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Who Let Him Off the Hook?

To the Editor:

It comes as no surprise that the folks at Joe’s Osborne Street Garage [“Body in Tow,” Newsfront, March 8] are up to ever more egregious antics. I have never forgotten our run-in with them.

When our son was first driving, he parked his old car in a lot whose No Parking signs were obscured by snow. In towing the car, the Osborne Street driver did hundreds of dollars worth of damage to it, leaving it in such bad shape that it had to be junked. But when our son arrived to claim the car, the clerk absolutely would not let him see the car until after he had signed a release.

It took us days to finally speak to Joe himself, and when he learned how his people had scammed a teenager, he literally laughed in our faces. Appeals to city officials, the Better Business Bureau, and even the attorney general’s office went nowhere, because that fraudulently acquired signature indemnified the garage.

If all of Joe’s victims meet that fate, what is there to stop his employees from perpetuating outrages such as the one described in your article? And how can one not assume that Joe is protected by someone in high places?

Eileen Schuyler

Delmar

Reprogram the System

To the Editor:

When I read Nicole Klaas’ article about the Schenectady Police Department [“Under the Gun,” March 8], I simply could not recognize the agency I remember from the morning of Nov. 18, 1993.

On that memorable morning, the people of the Hamilton Hill neighborhood awoke to find a huge drug raid going on around them involving some 500 state troopers, county deputies and city cops, a helicopter and two truckloads of mobile response teams in battle gear.

Within a few hours, over 110 drug dealers had been rounded up and carted away, beginning a period of decreased crime for the whole of Schenectady County that was to last for almost six years.

The reaction of the people? Reporter Tim McGlone of the Daily Gazette wrote: “They cheered from their porches and shouted out windows. They ran into the street wearing bathrobes and in their stocking feet, shaking the hands of police officers who arrived before dawn to take away suspected drug dealers. ‘This is excellent. This is the best. This is one of the best things I’ve seen in Schenectady.’ ”

This operation had the long-lasting effect it had because it was a well-planned, strategically conceived initiative. It employed the resources, not only of the Schenectady Police Department, but of all the agencies that had something to offer to hit the drug activity in the neighborhood in a way that would set it back big-time. It also showed the people of Hamilton Hill—and the drug dealers—the full extent of the resources available to protect that neighborhood and the will to use them.

The explanations that are now being offered by Mayor Stratton and Chief Geraci for the abysmal conditions that have been allowed to return to Hamilton Hill simply don’t hold water.

For one thing, they should not be letting the state off the hook. The Pataki administration’s premier program of local assistance to law enforcement, known as Operation IMPACT, is an unimaginative, statistics-driven mess that doesn’t even merit being called a strategy. It is, by and large, a subsidy for police overtime that encourages a focus on penny-ante drug busts that, in turn, take officers off the street for hours at a time. It does not buy an iota of increased public safety.

Gov. Spitzer would do well to scrap this program and go back to the drawing board. Instead of making wan excuses, Mayor Stratton and Chief Geraci should be loudly calling upon him to do so.

Terry O’Neill

Albany

Not So Funny

To the Editor:

Storytelling, the precursor to modern stand-up comedy, is one of the oldest art forms known to humankind, and yet every year Metroland readers never see Best Local Comedy Club or Best Local Comedian or Best Local Alternative Comedy Venue in the Best Of or Readers’ Poll. As a Capital Region native and professional stand-up comedian, I am frustrated and perplexed by what seems to be an obvious omission. Stand-up comedy is a legitimate art form practiced by a number of dedicated, gifted, and talented performers who call the Capital Region home. Our area boasts about a half dozen thriving comedy clubs that actively support homegrown talent as well as nationally known comedians. I see no reason why Metroland should ignore the Capital Region’s thriving comedy scene in its Best Of and Readers’ Polls. Please give readers an opportunity to vote on their favorite comedians and comedy clubs. Stand-up comedy is as much an art form as music, poetry, and classical arts like dance, painting, and sculpture. Let Metroland readers stand up for stand-up!

Aaron David Ward

Ballston Spa

Gracias!

To the Editor:

Big thanks to the fine Metroland readers for writing us into the top spot for “Best Acoustic Duo” in the ”Best Add Your Own Category” category in the Reader’s Picks 2007 [March 8] (and to Metroland for undertaking such an endeavor!).

This came as a total surprise to us and we are humbled by the attention.

Maybe next year this will be an official catagory in the poll, but in the meantime, we’ll gladly bask in the glow of your “vote” of confidence for the next 12 months.

George Fletcher and Peter Pashoukos

Saratoga Springs

Bravo!

To the Editor:

Three cheers for Miriam Axel-Lute’s “Marriage Isn’t Enough” [“Looking Up”, Feb. 22]. The column was imaginative, insightful and honest. Axel-Lute is clearly thinking about the best way to support a society in which all people have a chance at reaching their full potential. We need more voices like this.

Jessica Stein

Schenectady and Brooklyn

Gone South

To the Editor:

Several months ago, your front page carried the story of George Sarris [“A Wing and a Prayer,” Dec. 14, 2006], a state and federally licensed wildlife rehabilitator in Clifton Park, fighting to maintain his wildlife sanctuary. George’s backyard sanctuary is now silent. No longer does one hear the flap of wings, the sporadic quacking of ducks or honking of geese. There are no birds for a neighbor to take potshots at with his BB gun, except for the occasional wild ducks or geese who land there, ignorant of the fact that the New York State Appellate Court ruled last week that this land is not zoned for them. Foolish birds.

My children don’t understand why the land is not zoned for these birds, either. They want to know how George can do his voluntary job if he can’t have the birds on his land or pond. “That’s the law, kids. You can’t have wild birds on land zoned Land Conservation unless you have the required number of acres, or something like that.” They still don’t understand.

I did not bring my children with me on Sunday, when over 30 of us gathered to capture the birds and send them to new homes, or to their deaths. Relief spread through us whenever George handed a flapping bird to a volunteer, with instructions about its new home. Our hearts constricted when he handed a beautiful bird to another volunteer, intoning the word “euthanasia.”

There is starvation in the world. There is hunger, genocide, and war. A backyard sanctuary seems small compared to these heinous things, there is no question. On a lesser scale, it is still an issue of respect for life, and quality of life, a microcosm of larger issues. In the world of Clifton Park, this backyard sanctuary is important. It is a treasure that should be valued and celebrated in a place rushing forward with growth, construction, congestion, and traffic. It is a place to sit back, relax, and reflect on what is important in life. Well, it was. When George Sarris lost the court case, he is not the only one who lost.

Linda M. Russell

Clifton Park

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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419 Madison Ave., Albany, NY 12210

e-mail: metroland@metroland.net

fax: 463-3726


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