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You Make the Call

To the Editor:

I found the article “1-800-CASH-COW” [Newsfront, Sept. 25] in one sense ironic. Alison Coleman is quoted as saying that “none of us, the ultimate consumers who have to pay the bills, were consulted about this at all,” referring to a rate deal concerning costs of collect calls from inmates at state prisons. She then says, “It is the most immoral thing I have ever seen.”

Wow. This is from a woman whose husband is in the 24th year of prison for who knows what. What did he do? How immoral was it? We do not know. There is NO thought for the victim or victims of 24 years ago and if there is it is not as important as the rate she is paying for a phone bill. Not a real sense of priorities.

Ironic that somewhere there is a family or families, lives changed and they pay their bills. They were also not consulted.

Allan Gill

The Solution Is Green

To the Editor:

The current debacle in Albany County over redistricting, the primary, and the general election [Newsfront, Sept. 25] is yet another example of broken democracy and stale, egotistical thinking by all sides. Voters have been faced with the issue of how best to gerrymander districts so as to provide minorities with their token representation in a corrupt system, and suddenly the incumbent leaders have asked the citizens of this county to accept that terms for county officials may simply be extended another year. There are actually very simple answers to the problem of representation and conducting a fast primary and general election, but it seems that once again no party but the Green Party has offered the solutions.

There are two ways to deal with the problem of having equal representation for minorities and holding the general election and the primary within the necessary amount of time. Both of them deal with how we vote; the first is called instant-runoff voting (IRV) and the second is proportional representation (PR). All IRV does is have voters rank candidates in their preferred order. Votes are tallied and the most popular ranked candidate wins; your votes count more because your second choice may win even if the first does not. This would also eliminate the need for a separate primary, since all choices could be ranked.

Proportional representation would put an end to gerrymandering of districts lately in the news. The entire county would elect not based on districts but countywide; people would cast their votes for parties and lists of candidates for those parties. If the Republicans or Greens won 15 percent of the vote, they would get 15 percent of the seats in the Legislature. Whole slates of minority candidates could run and possibly win seats without having to get the plurality of the vote, and we wouldn’t worry about gerrymandering because votes would be countywide.

All of this could be done rather quickly if the city and county acted; votes could be counted on paper ballots marked with numbers or Xs. This would save money and definitely be an advance toward a more representative system of government. The Green Party has been proposing these reforms for quite a while now without any recognition by the mainstream press or elected officials. Voters are smart enough to quickly pick up how to use the new systems, and there is no shame in hand counting paper votes. It may even save taxpayers money, by collapsing the primary and general election into one.

Peter LaVenia
Co-Chair, Albany County Green Party


In a recent story on a primary election in Stillwater [Newsfront, Sept. 25] we incorrectly stated that voters could not be accompanied into voting booths by anyone except elections inspectors. New York state election law states that voters requiring assistance can choose someone to help them as long as it is not their union boss, employer or a representative thereof. If someone is a voter escort into the booth, that person must take an oath and sign an affidavit swearing not to influence the will of the voter and thereby their vote.

Howard Dean’s bio in our guide to the Democratic presidential hopefuls [“Who Are These People?,” Oct. 2] erroneously stated that the candidate was elected governor of Vermont in 1991. Then Vermont’s lieutenant governor, Dean assumed the position of governor when the state’s previous governor, Richard A. Snelling, died of a heart attack on Aug. 13, 1991. Dean was first elected governor in 1992.

Metroland welcomes typed, double-spaced letters (computer printouts OK), addressed to the editor. Or you may e-mail them to: Metroland reserves the right to edit letters for length; 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 illegible, irresponsible or factually inaccurate.

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4th Floor, Albany, NY 12210
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