Morning, folks. A classic winter morning outside. A quick post about the weekend’s opinion writing, then I’m off to ski.
We’ll start in Watertown, near Fort Drum military base, which is already the anchor point for drone aircraft overflights across the Adirondacks.
Now, the Watertown Daily Times reports, the Obama administration is moving to allow far more drone activity in American airspace, a move that raises civil liberties concerns.
[P]olice can watch a political rally, silently from 30,000 feet overhead. But also alarming is the danger of escalating their use to include weapons. Drone builders are researching the use of nonlethal weapons such as tear gas, tasers and stun guns fired from a drone, and lethal weaponry can be an easy next step on the slippery slope.
The drones will add to the erosion of privacy that has come with the ubiquitous cameras and global positioning systems that can monitor our whereabouts.
The Adirondack Daily Enterprise and the Glens Falls Post Star are thinking about the cost of education in the North Country. The Enterprise weighs in on the side of merging districts, even forming a massive “Tri-Lakes” district.
Last year, the superintendents of the Tri-Lakes school districts met to discuss the possibility of merging districts or even sharing services. Unsurprisingly, they decided not to.
“It all depends on whose ox is getting gored,” Saranac Lake Central School District Superintendent Gerald Goldman told the Enterprise at the time, making it clear that the decision was based largely on the fact that none of them wanted to lose his job.
But it shouldn’t be their call anyway, and they know that. It’s up to the people and our elected leaders. If school boards, following a public mandate, voted to merge districts, superintendents would have to respect that decision.
Imagine a merger of the districts the Enterprise covers: Saranac Lake, Tupper Lake, Lake Placid and Keene. Each school could keep its doors open as well as its principal and hopefully all its teachers, and have advisory council as well.
Meanwhile, the Glens Falls Post Star is calling for school boards to negotiate aggressively to avoid higher teacher salaries and benefits.
School boards need to understand they are in the catbird seat after years in which the unions dictated the terms.
That may sound cold and heartless, but it is a reality and unions need to understand that as well. This is not a time to be asking for the moon or even a sliver of it.
It is just the opposite. One member of the Queensbury Board of Education has been calling for a wage freeze for some time. Each school board should give that strong consideration.
The other day at a recreation planning meeting in Lake Placid, I participated in a time-honored Adirondack meeting ritual.It goes like this: someone at the table brings up the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan (SLMP), the document that defines land classifications (wilderness, wild forest, etc.) and lists the guidelines for their use.Next, nearly every stakeholder at the table agrees that the SLMP is outdated and that a major review is long overdue.The ritual concludes with everyone agreeing that meaningful review of the SLMP is unlikely, and probably not worth pursuing.The conversation then moves on to other topics.
The SLMP states “Major reviews of the master plan will take place every five years by the [Adirondack Park] Agency in consultation with the Department of Environmental Conservation, as required by statute…” but the last review was in 1987.