Letters: A wish list for Albany

The New York State Capitol in Albany.

The New York State Capitol in Albany. Photo Credit: Getty Images

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Democracy is based on the concept of one person, one vote. This ideal has been torn to taters through the influence of money.

The corrupting influence of money should be removed or at least diminished, and we can begin at home. In the State Assembly there is pending legislation, supported by the governor, to pass the Fair Elections Act requiring the public financing of elections.

The measure would create a fund at a cost of about $2 a year for New Yorkers. Candidates who opt into the system would enjoy 6-to-1 matching funds for low-dollar donations. The small cost would be regained many times over by mitigating the corrupting influence of PACs, special interest groups and large donors.

For this measure to pass, the State Senate must also agree.

Jim Ansel, Port Washington

The focus on drug treatment and reducing New York's non-violent prison population is certainly a step in the right direction ["Prison reforms good for NY," Editorial, March 14].

However, New York falls short on facilitating the re-entry of ex-offenders into productive society. The stigma of a felony conviction presents often insurmountable hurdles to employment, licensing and housing opportunities.

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Many states have enacted "second chance" laws that permit old criminal convictions to be expunged or sealed after many years of good conduct. It's time for New York to catch up.

The New York State and Nassau County bar associations, along with New York State's Chief Judge Jonathan Lippmann, Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice, and forward-thinking Albany legislators like Assemb. Joe Lentol (D-Brooklyn) and Sen. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley), have proposed or endorsed the sealing of records for deserving non-violent ex-offenders.

Rick Collins, Mineola

Editor's note: The writer is a lawyer in private practice.

Among New York's children, one in three diseases and deaths -- from asthma, obesity, attention-deficit disorder and some cancers -- can be attributed to toxic chemicals and other environmental exposures. This is according to a landmark report released last month by researchers at the Mount Sinai Health System.

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However, pediatricians are often unaware of the relationship between an illness and an environment, or what to do about it.

To address this, Assemb. Robert Sweeney (D-Lindenhurst) and Sen. Mark Grisanti (R-Buffalo) have included $1 million in the proposed Assembly and Senate budgets for a statewide network of six or seven Centers of Excellence in Children's Environmental Health.

The centers would be staffed by pediatricians, nurses and health educators who could treat and prevent diseases caused by environmental exposure. One would be located right here at Stony Brook University's medical facilites. At the estimated $4.35 billion to treat exposure-related diseases, the centers would be cost-effective, as well.

Dr. Evonne Kaplan-Liss

Dr. Philip J. Landrigan

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Editor's note: The writers are, respectively, an associate professor of preventive medicine and pediatrics at Stony Brook University, and the director of the Children's Environmental Health Center at the Mount Sinai Health System.


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