State must fix its bridges

first_imgOf that, locally owned bridges alone require $27.4 billion – a steep bill for counties and cities, even with state and federal assistance. Given these numbers, bridge maintenance is tempting to put off if you want to keep taxes and spending low. But that’s not fiscal responsibility — that’s negligence. Putting off already overdue maintenance simply guarantees greater expense and hassle down the road, perhaps at an unplanned and highly inconvenient time.The general condition of New York’s bridges has improved very marginally in recent years, but it’s not happening fast enough.Our share of structurally deficient bridges puts us two points behind the national average of 9 percent – and at 17th among all states. Something has to change.Our instinct is to treat maintenance as an expense, but it’s really an opportunity. Repairing bridges means hiring construction workers and placing orders for materials. This stimulates the economy over the short term. If we don’t, counties may need to raise property taxes, which puts undue financial burden on property owners instead of high-income earners.What’s more, New York should lobby the federal government to make repairing our infrastructure a priority.Even President Trump has expressed willingness to move on infrastructure revitalization. Perhaps this is an area where Democrats and Republicans can find common ground.Ultimately, though, our bridges are more than just hunks of metal we drive over. And their maintenance is about more than budgeting. It should be a matter of state pride that we have well-kept public works projects like bridges. If we let the most visible parts of our infrastructure balance on the border of function and disrepair, what does that say about how we view our home? What does settling for substandard infrastructure say about what we feel we deserve as New Yorkers?We live in the greatest state in the country and a global economic powerhouse. We should drive on bridges that are more than “good enough.”Steve Keller is a regular contributor to the Sunday Opinion section.More from The Daily Gazette:Foss: Should main downtown branch of the Schenectady County Public Library reopen?EDITORIAL: Thruway tax unfair to working motoristsEDITORIAL: Beware of voter intimidationEDITORIAL: Find a way to get family members into nursing homesEDITORIAL: Urgent: Today is the last day to complete the census Functionally obsolete bridges “fail to meet current design standards for the amount of traffic carried.”Examples of obsolescence include “inadequate lane or shoulder widths, low clearances or low load-carrying capacity.” In Schenectady County, the numbers are worse than average: Of 116 bridges, 13 are structurally deficient (11.2 percent) and 40 are functionally obsolete (34.5 percent). Rensselaer County fares slightly better (10.9 and 18.9 percent), while Albany County’s bridges are among the best in the state (5.0 and 33.2 percent).The average age of bridges in New York is 48.2 years, placing their construction in the late 1960s. In Schenectady, the average bridge age is 39.4 years. Now, the age and condition of these bridges doesn’t mean they’re all about to collapse. If the authorities determine a bridge is unsafe, it is closed.But we shouldn’t let it get to that point in the first place, as we did with 91 bridges last year.The problem, of course, is money. The estimated cost to fix all of these bridges is $75.4 billion. Categories: Editorial, OpinionWould you cross a “structurally deficient” bridge?Actually, you probably do every day.On Tuesday, the state comptroller issued a report on New York state’s 17,462 bridges, about half of which are owned by local governments.The news isn’t pleasant: 1,928 of our bridges are structurally deficient (11.0 percent) and 4,531 (25.9 percent) are functionally obsolete. What do these terms mean?According to the comptroller, structurally deficient bridges are technically safe, but “have load-bearing elements in poor condition or are prone to repeated flooding.” And after construction work ends, communities see lasting benefit. When travel is easy, it means smooth functioning of private enterprise — which means economic growth and increased employment.It’s no wonder economists agree that infrastructure work is among the most effective forms of public spending.By contrast, if infrastructure is falling apart, it takes a toll.For example, if bridges can’t support heavy weights, it forces traffic reroutes. Or when crossings don’t have enough lanes for today’s rush hours, they become choke points that can freeze entire communities.When roadways have to close unexpectedly, supply chains are delayed and people can’t get to work on time.All of these inconveniences add up to a big problem, increasing the cost of doing business and dissuading firms from opening up shop in town. Infrastructure needs to be viewed as a state priority, not a responsibility of individual counties and towns.We don’t spend our lives in one town or county as our ancestors did. Schenectady’s bridges are regularly crossed by people from Troy and Albany and every single part of the state. We should collectively pitch in for their repair as a single state.last_img read more

No, liberals don’t hate America. And conservatives are not racists

first_imgCategories: OpinionWASHINGTON — I’m a rock-ribbed conservative who wants Republicans to keep control of Congress. But I’m not unhappy that Republican state Rep. Rick Saccone appears to have lost the special election in Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District.Why? Because he insulted my mother.Trailing his Democratic opponent in a district Donald Trump won by 20 points, but which still has more registered Democrats than Republicans, Saccone hit on a genius idea to turn out the vote: At a campaign rally just before voters went to the polls, he declared that liberals hate America and hate God. “I’ve talked to so many of these on the left,” he said. “.?.?. And I tell you, many of them have a hatred for our country. .?.?. I’ll tell you some more — my wife and I saw it again today: They have a hatred for God.”My mother is a liberal Democrat, and I can tell you: She does not hate America or God. Quite the opposite; she is one of the most patriotic people I know. She grew up in Nazi-occupied Poland, fought with the Polish underground, was taken to Germany as a prisoner of war, was liberated by Patton’s Army and moved to London. Eventually, she became a doctor and made her way to the United States, where she became a U.S. citizen.There is no one prouder to be an American. When Poland held its first free elections in 1989, Polish Americans living in the United States were invited to vote. Many did so, but my mom refused. She loved the land of her birth, but she was an American citizen now and would not vote in a foreign election. When someone hears her thick Polish accent for the first time they often ask, “Where are you from?” She answers proudly: “New York City.”She’s also a proud Democrat, who voted for Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. We disagree about politics, but we both love America and want to make this country great. We just have different ideas about the best ways to do it.So when Saccone says liberals hate America, he’s talking about my mother. I take it personally. And you should, too. Whether you are liberal, conservative or in between, I’ll bet that you have a loved one who disagrees with you about politics. It might be a sibling or a parent or a beloved cousin, aunt or uncle — or even your kids. We should not stand for politicians from either party who insult them or question their motives or their patriotism.Too often, politicians on both the left and right do just that. We saw this recently when, during an event in India, Clinton insultingly claimed that Trump won the parts of the country that weren’t “moving forward.” She said those voters liked what she characterized as Trump’s message that “you know you didn’t like black people getting rights. You don’t like women, you know, getting jobs. You don’t want, you know, to see that Indian American succeeding more than you are.” If you have a loved one who didn’t vote for Clinton in 2016, you should be offended. I doubt the people you love are against civil rights, or women working, or people of color succeeding. They just thought Clinton was a terrible choice for president — an impression she confirmed with those comments.We see it in the gun control debate that followed the Parkland, Fla., school shooting. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) said that if you’re not in favor of immediate action on guns, “you’re an accomplice” to the Parkland killer. Seriously? Do you have a loved one who disagrees with you about gun control? Are they accomplices to mass murder? No, they just disagree that gun control is the solution.The problem exists on both sides of the aisle, and it’s not just politicians. American Enterprise Institute President Arthur Brooks recalls how a few years ago he was giving a speech at a large conservative event. “I said that while my own views are center-right, I have no reason to believe progressives are stupid or evil,” he recalls. “An audience member countered, ‘You’re wrong: They are stupid and evil.’” Brooks is from Seattle, which means almost every member of his family is progressive.Progressives are not stupid and evil. Conservatives are not racists and misogynists. Our fellow Americans who disagree with us are not our enemies. They are our fellow Americans who differ with us. And we should not put up with politicians, on the left or right, who can’t seem to understand this.Marc A. Thiessen is part of the The Washington Post Writers Group. Follow him on Twitter, @marcthiessen.More from The Daily Gazette:EDITORIAL: Urgent: Today is the last day to complete the censusEDITORIAL: Find a way to get family members into nursing homesEDITORIAL: Beware of voter intimidationEDITORIAL: Thruway tax unfair to working motoristsFoss: Should main downtown branch of the Schenectady County Public Library reopen?last_img read more

Niche market

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Chande and Myers reunited

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Impatience is a virtue

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Going places

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Singaporean man earlier suspected of COVID-19 buried in Batam

first_imgAry Ginanjar, a caretaker at the Sambau Public Cemetery in Batam, said he had received a letter from the Bhayangkara Police Hospital in Riau Islands asking the cemetery to dig a grave for AA’s burial on Wednesday evening — four days after AA’s death.He described the funeral ceremony as “quiet and secretive.” The Jakarta Post only confirmed the burial on Friday.“The funeral was attended by several police officers, AA’s wife and his two daughters,” Ary said.He added that AA had been buried in an Islamic way, as his family wanted him to be buried without a coffin. The funeral ceremony took about one hour. A Singaporean man who was suspected to have contracted the novel coronavirus that causes the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) but reportedly died of “another illness” has been buried in Batam, Riau Islands, after days of uncertainty regarding his funeral.The man, identified as 61-year-old AA, died at BP Batam Hospital, one of Indonesia’s referral hospitals for the virus, after showing symptoms similar to those of COVID-19, such as fever and shortness of breath. The Batam Health Agency, however, said he had died of “another illness” rather than COVID-19, because the patient’s test results for the virus had come back negative.Read also: ‘The test came back negative’: Singaporean with ‘coronavirus-like symptoms’ dies in Batam The cemetery caretaker went on to say that there was no special treatment during the burial: “It was just the usual thing. There was no request to wrap the body with plastic.”Read also: Singapore emerges as litmus test for coronavirus containmentBatam Health Agency head Didi Kusumajadi said AA had been buried in Batam instead of Singapore due to an administration issue preventing the body from being taken to his home country.“Singapore should not refuse their citizen. However, his family also requested for him to be buried here,” Didi told the Post on Friday.The agency head dismissed concerns that Singapore had refused to let AA’s body be buried there because of the suspected COVID-19 infection. “The Consulate of the Republic of Singapore in Batam has tried to facilitate AA’s return to Singapore before it was decided to have him buried in Batam.”The Singaporean consul general in Batam, Mark Low, declined to comment on the matter. (hol)Topics :last_img read more

In Singapore’s neighbor Batam, malls empty, ferry trips reduced as virus fears lurk

first_imgFerry operators in Batam on average make 30 trips daily between the city and Singapore, a number that has been reduced to half today. The ferries dock at the Batam Center international port, Sekupang international port, Batu Ampar Harbour Bay, Nongsa Point Marina and Marina City.Singapore has so far detected 160 cases, of which 93 have been discharged, with no deaths. It is intensifying prevention, testing and care efforts to avoid further spread of the virus, including by restricting entry by visitors from China, South Korea, Iran and northern Italy.If the condition continues to persist, in the next one or two months ferry operators are likely to lay off some of their 1,000 workers, including ferry crews and their onshore staff.“Layoffs are within sight, although until today there has been no staff grounded or had their contract cut, but income has severely dropped,” said Asmadi.Riau Islands, with more than 1,000 islands that host the city of Batam, places second for foreign tourist arrivals, after Bali. In 2019, Riau Islands attracted 2.59 million visitors, almost half of which (47 percent) are from Singapore. China comes in second providing Riau Islands with foreign tourist arrivals, accounting for 10 percent with 260,000 people.Batam contributed almost three quarters of Riau Islands foreign tourist arrivals at 1.76 million, followed by Bintan at 575,000 and Tanjungpinang at 154,000.Read also:  More than 12,000 flights canceled in two months over virus fears, says Angkasa Pura IWith fewer people visiting Batam, workers like Melati, a therapist at First Choice spa, massage and reflexology in the dense city center of Batam, suffer the most disadvantages.“My income depends on how many customers I serve. If it continues like this it will be difficult to survive,” said Melati, who can normally handle five to six customers daily, mostly Singaporeans.Today she’s lucky to serve one customer in a day, Batam locals.Her manager Yanti Lie said the spa, massage and reflexology center has been forced to cut salaries for non-therapist employees such as herself.“We understand the situation. Our salaries were cut because there have been no customers. We have been dependent on Singaporean, Korean or Chinese tourists who enter from Singapore,” said Yanti.The massage center normally thrived on tourist groups that could visit the place bringing 30 to 50 customers at once.“Now we are really counting on the locals. Even when we give 50 percent discounts there’s just no customers,” Yanti added.Vendors at an empty Harbor Bay shopping center and international ferry port wait for customers on March 7, s visitors from Singapore are dwindling because the COVID-19 coronavirus makes them afraid of travel. The shopping center is within walking distance of the Harbor Bay International Ferry Port Batam, which takes passengers on a one-hour trip to Singapore. (JP/Fadli)There has as yet been no official data released on how severely the COVID-19 coronavirus is affecting the economy of Batam, which is supported by the manufacturing industry and tourism sectors, but there has been indication of a slowdown in the economy by way of a deflation recorded in February 2020.The Riau Islands in February saw 0.16 percent deflation on a monthly basis from January. That compares with a month-to-month nationwide inflation rate of 0.28 percent in February and also with the province’s 0.18 percent inflation recorded in January. Airplane costs, chicken and red chili prices contributed to Riau Islands’ deflation in January.Read also: Singaporean man earlier suspected of COVID-19 buried in BatamMeanwhile, the electronics manufacturing industry may well be the last line of defense, but production has been disrupted by a suspension of raw material supplies from China since January.Batam’s Batamindo Industrial Park general manager Mook Sooi Wah said half of the 68 factories in the industrial park depend on raw material from China.“There are two options to consider: first, seek supply alternatives from other countries apart from China; second, stop operations. Looking for an alternative supply is not an easy and quick task to do,” Mook told the Post.Raw materials used for production at the Batamindo Industrial Park come from various countries around the world, but China accounts for 70 percent.A source at another industrial park said Singapore’s Economic Development Board (EDB) has paid attention to Batam’s manufacturing industry situation, sending a letter to industrial parks asking for clarifications and the options being considered to tackle the issues.“Meanwhile our government has yet to reach out about the problems we’re facing amid the coronavirus,” the source told the Post.The government is to soon launch another stimulus package to ensure a smooth supply of raw materials for the country’s manufacturing sector amid the widespread impacts of the coronavirus on the global market.“About 20 to 30 percent of the raw materials for the country’s industries engaged in plastic, textile and steel production are sourced from China. For some other industries, the raw materials from China could reach 50 percent,” Sri Mulyani told the press at the Presidential Palace in Jakarta on March 4. (est)Topics : Within walking distance of the Batam Center ferry port, which connects Indonesia and Singapore through a one-hour boat ride, the Mega Mall Batam Center looks a lot quieter than usual.What used to be a view of cars competing to find parking spots is now a vacant lot. This is the most favorite stopover for Singaporeans who visit Batam to buy what they need before going back home across the Singapore Strait.However, the game changed at the end of January, when Singapore announced its first COVID-19 coronavirus case and embarked on an extensive public health emergency campaign, including travel restrictions and self-quarantine requirements after trips. Shipowner business representative Asmadi said four ferry operators serving the Batam-Singapore route have reduced their crossing numbers as only a few passengers embark. The same is apparent on ferry routes bound for Johor Bahru, Malaysia.“Normally for every trip a ferry boat carries at least 50 people, now it’s only 20 people,” Asmadi, the chairman of Indonesian National Shipowners Association’s (INSA) Batam chapter, told The Jakarta Post.“All ferry operators are reducing their trips. Operational costs are high while the numbers of passengers have dropped drastically.”Read also: Batam quarantines 15 people who had close contact with Singaporean COVID-19 patientslast_img read more

Japan says Olympics on track as Abe, Trump hold talks on coronavirus

first_imgThe IOC stands for the International Olympic Committee.There were 1,334 confirmed infections in Japan, including 696 from a cruise ship that was docked in the port city of Yokohama for several weeks, according to public broadcaster NHK. The virus killed 22 in the country, including 7 from the ship, the tally showed.Japan has sought to quash speculation that the Games, which have cost it at least $12 billion in preparations and attracted more than $3 billion in domestic sponsorships, could be cancelled or postponed as the number of people infected has reached 127,000 worldwide.The outbreak has already crippled global travel and hit Olympic qualifiers and other sports events. Japan has shuttered schools. Public health officials have discouraged large gatherings to curtail the spread of the highly contagious disease, and major soccer tournaments, National Basketball Association games and other sports have been halted.The Tokyo 2020 organizing committee said it was monitoring the pandemic with the IOC, receiving advice from the World Health Organization, and coordinating with the government and the Tokyo authorities.Japan’s government and the central bank shared a “strong sense of concern” over the economic fallout from the coronavirus, economy minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said, suggesting major fiscal and monetary stimulus measures could be in the works.One of the more than two dozen members of the board of the organizing committee, Haruyuki Takahashi, told Reuters this week that if the Games could not be held in the summer, it would be most feasible to delay them by a year or two. He told other media the decision should be made before May.Takahashi also told Reuters organisers had started working on scenarios for how the virus could affect the Games. A sponsor representative said the plans were confidential and were not being shared with the companies.Tokyo 2020 chief Yoshiro Mori vehemently denied the Games would be cancelled, but added at news conference in the wake of Takahashi’s comments, “I am not saying there won’t be any impact. I think there will be. On that, specialists in each field are looking into what to do.”On Thursday, the prelude to the games got underway with the lighting of the Olympic Torch in a scaled-down ceremony behind closed doors.  Topics : Top Japanese government officials said Friday they were determined to hold “safe and secure” Olympics on schedule, a day after US President Donald Trump said Tokyo should consider delaying them for a year because of the pandemic.Japan’s Nikkei stock market benchmark tanked 10% as panic gripped financial markets, and the economy minister said the government “must take bold and unprecedented steps” to lessen the blow to households and companies from the health crisis.Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Trump talked by phone for about 50 minutes Friday morning and agreed to “strengthen cooperation” on fighting the novel coronavirus, but did not discuss postponing the Olympics or holding them without spectators, Japanese officials said.center_img Trump said in a tweet on Friday that he told Abe “that the just completed Olympic venue is magnificent. He has done an incredible job, one that will make him very proud. Good things will happen for Japan and their great Prime Minister. Lots of options!”On Thursday, Trump told reporters in the White House that he “just can’t see having no people there,” referring to the Tokyo Games.”Maybe they postpone it for a year… if that’s possible,” he said. Trump added that he liked “that better than I like having empty stadiums all over the place. I think if you cancel it, make it a year later that’s a better alternative than doing it with no crowd.”In response, Japan Olympic minister Seiko Hashimoto told reporters, “the IOC and 2020 organizers are not at all considering cancelling or postponing the Games. I’ve heard they are proceeding with preparations for safe and secure Games as planned toward the opening day of July 24.”last_img read more

Where in the world was Indonesian minister before announced as COVID-19 positive?

first_imgThe government announced Transportation Minister Budi Karya Sumadi had tested positive for COVID-19 on Saturday but rumors that the minister was ill had been circulating for days before the announcement. Budi, who has long suffered from asthma, had been absent from a number of events he was scheduled to attend since the beginning of the month. Prior to that, he had been on a number of work-related trips, including to Kertajati Airport in West Java and Luwu and Toraja in South Sulawesi. He was also active in the evacuation of Indonesian crew members from the virus-stricken cruise ship Diamond Princess on March 2.On March 10, in response to reporters’ questions about Budi’s absence, Transportation Ministry spokesperson Adita Irawati said Budi was suffering from typhoid symptoms and “resting at home.” On Thursday, the Transportation Ministry installed a disinfectant box in front of the Karsa building at its offices in Central Jakarta. Visitors were required to enter the box to be sprayed with disinfectant and have their temperatures checked. Budi Setyadi, the ministry’s land transportation director general, said the installation of the box was part of a trial for COVID-19 prevention measures that could be implemented at transportation hubs across the country. On Friday, Adita once again denied rumors that Budi had been infected by the virus. “Regarding rumors circulating about the transportation minister’s health, we hereby state that Transportation Minister Budi Karya Sumad is being treated in a hospital due to typhoid and asthma, which he has suffered from for a long time,” Adita told The Jakarta Post. “Right now, the minister is in stable condition and being monitored by doctors.”On Saturday night, after announcing that Budi had tested positive for COVID-19, Pratikno said that the health minister had “acted quickly” to anticipate the possibility of other ministers getting infected by the virus. “We want to emphasize that many people who test positive can recover quickly,” he said. “Once the President received the information, he ordered the health minister and all his ranks to work even harder to protect the public.”Pratikno declined, however, to say when Budi had been admitted to the hospital or when he had likely been infected.As of Sunday morning, Indonesia has reported 96 confirmed cases of COVID-19, resulting in five deaths. Eight patients have since recovered.Topics : Budi attended on March 11 a Cabinet meeting on land disputes in North Sumatra at the State Palace in Central Jakarta. The meeting was led by President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo.Attendees included State Secretary Pratikno, Cabinet Secretary Pramono Anung, Presidential Chief of Staff Moeldoko, Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Mahfud MD, Coordinating Economic Minister Airlangga Hartarto, Finance Minister Sri Mulyani, Agrarian and Spatial Planning Minister Sofyan Djalil, Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar, State-Owned Enterprises Minister Erick Thohir, Home Minister Tito Karnavian, Attorney General ST Burhanuddin, Indonesian Military (TNI) commander Air Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto, National Police chief Gen. Idham Azis, as well as North Sumatra Governor Edy Rahmayadi and acting Medan Mayor Akhyar Nasution, among others. Later that day, Budi also met with the Dutch minister for infrastructure and water management, Cora Van Nieuwenhuize, to discuss cooperation between Indonesia and the Netherlands in the transportation sector. Kami juga menandatangani Joint Statement (Pernyataan Bersama). Kami sepakat untuk meningkatkan kerja sama di bidang transportasi, serta pengembangan kapasitas dan kapabilitas sumber daya manusia perhubungan. pic.twitter.com/8DhQeyOSAY— Budi Karya Sumadi (@BudiKaryaS) March 11, 2020last_img read more