Last week, Supervisor Helsmoortel explained his support of the Opus 40 park project. Rather than rehash the pros and cons of the issue, I wish to address an inconsistency in Helsmoortel’s article.
I previously criticized Helsmoortel for spending an extra $15,000 to $20,000 on the project without a Town Board vote. In a column appearing in local newspapers last week, the supervisor wrote: “Last spring, at my request, the town’s special projects coordinator, Vernon Benjamin, undertook a study to see how the town might save this important cultural resource … I have discretionary funds available to me in the town budget for work like this, although it was always my intention to cover any of these incidental costs through grants or other income over time.”
Helsmoortel, however, the 11/24/10 edition of the Saugerties Times contained the following statements: “No further expenditures of town money are planned. More funds are needed to make the purchase, but that will have to come from donations and grants, Helsmoortel said.”
If Benjamin had been getting paid for Opus 40 since last spring, why didn’t Helsmoortel mention it in the November 2010 Saugerties Times article?
Helsmoortel’s conflicting statements begs the following questions: Was Benjamin billing the town for his Opus 40 work without the supervisor’s knowledge? And, did Helsmoortel pay Benjamin out of his “discretionary fund” after the fact to account for the lack of a Town Board vote?
Helsmoortel’s handling of Opus 40 is reminiscent of his past snafus that have hurt Saugerties taxpayers and may explain why town property taxes have almost doubled during his tenure.
Chair, Saugerties Republican Party
PLEASE RETURN MY RABBITS
Morningstar Raindance is being charged with animal cruelty by the SPCA. “What is wrong with this picture?” I think to myself as I am carrying a bale of hay for my animals up a steep hill in the last snowstorm.
I am an animal lover and animal activist. I started Peace on Earth Farm, where I have rescued 18 chickens, two sheep, one dog, one cat, and two rabbits. I love rabbits because they are so cute and cuddly, so I adopted a few more. I thought that because they were small, they were too young to get pregnant. Then there were 21 bunnies and two were adopted by friends. I tried everything to find homes for the rest of them but it is not Easter time. I was totally overwhelmed so I called the SPCA to surrender most of the bunnies. I called them.
There was no reason to suspect that the bunnies were anything but healthy. They had very thick and beautiful fur since they lived outdoors in the rabbit barn. They had bright eyes. They were eating, hopping around. Rabbit pellets were normal. Then under a bright light, when they were examined, injuries were discovered.
This was a medical problem that I was unaware of and not a situation of animal cruelty. There is a big difference between these. I thought and believed that the bunnies were healthy.
Although farm animals sometimes have coccidiosis, they have diarrhea as a symptom. The remedy is commonly sold at feed stores and I have it right here in the barn. However, rabbits show no symptom of coccidiosis and their rabbit pellets looked normal so I did not know they had it. If the SPCA had determined that coccidiosis was going around in the rabbit barn, all they had to do was to tell me and I would have treated them for it. Instead, they took all my rabbits. I would like my 10 rabbits returned to me ASAP.
Since they already have a good home where they are loved and well cared for why is the SPCA’s money being wasted taking care of ten rabbits that already have a happy home? I have six empty rabbit cages and 75 pounds of rabbit food in my kitchen. I loved my rabbits and at least one of them, Hip Hop, is unadoptable because he bites.
I live in nature and my rabbit cages were not dirty as the SPCA is accusing me of. It is a different style of cage — homemade and wooden, not metal. I have hay and litter boxes in each cage as well as fresh water and food everyday including snacks, lettuce, carrots and oats, The litter boxes were changed every day and the whole cage cleaned totally once per week. I usually let the rabbits out to hop around while I cleaned the cages. The SPCA happened to show up in the morning before the cages were cleaned and they used this as a reason to justify their actions.
I am 60 years old and brain damaged. My two strong sons have moved out so I am taking care of the farm by myself, and the quantity of rabbits became overwhelming especially when my car died in the middle of the winter.
For the spring when the ground is no longer frozen I want to construct tunnels for the rabbits in the rabbit yard modeled after what was created by Donna Stack so that the rabbits can actually enjoy the underground.
I think my precious, beautiful rabbits had a very happy life here on Peace on Earth Farm until the SPCA took them and have them now in their metal cages indoors and away from Nature and home.
My 10 rabbits are being held as hostages of the SPCA unless I pay the ransom fee of $800 dollars. A lot of this was money spent unnecessarily but I would have paid the medical expenses of the bunnies that I was surrendering if Brian Shapiro had asked me. He did not have to kidnap my 10 rabbits and charge me with animal cruelty, since I was very upset that the bunnies had illnesses that I was unaware of.
Recently, Adell Seligman, a well known lawyer and friend of the SPCA, made Peace on Earth Farm into a Not-For-Profit corporation. Since I am a fellow animal activist, I suggest that the SPCA drop the animal cruelty charges and return my rabbits.
If anyone would like to help my rabbits come home, please call 247-0321.
FE FE FAREWELL
To all the kids at Grant D. Morse Elementary School:
I am sure by this time all of you kids have noticed that Fe Fe is not there. I am sorry to be gone. I have had a wonderful experience with all of you.
Yes, there were issues at times, but I did my best to make it right. I just want you to know that I hope you all try to be respectful to the other monitors. If you have problems or need to talk don’t be afraid to go to the other monitors. They are there for you as I have always been. Your safety and welfare was always first and foremost to me. I have always tried to make things better in the cafeteria for you.
I just wanted you to know that I did not quit my job. I was asked to resign. Just so you all know, I would never walk out on you kids. God bless you all and I will miss you terribly.
Love and hugs.
Victoria Turk (Fe Fe)
WE NEED A PLAN
Once again I am voicing my concern about what I perceive as a serious lack of vigor in marketing Ulster County. Economically, we are no further ahead than we were after the departure of IBM in 1994, and I haven’t heard of any structured plan to put us on track.
Mario Cuomo used to say that “in politics if you don’t blow your own horn, there’s no music,” so the purpose of my letter is not solely to criticize. In late-1999 and mid-2000 I put forth a plan to market this area, potentially creating 3,000 to 5,000 jobs. The plan was to be studied by county officials at the time as well as others involved in marketing Ulster County. The plan, as usual, fell on deaf ears and is now making its mark on other areas – the success of the plan has already been proven in other parts of the country.
In my opinion, those assigned with pursing economic development have not put forth a plan of action to bring us out of the abyss we are now experiencing. What I mean by a plan is to set a direction as to what we want to be, in the economic sense. As children, those wanting to be teachers, for example, learn about the process involved in being one and pursue a plan of action to become one. Economic development works in the same fashion, hense my analogy.
The stark reality is that millions of square feet of empty, aging space, environmentally tainted land and the lack of a serious economic plan are squandering those economic opportunities. Rapid changes in technology are creating industries never before dreamed of, and those in charge need to expand their efforts to capitalize upon a plan that would allow these emerging industries to flourish. Public issues like this need to be held up to scrutiny.
The new world economy is here to stay and there is no going back. I conclude that if regional industrial age governments do not transform into information age governments, they will obstruct rather than advance.
County Legislator, District 4
HAVE YOU BEEN WRONGED BY THE JUSTICE SYSTEM
Attention victims of unlawful arrests and police harassment (especially involving marijuana):
It is time to come forward! It’s time to stand up and know your rights! If what is mentioned above has happened to you, a friend or loved one, and you agree that this must stop, then please send your story or simply just contact one or both of the names listed below. Thank You.
Abigail at firstname.lastname@example.org or Michelle at email@example.com.
We will respect your wishes if you do not want your identity known. However, we would still like your story.
If politics is the distribution of wealth, let’s see how working people in the US have fared over the last twenty five years.
1983: Social Security taxes are increased, creating a trillion dollar in surplus payments from working people to the government by 2009. The surplus is used over this period to provide tax cuts for corporations and the very rich.
2003: Wars of aggression in the Middle East cost a trillion dollars over the next decade. While working people pay for these wars and even sacrifice their sons and daughters, the oil companies and weapons makers reap huge profits.
2008: The banking and investment sectors collapse, necessitating well over a trillion in tax dollars to be paid to financial corporations. Little or nothing is paid to the millions of Americans who lose their homes in the Wall Street speculation.
2010: Obama makes a secret deal with Republicans to continue Bush era tax cuts for the corporations and the very rich, costing over a trillion dollars in revenue over the next ten years.
2011: Corporations, with over two trillion dollars of profits in their coffers plan payouts to their corporate management and their wealthiest stockholders. Few new jobs are created.
2011: Obama plans a trillion dollars in cuts over the next decade for services that benefit working people.
How has the plutocracy been treating you? Working people must learn to fight back if we want anything for ourselves or our families. Nobody is going to do it for us.