Well you have EST…CST…MST…PST and then you have WST (Woodstock Standard Time). Most people know about the time zones in the United States, but how many know about Woodstock Standard Time? For those of you who are unaware of this phenomenon it could also be known as Turtle Time in that we may get to the finish line but it usually takes forever.
I prefer not to attempt to arbitrate the bureaucratic back and forth of this issue. Rather, I’d
like to suggest that Ms Fessenden and the Farm Sanctuary have a peaceful sit-down in
neutral territory, share a meal and discuss some sort of compromise.
If the outbuildings impair Ms. F’s view, perhaps a hearty planting of a fast-growing bamboo could mitigate the problem. Maybe the farm would take care of cost and labor.
On such evenings as a musical fund-raising event might run late, maybe the farm could
give Ms. F a gift certificate for a movie and another for dinner somewhere.
Perhaps inviting Ms. F and a few friends to attend concerts for free would help build warmer relations. (In my experience, neighbors seldom complain to officials about
parties to which they are invited.)
Sorry, I have no ideas about taming the sounds or smells of animals. Nor am I interested in refereeing the vegan vs. carnivore issue. Instead of getting the rather arthritic Zoning Board involved, coagulating unnecessary bad blood, and having so many panties in a wad, why not give neighborly negotiation a serious chance? Human animals should be able to manage that.
I’m sorry, but in all the debate and planning regarding Woodstock Commons, didn’t it occur to anyone before now where is the water coming from, and where, on this wetland, is it going to go?
THANK YOU TO MOST OF THE TOWN BOARD
I want to thank Jeff, Jay, Cathy and Terrie for last night’s public meeting in the Community Center about granting RUPCO permission to be part of our water and sewer system. That was the first time since the beginning of RUPCO’s Woodstock Commons presentation that I feel like we (the community and townspeople) were heard.
I attended almost all of the Planning Board sessions when RUPCO was being discussed. I have been politely verbal. They never bothered to hear what we were saying. To think that the Planning Board did a thorough job because it took such a long time is simply wrong. They were inadequate and accepted inaccurate information about important matters...like how wide is Playhouse Lane? I know, but they don’t, despite the fact that the width was okay with them. They accepted 24 feet for 17 feet even though we proved differently. They didn’t even question the difference, let alone find out the truth. They did not do a thorough job.
At every Planning Board meeting with Paul as chairman, I watched what was sometimes a farce. More importantly, they treated us (the public who were in attendance) as if we were flies on the rear of a horse. They flicked us off with their tail. They broke laws instead of changing them. I brought that to their attention once and they didn’t care.
Last week, although I didn’t speak, I finally “felt heard.” It was nice to feel respected. I thank you for a well run meeting. Finally.
COMPLAIN ABOUT REAL ISSUES
I read this week’s letter to the editor “More Equal” with a bit of a head-shake of disbelief. The writer was complaining, of all things, about a few extra buildings on a 20-plus-acre parcel in Willow, and the noise emitting from said parcel. The buildings are in the service of animals who had known torturous lives and are now finally living a cruelty-free life. The terrible noise is the singing of some of the most impressive musicians of our time, coming into our community to perform on behalf of those animals. Is this really the kind of thing we have the time or impulse to complain about?
When I think about the real issues of today — religious bigotry, gay teen suicide, unimaginable animal cruelty, continued racism — it makes me do the head-shake of disbelief that someone would save their rancor for people running a sanctuary for abused animals. Personally, I’m proud to have such do-gooders in our community.
GERRYMANDERING ALIVE AND WELL
As citizens are busy getting registered to vote and learning about the candidates, the election results in many cases are already pretty well guaranteed by those who drew the voting district lines ten years ago.
You learned in school about gerrymandering, the drawing of weirdly shaped districts that best serve the political party in charge. Alas, gerrymandering is still alive and well.
But you can do something about it. And the opportunity won’t come again for another decade. Attend a free League of Women Voters discussion on redistricting at the Esopus Town Hall in Port Ewen from 10 a.m.-noon on Saturday, October 16.
Then get the state Assembly and Senate candidates in your district to promise to support a non-partisan commission to handle the drawing of district lines.
Candidates are worried about voters being fed up with a dysfunctional state government, so they’re listening. Use your voter power to get real and lasting reform.
Dare Thompson, President
League of Women Voters of the Mid-Hudson Region
LONG TERM STRATEGY NEEDED AT GUILD
The September 26 Special Meeting of the Woodstock Guild of Craftsmen proved a relatively successful exercise in gaining some insight into the complicated and sorry state of affairs at Byrdcliffe. The membership rallied to ask important financial questions, the board responded by holding the meeting and offered up many answers to our questions. The board also announced how it was going to get the organization out of the deep hole it is in. The solution, to sell assets, with White Pines being the big story. While it would serve the board well for the short term to hold informational meetings for the membership to discuss the pros and cons of such an enormous move, it would be in everyone’s best interest for the long haul if the board could present to the membership its long term strategy on how it and future boards, can be better financial stewards of Byrdcliffe. By sharing a financial strategy, as opposed to just a one shot fix, the board will also be showing the membership that it cares about the programs, that the overall mission of Byrdciffe is actually valuable and worth protecting. It is easy to give lip service to the importance of programs but nothing can really live or blossom on that hillside without a sound financial foundation. I look forward to hearing from the board at the annual meeting of the membership in late November.
I think it behooves Bill McKenna to explain to Woodstockers why he supports RUPCO’s application to tie into the water/sewer district. It is apparent that no benefit will accrue to the town. No RUPCO representative has ever asserted that the project would benefit the town in any way and at Thursday’s meeting no RUPCO representative was able to define any benefit to the town by allowing RUPCO to add another 53 units to an already compromised and fragile system.
Jay Wenk has stated his opposition. Cathy Magarelli has passionately asserted her opposition. Jeff Moran cited at least a half dozen reasons, legal and otherwise, why the town has no obligation to bestow this privilege. And Terrie Rosenblum seemed mighty pissed off at RUPCO.
So tell us Bill, what is it that you see that no one else sees?
(Editor’s Note: For the record, Mr. McKenna did not, at the town board meeting in question, express support for this action. He recommended further study to clarify the water and sewer district capabilities.)
CAHILL OPPOSES HYDROFRACKING
I feel very strongly that we must continue to support Kevin Cahill for the New York State Assembly. Kevin has long fought for the good of our community, and we cannot afford to lose him now.
On the vital issues of property tax relief, jobs, and protecting our environment, Kevin has been working hard. I especially appreciate his firm stand against the dangers of hydro-fracking and his promotion of a new, greener economy.
In contrast, I am very disturbed by the way his opponent, Mr. Rooney, has been running a negative campaign, even stooping to telling falsehoods against Kevin. Mr. Rooney is spending an exorbitant amount of money on the media, but why does he not show up at public events and tell us to our faces what his position on the issues is?
With Kevin, we know what we’re getting: a strong, fair advocate for working people and the environment. We need to keep him in Albany, for all our sakes.
VOLUNTEERS NEEDED FOR PANTRY SHIPMENT
Monday, October 18 is the date for the October food shipment delivery for the Good Neighbor Food Pantry. The food will be delivered to the parking lot of the Hannaford’s in the Kingston Plaza Shopping Center about 9:15 a.m. People are needed to load the food onto trucks and cars and drive it to the Woodstock Reformed Church at 16 Tinker Street in Woodstock. Volunteers are needed there to unload the food and put it away. This stocking process is scheduled to begin about 9:30 a.m. and will continue until all the food has been put away. For more information, please call me, Thurman Greco at 845-784-0693 or 845-399-3967.
WHY IS THE SCHOOL TAX BURDEN FALLING ON OLIVE
In the final edition of the Olive Press, there was an article published regarding the Onteora School District taxes, which I found puzzling.
Specifically, the article refers to the difference in tax rates levied on various parts of the OCSD — Woodstock, Shandaken, Lexington, Olive, Marbletown and Hurley. Although the budget approved by the voters included an increase of 3.8 percent, it seems that Olive, Marbletown and Hurley paid taxes increased by 8.7 percent, while Woodstock, Shandaken and Lexington paid taxes that decreased by 0.7 percent. When questioned about this inequity, the article states that Assistant Superintendent for Business Victoria McLaren explained that, “tax rates change as the value of a property changes. The towns of Olive, Marbletown, and Hurley remained similar in property value compared to 2009, while the towns of Shandaken, Woodstock and Lexington have decreased in value. This shifted the burden of taxes to Olive, Marbletown and Hurley. Taxes collected in 2009-2010 compared to 2010-2011 in the town of Olive increased by 8.7 percent, while Woodstock saw a decrease of 0.7 percent.” What is this difference in property values from 2009 to 2010, and how and when was it determined? Real estate values nationally have not been growing! There has been no new assessment, nor have assessments changed, so how were these figures arrived at? If correctly reported, this explanation sounds like double-speak
Perhaps the article left out critical information. Perhaps Ms. McLaren was misquoted. Perhaps when we, the voters, vote on a specific budget, we are not informed that the towns are not equally assessed. Perhaps the figure of $10.48 per $1000 of assessed value refers to an assessment made on only some of the taxpayers. Perhaps the towns whose tax rate was decreased were reassessed? Perhaps?
As a taxpayer in Olive whose taxes increased by 8.7 percent, I would like to know how the figures were determined, and why these differentials were not spelled out prior to the vote. It would have affected the outcome of the budget vote.
Perhaps there is someone out there who knows the answer?
Sandra S. Scheuer
(Editor’s note: The differences fall in the Equalization Rate as calculated and applied by the New York State Office of Real Property Services (ORPS). Olive’s assessments remained at 100 percent of value, while Woodstock’s rate jumped from 83 percent of value in 2009 to 91 percent in 2010…which means that, according to New York State, the value of Woodstock properties dropped, while Olive’s remained relatively the same. Thus the total value of the town of Woodstock was less than it had been, so the share it had to pick up of the entire Onteora tax burden decreased.)
WHAT IS AFFORDABLE
Let’s not be confused about what we’re getting! After the public hearing on Rupco two years ago, I realized I had no idea what “affordable” housing was. The debate at the hearing passionately centered around this word “affordable.” There are two means by which “affordable housing” is determined. According to the National Low-Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) one way “affordable” is defined is that no more than 30 percent of a household income should be spent on housing.
Rents for “affordable housing” are calculated by using the Area Median Income of a geographical area, a figure determined yearly by HUD. “Affordable housing” targets residents earning less than 60 percent of the Area Median Income. The 2010 Area Median Income for Ulster County is $70,000, a relatively high AMI. I believe rentals in Woodstock Commons have been determined using a figure in this range according to NLIHC guidelines. Just for reference, 60 percent of $70,000 is $42,000. People who earn up to $42,000 are eligible for “affordable housing” in our area.
Low Income may encompass higher income levels than you would suspect and is broken down into the following categories by the National Low Income Housing Coalition:
1) Extremely Low Income: below 30 percent of the Area Median Income. That would be approximately up to $21,000/year income in Ulster County.
2) Very Low Income: 30-50 percent of the Area Median Income. That would be $21,000 to $35,000/year in Ulster County.
3) Low Income: 50-60 percent of the AMI which would be an income level of $36,000-$42,000 per year in Ulster County.
In thinking about who in Woodstock might have a need for affordable housing, I estimated groups resulting with income levels up to and in the $20,000-$25,000 range — seniors on social security, retirees with a small pension, workers in the local economy or chain stores, trades people, those with disability incomes, entry-level county or state workers, and some artists and craftspeople. I believe only 10 of 53 units in the RUPCO development are designated for the income level of 30 percent of AMI (approximately $21,000/year income range in Ulster County) and they are senior housing.
The other 10 senior units have broader income limits of up to 50 percent and 60 percent of the AMI according to the DEIS. For all the 32 units of Family Rentals, competition would broaden to the 50 percent and 60 percent of the Area Median Income. In 2003 RUPCO originally stated that their goal when they began working with the town’s Affordable Housing Committee was to provide low-cost, affordable housing to Woodstock. What Woodstock Commons would provide is mixed income-level county and statewide housing. Applications are accepted on a statewide basis according to income. This has very little to do with the original intent of Woodstock’s Affordable Housing Committee.
Is this type of mixed-income level housing valuable to Ulster County? Certainly. But there is an impact on Woodstock taxpayers, the town’s environment, a wetlands that controls flooding, a neighborhood, and very potential tax-based infrastructure costs. After five years in process, RUPCO claims the housing development is in the town water and sewer district. Our infrastructure was not meant to service large developments such as 53 units in one shot, and our water system and supply is in a fragile condition. This project, if built, will cost Woodstockers, not service them.
The affordable housing trend of the last decades is away from low-income housing to mixed-income level housing, and the challenge is to keep the moderate-upper level units full because these people have more options. The key element of success needed to meet this challenge is location, location, location. The name “Woodstock” will provide name recognition for RUPCO’s project, and a positive, upscale association. Could this be part of the reason Woodstock is so valuable to RUPCO? “Affordable”needs a lot more clarification in Woodstock’s future attempts at creating affordable housing for Woodstock residents.
A MESSAGE FROM THE COMEAU TRAILS TASK FORCE
To all of you who have shown such strong support for the volunteer effort to rehabilitate the Comeau trails, our sincere thanks. This is to inform you of the status of the new “Coney Island” boardwalk bridge that is being installed in the area of the wood palettes that have now completely disintegrated.
As you may have noticed, the pre-constructed bridge sections have been stacked along the northern edge of the soccer field. These are built from recycled wood from the Coney Island boardwalk, which is being demolished. The wood is a Brazilian hardwood known as Ipe, and has already been exposed to the elements for 60-years. Ipe is one of the hardest woods in the world. It is extremely rot resistant, and will give service on the trails for another 60 years and beyond.
Unfortunately, due to recent heavy rain, the trails volunteers were unable to install these sections on either of the last two weekends, as the area was too boggy. We do expect however, to do the installation in the upcoming weekend. The crushed stone foundation necessary for good drainage has been laid, and will be leveled to receive the bridge sections.
The CTTF asks that all trail users be patient until our work is complete. We apologize for the disruption. Once the job is done, this trail section will be much more comfortable and a pleasure to walk. Any disturbance to existing trails and the new trail sections as a result of the installation will be restored and resurfaced with wood chips. On behalf of the volunteers of the Comeau Trails Task Force, thank you for your understanding.
David Corbett, Chair, CTTF
TOWN HALL BELONGS ON OUR MAIN STREET
This is absolutely the best time of year to travel around the states in the Northeast. The weather is superb, the foliage is at its peak and visitors are warmly welcomed by owners of myriad establishments. While taking in all these marvelous sights, note where most all town halls are located...on the main street! Our Town Hall is on our main street, which is as it should be. It is a well known landmark, it looks like a Town Hall and it deserves our attention, as do all those who occupy it. It is long past time to get our act together and renovate our Town Hall. It could, with judicious attention, be brought to a safe, upgraded, modern condition for far less than the two million dollars that is being bandied about. Come on, townspeople! Speak up and add your voice to those who have recently spoken out in favor of creating a safe and hospitable working environment for our police, dispatch, justice court and maintenance personnel for less than one million dollars, perhaps even half that. I am confident that careful planning could undoubtedly bring this about. If the costs can be contained in the manner that was presented to the Town Board on Thursday, October 7, by Justice Richard Husted, speaking on behalf of all those in the aforementioned departments, with Chief of Police Clayton Keefe and Court Clerk Kathy Longyear at his side, it is highly possible that all, or most all of the work could be done by talented locals. Jump on the band wagon, speak out publicly, write letters and help get this ball rolling…now!
Mary Phillips Burke
PONY EXPRESS NEWS
Here’s a postmortem on your bastard cousin, the deceased Olive Press newspaper and its clone, the Phoenicia Times. First off, it was published every two weeks, making it more a periodical than a newspaper. Two week old news is from the Pony Express days. The paper never had a chance to prove its worth by achieving greater circulation numbers. A growing readership is the classic metric of a publication’s success, but from the start, the OP was mailed out free to all residents of the area, whether they wanted it or not. All revenues had to therefore come from advertising instead of the public’s coins on the counter. I bet most who are lamenting the loss of these papers would have been willing to pay 50 cents an issue or even a buck and have a local paper still in existence. What was success supposed to look like, once the seed-money was gone? More ads instead of more readers? The paper seemed to be locked into a financial plan that needed changing some time back.
The cover story of the OP’s own demise was to be continued on page 12 of the final issue, but for some reason, turned up on page 16 (playing for time?) Language is the currency of the press and respect for its precision is crucial, but the OP apparently never turned on the spell check function. When you need every ad dollar you can get, you need to be on your game. Potential advertisers aren’t turned on by typos or layout sloppiness any more than I am. Reading the final issue, one finds no sense of what might have been done differently. The editorial tone is oddly self-congratulatory as the lights go out. The sadness expressed comes from the OP’s now unemployed staff-writers in their final columns (and in their collective request for jobs and donations from their former readers). Letters to the paper are also sad at this rather sudden development. It should be noted that Woodstock Times has done a fine job of covering the happenings out this way — often with articles that were duplicated in the OP. But it always sucks to see a paper close.
I think the final word should be from the OP itself, quoting from the now defunct ‘Municipal I Ching’ column that offered puzzling platitudes for the masses. This is exactly as written and spelled.
“There is an eelement of the unknown in all we do, and yet with carefuil steps we can render progress and eventual propsperity from the successes we have had....”
A SURVIVAL FROM THE PAST
I wonder if the readers of this newspaper are aware that the editor does not permit letter-writers to refer to any other letter-writers as neo-Nazis. He seems to believe that they are actually perfect little ladies and gentlemen — when in fact they are ignorant, nutty, Jew-hating neo-Nazis.
In anthropology, there are what is known as “survivals;” tobacco-chewing has almost died out, for instance, but gum-chewing has taken its place. The neo-Nazis in the Woodstock area are carrying on the hate-filled anti-Semitic tradition of the Bund, the old Nazis, and Adolf himself.
(Editor’s note: See Feedback rules above.)
THE CLEAN ENERGY FUTURE THANKS YOU
Thanks to all for your participation (last Sunday 10/10/10) in the The Arts for Clean Energy Expo’ and ‘Woodstock 350’ climate action event at Mountain View Studio.
We had two groups of cyclist’s start out on tours of the area, a 3 mile and a 20 mile route. We had multiple Arts disciplines including: Movita Dance Theatre, painters exhibits by Julie Hedrick and Linda Soble, music groups Bakana, Future350, Erayna Cranston, The Repeatos and Peter Wetzler, environmental story telling with Jana Smith, inspirational speaker Melissa Everett and Ravensbeard, everyone involved created vital connections between creativity and environmental solutions.
350.org in alliance with Greenpeace USA and many others, inspired this day of climate action on a massive scale. With 7,437 coordinated events world wide, mobilizing millions of people, everybody made a bold commitment to work together for a Clean Energy Future.
This grassroots action is an evolutionary and direct way to create a sustainable balanced culture that will no longer leave the problem solving in the hands of the heavily invested problem makers. Local, State and Federal governments are aligning with this movement and its demand to close down the ‘Dirty fossil fuel’ industry. While the fossil fuel lobbyists strongly resist this and continue to spread confusing disinformation, this colorful day of innovative action painted a different picture.
The bottom line message is to bring atmospheric levels of CO2 pollution down from 388 to 350 parts per million by 2014. Such will be the outcome of many future actions and initiatives that prioritize the environment first. Woodstock town planners are developing plans to solar power the highway garage in Bearsville within the next year or two. Great news!
Every lifestyle choice and consideration that we each make will shape the future for life on the planet. Maybe choosing solar, wind, geo or hydrogen, maybe choosing a diet with no meat, choosing less stuff, smaller, compact, carbon-free or choosing to share, co-operate and employ what works for the common good.
The Artist is ‘found’ in everyone, and with encouragement the Artists activates the imagination and collective concerns for our environment, the quality of the air that we breathe, the water that we drink and the energy that we use. ‘The Arts for Clean Energy Expo’ is a natural expression of sustainable community, creating solutions together, and loving every moment of it!
Stephen Johnson, event coordinator
FAMILY CAN HELP WITH FOOD STAMPS
Thank you for your recent article on the Good Neighbor Food Pantry. More families than we all realize regularly make decisions balancing medication needs or school supplies vs. food on the table. They really appreciate the efforts of the many volunteer pantries in the county and the pantries all deeply appreciate the ongoing support it takes to keep the shelves and freezers stocked with healthy, nutritious food.
Thurman Greco rightly points out the importance of Food Stamps as a way to supplement food budgets. The program is intended to assist working families whose budgets are stretched. It is not only for those who are destitute. In an effort to make Food Stamps more accessible and to encourage more people to apply, Food Stamp offices have trained community agencies to assist individuals in the application process. Family of Woodstock is one of those outreach centers, so rather than having to call an 800 number or make an appointment and go to Kingston to apply, people can call Family at 679-2485, come into our Walk In Center on Rock City Road in Woodstock and apply online with help from one of our volunteers. We sit down, have a conversation, help sort through financial records and talk about what other resources might be available. We provide the internet and fax. Oh, and a cup of coffee or tea, as well. Another important plus is that Family is open evenings and weekends so people can apply without having to take off from work. If someone would rather apply in the privacy of their home and has access to a computer, online applications are available at www.mybenefits.ny.gov (and still have access to Family’s fax, phone and food pantry if needed).
Since the Food Stamp outreach program was initiated last year, Family’s three Walk In Centers in Woodstock, New Paltz and Ellenville have assisted more than 400 applicants in the Food Stamp process. That’s a lot of people getting extra help with groceries. And it’s a lot of federal dollars being spent in our local economy on food. If you know someone who might benefit from some extra money for food every month, tell them to give Family a call.
38 PERCENT TAX INCREASE
While town, city and state governments in the United States and around the world cut jobs to save money the Town of Woodstock is contemplating to raise the taxes by an outrageous 38 percent and cutting no jobs at all. There are over 70 town employees who will stay put and whose salaries ranging from $32,223 to$74,366 (2009 figures) will continue to rise. And we are paying for it.
We paid for the new multi-million dollar Woodstock Fire Department building with a kitchen no restaurant owner would be ashamed of, we pay 17 plus unionized
Woodstock Police force; we even pay for our garbage, leaves and branches to be picked up, when other towns around us have the decency to do so. We pay more millions of Dollars to the obsolete Onteora School District. Town Supervisor Mr. Jeff Moran
has done nothing to decrease the horrendous town and school tax burden and it is obvious that the well being of Woodstock citizens who elected him are not his priority. Even tough the home resale values decreased dramatically in the past two years, their tax assessment remains inflated and would probably rise. There is something definitely not right in this town and that must change. Although English is my second language, I am capable to write and publish an article in every daily and weekly publication on the Eastern seabord, including The New York Times, describing what is going on here. The entire world will know. Or, Mr. Moran, start working for us and not against us.
(Editor’s note: Town Supervisor Jeff Moran does not set the tax levy for the Onteora Central School District. It is done by the Board of Education. Nor did the town supervisor have any say over the construction of the fire house…but citizens did, and voted in favor of it.)
THINGS TO CUT
The Woodstock Times interview with the supervisor and the supervisor’s budget message help explain the proposed 38 percent tax increase. This increase cannot be totally attributed to pension contributions and medical benefits for town employees; there are many discretionary items included.
For instance, fees collected for construction activity are down 55 percent, but the town board added a zoning enforcement officer and part time secretary to the building departments this year. Next year, more employees will be handling less than half the usual construction activity.
Over $300,000 has been added to the budget to renovate Town Hall. This might be justified if the town board was moving forward with the plan approved by the voters in 2007, but that is not what is proposed. The supervisor is recommending spending another $100,000 to redesign Town Hall which, in the opinion of the architect, will result in substantial increased costs over the existing approved design.
It has been reported that the town board is considering a new town building at the Mountain View parking lot. It seems premature to include $300,000 in the budget when the town board is undecided about town offices. It would be sensible to move ahead with the existing approved plan, but otherwise, funds should not be budgeted until the town board makes the necessary decisions.
A new Comprehensive Plan costing $86,000 is included in the budget. We have an existing Comprehensive Plan, which was developed at great expense but has languished with the town board. Perhaps the town board could complete its work with the existing plan before spending a lot of money and wasting a lot of time on a new plan.
Other towns and jurisdictions announced budgets with more modest tax increases than that proposed by Supervisor Moran. Perhaps the town board could learn something from our neighboring towns.
ERRONEOUS, RACIST AND MISLEADING
Jay Cohen points out in his letter “The Hamas Charter,” some of the violent anti-Jewish statements included in the group’s original 1988 charter. What he fails to recognize is that years later these statements are not relevant to present-day Hamas. That charter was written in early 1988 by one individual and made public without Hamas consultation, revision or consensus, much to the regret of Hamas leaders in later years. The original charter has been used as a club for Zionist propaganda ever since. It is also worth noting that statements expressing such hatred for Jews were virtually unheard of in the Arab world before the Zionist invasion and colonization of Palestine.
I am however, in agreement with Jay as far as his critique of violence against civilians. Although I am in deep sympathy with the Palestinian cause, I am adamantly opposed to Hamas’ past use of suicide bombings and rocket attacks, which do not represent the will of the vast majority of Palestinians for a just peace and are counterproductive to that cause.
He reports that from 2000 to 2004 Hamas was responsible for killing nearly 400 Israelis and wounding many more. What Jay fails to mention is that Israeli attacks (collective punishment) on Palestinians resulted in a Palestinian death toll tenfold greater. All terrorism is deplorable, but if we compare the relatively primitive tactics employed by Hamas with the massive state terrorism and collective punishment of Palestinians by Israel, carried out with tanks, missiles and modern weaponry (supplied by the U.S.), a different picture emerges.
He also ignores the source of Palestinians’ discontent, which is the original theft of their land and expulsion of 750,000 people from their homes (given no right of return, as is specified under international law), as well as continued humiliation and mistreatment (checkpoints, Jewish-only roads, settlements, etc.) to this day.
He should also recognize that Hamas is not, by any means, the sole representative of the Palestinian people’s aspirations for peace and justice.
Most unfortunately, Cohen’s final statement is not only erroneous, but worse, racist and misleading. At the end of his letter Jay, displaying an unfortunate ignorance, bias, and prejudice, concludes, “Palestinians clearly lack the wisdom of a Mandela.”
The Palestinian “Mandelas” (Mandela himself was part of an armed resistance movement, the ANC) and also many nonviolent resistance “Gandhis” are among the 10,000 men, women and Palestinian children imprisoned today in Israeli jails. Israeli leaders are unquestionably more afraid of the long-standing nonviolent Palestinian resistance movement (vastly under-reported in the mainstream media) than the sporadic and comparatively weak Hamas violence.
As far as the wisdom of a Mandela, here’s Mandela on Palestine: “The so-called ‘Palestinian autonomous areas’ are bantustans. These are restricted entities within the power structure of the Israeli apartheid system,” and “All of us need to do more in supporting the struggle of the people of Palestine for self-determination.”
Jay, if you are sincerely looking for Palestinian “Mandelas” or even “Gandhis,” there are many; just drop the prejudice and bias and do a little honest research. As far as Hamas, I would suggest as a start, “Hamas: A Beginner’s Guide “ by Khalid Hroub, a professor at Cambridge University.
This year it is so important to support candidates who have proven themselves as being competent, capable and (sadly enough) sane. Do not stay home on election day! Please join me in supporting the reelection of Kevin Cahill as our assembly representative. Kevin always advocates for the interests of hard working people like you and me. He also has a great record of support for our animal friends. This is an important election that we cannot afford to lose. Mark your calendars right now for Tuesday, November 2 and pull the lever for Kevin Cahill!
HAD ENOUGH YET
No, I have not had enough. Maybe, when we have the support of local, state and federal governments to support renewable energy, instead of subsidizing our addiction to fossil fuels, I will have had enough.
Maybe when we have eliminated the death panels known as insurance companies and have instituted a single payer health care system that does not make money by refusing to pay for health care, I will have had enough.
Maybe when we have ended wars for oil, I will have had enough.
Maybe when Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Yew are in jail as war criminals, I will have had enough.
Maybe when we stop torturing people who oppose us, I will have had enough.
Maybe when we stop polluting the oceans and paying people to do it, I will have had enough.
Maybe when we are out of Afghanistan, I will have had enough.
Maybe when we stop supporting dictatorial regimes because they have oil, gold, uranium, whatever, I will have had enough.
Maybe when we stop acting as though we are the owners of the planet, instead of its stewards, I will have had enough.
Maybe when we stop giving money to billionaires and taking that money from the blood of the poor, I will have had enough.
Maybe when we stop leaving the foxes to guard the henhouses, I will have had enough.
Maybe when we get the government out of our bedrooms and doctors’ offices, I will have had enough.
Maybe when we stop our idiotic, failed, war on drugs that has done nothing but enrich narco-terrorists, I will have had enough.
But not now, not yet. I have not had enough.
Harry Castiglione passed away last week. His accomplishments were great: his musical talent, his service to the Town and to the Democratic Party. But I knew him as a friend and neighbor, as a good and kind person.
I will miss him.
SANCTUARY OFFERS COMMUNITY SPIRIT
In response to a recent letter from Oona Fessenden of Willow, I would like to express my gratitude to the Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary (WFAS) for introducing me to the area. After visiting the farm and spending time there, I have decided to actively look at property in hopes that I can spend more time in the area. WFAS offers that feeling of community spirit that I had always hoped to find in a small rural town.
In my efforts to get to know the area better, I have been reading the local papers and came across Oona’s letter. I am discouraged to see that the Times chose to print a letter that reads more as a screed from a disgruntled neighbor who seems to have more of a personal issue with the farm and its co-founder. I have attended some of the events that were mentioned in the letter and found them to be delightful gatherings of both locals and visitors — which once again offer an opportunity for people to experience the unique community spirit of the area. I would be uncomfortable about attending events that seemed to upset the balance of a small community but there has seemed to be a real effort by both staff and volunteers to keep noise to a minimum, traffic and parking organized, and clean up of trash as efficient as possible so as not to attract uninvited guests, etc.
I wish that Oona had come to an event this summer to meet some of the visitors and supporters and learn there are a variety of reasons we all make the trip out to Willow as often as we can as well as see the concern we all have to be as respectful as possible while visiting the area. It would have been the neighborly thing to do after all.
WORK IT OUT
Admittedly, I don’t know all of the zoning laws and regulations that apply to the activities hosted by Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary. I travel on average one weekend each month from Brooklyn to volunteer my time helping take care of animals on the farm. To take advantage of the time I spend in the area I usually rent a room at a nearby hotel or B&B. I like to spend time in the town of Woodstock dining and shopping, and I love hiking in the area.
I would like to emphasize that WFAS brings me up and out of the city to enjoy not only what WFAS does but also what the local community of Woodstock has to offer. I have introduced friends to the area too, and that they love it here, and some have come back on their own. In fact, one couple I am friends with got engaged on their second visit ever, that was a year ago this week, and they returned this past weekend to celebrate the anniversary.
In all my visits, I have never even noticed the smell of pigs, let alone a stench. You’d think this sort of odor would stand out to a visitor from New York City. Nothing the letter said could have stood in greater contrast to my impression of the events held on the farm, especially how fresh the air is.
I too was reminded of Orwell reading Ms. Fessenden’s letter...indeed it seems that “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” I hope the author of the letter can work out differences with the owners of the sanctuary, most importantly so that the pigs can continue to be pigs, roosters…roosters, and cows…cows.