Letters To The Editor

Letters To The Editor 04.07.22

Gas Tax Holiday

We are all hurting from the spike in gas prices, so I was happy to see that elected leaders in Albany proposed a one-year gas tax holiday a couple of weeks ago. New York State has been collecting almost 40% more in gas tax money than at the same time two years ago. That comes to more than $280M of our tax dollars! We know they can afford to give us working families relief. 

Confusingly, Senator Sue Serino, who because of redistricting is set to represent us in Brunswick, as well as the neighboring towns, voted against this budget resolution, against a gas tax holiday to help working families. I looked at her social media where Sen. Serino says she’s for the gas tax. Like so many Albany politicians, she apparently says one thing but does another. One thing is certain: she voted against a gas tax holiday. 

I know that Jamie Cheney, who is running for NYS Senate to represent us in the rural towns of RensCo, supports a gas tax holiday 100% and, had she been in office, would have supported the bill. We don’t need a representative who is a reliable party-line voter; we need someone who will represent her constituents and Jamie Cheney has been crystal clear that she is not going to represent her party’s interests; she will represent her constituents’ interests. 

Paul Buehler, Brunswick

Bail Reform: Facts Not Fearmongering

On 3/30, the official Rensselaer County Exec. twitter account posted 8 tweets related to bail reform which is part of the NY budget process. Many of the tweets included statements without supporting information and additional data is necessary:

– 3 options exist when a person is indicted/arrested/charged:

1. Remand (held in pretrial detention)

2. Bail (money/bond/property in exchange to encourage a return for trial)

3. Own Recognizance (no cash bail, high expectation person will return for trial)

– 67% of people in city & county jails are being held in pretrial – meaning they are awaiting trial, have not been convicted, & are innocent until proven guilty [Prison Policy Initiative]

– 77% of suicides in local jails between ‘00 -’19 were people not convicted of a crime- they were in jail because they could not post bail [Bureau of Justice Statistics]

– 2019 NY Bail Reform eliminated cash bail for most misdemeanor & non-violent felony charges. It also requires judges to consider a person’s ability to pay in cases where bail is set [NY Senate]

– Under 2019 NY Bail Reform, judges can still & do set bail on cases alleging violence [NY Senate]

– Bail reform does not equate to an increase in crime, since 2019 NY Bail Reform enacted, the vast majority of those released w/o bail were not rearrested while waiting for trial [NYC Criminal Justice Agency]

– Pretrial rearrest rates remained nearly identical pre- and post- bail reform [NYC Comptroller]

$6.6 million /year saved by Harris County, TX (pop. 4.8 million) & $314 million saved (aggregate 7 years) by individuals arrested for misdemeanors since similar reforms in enacted in 2015 [Harris County Tx.gov]

There will always be an outlier case someone can point to as a single extreme example, but the data in NY and other places show the cash bail system needed reform. NY should not give into fear & only make changes based on data.

Michael Myer, North Greenbush

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