To the Editor:
Over 13,000 nursing home residents have died in New York in the past year. AARP has long urged State policymakers to give older New Yorkers a preferable alternative to nursing homes – their own homes.
The New York State Senate has proposed adding $27 million to the next state budget, due April 1, for in-home services for the elderly. This funding would help end the current waiting list of over 11,000 seniors for these in-home services such as home meal delivery, transportation to medical appointments, and help with daily activities.. By allowing more New York seniors to age at home, it would save taxpayers money by reducing the need for mostly Medicaid-funded and far more expensive nursing home placements.
The Assembly proposed adding $5 million for these services; it’s a good step but not enough. Seniors deserve better. The Assembly and Governor must enact the Senate’s compassionate and cost-effective proposal.
The past year has shown the need to ensure nursing homes are safer for those who inhabit them; the State should also add $5 million for the Long Term Care Ombudsman Program to bolster the corps of trained observers who keep an independent eye on nursing home conditions.
Fran Hamblin, AARP volunteer, East Nassau
Proactive Leadership Is Needed
There is a growing need for local governments to get serious about cybersecurity—a need which has been highlighted just this past week. The ransomware intrusion through the Emergency Services vendor that enables 911 dispatch systems for Albany, Saratoga, and Rensselaer Counties is likely to be one of many future events that requires trained professionals who understand third-party contract management, external security controls review, and data governance oversight. Updating a website or hiring qualified technologists and technicians must be part of a larger approach that establishes consistent policy, improves accessibility, and stores, retrieves, or relays information securely. With several data protection and cybersecurity bills being recently passed into law by state legislatures or considered by Congress, local governments are facing additional concerns about being responsive to implementing new requirements in less time with fewer resources. We need leadership that understands the concerns of residents and businesses when it comes to cybersecurity and data privacy as well as how to deploy resources effectively. Our local leaders must work as part of a team to leverage every resource available, like the passionate Cybersecurity faculty and students at HVCC and the internationally recognized Center for Internet Security (located in East Greenbush) that is dedicated to helping local governments and businesses plan, prepare, and respond to these incidents. I recommend readers visit www.cisecurity.org for more information on resources available to your community or business.
Justan Foster, North Greenbush
Don’t Serve Two Masters
It is said in the Bible that a person can not serve two masters. The Sand Lake Town Code may soon say something similar.
The Sand Lake Town Board is expected to consider at its next regular meeting a proposed local law to prohibit any elected Town officer from also holding any elective County or State office. The Town Board should approve this local law.
Recently, similar local laws were adopted in two other Rensselaer County municipalities, most recently the Town of Schodack. In each case, the local law’s adoption appeared motivated, at least in part, by partisan concerns — namely, preventing a popular official from holding elective offices in two units of government. Not having now a similar issue in Sand Lake makes this a good time for the Sand Lake Town Board to act.
In Sand Lake, the most likely potential dual office situation is being holding a seat on the Town Board and also holding a seat on the County Legislature. Those two positions are incompatible. A Town Board member serves only the electorate or the Town. In Sand Lake’s County legislative district, the legislators represent Sand Lake, Schodack and Nassau, and have a duty to serve the best interests of the County. The Interests of the Town and the County ofter differ and are on some issues in direct opposition.
The Sand Lake electorate ought to know that the persons elected to serve the Town will keep the Town’s interests first, without conflicting duties to another governmental unit.
Garrett DeGraff, Averill Park
Hammond plays fast and loose with facts in Poestenkill
In the March 25, 2021 Advertiser, Poestenkill Supervisor Hammond correctly stated that he has prevented me from voting absentee in the March 30th vote on a permissive referendum on an ambulance district, further stating “the town board does not set these guidelines for voting absentee, these are set by the state and it is completely out of the town’s control,” and that I knew that when my letter was written, which is also true – when my letter was written, I did know the guidelines for voting absentee are set by the state and are completely out of the town’s control, which raises the question of why the town is not allowing absentee ballots in this referendum when the state has made clear they are permitted in a town referendum, as can clearly be seen in an article in the Somers, N.Y. News titled “Absentee Voting Allowed on Sewer District Referendum” by Carol Reif on September 18, 2020, to wit:
Town attorney Roland A. Baroni Jr., citing state laws on the formation of special districts, had told residents last October that absentee balloting wouldn’t be an option, but due to sweeping election reforms recently adopted by Albany, that’s no longer the case.
Town Clerk Patricia Kalba said Thursday that absentee and affidavit ballots will be validated and counted publicly.
Supervisor Rick Morrissey said Thursday, Sept. 10, that he was “pleased” that voters can cast absentee ballots.
So why were absentee ballots not allowed in this Poestenkill referendum?
I made it quite clear in my letter that those of us over the age of 70 are effectively prisoners in our homes due to Governor Cuomo’s “Matilda’s Law,” along with the fact that we are susceptible to COVID due to our ages, especially in Poestenkill, where COVID is present.
Accordingly, the state, which makes these decisions, gave us the right to file absentee ballots to protect our health, as was the case in Somers, N.Y.
So why did Supervisor Hammond strip us of that right in Poestenkill?
Paul Plante, Averill Park
Stop UPS and Amazon Warehouse from Holding Our Packages Hostage
Many of our neighbors and I have been exchanging horror stories about UPS in a Facebook group for Castelton/Schodack residents and through the Nextdoor app. These exchanges have made it clear that action is needed to stop UPS from frequently (but strangely, not always) misdirecting packages to the Amazon Warehouse where some mysterious person named “Woods” allegedly signs for deliveries and then keeps them there for days or even weeks. So far, it appears that scores of Castelton and Schodack residents have been affected, and some of us have had this problem repeatedly. Some have had food deliveries delayed by weeks causing the food to spoil. Others have had expensive items withheld. Still others have not received gifts sent to them. This has to stop.
UPS is not at all helpful in resolving this recurring issue. The say delivery was made, and then they instruct those who contact them about the missing packages to simply file a claim–which is time consuming and not always possible if one does not have documentation and receipts. I, for example, was sent a gift of wine from a wine club–I therefore have no packing slip or receipt. When I called UPS the agent simply took my tracking number and said they would email the driver’s supervisor to find out where the package was delivered. Last Christmas, the first time this happened to me, I filed a claim and then the package mysteriously appeared two weeks later with no explanation.
Some residents have actually gone to the Warehouse to find their packages and to speak to “Woods” but they were turned away without explanation or their packages. This situation is frustrating, costly, and apparently impossible to resolve on our own. It is my hope that the Supervisor will look into this situation and find some resolution on behalf of town residents. We have begun an online petition at https://www.ipetitions.com/…/stop-ups-and-amazon-fro in hopes of getting assistance from Town Hall, UPS, and the Amazon Warehouse.
Kathleen Crowley, Castleton on Hudson