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By Jeremy Schiffres, Daily and Sunday Freeman, Kingston, N.Y.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Murder by numbers

Commenting on a story this morning on the Freeman's website about a high-ranking Kingston cop being suspended, a reader wrote that "'60 minutes' should do a piece on Kingston," in part because of "all the murders and bank robberies and shootings and corruption."

Look, I know this city has its problems. But "all the murders"? In fact, perhaps a story is in order on how few murders Kingston has. Since January 2007 — four years ago this month — there have been exactly two homicides in Kingston. Nearby Newburgh, meanwhile, generally has more than 10 killings per year despite having roughly the same population as Kingston.

All things considered, Kingston is a pretty safe place for a city its size.


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The roads less salted

Remember that one word of advice to Dustin Hoffman in "The Graduate"? Plastics.

Well, I'd like to offer one word of advice to the city of Kingston's road crews: SALT!

Icy conditions, like those that made driving difficult on Tuesday, and slushy conditions, like those we're having today, cannot be resolved with plows and sand. Salt is the one an only solution.

This was abundantly clear this morning on John Street in the city's Uptown business district. A stretch of sidewalk that business owners had treated with salt was merely wet. The adjacent road, which clearly had not been salted, was slushy, slippery and dangerous.

But don't take my word for it, Kingston officials. Spend a wintry day in Syracuse, Rochester or Buffalo; watch the heavy snow come down for hours on end; and wonder to yourself, "Hey, how come the roads are so clear?"

One word: Salt.


Another snow job

Congratulations, Kingston school district. There's about half an inch of fresh now on the ground, nothing else is falling, it's 33 degrees outside, and you've canceled school yet again.

It's Jan. 19, and you've blown your fourth snow day of 2010-11. And it's supposed to snow again Thursday night and Friday, so that'll certainly be No. 5. (You allotted six, right? So if February is anything like January, the kids of the Kingston schools can kiss their spring break goodbye.)

This is the Northeast, for heaven's sake, not Atlanta. Snow happens. People deal with it — and drive on it — all the time. Why can't you deal with it, Kingston school district? And why can't your buses drive on it?

This attitude of "It's snowing, so we have to close the schools" — or, worse yet, "It might snow, so we have to close the schools" — has got to stop.


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The weather outside is ....

Right now, at 2:23 p.m. on Jan. 18, the Kingston page on The Weather Channel's website has an icon that shows snow is falling locally. The in-motion radar map lower on the page has a mass of pink (meaning mixed precipitation) over Kingston. And upon walking outside just now, I discovered the current precipitation is all rain.

Once again, a forecasting operation proves that not only can't it predict the weather, it can't even accurately tell me what the weather is right now.


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Reject Beck

Right-wing TV and radio personality Glenn Beck, deflecting allegations that angry rhetoric from the likes of him or Sarah Palin somehow drove Jared Loughner to shoot Democratic U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords on Saturday in Tuscon, has issued a challenge to all Americans: Reject violence.

Perhaps Mr. Beck should take his own advice. Here's what he said on his syndicated radio show on May 17, 2005:

"I'm thinking about killing Michael Moore. Could I kill him myself, or if I would need to hire somebody to do it? No, I think I could. I think he could be looking me in the eye, you know, and I could just be choking the life out."

I know Mr. Beck would like to think he's part of the solution. But in fact, he's part of the problem.


Monday, January 3, 2011

Off the grid

The 7-9 Seattle Seahawks get into the NFL playoffs but the 10-6 Giants don't. Is any more proof needed that the league's postseason eligibility system needs to be changed?


Saturday, January 1, 2011

Gas pains return

I just read an article that said the price of gas is predicted to hit $4 per gallon sometime in 2011.

I wonder: Are the prognosticators cited in this story the same ones who swore, about six months ago, that gas would fall to $2.30 per gallon by the end of 2010?