Who represents Uptown, the most heavily taxed district in the City of Kingston with no representation? Mayor Sottile? Alderman Tom Hoffay? KUBA President Kevin Quilty? I think not.
I recently looked up Kingston Historical Stockade District and much to my surprise was the preamble to the zoning law for the Stockade District.
It reads as follows: “It is in the public interest to ensure that the distinctive and historical character of the Historic and Architectural Design district shall not be injuriously affected, that the value to the community of those buildings having architectural and historical worth shall not be impaired and that said ... district be maintained and preserved to promote its use of the education, pleasure and welfare of the citizens of the city of Kingston, New York, and others ... This area contains the architecture of the past 300 years and new development not be allowed to erode the best of the architectural spaces and cultural association of the past.”
Have any of our elected officials ever read this, and if so why didn’t it strongly influence their decision to keep us hostage under the non-historic Pike Plan?
Then I read in the newspaper the other day that the City of Kingston had received CDBG entitlement funding and there was to be a public hearing. I thought I would go and present our case, again, for the removal of the Pike Plan and propose some usage for some of that funding.
I proposed they could use some to redirect the traffic flow on Wall Street, or maybe to defray the cost of removing the bumpouts. And if by chance, for some unfathomable reason, the rebuilding of the Pike Plan didn’t fly, then maybe, just maybe, some of the entitlement money could be used to help remove the Pike Plan. Then all of the $1.6 million could be used on the streetscape for all of Uptown.
I believed these to be reasonable requests since the newspaper suggested that the mayor wanted to use some funding for a bandstand on the Rondout. That to me is a great idea but not anymore suitable than my request … or so I thought.
Not only was I not allowed to finish my requests but the chairperson deemed it unsuitable for this forum. When I did get done speaking over the chairperson, Michel Murphy’s, insults, he had the disrespect to apologize to the audience for “the inappropriate
interruption” — meaning me. Since the city is already using $50,000 of entitlement money toward funding the rebuilding of the Pike Plan, his rudeness puzzles me.
Why is it that psycho, right-wing religious fanatics get a more courteous and respectful treatment by government elects while violating a mourning family during a military funeral than a property owner and taxpayer at a “public” forum in the city of Kingston?
Watch out for the roadblocks
A stroll down property tax memory lane is not a walk in the park; more a stroll through the nastiest toxic dump. Legislators who once said, “We can’t afford property tax reform” are still saying it five years later. Who’s “we,” big shot? And at least two of them are now collecting both a legislator’s salary and a legislator’s pension. Feeling slimed, kid? Join those of us who haunt the halls of the capital, take three showers a day and will probably never feel clean again.
Remember when we were fighting some dudes in the Senate and an old “New York City mayor that once was” that came out with a “hero’s list” of legislators who signed a pledge for reform — among them some of the dudes we were fighting in the cause of property tax reform?
Remember when some innocents in the media excoriated those who had better sense than to sign an empty pledge? The whole thing was as dumb as a box of rocks, and last week the old mayor was reported to be hurtling through Albany’s halls in a golf cart yelling “liar, liar, pants on fire!” because some of his “heroes” turned out not to be too concerned with reform once they got into the majority. I missed the spectacle myself, but it sounds like it could have happened; after all, this is Albany where many legislators blaming unions for pension abuses themselves end up on Riker’s sooner or later.
Albany is where the governor (all the last three) decided Wall Street needs a tax break — and we property taxpayers don’t need a break? So they took a couple of billion from STAR to help finance the tax break for millionaires.
The current governor (a DINO) insists on doing away with a $5-billion-a-year surcharge on the über-wealthy, but also insists on letting property taxes on the middle class rise at least 2 percent per year. Why? Because in Albany it makes sense to rob from the working and middle class to give to the rich.
As an aside, to show you how many neurons die off in our state capital daily, if the millionaire’s tax surcharge expires, New Jersey will clean up because the über-wealthy commuters who make their money on Wall Street, but live in New Jersey, won’t take a deduction on their Jersey taxes for those they paid New York because they won’t be paying those taxes anymore. Nice going Albany. We hired you to shift revenue to New Jersey. Oh right, we didn’t. You screw-ups!
More memories of the long property tax struggle revolve around the $16-billion-a-year rebate of the stock transfer tax, less than a penny a share. It is supposed to be collected, but if it is (very murky this tax), it is rebated after being in a special fund — or is it?
We tax reformers wanted this painless tax to be kept because, well, we could use $16 billion a year for a whole host of goodies, among them property tax reform, and still have a bunch left over.
But the Albany gang says the Wall Street gang — many of whom already live in New Jersey or Connecticut — would leave New York. Again?
Funny thing happened on the way to researching this tax. In 1905 when it was instituted, the big-bucks boys said they’d leave. They didn’t. They never do, dammit!
And people are worried about getting rid of bedbugs. Hell, that’s a snap compared to the scourge of the Wall Street boys who crashed the system, got bailed out and now — reconstituted as the laughably named the Committee to Save New York — are throwing $10 million into Cuomo’s coffers to help pass a budget that gives the millionaires a tax break, fires workers and is trying to kill our efforts at tax reform.
Thank goodness “The Committee” hirelings are really goofing in their current efforts to buy public opinion. Their adverts amount to propaganda pop-ups on the Internet that send users into spasms of profanity. And screeds in the Wall Street Journal just blow their already-flimsy cover. Not to mention the hypocrisy of showing hard hats in their print ads — like everybody on this billionaires’ Committee to “Save” New York is a construction worker and not a CEO of the too-big-to-pay taxes corporations. As if!
But $10 million buys a lot of lies and a lot of legislation. So on the road to property tax reform, watch out for the jerks that set up road blocks. We intend to crash right through and get home.
May 2 anti-fracking rally
We’re drawn to products labeled natural, hoping that they won’t contain anything lethal. Natural gas is not one of those products. There’s nothing wrong with the natural gas, but there is something very wrong with the current method of hydrofracking used to extract it. So I’m not ready to buy into it, and neither should you, until it’s been proven safe for you, your children, and your Mother Earth.
Last year, on NPR a hydrofracking engineer stated that the gas companies were exploring new and improved methods of extracting this gas. Fine. Let’s hope they’re better than the current methods, which are an environmental disaster, polluting our drinking water and the air we breathe. (Why are these guys exempt from The Clean Air and Water Acts?) Good science takes time. That’s why we need a moratorium on hydrofracking until we can figure it out. We need to stop those trucks from barreling down upon us in their deadly haste to get the gas out of the ground ... for what? Clean energy for the Catskills, or quick bucks for the gas companies?
On May 2, there’s a rally scheduled in Albany for a statewide ban on hydrofracking for natural gas. Consider attending.
To all of our wonderful volunteers, a special thank you to all who came out to help on Feb. 26. We cleaned up a lot of debris and scrap at the ReStore building. We appreciate your help as we could not do this without you.
Ulster County Habitat for Humanity