Letters to the Editor Saturday, June 19
Councilwoman owes family an apology
I write to respond to Niskayuna Councilperson Denise Murphy-McGraw’s false and slanderous claims recited in The Daily Gazette article (“Town Board member accused of ethics violation”) on June 3, that members of my family have “spent the last four years threatening and harassing” her.
Her allegations are simply not true. I have never, other than her reaching out to me on social media once, have had a conversation with her. That communication was very cordial.
McGraw recently publicly apologized for not abstaining on a resolution to hire one of her family members as a summer employee in Niskayuna. Of greater concern is that she later requested the town clerk to alter the minutes of that meeting. As reported on June 2, McGraw emailed the town clerk she “meant to abstain on 2021-109…” with a request to “Pls list me as abstaining.” Her attempt to have those minutes altered is improper at best, possibly illegal.
If she has any evidence of my “threatening or harassing” her, I encourage her to share it publicly. Is McGraw out to get me and my family: My son happens to be a candidate for town board. She needs to apologize again, this time to the Moskowitz family.
Litz has made life better in Rotterdam
I have lived in Rotterdam my whole life. I also raised my children and managed my family’s business, JM Jeweler’s, for many years in Rotterdam. I have never written a letter supporting a candidate, but I feel compelled to do so for an individual that I strongly believe is worth supporting.
I have known Judge Kenneth P. Litz for over 30 years. Judge Litz has been our town justice for nearly 32 years and a practicing attorney for nearly 42 years.
I had the distinct pleasure of working with Ken as a co-judge for 20 years and can say, without hesitation, that he is one of the most honorable individuals
I know. While working together, I admired not only his legal knowledge and knowledge of the court system, but also how he treats everyone who appears before him fairly, with dignity, respect, and patience, regardless of who they are.
Judge Litz also has a particular concern for victims, making sure they are afforded justice as well.
Our town is a better place to live, work and raise a family with Judge Litz as our town justice, and I ask that you vote for him on Primary Day.
Kevin J. Mercoglan
Seat belt law about safety, not tyranny
In regard to Daniel Singer’s June 14 letter to the editor (“Rear seatbelt law is a step to tyranny”), the requirement for a rear passenger to be wearing a seat belt has nothing to do with being unconstitutional, tyranny, invasion of privacy, nor unreasonable search. It is all about your safety and well-being.
In a head-on collision at 60 mph and you wearing your seatbelt, you come to a complete stop in less than two-tenths of a second. However, the rear passenger not wearing a seatbelt will come flying over your seat at 60 mph (or whatever the speed of the car) and likely take your head off.
If you don’t care, unfortunately, it thus raises the cost of car and medical insurance for the rest of us.
Lift restrictions on nursing home visits
This letter is to bring much needed increased awareness to the forgotten nursing home resident, those that remain isolated from family/friends and their communities.
As New York state reopens many venues ( bars, restaurants, racetracks, sports arenas, concerts, etc.) that improve commerce and state tax revenue, we have to question if the reason nursing home residents have been abandoned by their state lawmakers is because reopening a nursing home to unrestricted visitations provides no monetary gains for New York.
Our parents were admitted to a Schenectady County nursing home in January 2020. Visitation restrictions began March 2020.
In-person visits resumed in April 2021 but sadly were restricted as of May 7.
As New York and the country look forward to plans for reopening and vacations, our 95-year-old father and World War II veteran remains isolated and unable to be with his family.
The most recent guidelines for visitations have done little to reopen visitation as their criteria puts up more stop gates than freedom to visit a loved one.
The recent Essential Caregivers Act has not proven helpful in reopening visitations. The nursing home that our father resides at is telling us that they are waiting for specific guidance and permission from the state Department of Health to lift restrictions before they can move forward. Is this how we reward state residents for a life well lived or a veteran who has served his country? Nursing homes need to reopen for unrestricted visitation.
Litz very professional as Rotterdam judge
Ken Litz is an outstanding town judge, and this letter is intended to urge all Rotterdam residents to support his candidacy for re-election in the upcoming primary election, and the subsequent general election.
I am a retired Schenectady County assistant district attorney who had the privilege of prosecuting cases in the Rotterdam Town Court for over 38 years.
For 32 of those years, I personally observed Judge Litz serve the town citizenry in a fair, impartial and dignified manner handling the multiple criminal, vehicle and traffic, small claims, eviction and Town Code violation cases that came before him.
In these proceedings, he always treated the parties, their attorneys, police officers and witnesses with courtesy and respect. He always knew the law applicable to each case that came before him, and his decisions were thoughtful, well-reasoned and fair.
As someone who had a unique opportunity to view Judge Litz’s performance of his duties as a town judge, I can tell you that he is a consummate professional who deserves the support of the electorate so he can continue to serve the Rotterdam community as their town judge.
Raymond E. DeMatteo, Jr.
We can’t ignore sins of America’s past
The conservative bogeymen du jour are critical race theory and the sainted Dr. Anthony Fauci.
As a former social studies teacher, I’m more troubled about the wave of state laws banning the teaching of American history from the perspective of critical race theory.
I understand that conservatives view this nebulous doctrine as a divisive message that pits people of color against White people. But does that mean American history teachers should ignore the Founders’ struggle with the contradiction between the ideal of “all men are created equal” and the existence of chattel slavery?
Do they have to gloss over “the Trail of Tears,” Wounded Knee and other atrocities committed against First Americans? Should they not teach the shameful consequences of the Dred Scott and Plessy v. Ferguson Supreme Court decisions? Would they run afoul of the law by covering the Jim Crow era, segregation, lynching, the Tulsa Massacre and the Civil Rights Movement?
How about the Chinese Exclusion Act, the voyage of M.S. St. Louis and the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II?
To me, the sins of our past came back to haunt us with the murder of George Floyd. If legislators think we can escape history by blaming Floyd’s death on one sick policeman rather than examining the roots of racism, they better think again — or better yet, look at the matter-of-fact expression on Derick Chauvin’s face as he slowly asphyxiated Mr. Floyd. That was the look of culturally ingrained racism.
Law enforcement in Nisky needs tools
The study of the Niskayuna Police Department before 1988 indicated that the town of Niskayuna was eight police officers short.
As a Niskayuna town justice from 1988-1995 I also sat on the Public Safety Committee. There were then 31 officers, including the brass. Today, we have dozens if not hundreds more houses, and dozens of new businesses, including new malls.
We are down to 23 officers, including brass, and a detective is retiring soon. We should have at least 40.
It takes nearly two years for an officer to take to the streets competently; six months of training and then ride-a-longs. Do we have any officers in training? Consider that the police department is a 24/7 operation. How do you stretch 22 officers over that period of time? How do detectives get time to investigate if they must serve as patrol officers?
It is no surprise that we have lost Chief Wall, are losing a detective, and have lost the reputation of being a kind, efficient and effective police force.
There is no question that legislators and executives are under great pressure to keep taxes down. But at what cost? Do we need a major tragedy to see that our police officers are spread too thin? Stressed?
Unsafe? Would you pay an additional $100 to add police officers? $200? I certainly would. And property taxes are deductions from income taxes, so that amount is effectively less than that. Let’s give law enforcement the tools they need to keep us safe.
Bruce S. Trachtenberg
Shared services can help improve society
Regarding the June 5 Gazette article (“Businesses struggle to fill jobs”), as hiring picks up, many job seekers still on the sidelines mentioned a “gap between the economy and labor market.”
The current cooperation among neighbors, especially during our public health emergency, has improved our neighbors’ well-being and can enhance our economy.
The state Board of Regents’ “social and emotional learning” policies will “Develop self-awareness and self-management skills essential to success in school and in life.” The federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ARP ESSER) will finance “social and emotional learning” priorities mentioned in the state Education Department’s American Rescue Plan.
The department’s Office of Support Services, through the 21st Century Community Learning Center (CCLC) program, will assist schools and community-based organizations obtain resources to further guidance, in-person and remote learning enrichment programs to meet the most immediate needs of students and their families.
The County Shared Services Initiative and Plans can expand cooperation among municipal governments, business owners, nonprofit organizations, and education agencies. Coordination of “social and emotional learning” goals with the Career and Technical Education programs will improve federal funding of pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship programs.
And the regional Economic Development Councils’ Consolidated Funding Application can increase state monies for pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship programs.
Since our municipalities are responding to a variety of public health and public safety tragedies, then County Shared Services Plans may enhance coordinated “social and emotional learning” programs for youth and adults improving their standard of living and the economy within our democracy.
Article was nothing more than a hit job
Regarding the June 6 article, (“Link between sheriff, troubled officer had tragic start”) was nothing more than a hit-job hiding as a so-called piece of journalism which has no business being printed in a newspaper. Sheriff Dagostino is one of the most professional individuals we have in elected office and we in Schenectady County are lucky to have him as our sheriff.
The demise of The Daily Gazette continues as the editors and reporters have now degraded themselves to tabloid journalism the likes of the National Enquirer.
The Gazette has an anti-police bias and has done nothing for our community but try to stoke the flames of hatred and violence for their own gain.
Try sticking to the facts and reality, but that is obviously too much to ask.
Population of state went up, not down
I hate when people make stuff up to support an argument. On May 23, your editorial board did just that.
In an editorial (“Lawmakers must address school spending”) about school taxes being partly responsible for an outmigration of residents, you said, “The overall net decline in population has already cost us a congressional seat.” But our population did not decline; it grew.
The 2010 census had our population at 19.58 million; the 2020 census put us at 20.2 million. We lost a seat (maybe, but that’s another story) because we apparently didn’t grow as much as other states.
Your editorials might carry a little more heft if you didn’t puff them up with made up stuff.
Editor’s Note: The error was noted and corrected the same day online.
Judge Litz is faithful to the rule of law
I learned about Judge Litz’s post on Facebook and website regarding restrictions on putting up political signs in Rotterdam before Sept. 1. I applaud Judge Litz for his decision not to put up any political signs until allowed by law. We need judges who will apply the law equally to all and will follow the law themselves regardless of who it helps or hurts. Say what you may about political signs but they do not give a candidate exposure to the voting public.
Judge Litz’s decision shows his true character and that he will follow and put the law above his own personal interests. I cannot say the same about his opponent, who has political signs up in the town promoting his candidacy. All need to follow the law whether we agree with the law or not. It is even more important for our judges and elected officials to do the same.
We need judges like Judge Ken Litz who do not feel they are above the law. I will vote for Judge Litz on Primary Day, June 22, and urge all of you to do the same to properly protect and apply our rule of law for all.
Sheriff’s story was hateful and unfair
I’d like to “thank” The Gazette for the story in the June 6 edition (“Link between sheriff, troubled officer had tragic start”) about Officer Coppola’s dismissal from the Schenectady Sheriff’s Department.
What trash! Not only did you cross the line reporting how Sheriff Dagostino had possibly met his wife and your blatant attempt to make it sound as unprofessional and improper as possible. Since when is it anyone else’s business how someone met their partners? As reported, there were no improprieties, so why include it? Didn’t the sheriff do the right thing and fire his son? Wasn’t that enough to report? No, not The Gazette. You have to throw in your bias and attack the sheriff.
You went way over the line to tell of Officer Coppola’s father’s death. You think it ties in with Coppola’s DWI charge? This anti-police thing you call a story is the worst reporting I’ve seen in years.
You brought up such gruesome and painful memories to families and friends (myself included) of the horrible end of a good man’s life.
You summoned those horrible pictures of his death from the corners of everyone’s mind, where they had been buried away for years.
My heart goes out to the Coppola and Dagostino families and friends for having to endure your hateful rhetoric and rotten bias now to have to relive the horror story you dredged up. Take your place on the magazine shelf right next to The National Enquirer and other trash. Your story was a new low even for The Gazette.
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