It is important that those accused of crimes receive their due process guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.
Mandating that prosecutors hand over evidence to defense attorneys within 15 days of an arraignment while including more material in the discovery material prosecutors are required to hand over has a laudable intent. The more information a defendant has available, the better case the defendant can make in court.
It is equally important, however, that public safety be protected, and the state's actions on this front are far from laudable.
We note, for instance, the requirement that prosecutors turn over names and contact information of any person with information about a case and all electronic recordings related to an incident.
District attorneys argue that without additional staffers and upgraded technology, the reforms could inadvertently cost prosecutors cases, and, if material is not properly reviewed and redacted, witnesses and other parties could be put in danger, they said. In addition to the pressures in district attorneys offices, police departments have to make a complete copy of its file available for the prosecution to give to the defense, including notification of 911 call recordings, video or audio recordings from body cameras.
It's hard to imagine how area police departments are going to comply with the state's regulations without adding staff to handle the increased records duties. It's also hard to imagine how district attorneys offices statewide will comply without more staff. Yet, while the state makes funding available to hire more public defenders, no additional money was programmed for prosecutors to meet the state's sweeping criminal justice reforms.
The scales of justice are supposed to be equal.
— The Post-Journal, Jamestown
An $18.6 million state Farmland Protection Implementation Grant for conservation easement projects on 25 New York dairy farms isn't only an investment in one of the state's leading industries, it's an investment in our own future, too.
The conservation easement ensures that no matter who owns the land it must remain farmland and no developments or structures such as retail stores may be built there. Landowners may continue to own and use the property and will pay property taxes.
One recipient of grant money is the Paddock family, who operate Groeslon Farm in Remsen. Dairy farmer Bill Paddock said the grant provides his family's farm "an opportunity for the next generation." They'll get $417,690 for a conservation easement with the Tug Hill Tomorrow Land Trust. The Paddocks applied for the grant in February and were notified last month that they had been chosen.
The conservation easement grant will allow the farm to remain in the family, as so many smaller dairy operations do. Bill Paddock's father, Raymond, said that it was his father who founded the farm more than a half century ago. He can recall when there were around 50 dairy farms in the town of Remsen. Now there are five.
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Such a depletion in numbers is scary, but is indicative of the struggles facing dairy farmers today. The latest census data for New York agriculture shows a six percent drop in the number of farms statewide. The U.S. Department of Agriculture 2017 census - released every five years - showed 33,438 farms in New York state, about 2,100 fewer farms than 2012.
Dairy farming is the backbone of the state's agricultural industry, accounting for almost half of the state's total agricultural production. But low milk prices in recent years have been and remain a challenge for dairy farmers, especially for smaller family operations. Imagine a business where your operating costs increase but you get less back for the product you produce. That's the plight facing dairy farmers.
When dairy land is sold off for development, there's no turning back. That's what makes the conservation easements so critical. Farmland must stay agricultural.
— Observer-Dispatch, Utica
A recent presentation by Lake George Waterkeeper Chris Navitsky convinced the board it should adopt low-impact development rules for waterfront residential zones. Queensbury has a lot of waterfront land on Lake George and a couple of other smaller lakes, and its rules on seemingly small matters, like the use of fertilizer on lawns, can have a big impact on the lake's water quality.
The board has also recently endorsed going out to bid for three electric cars for use by town employees, and is looking at the installation of more electric-vehicle charging stations in places such as town parks. These stations would be convenient for people who are looking for something to do while they're charging their cars.
But Queensbury officials are not the only ones who realize that investments now in green energy and environmental regulations will pay off in the long run. Municipalities throughout the region have been investing in solar panels and taking other steps to reduce municipal energy use.
There is more to consider than bottom-line cost. Cars that run on gasoline, for example, may still be more economical per mile than electric cars, if the only costs you consider are the costs of buying and running the car.
But the volatility that goes with a warming climate — the flooding caused by more severe storms, for example — is also a cost borne by everyone, including Queensbury's taxpayers. Buying a few electric cars will have only a tiny effect. But billions of tiny acts, creating billions of tiny effects, will keep Earth habitable for humans.
Faced with the enormity of climate change, it's easy to throw up your hands. All enormous undertakings look impossible early on, whether it's landing on the moon or winning World War II. Queensbury Town Board is not giving up on the climate. None of us should.
— The Post-Star, Glens Falls