Divide to Conquer
is troublesome to watch the divide between those of means
and those without widening at such an astronomical pace, in
particular as it pertains to public education. New York state
statistics indicate that in the 2003-2004 school year, 51
percent of the children in Albany schools were eligible for
free or reduced lunch, and just two years later, in the 2005-2006
school year, the percentage had increased to 61 percent.
Several weeks ago I read an article in Metroland [“School
of Hard Questions, Oct. 11”] in which City Comptroller Tom
Nitido shared his experience with the City School District
when attempt-ing to have his child enrolled in pre- kindergarten
at one of Albany’s three elementary magnet schools. Mr. Nitido
shared with the reader, in great detail, how the current system
created its own opportunity to be manipulated by those who
had influence. The Times Union did a follow-up article
on Oct. 20, “Bypass for Albany School Lottery Denied.”
Several observations disturbed me about the Metroland
article but one statement, quite frankly, chilled me to my
core. When the city comptroller was asked whether or not he
would consider enrolling his child in a public school after
pre-kindergarten, Mr. Nitido replied: “I wouldn’t send my
child to a school that had 60 percent underprivileged children
in the class. But because Albany has such a small African-American
middle class, race becomes synonymous with class.”
Words like these echo to a distant past when “separate but
equal” was the law of the land. It is shocking and more than
a little disconcerting in this day and age for an elected
official to make such an insensitive comment, with its serious
overtones of both elitism and racism. I, for one, am bewildered
by his words, and can only wonder what his real views are
on the widening divide between those of means and those who
live without many of the basic necessities of life.
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out
because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak
out-because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out-because
I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for
Although written over 50 years ago, the words put to paper
by Pastor Martin Niemoller are as true today as they were
Silence gives consent. In good conscience I cannot be silent.
J. Barnette, Albany City Treasurer
you for your item on Channel 6 and its foray into advocacy
[“Advocacy at 11,” Newsfront, Nov. 21]. For quite some time
now the one-trick-pony aspect of Tom Tomorrow has rendered
that comic strip quite unfunny. I was appreciative that in
your Thanksgiving Issue, you seem to have arranged for Chet
Hardin to step into that breach quite manfully. Alan Chartock
bemoaning the presence of advocacy in the news-gathering media.
In Metroland, no less. How droll. No one can ever accuse
Metroland of lacking a sense of humor.
I wander off deeper into my 60s, I am rewarded by increasingly
frequent naps spiced by reveries. Today’s was a corker, for
which you most certainly get credit. In it I was in some type
of disembodied state, floating outside the Channel 6 headquarters
in Niskayuna. Beneath me I see a figure in a trench coat looking
like a blend of the features of Lisa Jackson and Humphrey
Bogart. She is talking to a person in uniform, with gold braid
and sort of a high-crowned chauffeur’s cap, who looks like
a cross between Claude Rains and Alan Chartock. In the background
I can see a Chet Hardin-like policeman bustling off Michelle
Smith in a vaguely threatening manner. The Chartock-Rains
character loudly pronounces to the Jackson-Bogart character,
“Lisa, I am shocked, shocked, to find there is advocacy going
on in this establishment.” He then turns dramatically and
marches to his car and opens the door. When he does so, however,
a bag of campaign buttons spills out of the car. The buttons
have been struck with a “Cuomo for Governor” slogan on them,
and then were overstruck with a slogan “Patrick for Governor.”
Chartock pushes the bag upright and back into the car, brusquely
slams the door, and drives off.
I can hardly wait for next week’s issue.
the feature story “One Life at a Time” [Nov. 8], Albany Common
Councilman Corey Ellis was misidentified as a “successful
attorney.” Ellis worked at a law firm, but is not an attorney,
and did not represent himself as such.
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