The Journal Register (Medina, NY)

April 25, 2013

Legislature fully opposes SAFE Act

By HOWARD BALABAN
Medina Journal-Register

Medina Journal-Register — ALBION - The Orleans County Legislature joined the ranks of many other local governments by voting to oppose the New York SAFE Act Wednesday afternoon.

In a resolution motioned by Legislator Donald Allport, the county unanimously opposed the state legislation.

Allport thanked the residents of the county who showed up at the county building about two weeks ago for a rally in opposition to the SAFE Act. He also said to his fellow legislators that they should oppose the entire act, and not just parts of it.

Specifically, he pointed to part of the legislation that mentions psychological background checks before owning a firearm.

“With Obamacare going into effect and doctors having to answer to the government instead of their patients, it stands to reason that with mental health checks required to own a gun, the government can find something wrong with anyone and everyone and come up with a reason to take away the guns of law-abiding citizens,” Allport stated.

“We do not need more gun laws,” he continued. “We just need to enforce the ones that are already in place.”

Those in attendance applauded once the legislature cast its vote.

Earlier in the meeting, Mary Lee Knights of Orleans County Adult Literary Services (OCALS) gave a presentation on the program’s efforts.

Knights explained how the program’s original goal - to help adults achieve greater literacy - has grown to be more inclusive and has found there are a great deal of literacy problems in the county.

She said there are 4,000 “functioning illiterate” adults in Orleans County. She also pointed out how more demanding elementary school standards have led to 40 percent of kindergartners entering school unprepared for kindergarten.

“Our vision turned out to be greater than when we started,” Knights said. “Originally we just dealt with adults.”

Now, she said OCALS includes people learning to read, learning English as a second language, people studying for the GED, and families trying to improve their literacy.

She said as an educator for 30 years, many names do not change. “I’ve seen three generations of the same family need to go for their GED,” she said, adding that finding a way to stop the spread of illiteracy is important.

Legislator Kenneth Rush asked whether pre-school was helping incoming kindergarten students. He was told that while there is universal pre-kindergarten classes available in most school districts, there are still many parents who choose to keep their children home and not send them to pre-school or daycare. Knights said that should a child enter elementary school unprepared and fail first, second or third grade, it increases the likelihood that student would wind up getting a GED instead of a high school diploma. 

In other legislature news, the board thanked Jim Graziano for his eight years of service as director of mental health services. Graziano, who retired, was honored earlier in the day. His replacement is Mark O’Brien.