To the editor:
To the Florida Volunteer Fire Department: We would like to express our deep gratitude for your quick response and action concerning our recent garage fire. Your hard work and efficient manner helped save our home. The response and teamwork of other volunteer companies from Fort Hunter, Glen, Mariaville and Pattersonville was also very much appreciated. Also, thank you to John Sampone our code officer and Dwight Schwabrow, county fire coordinator, for their help and assistance.
Thanks to all of you that responded. We are so very thankful to all of you.
Frank and Kristina Marcellino and family, Amsterdam
Party affiliation doesn't matter
To the editor:
Over the last many weeks I have enjoyed meeting and talking to many people on the campaign trail. One of the most asked questions that I'm faced with is: What party are you with? My answer is always the same: Does it really matter? It shouldn't. I am not running for the party, I am running to represent the people in the district regardless of party. You will not find my party affiliation on any of my handout material or on my web page. It does not matter to me. I want to be elected not on what party I am registered with but what I stand for, my principles, my ideas, plans and commitment to represent the people in my district. It is my intent to work with everyone regardless of party affiliation in order to get the people's business done. As an example, my campaign team is made up of mostly Republican members even though I am running on the Democratic line. I am not a seasoned politician like my opponent, but a hard working business owner/family man who will give you better representation and a louder voice in Albany. Vote for the person, not the party. Please feel free to contact me at (315) 866-3474 or visit my web page at www.ChilelliForAssembly.com to see my platform for change.
The writer is a candidate for office in the 118th Assembly District.
Growing tired of downstate politics
To the editor:
This week, I saw a press release from the Republican chairmen from the three counties that make up the 111th Assembly District. In their release, the chairmen asked two questions of Angelo Santabarbara: First, will his campaign again accept tens of thousands of dollars in contributions from Speaker Sheldon Silver and his political friends; and second, if elected, will he use his first vote in the Assembly to re-elect Sheldon Silver as speaker?
These are interesting points being brought up. I know that in the past, Santabarbara received well over $100,000 from Speaker Silver and his political campaign committee.
Speaker Silver has now been caught paying off a woman, with taxpayer dollars, who was sexually harassed by one of his members. I can't understand the lack of outrage at Speaker Silver's use of $103,000 of our tax money to settle this claim, and cannot believe this is an isolated incident.
I am a Democrat from upstate Fort Johnson and I am tired of the downstate politics. There is a better candidate for the 111th Assembly District, Tom Quackenbush. I do know he will not be accepting tainted money from anyone, and his first vote will not be for Mr. Silver as speaker.
On Election Day, I'm voting for Quackenbush.
Reading program a success
To the editor:
I've worked in the Amsterdam Free Library for more than two decades and, for a number of years, I was also involved in the literacy program. Now, with the unofficial end of summer already upon us, I wanted everyone to know that this year was something special, indeed. That's because the summer reading program for children was incredibly successful.
Much of the credit for the program's success, I believe, must go to library director Nicole Hemsley, and staff members who ran the day-to-day operations under her direction.
Education is the key to our country's future, and reading is a vital part of it. I was extremely proud to be a small part of the reading program these past couple of months.
Thanks to everyone for making this year's reading program an overwhelming success, and thanks, also to those parents who share their children with us.
Time for a change in state government
To the editor:
Last week, Recorder reader Eric Hess wrote a letter to the editor, praising Mr. Quackenbush and Mr. Amedore on the jobs they've been doing. I decided to look into Mr. Hess's statements. After some research, I realized Mr. Hess was just stating his opinion and nothing more. There wasn't a single "fact" in his entire letter. He starts off by saying he couldn't help but notice a "connection" between Mr. Santabarbara and Mr. Silver. He never says what that "connection" was. He says Mr. Santabarbara would vote with Mr. Silver 90 to 99 percent of the time. Where did he get that fact, since Mr. Santabarbara has never voted along side Mr. Silver. Again, it was just Mr. Hess's opinion. Not a fact. However, here is a fact. Mr. Amedore has voted with Republican leader Brian Kolb 91.7 percent of the time. Using Mr. Hess's own rule, we should not vote for Mr. Amedore just for that reason. (We shouldn't vote for Mr. Amedore, but for other reasons.) I would expect a Republican or a Democrat to follow along their party line. But why pick on Mr. Silver? He's been re-elected many times, so he must be doing something right. Also, why think Mr. Santabarbara, an upstater, would turn his back on upstate as Mr. Amedore has?
To prove my point about Mr. Amedore, I called him at his office to ask some questions, like: why New York state puts a tax on retiree pensions. Many states do not, so why New York? It doesn't tax state pensions, why other pensions? I mentioned this is why many older people move out of New York. I was told it was the downstate politicians' fault. When I asked why New York state had the highest gas tax in the nation, he again blamed the downstate politicians. Apparently, the residents of downstate like paying high gas tax and paying taxes on their pensions. I asked the big question last. Why does New York have the highest welfare budget in the nation? In fact, it's double the budget of the No. 2 state. His answer? You guessed it: downstate politicians. I was going to ask him why the Jets had such a bad end to their season last year, but I was afraid he'd blame it on the downstate politicians. When I asked if Mr. Amedore ever offered up a bill that would affect any of the questions I asked him, he replied "no." He blames everyone else but himself. He's been in office long enough to be responsible for the problems facing New York. He's offered up zero answers to those problems. I went back and checked many of the budgets that raised our taxes. Mr. Amedore voted for every one of those budgets. People ridicule President Obama for blaming his woes on George Bush. It's time for Mr. Amedore to accept responsibility for his failings also. Now he wants to be in the Senate, so he can do nothing in a new setting. If you're tired of nothing happening in the state government, your taxes rising, then maybe you should vote for someone else besides Mr. Amedore.
Now, to Mr. Quackenbush. Montgomery County is in the top 10 list of highest taxed counties in America. Since the list was alphabetized, it could very well be number one in the country. Mr. Quackenbush voted for all budgets that raised our taxes, including trying to raise the sales tax just recently. Make no mistake, Mr. Quackenbush is a tax and spend politician. He voted to raise his own salary as a town supervisor and county board member. He spent away a $28 million surplus down to $8 million. His letter to the Columbia paper dated 7/23/11, is required reading to see just where he stands. As a county board member, he has been unable to make the big decisions. He'd rather raise taxes on the elderly and poor than make tough choices. While town of Minden supervisor, Mr. Quackenbush , along with his tax-hungry cronies, passed a full property value tax assessment, effectively raising property taxes some 25 percent. Compare the town of Minden's 100 percent property assessment with St. Johnsville's 35 percent. The town of Minden is listed as the highest tax rate in the state of New York and the nation. Since the full assessment went into effect, property values in the town of Minden have sunk quicker than the Titanic. And deeper, too. No need to take my word for it, Mr. Hess, just look at some properties for sale and check their taxes. When Mr. Quackenbush announced he was running for Assembly, he said he wanted tax reform. Not lower taxes, but reform. Remember how he reformed the taxes in the town of Minden. If you want to know what a politician will do when in office, don't believe what they say, look at what they have all ready done. As they say, the proof's in the pudding. If you think we already pay enough taxes, as I do, then maybe you should be thinking about voting for someone else besides Mr. Quackenbush.
It's time for changes in the state government. Putting the same people in office, or moving them into a different office, where you can expect the same incompetence, is not the answer.
John H. Swartz,
Facts about next week's voting
To the editor:
I hope this letter will be informative to voters next week.
FACT: Primary election will be next Thursday, Sept. 13. This is because of the anniversary of 9-11.
FACT: In New York state, you cannot just enroll in school and become a certified assessor. You have to be hired or elected and sponsored by a municipality. With special approval a data collector or other support staff in the assessor's office may be deemed eligible for training.
FACT: Both Broadalbin assessors currently in office had no related experience before being elected. Yes, it does not make sense that a position that determines your property value puts someone into office with no training. But we're talking about New York state.
FACT: Assessors must complete their training, and pass tests for their certification within three years or the state will remove them from their position. This did happen in Broadalbin over 10 years ago.
FACT: There is taxpayer expense in training all assessors. Having a background in real estate or insurance appraisal does not waive classes and save money.
FACT: If you are 18 you are old enough to be an assessor. At 18 you can register to vote, enlist in the military and carry a gun, and we applaud our high school graduates as they take on huge loans and go to college for a career they hope to have. Lolalynn Steele had planned on following in her father's footsteps some day after he retired. Her running for assessor now is a solid career choice based on a familiarity with tasks in that office.
FACT: Years ago, when I was a town councilman, I did advocate for the other assessor candidate to be appointed to the board of assessment review where he served as chairperson.
The last fact that I'd like to share is during his term, he abruptly resigned. How does this person expect to handle the stress of being an elected official for four years if he could not handle dealing with the public and other officials a few months a year?
The last fact that I'd like to share is that every vote at the local level does make a difference. The polls are open for primary voting on Thursday, Sept. 13, noon until 9 p.m.
Pay hike idea morally bankrupt
To the editor:
I read recently that there is the looming possibility of a lame-duck session salary hike. I find the very idea of this unnecessary and offensive as a taxpayer. Others share the same sentiment. To be clear, I am against any pay raise for state legislators. Between per diems, perks, benefits and salaries, legislators should not get any increase, especially while many middle-class families are struggling to find jobs.
New York's unemployment rate is over 9 percent and we are still in the midst of recovering from the longest recession since the Great Depression. I would argue that there are more important things to discuss, such as property tax reform, mandate relief, jobs and improving this struggling economy, than salary increases for legislators.
According to a Quinnipiac University poll conducted at the end of July, 80 percent of New Yorkers oppose the pay hike. Members of the Legislature collect an annual base salary of $79,500, excluding perks and benefits.
With all due respect to the legislators -- they actually did their jobs for the first time in years by passing two on-time budgets -- it should be this way every budget year. It does not merit a pay increase. If anyone else on the job failed to meet a deadline, they would be fired. Why should we hold state elected officials to any other standard than what we hold ourselves to? In contrast, these are not local positions that have historically been ceremonial in nature, are low paying, have increased work loads, and merit a boost at times when appropriate.
There's more work to be done and many issues to resolve in Albany. This pay hike is morally bankrupt and is certainly not a pressing issue. When I'm elected, I will continue to work with Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Sen. Hugh Farley, assemblymen Jim Tedisco and George Amedore, and others in state government to work on property tax reform, mandate relief, opportunities for job creators, job growth and improving this struggling economy.
Thomas L. Quackenbush,
The writer is a candidate for office in the 111th Assembly District.