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It’s Not Just a Job

To the Editor:

I had to read Miriam Axel-Lute’s “The Parent Track” article [Looking Up, Feb. 8] twice because I was sure I missed something, like the other side of the story. Alas, I did not, and it was truly a one-sided piece about inequality cloaked in feminist guise. And while it reads as though the inequality is between men and women in the workplace, of which she makes a fine point, she disregards the real-world situations of the co-workers who are left behind to pick up the slack when Jack and Jill need “eight paid weeks off (minimum),” or need to “stop home so their breast-feeding partner can take a nap.” We, as readers, are to assume in these situations that the deadlines will just be moved out, or the client will wait patiently until mommy or daddy comes back to finish the job, or laughably, that the frequency of these absences will decrease as the child gets older.

The suggestion that we allow special treatment to employees of both sexes, who in most cases have made a conscious decision to raise a family (often planning the birth down to the exact month), is ridiculous. And while mothers are claimed to be earning 27 percent less, it seems only slightly unreasonable (I would put the figure closer to 15 to 20 percent) when you factor in the amount of time they are spending at home for whatever reason . . . early soccer game, runny nose, midday field trip to the zoo, etc. The argument could be made that new dads (as part of the fifth wave of feminism) should then have their salaries lowered as part of her equal-pay-for-equal-work scenario. The employees who are staying late, working weekends and through lunch to finish Jack and Jill’s work, would justifiably reap the benefits of higher pay.

While she doesn’t state who exactly would pay for this idyllic parents-only paid leave, I’d have to guess it would be the government, or worse, employers are expected to foot the bill in soft-dollar costs, and co-workers in terms of increased workload. The role of Parent is one of choice and should not unilaterally garner special rights. She suggests that “it is possible to allow for many people’s desire for some period of stay-at-home parenting without pretending there aren’t gendered baby-care differences.” Luckily, for all of us, there is a solution and equal among the sexes; it’s called part-time employment. And yes, your employer’s paid benefits will generally reflect this new status. Alternatively, there is the Federal Family Medical Leave Act, which will allow you to retain your job and grants 12 weeks of unpaid leave. Remember, that equal-pay-for-equal-work idea?

She does state however that “there is a lot more that would be needed to actually make our economy fair and family-friendly.” Fair? Could we apply this concept across the board and suggest equal health-care costs for HMO “family plans”? Many couples without kids are currently paying the same amount to HMO plans as a family of six or more. Furthermore, should we adjust school taxes so they are based on the number of children you have in the school system, and not on the fact one merely owns property in that district? Fair indeed.

While Miriam’s personal situation and solution is unique, it should encourage others to find alternative solutions to make ends meet. Want to start a family? Fine, work part-time, start an at-home business, or quit your job and become a one-income family. As we all learn, parents or not, life is full of tough decisions.

Bob Pearson, Albany

For the Birds

To the Editor:

I have never read a more one-sided story in Metroland than your recent cover story on Mr. Sarris and his wildlife preserve. [“Crying Fowl,” Dec. 14, 2006] If he truly wanted to be a wildlife preservationist, why did he buy a house in a suburban, established neighborhood? He had apparently checked into Clifton Park’s restrictive zoning laws before purchasing his home. Why didn’t he buy property in a more rural setting—which would be more appropriate for what he had planned. If he really is concerned about his ducks and with losing his property, why doesn’t he just obey the law? Because he’s an ex-cop and knows what he can get away with?

Terri and Bob moved to a suburban neighborhood (many years before Mr. Sarris moved there) to get away from the city. Their home was their refuge—until he moved next door. I know that Terri and Bob initially tried to work with Mr. Sarris and discuss rationally his total disregard for the zoning laws and his continued persistence in feeding and attracting even more birds. Taking him to court was their last resort. Do you think they like spending their life savings in getting this man to obey the law?

Imagine living next door to a neighbor who has a constantly barking dog, who totally disregards all pooper scooper and leash laws, and then flaunts it in your face—now multiply that times a hundred! That’s the hell their life has become.

I have personally seen the negative effects of Terri and Bob’s continuing saga with their neighbor, and it is nothing to joke about. They spend as much time away from their home as they can. Was there a reason why you didn’t mention Mr Sarris’ personal life or where he works? Terri and Bob are a hard-working, middle-class couple who want nothing more than to be able to enjoy their home. Your article made jokes about them and fabricated lies so you can take the focus away from Mr. Sarris’ total disregard for the court system and the laws of Clifton Park—which is what your article should have focused on.

Kathy Smolinski, Albany


In David King’s Jan. 18 story “Tough Justice,” the quote that began, “I think Chris D’Alessandro is an awesome investigator,” was incorrectly attributed to Albany County legislator Frank Commisso. The quote belongs to Albany County legislator Shawn Morse.

In last week’s Art Beat [Feb. 8], the Web site listed for the EdWood FilmFest was incorrect. The correct Web address is: www.ew

Metroland welcomes typed, double-spaced letters addressed to the editor. Metroland reserves the right to edit letters for length or clarity; 300 words is the preferred maximum. You must include your name, address and day and evening telephone numbers. We will not publish letters that cannot be verified, nor those that are anonymous, illegible, irresponsible or factually inaccurate.

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