Special interests trump health

No one questions the critical importance of natural gas as an energy resource. Its successful extraction from the Marcellus shale could bring significant economic benefit to our region. It's an exciting prospect.

But, in the wake of the gas industry's relentless onslaught, troubling questions have arisen that suggest the lead agency, the Department of Environmental Conservation, does not have the resources to do an adequate job.

Perhaps it also lacks the will. The department's historical bias in favor of energy interests is well-known. So much so that local communities have little assurance their concerns will be adequately addressed.

The DEC's expected draft supplement to the existing Generic Environmental Impact Statement is also likely to be inadequate.

If history is a precedent, typical procedure will allow the DEC to control a public debate ill-advertised, perfunctory and ultimately dismissive of local concerns.

Yet the potential consequences of inadequate safeguards, particularly with respect to the water table, suggest the environmental costs could be catastrophic and irreversible.

Elsewhere, under great pressure from Senator Schumer and the governor, the Public Service Commission just reversed its long-standing tradition of opposition to monopoly control of utilities. It allowed Iberdrola, a foreign conglomerate, to retain the means of both production and distribution of electricity in New York, thus laying the groundwork for vertical integration of the energy industry in our state.

The PSC now opines monopoly is a good thing. It only remains for the DEC to explain how a few fracturing chemicals might add some nutritive or medicinal value to each glass of water.

Too often we see how special interests trump collective wisdom. How, actually, do issues as fundamental to public well-being as water and energy receive their final resolution in this state? It may be time for the electorate to ask some serious questions.

Andy Minnig

Cherry Valley

Minnig is a member of Advocates for Cherry Valley.

Obama/Biden will help area

With November right around the corner, the upcoming elections will be here before we know it. I would like to take this opportunity to bring to light some issues that will have an impact on the majority of voters in our area. Economically speaking, our little corner of the country has had its fair share of hardships. Poverty is a major issue, and vast numbers of our fellow citizens live below the poverty line. This is not a problem that can be fixed overnight, but Barack Obama and Joe Biden have proposed the following solutions to help get us on the right track.

To begin with, they would like to provide tax relief for small businesses and start-up companies. The goal is to eliminate all capital gains taxes to encourage innovation and job creation. Another method of support is to provide small-business owners with a $500 "Making Work Pay" tax credit. This will help reduce the double taxation of self-employed small-business owners.

The Obama/Biden ticket would also like to double the funding for after-school programs, expand the Family Medical Leave Act, and to provide low-income families with a refundable tax credit to help with their child-care expenses. With the level of poverty in our communities, this would have a direct and positive impact on our lives.

Obama and Biden also want to raise the minimum wage in a responsible method by indexing it to inflation and by increasing the Earned Income Tax Credit to make sure that full-time workers earn a living wage so that they can pay for the basic needs of their family.

Please register to vote and cast your vote for Obama/Biden. Vote for positive change!

Tobias Whitaker

Sidney

Senior housing could help town

I love the town of Springfield. I was born in Springfield Center, have paid both real estate and school taxes for 64 years to the town and operated three successful businesses through those years. I have lived in my present home for 59 years. Springfield is dear to my heart.

When the Comprehensive Planning Committee was in its very early formation, David Staley, chairman of the committee, met with a few Springfield Historical Society members. I attended that meeting and suggested I would like to see living quarters for senior citizens in our town.

The first week of July, I wrote a letter to Mr. Staley with my vision for Springfield in mind. It was read at a later meeting. I suggested a senior citizen village with small cottages for those who winter in Florida but need a summer home, apartments for two with a full dining room for evening dining if they so desire, and a third facility for assisted living. On the grounds could be a building with a room for general use, an exercise room, barber shop, beauty parlor and perhaps a small convenience store.

I am thinking in terms of helping our senior citizens to remain in their hometown. It would provide many year-round jobs. It would make the town of Springfield an outstanding community.

Janice M. Maine

Springfield Center

GOP using scare tactics

As an ex-Republican for the past 16 years, I didn't think that party could disappoint me any more than it already had. However, during the final night of its convention, it stooped to a new low.

Its so-called "Tribute to 9/11 Victims" as well as the background scenes of the Oklahoma City bombing was anything but a tribute. It was another attempt to scare the pants off the ignorant citizens who still believe the lies about Iraq's involvement. Worse, it was the blatant use of a terrible personal tragedy of thousands of people to further a political agenda. Republicans should be ashamed, and we should be frightened ... of them.

Evelyn Avery

Bainbridge

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