I want to thank Ulster County Executive Mike Hein and the Ulster County Legislature for approving the recent redistricting plan. Under this new form of charter government, Ulster County has become a great place to live and I would like to congratulate everyone involved in the process.
It is becoming increasingly difficult to applaud the actions of our state and federal politicians, however it is refreshing to have leadership in Ulster County that is committed to the principles of good government. I am not very familiar with the process of redistricting, but it was clear that the county executive set the tone early on by stating that he would not sign any legislation that included gerrymandered districts and insisted on independent redistricting. This is the type of principled leadership we should demand from our elected officials.
I think Ulster County is quickly becoming one of the best communities in the state of New York and I applaud our Ulster County representatives for working so hard to make this a reality.
Malfunction Junction, what’s your function
A roundabout at Broadway and Albany Avenue? Are they kidding? What do we call it, Malfunction Junction II? Roundabouts are a fine thing when everyone knows where they are going. When everyone is courteous and follows the rules. Does anyone think that this accurately describes driving in New York State? Does anyone think the tourists from the New York City area are going to drive friendly? Some of these tourists were actually overheard telling another that she wished that the “locals” should shop at other times or places so she could shop without waiting in line! Many drivers entering Kingston via Chandler Drive only slow below highway speeds because of the stoplights. The same problem exists at the Thruway roundabout which is still a relative hotspot of fender-benders, squealing brakes and shouted obscenities. This is not a beautiful way to welcome visitors to the city as one local personality stated. It is a way for the tow truck and ambulance companies to stay busy.
How can a circle where cars are in constant motion be friendlier to pedestrians? Does anyone think that all of these drivers will respect the crosswalks? They aren’t respected now at traffic lights. Can this intersection be improved? I surely hope so. New York has been on a roundabout kick for the last 10 years. They have proliferated throughout the state. In some places they have works and in others they have been far from successful. I think this is a problem where DOT’s one-size-fits-all solution is inappropriate. Lane-merging should be improved especially traveling north on Albany Avenue. Perhaps the control lights can be synchronized in a way that prevents the backlogs on Broadway and Albany Avenue. This is especially true of the traffic lights further down these streets. Perhaps computer control that changes the light’s timing in response to changing traffic flow. This dynamic system should reduce congestion problems as it has in other cities. I think there are better solutions than going around and around in circles.
Fracking not an option
The following is a shortened version of my comments at the May 26th UCCC hydrofracturing meeting.
For 30 years we’ve been sold the fraud that unregulated markets produce the best results for the public interest. Actually, they move the proceeds of business to the wealthy, create monopoly pricing and lack of consumer choice, and promote price speculation which destroys industries. The finance, airline, telecommunications and energy industries are examples of this. This philosophy has been a fig leaf covering the notion that everyone should be free to make money however they choose, regardless of the consequences.
For 350 years the West has over consumed its own and other peoples’ resources. We inherited from the British the mantle of protector of the West’s hydrocarbon economy and doing the job has cost us trillions of dollars and thousands of lives in wars and immeasurable environmental destruction.
The members of the political class have stated that they can’t get elected if they say the American people will have to accept more modest standard of living.
I’ll do it: The American people will have to accept a more modest standard of living.
The rights to use resources extravagantly, and to make money, are subordinated to the people’s right to a safe environment, and to a sustainable future. Freedom doesn’t mean doing what you want; it means having the ethics to make choices which serve yourself, and your community, rather than harming either.
The energy industry has the capital and capability to lead the development of a sustainable-energy economy, replacing the hydrocarbon-based one which has been failing for a long time. They exist to serve the people’s interest: they can make that choice.
One choice not available to them, or local landowners, is to pollute our water supplies and cover our environment with delivery infrastructure to prop up and profit from an energy system that no longer works.
Lesser is greater
The lesser of two evils in recent presidential elections has always turned out to be the greater. Take Obama’s stand on cutting the deficit by slashing anything that could remotely benefit the middle class. First, he gives away huge tax cuts to the rich. Then he is “forced” into cutting Social Security and Medicare to save the nation from going into default. Could any Republican president have so effectively robbed the many to enrich the few?
Obama has caved on almost every issue dear to corporate hearts. He ruled out a single payer health system from the start. He did his best to encourage deep sea oil drilling, even after the BP disaster. He escalated wars in the Middle East, moving into Pakistan and Libya while reneging on promises to withdraw troops from Iraq. He has protected lawbreakers from the Bush era, and expanded their war crime policies. In short, he is not simply another George Bush, but an articulate and unprincipled advocate of endless wars abroad and complete corporate domination at home.
Obama cares so little for the union members and middle class working people that he played golf with the nation’s most overpaid CEOs while teachers and firefighters were battling for their rights in Wisconsin. He will do more to destroy the lives of middle class Americans than any right wing nut job the Republicans can run against him in 2012. Working people must stop supporting this charlatan if we hope to preserve our American dream.
The ability to lead a life
Imagine yourself driving to work, and instead of the quick 10, 20, 30, or even hour long commute, it took you several hours. Often you aren’t able to make it to work because you have to pass through checkpoints where security has the right to arbitrarily deny you passage. Imagine yourself as a college student unable to complete your education because you can’t get to school on a regular basis because of these same checkpoints. Imagine that you or a loved one has a medical emergency, and you or your loved one dies because you aren’t allowed through the checkpoint. Imagine yet again, being a farmer who has a truck of produce to sell and you can’t because you have had to sit for hours at the checkpoint and your harvest has rotted in the heat of the day. Or imagine yourself as another farmer who always had easy access to your fields, but now you have to walk hours to get to an opening in a separation wall that has been built. Often, after you have walked for hours, you get to an opening and it has been arbitrarily closed for the day, and you have to go back home, unable to tend your land. How would these situations thwart and affect your physical and mental health, the ability to live a full life, and your society as a whole? These are some of the hardships faced on a daily basis by Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank. The ability to lead a life — go to school or work, farm your land, even visit family in another town, are civil rights that have all been strictly curtailed and denied to Palestinians by the Israeli government. A government supported by our government and our tax dollars despite flagrant violations of human rights and international laws.