As a toxicologist, I am appalled at the thought of a hookah bar opening in the Village of New Paltz. What better way to entice college students and high school students to smoke than to offer them a new way to inhale tobacco smoke and to offer them flavored tobaccos to mask the harsh taste that new smokers must overcome before they become addicted to the nicotine in tobacco products?
Unfortunately, it is legal under the present Clean Indoor Air Act to smoke in a business place where food is not cooked and when profits from serving food and drinks make up less than 50% of the business. Obviously, we need to change our state law to prevent the next hookah bar opening in Ulster County.
Those opposed to this hookah bar, which will open conveniently located for our middle school students and SUNY New Paltz students (who already smoke at rates higher than the general public), should take note that a state court has decided that New York City can ban flavored tobacco products. The federal government reserves the right to regulate cigarettes, but loose tobacco has been ruled not under federal control.
So let us urge the Village of New Paltz to put the health of our children and everyone else above the revenue from a new business and ban the sale of flavored tobacco products within village limits. I hope the Town of New Paltz and every other town in Ulster County will do the same.
Andi Weiss Bartczak, Ph.D.
The true cost of tasers
When I was first presented with the idea of the New Paltz police getting conducted energy devices I asked, are tasers necessary in New Paltz? Then I began thinking about whether or not I feel safe here and I concluded that yes, I do feel safe in New Paltz. From there I thought about the police department motto, “to protect and serve” and I wondered how would tasers help the police to protect and serve our community? The answer being that they wouldn’t. And with an already expensive police budget, should even more money be allocated to training officers, outfitting them for tasers and purchasing the conducted energy devices themselves? I think NOT!
Tasers are dangerous to the community, cause fatalities, create an unnecessary level of intimidation and are a poor choice for our New Paltz Police Department. Last month, a man died in Rhinebeck after being tasered. Two weeks ago, a Kingston police officer had his taser taken from him, was tasered in the head and as a result shot his attacker in the hip. We have come this far without the use of tasers and the NPPD seem to be, on the whole, doing a good job keeping our town safe. On top of that, we already have the Sheriff’s Department outfitted with tasers so it is superfluous for our town police to spend money to have them as well. We don’t live in a pugnacious community where people need to be controlled by electrical force. We live in a community where open, amiable attitudes are necessary for any kind of progress and ultimately, cooperation.
A major fear of mine is that tasers will become a first option rather than a last resort. Currently, drawing one’s gun is seen as a last resort option, largely due to it being a weapon of lethal force. Tasers are classified as less than lethal force, which makes them less terminal and therefore easier to justify using. This is my plea to all of the concerned citizens in New Paltz, as well as the Town Board who will be making the final decision: do not let more weapons into our community. Let’s take a stand against tasers. Peace is never gained through violence. For more information, google “Amnesty International Taser.”
Town of New Paltz Police Commissioner
(This is my personal view and does not represent the entire Police Commission)
The senior’s silverware
On behalf of all the seniors that come to the county meals at the New Paltz Community Center, we wish to thank everyone who donated money on March 25 during the New Paltz Town Board meeting so that we could purchase new silverware to eat with. We will use the silverware on Thursdays when the county delivers our food. We now have enough knives, forks and spoons for everyone.
On behalf of all the seniors, we thank you.
Fred and Beatrice Van Nostrand
We’ll miss this man
Wallkill High School just lost another student in a car crash. This time it was no fault of the young man driving. He hit a deer and lost control. This was a great kid like so many others that leave us too early. “Borrowed Angels” as some songwriter put it. I can vouch for John Seymour. He was just that. I had him as a tenth grader among seniors in my conservation class. He was already a man by then. We had a Christmas party with chips and soda and a wildlife film. As the bell rang, everyone fled the room and I started cleaning up. I turned to throw out a chip bag and nearly fell over John. He was on his hands and knees wiping up somebody’s soda spill. He was the only one to stay. That’s who he was.
I carried a big box of labs upstairs toward my office the following year. The bottom of the box gave out right at the top of the stairs, cascading papers like confetti down the stairs. Just then two boys came flying past down the stairs, one calling back, “Nice goin’ Regan!” Then I heard a bang below and looked over the railing. There was John. He had slammed his book bag on the floor and stood looking up at these clowns. You should know, John was built into a brick wall by our football coaches. You never saw a quicker conversion. Suddenly three Samaritans were ascending the stairs to help me.
We’ll miss this man. We will meet again.
Wallkill Senior High School
Support the fireworks
On behalf of the New Paltz 4th of July committee, I want to thank the following business for their early and generous donations for our celebration: Copeland Funeral Home, Dedrick’s Pharmacy, CPA John De Nicolo, P&G’s, the Plaza Diner and Ulster Savings Bank. This annual event is a fun filled and an inexpensive family night out. The celebration is planned for Saturday, July 3 and will feature the contemporary bluegrass band New Found Road. A preview of the band can be seen and heard at http://www.unisonarts.org/programs/NewFoundRoad.html.
Last year’s fireworks were valued at $10,000 and we are a long way from reaching that goal for this year. Donations can be sent to New Paltz Celebrations (July 4th), P.O. Box 550, New Paltz, NY 12561.
Chair, New Paltz Fireworks Committee
As Bill sees it
I see that a local character who calls himself “Butch” Dener deemed me worthy of comment in the New Paltz Times “feedback” section last week.
Apparently, Butch didn’t like my criticism of the sending of a contingent of New Paltz volunteer firefighters to “help our friend Israel” and my questioning whether this lowered our fire protection. Maybe it was my statement that they also should have offered their services to the Palestinians that upset him. If that enraged Butch, he must have gone ballistic over President Obama’s insistence that Israel stop planning to build in the Arab section of Jerusalem. I wonder if Dener wouldn’t like to see a “Dubai” (referring to a recent assassination of a Palestinian leader by Israeli agents) done to Obama, as he said he would like to do to me? Maybe the Secret Service should be alerted.
While viciously attacking me for daring to question whether sending a group of our firefighters on a propaganda trip to Israel reduces our fire protection, Dener never responded to my question.
Also, I must disagree with some of Butch’s “facts” about Israel and the Arab people. For example, he said “In 1948 Israel invited all the inhabitants to be part of her free society, but the Arab leaders murdered any and all of the Arabs who wanted to live in peace with their Israeli brothers and sisters.” Butch seems to imply that as “any and all” peaceful Arabs have been killed off, there are now only their evil Arab murderers left to negotiate with their Israeli brothers and sisters. This seems to be an anti-Arab and racist attitude, but very consistent with right-wing Zionist propaganda.
In another Butch “fact” he stated that “If the Palestinians put down their rocket launchers and all their Iranian supplied weapons, there would be peace!” This implies that Israel wants peace when their settlement activity over the last 50 years shows what they really want is Palestinian land, not peace. They continue to violate UN Resolution 242, as they have done for years, which set aside that land for the Palestinian state with the United States and the Israeli lobby’s blessing.
As for Butch’s suggestion I volunteer to fill in for our firefighters who are in Israel; I am ready to volunteer if there is an extreme emergency. I served 18 years as a firefighter in New York City, and although I am retired on line of duty disability since 1992, I still could be of some use if there is a gap in our fire protection. Maybe Butch would like to join me. I’d even let him take the nozzle.
I hope Obama’s objection to the Israelis building in Jerusalem indicates a major shift in our one-sided U.S. policy towards Israel and its settlement activity. Obama seems to be trying to build an alliance with Arab countries to pressure Iran to give up trying to build nuclear weapons; something that might ultimately help Israel survive in a world that is getting more dangerous for them...and us. I support him.
Thanks for the help
We’d like to express our thanks and appreciation to both the New Paltz Village Department of Public Works and to the New Paltz Police Department for their recent help and support at our New Paltz house. Each of these departments in their own separate ways were gracious and professional and responded to our needs in ways that bring lasting credit to their organizations. Thanks especially go to Chief Joe Snyder of the Police Department and to “Bleu” and “Nick” from the Public Works Department in the village. Thanks to all of you.
Renee Fillette, Executive Director
Pete Healey, Maintenance Coordinator
St. John Bosco CFS
Last month, Freddie Peacock became the 250th person freed from prison as a result of DNA testing. Peacock lost five valuable years of his life in prison, wrongly convicted of rape in 1976. For the past 34 years, he has been unjustly labeled as a paroled criminal. Many of the other 249 former prisoners exonerated through DNA testing have not been as “lucky” as Peacock; the average length of time spent in prison by wrongly convicted individuals is 13 years. An overwhelming percent of these former inmates are poor African American men who have fallen victim to the perils of eyewitness misidentification, faulty and outdated forensic science and irreparably damaging false testimony. However, a frighteningly high number of whites, Latinos and Asian Americans have also had their lives destroyed by wrongful convictions.
Since 1992, the Innocence Project has worked to liberate the innocent through post-conviction DNA testing. Established at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, the Innocence Project also concerns itself with criminal justice system reform that addresses common causes for wrongful convictions. In recent years, many of the reforms that the project has proposed and supported have resulted in overturned convictions. Hopefully, a time will come when there will no longer be a need to exonerate innocent men who have suffered through seemingly endless prison terms for crimes they never committed. One can only hope that in the future, with the assistance of much needed reform, DNA identification will prevent all wrongful convictions from happening in the first place.
The men and women freed through the efforts of the Innocence Project must no longer remain invisible citizens. Due to the faultiness of our criminal justice system, fathers, brothers, mothers, sisters, friends and neighbors are being wrongfully thrown into prison, where their pleas of innocence fall upon dead ears. It is frightening and distressing to think that we live in a society where any one of us could be next.
To learn more about what you can do to help address the problem of wrongful convictions in our state, log onto the Innocence Project’s website at http://www.innocenceproject.org.
SUNY New Paltz
Bystander intervention, what would you do? You think you saw something, but you aren’t sure. You could be wrong; maybe it was nothing. So you let it go and you walk away. The next day you hear the news. Someone desperately needed your help, but you didn’t realize it. It wasn’t your friend. It wasn’t your family. But it was someone else’s loved one. And they needed you to step in and prevent a sexual assault.
You, as a bystander, have the opportunity to act and safely change the outcome -- to prevent an assault by stepping in when you see something that doesn’t look right. Maybe you saw someone slip something into a drink. Maybe you witnessed a friend taking advantage of someone who has had too much to drink. Maybe someone grabbed your friend as she walked by. Maybe you noticed someone paying too much attention to young children in your neighborhood. Every two minutes, someone is sexually assaulted. That makes bystanders like you critical in preventing sexual assault.
Sure, in a society that promotes a ‘mind your own business’ message, speaking up is difficult. The important thing is to trust your gut. If you see something that doesn’t seem right, it probably isn’t. If you think someone is in trouble, ask if they are okay. Be honest and direct in explaining your concerns and reasons for intervening. If you don’t feel comfortable approaching a situation on your own, ask -- a friend, a colleague, a neighbor, anyone -- for help.
You aren’t wrecking someone’s fun, invading their privacy or being a jerk if you speak up. You are watching out for someone’s mother, daughter, son, brother, sister. Next time, it could be your loved one that someone helps out. You are standing up for what is right.
If you are interested in learning more about Bystander Intervention and Sexual Violence Prevention, contact Whitney Bonura with Family Services’ Crime Victims Assistance Program at 452-1110, ext. 3531. If you or a loved one has experienced sexual violence, please call the Family Services 24-hour Rape Crisis hotline at 452-7272.
Susan C. West, President
Time to heal
Cries for Pope Benedict XVI to step down over the clergy abuse scandal are not about righting wrongs. The intent is to silence a church and its leader, who has consistently condemned sexual deviance and exploitation of every kind.
The public reaction and media barrage have wrongly shifted the blame away from the molesters and onto to the rest of the church. In his letter to the Irish church, the Pope makes it clear that he is ashamed of the church’s failings, and that he is doing everything in his power to address past abuse and root out deviant priests. Yet he is right in noting that no victim will be helped by exploiting scandal.
Jesus condemns sin, but then points to forgiveness. Caring for victims includes helping them forgive the offender so that they can move on with their lives. Without such forgiveness they cannot heal.
Though a non-Catholic, I have met the Pope several times and always marveled at his faith and conviction. He has valiantly defended a biblical understanding of sexuality and marriage in an age when this message is increasingly unwelcome. This is the real reason for the hatred and opposition he now faces.
Johann Christoph Arnold, Senior Pastor
Church Communities International
Main Street needs help from Wall Street
Gioia Shebar, myself and members of the Omnibus Tax Consortium are working hard to assure property tax relief/reform happens THIS session! Senator Liz Krueger (S4239A) and Assemblyman Steve Engelbright (A8702) sponsored our bill which provides for a meaningful circuit breaker that rebates the homeowner money overpaid in property taxes when measured against ones ability to pay.
Taking school taxes off of property taxes is the real answer. Our bill addresses this by building on the Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit that provides for a phase in of State aid so all districts have equitable school funding from the state, a ruling upheld in the highest New York State court. The Omnibus Bill continues that phase-in until the State provides funding for a sound basic education for all our children across the state.
Despite what they say, our State leaders have not made property tax a priority. If they did, why would we have to work so hard! Their excuse: Money.
Yet they seem to find it for all of their own pet projects!
However, the Omnibus Group has the answer and is lobbying Albany right now. Please go to www.taxreformagenda.org and sign up to become a voice in our grassroots movement for property tax reform. Watch the most recent video by Gioia and myself speaking to this very issue. It will educate and hopefully entertain.
Our taxpayer-funded bailout was so successful that Wall Street had the best year ever. In 2006 they had record profits, but in 2009 Wall Street did three times better, posting over $60 billion in profits!
So while Main Street is suffering terribly, Wall Street is celebrating with bonuses on average of $125,000 cash and even more in stock options.
Wall Street has a transfer tax; on each stock transfer there is tax which is pennies on a dollar. Prior to 1979, that tax money went to the people of New York State. However, over time that money was rebated and now 100% of that tax money is given back to the brokers, this year alone to the tune of $16 billion dollars!
Our friends and families are losing their homes, giving up their health care, their Internet -- anything to save pennies -- and our children are losing their teachers and programs. Yet Wall Street is having a banner year.
The Omnibus Consortium has asked our State elected officials to please help Main Street. Remember them? They are the ones who pull the lever.
Although a bold move to reclaim that $16 billion in tax dollars could solve major problems, we are only asking for a fraction of the rebate money. A 20% rebate back to the taxpayers or a temporary bonus recapture tax on Wall Street would more than fund the Omnibus Circuit Breaker helping our neighbors from losing their homes.
Please join us in this battle and visit www.taxreformagenda.org, www.omnibustaxsolution.org and read www.taxnightmare.com for up-to-the-minute property tax happenings.
Tax Reform Agenda, Omnibus Solution
Ulster County Legislator
On Jan. 21, 2010, the Supreme Court ruled five-to-four that corporations have the same rights as people. This will allow corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money to influence our elections and buy candidates who will do their bidding. On the same day the New York Times stated in an editorial, “The Supreme Court has handed lobbyists a new weapon. A lobbyist can now tell any elected official: if you vote wrong, my company, labor union or interest group will spend unlimited sums explicitly advertising against your re-election.”
We need to start a massive grassroots movement to mitigate and eventually overturn this ruling. There will be a program, We the People: A Forum to Defend Democracy, believed to be the first of its kind in the country, in New Paltz at SUNY Lecture Hall 100 on Sunday, April 18, at 4 p.m. Congressman Maurice Hinchey will deliver the keynote address and there will be a panel of experts to discuss the consequences of this ruling and what we can do about it. To kick off this forum there will be a Street Rally Saturday, April 10, 12:30 to 1:30 p.m., in front of the Elting Memorial Library, 93 Main Street. Please mark both dates on your calendar and help New Paltz wake up the rest of the country to take action.
This is a bipartisan issue which crosses all political lines. An ABC-Washington Post poll conducted Feb. 4-8, 2010, showed that 80% of those surveyed opposed (and 65% strongly opposed) this ruling which the poll described as saying “corporations and unions can spend as much money as they want to help political candidates win elections.”
President Barack Obama stated that this decision “gives the special interests and their lobbyists even more power in Washington -- while undermining the influence of average Americans who make small contributions to support their preferred candidates.” He later elaborated in his weekly radio address saying, “this ruling strikes at our democracy itself” and “I can’t think of anything more devastating to the public interest”. And on Jan. 27, 2010, President Obama further condemned the decision during the 2010 State of the Union Address stating that, “Last week, the Supreme Court reversed a century of law to open the floodgates for special interests -- including foreign corporations -- to spend without limit in our elections. Well I don’t think American elections should be bankrolled by America’s most powerful interests, or worse, by foreign entities.”
We can’t sit by and not try to do something about this. This is another nail in the coffin of democracy and it is up to us to take action now. Please tell your friends and neighbors and come to these two events. You will leave with action steps, resources, new connections and new hope. We the people need to unite as never before. It’s a start.
And for more information, please e-mail AnahataSun@aol.com.
Saving energy at fair in New Paltz
It was a bright, sunshiny day as some 200 smiling people gathered at the New Paltz Village Hall to attend the Solar Energy Fair, organized by the Climate Action Coalition of New Paltz. Many folks who came were eager to learn ways to use the sun to supply energy for their homes or businesses and also learn energy-saving tips. In this country, 40% of energy use is for our buildings -- which we can do something about.
We hope that each of us, including our town and village governments, will now take the “10-10 challenge” to reduce our energy use 10% by the end of 2010. This will not only reduce our need for fossil fuels, dependence on foreign oil and emission of greenhouse gases, but curtail the need to blow up coal mountains, drill for oil and frack our Catskill Mountains for natural gas.
We saw a concerted movement toward sustainable energy this past weekend and wish to thank many people and organizations for their valuable contributions and support: Hudson Valley Solar Co-Op, NYS Energy Research and Development Agency NYSERDA, Solar Alchemy, Lighthouse Solar, Ulster Savings Bank, True Value of New Paltz, P&G’s, Health and Nutrition, Hudson Valley Materials Exchange, Truly Green Septic, Signarama, The Bakery, SUNY NY Public Interest Research Group -- NYPIRG, SUNY Environmental Task Force, Gardiner Green Energy Task Force, Greenworks and all the great volunteers from our town, village and SUNY New Paltz.
Anyone interested in working on our next projects, feel free to stop in during our meetings each Thursday at Village Hall from 5 to 6:30 p.m. or call 255-9297 for more information.
We’re on our way to healing the planet -- and better life for all.
Ann Guenther, Chair
Climate Action Coalition
There is a study in Gardiner to spend a million dollars for sidewalks, while we cut school funding and lay off teachers. There is a $779,000 federal grant to Ducks Unlimited to put dirt over concrete runways on an airport that hasn’t been used in 50 years, while the state hasn’t got the money to fund its share of a study on flood control of the Wallkill river. In Gardiner we are told it’s not costing Gardiner residents, the Federal government is paying 85% and NYS 10%, while the Federal deficit just went over $12 trillion and the state has a deficit of $9 billion. The Ducks Unlimited money is from the job stimulus bill and will create about half a job, and we are told in Gardiner that if we don’t get the grant, some other town will. No matter which level of government spends the money it all comes from us, the taxpayers. For too long politicians have been passing pork spending to help with their reelection by trumpeting how much money they get for their state, county, city or town. They won’t reign in their wild spending since they think it helps with their election. The only way to end it is to limit their terms to end their addiction to lobbyist, earmarks and pork. Maybe if getting reelected isn’t their main concern, they’ll start representing the taxpayers.