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Congress: Stop protecting sexual harassers

first_imgCongress, an inherent conflict of interest.After a 30-day counseling period, employees must file “a request for mediation,” which is led by an outside official.Only after this 30-day mediation process may employees request an administrative hearing or file suit.Although mediation can be a useful process, it can also deepen the pain and subject accusers to pressure from the accused, who can use mediation — which is confidential — to try to talk them out of pursuing their case.If a victim goes public before the conclusion of the counseling and mediation process, he or she is subject to sanctions.This system was unenlightened, to put it mildly, when it was instituted in 1995.But in 2017, and in view of the widely reported experience of Hill staff members, it should be seen for what it is: an enabling mechanism. It’s about time.The 1995 Congressional Accountability Act applied most labor and civil rights laws to Congress.But instead of subjecting itself to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which enforces those laws, Congress created a weaker oversight body, the Office of Compliance — and exempted itself from basic safeguards against violations that are all too common.As a result, employees of federal agencies — but not members of Congress — are required to take training on sexual harassment.Agencies — but not Congress — must post information about where to report workplace violations.And while most federal workers find it relatively easy to file a complaint, congressional staff members face a convoluted process designed to protect offenders.Legislative employees who wish to report sexual harassment must “request counseling” from the Office of Compliance, even though its board of directors is appointed by members of Categories: Editorial, OpinionThe following editorial appeared on Bloomberg View:Congress has a rich history of exempting itself from rules it imposes on everyone else.Insider trading? Doesn’t apply. Whistleblower protections? Not in Congress! Workplace safety rights? Less is more. The Freedom of Information Act? Surely you jest.The most egregious example of this “Do as we say, not as we do” approach may concern sexual harassment.This week, as the fallout from the Harvey Weinstein scandal continues, the House Administration Committee announced that it would review the body’s embarrassingly backward harassment policies.center_img Federal employees who work on Capitol Hill should have no fewer protections than other federal employees.House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, has welcomed the administration committee’s review. But the public should demand swift action and accountability.Mandating training would be a good start, as one representative (and former staff member) has proposed.Even better would be scrapping its separate and unequal adjudicatory process altogether.Congress should abide by the same laws and standards it places upon federal agencies, private businesses and the general public.More from The Daily Gazette:Foss: Should main downtown branch of the Schenectady County Public Library reopen?EDITORIAL: Find a way to get family members into nursing homesEDITORIAL: Urgent: Today is the last day to complete the censusEDITORIAL: Thruway tax unfair to working motoristsEDITORIAL: Beware of voter intimidationlast_img read more

Paper right to note Union College’s milestone

first_imgCategories: Letters to the Editor, OpinionRe Feb. 27 letter, “Why mention race in Union presidency?”: There’s a profound lack of understanding exemplified from Mr. John Metallo.The Gazette did the right thing in mentioning that Union College’s new president is the first African-American to hold that position. Why? Because blacks have been an oppressed minority in our history and it’s taking a long time to overcome and correct that history.So whenever there’s evidence that such is being done, we need to be made aware of it and applaud it. Apparently and sadly, Mr. Metallo isn’t able to acknowledge that reality and that history.Michael FosterNiskayunaMore from The Daily Gazette:EDITORIAL: Beware of voter intimidationPuccioni’s two goals help Niskayuna boys’ soccer top Shaker, remain perfectEDITORIAL: Urgent: Today is the last day to complete the censusFoss: Should main downtown branch of the Schenectady County Public Library reopen?EDITORIAL: Thruway tax unfair to working motoristslast_img read more

Help food pantries by donating in mail

first_imgOn Saturday (May 12), our postal carriers in Schenectady County will have their annual Stamp Out Hunger food drive benefiting food pantries in the county that are members of the Schenectady County Food Providers (Concerned for the Hungry.)When you donate, please consider the following: No glass containers, out-of-date items, open items or homemade food. Non-perishable canned or boxed food is the best. Your donations help keep our shelves full, sometimes allowing us to offer items not available at the Regional Food Bank in Latham and enabling us to save our cash and grant money for other necessary expenditures.To all those that donate food items, our sincere thank you.A special thank you to the mail carriers who participated in this food drive. Your efforts are very much appreciated.Larry LewisSchenectadyThe writer is from the Schenectady County Food Providers. The letter was also signed by Dick Carnright, executive director, and Rose Schoening, manager of Lighthouse Food Pantry.More from The Daily Gazette:EDITORIAL: Find a way to get family members into nursing homesSchenectady police reform sessions pivot to onlineSchenectady, Saratoga casinos say reopening has gone well; revenue down 30%Schenectady NAACP calls for school layoff freeze, reinstatement of positionsFoss: Should main downtown branch of the Schenectady County Public Library reopen? Categories: Letters to the Editor, Opinionlast_img read more

Leaders must find way to save planet

first_imgHumanity is facing two major problems that could make life on Earth impossible. While military and ideological conflicts engage the attention of some nations and regions, nuclear war and climate change continue to threaten our existence. Addressing these problems will require effective leadership and support by the major industrial nations of the world. America’s role is unfortunately stifled by a president who might engage us in a nuclear war and believes climate change is a hoax.Alexander Hamilton, in Federalist paper 68, wrote “The process of election affords a moral certainty that the office of president will seldom fall to the lot of any man who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications.” Later in that same paragraph, he wrote, “It will not be too strong to say that there will be a constant probability of seeing the station filled by characters preeminent for ability and virtue.” Well, Alex, the American people have elected as president a man drowning in immorality and incompetence.I note pessimistically that around the world, we are witnessing the rise of national leaders who are antagonistic to democracy and live insecurely while governing their own domain. Such leaders are unlikely to support common-good issues of world importance.Most Americans believe that our elected officials should always do the right thing — that is, support what is best for the nation. By analogy, can’t the people of the world politically find a way to join hands and cooperate to save our planet?Howard LittmanNiskayunaMore from The Daily Gazette:EDITORIAL: Find a way to get family members into nursing homesPuccioni’s two goals help Niskayuna boys’ soccer top Shaker, remain perfectEDITORIAL: Thruway tax unfair to working motoristsNiskayuna girls’ cross country wins over BethlehemEDITORIAL: Beware of voter intimidation Categories: Letters to the Editor, Opinionlast_img read more

Op-ed: The Legislature in 2019 — new direction or business as usual?

first_imgIt’s nothing less than a moment of truth that Democrats must meet if its presumably progressive agenda is to be trusted.A PROGRESSIVE BLUEPRINTIn contrast to the propaganda proffered by right wing talk radio, the political history of this country and state since at least 1980 has been anything but liberal or progressive. Democrats began drifting to the right immediately after Reagan’s election and only recently seem to be rediscovering their New Deal roots — but not, it has to be noted, without continuing internal resistance.  The 2018 election gives Democrats an opportunity—albeit only a short one–to show the state and nation what a program of true progressive reform can accomplish for all—and not just some already advantaged–people.What should be on that progressive agenda?Apart from political reforms addressing conflicts of interest, gerrymandering and voting rules that discourag and suppress, criminal justice reforms such as limiting imprisonment for failure to make bail that disproportionately targets the poor should receive early attention.  Public schools have been demonstrably harmed through diversion of public resources to charter schools.  That needs to change.The cost of higher education and universal access to health care are other concerns.  All these have been moving in the wrong direction, if the diminishing returns we’ve been experiencing for some time are what truly matter.The state constitution gives the executive branch some powerful prerogatives, like line item veto, that afford the governor significant influence over final legislation.In that regard, it also would seem advisable for us to learn more about the political inclinations of Kathy Hochul, the lieutenant governor, which is an independently elected statewide office to which little attention is normally given.Overall at this juncture, decades of observing the behavior of the Legislature and state government in general would understandably prompt one to say — perhaps cynically — not to expect too much. However, that doesn’t mean that a pleasant surprise and departure from long habit isn’t needed and wouldn’t be welcomed with open arms.John Figliozzi is a regular contributor to the Sunday Opinion section.More from The Daily Gazette:EDITORIAL: Thruway tax unfair to working motoristsEDITORIAL: Urgent: Today is the last day to complete the censusFoss: Should main downtown branch of the Schenectady County Public Library reopen?EDITORIAL: Find a way to get family members into nursing homesEDITORIAL: Beware of voter intimidation Given the evident leftward bearing of this election in keeping with the mood of the electorate, there should be no excuse for the Democrats’ failing to enact their progressive agenda going forward.NOT A PROMISING PRESEASONHowever as a first step, the lukewarm reaction from both rising legislative leaders–Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie — to the recommendations made by the commission charged with examining legislative pay issues has not been encouraging.  While fully acknowledging that legislators have not received a pay rise in some two decades by recommending a massive 63 percent increase, that commission also proposed, as a quid-pro-quo for such largesse on the part of the public, that legislators give up committee stipends and almost all outside income.This reform package would address what is the most prominent source of the corruption that has plagued the legislative branch.A number of legislators and former leaders in both houses and on both sides of the aisle have been convicted of crimes related to their outside income.  It also tracks in significant detail the reform measures previously passed in the Assembly, which will no longer have the excuse — or cover — of having it arrive dead on arrival in the Senate due to Republican obstruction.Gov. Andrew Cuomo has suggested that it would be unwise for legislators to enact the quid without the quo, and he’s right.center_img Categories: Editorial, OpinionWill voters get the change in direction from New York state government that they apparently have bargained for?The Legislature that convenes this coming Wednesday will add a strong 15 vote Democratic majority in the Senate to an already overwhelmingly Democrat-controlled Assembly.  For the first time in eight years, the Senate will have no “Independent Democratic Conference.”Voters in the 2018 primary and general elections decimated the IDC, which actually operated as a pivotal third party that curiously chose to join in coalition with Republicans to keep the latter in control of the chamber.  So, Democrats now hold all the levers of power in state government — the four elected major statewide offices as well as a staggering 107 seats in the 150-member Assembly and 39 of the 63 seats in the Senate.  The claim one heard over the recent past is that Republican control of the Senate continuously blocked key reform legislation passed easily in the Assembly.last_img read more

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Berkeley profits soar as city focus pays off

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A sporting chance?

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‘Glistening bank’ in rent showdown

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Hants, Dorset and south Wiltshire – Talk of the towns

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