Unfunded mandates are the reason New York counties have had the highest property taxes in the country. Albany’s proclivity to dictate what its counties must do, without providing the funds to do it has placed an unjust burden on property owners in particular, and county governments in general.
Gov. Cuomo is committed to putting a 2 percent cap on property taxes. Any legislator that lives north of New York City will be committing political suicide to oppose it. Mandate relief is scheduled to follow somewhat later.
In the interim, the only way a county will be able to deal with budget costs that exceed the 2 percent cap will be to cut non-mandated services. Which in Ulster County’s case would be the Golden Hill Nursing Center, the Sheriff’s Criminal Division, Mental Health, or Coordinated Children’s Services.
The Golden Hill Infirmary can be taken over by the private sector and should be. The Criminal Division could be taken over by the State Police. Mental Health clients would have to be relegated to charities and non-profits. Coordinated Children’s Services saves a lot more money than it cost. Making things worse is the probability that federal funding will also be cut.
No easy choices. I don’t envy our legislators.
PTSD STUDY LONG OVERDUE
The Vietnam Veterans Association has announced that a long overdue longitudinal study of the health effects of post-traumatic stress disorder is underway. This study was stuck in a political quagmire over the years and I am pleased it’s finally moving forward.
There has been documentation that PTSD does more than effect a combat veteran’s mental health. There are long-term physical and neurological problems manifested as a result of PTSD.
Veterans who have PTSD should insist on a full brain scan to determine if they have experienced brain shrinkage which leads to mild cognitive impairment, an effect of PTSD. They are also, sadly, more likely to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
This information highlights why it is so important that veterans receive adequate treatment for PTSD as soon as possible. Our government ignored — and mocked — Vietnam combat veterans who said they were experiencing PTSD. Let’s end that travesty by avoiding deeply-rooted PTSD in our veterans who are currently serving our country.
The new study is labeled the National Vietnam Veterans Longitudinal Study (NVVLS) and is expected to continue through 2013. In the meantime, if you have PTSD, or symptoms, visit your doctor but insist on proper testing by specialists familiar with PTSD.
Jo Galante Cicale
PET FOOD DONATION
Kudos to Paul Fowler who secured a 1,000 pounds of animal food for the UCASPCA from Price Chopper in Saugerties. Mr. Fowler should be commended for his continued work as a community activist.
Thank you to Price Chopper of Saugerties, Legislator Brian Shapiro, director of the UCSPCA , who does a fabulous job and once again to Paul Fowler.
FABIANO ON GOLDEN HILL
The biggest issue facing the Ulster County Legislature this year will be deciding on the future of the Golden Hill Health Care Center. In this legislator’s opinion, I believe we should build a new facility for our elderly.
In the hearings about Golden Hill that have taken place around the county, there has been support from the public for a new facility. If the county decides to build new, we would be reimbursed at least 75 percent of the cost by the state. This amount is negotiable which means this reimbursement could be even higher. The county spent $80 million to build a new jail for criminals. Shouldn’t we make such an investment in our elderly?
The main argument of those in favor of closing or privatizing the facility will save the county millions. But, it is in the nature of any government to spend away the savings in other areas. So, if Golden Hill is closed, the savings will disappear and there will be no facility for our elderly.
I encourage all Ulster County residents to contact their local legislators to express their opinion on this important issue. I hope the majority of the public will agree with my view that we need to take care of our elderly, by providing them with good care and compassion. They’ve earned it!
Dean J. Fabiano
Ulster County Legislator
CLEARING THE AIR
In Bob Berman’s informative column, with appeared in last week’s alm@nac, there was a serious error. When uranium-235 is fissioned, two products results whose sum of mass is slightly less than 235, the difference in mass being converted to energy according to the Einstein equation, E=mc2. The range of atomic mass units of fission products ranges from about 90 up to about 140; examples would be strontium (Sr)-90, and cesium (Cs)-137. Berman cites the cesium as going to bones; this isn’t true. The cesium is an alkali metal, Group 1 of the periodic table, and resembles the common biocations sodium and potassium. Sodium is largely extra-cellular in mammals while potassium is mainly intracellular. Strontium, on the other hand, is an analog of calcium and is concentrated in the bone salt (hydroxyapatite) in bones and teeth. Both (Sr)-90 and (Cs)-137 are moderately long-lived radioisotopes and present serious health dangers to people who are exposed to significant amounts in food and water; neither are found in the gas phase and so breathing them is a non-problem.
Associate Professor Emeritus of Chemistry
SUNY New Paltz
Bob Berman’s reply:
Thank you, David. You are absolutely right about Cesium. I actually caught this error myself, but too late before it was published. However, I caught it in time so that my public radio version, heard during NPR’s weekend edition last Sunday, had it all correct — as you know if you caught that program. Just shows — you can’t get away with anything around here.
NO FRACKING WAY
On Thursday, March 24, we joined some inspiring members of the New Paltz Climate Action Coalition and went to Albany to rally against hydrofracking. The event started with many legislators and activists speaking about the impending issue of horizontal hydrofracking to extract natural gas from the Marcellus Shale in New York State and the conditions that will lead to fracking happening or not. The speeches were followed by a rally in the “War Room” of the capital for Gov. Cuomo to make sure he does all he can to ensure fracking doesn’t come to New York and destroy this environment as it has many others, such as our neighbor, Pennsylvania.
It was an exciting day and we heard many dynamic speakers give their words about the inescapable negative and harmful impacts of hydraulic fracturing. It was an uplifting surprise as college students to see that politicians really do care about this issue with a passion and are working very hard to keep our water and us safe.
The focus of the day was to get the Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (SGEIS) redone by the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) because it created regulations for vertical gas drilling, not horizontal, it has not been revised in over a decade and it “sucks!” to quote one of the great speakers. It does not address the environmental impacts of the wastewater produced in the hydrofracking process or the atmospheric impacts from the evaporating chemicals and pollution from hundreds of truck trips to each site. Gas companies will be able to come into New York, exploit the environment and ruin our water.
We urge everyone to do a little research of his or her own on hydraulic fracturing to see this potential disaster waiting to happen. With more support, New York can stop these gas companies. Just a little math to inspire: The gas companies want to drill around 30,000 gas sites, for that they need 150,000,000,000(billion) gallons of clean water, producing 30,000,000,000(billion) gallons of waste water that return to the surface with no safe disposal system, leaving the other 120,000,000,000(billion) gallons of toxic waste in the ground.
New Paltz Climate Action Coalition
OBAMA SUPPORTS FAIR TAX PRINCIPLES
As we all approach the dreaded taxes due date of April 15 let’s reflect on the words of our president.
In his State of the Union address, President Obama said, “…over the years, a parade of lobbyists has rigged the tax code to benefit particular companies and industries…those with accountants and lawyers to work the system can end up paying no taxes at all. But all the rest are hit with one of the highest corporate tax rates in the world. It makes no sense. It has to change. So tonight, I’m asking Democrats and Republicans to simplify the system. Get rid of the loopholes. Level the playing field.”
Mr. President, you’re asking for Fair Tax! The solution is Fair Tax. Nothing else will significantly solve the problem. It does exactly what you’re asking completely. Sir, you might have added that tax issues are the primary reason companies have left the country for India, The Philippines, and other faraway places.
Also, you might have mentioned that the tax code now has over 70,000 pages. The only way to “get rid of the loopholes,” is to throw it out!
Fair Tax would bring businesses back to America, along with foreign businesses that would move here to reap the Fair Tax rewards. Also, all those billions, if not trillions of dollars that are tucked away off shore, secretly protected from U.S. Federal Tax ramifications would come back into our system. There would no longer be a need to hide.
For the individual American citizen, the reviled Form 1040 would be a museum piece, a thing of the past. Future generations would view it with disbelief that the federal government actually took money we earned before we could spend it.
Let us tax what we spend, not what we earn. Tax the purchase, not the person.
Mr. President, Fair Tax is a change that would revitalize our economy and raise the quality of life of all Americans… er…except for the “parade of lobbyists.” Lobbyists don’t like it. There would no longer be a tax code for them to “rig,” as you so strongly pointed out.
THANKS FROM ART LAB
I want to send out the deepest and sincerest thanks to all who made possible the recent screening in Saugerties of “A Race to Nowhere.” First and foremost, thank you to everyone in the audience of 250 who came to watch and talk about what they had seen, and a special thanks to the thirteen-year-old boy who started our conversation off. We need to hear all voices to build a common vision and positive action for powerful learning for children, and we heard many that night. Thank you. A huge thanks to the panelists who sat on the stage, fielded questions, and provided genuine responses to the situation of learning and stress in our schools. Thank you Beth Humphrey, Becky Mulford, Tom Averill, Lisa Ellerby, Eileen Kamrass, Linda Oehler-Marx, Ric Campbell, and a special thanks to the three students who sat on the panel: Erin Poll, Jeanne Milner, and Zev Velleman.
Thank you to our co-sponsors of the event, Saugerties Junior-Senior High School and the Woodstock Day School. Staff at SHS helped enormously in hosting the screening, getting the facilities ready, setting up, and getting the word out. Particular thanks to Adrienne Zabriskie who helped coordinate money, food, and attendance from WDS.
I also want to thank everyone who helped get the word out with a special shout-out to Jenny Mangione who was dogged about make sure community leaders and others knew about and would come to the event. Also, warm thanks to Barb Engel for getting the word out to Cantine’s Island and coordinating their generous donations of money and food.
Thank you to everyone who donated money and bought snacks. We were able to raise money for the entire cost of the screening and we have received permission to show another screening for students and teachers, which will be scheduled later this spring.
Now, I would like to invite everyone to come to a follow up conversation in the community room at the Saugerties Public Library on April 5 at 7 p.m. Please come and bring your questions and concerns. We will be using the feedback we received on the night of the screening as a starting point to prioritize and plan what we would like to see happen in our schools and community. You can also participate anytime on our online forum at saugertiesartlab.com.
In support of learning and growth,
President, Saugerties Art Lab