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Casinos aren't the way

The real losers in the casino wars are the people that the venues attract. Studies by sociologists show the bad effects that gambling has on a cadre of individuals — the poor, the habitual gamblers, and the "dollar and a dream" people. Those studies show the bad effect that casinos can have on those who cannot afford to throw their money down the toilet.

These casinos provide a source of revenue to Albany and the communities where they are sited. Is society willing to flush the water down the bowl when there are so many other needs?

If Wilmot wants to do something for the community, let him fix the river renovations started by his father 45 years ago. A true river walk tied into an aqueduct development coupled with our strong arts community and the medical centers that already attract visitors are a better way to bring economic life back to our community.


About that 'tough decision'

People responded to a blog about a city parent's decision to pull her kids out of city schools. The parent, Andrea Raethka, originally wrote an editorial in the Democrat and Chronicle, explaining her decision.

There are some good things happening in the RCSD, but as a whole it is failing and this goes way beyond simple academics. Anyone who says that speaking honestly about how bad things are is making things worse is out of touch.

The only way the district will be fixed even in a small way is to make everyone aware of how pitiful things are. If school videos were shown (both good and bad) for a week, I guarantee there would be national attention. As bad as it appears to those on the outside, the situation inside the system is unimaginable. Only the kids, their parents, the teachers, school staff, and in many cases, the principals, really understand.

Everyone else is on the outside and this includes school board President Van White, Superintendent Bolgen Vargas, and all of the union leaders. Essays like Raethka's might get Albany's attention.


RCSD has to face the "invisible elephants" in the room, namely, that 10 percent of the students are sucking 100 percent of teacher/administrative energy; that RCSD clerical staff do not make folks feel welcomed (not in schools or in Central Office); that many if not most employees are exhausted, demoralized, and uninspired due to the overwhelming challenges they face every day; and that the center of gravity for student performance is very low due to poor parental involvement and commitment to education.

RCSD does teach values (honesty, integrity, kindness, etc.), but city streets do not. Children are only in school seven hours, five days a week; the rest of the time the street is their teacher.


Clearly, Ms. Raethka's worst decision in 2015 was to write this opinion blog contributing to the negative media coverage of the RCSD. Personal decisions are one thing, but sharing it with media and discouraging families from moving into the city? Shame on her.