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In response to Assemblyman Katz’s vote on gun safety

To the Editor:

In reading responses by Assemblyman Katz regarding his "no" vote on the gun safety bill (Jan. 24 "New gun law makes us less safe") recently passed by the State legislature, I note that his reasoning seems to be a restating of the positions taken in the past by the NRA. He insists that his constitutional rights under the second amendment are "being taken away," yet he never delineates specifically what rights he is referring to. Does he believe that the constitution gives him the right to keep ammunition clips of unlimited size? Does he believe that the constitution guarantees his right to own any type of weapon with any ability to shoot any number of bullets per minute? Does he believe he needs to have the ability to shoot more than ten shells per minute? 20 per minute? 100 per minute or is there no limit? Does he, as the NRA does, believe we should have access to Teflon coated bullets; armor piercing bullets? Does he, as the NRA does, support no background checks for sales at gun shows? No checks for sales between individuals? Does he, as the NRA has done, believe we should not have a director of the ATF? Does he support destroying background check data within 24 hours as it is now? Does he support allowing the ATF to inspect gun dealers and sales records no more than once a year as is now the case? In fact, he has never spoken out on these issues as a legislator!

In his letter to the Editor of Mahopac News, he rails against the lack of increased medical coverage for mental illness, yet he is a vocal supporter of repealing "Obamacare" which would extend coverage to millions of Americans.

Many people, including Assemblyman Katz, like to cite the second amendment right to "bear arms" as their mantra against regulation, but neglect to mention that part of that amendment refers to "a well regulated militia" which strongly indicates some regulation on weapons. You can't support only part of the second amendment and appear rational.

A reasoned discussion of gun control should indicate that citizens, like myself, have no intention of supporting the taking of "arms" from the citizenry. But, we cannot support a concept that says we can't regulate arms that have no reasonable use for hunting or protection. If the NRA historic support of unfettered access to all weapons were followed, we could have citizens able to eventually be able to buy shoulder mounted grenade launchers and other military "arms." Indeed, in his recent remarks at the Weatherby International Hunting and Conservation Awards meeting in Reno, NV, Wayne LaPierre, vice president of the NRA said that citizens should have the same rights to have the same weaponry as governmental groups, such as the Secret Service, police and the military! That is a formula for unlimited weapon rights with no end. Even the Supreme Court ruled that reasonable control of arms is constitutional.

Despite what Assemblyman Katz says, I do feel safer since the law was passed, and will feel even safer if the Federal Government acts as New York did. Prohibiting the sales of "assault type" weapons such as the Bushmaster, restricting the sale of cartridges to a smaller number of shells and having background checks on ALL GUN SALES will not make us totally safe immediately, but, in the longer view should prevent another Aurora or Newtown in the future.

John F. Roden-Carmel
January 29, 2013

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Journal News on notice

Dear Editor,

Regarding the manner of the Journal News being denied the names of gun permit holders.

There are two issues at hand, one is the right of the Journal News to FOIL the information and the second is the manner in which they use that information. Under the current laws, they do have the right to request the information, but to post it online and jeopardize the safety of residents is irresponsible on their part. For all the arguments put forward by County Clerk Dennis Sant, County Executive Maryellen O'Dell, Senator Greg Ball and Assemblyman Steve Katz the Affiliated Police Association of Westchester County support their position at trying to protect the law abiding citizens they represent.

Many retired law enforcement officer reside in Putnam County and when they retire they must apply for a gun permit like everyone else in order to carry a weapon. Should these law enforcement officers have their personal information and home addresses placed online readily available for criminals or ex-cons to view? What happens when one of these individuals find the address of retired law enforcement officers who they may have had an interaction with? Do they now target them and their family? The posting of this vitally private information online is dangerous and could cost someone their life because of the information being made public. The Journal News should be more responsible and cease any further action to have the names of law abiding citizens who happen to have a legal permit to own a gun placed online and in their newspaper. What purpose does it serve to post this information online and make public, what point is the Journal News trying to make? This following statement is being placed on the record for the Journal News;

"The Affiliated Police Association of Westchester County Inc. is putting the Journal News on notice that we will hold you accountable for any incident where any of our over 25,000 members are involved with an incident where a criminal or ex-con presents themselves at the residence of one of our members as a result of their name being made public by your newspaper."

Robert J. Buckley, Affiliated Police Association, Vice President - Mahopac resident
January 08, 2013

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Running for Town Supervisor

Dear Editor,

Is a man working in the Town Highway department that is set to retire in March any different from a 52 year old man named Jose Hernandez who is set to retire in 2015 after giving over two decades of service to the community only to be told that he is losing his job?

The so called rainy day fund which is the Towns needed 3 million dollar fund balance, per the recommendation of Moody's, in order to avoid having its credit rating downgraded. So in the end the Town spent the money and now raised taxes to make up for spending the money instead maintaining the proper fund balance in the first place along with budget cuts.

I find it interesting that Town Councilman Frank Lombardi was quoted saying that "the challenge with the budget was identifying new revenue streams."

How about we use the Municipal Waste Reduction and Recycling Program (MWR&) to increase Revenue.

The state program uses the DEC, which is authorized to provide State assistance for projects that enhance municipal recycling infrastructure through purchasing of equipment or construction of facilities. Some communities used funding to construct materials recycling facilities or state-of-the-art composting facilities. Other communities have been able to purchase recycling containers and new recycling vehicles with their MWR& funding.

This program would allow us to increase revenues by processing recycling related items and selling them back to the community and Towns in Putnam, Westchester, as well as the County and develop jobs for the community.

I also find it is interesting that Councilwoman Suzanne McDonough said, "We can go back, we can cut some police if that is what you want." She also said, "We can't have everything, [f]or God Sake, the Town has done the best that we can possibly can."

Miss McDonough, let me say that I believe that we can and should be doing more for the taxpayers in Carmel New York and I know we can be doing more. How about instead of purchasing a new chip truck and bucket truck and chipper we looked in to providing our Town with a proper Vegetation Management Plan and outsourcing our tree services to save the tax payers money.

I also believe in an effort to keep open communication with our County Executive so we can develop a countywide consortium to help lower heath care costs.

It would involve all of our municipalities to pool their resources to develop a health care consortium that can provide employee health insurance at a lower cost than is currently available. Under this initiative, the county will create a self-insured health insurance pool administered by a third party, overseen by a board of directors made up of municipal officials. Significant savings are expected from lower administrative fees, elimination of insurance company commissions, broader spreading of risk and the ability to invest excess funds in reserve accounts. The initial investigation into this arrangement can be made possible through a grant from the State's Shared Municipal Services Incentive program.

I certainly understand as someone running for public office that state mandates, pension plan and insurance increases are posing problems but I also believe that now is the time to be even more creative with our budget to insure our towns future and that is what I intend to do as your next town supervisor.

Brian M. Oppenheimer, Mahopac
January 02, 2013

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Bazzo needs basic biology refresher

Dear Editor,

I feel I must respond to Mr. Bazzo's asinine Opinion piece in the Nov. 29th issue, which I just read, since I am at two addresses, and my mail is ordinarily held for 2 weeks. A few points:

1. Yes, Co2 is something all humans and animals breathe out. Unfortunately, because of big business' efforts to increase their coffers at humans' and animals' expense, the masses be damned, those organisms (which Mr. Bazzo has obviously forgotten about from his 10th grade biology class) that take in Co2 and give off oxygen - which we and the animals need for life - have seen their numbers alarmingly reduced over the last 40 years due to anti-environment policies of the far Right and their cohorts. See acid rain and the practical disappearance of the rain forest in South America for some apt examples.

2. Is Mr. Bazzo actually aware of how much those "animal farts" he refers to contribute to greenhouse gasses? His ignorant response shows that he obviously doesn't; they contribute an alarming amount that he can't even fathom. All due to our overly animal-product-heavy diet - meat and dairy - that scientists for years have linked to human health problems, such as obesity, heart disease and cancer. Breeding cattle for meat and dairy is big business in many countries, especially our own. These are facts, Mr. Bazzo, annoying though they may seem.

3. He complains about how much money we've spent on our War on Poverty, and how poverty and its related problems are still there. Well, guess why these problems are still there, Mr. Bazzo: because narrow-minded idiots like you haven't allowed government to spend enough to make a difference. YOU and your ilk are the reason these problems still exist.

4. Mr. Bazzo objects to the U.S. having to be environmentally-conscious and our government's efforts (translation: using his and his stingy friends' tax money) to save our planet and its environment, while the countries he lists as having growing economies - China, Russia and India - do little to ameliorate their toxic effects on the environment. Mr. Bazzo, I've been to Russia on numerous occasions, have a degree in Russian studies, keep up on what goes on there and in China, and my own husband grew up in Russia, and I can tell you unequivocally, that those governments have NEVER cared for the health and well-being of their various populaces. That's why they do diddly to clean up and preserve the environment they are so callously destroying. Just because they don't care doesn't mean we shouldn't. We need to continue to put pressure on these and other governments to stop polluting and be more environmentally-responsible. I guess Mr. Bazzo has never heard the expression (or chooses to ignore it, as he does other facts) that two wrongs do not make a right.

I am quite frankly surprised and appalled that a seemingly responsible newspaper like the Mahopac News has published and continues to publish such uneducated and unscientific claptrap as is contained in Mr. Bazzo's "column." My advice to you: don't print any more of his stupid opinions if you wish to be a publication that is respected and wants to be taken seriously by intelligent people. If you want to appeal to the base and narrow-minded, then go right ahead and continue to publish this drivel.

Lisa Akker, Mahopac
December 11, 2012

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Foreseeing garbage collection issues

Dear Editor,

After living in Mahopac for the past year I must say it is a lovely hamlet. Your newspaper is wonderful too because it keeps me informed on the news in Mahopac.

I have read recently that the Town of Carmel, including Mahopac, will start a mandated garbage pickup in January by two companies that won the bids to service the town. I am a little disappointed that the Town Council decided to do this and I believe it will limit competition

and increase the costs over the years, contrary to what is being said by town council members.

We have just been hit with a tax hike for a service that most private home owners were paying out of pocket. I like my carting company. I had the option of once or twice a week pickup on certain days. I have large garbage cans that we use for our carting company. I pay a little more

than the 22 dollars a month that is quoted in your paper for the new pickup. If I don't like my carting company, I can go out and hire another one at about the same price. Choice and competition keeps prices low. If I don't like my town-mandated garbage collection company, what choices do I have? None.

I also pay Putnam County tax on the service. There are a lot of residences here in Carmel. That sales tax is being lost to Putnam County. Is that going to be a higher tax bill from the county because of the lost tax revenue? Is Carmel going to pay a sales tax to Putnam County with the new trash contract in place?

I like choice and competition. In college, I had a professor in Business Administration that would say when lecturing on the business world that "competition breeds business." Simply put, the more competitors vying for your business or in a business field, the better the product and service. You can see this in the business world today. The consumer in the end is the winner.

What is happening is that the competition for the business of garbage will slowly die off here in Carmel. Smaller carting companies may go out of business since they have lost a town wide bid for the garbage business in Carmel. Others may merge with those that won the bid, reducing the

potential number of bidders when the contract comes up for renewal in the future. When renewal time comes, there may be only one bid at a higher price.

Another point is for the cluster communities that will have their garbage collected now. They may have to opt out of signed contracts with carting companies. This puts a burden on these communities as they have to recalculate their budgets to meet the new expense. Self-funding communities don't always have the options that large towns have. They are bound by laws and regulations mandated by the towns, counties and states where they are located. It would have been nice if the town gave these communities more time to end their contracts before they were picked up by the town for trash disposal.

The last part of the town trash contract is what was said in your newspaper. The town has budget restrictions. The town laid off a highway employee with 22 years' experience. The Town Supervisor is putting his reinstated salary portion into the general fund instead of taking it for himself. Yet both the councilman quoted in your

paper and the Town Supervisor said that the Town of Carmel will need to hire two part time people to assist in answering questions from the public about the garbage collection. Here's a thought: Why not the town council members and Town Supervisor who supported this answer questions from people in our town. Think out of the box and save money in the process.

Gary Zimmerman, Mahopac
December 11, 2012

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Quality of life in Mahopac

I have lived in Mahopac for 24 years, over which time I've written to local newspapers regarding our school tax and how it impacts the quality of life in our community.

I often stated that there would come a time that our children would not be able to afford to live in the town they grew up in. The same people who had planted their roots in this town could no longer sustain the growing tax burden.

Sadly enough, that day is here.

Our community is burdened to a point where homes are being devalued, people are electing to short sale their homes rather than lose them completely.

Now, to correct this, strong measures need to be taken by people of courage.

Presently, the Town Board is looking for an increase in taxes once more. I have written to Town Supervisor Kenneth Schmitt, calling for strong evaluation of Town Hall structure and costs.

We must, as a community, come to terms that our town was not set up to sustain the tax burden that we now have on homeowners alone. There are no great plans for future development that will alleviate this burden. The remedy lies in renegotiating all contracts with teachers, police and unions that would result in increasing their contributions into their retirement and healthcare, thus decreasing the tax burden of our community at large. Another option would be to institute a flat school tax to level the playing field for all homeowners.

James V. Paciullo, Mahopac
December 04, 2012

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Regarding Andy Bazzo’s column dated Nov. 15

To the Editor,

Regarding Andy Bazzo's column dated Nov. 15 -- The idea that all the thousand of pounds of pollutants we are putting into our air and water have no effect on the atmosphere, it's amazing that some still think it does not do anything to our environment; he doesn't remember/or want to acknowledge acid rain, and its effects on the trees around the world.

We should be happy that the Government "invaded" our space because if left up to the idiots like this Bazzo, we would be surrounded by "love canals" (you remember that surely). That's what no control does for you, and what the Koch Bros. would like, who spent over $100 million in the election, to elect Republicans who would get rid of the EPA so then they would not have to clean up their factories. That's where Fox News comes in...

A total of 34 national science academies have made formal declarations since 2001 confirming anthropogenic global warming and urging the nations of the world to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases.

The American Meteorological Society (AMS) statement adopted by their council in 2012 concluded:

There is unequivocal evidence that Earth's lower atmosphere, ocean, and land surface are warming; sea level is rising; and snow cover, mountain glaciers, and Arctic sea ice are shrinking. The dominant cause of the warming since the 1950s is human activities.

The scientific opinion on climate change is that the Earth's climate system is unequivocally warming, and it is more than 90 percent certain that humans are causing it through activities that increase concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, such as deforestation and burning fossil fuels.

No scientific body of national or international standing has maintained a dissenting opinion.

Oh, except, of course, your "expert" who no doubt gets his scientific expertise from Fox News. We should call him Bozo. What is his educational level?

Please give him a rest. All he is a loud bag of hateful, ill-informed, ugly and small minded rhetoric.

Margaret Ryan, Mahopac
November 27, 2012

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Cutting school days because of the storm?

To The Editor:

In response to Marc Weinrich's article, Mahopac News, Thursday Nov. 8, 2012 where he quotes Mahopac School Superintendent Thomas Manko discussing legislation that may allow the school district to hold classes for 170 days of instruction instead of the usual requirement of 180 days I offer the following. The article states that under current law the district is forgiven 5 days right from the start, meaning that the district can provide as few as 175 days of instruction per year. Now the district is looking for a waiver for another 5 days so only 170 days of instruction would be required. Why would the district be looking to cut 5 days of instruction from the curriculum? Why would the district want to give away 5 days of pay to its employees? Isn't the pay package rich enough already? Let's look at a teacher earning $100,000 per year. If the teacher works 180 days that translates to $555.00 per day, if 170 days then $588.00 per day. This may also apply to some administrators, janitors, grounds crews, etc. You're talking a lot of money here and it's not fair to the taxpayers. We should only be paying for time worked. I say instruct the children for 180 days and either cancel spring break or keep the schools open in June until the 180 day requirement is met. Teachers, administrators and staff at all of our schools already are getting over in such a big way through the use of the 2 hour delay. The 2 hour delay does not affect the 180 day school year and so is invoked with unbelievable regularity. If the taxpayers of this town knew how many times the 2 hour delay is invoked and how much we pay for time that is not worked there would be an uproar. Consider this: an elementary school teacher has her first class at 9 and lunch from 11 - 12, a standard scenario. That teacher is not going to report at 11 to eat lunch, that teacher reports at 12 and is out at 3, having earned $555.00. ot bad, $185.00 per hour for teaching 1st grade. And that's based on a teacher earning $100,000 per year. We have elementary school teachers earning $120,000 per year!

Furthermore, is the administration and school board aware that our Transportation Supervisor gets a free unmarked "school bus yellow" Chevy Suburban with free gas to take home at night? And that this vehicle is regularly parked outside either Secor Deli or On The Run early in the morning while he gets coffee and visits with friends?

Also noticed that we are graduating more seniors than taking in kindergartners. Enrollment is declining. That's a big plus as our district was becoming one where a family moves in, pays $5,000 in school tax, puts 3 kids through school, then moves up to LaGrange or somewhere and another family moves in and puts another 3 children through the district. Bestplaces.net states that we spend about $11,000 per year per student, homesurfer.com states $15,274, but if you divide the school budget by the number of students you get a much higher number than that. For instance 100 million dollars divided by 5,000 students is $20,000 per student. Tom Manko has done a respectable job watching out for the taxpayers. Let's make sure that going forward we all keep our eye on the ball with respect to district expenses.

Jim Tagley Mahopac
November 13, 2012

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A ‘Thank You’ after Sandy

To the Editor,

Thank you to Mahopac Public Library for being a port in the storm for thousands of local residents after Hurricane Sandy. What a lifesaver the Library was for our community. We are grateful to the staff of the Library, who worked tirelessly to provide a safe and cheerful environment.

So many people came to the Library to stay warm, to access the internet, charge their laptops, tablets and cell phones (and in at least one case, to charge an oxygen machine), to study, work, borrow books, read newspapers and magazines, entertain their children while the schools were closed, and meet up with their friends and loved ones.

The staff of the Library responded beautifully to these needs by setting up movies for the youngest patrons and Wii games for the teenagers. They provided hot coffee in the cafe area, they set up charging stations in the community room and in every available meeting room. The Library staff welcomed patrons into their offices to use the desks and tables and electrical outlets. And of course, as they always do, they assisted the patrons in any way they could.

Thanks to the Library's IT company, Annese and Associates, who were on-site to expand the capacity of the wireless computer access to meet the increased demand.

Thank you to the Friends of the Mahopac Public Library for operating the Book Barn, where our patrons bought armloads of discounted books.

While we wish we could remain open 24 hours a day during emergencies, we were forced to limit hours on certain days out of concern for the safety of our staff and patrons, who were traveling on roads without streetlights and with downed trees and power lines. As the road safety improved, we expanded the hours as much as possible, within our staffing ability and budget.

Thank you to the Town of Carmel, to Putnam County and to the voters for funding Mahopac Public Library. It is a true community center.

Alice WalshTrustee, Mahopac Public Library
November 13, 2012

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Cheers to Bazzo

Dear Editor,

Andy Bazzo's piece on Global Warming in the Nov 8 edition of the Mahopac News is outstanding. It cuts right to the heart of the matter and I agree with Andy 100% and thought he stated his position eloquently.

I also would like to say that his Op/Ed pieces are usually similarly on the money and I appreciate his getting the word out on these important issues that most people don't fully understand. Most of the public tends to get easily swayed by biased media coverage which is often misleading and manipulative. Andy has a way of blowing the lid off of that.

Thanks Andy. Keep it up.

Steven Salomone, Mahopac
November 13, 2012

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