Gordon Wemp has commented on my previous letter and I want to correct a few of his assumptions, one of which is his claim that McKenna's "disbursement" of $1000 to the "Friends of Jeff Moran" was a clean and aboveboard operation that didn't undermine Liz Simonson. In this case Gordon blames the victim. Everyone knows, or should, that campaign financial reports are open to public scrutiny, and those reports show no sign of money owed by McKenna. They only indicate the $1000 "disbursement" with no explanation. I wrote that "if there is an innocent explanation for this, (transaction) why was the public not informed?" instead of not saying anything. How come McKenna and friends didn't understand that an explanation would have been useful and important?
In another assumption, Gordon has neglected to go online to the NYS Board of Elections Financial Disclosure Report of Feb. 24, 2008 to see that every penny of my campaign finances from 2007 was reported to and accepted by the State, with absolutely no question of any impropriety or illegality in any part. So much for his claim of failure or deceit on my part.
I quoted some relevant words of Woody Guthrie in my letter, "some men rob you with a six gun, some with a fountain pen." Gordon, who is an excellent guitarist thought I was quoting either Bob Dylan or Michael Moore. I am glad to clear up his confusion here because we all love all kinds of music. Finally, there was another letter making the same unfounded complaints about me which I don't need to respond to other than to say that I do support Chris Collins as the progressive, life time Democratic write-in candidate for Town Board.
HOW WE CAN HELP
The State of New York is experiencing financial problems. A lot of us, also, are experiencing financial problems. There is something we can do which will help both ourselves and our state: Get Food Stamps.
How does this work? Well, when we get, and use, food stamps, we are helping our state and ourselves because we are doing two very important things. The first thing, for us, is that we are able to buy more nutritious food when we have the added spending power of food stamps. The second thing that we are doing when we spend food stamp money is that we are bringing outside money into our state and our community. Food Stamp funds come from the federal government and represent an infusion of money which the state desperately needs.
Now, one person getting food stamps does not count for a lot. But, if every person in the state of New York who qualifies for food stamps, gets them and spends them, a large chunk of money will be brought into the state and our community.
Many people do not apply for food stamps because they don't know how or they think that they will not qualify, or they tried in the past and were rejected for food stamps. Please do not let these fears stop you from trying to get them. Remember this: Food Stamps are an Entitlement that should be used by everyone who qualifies.
So, who qualifies? There have been several changes recently which make qualification easier. You can own a car and get food stamps. You can own a home and get stamps. You can have a job and get stamps. You can be in a work-study program and get food stamps. You may not need a permanent address or even cooking facilities to get food stamps. You do not have to be a US citizen to get food stamps. You can be a senior citizen and get food stamps. You do not have to take time off from work to recertify for food stamps. Just call 1-800-342-3009.
If you are a member of a working family, you do not have to take time from work to go to social services to apply for food stamps. You can apply by mail, phone, or on-line. Just call 1-800-342-3009.
You can be 60 years of age or older, be employed, receive Social Security, SSI and/or retirement benefits, and still get food stamps. You can get food stamps even if you own a house and/or car, or live with others. Just call 1-800-342-3009.
Please call today and apply. Food Stamps are good for all of us. When you apply for and use food stamps, you will be healthier and New York will be stronger.
REMEMBERING THE FUTURE The audience at "Our Lives and the Mountain Through Storytelling, Art and Theater" at WAAM were enthralled by the readings of the stories of area elders by these young readers: Diggy Lessard, Lily Sackett, Julia Stiffey, Eleanor Alford, Clara Flores Reininger and Tessa Flores Reininger. The cast included Helen Schauffler, who was sick that day, and is also to be included in this heart-felt thank-you. They are part of the Reader's Theater of the Woodstock Library's, and were directed by the talented Library's Children's Director, Lesley Sawhill. The kids, ages 8 to 12, really 'dug' into Woodstock history, asked for pictures of the elders and wanted more information. Thus, we achieved one of our main objectives - to encourage youngsters to get involved with our rich heritage.
Once again this year, we are indebted to Beth Humphrey, WAAM's education director, for her encouragement and to WAAM for the space. Thanks to Lou Pollack, on the art table, Norm Wennet, guitar, to Sunfrost Farms and Hurley Ridge Market for refreshments; to Lynn Brusky on the door, to Melissa Reboch, Woodstock Elementary School for computer signs; to Rob Shear and Shanti Vinci of Catskill Art and Office Supply and to Woodstock Building Supply. Thanks to David Menzies for taping the performance which we hope to be able to air and thus enable more people to share these memories of the way life used to be here. Special thanks to Stewart's Shops for their funding participation. And, most important, thanks to the seniors whose interviews have been the heart and soul of this oral history project - Miriam Berg, Gale Brownlee, Roy Van Wagner, Macky Carnright, Evelyn Stone, Mescal Hornbeck, Dorothy Angevine and Alice Bailey; and to those who have left us - Billy van Kleeck, Archie Bonestell, Romain Wilber and Jane VandeBogart. And, finally, to Alf Evers - wherever you are - thank you. Your books keep on inspiring us.
Jo Yanow-Schwartz and Jill Olesker
Woodstock Oral History Collective
IT WORKS IN CANADA
I'm writing this to help dispel some of the myths against government sponsored health care that many people still believe. I just returned from a trip to visit my mother of 92 in Montreal. While there, early one morning she began to experience symptoms of what we thought were a heart attack, so we called an ambulance. The care she received from the time the paramedics arrived a few minutes later, to when we left the hospital later in the day (she in fact experienced angina, not a heart attack), was prompt, attentive, skilled and cheerful. Yes, the hospital ER was packed. But it was also well staffed, organized and clean. I have no complaints about the care my mother received and feel it's more or less typical.
My mother is one of many elderly people who live on their own with supports provided through government sponsored health care. She goes to a day centre twice a week for activities and where she is monitored. Transportation, lunch and homemade snacks are provided. The staff is great. The program is diverse and offers a welcome sense of community. The cost to her is about $7 a week. Additionally at my mother's request, a volunteer comes to read to her every week or two, sometimes more. She often stays several hours. A government sponsored worker comes twice a day, morning and evening, to dispense eye drops and to do a quick kitchen clean-up. Her daily medication is delivered by the local pharmacy weekly. Another worker comes weekly to assist her in bathing. I could go on.
Is it a perfect system? Of course not, but observing the care that my mother, friends and family get makes me envious and incredulous. Most Canadians I speak to find it incomprehensible that Americans wouldn't want a similar system and incomprehensible that the United States does not provide one for their citizens.
My mother never ever worries that a needed procedure won't be paid for. She never ever worries that she will go bankrupt because of medical costs. Though facilitating and organizing care for our mother can be time consuming, we, her children, are not burdened by the stress of sometimes endless amounts of paperwork, phone calls and negotiations with insurance companies. A plastic card does the trick. That's it.
There is a sign in my mother's day center that states something about supporting a healthy senior's autonomy making both financial and humanistic sense.
Canadians don't walk around dreading sickness and injury like so many people here do. More than likely, they will not die lacking the means to pay for needed treatment (like so many here do), nor go broke paying for it.
HALLOWEEN SUCCESS Wonderful Woodstock Halloween on the Village Green did it again. Even Mother Nature was helpful. It didn't start to rain until over 80 prizes were given out with 10 dozen blinky rings. About the costumes - I noticed many expensive store bought costumes. No, No No! How much imagination and effort does that take. On the other hand, look at two pieces of green cardboard creating a Blade of Grass. That's Woodstock imagination. Start imagining now your home made costume for next year. So many prizes were able to be given out due to the generosity of the Woodstock Chamber of Commerce and Arts, Tinker Street Cinema, Houst's and the Golden Notebook. A big thank you to WDST for the microphones and Village Green B & B for the cider cheerfully dispensed by our three dependable sommeliers - Sylvia, JoAnn and Loretta. Grandma Clown (Ellie) was terrific leading Birds of a Feather Drummers and the Twisted Tassels dancers and the children around the Green. I also loved the respect shown to the costumes as they ascended the stage one at a time. Rennie made the stage which is absolutely perfect. Next year we'll have animal prizes, also. It was most wonderful to see how many families dressed up. This is what a home town should be. See you next year.
a/k/a Ren￩e Englander
Woodstock Chamber of Commerce and Arts
LEVON ADDS JOY TO CHILDREN'S LIVES
On behalf of the children at Woodstock Elementary I would like to thank Levon Helm, Larry, Barbara and the entire Levon Helm Family. I say family because that is exactly what it feels like when you enter the world of Levon Helm. Each person fulfilling a special role that keeps this unit together and thriving.
We are so grateful to have been brought into this generous, fun and exceptionally talented group for an evening completely dedicated to the children. The entire evening's purpose was to raise money for the art programs at Woodstock Elementary. To help assure that our children can learn to play an instrument, to be motivated by music (the true universal language) to hear poetry that is inspiring, to understand what dance and movement can feel like, to help find another voice inside themselves that they can express in their very own way. This evening was to help assure that the arts remain in our school and be a valuable tool in our children's educational experience.
I have seen how music and art have added to my son's life. In first grade he read a poem he wrote to an auditorium filled with proud parents. At age seven he started playing guitar and then began putting his poetry to music; in second grade he learned the recorder at school and was so excited that he could take it home to practice and now in third grade he is learning the alto saxophone and can't wait for his music class each week.
Every good note and bad note he plays, fills my heart and his with great joy. This is what is important in life!
I thank The Levon Helm Family, every parent that helped organize this wonderful event, every person that attended the show and every organization that donated to the silent auction. Each of you have added great joy to our children's live!
SPEND CHRISTMAS WITH US
With Halloween over and the weather turning cooler, it is time to plan seriously for Woodstock's all day free party on Christmas Day. Some of our sources of supply are already seriously overstressed by our current economic crisis, so I am appealing to you, the reader of this letter, to be especially generous.
Above all, we need lots to eat. Can you donate some platters of food? Meats, vegetables, stuffing, potatoes and desserts, all are good, as are the willing hands to serve them and money to buy more ingredients and supplies.
Presents are needed, for we try to give gifts to everyone who comes. Please look around your house for things that you can spare, including toys for children, warm sweaters, gloves, games, books, knick-knacks, etc., for all age groups, but especially for adults, as they comprise the majority of the people who come. Costume jewelry, which we pass around in baskets, is also very welcome. Please keep all presents unwrapped, so everyone can choose their own from selections that Santa's helpers bring around to the tables. Presents need not be new, however they need to seem now so they look like a real gift.
If you are free on Christmas day and would like to help in any way, we need you and welcome you. If your relatives live far away or you don't have any special plans for Christmas, please consider spending it at the Woodstock Community Center with us.
Please contact me, Toni Weidenbacher, at 679-7281, so we know how we can count on you. If you play an instrument, and would like to entertain, please contact Michael Platsky at 845-247-3145.
THANK YOU RAGGEDY ANNE
As the rain clouds threatened the young Halloween costumed children, Raggedy Anne remained upbeat and spirited. No one felt left out or rushed as she deliberated the home made costumes and awarded prizes. It is a privilege to assist her year after year and to witness her concerns, loyalty and diligent work throughout the year. Thank you again, Raggedy Anne.
Ellie Steffen (Grandma Clown)
SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL BOOKSTORS
This Saturday, November 7, is National Book Store Day. We have a wonderful resource, in our local Woodstock bookstore, The Golden Notebook. This book store is part of our definition of Woodstock. We are lucky. So few small towns have their own bookstores. Buy local!
Please browse the shelves, and pick out your next book. Need a suggestion, or have a question? The staff is informed and helpful. The easy chair is waiting, and you can page through your choices before you purchase. Don't forget to buy a Gold Card for savings on your future purchases.
END THE WAR
We salute the President as he honors our war dead. We pray for them and pray the President will end this latest economic war. We are reminded that it is the politicians, generals and corporations that profit by the deaths of our innocent soldiers. It is the manufacturers of bombs and bullets that take the financial gains. It is the private contractors whose greed feeds on blood. It is the expropriation of natural resources that motivates the military-industrial complex. It is not to export Democracy that we fight - it is to sell outmoded weaponry to all contenders. It is not to enlighten our fellow men that we permit atrocities like Guantanamo, but simply to grovel insanely in our dollar diplomacy. Fulfill your destiny, President Obama: end the war in Afghanistan!
Michael J. Heinrich
RED BAITING TACTICS
Recently, leading up to the elections, there have been a number of bigoted, blatantly red baiting type letters appearing in this paper. The letter writers, all ardent supporters of Jeff Moran, have tried to besmirch Liz Simonson's reputation and character by associating her with the Middle East Crisis Response. This type of thing is not new for Moran and his supporters. Similar unsavory tactics were used effectively by Moran and his poker friends in the previous election two years ago against David Lewis. They worked narrowly but well enough then to cost Lewis the election by six votes. I doubt they will work this time.
Yes, I am voting for Liz but that is not my issue here. The issue is the red baiting tactics themselves - if there is any value or truth whatsoever contained in those letters and accusations. Let me state then right off that I am and have been, since its inception, part of the Middle East Crisis Response, (MECR). I am also a member of Veterans For Peace and am currently on the ballot for the national board of that highly respected anti-war, activist peace organization of veterans.
Local members of MECR are in agreement with Veterans For Peace and other national and international anti-war and peace organizations, who do not shirk from opposing the violent excesses of both America and Israel, no matter how unpopular that may be at the time. Organizations such as Code Pink, War Resisters League, Catholic Workers, Vietnam Veterans Against the War, War Resisters League, Israeli Committee Against House Demolition, American Jews For A Just Peace and Combatants For Peace - to name a few - the list is long and respected in the eyes of those who have likewise stood for years against injustice, bigotry and war.
My contention is that red baiting tactics and name calling have little positive value in a democratic society or for that matter in any society. As to the claims that individuals in MECR or the group itself is either anti-Semitic or are self-hating Jews because we dare to criticize Israel's brutal oppression and apartheid of the Palestinian people - as Desmond Turu, Howard Zinn, Jimmy Carter, Kathy Kelly and many other human rights activists have done - that claim is beyond ridiculous, it is in itself bigoted, ignorant, uneducated and intolerant. Regarding the shock and dismay expressed in one of these red baiting letters about claims of Israeli ethnic cleansing - the ethnic cleansing perpetrated upon the Palestinians is not an opinion but since 1948, a historical fact, as recognized by most of the world and even Zionist historians such as Benny Morris, whose only (sick) regret is that it did not go far enough in pushing the Palestinians off their land! Other eminent non-Zionist Jewish historians accurately document Israeli ethnic cleansing , as in the classic book on the subject - The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine by Ilan Pappe.
The people I have had the pleasure of associating with in the Middle East Crisis Response are among the most committed, courageous and self-giving I have met. As a group they are extremely well read, articulate and educated on Middle East affairs. This is not a group that should be maligned or ignored. We need people in this town who speak out for truth and human rights and I am proud and grateful to be associated with them. In the past few years MECR has put on many free educational events, movies and talks to bring these important issues more into the public domain. Of course those who call names and red bait usually don't bother to attend. God forbid they should learn something.
We are writing as members of the Middle East Crisis Response (MECR) group that has been much maligned, both in the current campaign for town supervisor, as well as in letters to the editor in this paper over the last number of months. The main purpose of our political work, from the civil right's movement, to Vietnam, to the freedom struggles in Central America, to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and now to the plight of the Palestinian People, has always been to stand in solidarity with oppressed people everywhere. We believe that we take very serious and principled stands and come to our positions after much consideration. While we rail against the oppressors, whether they are individuals, governments or economic systems, our main concerns are with the peoples held under the thumbs of others. We try to approach people who hold different opinions with respect for their right to their own beliefs, even though we're in total disagreement with their positions. We might not even want to engage in debate with them, but we don't red bait, use guilt by association, or call people demeaning names in attempts to belittle their positions. That these tactics have appeared in our papers is a serious indication of how low we have fallen. McCarthy's use of these scare tactics in an attempt to silence opposition was not so very long ago. We join with those who have taken principled positions against these scurrilous attacks and urge others to do so as well.
Nicholas Abramson, Helaine Meisler
RUPCO'S DEVASTATION On November 2, the 65-year old hedges and the berm at the edge of the Playhouse were torn apart, dug up and tossed into a Department of Transportation (DOT) truck. Why did this happen? We know why. It was to pave the way for the proposed RUPCO housing project whose entrance will be at the end of Playhouse Lane. It was to improve the sight distance for the expected 430 vehicle trips per day that the RUPCO housing project will generate. It was for a project that is not even approved by the Planning Board.
Tom Story from the DOT said he got a copy of a letter from Brinier and Larios that was sent from CT Male Associates putting the DOT on notice. Here are some interesting relationships.
CT Male Associates is the Planning Board consultant on the RUPCO project. Brinier and Larios is the Town's engineer. Brinier and Larios is the same engineering firm that did all the land surveys and wetland delineation for the RUPCO project.
It is very strange indeed that the DOT acted on a letter that didn't even go directly to them. Yes, this did come up over a year ago at a Town Board meeting where Tom Story talked about the intersection and referenced a couple of complaints (one was a letter from Jeremy Wilber, former Town Supervisor, to the DOT talking about the upcoming RUPCO project and the sight distance safety concern). However, at that meeting, the Town Board unanimously said that there are other safety issues throughout the town and the DOT should be taking a more comprehensive look and not focus on this one intersection. Playhouse Lane was not considered to be significantly worse than other roads in town and in fact, it is better than a lot of others. There was no follow up on a town-wide plan.
So what happened? Did someone recently push on someone? Why did the DOT act on a letter that wasn't even addressed to them directly? Is this due process in an environmental study of a proposed project? Is it normal to require such drastic measures for an application that isn't even approved?
Why did this happen? We know why.
For more information on the RUPCO proposed housing project, please visit www.woodstocksage.com.
THE BEGINNING OF THE END? Dear Ulster County Legislators, congratulations on your respective wins and to those continuing in office, welcome to the next levels of stress.
The proposed law # 11 (draft #1104 - www.co.ulster.ny.us/resolutions/index.html) as written, establishing Commercial and Home Improvement Contractor Licensing for the county of Ulster, is extraordinarily destructive to the fabric of business in Ulster County...and sets Ulster County up to be the most unfriendly-to-small-business County in New York State!
While it is understandable in these economic times that there is a need to bring in revenue (fees) to the county, it should not be in this format, and not at the cost of jobs...which it will undeniably cost...or the loss of businesses that will close, or go under the radar, or not bring work to this county and thereby rob the coffers of even the sales tax that could be garnered. We should be encouraging these entrepreneurships that are the backbone of any community, for both the labor it provides and the relief it provides to those who need services.
It seems that larger businesses are aiming at pushing out the smaller, without realizing how this will affect Social Services in the County, as people need more aid to survive; forcing choices between work and fees and food. For a small business to meet the minimum fees would be at least a week's work to pay them...and in seasonal businesses, which many of those listed are...that can be devastating. The outdoor season for building and outdoor services is not long enough in the Northeast as is, and look at last summer - it has knocked so many business out of the running already - and that is not taking into account the desperate straits of the economy in this field at this point in time.
And don't be fooled by the argument that the work lost by some businesses lays at the feet of those smaller, single-owner/worker type businesses. Those larger business will never see the work that is done by those kind of marginal firms. Those people who need to avail themselves of that kind of work don't have the funds that the larger firms demand.
There have to be levels of choice in a vibrant community. You take away that choice, you take way income and sustenance on so many levels that this has to be regarded as the beginning of the slippery slope to the destruction of the stability of this county's to sustain different levels of society. It is unsustainable at best for so many now, and this law effectively puts the rest out of business - period.
If the goal is for a few to control the destiny of all, you have it in this law.
Please consider tabling or denying this to any further progress in the legislative process, instead of pushing it out right after the election for a consideration before the end of this year and term. It would be to all of our credit to do so.