Making it easier to vote
To the editor:
I read your Sunday article entitled "Puerto Rican ballot access discussed" with great interest. Never did I think that my letter, which was written out of great frustration, would become part of such important discussion as facilitating the right for Puerto Ricans with limited proficiency in English to vote. Amsterdam has been involved in this conversation for 30-plus years and still the conversation continues, but change is slow in coming.
In this great country every citizen is afforded their right vote even if they lack proficiency in the English language. This right is not just for the Puerto Rican people, but for all American citizens with limited English proficiency. Although there seemed to be great concern over cost and who helps or doesn't help Latinos to vote, the discussion might be best served if framed differently. Maybe the discussion should be: "How can we assist all voters with limited English proficiency understand the voting process and how can we make the process easier and less intimidating in the current system of things?"
Here are some recommendations that I don't think requires a rocket scientist, but that can be quite cost effective. First, both the Democratic and Republican parties pay poll watchers; why not pay bilingual bicultural poll watchers to assist those with limited English proficiency, instead of depending on volunteers who are just available from 9 to 5 in just certain voting polls?
In the city of Amsterdam it can't no longer be said that Latinos live in certain areas of the city. We live in all wards and many of us work beyond the hours of 9 to 5. We are embedded into the fabric of this community such as other ethnic groups that comprise the Amsterdam community.
Also, it would be of benefit to both parties if they paid poll watchers who are supportive of their prospective party agenda. Non-paid volunteers have no reason to be beholden to any party agenda except their own. By both parties paying bilingual bicultural poll watchers ensures their party's agenda is carried out.
Second, continue to provide voting material English and Spanish; however, ensure you have Spanish speaking poll watchers available to explain what the material is trying to convey throughout the day.
And lastly, this goes way beyond Amsterdam, why can't the voting process be made much easier? In this day and age where technology is so advanced, why are voters still using paper ballots and magic markers to cast their vote? Why can't our politicians invest money in making it easier for all American citizens to vote?
Community comes through
To the editor:
"It is one of the most beautiful compensations of this life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself" -- Ralph Waldo Emerson.
With that thought in mind, I wish to thank the Recorder, their generous readers, and the Amsterdam community for the great support we received again this year.
The Recorder has promoted the Catholic Charities holiday food pantry drive for several years by donating space in their paper. We would not be able to raise such funds, and provide the much needed assistance to area families, without the Recorder's help and without the generosity of its readers.
In the past two months the money we've received from groups and individuals in the community helped us with much needed food to restock our shelves. Everyone who contributed, whether it was $5 or $5,000, made an impact on the many families in our areas who are desperately in need of food; not just during the holiday season, but all year long.
It would be very difficult to mention all the groups and individuals who support our food pantry, but, besides the Recorder, I'd like to extend a special thanks to the employees of Amsterdam Printing & Litho Corp., Amsterdam Teachers Association, the Amsterdam Rotary Club, the Children's Aid Association, SEFCU Credit Union, Ladies of Charity, Calvary Reformed Church, CTW Fund, http://gasd.neric.org/Ourschools/schools.htm, mcnulty#mcnulty, Raphael J. McNulty Academy for International Studies and Literacy, and numerous religious organizations and individuals. Please forgive me if I left any group out.
Catholic Charities currently serves about 460 people per month. There are many families (including children, the elderly, and the disabled) who do not have enough to eat each day. As resources dwindle and the need increases, the support we receive from the community is greatly needed and appreciated. To all who support our food pantry and agency, thank you for showing your concern for the needy families of our community.
If you wish to make a donation to the Catholic Charities food pantry, please bring non-perishable food items to our office at 1 Kimball St., Amsterdam, or send a donation to the same address.
John A. Nasso,
The writer is executive director of Catholic Charities of Fulton and Montgomery Counties.
Lions offer their thanks
To the editor:
The Greater Amsterdam Lions Club recently engaged in its annual fund-raising campaign to finance our community services. This activity involved delivery of our message through the Recorder and a direct mailing appeal. We thank you for your help and editorial support which contributed to our success.
We also want to thank the people at Benchemark Printing for preparing our letter and the local merchants who contributed gifts for distribution at our annual Christmas party for the visually impaired.
Finally, we want to thank the donor of a laptop computer for a visually impaired student. He prefers to be anonymous but he knows who he is and that we are deeply appreciative of his magnanimous gesture.
For those who are inclined to do so, your contributions are still welcome. Please send them to Greater Amsterdam Lions Club, P.O. Box 2, Amsterdam, N.Y. 12010.
The writer is president of Amsterdam's Lions Club.
Gun laws matter
To the editor:
Many of the states with the strongest gun laws also have the lowest gun death rates nationwide. The states with the weakest gun laws have gun death rates above the national average. (Source: smartgunlaws.org). Gun safety laws matter because they work to help keep people safe. Unfortunately, we will not see change to our weak federal gun safety laws until those of us who support such laws start to act. The Brady Campaign (www.bradycampaign.org) in Washington, D.C., has been fighting for 30 years to enact reasonable gun laws that protect people. (They are not interested in banning guns.) There is also a new grass roots movement called OneMillionMomsForGunControl.org. They are inviting "all caring people" to join them. Check out these organizations. Consider joining. Get involved. There are millions of Americans who support safe gun laws. We just need to harness that power.
The dangers of tobacco
To the editor:
Tobacco takes a terrible toll on the people in the counties our agency covers. I mainly work in Montgomery County and when working with youth about the dangers of tobacco they think everyone smokes because all the people around them smoke.
My sister died at the age of 52 because of her tobacco use. We watched her slowly die from cancer that basically devoured her body. She went from 140 pounds to 65 pounds. People used to think that tobacco use only caused lung cancer; now we know that it attacks every organ in the body. The dangers of second-hand smoke and third-hand smoke have become evident through research. The children and other bystanders become victims of the people who smoke.
Tobacco control programs educate citizens about the dangers of tobacco use. One of the students whose father was hospitalized with breathing difficulties due to tobacco use said if he was president he would illuminate all tobacco factories. Here is a second-grader who has the solution. For my information, please visit www.projectactionhfm.org or contact Betsy Reksc HFM Prevention Council at 736-8188 x 107.
Twenty little angels
To the editor:
Little darlings six and seven,
In school to learn their skills.
Confronted by a madman,
Toting a semi-automatic that killed.
Senseless shots received,
Not to be believed.
Shocked by such devastation,
The world cries.
These children had a right,
To their lives.
The life poured out,
Of so many innocent victims.
What is the answer,
To such senseless killings?
More gun control -- more mental testing?
Pour little lambs,
Before the slaughter.
Now twenty little angels,
Now gone from this Earth.
Dec. 14, 2012
Julia B. Blue,