- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 2, 2016

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

The Albany Times Union on state officials potentially opening the Boreas Ponds tract in the Adirondack Mountains to motorists.

Oct. 31

Imagine the most pristine of spots in the heart of the Adirondacks, with a panorama of peaks so beautiful it’s been called the million-dollar view. The state just bought it, along with an old logging road that leads right up to the shore of three interconnected ponds.

Some people, including officials in the towns bordering this 20,758-acre area known as the Boreas Ponds tract, want that road open to motor vehicles, allowing people to drive their car or truck to the picture-perfect scenery, put in their motorboat, or, in the winter, barrel over the ice in a snowmobile.

Such broad access, proponents say, would give taxpayers the greatest return on the $14.5 million the state paid in April to purchase the former Finch Pruyn property from The Nature Conservancy. It would give many more people the opportunity to get into the High Peaks without stepping out of a car. And to get there, they’ll pass through local towns and spend money on gas, food and maybe even lodging. That’s a big potential boost for a region whose economy depends so much on tourism.

But the Boreas Ponds Tract raises once again the question of how best to protect New York’s rich wilderness and honor the “Forever Wild” amendment adopted in 1894 to the state constitution, preserving Adirondack forests. Some environmentalists argue the only way to protect the area is to let vehicular traffic go no farther than Blue Ridge Road, the highway that passes by the property, requiring anyone who wants to view or use the spectacular pond area to either hike or bike nearly 8 miles.

This has state officials trying to find a way to please both sides. In May, when Gov. Andrew Cuomo visited this newly acquired state property, he charged the Adirondack Park Agency with determining what uses will be allowed, promising it would be based on “careful consideration of the natural resources’ capacity to withstand use.”

The good news is at least one reasonable compromise has emerged. As with most compromises, it gives neither side all it wants, but finds a workable middle ground. This smart plan would allow motor vehicle access to most of the logging road, known as the Gulf Brook Road. A mile before the ponds, users would then park and hike or bike in, carrying their canoes, kayaks or other non-motorized watercraft.

This works for two key reasons. It would keep motorized vehicles away from the ponds, preserving their natural state. It would also vastly reduce the chance for introduction of invasive species, commonly carried in boats on trailers. A version of this plan would allow snowmobiling along the existing logging road, which satisfies a long-stated desire in the community to support such winter activities.

During his May visit, Governor Cuomo declared, “We are leaving our children a better North Country, a better park than we inherited.”

Adopting the reasonable compromise plan for the Boreas Ponds Tract would help make that happen.

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Online:

https://bit.ly/2eMFNNj

The Middletown Times Herald-Record on guns that are being used in crimes committed in New York state.

Oct. 27

Can we talk about guns and crime in New York?

That’s a sincere question, one that too often gets a quick “no” from too many people because it is one of the most divisive, if not the most divisive, issues in public life.

Those who are willing to talk now have something important and educational to add, a report from Eric Schneiderman, New York’s attorney general, on the origin of guns used to commit crimes in the state.

Crunching numbers that have not long been available with such clarity, he found that 74 percent of firearms used in crimes in New York were bought in states with much less restrictive gun laws. Thousands of those guns bought out of state and used in crimes in New York made it here within a year of their purchase. The numbers show that 91 percent of the guns with what researchers call a low “time-to-crime” record were recovered in New York City.

It’s hard to dispute Schneiderman’s conclusion: “New York’s strong gun laws are being undermined at every turn by lax laws in other states . Even as we work to make our streets safer, the illegal guns most often used in violent crimes continue to pour into our state.”

Schneiderman’s analysis, as outlined in a story in The Daily News, focuses on something familiar to those in law enforcement but that might not be common knowledge among those who want to find ways to reduce or prevent such criminal activity. These guns used to commit crimes, the vast majority of them handguns, are being regularly purchased in states known as the “Iron Pipeline.” Weapons can be bought easily, often without any background check, in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Virginia. And those are primary sources of the guns, mostly handguns, used to kill people or commit other crimes in New York.

There is not much New York or its leaders can do about the gun laws in other states aside from supporting efforts in Congress to crack down on the practices elsewhere that allow these guns to be purchased, sometimes in bulk, with little or no accountability and then sent on their way to our state. As these newly available figures showed, police recovered 46,514 guns that were connected with a crime and that also could be traced back to their original sale. Of those, 74 percent came from another state.

To put it more simply, criminals in New York have found that the state’s strict gun laws have little effect because it is so easy to buy these weapons and import them.

Strengthening background checks on those who want to purchase guns, especially from other gun owners or at gun shows, has overwhelming support among the public. There are several reputable polls showing that members of the National Rifle Association also are in favor of this change.

If New Yorkers on all sides of the issue want to slow the flow of handguns destined for the hands of criminals, a national effort to require such background checks would seem to be the only effective option.

So, can we talk about that?

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Online:

https://bit.ly/2faWWi4

The Plattsburgh Press Republican on Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred’s attempts to speed up our national pastime.

Nov. 1

Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred wants to speed up games to attract new audiences, particularly young people. That is, he sort of wants to speed up the games.

Manfred became commissioner in 2015. He’d been around the game and the administration of it for a long time, so he knew then and knows now where MLB stands in fan appeal.

And fan appeal is, by and large, what his job is all about. If baseball can’t compete for attention with fast-moving professional basketball or gambling-happy professional football, it will officially fall from its perch as America’s national pastime.

Major League Baseball took over as America’s sports leader practically the minute Babe Ruth stepped onto the field in the 1910s. It had no real rival.

The National Football League didn’t really pump the nation’s hearts until the late ‘50s and the National Basketball Association until much later.

Now, baseball is fighting for its life, if no longer for its ratings superiority.

Manfred quickly realized when he took over that baseball games dragged. What made the game great - the small nuances of strategy and player-on-player confrontations - were not as appealing, especially to uninitiated kids, as non-stop action of basketball and touchdown heroics of NFL games.

So, this year, he ordered batters, who used to waste only limited amounts of time scratching and spitting, to stop the new habits of adjusting batting gloves and taking so many long deep breaths outside the batters box.

But enforcement was inconsistent at best. Pitchers were still taking half a minute between deliveries, as spectators yawned.

Manfred has more ideas: an uncompromised 20 seconds between pitches, complete with pitch clock; a smaller strike zone so there’s more hitting and fewer walks; fewer pitching changes that stop games for minutes at a time; and new thoughts on infield shifts to defense different batters.

In short, he believes, baseball needs more action and fewer interruptions.

But here’s a thought that Manfred hasn’t publicly discussed: During the World Series, the traditional one minute between innings, while one team leaves the field and the other takes it own stations out there, has expanded to three minutes. Why? So television can put more money-making ads on - as many as six 30-second commercials per half inning.

Right there, that constitutes a minimum of 54 minutes to a game, as each inning constitutes two switches.

Tickets for the 2016 World Series in Chicago were selling for between $2,000 and $100,000 each. Interest in the game, for either competitive or historic reasons, is obviously high.

Still, Manfred is right: The game could use some touching up in the interest of pace.

However, as long as he bows to television and its advertisers, we’ll all know his heart may be in the box seats, but his brain is in the accounting office.

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Online:

https://bit.ly/2f7gCFL

The Wall Street Journal on South Korean President Park Geun-hye’s scandal.

Oct. 31

Evidence emerges that the President’s consigliere solicited corporate donations to nonprofit foundations in return for influence and used access to sensitive government information to help make policy. Prosecutors raid government and foundation offices looking for evidence of corruption.

This is not a prediction for the first 100 days of a Hillary Clinton administration. It’s a scandal that has seen South Korean President Park Geun-hye’s approval rating fall to 14 percent.

Ms. Park campaigned in 2012 as a reformer of Korea’s corporate-political power nexus. Yet once in office she failed to contain the power of the chaebol, the family-run conglomerates that dominate the economy, and she resurrected practices from the 1970s when her father, Park Chung-hee, was dictator. These included using the National Security Law to disband an opposition party and prosecuting critics for criminal defamation.

At the center of the current scandal is Choi Soon-sil, the leader of the Church of Eternal Life and a confidante of the President for four decades. Last year she set up the Mir and K-Sports Foundations to promote Korean culture overseas. Within months they raised $72 million from corporate donors, allegedly with the help of the Culture Ministry and the Federation of Korean Industries.

Critics say that the foundations were intended to fund Ms. Park’s retirement activities. Investigators are probing whether Ms. Choi used some of the funds to buy homes in Germany. Both women deny the accusations. Journalists have found advance copies of the President’s speeches on a computer once owned by Ms. Choi, as well as footage of her giving orders to presidential staff. This confirms public suspicions that she wields political power behind the scenes.

Simmering anger over chaebol abuses explains the public’s furious reaction to the scandal over the past month. Ms. Park criticized her predecessors for pardoning chaebol owners, but then she pardoned the chairman of the SK Group last year. Regulators also allowed Samsung to push through a merger consolidating the power of the founder’s grandson Lee Jae-yong that hurt minority shareholders. Ms. Park’s public apology and the resignation of her aides has failed to appease public anger. With 15 months left in her term, she has little to no support in the National Assembly.

South Korea needs strong leadership to reform its economy and maintain its competitiveness. It also must reckon with North Korea’s accelerating drive to put nuclear warheads on missiles capable of reaching the South, Japan and the U.S.

Koreans elected Ms. Park in part out of nostalgia for the high-growth years of the 1960s and 1970s, but she failed to make a clean break from the darker aspects of her father’s rule. The country will now have to pay a price for this ethically challenged inheritance.

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Online:

https://on.wsj.com/2eRQNbY

The New York Post on Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid’s comments regarding FBI Director James Comey.

Oct. 31

As soon as FBI Director James Comey announced the revival of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private e-mail server, Democrats went on the attack - against Comey.

The lowest is the party’s top smear-meister: Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid.

The same Harry Reid who flat-out lied in 2012 in claiming a “confidential source” told him Mitt Romney had paid no income taxes for a decade. (In fact, Romney paid millions.)

The same Harry Reid who still calls that lie “one of the best things I’ve ever done” - simply because “Romney didn’t win.”

Now he’s wildly accusing Comey of suppressing evidence about Donald Trump’s “close ties and coordination” with Vladimir Putin’s government.

And he’s not alone: Democrats and their media allies have unleashed an unbridled attack on Comey, accusing him of violating federal law with his Friday letter to Congress. He’s endangering democracy, they say, and deliberately sabotaging Clinton.

What a load of hypocritical hooey.

In June, Democrats praised Comey to the skies after he gave Hillary a free pass on her private server. Never mind that, as former Attorney General Michael Mukasey argued, her actions appear to have violated several statutes, and others have been prosecuted for far less.

Now that Comey wants to check the e-mails from Anthony Weiner’s devices, he’s become an agent of the “vast right-wing conspiracy” that Clinton says has been hounding her for 25 years.

Sorry: After clearing Clinton four months ago, Comey had no choice but to announce the discovery of potential fresh evidence in the case - evidence that should’ve been handed over long ago. If he’d tried to keep a lid on it, the political impact would be far bigger when the news inevitably leaked.

We’re glad to see the White House playing it cool, announcing that President Obama doesn’t believe Comey is trying to influence the election outcome.

The fault here is not with the FBI but with the Democrats’ own candidate, Hillary Clinton, who plainly believes the law doesn’t matter if it conflicts with her desire for secrecy.

Just as Harry Reid believes the truth doesn’t matter - as long as the Democrats win.

___

Online:

https://nyp.st/2foYngc

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