Good morning. Here’s a look at opinion content published since Saturday:
We published a pair of Community View pieces that took differing views on the state Department of Environmental Conservation’s recent denial of a water-quality certification at Indian Point:
• Matthew Brennan, a resident of New City who ran for the Assembly as a Republican in 2007, argues that the state agency has too much control over operations at the nuclear power plant. “We have seen brick, auto, can, container, electrical appliance, instrument and other manufacturing industries disappear along with the jobs and taxes they provide to the point New York state operates in a state of bankruptcy,” Brennan writes. “What new business can be expected when agencies like the DEC make uncertainty in the future supply of electrical energy their primary goal?”
• Susan Shapiro, a founding member of the Indian Point Safe Energy Coalition and a board member of Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, applauds the DEC’s certification denial and asserts her view that the plant should close. “The DEC’s ruling makes a clear statement that power plants across the state will have to stop freeloading off the taxpayers and include funds for the disposal of thermal waste, radiological waste and clean-up funds as a legitimate business expense,” Shapiro writes. “Should the expense of doing business legally prove too onerous for some companies, undoubtedly the free market will allow other, more efficient energy providers to step forward and provide us with an abundance of energy generated in a cleaner and more modern fashion at a profit.”
• In a Community View, Vincent Gaglioine, a resident of Yonkers who is a retired New York City teacher and union official as well as a former member of the NYSUT Board of Directors, responds to an April 4 piece by E.J. McMahon of the Empire Center.
“That nearly half the increases in school staffing may be for special education teachers is not a waste of resources. In most instances it is the result of districts finally addressing the needs of all children in their communities. Special-needs pupils are still too often the stepchildren of public education.
“Finally, McMahon raises the worn objection that class size is unrelated to pupil achievement. While the statistics may indicate so, it flies in the face of parental common sense. Given his employer I presume that he promotes choice in schools. How ironic that he would argue that all those parents who look for schools with small class sizes for their children are making ill-advised choices!”
• Sunday’s editorial, connected to our print-exclusive on Medicaid “frequent fliers,” will appear online tomorrow.
• In an editorial, we comment on remarks made by Rep. John Lewis, D-Georgia, at a dinner hosted by the Nyack chapter of the NAACP last week. “I haven’t seen this sort of mean spirit in a very, very long time,” Lewis, a hero of the Civil Rights movement, said of the day’s increasingly negative political discourse. “People are downright mean to each other. We cannot engage in a civil dialogue or civil discussion.” We hope civil dialogue can prevail. We write:
Impassioned argument and debate can become the impetus for badly needed reforms and fixes; name-calling and threats can close minds and thwart change. Our region and nation will need everyone’s energy, ideas and help as we emerge from the Great Recession.
• In a Community View, Michael Hagan, president of the Westchester County Police Benevolent Association, argues that politicians, not public employees, are to blame for the fiscal mess facing government at every level. “Public employees are an important part of our everyday lives; most of what they do goes unnoticed, but their contributions are vital to our society,” Hagan writes. “The blame game has to stop. The politicians don’t need Albany to pass new legislation to try to rein in overtime and its impact on pension costs. If their concern is genuine, they will make the unpopular decision to cut programs and services, or hire more employees, and eliminate the need for overtime. ”