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Fort Ann mayor apologizes for controversial Facebook post

FORT ANN — Village Mayor Denis Langlois read an apology Monday night for his Facebook post that called people who vote for Democrats “retarded.”

He said he would not resign, and the two other village board members did not ask him to during their monthly meeting at the Village Hall.

Langlois, who was deputy mayor and then appointed to his position after former Mayor Russell Blair resigned in October 2017, made the post on his private Facebook page around Election Day. It read: “If anyone that I know vote for a Democrat on Tuesday you should sign yourself into the Mental Health unit at your local Hospital because you are retarded and need help, Vote Republican and ‘Keep America Great’!”

In a phone interview on Election Day with The Post-Star, Langlois said he did not regret the post.

“Whether it’s politically correct or not, it’s what I believe, and it doesn’t matter,” he had said. “I talk from my heart and my soul, and that’s all there is to it.”

In a second phone interview with The Post-Star, Langlois said he used a poor choice of words.

Monday night, before his wife and Village Treasurer Diane Langlois, Clerk Linda Blondin, Village Trustee Ed Sharrow, Deputy Mayor Roy Steves and three empty chairs for the public, Denis Langlois apologized.

He read his prepared statement.

“First, I would like to apologize to anyone who was offended by my post,” Langlois read. “That being said, the post was intended to be political only, and had no intention for anyone with challenges of any kind. I agree that it was a poor and inappropriate use of words. I have never and do not ever make fun or call people with challenges names. I am, however, proud of being a very conservative Republican, and will not apologize for that.

“I have thick skin, personality, and am not offended easily,” Langlois continued. “However, I do realize that words sometimes hurt. I know that some of you will not accept my apology as enough, and I will have to accept that.”

Wendy Johnston, an associate professor of political science at SUNY Adirondack, said the language in politics is changing, especially in the era of President Donald Trump.

“I would say that his (Trump’s) rhetoric, his use of, you know, words like ‘nationalist,’ things like that, are definitely trickling down into society and into local governments,” Johnston said. “We’re seeing it on so many levels.”

Trump’s decisions to say whatever comes to mind, whether it offends a person or not, Johnston added, has given a voice to those who once felt repressed by the constraints of being politically correct. Johnston said there are pros and cons to that.

“Certainly the cons are that we’re seeing language that has been used against other groups of people coming back into our everyday language, and with language used to suppress and oppress, I think that’s a negative,” she said.

She considers language like “retarded” to be oppressive because it makes a certain group of people feel like they can’t be a part of society.

Casting aside some political correctness, however, has created more discourse.

“I would say that since the 2016 election, we’re talking a lot,” she added. “We may be disagreeing, we may get heated, but we actually are engaging in discourse, and for me, that’s a net positive.”

Social media is also blurring the lines for those in the public eye. Langlois did not realize his Facebook post was public, he had said. Johnston said things people might say at the dinner table are now being tweeted or posted.

Langlois’ original post got national attention from Newsweek, Time magazine and even the overseas publication The Daily Mail.

But back in the village of Fort Ann, where he has lived since 1986, Langlois said he loves his job and hopes to continue serving his constituents.

“In closing, I am certain that everyone has said or done something in their lifetime that they wish they could take back or do different,” he read. “I know I have. ... I don’t believe it makes you a bad person to make a mistake. It makes you a bad person if you don’t try to correct it.”

Village trustees did discuss at least one person who has come forward to petition for signatures to run in the upcoming March election. Blondin said signatures of registered voters in the village can only be collected after the New Year and will need to be presented to her office sometime in mid-February. Elections will be held from noon to 9 p.m. on the third Tuesday in March.

Alex Brandon, Associated Press 

Former President George W. Bush, Laura Bush, left, and other family members watch as the flag-draped casket of former President George H.W. Bush is carried by a joint services military honor guard to lie in state in the rotunda of the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Monday. With Bush's casket atop the Lincoln Catafalque, first used for Abraham Lincoln's 1865 funeral, dignitaries came forward to honor the Texan whose efforts for his country extended three quarters of a century from World War II through his final years as an advocate for volunteerism and relief for people displaced by natural disaster. President from 1989 to 1993, Bush died Friday at age 94.

Man charged with fondling child in water park

QUEENSBURY — A man from Connecticut was arrested Saturday night after he allegedly fondled a teenage girl in a pool at Great Escape Lodge and Indoor Waterpark, according to police.

Radish Naipaul, 47, of Hartford, Connecticut, was arrested by the Warren County Sheriff’s Office after the agency got a complaint from a family that a 14-year-old girl had been inappropriately touched while wearing a bathing suit in a pool off the Lazy River attraction, police said.

He was accused of partially pulling down the girl’s bathing suit bottom and then fondling her, Warren County Sheriff Bud York said.

Naipaul was a guest at the hotel and waterpark but was not acquainted with the child or her family. Sheriff’s officers located him on the waterpark property with the assistance of park employees, sheriff’s Lt. Steve Stockdale said.

An adult witnessed the incident, and Naipaul admitted that he “accidentally touched her buttocks” over her bathing suit, but denied any further contact, Stockdale said. The girl was playing basketball in a pool area off the Lazy River area.

Naipaul was charged with misdemeanor counts of forcible touching and endangering the welfare of a child and released after arraignment Sunday in Glens Falls City Court. He was due back in Queensbury Town Court on Monday for an initial appearance.

Stockdale said additional or weightier charges are possible when the case is reviewed by the Warren County District Attorney’s Office.

“These were the charges we felt were most appropriate at the time,” Stockdale said.

Felony or misdemeanor sexual abuse charges can be filed in fondling cases.

He said police were not aware of any other potential victims, and have also not fielded any other complaints in recent years about similar allegations.

Sheriff’s Investigator Terri Jeffords and Ryan Schroeck handled the case.

The charges are punishable by up to a year in Warren County Jail.

The lodge and waterpark are operated by Six Flags, which also runs the seasonal outdoor amusement park across Route 9.

A call to Six Flags’ local spokesperson, Rebecca Wood, was not immediately returned Monday.

Empty boxes top high-tech toys on doctor-recommended list

Skip the costly electronic games and flashy digital gizmos. Pediatricians say the best toys for tots are old-fashioned hands-on playthings that young children can enjoy with parents — things like blocks, puzzles — even throwaway cardboard boxes — that spark imagination and creativity.

“A cardboard box can be used to draw on, or made into a house,” said Dr. Alan Mendelsohn, co-author of a new report on selecting toys for young children, up to around age 5.

Many parents feel pressured by ads promoting tablet-based toys and games as educational and brain-stimulating, but there’s not much science to back up those claims, Mendelsohn said. Their main misconception: “The toy that is best is the one that is the most expensive or has the most bells and whistles or is the most technologically sophisticated.”

Simpler hands-on toys that parents and young children can play with together are preferable for healthy development, said Mendelsohn, a pediatrician at NYU Langone Health in New York.

The report published Monday by the American Academy of Pediatrics cites studies suggesting that heavy use of electronic media may interfere with children’s speech and language development, replace important playtime with parents and lead to obesity.

Studies also have found that more than 90 percent of U.S. kids have used mobile devices and most started using them before age 1.

The pediatricians’ group recommends no screen time for children up to age 2, and says total screen time including TV and computer use should be less than one hour daily for ages 2 and older.

“A little bit of screen time here and there is unlikely to have much harm if a child otherwise has other activity,” Mendelsohn said. But he added that screen time can overwhelm young children and is difficult to limit and control.

The academy’s website offers suggestions on ideal toys for young children, including balls, puzzles, coloring books and card games.

Shopping recently at Dancing Bear Toys in Asheville, North Carolina, a store that doesn’t sell electronic toys, Leah Graham Stewart said she supports the academy’s advice, even if avoiding digital toys and games is tough.

She said she’s noticed her two young boys tend to misbehave after playing on an iPad she typically reserves for long airplane rides.

“We try to keep it as minimal as possible,” Graham Stewart said. “I just tell them to go outside and play.”

Erika Evers, Dancing Bear’s co-owner, said the store’s mission is to give kids an alternative to tech toys.

“Not that video games and electronic toys don’t have their place — in moderation, in our opinion,” she said. “But we feel like kids really need opportunities to socialize and interact with their environment in a way that is hands-on and tangible.”

Man accused of beating woman to cause miscarriage


NORTHUMBERLAND — A Northumberland man was arrested Sunday for allegedly punching a pregnant woman’s abdomen in an effort to kill her unborn child, police said Monday.

Stephen J. Miller, 39, of Colebrook Road, was charged with second-degree abortion, a felony, and misdemeanor reckless endangerment after he “repeatedly” punched the abdomen of a woman he knows who is 26 weeks pregnant, according to the Saratoga County Sheriff’s Office.

Saratoga County Sheriff Michael Zurlo said Miller was trying to cause a miscarriage.

“His intentions were to harm the baby,” Zurlo said.

The woman was treated by medical professionals, and neither she nor the child were believed to have been injured, Zurlo said.

“The mother and baby were both fine,” the sheriff said.

Police did not say whether Miller is the child’s father.

Miller fled the home before police arrived but was later located in Mechanicville. He was arraigned in Northumberland Town Court and released on his own recognizance.

An abortion charge can be filed when a person commits an “abortional act” upon another person that is not justifiable, according to state Penal Law. It is punishable by up to 4 years in state prison.

Zurlo, a former sheriff’s deputy and investigator for decades before he was elected sheriff, said he had not seen a case where that charge was filed in Saratoga County before, but he said it seems applicable under the circumstances.

Sheriff’s Deputy J.S. Mancini handled the case.