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To the Editor:

My name is Art Ames and I am the general manager of the Berkshire Co-op Market in Great Barrington. I simply wanted to take a moment to compliment you on your article titled “Reap What Your Neighbors Have Sown” [June 17]. Although I’ve read many pieces regarding the importance of local and sustainable agriculture, very few pieces have hit on the various elements that need to be part of this discussion.

As a co-op, we do our best to educate our customers and members when it comes to the true cost of goods. In our case, 99 percent of our produce is organic during the local off-season, and 90 percent of our produce is organic during the local growing season. We do give priority to local growers who are certified organic, but feel that it is as important to have local abundance for those crops that cannot be found organic. We’ve been fortunate. After we relocated to a larger space in October, we’ve had the room and the increased business to be far more active with local producers in every department. Even more rewarding, due to consumer education, this is what our customers want!

Articles like yours are needed on a regular basis. By increasing public awareness at all levels, we can continue to realize that individuals can truly make a positive difference by simply being conscious consumers. With an increase in public awareness and participation, hopefully the mainstream grocery stores will begin to realize that supporting [the] local economy is simply good business, aside from being the right thing to do.

Art Ames
Great Barrington, Mass.

Follow the Breeder

To the Editor:

I read with interest the story written by Amelia Koethen [“Call Off Your Dogs,” Newsfront, June 16]. It cleared up my confusion about the failure of the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets to actively pursue my complaint about a pet dealer in Cayuga County. I wish I had known sooner.

I bought a miniature schnauzer puppy in February 2002 from a breeder in Jordan, N.Y. I researched breeders on the Internet and found her on the American Miniature Schnauzer Club’s list of “Responsible Breeders.” I said that I would come to pick up the dog, but she said I couldn’t. She would meet me at the Herkimer exit of the Thruway and we would exchange cash for the puppy. She didn’t provide any of the documents the AMSC said she would. I did not receive documents about health, pedigree or AKC registration materials. Failure to supply papers or to meet the parents are both indications of a possible problem.

In January 2004, I filed two complaints with the state. The first was to the attorney general under the pet lemon law statute. I also encouraged all the other people I knew had dogs from this breeder to file complaints as well. I am very impressed with the efforts of the attorney general’s Consumer Frauds Bureau. Our complaints are on the way to resolution.

The second complaint went to Agriculture and Markets. It was clear to me that the breeder was required to have a pet dealer license, which she did not. Under the law, the license would have triggered an inspection by the department. I filed my complaint about the lack of license and poor care. I have confirmed that mine was not the first complaint the department received and ignored. To the best of my information, Agriculture and Markets has not taken any action to investigate the care of these poor dogs.

With summer coming on, I began to fear for the safety of the dogs in the heat. After waiting five months for the department to enforce its law, I contacted the Central New York SPCA, which referred the case to Finger Lakes SPCA. These two fine organizations with very small budgets, especially when compared with the state of New York, went to the property on June 23 and took custody of 71 dogs, 6 of them pregnant, living in “deplorable” conditions.

Failure to enforce and fund the pet dealer inspection law is just another example of shifting the costs to the localities. Please contact the governor and your representatives in the Senate and the Assembly and tell them to assure the full funding and implementation of this program critical to those who cannot help themselves.

Mary Anne Kowalski

Who’s Accountable?

To the Editor:

I much appreciate Miriam Axel-Lute’s coverage of decision of the members of the Albany Community Accountability Board to resign en masse on June 15 [“You Can’t Fire Us, We Quit,” Newsfront, June 17].

Each of the members had his or her own reasons for joining in our collective decision. We all appreciated the unique and irreplaceable contribution of former Assistant District Attorney David Soares in making this all-volunteer initiative a success. Certainly, his abrupt termination was the precipitating factor in our decision.

Speaking for myself, however, my fundamental disagreement with the administration of District Attorney Paul Clyne runs much deeper.

Terry O’Neill

Faith in Secularism

To the Editor:

It was refreshing to read Metroland’s inclusion of a rational humanist perspective in its coverage of the “under God”/Pledge of Allegiance controversy [“Line? What Line?” and “Faith of the Fathers,” Newsfront, June 24]. John Rodat’s reporting brought this national issue home by featuring a Niskayuna parent of school-age children who does not believe in God. The story clearly showed how the phrase hurts certain children and their parents.

But neither article on the topic of church-state separation mentioned that the New York State Legislature recently passed a resolution to keep the words “under God” in the Pledge. This legally meaningless gesture was passed by the same Legislature that did not provide the people of New York an education budget this year.

Assemblyman James Tedisco, R-Schenectady, led the charge against secularism in New York. Here are two of his recent public statements:

“Victory is ours. . . . With our decision to support that unanimously, we will set back those individuals who are trying to rewrite the history of this great nation and make it a secular society” (The Saratogian, June 15).

Taking “under God” out of the pledge would be “trying to say this is a secular nation by its foundation, and it’s not” (WNYT, June 14).

Why is secularism such a dirty word for Tedisco? He seems to view secularism as the enemy of religion. Nothing is farther from the truth. Secularism in government is the cause and the reason for our religious diversity in America. A secular government does not favor atheists—it grants all citizens the freedom to believe or not to believe what they choose.

Removing “under God” from the Pledge is not the same as inserting “without God.” Instead, it would be restoring the Pledge to its original, inclusive, neutral form. The U.S. Constitution does not include God and neither should the Pledge.

California atheist father Michael A. Newdow announced [on] June 26 that he intends to represent two families in a new case to challenge the constitutionality of “under God” in the Pledge. Maybe this time the U.S. Supreme Court won’t be able to duck the true issue of upholding religious freedom in this country.

Duncan Crary
The Institute for Humanist Studies


In the feature story “Out of Sight, Not Really Out of Mind” (June 24), we omitted an important piece of information. According to his family and others who knew him, Bart Browne, who attacked Josh Banks, was suffering from a mental illness at the time, and hadn’t shown bias toward gays in the past. We regret that we perpetuated an incomplete account of that incident, which appears to have been more complicated than a simple “hate crime.”


In our most recent Rough Mix (June 17), we gave the wrong Web site for local band Seven Stories Falling; the correct site is, not

In last week’s live-music review (“All Work and No Payoff,” June 24), the drummer for Empire State Troopers was misidentified as Jason Kokournious. Nate Pallace, formerly of the band Merth, is the actual drummer for Empire State Troopers.

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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