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letters to the editor

New Murray town councilman welcomes constructive discourse on local issues

Posted 17 January 2017 at 7:56 pm

Editor:

My name is Robert Miller, and on January 10, 2017, I had the distinct honor of being appointed to fill a vacancy on the Town of Murray Town Board. Former Board member Kathy Case is an example of an extraordinary public servant, whose knowledge and dedication will be missed on the Town Board, but appreciated at the Orleans County Board of Elections.

I write this letter as a means of introducing myself to the community. I am recently retired from over 31 years of service with the State Police. I have made the Town of Murray my home for the past 11 years. My wife, Beth, was born and raised in the Village of Holley, and we currently make our home in Fancher.

After years of public service, I felt compelled to seek other opportunities to serve my community. I am a member of the Holley Rotary Club, and currently serve as one of five fire commissioners in the Fancher-Hulberton-Murray Fire District.

Receiving the endorsement of the Murray Republican Committee to be considered for the Town Board, then being appointed by the board, is an honor I take very seriously. It is my understanding that there were several other fine candidates interviewed, and I know to put oneself up for such consideration requires a dedication deserving of praise.

I would ask these individuals, and all residents of the Town of Murray, to continue their involvement in assuring that the Town Board serves the needs and addresses the concerns of all involved.

As this online publication is a popular forum for opinions, suggestions, grievances, and occasionally praise, I appeal to the residents of the Town of Murray to continue with constructive discourse, both in this venue and at Town Board meetings in the future. I look forward to seeing and hearing from you then.

Respectfully,

Robert G. Miller

Murray

Liberal response fueled heroin, opioid epidemic

Posted 13 January 2017 at 5:41 pm

Editor:

Over the past couple of years, New York State and in particular, Central and Western NY, have become overwhelmed by the heroin overdoses and are scrambling daily to contain it.

It’s hard not to notice articles in the newspapers about drug overdose deaths, usually heroin/fentanyl related, exclaiming the horror of the increase in these overdoses – especially when they mention that people, some in their late 40s and early 60s, are for the first time in their lives, being convicted of drug related offenses involving opiates.

Mothers write obits now flagging their 20-30-year-old children as another “case of addiction-related death from the heroin” they became hooked on. (Remember when scores of suburban kids were dying from overdosing on cocaine in the 70s? Neither can I, and that’s my point*).

I have been steeling myself for months before finally having had enough of the nonsense finger pointing, cause and effect relationship (erroneously) between these deaths and the doctors who “started it all”  with their willy-nilly kneejerk reaction to prescription painkillers.

Somehow, these doctors who have been prescribing these pills for decades are now to blame for the “Opiate Epidemic” plaguing our communities.

Please allow me to retaliate on their behalf as I’ve grown sickened by the blame game and the policies of our government, which has “valiantly” come to the forefront of public health, to address this opiate crisis they themselves have created.

Ever since the liberals began to control our country in 2008, the prescription drug problem has gotten worse.  It has less to do with prescription pain medicine than the abundance of heroin flowing across our southern border. They claimed that heroin addiction starts with painkillers and then patients look for a better high in illegal narcotics.

These self-enlightened “know-it-alls” decided that they knew better than the medical community, put together barely comprehensible “evidence” tying the two together, and over the last 7 years or so, accomplished only one thing:  They created a heroin problem.

They put forth “usage” dose laws prohibiting the prescriber from tending to the same patients they’ve been seeing for years for chronic pain, putting some of them out of business or reversing their ability to prescribe, because they loosely tied the sadistic drug, heroin to the innocuous hydrocodone.

And what do they have to show for their interference in doctor/patient care?  An out-of control drug epidemic.  And as always, these liberal control freaks are like the kid in the dam trying to plug his fingers and toes into the cracks to stop the leaking.

Because liberal thinkers are always right, and they always know what is best for society due to their “incredible brilliance,” they are kicking in denial of the fact that they themselves broke the dam in the first place; They hamstrung doctors, wagging their academic fingers at chronic pain patients, demoralizing them of their dignity by accusing both the doctors of being drug pushers and the patients of being drug addicts.

I have older friends, some in their 70s who have survived crippling car wrecks, debilitating injuries and even cancer, who have been told in the past 2-6 years that, despite their chronic pain, they have to “wean off” their low dose Percocet & Vicodin because, well, the Glorious State of New York Said So… And not only did our ever-so sophisticated lawmakers SAY so, they instituted concrete, no-nonsense dosing guidelines that do not take into account the human person’s needs (I can’t help but think that this is how Socialism starts).  Indeed, regardless of age, issue or circumstance, our doctors are being threatened from the liberal left government; That they are now under the watch-full eye of Big Brother;  Self-righteous torch bearers of the old “Just Say No!’ marching  band of the ’80s. And by golly, if you prescribe one more Hydro, you better watch out because Uncle Sam will revoke your license to practice medicine.

I know of an old woman in her 80s, who has taken low dose hydrocodone for years for her arthritis, and was kicked off her meds because the “doctors were overprescribing.”

And the 70-year-old person I referred to earlier? She valiantly battled cancer almost a decade ago, and despite still having chronic pain, was told by her internist that she needs to wean off her 5mg Percocet and move to the kidney killing Motrin (a cousin of ibuprofen) for her lingering pain…   I mean, C’mon.

So now the local, state and national newspapers are littered with stats of people being:

1) Addicted to heroin in middle to old age,

2) Dying from heroin in middle to old age, and/or

3) Being convicted of a drug offence for the first time in their lives because they grabbed an opiate painkiller from a small time dealer or even a friend, because their doctors have been forced to cut them off of their legal prescriptions; and the replacement pain relievers are doing NOTHING to stop real pain.

Henceforth, the liberal left are now trying to desperately not acknowledge that they caused this epidemic by opening up 800 number call centers and day rehabs to deal with opiate addicted addicts, both heroin and Rx related.

“Why is heroin so popular?!?” Our smart, liberal friends exclaim, beating their breasts with convincing bewilderment. “Why,” they scream, “are record numbers of opiate based products coming over our boarders in 2016 and into the New Year?!?” “Why” (tsk, tsk) “are so many people dying from ADDICTION???”

… And the Left is so busy organizing night courses on distributing Narcan, they can’t face the writing on the wall, or are too stupid to recognize what the Nanny State has done yet again:  Made a small problem a super big, killer one which is out of control.

Well now, our dear destructive liberals in La La Land, Ivy League educated and idealistically driven, guess what: You thought you knew better than the doctors and hospitals. And as always, you knew how to keep society safe using someone else’s money (i.e.: the taxpayer’s). And as always, you were 100% WRONG.

Nice going, Liberals… You are killing off the most vulnerable of Middle America.

*Cocaine wasn’t flooding the streets killing thousands in rural areas in the 70s, like heroin is doing so today thanks to the demand vacuum filled by older folks getting kicked off their painkillers and looking for an alternative.

Kimberly Kennedy

Medina

‘Free’ college plan by governor is deeply flawed

Posted 12 January 2017 at 7:20 am

Editor:

Recently Governor Cuomo has been in the local, state and national media for his tuition “free” public college proposal. I am a college-educated millennial and I feel as if the proposal is deeply flawed.

The first flaw is that “free” college is not free. The cost of tuition is simply shifted from the student to taxpayers. The amount of money institutions will spend per student likely will not change. In fact, if recent trends continue, institutions will likely continue to spend more per student. This will create a demand for more state and federal aid. In addition, “free” college will lead to an increase in applicants to public colleges, leading to increased enrollments, which further increases the cost of “free” college.

The second flaw is the idea that this proposal will help the middle class and low-middle class. If public college is made “free”, we will see more students applying to public schools. My instinct is that this increase in applicants will weight SAT and ACT scores more in the admissions process. Students that perform well on these tests tend to be from upper-middle class families that reside in suburban areas. Rural and inner-city students make up the middle class and low-middle class. They do not perform as well on these exams. In essence, the proposal would hurt the very segment of the population that it is aimed to help.

The third flaw is the governor’s failure to consider the impact on private institutions. My belief is that private schools would see a decline in applicants leading to a decrease in enrollment. These private institutions rely heavily on tuition to pay professor salaries and other overhead costs. A decline in tuition would force these institutions to layoff professors and ultimately eliminate programs, reducing opportunities for students.

There is no denying that student debt is crippling my generation. I can confidently say that we all believe a solution needs to be reached. However, I do not believe that this is the solution. After successfully pushing for five consecutive years of SUNY tuition hikes, it seems as if Gov. Cuomo is using this proposal as leverage for a potential 2020 bid for President, or to win over the more liberal base of the Democratic Party for a potential gubernatorial primary in 2018 against Zephyr Teachout. This is an issue that I have thought long and hard about and I strongly believe that Gov. Cuomo and the Democratic Party is wrong on this proposal.

Respectfully,

James C. White

Gaines

Governor puts presidential ambition ahead of NY taxpayers

Posted 11 January 2017 at 4:14 pm

Editor:

Gov. Cuomo’s theatrical and unnecessary State of the State Tour is an abuse of taxpayer money and alienates us as legislators who will be ultimately responsible for vetting and voting on important legislation.

It is shameful for the governor to ignore the Legislature and plan these speeches on session days due to a pay raise battle with members of the Assembly Majority, demeaning all legislators in the process.

Nearly 200,000 residents have left New York for more tax-friendly states in the past year and a half, and that is embarrassing. Still, Gov. Cuomo’s State of the State speeches so far have done virtually nothing to address our outrageous tax burden, failing infrastructure and struggling small-business community.

Clearly, Gov. Cuomo cares more about his 2020 presidential ambitions than his own constituents.

State Assembly Steve Hawley

Batavia

(Hawley represents the 139th Assembly District which includes most of Orleans, all of Genesee and a portion of Monroe counties.)

Yates Councilman’s analysis of PSC site is misleading

Posted 10 January 2017 at 1:45 pm

Editor:

Once again, I read with interest John Riggi’s latest assessment of the PSC comments regarding the Lighthouse Wind Project. Once again, his confident review that he says “show a clear, ongoing and massive opposition to this project,” is again very misleading.

I will admit that the PSC is an important place to voice one’s opinion, but it’s important also to note whose opinion is being voiced and how often. And once again I take exception with John’s analysis of the numbers!

At the end of the second quarter of 2016, when John did an analysis, there were 776 comments with 390 negative comments coming from 40 households (59 individuals), with one individual submitting 35 comments. At the end of 2016, when John has done his latest analysis, there are now 883 comments submitted, 457 (over 50% of the comments collected), were submitted by 40 households (59 individuals) with one individual submitting 36 comments, over 4 percent of the comments counted. Not the great change that John suggests.

The PSC is a voluntary forum for people to express their opinion, with unlimited comments might I add, on the Lighthouse Wind Project. It is more likely many residents of both towns are not aware of the PSC website’s existence.

I would ask that when you consider Mr. Riggi’s numbers, that you think of your many town neighbors. Think of the common folks and especially the farmers. How many hours do they work in a day, a week, or a season? Writing letters at such a statistic-bending frequency requires great amounts of time, time many of us don’t have.

This is and will be a long and hard fight. I feel both sides should be heard, but the misleading and slanted comments should be exposed for what they are.

Howard Pierce

Lyndonville

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Ortt awaits details on how governor plans to pay for free college tuition

Posted 10 January 2017 at 1:41 pm

Editor:

If the Governor is going to retread Senator Sanders’ ideas and rhetoric from his presidential run, I’m hoping that – at the very least – we’ll get an idea about who will pay for it.

I’m all for free college tuition, just like I’m all for free puppies and apple pie. I’m fully supportive of any proposal that will reduce the severe burden that college tuition places on middle class students and families.

That’s why, along with my Republican colleagues, I’ve proposed numerous pieces of legislation to do just that. But I have serious concerns when sweeping statements, such as “free college education for all,” are made without fully considering what that will mean for our state, our taxpayers, and our institutions of higher learning.

State Sen. Robert Ortt

62nd Senate District

(The district includes Orleans, Niagara and a portion of Monroe counties.)

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Law enforcement study should include Major Felony Crimes Task Force

Posted 8 January 2017 at 5:45 pm

Editor:

On December 26, 2016, the Orleans Hub ran an article about meetings being scheduled to seek community input on law enforcement services in Orleans County. I think any shared services, equipment, or training between law enforcement agencies would be a great way to save financial resources for all municipalities involved.

If we take the consolidation a step further and establish a unit that consolidates all the village police departments into one agency, it should be the Sheriff’s Department that absorbs the smaller agencies. Being that the County Sheriff is the highest law enforcement administrator in the land and is elected by the people, it is only fitting that the Sheriff should be charged with maintaining county-wide law enforcement services.

Additionally, the Sheriff’s Office should be overseeing the Orleans County Major Felony Crimes Task Force (MFCTF). Currently the MFCTF is run out of the Orleans County District Attorney’s Office which differs from the vast majority of other counties in New York. Many citizens, including local attorney Shirley Gorman, believe this arrangement and association creates a conflict of interest.

In an Orleans Hub article published on September 23, 2014, Gorman was quoted as saying that “the DA’s office is creating the crime,” and “it’s not the action of a police department… It’s a task force run by the DA’s Office.” She also stated that she believes the task force violates due process and a fair trial. http://orleanshub.com/attorney-tells-judge-county-task-force-violates-due-process/

Being that the MFCTF officers are county employees who have arresting powers and perform investigations, they should fall under the supervision of the Sheriff and not the District Attorney. It seems like basic common sense that if the MFCTF was supervised by the Sheriff’s Office, it would at the least reduce the conflict of interest and legal liability as it currently exists, and would also go a long way to improving the operation and organization of the unit.

Your voice can be heard this Tuesday, Jan. 10, at the Hoag Library 4 to 5:30 p.m. & and at the Ridgeway Fire Hall on Ridge Road from 6:30 to 8 p.m.

For a better & safer Orleans.

Wayne Litchfield

Medina

Commenters on DPS site continue to be heavily opposed to Lighthouse Wind

Posted 5 January 2017 at 6:42 pm

Editor:

The table below shows the results of an analysis of public comments made to the DPS website in relation to the Lighthouse Wind Project as proposed for the Towns of Yates and Somerset by APEX Energy.  A total of 768 comments submitted were assessed by quarter with comments tabulated and organized by support (in-favor) and opposition (opposed) to the project. (Click here to see DPS site on Lighthouse Wind.)

All comments made to the DPS site regarding the Lighthouse Wind Project were included in the assessment and as stated, cover the time period from Q1-2015 through Q4-2016.  All comments were read fully in order to ascertain position regarding the wind project.  The positions were tabulated as in-favor or opposed to the project.

The results are as follows:

DPS Comments
Date For Against % For % Against
Q1-2015 0 43 0% 100%
Q2-2015 0 76 0% 100%
Q3-2015 35 157 18% 82%
Q4-2015 56 137 29% 71%
Q1-2016 31 162 16% 84%
Q2-2016 3 29 9% 91%
Q3-2016 21 67 24% 76%
Q4-2016 5 59 8% 92%
Total 152 731 17% 83%

The overall results for the time period January 2015 to December 2015 are as follows:

Comments In-Favor of Lighthouse Wind Project = 151

Comments Opposed to Lighthouse Wind Project = 732

% of Comments In-Favor of Lighthouse Wind Project = 17%

% of Comments Opposed to Lighthouse Wind Project = 83%

The results of DPS comment analysis show a clear, ongoing and massive opposition to this project.  Interestingly, these results show a greater level of opposition than have all previous surveys performed by:

The Town of Somerset

Save Ontario Shores (SOS)

The Town of Yates

The Buffalo News

The Batavia Daily News

Buffalo Business First Magazine

These surveys only averaged a 70% Opposed/30% In Favor breakdown of survey results.

In an effort to assist all in monitoring and trending these results, an analysis will be performed at the end of each quarter to show these same statistics.  The quarterly analysis will continue until this issue is resolved.

To close, DPS comments and multiple surveys show the truth.  The will of the people is clear.  This project must not move forward.  Article 10 must not be allowed to suppress the Home Rule will of the people.

Thank You.

John B. Riggi

Councilman, Town of Yates

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Governor, state legislators should work to reform indigent defense system

Posted 4 January 2017 at 6:15 pm

Editor:

Recently, Governor Cuomo vetoed a bill passed unanimously by both houses of the legislature that was endorsed by many organizations from both sides of the aisle. The purpose of the bill was to provide a comprehensive overhaul of the system of providing indigent legal services to those unable to afford counsel in New York State.

Counties in New York have long toiled to balance local concerns and a state mandate system that is unique to New York in relation to the rest of the country. For years, local needs have in many cases suffered as the system of mandated programs has been expanded by state government in order to fund or fill the gaps of unbalanced state budgets.

Virtually all property taxes collected at the county level are collected for the purpose of funding these state created programs and funding shortfalls. No other state depends as heavily on the property tax system as the State of New York to fund state programs and mandates. This is the root cause of the high property tax rates under which citizens of our state struggle or, as is too often the case, simply move away.

The question of New York State taking responsibility for its’ own obligations (in this case guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution) has again been raised and answered by the Hurrell-Harring et al. v. State of New York et al. case. The settlement of the case required the state to fund reforms to the indigent defense systems of the five named counties.

In the veto message dealing with Senate Bill Number 8114 entitled “An Act to amend county law and the executive and state finance law, in relation to indigent defense services,” the governor raises objections about the state taking financial responsibility for indigent legal work that counties are already being mandated to pay by the state and that are outside of criminal defense work for legal representation.

The idea that these non-criminal defense costs, like family court and other constitutionally required expenses, are generally born by state governments across the country and not counties appears to be lost in the state analysis. This is one of the many shifts of state responsibility that have taken place in New York over decades that have resulted in the current, systemic, and oversized property tax burden.

The settlement of the Hurrell-Harring lawsuit, to which the state is a signatory, created a structural imperative to provide legal services at a level consistent with the terms of the settlement to all areas of the state. That imperative has a price. To take a position that the state cannot increase the taxes of every taxpayer in the state to pay for such an imperative ignores the fact that those same taxpayers will pay whether it is funded by income taxes levied by the state or property tax payers at the county level.

Income taxpayers and property taxpayers are virtually one in the same. To the extent that the two tax bases vary, it is the property tax base that draws from a smaller pool and the income tax base that draws from a larger pool. Statewide obligations should be borne by the state.

The Governor’s veto message makes an excellent point that reform of the current system is necessary and should require prudent oversight. However, we disagree that the legislation was merely a ploy for financial redistribution of existing local expenses.

Unfortunately, we find again and again that there is a willingness on the part of New York State to ignore the idea that we as counties share with the state a commonality, the same people. There is a willingness to ignore the state role in the property tax problem. In this case, the legislature chose to recognize those facts and the governor did not. The legislature’s approach was to provide a solution that represents a comprehensive fix of the entire system. Isn’t that exactly the type of reform that we should be seeking?

There is no reason that the interest of the people of New York cannot be served by both reforming the indigent defense system and providing real and sustainable property tax relief at the same time. Coming to an agreement that accomplishes both should be a top priority for our state and county elected officials for 2017.

Sincerely,

Charles H. Nesbitt, Jr.

President, New York State Association of County Administrators and Managers

(Nesbitt is also chief administrative officer for Orleans County.)

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Property rights doesn’t mean landowners can do whatever they please with land

Posted 2 January 2017 at 9:37 am

Editor:

In his recent brief letter to the editor dealing with wind turbines and private property rights, a Barre resident appears to speak up for both. He indicates that property owners should be able to do with their land what they wish in order to benefit themselves.

Within reason, that is certainly true. It is when their choices begin to have serious negative impacts on others that limits may be in order. The author suggested the potential for increasing the tax base that might result from wind turbines in Barre.

Property values and tax bases can also suffer declines as a result of a variety of choices made by those who live around us. A realtor in Naples described to me a situation in which a purchase offer on a cabin in Cohocton was withdrawn after Cohocton’s wind mining operation became public information. What might have sold for $90,000 ended up going for just under $70,000.

Communities have a right to decide what they want and what they do not want. I guess that is what code enforcement is about. My neighbor has a permit to mine dirt. The proposed stone quarry in Shelby is a prime example of the potential community interest in allowing/not allowing landowners to do whatever they want with their land. Restrictions on burning brush might be another. Zoning is certainly related to our freedom to do whatever we please with our properties.

For that matter, unless those parts of Barre envisioned for wind turbines are zoned “industrial”, it is hard for me to understand how they can clear wooded areas in order to make room for industrial wind turbines.  Perhaps that is why some prefer to call collections of industrial turbines “wind farms”. To me it would seem most accurate to describe them as mining operations.

Congressman Chris Collins has evidently introduced a bill that would ban 600-foot high wind turbines within forty miles of a military installation. How does that square with the notion that the folks who live within forty miles of the Niagara Falls Base can do anything they want with their land?

In the real world, we are under some obligation to consider how our actions affect others.

Sincerely yours,

Gary Kent

Albion