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All for one: Veterans outside of New Visions after being denied a meeting. Photo: John Whipple

Applying Pressure

Rick Weeks was troubled when he learned that some fellow veterans were experiencing labor problems working as janitors through New Visions. As secretary of the New York State Council on Veterans Organizations and active member of other veterans’ groups and the Civil Service Employees Association, he wanted to know more. CSEA is currently trying to negotiate a contract for the janitors with New Visions, and is having a hard time securing some basic workers’ rights. [“Wanted: A Real Contract,” Newsfront, Feb. 5].

In late December, Weeks wrote a letter to New Visions (formerly Albany Association for Retarded Citizens) and called repeatedly, but got no response. So he and other concerned representatives from area veterans’ groups showed up at New Visions’ offices last Thursday (Feb. 5) asking to meet with the program director, Andy McKenzie.

“When I went in to see Mr. McKenzie, he told me to call and make an appointment,” Weeks said, chuckling. “I told him I tried to do this, and it didn’t work.” Weeks and McKenzie, however, did speak over the phone later that day.

Weeks expressed his concerns about New Visions’ apparent reluctance to include a provision requiring a “just cause” for dismissal, especially if New Visions receives government grants for hiring disabled vets. According to Weeks, McKenzie “wouldn’t give me any comment,” but reassured him that New Visions was negotiating in good faith.

—Ashley Hahn

Keeping the Kids at Home

Despite increasing overcrowding at Green Island’s one k-12 school, Island residents and the board of education have both voted overwhelmingly against a proposal to tutition out the town’s high school students to other districts. (“This Little Schoolhouse,” Newsfront, Jan. 22.) Voters rejected the plan 434-56 with 24 abstentions on Jan. 22, and the board followed suit with a unanimous decision at its regular meeting last Thursday (Feb. 5).

Although a plan to consolidate with the Cohoes City School District, supported by U.S. Rep. Michael McNulty (D-Green Island), is still on the table, exit polls conducted by students after the referendum showed that 96 percent of voters would support a renovation or addition project, and only 16 percent would support consolidation.

—Miriam Axel-Lute

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