- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 19, 2016

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

The Glens Falls Post-Star on arming security officers that patrol and protect college campuses.

Oct. 14

SUNY Adirondack has been grappling with whether to arm its campus security personnel.

It’s not because of any specific incident on campus, but because campus shootings have happened elsewhere. It’s what we see as the “culture of fear” in our society.

Just last month a Moreau resident was concerned that Election Day voting provided a dangerous entryway for someone wanting to harm children. She urged the school to keep students home during voting.

Since the Virginia Tech shooting in 2007, the number of colleges and universities arming their officers has continued to rise. By 2012, three out of every four universities were arming their officers, according to a recent survey.

But there is also concern that armed officers might lead to more incidents of unprovoked shootings like the many we have been seen nationally on regular police forces. In 2015, a University of Cincinnati officer shot and killed a man during a traffic stop. He was later charged with murder.

Earlier this year, Endicott College in Beverly, Mass. was having the same debate about arming its officers. One mother told President Richard E. Wylie that if he puts firearms in the hands of security personnel and something happens, he is to blame. And he if doesn’t arm the security force and something happens, he is also to blame.

Kristine Duffy, the president at SUNY Adirondack, is in the same position.

Statistically, the chances of a mass shooting or an officer using his weapon are low.

We found Campus Safety magazine online and its recommendations for arming officers.

It suggested schools look at past precedents for other schools of similar size, type and makeup in the state and around the country.

It also said that training is the most important necessity for arming officers. But if they do that, they may need to switch to a campus police department with sworn officers.

It also recommends that you take into account what type of campus you have. Is it open and easily accessible? Is it in a high-crime area? Do the residence halls have open access?

Finally, it suggested most academic institutions “get comfortable with their low crime statistics,” but not everything is reported and comes out in the statistics. Campus officials need to know the reality of what is happening on their campus.

SUNY Adirondack is having that discussion now and doing the research.

Ultimately, we wonder if this decision will hinge on cost.

Peace officers must complete 400 hours of training. That would take about 10 weeks to complete and could be expensive. The college could also see a significant rise in its liability insurance should it arm officers.

These extra expenses come at a time when both Warren and Washington counties have been reluctant to add to their contributions to the college.

And the last thing anyone wants is a significant bump in tuition.

Considering the rural character of the campus, the lack of crime in our community as a whole and the presence of the Warren County Sheriff’s Office and the New York State Police just three miles down the road, we wonder if it is prudent for the college to move forward.

We’re reminded that recent reports say we are no safer from airliner terrorism despite the billions that have been spent since 9/11.

We should always be prudent regarding security, but we must also acknowledge no measure will make us 100 percent safe.

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Online:

http://bit.ly/2erRMO2

The Times Herald-Record of Middletown on Sullivan County ranking as one of the least healthy counties in New York.

Oct. 13

For several years now, the annual report on the health of the nation contained a state-by-state, county-by-county breakdown.

In Sullivan County, there was not much excitement as the day of reckoning arrived. Would it climb above its traditional rank just above the Bronx as the second least healthy county in New York? Would anybody notice?

The answer for several years has been no and no. Sullivan was settled in, not the worst, still terrible. It appeared to be something to take for granted, like the decline of the old Catskills resorts.

Although the latest report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation showed no change in the status for Sullivan County, there are hints that this time it is different, that people are no longer running away and hiding when it comes to this sad distinction, that more are willing to talk about it and, most important, talk about what can be done.

Too many people in Sullivan County still smoke. Too many have problems with their weight. Among the most inexplicable parts of the annual report is the repeated finding that too many do not have what it categorizes as “access to exercise opportunities,” something that appears to be at odds with a county where people from elsewhere visit to enjoy nature.

And while the prospect of the new casino near Monticello has brightened the economic outlook and spurred other developments, anybody waiting for a dramatic rise in employment and income is not doing the people in the county any favor.

Yes, there will be more jobs. No, a casino has not been the savior anywhere else in the nation and there is no reason to think that it will be in Sullivan. If it keeps things from getting worse, if it makes conditions marginally better, that will be nice.

So the real cure for Sullivan’s many ills is going to have to come from the people who live there and the people they elect or appoint to help.

And that’s where the good news comes.

A recent forum sponsored by the Times Herald-Record confirmed a repeated finding in the health survey that a lack of access to health care and healthy activities is a major obstacle.

In the past few months and in coming weeks, there have been and will be gatherings throughout the county to, as those convening the sessions put it, “elicit specific information about the unique health issues and obstacles to health in different communities across the county.”

If you’re in a hole, the first thing you do to get out is stop digging. If you’re in trouble because for too long too many have avoided talking about what needs to be done, the first thing you do is start talking.

From these sessions will come the information that will help the county government and, by extension, the state government focus on what needs to be done first.

Talking alone is not the cure; not talking is worse.

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Online:

http://bit.ly/2e3NrT6

The Syracuse Post-Standard on voters who are considering sitting out this year’s election.

Oct. 14

History has shown that voter turnout in presidential election years dramatically exceeds all other polling events. The draw of big name presidential candidates is magnetic. The potential impact is irresistible.

But then, there is 2016. This year’s candidates have incited many would-be voters to respond: “I don’t like either candidate.” Or “who do I hate less?”

Ultimately, many of the malcontent electorate threatens to sit out this election.

Please don’t.

Don’t overlook the selection of representatives at various levels of government. Executive-branch bluster doesn’t mean the person in the Oval Office manages everything.

Political scientists tell us that the President has impact on international affairs and selecting Supreme Court candidates. They also tell us that the legislative branches manage the gritty meat and potatoes (local taxes, budgets, community public safety and basic spending and savings).

Choices abound for those who want to set the path for our future - and it is not merely candidates whose names end with Clinton or Trump.

If turnout drops, that leaves only the most motivated voters to decide down-ballot races. Those contests decide:

Who controls the U.S. Senate? Democrats are expected to regain control, which would make Chuck Schumer majority leader (if he defeats Wendy Long) and could be good for New York state. The Senate will play a bigger role than usual next year because it will have to confirm at least one Supreme Court appointment and will try to decide the direction of tax code reforms, immigration policy, gun control and any proposed changes to Obamacare.

What happens in the House? If Paul Ryan can keep the biggest GOP majority since WWII, he wants to tackle big long-term issues like Social Security, Medicare and welfare reform. We’ve got two of the top House races in the nation with John Katko and Colleen Deacon in the 24th Congressional District and the three-way race to replace Richard Hanna in the 22nd Congressional District.

Of course, New York also has down ballot races this year for State Assembly, State Senate and several local judges races that are overshadowed by the presidential race.

It would be a shame if voters choosing to sit out the election don’t look at those ballot lines. In their zeal to assure no monolithic overseer, the architects of American government granted the right to select leaders and doers at every level of government. The citizens’ challenge is to stay engaged when the most prominent of candidates raise disgust, disdain or even stone-cold hatred.

Before sitting out the entire 2016 General Election, consider the confidence the architects of this unique country had in citizens. The great ensurers of checks and balances set forth a bold plan that stole supreme power from a singular head of state.

There are national and state positions to be won that drive our future.

We urge you to think clearly here. We appeal to your common sense. We ask you to sweep emotion aside.

Evaluate with logic and commitment about the America you desire. Do not let those with the most zealous beliefs and support of those at the top of the ticket dictate where we will go next.

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Online:

http://bit.ly/2dlDvVH

The Wall Street Journal on the NAACP’s support of a moratorium on charter schools nationwide.

Oct. 16

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People has a storied history, but many organizations outlive their moral purpose and it’s now clear this one has. The civil-rights outfit has come down firmly on the side of trapping poor minority children in education failure factories.

On Saturday the NAACP’s national board voted to ratify a resolution adopted at its 2016 national convention calling for a moratorium on the expansion of charter schools. Considering the state of urban K-12 education, this is the equivalent of opposing Brown v. Board of Education in 1954. The NAACP is so blinded by ideology that it is endorsing separate and unequal education for poor minority children for years to come.

The NAACP’s statement Saturday shows how out of touch its well-to-do board members are with American education. It calls for a ban on new charters until “charter schools are subject to the same transparency and accountability standards as public schools.”

Hello? Inner-city schools are the definition of unaccountable as they promote failure year after year. Charters should be held accountable, and some charter operators have done a poor job. But they can be and are shut down. The proof of charter performance are the long waiting lists in most cities to get in. Parents vote for charters with their feet when spaces are available.

The NAACP statement also wants a charter ban until “public funds are not diverted to charter schools at the expense of the public school system.” But charters are public schools, albeit without the union and tenure rules that retard student learning. A 2015 Stanford study found that urban charters on average provide 40 more days of learning in math and 28 days in reading than comparable traditional schools. The NAACP rejects this evidence of educational advancement in favor of bowing to the union desire for political control.

The statement even has the gall to claim “there is no time to wait. Our children immediately deserve the best education we can provide.” If these gentry progressives are waiting for urban schools to reform without competition from charters or vouchers they are consigning generations of children to diminished lives.

The vote should cause the NAACP’s corporate donors to reconsider. Any CEO who donates to a group that opposes charters should never again whine about the “skills gap” or claim to care about education reform.

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Online:

http://on.wsj.com/2eCPIGv

The Journal News of White Plains on reforming New York’s voting rules to open the window for when ballots can be cast.

Oct. 16

Want to vote in the Nov. 8 election but forgot to register? Too late. It’s done. But future voters don’t have to be frozen out of the process before the next election: New York needs to rethink the voting rules so more people can help decide who will lead them.

The state should allow people to register later for an upcoming election - even on Election Day. Plus, New York should let voters cast a ballot when it’s convenient, not just on one day, no matter their reason for wanting to do so. Supporters of early voting and same-day voter registration point to higher voting participation and voter satisfaction - both of which seem in short supply in recent elections.

New York’s election process remains antiquated, hardly a smart method for a state known for its innovation. Voters must register at least 25 days prior to an election to be eligible to vote, meaning registration applications had to be handed in or postmarked by Friday to be registered in time for the upcoming election. Kudos to Rockland’s Board of Elections, which added Saturday afternoon and evening hours to allow last-minute in-person registration for new voters.

But more flexibility - in when you register and when you vote - could mean higher turnout and more opportunities for the people to be heard.

Many aren’t engaged in the process until the weeks prior - a 25-day cutoff ices out potential voters, especially younger people who may not have yet had the opportunity to register and participate. Those who have moved may not have realized, until too late, that they needed to update information to vote in a new location.

About a dozen states also allow in-person voter registration on Election Day. Allowing a new voter to register later, and even on the day ballots are cast, ensures voter access.

Opening the window for when ballots can be cast can also widen participation. In New York, the polls are open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Election Day. If you can’t get there, and didn’t plan ahead for an absentee ballot, you are out of luck.

More than two-thirds of states have what’s called “early voting,” which lets people go to a polling site to cast their ballots days or weeks before Election Day. Unlike New York’s absentee ballot system, most states that have early voting do not require a voter to provide an excuse for why they can’t get to the polls on Election Day. With early voting, citizens can participate in the process when it is convenient for them, and when they are motivated to vote.

New Yorkers who cannot make it to their designated polling station on Election Day can obtain an absentee ballot. But you have to have a real excuse for getting one. Potential absentee voters fill out an application and specify the reason, by checking a box, that an absentee ballot is needed. Reasons include being away on Election Day, having a temporary or permanent physical disability, and being jailed or imprisoned for a non-felony offense. While voters can drop off the filled-out ballot at the Board of Elections up to the day before Election Day, they can’t hand-deliver it on Election Day - because they have already stated they can’t get to the polls.

“Absentee voting is a privilege, not a right,” Rockland Democratic Elections Commissioner Kristen Zebrowski Stavisky previously told The Journal News. “You have to, in good faith, meet one of those reasons.”

Why does New York still restrict voting to that one day, in person, unless specific circumstances can be met to achieve absentee voter status? Benefits of a more flexible system, according to a report by the NYU’s Brennan Center for Justice, include shorter lines on Election Day, a better job done by less-stressed poll workers and increased voter satisfaction

Key decisions are being made Nov. 8. Besides the presidential election, New York voters are deciding a U.S. Senate seat and, in many districts, a House seat. All state Assembly and Senate seats are on the ballot, and several local elections are being decided. (The fact that various elections are uncontested is a whole other troublesome issue.)

In an increasingly busy life, in one of the busiest regions in the world, New York should find ways to modernize the election process so more people can participate in the process.

___

Online:

http://lohud.us/2eiKxsc

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