- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Recent editorials of statewide and national interest from New York’s newspapers:

The Journal News on the need for New York’s high school officials to craft baseball pitching guidelines to prevent head and other injuries.

Aug. 3

A growing awareness about concussions and head injuries has brought sweeping changes to high school sports. In New York, a 2012 state law required that athletes who may have sustained a brain injury be removed from their game and not allowed to compete until they have been symptom-free for 24 hours and evaluated by a doctor. Some schools do more, hiring full-time trainers or conducting concussion tests. Health officials are continuing to produce best practices based on research.

School systems still need to develop uniform approaches to head injuries suffered in football, hockey, soccer and other sports. But steady progress is being made in an area that was largely ignored a decade ago.

Now a similar and welcome enlightenment appears to be underway in baseball, aimed at reducing arm injuries for pitchers. While elbow and shoulder injuries may not be as serious as concussions, they can be plenty debilitating for teenagers who have to cope with day-to-day aches and pains or the growing numbers who are forced to have surgery.

A group that oversees policy for high school sports - the National Federation of State High School Associations - has called on its state affiliates to adopt their own rules for how many pitches a student-athlete can throw in a single game and how much rest pitchers must have between appearances in games. In response, the New York State High School Athletic Association plans to have a proposal by October and new rules in place for next spring.

Currently, as hard as it might be to believe, high schools in New York are not required to track pitch counts. Instead, pitchers are limited to 12 innings in a day - a badly outdated rule that could allow for dangerously high pitch counts - and 18 innings over six days.

To be clear, most high school coaches already track pitch counts and look out for the well-being of their players. But it’s common in suburban communities to hear stories about players who were over-used on the mound, especially during competitive games and key stretches of the season. Plus, having statewide pitch count rules will send a message to coaches, parents and players themselves that over-pitching is unhealthy and must be avoided.

Throwing too many pitches is not the only reason that teenage pitchers get hurt. Another factor is likely the growing emphasis across baseball on throwing fast. High school pitchers are throwing harder than ever, dreaming of a college scholarship. But Dr. James Andrews, the renowned orthopedic surgeon who has become one of the best-known figures in American sports, told lohud’s Vincent Z. Mercogliano that the elbow ligament in young pitchers may not be developed enough to withstand fastball after fastball. “Their physiological age is 16, and their anatomic age is say, 13,” he said. Andrews said that so-called “Tommy John” surgeries have increased seven- to ten-fold since 2000 at all levels of baseball, an alarming trend that should have the attention of coaches and parents.

Anyone who’s involved in youth sports knows how seriously sports are often taken. Child athletes often use professional-quality equipment and work with full-time coaches or at training centers before they even try out for JV ( meanwhile, many school districts have cut middle-school level “modified” sports because of budget constraints). We all know parents who can recite their kids’ statistics, and we’ve heard the stories about parents and coaches mixing it up over an athlete’s playing time or some other overwrought conflict.

When it comes to kids’ health and avoiding injuries, though, coaches and other school officials, certainly at the high school level, have to do what’s in the best interest of teens’ bodies and not the scoreboard. Since the National Federation chose to allow states to adopt their own rules, we hope that New York’s high school officials will craft the smartest, safest guidelines based on the best research available and will explain the basis for their rules to the entire baseball community.

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Online:

http://lohud.us/2avygjr

The Auburn Citizen on the need for New York to simplify its ballot access rules and establish some common-sense processes to make it easier for people to run for office.

Aug. 3

When state Sen. Michael Nozzolio, a long-time Republican incumbent representing parts of the Finger Lakes region, announced his retirement plans, a seat that had largely been guaranteed for one man for more than two decades suddenly opened up.

That led to a flood of potential candidates on both sides of the aisle stepping up to express interest in running. And that was a good thing.

Democracies tend to work best, and elections serve a greater purpose, when there are actual contests that require active campaigning. For too long, contested elections have been a rarity when it comes to the state Legislature, despite that governing body’s persistent dysfunction.

A system aimed at protecting incumbents has perpetuated the problem. The incumbents are well-funded by special interest groups. They enjoy advantages of their office’s exposure such as the ability to send taxpayer-funded mailers. And if they’re in the majority party, they have long had control over the way district lines are drawn, essentially allowing them to hand-pick their voter base.

But when a seat opens up, shouldn’t all of that go out the window and a wide open race ensue?

Not necessarily in New York state. Over the past week, in the race for Nozzlio’s seat, three candidates - two Republicans and one Democrat - have been hit with challenges to their ballot petitions. The challenges have roots in the GOP Albany establishment, which has a favored candidate in this race, Pam Helming of Canandaigua. And they came in two forms: complaints to the state Board of Elections and lawsuits filed in Albany County.

Many of these challenges pertain to highly technical - and highly irrelevant in terms of a candidate’s actual legitimacy - rules. For example, in one case, a petition signature was tossed because an address listed a local road’s commonly known name instead of the road’s highway number, which is how the BOE has it on record. The address referred to the same exact place, but the signature was tossed.

With a state BOE that is controlled by the establishment parties, petition challenges that come from the same circle of political cronies often succeed, leaving the non-connected candidate with the choice of expensive protracted litigation or going home.

It’s one reason there’s an entire industry of election law lawyers hanging out in Albany.

It’s well beyond the time when New York should simplify its ballot access rules and establish some common-sense processes. Make it easier for well-intentioned, qualified people to run for office, and perhaps we’d start to see some improvements in the way we are ultimately governed.

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Online:

http://bit.ly/2auqPWl

The Gloversville Leader-Herald on who will end up paying for many of the promises made by Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

July 28

Democrats who gathered in Philadelphia for their party’s presidential nominating convention have heard tons of promises and will hear more from their candidate, Hillary Clinton, when she takes the stage tonight.

Free college tuition, cheaper rents, expansion of Social Security, Medicare coverage beginning at age 55, millions more people on Medicaid, universal health care for everyone else, decriminalization of marijuana, a national $15 minimum wage and bigger tax credits for those with low incomes and/or children are just some of the promises made by speakers at the convention or in the party platform.

Sounds great, doesn’t it?

But stop and think: Who’s going to pay for all this? Liberals would have us believe it all can be covered by soaking “the rich.” Never mind that their definition of rich - people who should pay higher taxes - extends well down into the middle class. Even draconian taxes on higher-income Americans would not raise the hundreds of billions of dollars the giveaway plans would cost.

That leaves more deficit spending. But the national debt already stands at $19.4 trillion, nearly twice what it was eight years ago. During the four days of the Democrats’ convention, about $10 billion will be added to it.

In typical liberal tradition, Clinton and her cronies are willing to promise us the moon - and let us find out who really pays sometime after the election.

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Online:

http://bit.ly/2aN4nvI

The Norwich Evening Sun on the state of pay-to-play in American politics and the hacked Democratic Party emails recently released by WikiLeaks.

July 27

Disturbing emails these were. They were among the thousands recently divulged by villainous WikiLeaks.

The emails were between the top finance guy of the Democrat Party and a big personnel guy at the White House. The party guy sent a list of big donors for the White House to consider for federal commissions and boards.

In other words, it was evidence of pay-to-play. You pay big bucks to the party. In return you get to sit on a prestigious board.

One email noted that one of the big hitters wanted to be put on the Postal Service board of governors. (Why would anybody want to be on the board of something that loses billions every year?) Sure enough, months later President Barack Obama appointed him. Congress blocked the appointment.

Pay to play is illegal, of course. President Obama solemnly promised to end it. Right.

The emails should have attracted more comment. They did not, for a couple reasons. One is that they got lost in the blizzard of political news that week. Another is that they were mere morsels. In the feast of 20,000 emails WikiLeaks served up. Reporters had their plates full.

A third reason why the pay to play emails were set aside: They were hardly a revelation. We all know pay to play is as common as steak dinners in Washington.

Nobody believed Obama when he promised to abolish it. Many candidates before him made the same promises. And nobody believed them.

This is because we all know the truth. If you kick in enough money you can buy the ambassadorship to New Zealand. Or to some other small country. Heck, you can probably even buy some of the countries. You can buy your way onto various boards and commissions in Washington. You can buy some status.

You can buy the right to drive your pals crazy with envy. “Sorry, guys, I’ve got to miss golf this week. The President asked me to serve on his Commission For The Study of Discrimination in Easter Egg Colors. I need to be in D.C. every other fifth Wednesday of even-numbered months.”

Sometimes this backfires. A small country will turn into a hot spot. And the ambassador has to actually do some real work. He has to really know something important. Something beyond hosting dinner parties.

Occasionally a dud gets appointed to the wrong commission. We recently learned that Hillary placed a guy on commission that dealt with cyber-security. Serious stuff. The guy was about as qualified for this as the building’s janitor. Ahh, but he had bought his way onto the commission. With big contributions to her foundation, I believe.

If you are across the political divide from Hillary, Obama and the Democrats you have no right to be smug at this point. These shenanigans are just as popular among Republicans. Yes, they sell ambassadorships too. Some of these little countries haven’t seen a career diplomat as ambassador from America for decades.

Now you may feel this is corruption. Well, you are right.

And you may be one of those who goes further. You might say these high and mighty positions must be fake. After all, they go to the highest bidders. Number one qualification is the ability to write numbers with lots of zeroes on checks. If you say such a thing people might call you a cynic. I would call you a pretty good observer of reality.

If all those commissions died tomorrow, nobody would go to their funeral. Nobody would miss them. If we didn’t get around to sending our ambassador to New Zealand for fifty years nobody would much care. Or notice.

If I had been a better Latin student I would know what “For Sale” is in that language. And I would recommend to Washington that we add it to our country’s official seal.

If I sent a big enough check with my recommendation I’d probably get appointed to a Presidential Commission to Consider Changes to the National Seal.

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Online:

http://bit.ly/2aurrLq

The Ithaca Journal on the how everyone should vote in November to ensure everyone’s voice is heard.

July 29

Are you one of the many voters in the past couple of weeks who have said to family or friend: “Oh my. I don’t know what will happen if (Hillary/Donald) is elected!”

Fill in your choice of name - we’re not going there.

But can you recall an election when so many were fearful of who actually might get elected? Some are uneasy with either candidate (the frying pan or the fire?).

We can’t recall a presidential election with as much mud-slinging, personal attacks, name-calling and general nastiness. Add to that the many more platforms for slime: Twitter, Facebook and other social media. And throw in the scandals of email and shady business deals.

One CNN pundit last week said it makes great reality television. Or, better yet, a cartoon series. Let’s call it “Who You Gonna Trust?”

So this is our American presidency.

We’re about to elect someone who not only will be our leader, but a leader of the world.

This person will guide our economy while at the same time ensuring our citizens are protected.

This person should give us ways to lift burdens from the less privileged and make sure every citizen is treated fairly.

This person should be the foundation for our collective self-respect as a nation.

As we laugh or shake our heads about the latest revelation - whether Clinton or Trump - keep in mind this person we elect is more important than any mayor, governor, representative or senator.

A presidential election is about trust as much as anything else. Whom do you have faith in? Who will do no harm and strive to improve our situation?

Or will every one of us be voting for the least worst choice come November?

Unfortunately, it’s bound to get even more troubling in the weeks ahead. One week’s outrage quickly will be forgotten, because the new week will offer so many more stunners.

We’ve always believed editorial comment should provide a solution after the criticism. We’re feeling a bit befuddled at this point.

So the solution in November is a rather simple one.

Vote.

No matter the outcome, be certain you have a voice.

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Online:

http://ithacajr.nl/2alkQ6r

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