EDITORIAL: Are we still in Kansas?

I RECEIVED A RIFLE for my 15th birthday, give or take a year, a bolt action .22 caliber—one shot, reload, fire again. It replaced my BB gun. A friend had a makeshift shooting range in the basement of his suburban home. That’s the only place I recall firing it. I was not a good shot.

My father didn’t have a firearm, but my grandfather did. He’d received his pint-sized .22 caliber with instructions to use it for hunting prairie chickens around his home in Kansas, where he grew up. I’ve never seen a prairie chicken and never saw him fire his gun. But my grandmother told a story that she and others shared with family members.

My grandmother also grew up in Kansas in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Following graduation from college, she became a public school teacher at a one-room school. Some of the older boys decided to play pranks on the new teacher and put a live snake in one of her desk drawers. The snake was returned to its natural habitat and shortly thereafter the desk door was locked and the word got around that the teacher had replaced the snake with a pistol which she would now use to defend herself against serpents and bad boys. Read more…

EDITORIAL: It’s primary time

HOW DOES A PERSON get elected to Congress or some other high office? Money, yes, but what else? It’s complicated and not a topic widely discussed at church picnics or neighborhood cannabis lounges. But understanding the process helps explain why it’s such a messy process and likely to remain that way for the decade ahead.

Start with the requirement that states have to consider whether to redraw the lines of their voting districts every 10 years based on the U.S. Census. Check it out; it’s in the Constitution. The more that a state’s population increases or decreases compared to other states, the more (or fewer) representatives your state will send to Congress.

The next step is for a state to divide its population by the number of congressional representatives, with each district having roughly equal population. And here the process gets really complicated. Besides population, districts can be divided in many ways as long as they physically connect. Sometimes districts have been redrawn to remedy past discrimination. Other times districts are drawn to give one candidate or political party an overwhelming advantage. Enter, the legislature of the State of New York. Read more…

EDITORIAL: Can we save our own kids?

THIS WAS SUPPOSED TO be a look at this year’s primary elections, which are a legal bowl of spaghetti that might leave some candidates and voters confused right up to the general election in November. Then the news from Uvalde, Texas, rushed came in and demanded attention. Tragically, that’s just how the youthful monsters who perpetrate these murders want us to react.

But for us onlookers there’s a point at which revulsion is replaced with mass murder fatigue. Maybe our return to daily routines is accompanied by a shiver of recognition that, yeah, that it could have been me or my offspring, but it wasn’t. We keep our heads a little lower and move on.

Is there a strategy that would reduce these murders if only we could get the votes or raise the money? This state has the strictest gun possession laws in the nation and still the Tops supermarket killer apparently had no trouble purchasing firearms he used to murder Black people in Buffalo. Read more…

EDITORIAL: Who says this?

IT LOOKS AS IF SOMEBODY disposed of our lawn sign last weekend without our permission. It’s not the first time, but the earlier disappeared signs supported candidates for political office. This most recent sign was what you might call aspirational, affirming our beliefs in science, the power of love, that sort of thing. It was creepy to think that somebody disliked the candidates we supported so much that they stole cardboard signs with our candidates’ names. It’s worse than creepy now.

Who can tell whether a missing sign continues a nasty tradition of political vandalism. How would we know it’s not the way a poisoned mind prepares to engage in mass murder.

I have no special insight into the murders in the Buffalo suburb Saturday, May 14. I tried to sort out what I should feel given that I was hundreds of miles away and have no family or friends there. I thought of sympathy for the victims, and relief that it was not happening to my family or neighbors. It was not a reassuring assessment our safety. Read more…

Why’s Putin matter?

NEXT TUESDAY, MAY 17, is Election Day for the six public school districts in Columbia County and most of the 731 districts statewide. Here’s something to consider if you’re registered to vote and you plan to cast a ballot in your district: Don’t let Vladimir Putin influence your decision.

Every school district has to have a budget, and no matter which district you live in, the school budget is a public document. It tells you how the money will be spent (staff, administration, materials, transportation, etc.) and where it comes from (mostly the state and the district’s property tax). The election gives us taxpaying citizens a chance not only to express our opinions about the amount of the budget with a Yes or No. It also gives us a chance to vote on which school board member candidates (all of them volunteers) are best suited to set district policy overall.

So what’s Putin got to do with it? His war is a big part of why gas prices are so high. High gas prices are one of the reason the overall rate of inflation is historically high. All of us need to remind ourselves that it is not the fault of students, teachers or administrators that gas costs so much. Read more…