To the editor:
As a counselor at a large public research university, it was my responsibility to assist students with their decision-making processes. The basic model we used consisted of seven steps: 1) Identifying the decision to be made, 2) Gathering information, 3) Identifying alternatives, 4) Weighing the evidence, 5) Choosing from alternatives, 6) Taking action and 7) Reviewing the decision.
As a counselor and city resident, I am listening and trying to understand our Common Council's model for making their decisions. What kind of information are they gathering? Objective data? Subjective opinions? Cost/benefit analyses? What kinds, if any, alternatives have they developed? How do they weigh the evidence? Are the pros and cons of alternatives discussed? So far, they have mastered the taking action step very well.
What kinds of critical thinking have council members employed? "Critical thinking" was the most quoted and desired ability we wanted for our students at the university. Supposedly, they would become better citizens as a result. I look to our council members to develop their critical thinking skills as they make their decisions in the future.
In his latest book, "Falling Upward," the Franciscan priest Richard Rohr addresses what some call the "identity politics" which rules our country, keeping "us trapped at the bipartisan divide -- and we never achieve the transpartisan nature of mature elders. People think by defeating the other side, they have achieved some high level of truth. Very sad indeed, but that is as far as the angry or fearful dualistic mind can go."
Mayor Ann Thane provided the council with a compromise position for the Muni situation. Did council members identify or consider any elements which could be modified or changed or offered alternatives to reach a viable solution? (Research baby and bath water here). "What if ...?" Creative thinking. Independent thinking. Critical thinking.
Perhaps, I am too ideal and I have too high expectations and, perhaps, I voted for the wrong candidates, but I have honed my decision-making and critical thinking skills.
Vilifying America's song dog
To the editor:
Re: Hunters answer the call of the coyote (The Recorder Jan. 11, 2014).
Mr. Nelson has presented a tidy (though largely inaccurate) article vilifying America's song dog: the coyote. His portrayal of this keystone predator of the Adirondacks as a "varmint" is woeful and one sided.
I have not seen any scientific studies relating decreases in deer numbers directly to coyote predation. I have read scientific studies relating drops in deer populations to severe winters and to disease. In the areas of DEC Region 5 covering the southern and central Adirondacks, deer takes, increased from 2011 to 2012.
Coyotes do not vocalize as "they prey and scavenge for food." Coyotes howl to reunite their pack (family), to reinforce social ties, and to advertise their territory to other coyotes. While hunting, coyotes remain quiet. Think about it: do human hunters carry blaring boom boxes as they traipse through the woods in search of deer?
Coyotes do not choose to encroach on human inhabited areas unless they have lost part or all of their territory and food sources. Most human-coyote issues occur in areas of exurban sprawl. Additionally, many coyote-human conflicts, are caused at least in part by human behaviors (leaving small pets unattended outside, leaving pet food or garbage readily available, or purposely feeding coyotes.)
Coyotes are remarkably adaptive, resilient canids that provide many positive services for our local environment. Coyotes help to control rodent populations; they keep deer on the move which can reduce over-browsing (a major issue in the health and diversity of our forest trees), and many mammals and birds benefit from scavenging on coyote kills.
Ecosystems require predators for balance and coyotes have filled the niche left by the wolves and cougars extirpated from the Adirondacks in the past. Coyotes also fill the night with their amazing serenades which are actually appreciated by many, including me.
Susan Rolleri Hendler,
Lions Club offers its thanks
To the editor:
Please extend a heartfelt thanks to the citizens and businesses who have made remarkable contributions to the annual Blind Seal Fund Raiser sponsored by the Greater Amsterdam Lions Club.
The acts of kindness from the community, past and present, have provided special services for our visual and hearing-impaired neighbors, such as eye examinations, eyeglasses and hearing-enhancement equipment. Our goal is to continue this tradition, by and for the community.
We particularly want to thank the following businesses for donations of gift cards as Christmas gifts to the visually impaired: Amsterdam Pen Co., Price Chopper and Hannaford Foods. Also, thank you for your assistance in getting out our fund-raising message.
Donations are still graciously accepted and may be addressed to Greater Amsterdam Lions Club, P.O. Box 2, Amsterdam 12010.
Thank you all again and may your families have a happy, healthy and safe New Year.
The writer is president of the Greater Amsterdam Lions Club.
Making the outdoors tobacco-free
To the editor:
Project ACTION is a non-profit partnership of individuals and organizations from Hamilton, Fulton and Montgomery counties charged with systematically reducing tobacco use in our community. A key focus of the partnership is the Tobacco Free Outdoors initiative. While educating the community about the benefits of tobacco-free recreational areas, Project ACTION also provides education on the environmental impact of tobacco litter and the dangers of secondhand smoke.
Secondhand smoke can cause many health problems including allergies, asthma attacks and breathing problems.
The Environmental Protection Agency has classified secondhand smoke as a Class A carcinogen -- placing it in the same category as radon, benzene and asbestos. Cigarette litter is poisonous, putting children, pets and wildlife at risk. Discarded cigarette butts are the most common form of litter and studies show these butts are toxic, slow to decompose, and costly to remove.
Project ACTION provides community members and organizations with sample policies, signage and assistance in creating outdoor tobacco use policies. Tobacco-free policies help prevent youth tobacco use by identifying adults as tobacco-free role models throughout the community.
Currently in our area, some municipalities and businesses have taken the initiative to make their parks, playgrounds, entryways and their grounds tobacco-free for the health of their employees and visitors. If you are interested in these initiatives or would like more information please visit www.TobaccoFreeNYS.org or www.projectactionhfm.org.