EDITORIAL: Delgado for Congress

IF ANYONE IN THE 19th Congressional District has not heard about the race between incumbent Congressman John Faso and his main opponent, Antonio Delgado, it’s most likely someone isn’t going to vote in next week’s general election.

Mr. Faso, 66, a Republican who lives in Kinderhook, won election to his first term by a comfortable margin two years ago. But he has been dogged by protests around the district since taking office and early in his term in the 19th CD the mass media and pollsters flagged it as one of the districts where Democrats might have a chance of flipping the district this year.

The district covers all of Columbia County and all or parts of 10 other counties in the Hudson Valley and Catskills. Voters supported President Obama in 2008 and 2012 but went for Donald Trump in 2016. Read more…

EDITORIAL: May this force be history

IT’S NOT OFTEN citizens get to decide whether to abolish their police force. But that’s exactly what Germantown voters are being asked to decide in the November 6 general election.

In name only, the town still has a Police Department. It has no active police officers and much of its equipment is being sold or discarded as out of date or not worth repairing. At last report one of its two assault rifles had been donated and there were plans to dispose of the other one. That’s a good idea. Reviews by two independent consultants found that recent Germantown cops didn’t have proper firearms training.

The Town Board was poised to shutter the Germantown Police Department, but abolishing a government department, even a tiny one, isn’t a power reserved exclusively to the board. If enough people sign petitions demanding the right of the public to determine the fate of a department, the question must appear on the ballot at the next general election. In Germantown enough people signed. Read more…

EDITORIAL: What your rights cost

NO STRUCTURE TELLS you more about a community than its library. It’s not so much the architecture, although that matters; it’s about the traffic in and out.

Every public school in the county has more floor space than the largest of our libraries; some town highway garages and salt sheds win the title for sheer bulk. We need these services and accept that we should support them in one form or another. But who says we need libraries?

The devices formerly known as phones put all the world’s misinformation about everybody and everything only a search away. They give us a library in our hands. You can even use your device to access the library. But history shows us that the voting public repeatedly says we need libraries and this fall the libraries in two neighboring communities, Kinderhook and Valatie, are asking voters to support their growth. Read more…

EDITORIAL: How many voters are missing?

WHERE HAVE 2,492 people gone? That figure is the estimate of drop in the population of Columbia County between 2010 and 2017. Back in 2010 the United States Census Bureau counted 63,096 residents in the county. Now the there are only 60,604 of us.

Some folks migrated to warmer places or to states with lower taxes, or both. We’re much older than the U.S. population as a whole, so some of the missing aren’t missing at all. They’re just gone. And then there are those not counted.

The Census Bureau tries to count everybody living in the United States once every decade as required by the Constitution. For the next census in 2020 we’ll have the option of filling out the census questionnaire either on paper or online, using our own digital device or a public library computer. Read more…

EDITORIAL: Don’t go back

COLUMBIA MEMORIAL HEALTH got some unwelcome news recently. The federal government plans to punish the hospital for readmitting too many patients, including the poorest of them. The punishment means a little less support for the care of poor patients.

Columbia Memorial spokesman Bill Van Slyke did not have an exact figure this week for how much federal reimbursement the hospital would lose, saying instead that no matter what the amount, “every dollar is critical.” He criticized the withholding of payments related to readmissions as “fundamentally unfair.”

He’s got a point, and yet the policy he’s criticizing is meant to cure problems in hospital care and encourage better health outcomes. It’s also became a little less unfair. Read more…