAL: These cards are no game

AT THE OUTSET the number of index cards in the pile came to 37. It looked like a manageable number of questions for the Chatham Town Board, the board’s attorney and its planning consultant to address in the next two hours. But the work of the “question card chasers” was just getting started. The final card count came to more than double that.

The board provided white index cards and pencils to Chatham residents–well over 200 of them–who filled the garage of the Tri-Village Fire Company in Old Chatham Monday evening. Many residents came prepared with brightly-colored, neatly-handwritten cards, or cards printed on paper thick enough for wedding invitations, a few torn scraps of paper and a pile of lasagna-size strips from laser-printed pages–a question on each about Chatham’s proposal for a new zoning law.

The idea behind the cards was that they would focus attention on the questions, not the questioners. Well, it’s a promising theory. Read more…

EDITORIAL: Why celebrate July 4th

THE FOURTH OF JULY is a holiday that ought to bring the nation together. It’s okay if British guests utter snarky opinions about how we’ve handled what was once their global backyard. This moment we celebrate the great things our ancestors accomplished, and if we’re serious about it, we’ll acknowledge the human toll and wonder what we will leave behind.

The American Revolution was just over the horizon here. Captured British cannon from Fort Ticonderoga during the first winter of the war were transported to Boston, where the new Continental Army besieged the British and forced them to retreat from that city. And as the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia finished the Declaration of Independence at the beginning of July 1776, British troops were landing in New York City.

The Redcoats were preparing for what they expected would end the insurgency of the upstart colonials–what we might call today freedom fighters or guerillas? Instead they come down to us as patriots because they were successful and our history textbooks are written here, not in England. Read more…