It is understandable and even laudable for New York State officials to explore every avenue in order to close the budget gap presented by the economic crisis currently confronting our state and nation. However, the proposal recently advanced by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation to drastically cut services at some of the state’s most popular parks is shortsighted and foolish.
It amounts to cutting one of the state’s only remaining economic development draws at a time when the state desperately needs the dollars that tourism brings. To save what amounts to a few pennies relative to the rest of New York’s enormous budget, the State would jeopardize millions in tourism revenue.
In particular, the proposal calls for the seasonal closure of the Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park from December through March and closing the park two days each week the rest of the year. Since the Walkway opened in October, 2009, it has drawn an estimated 450,000 visitors, far exceeding original visitation projections and already making the Walkway the third most popular park in the state.
A significant portion of those visitors -- perhaps as many a third -- are tourists bringing new dollars into the Hudson Valley. That money is being spent in local restaurants, hotels, sports retailers and clothing shops. It is supporting businesses and helping to keep Hudson Valley residents employed. In the process, the money spent here is generating new tax revenue for both local municipalities and New York State.
Just last weekend (March 6 and 7) the Walkway was filled each day with several thousand walkers, runners and cyclists enjoying the early spring weather. The crowds represented a refreshing cross section of our population, all happily pursuing healthy recreational activities together without rancor or competition. In short, the Walkway was providing thousands of New Yorkers with a healthy alternative that bestows innumerable benefits with virtually no downside.
Just six months after investing nearly $20 million to help build the Walkway, it makes no sense for the State to withdraw administrative support and jeopardize the wonderful momentum that’s been established. People are visiting the Walkway in droves, even during the winter months, because it has clearly captivated the public consciousness. Closing the Walkway now, even for part of the time, is penny wise but pound foolish. More creative solutions can, and should, be explored before taking this drastic and unwarranted step.
We are asking Walkway’s supporters to rally on its behalf before the State makes a terrible mistake that could cause irreparable harm to the park’s future and the region’s already struggling economy. Please call or write your state representatives to register your support for keeping the Walkway open year around and seven days a week. Also visit Walkway’s website at www.walkway.org or our Facebook page to learn more about how to register your support for keeping the Walkway open. It would be a monumental failure to close a proven world class attraction like the Walkway after we have come so very far to open it.
Fred Schaeffer, Chairman
Walkway Over the Hudson
Our community’s center
During the past storm, my family and I lost power for six days in our Gardiner home. Four of those days were during the work week. As a self-employed art director under deadline, I needed to find a way to continue with my work and not have my clients’ projects delayed. Thankfully, the Gardiner Library did not lose power or its internet connection and I worked from there, along with many other people in the same situation who brought their computers to stay on task. We are so lucky to have not just a library, but a light-filled, technologically current facility that acts as our community’s center. I want to give a public thank-you to the library staff for being so accommodating and welcoming.
Village and firemen need to come to their senses
Just because our mayor -- who seems intent on reducing village government to a cipher -- and our firemen do not get along is insufficient reason to dissolve our village-owned and operated fire department and create a whole new expensive, bureaucratic and redundant special district. Personalities come and go, but there is no reason why the village government should not go on long after those individuals have departed the scene.
Official policy of New York State is to reduce the number of special districts, not create new ones.
The history of vicious politics in some Hudson Valley fire districts is well known and should be reason enough to give us pause when thinking of such a district for our community.
The vast majority of tax-exempt properties in our community would remain free of taxes imposed by a fire district -- the college, DEC, schools, Mohonk Preserve, churches and more would all remain outside the taxing jurisdiction of a fire district. Some currently tax exempt non-profit enterprises might be subject to a fire district tax.
What the village and the firemen need is an arbitrator to sit them down and knock their heads together until they come to their senses and work together like adults. It would also be helpful if the Town Board would cease and desist from its all too obvious efforts to undermine village government.
Demand the facts behind dismissal
Louie Yess was dismissed from the New Paltz Highway Department. Why? I have known Louie for decades and Mr. Yess has always been skilled, hardworking and a wonderful person. I do not think getting rid of someone as qualified, intelligent and dedicated as Louie is good for the residents of the Town of New Paltz. I can’t help but wonder if this is an example of patronage/partisan politics. Patronage/partisan politics and progressive policies are incompatible. The noble burden of being progressive is that it is not just the results that matter, but also that you get to your goals honestly and fairly. I hope the public does its job and shows enough interest in Louie’s plight and their government by demanding the facts behind this dismissal. This is the only way we can have the people we elected, and whose salaries we pay, do the job they promised us they would do.
Time for an honest discourse
The nation’s largest comprehensive public higher education system, SUNY, is being adversely impacted by New York’s looming fiscal crisis. This level of uncertainty facing the administration, faculty and its 413,000 students is unprecedented.
In response, SUNY is proposing landmark legislation to shield students and campuses from the State’s financial meltdown -- the Public Higher Education Empowerment and Innovation Act. This legislation seeks to remove tuition from the State budget, forestalling the appropriating of tuition dollars for purposes other than college education. Additionally, this legislation will enhance SUNY’s role as a stimulus for creating new jobs and economic opportunity by partnering closely with the private sector -- to create 2,000 faculty positions, 65,000 construction jobs and 10,000 jobs system wide. For example, in 2004 SUNY New Paltz injected close to $195 million in revenue for the Mid-Hudson Valley economy. In 2007 the college generated $274 million for the economy in seven Hudson Valley counties, and a total of $321.6 million to New York State. Imagine this same stimulus at SUNY’s other 63 institutions?
While SUNY successfully educates and prepares leaders for tomorrow, sure SUNY can be entrusted to provide transparency and accountability to its business transactions. It is time for an honest discourse on financial independence for public higher education.
SUNY New Paltz Alumnus ‘74
SUNY New Paltz College Council Member
The following is an open letter to the New Paltz School District Board of Education
The vote on the middle school project was decisive and represented a clear message from the district; only realistic pragmatic solutions made with transparent honesty will stand up to public scrutiny.
We agree with the observation that the New Paltz School District has always been generous to education, but at this time, the community is in pain. As the district moves ahead to address the serious budget constraints and attend to infrastructure needs, we would like to offer some constructive observations and suggestions.
During the discussions of the past few months, many educators and community members have hailed the virtues and benefits of the Team Teaching approach. These included cooperation, collaboration, interacting and developing relationships. Clearly, we agree these are tools that work within the school walls and will serve students well in life. The communities that make up this school district are blessed with individuals with a wealth of knowledge, experience and genuine affection for this school system. Perhaps we should use this same “Team” approach outside the school walls to ensure the community feels it is vested in the outcomes.
Problems facing New Paltz Schools are not unique. All school districts are facing tough times. Districts that develop a mechanism to elicit and embrace community input enhance their opportunities to create successful outcomes for everyone.
We would like to encourage the Board of Education to consider the following:
• Adding four community members to the Facilities Committee in much the same way you have community input on the Audit and Finance Committee.
• These community members should be selected based on a specific criteria of knowledge and experience pertaining to facilities maintenance, construction, engineering or other fields directly related to facilities and infrastructure issues.
• These community members should receive training specific to regulations and issues unique to school operations.
• These community members should be appointed to terms of 2 years or more to insure continuity and stability of the committee.
• These community members should understand that while they serve on the Facilities Committee they will NOT be allowed to bid on contracts or do work directly for the school district.
The proposal passed by the BOE in 2008 to create a Comprehensive Plan needs to be completed in a timely fashion and could serve as a guide to setting priorities in budget and infrastructure considerations.
In 2003 The National Center for Education Statistics created a “Planning Guide for Maintaining School Facilities.” We would like to offer this planning guide as a blue print to expedite the completion of a district-wide Comprehensive Plan.
I want to draw your attention to page 14 -- under the heading “Why collaborate during planning (and with whom)?”
“In many ways, the process of planning is more important than the outcome. The process of formulating a plan establishes a forum through which interested parties have a chance to voice their opinions about the future of the organization. This opportunity, and the dialogue (and even debate) that ensues, is an effective way of infusing fresh ideas and new perspectives into school management. Collaborative planning also helps stakeholders feel that their views are respected and valued. In turn, this atmosphere of respect often fosters staff and community support for the decisions being made about the future direction of the organization (and, perhaps more importantly, the day-to-day steps that must be taken to achieve these goals).”
This planning guide was recognized as “The most comprehensive and complete manual for the direction and development of overall excellence in educational facilities planning” by Michelle D. Williams, Professional Development Coordinator for the Association of School Business Officials International (ASBO). It includes several checklist, surveys and additional resources in the appendix that we feel the BOE will find useful in completing your goal for a Comprehensive Plan our district.
Most important, we encourage the BOE to solicit community members to be part of a larger task force to address and complete the Comprehensive Plan as soon as possible.
The members of Unite our District hope to join with the Board of Education and any others members of the district-wide community who are ready to be part of the solution and move ahead. (Borrowing a phrase from John Lennon) “You may say that I’m a dreamer, but I’m not he only one.” Imagine the day when have a plan we agree on. Imagine…
on behalf of Unite our District
Only the little people pay taxes
The Mohonk Preserve’s Glenn Hoagland espouses an entirely different justification for tax exemption than was proffered at the inception of The Mohonk Trust, the Preserve’s previous incarnation. In the beginning, in exchange for income tax exemption, the preserve was to protect land and provide both recreational access and education. The Trust/Preserve was to be exempt from income taxes, not property taxes. That was the deal and at the time a commitment was made to continue paying property taxes.
Subsequently, New York State law changed and allowed certain kinds of non-profits to be exempt from property taxes, in addition to being exempt from income taxes. So the Mohonk Preserve, in 1979, successfully sued the Town of Gardiner and stopped paying taxes. Mr. Hoagland justifies this action, the Preserve’s refusal to pay property taxes, by talking about the number of jobs created, how the Preserve recycles money back into the local community and how “only” 6% of one town, Gardiner, is tax exempt.
By these standards, few of us should have to pay any property taxes. Everyone who lives here directly and indirectly contributes to job creation in the local community. But all of us ordinary taxpayers pay property taxes. Everyone, by dint of their presence here, recycles money back into the local economy. Shouldn’t we, too, be exempt from property taxes? Similarly, home owners with just five acres have only 0.018% of the land in town the size of Gardiner. Such a small amount of land is surely inconsequential. No one will really miss it if such homeowners stop paying property taxes, right?
Mr. Hoagland’s view, that the wealthy Mohonk Preserve is justified in not paying county, town and school taxes on their 7,000 acres of land and their multi-million dollar visitor center is unfortunate. It’s also reminiscent of the view of real estate baroness Leona Helmsley, also known as The Queen of Mean, who once quipped “We don’t pay taxes. Only the little people pay taxes.”
They may not have a legal responsibility but, especially in these dire economic times, the wealthy Mohonk Preserve has a moral and ethical responsibility to pay their fair share of property taxes. $100 is an inconsequential amount of money for many Preserve members. What’s wrong with each of the Preserve’s 12,000 members paying $100 a year so the Mohonk Preserve can make a fair contribution to property, county and school taxes on the Preserve’s 7,000 acres and multi-million dollar visitor center? What say you Mr. Hoagland?
And it’s also worth noting the 6% (6.6% really) amount of tax exempt land in Gardiner is bound to go way up. Fiscally responsible taxpayers, not just in Gardiner, but all along the ridge might look at the Land Preservation Plan of the so-called Shawangunk Mountains Regional Partnership. This fake partnership is little more than a lobbying vehicle for the Mohonk Preserve. The “partnership’s” land preservation plan calls for taking as much as another 100,000 acres off the tax rolls.
Mohonk Preserve Life Endowment Member
More bang for the buck
Glenn Hoagland’s Feb. 25 letter prompted me to examine Mohonk Preserve’s public funding sources. Besides being a hale and hardy polluter of our revenue stream with $11 million in real property exemptions, the Preserve sucks up hundreds of thousands of tax dollars for an assortment of projects.
According to the State Comptroller’s “Open Book New York,” since Jan. 1, 2006, Mohonk Preserve has been awarded $706,335 of our tax dollars for such things as $40,000 to set up a website and form a steering committee and $380,700 to restore eight miles of carriage roads. Toll roads to us because of course there is a fee to use these private roads repaired with our tax dollars. If you are not a member, it’s $10 a head per day or $15 if you bring your bicycle.
Then there is Hoagland’s frequent boast of voluntary contributions made to each of the five towns in which the Preserve is situated. According to town officials, the 2008 amounts were Gardiner, where the Preserve has over $5 million worth of property off the tax rolls, received $1,511. Marbletown, with more than $2.5 million in Preserve exemptions, got $600. New Paltz, with $1.75 million off the rolls, obtained $100. Rochester, with $1 million plus in Preserve exempt property, received $600, and Rosendale, with not quite half a million off their rolls, got $200. Moreover, what one hand giveth the other taketh away. The school districts which host Mohonk Preserve’s tax-exempt presence, receive not one thin dime. Instead, through Ulster County BOCES, area school districts pay the Preserve for educational programming. New Paltz leads the pack providing at minimum $15,000 a year.
Also worth a mention is the Preserve’s very lean and most efficient operation, which rarely runs a surplus. Keep in mind that besides not paying property tax, the Preserve’s $50 thousand a week allowance is exempt from both sales and income taxes. This surely gives them more bang for the buck than those of us who pick up their slack.
Figures don’t equal fact
Sue Wick’s current assertions about the Mohonk Preserve being a financial burden on taxpayers are a blend of random figures put forth as fact. She once again reaches into a grab bag of pieces of publicly available information, but fails to connect them to what they really represent or the broader context of our work.
Without filling these pages by refuting each item one at a time (which we have done in the past, apparently to no avail), here’s the heart of the matter: it is erroneous to look only at what the Preserve takes in and ignore the source or where the money ultimately goes, which is back into the communities we serve.
For example, some of the figures Sue cites involve grants that the Preserve has managed on behalf of surrounding towns and villages at the direction of the New York State Legislature, Department of Transportation, and Department of Economic Development, and the municipalities were therefore the actual beneficiaries of funds. In addition, the Preserve actually subsidizes all but $6 of the cost of each school child’s participation in our outdoor education programs, which are also supported by private sources such as businesses, foundations, and individual donors.
We will continue to do such work because non-profit organizations and protected areas like the Preserve provide incalculable economic, environmental, and social contributions to communities and, yes, to taxpayers.
Glenn Hoagland, Executive Director
The recent letter by Ms. Yess concerning school taxes was quite pointed, and that’s fine. It’s reasonable to have strong opinions on public issues. What I find unacceptable and unproductive is the uncalled for swipe at New Paltz School Superintendent Maria Rice.
We are in an era of a continual Federal retreat from financial support for public education. This coupled with New York State’s many un-funded mandates that local school districts are required to meet make for a perfect storm in terms of an increased local tax burden.
In this context, the writer’s “zero tax increase” slogan leaves me wondering. Worse, the writer appears to demonstrate a profound lack of understanding of the complex issues affecting public education. Moreover, she seems to do so in a deliberate attempt to mislead readers into a faux-rage of ‘don’t confuse me with the facts’ attack against Superintendent Rice. “Bumper sticker” slogans and simplistic politics is not what we need. Absent a complete reform of how we fund our public schools, proposals for “zero tax increases” are, technically, whoo-ha. And, reform, does not just mean a cry to cut taxes.
Let’s demonstrate the value of an education by understanding our history, researching facts, and deliberating options and opinions on how best to restore vitality and affordability to the educational system in the USA. People I talk to are sick and tired of empty tirades and over simplifications of the very real issues that affect us in our homes, our schools, and on our jobs (for those fortunate to have one). We can do better.
Superintendent Rice is a highly skilled and educated professional; she is not a magician. I take exception to the ugliness of the writer’s sloganeering
In need of bare-bone essentials
I have a question in my mind that I would like to share with my community. I recently read an article in which a library board member proudly announced that the Elting Library has roughly 8,000 people owning library cards. Of those, only 3,500 have actively checked something out within the past three years. Is that really considered a good thing? So, as a New Paltz residence, my town is spending $351,000 a year for 1,167 people to use the library a year, or $1,053,000.00 for 3,500 people to use this privately owned library every three years. Hmmm.
For the year 2009, the privately owned library asked for and was given a raise of $150,000, even though their year-end accounts came in $18,399 net under budget, without this raise. Is this correct? (By the way, I never knew of any vote for the library this past Nov. 3, 2009.)
Now, I don’t mean to cause any trouble or dissension among local groups/businesses, but I could name a couple of local organizations that help a lot of local people without the income from my/our the taxpayer’s pocket. I could mention the local churches that provide comfort and food, but I just donated some clothing to Family of New Paltz and read some very interesting information that I think everyone should become aware of.
I recently read that Family of New Paltz handled, just this year, 59,040 contacts by walk-in or call-in from local people needing help. Over 11,000 residents and their families have been clothed and 12,528 people have been given food. Two hundred and nine people needed and received holiday presents for their young children. Family handled hundreds of contacts regarding substance abuse issues and hundreds more needing financial assistance for housing and utility bills. In the month of December 2009 alone, over 60 local youths reached out to Family’s adolescent services case managers. I am amazed of what this organization provides to our local communities. Everyone should check it out and help if you can.
According to Family, without the help of local businesses, organizations, civic groups, individuals, families, students and their own volunteers, none of the above would be possible. So, I would like to know how much, if anything of our taxpayer dollars are going towards helping this truly worthy organization?
Without question, a library is most certainly a wonderful thing to have. I am just hoping that the priorities have not gone to a small few when we are in such dire need of “bare bones” essentials for our residents in this day and in this economy.
An important service
As our county continues to recover from last week’s historic snowstorm, I’d like to extend my appreciation to all my CSEA brothers and sisters who worked so hard to keep our county running and keep our roads safe during the storm.
Our highway workers, which include our state DOT and our county, city, town and village highway workers, worked around the clock to keep our roads clear. It is exhausting to deal with a storm of this proportion and length, but our highway workers did their jobs efficiently and professionally. It’s so easy to take for granted the excellent job our highway workers do, but their quick work and efficiency after such a severe storm shows us what an important service they provide in our communities!
I also have to thank our CSEA-represented emergency dispatchers for the fine work they did throughout this storm. Our dispatchers are the first line of defense in emergency services; they play a critical role in helping Ulster County residents in their times of need.
I have to add that, as our county officials discuss possible consolidation of county highway services with those of our townships, we must consider what the impact might have been on our roads had the county highway crews not been available for plowing during this storm. With our county’s large and varied terrain, this storm demonstrated that the county needs to play a continued role in the maintenance of county roads. Having county plows unavailable for snow removal could have led to even more hazardous road conditions this past week.
Terry M. Gilbert
CSEA Ulster County Local President
Town of Lloyd says thanks
To Frank Lombardi and all the employees of the Highway Department: The Town Board wishes to express its sincerest appreciation for the hours of hard work the Highway Department devoted in the record-breaking snow storms which hit the Hudson Valley last week to keeping the roads of Lloyd clear and safe.
To Chief Daniel Bassanese and all the members of Highland Hose: The Town Board wishes to express its sincerest appreciation for the hours devoted by the men and woman of Highland Hose while responding to the numerous emergency calls during the storms last week.
The town’s well being relies on dedicated, hardworking Volunteers like you.
Again, thank you.
Raymond J. Costantino, Supervisor
Town of Lloyd
Governmental shell game Ever wonder why New York State ranks midway nationally in state taxes, while its counties rank among the highest? The reason is unfunded or partially funded mandates. The political philosophy of Albany is pass the bill and then pass the buck.
Congress is just as bad; Florida fouls up their election and in response congress passes the Help America Vote Act, which will significantly raise local property taxes. It is geared to replace our inexpensive and highly secure voting machines with very costly and questionable ones. Thanks congress, just what we need in New York, additional property taxes.
Same thing on the county level. One of the most aggravating things about attending legislative meetings is to witness the attitude of some of our legislators toward spending state and federal money. The attitude being, grab whatever you can and spend it.
New York State continues to spend significantly more than it takes in. Sooner or later the state legislature will have to do something about it. And since most of them are in the pocket of special interest groups they will probably pass along the costs to the counties.
For Ulster County, this means taxes will have to go up or spending will have to come down. Bad news for all involved, as this time around the average property owner is as cash poor as the government (look at the number of properties that are in tax delinquency).
It is obvious to anyone that doesn’t work for the county that these financial times calls for government to start shutting down the departments, programs and services that are either too costly or ineffective.
Last year Hein was able to consolidate some departments and eliminate others, which held down our property taxes for this year. Two weeks ago he froze spending, as revenues continue to fall. Needless to say the budgetary forecast for next year looks grim.
Hopefully, legislative help is on the way. It’s been a long time, decades perhaps, since the Ulster County Legislature significantly reduced spending. Perhaps this year will be different as Chairman Wadnola and a number of first- and second-term legislators seem determined to hold the line on taxes.
As a discontented taxpayer, I wish them well.
Thomas P. Kadgen
On the evening of March 3, the New Paltz Rescue Squad and the New Paltz Police Department responded to an emergency call at my house. We were treated with such respect and kindness, and it helped us through a difficult time. On behalf of all of my family, I would like to extend our sincere appreciation.
We need to talk
This winter storm has brought great hardship for some people. Work crews did hard, dangerous work, often with very little sleep. Town and county officials had plenty to do.
I would like to share some observations I made trying to help an elderly couple, who live in Modena.
With this storm, information on shelters was important. The Red Cross opened four shelters and then closed one in Ellenville. The others were at SUNY New Paltz, Kerhonkson and Hurley. How are locations chosen?
Information given by a town or police department should be well thought out, including stating that anyone can go there, not just townspeople. People under stress need more help. Old age, illnesses like asthma and language problems can be limiting factors.
Plattekill opened a shelter in the fire house and Town Clerk Barbara and Fire Chief Bob are and will be special people for me with their initiative, efficiency and great kindness. The Modena Fire Chief, too, went out of his way to help.
Central Hudson and their crews have had a huge job on their hands. There may be unavoidable problems within a short time.
Erroneously, the Plattekill area was said not to have been hit hard. Incorrect.
Twice, a power problem was reported as fixed, when, in fact, it had not been fixed for the people I was trying to help. The power outage numbers changed considerably in both directions. In an ongoing calamity with wind, temperatures, snow weight, some of this is perhaps inevitable, but it has its dangers:
People are taken off the books, as having power restored and the needs assessments are based on wrong data.
On the Central Hudson website is a map and a statement that updated information is given every 15 minutes. The map is there to show the Central Hudson customer area, the area affected by power outage and where the power outage areas are. The map today was for Sept. 11 (no year given.) I noticed that this map seems strange -- Tillson and Gardiner are there, New Paltz is not. The map deserves further study and improvement, including an update.
May I make some suggestions. Especially for elderly people, modern communication via (endless) recordings and the use of electronic gadgets can present insurmountable hardship. Some people are simply handicapped. From involved recordings to the numbers and sequences to follow in an automated system to other instructions, people can function even less under stress. Details are too fast, put together poorly and unintelligible to some. This needs greater awareness by ‘officialdom’ and their focus on remedies.
Recordings need to be clear in speech presentation, content and details -- like telephone numbers, names, office addresses, etc., which need to be repeated twice.
Information distribution would seem the very essence. Is there a regulation that requires from the moment something happens -- town and village officials, town clerks, fire chiefs, police, Red Cross, shelters and corporations, (whoever is involved, here mostly Central Hudson) etc. -- to be and keep in contact from the earliest beginning of a difficult situation?
Some live emergency numbers answered by people should be available apart from the automated systems.
Answering personnel must be well informed. Such an emergency number would be used if a previously stated situation has changed -- mostly for the worse. Central Hudson’s automated system does not allow for additional information.
Some top (teaching) hospitals have put into practice a very precise list with even minute details of every step, item and sequence needed in a procedure. These people, I heard, really spent quality time designing the lists. They adapted business examples. Before the start of any procedure, everyone involved being present goes over this list. Result: 40% or 60% (I am not sure) higher survival rates, faster healing, fewer relapses, deteriorations, mistakes. The doctors who instituted this said they still cannot believe the difference this system has created and in general believe it has huge adaptive possibilities. It might have helped with the storm situation, I think.
Also, all newspapers could do a great service by publishing good emergency lists put together by officials.
The fire chief told me all concerned need to talk to each other. That is more important than more money.
We need to talk.
Regarding the article “Fowl Play,” the “rescue” of us chickens was grossly mischaracterized and we wanted to give voice to our side in this fiasco. I know that the article was like two weeks ago, but it takes me a while to type, what with the “hunting and pecking.” Hope you can read our “scratch.” (Chicken jokes.) What? You were expecting thanks? Wrong. How about the next time you want to spend upwards of $500 and add your own sooty deposit to the Giant Carbon Footprint by way of your 1000+ MILE air/land odyssey (that helps kill more stuff) to ”save” some chickens, you don’t.
We were doing fine! You think that was our first bust? WE WERE IN ON IT! We were “emaciated” because we’re tweekers! (or “Beakers”, if you prefer). I’M HIGH RIGHT NOW! We used and abused and helped in the manufacture and distribution of Methamphetamines, OK? Get it? Now what? We’re going to live with Old MacDonald and be your little Poster Poultry? Great.
The article mentions “families in economic distress.” Maybe some of them could use an extra $10 a month. There were approximately 5500 children living below the poverty line in Ulster County in 2007; in the good times before the near total collapse of the US economy. (Yes. Chickens know how to Google.) There are a couple of hundred thousand beings in Haiti that could use some “sponsorship” action too. But hey, we’re just chickens. What do we know. You’ve always insisted that animals have emotions and thoughts -- well here you go. It may not be what you wanted to hear, but too bad.
You want to help us out? Build us a nice little shed back off from the road -- something really secluded -- and give us large quantities of cold and sinus medicine and a couple of hotplates. We’ll do the rest. I dare you to print this.
The Indiana 43
What it comes down to
Our government, though a Republic, is also a democracy. And one of the fundamental principles of a democracy is that the voters have the right and obligation to vote out incumbents when government is not functioning as voters expect it should.
Our U.S. Congress, according to all the polls, is not meeting a majority of voter’s expectations. Voting out politicians who reside over poor government performance is fundamental to maintaining responsible and accountable government. That is how our founding fathers expected this democracy to operate. But, with a 94% average reelection rate, even when our government fails to live up to our expectations, voting out incumbents is a concept voters must re-familiarize themselves with.
I have lent my support to a voter awareness and empowerment organization called Vote Out Incumbents Democracy. Their mission and goal is to remove a sufficient number of incumbents from office over the next couple of elections, that the remaining incumbents and incoming freshman get the message. The message is simple. We are voting for results, not promises. Meet our expectations, or be the next to lose your reelection bid. It will work.
I want what a majority of all Americans want from our Congress regardless of party affiliation. Security, prosperity and freedom to pursue our lives and aspirations without undue government intrusion.
Our borders leave our nation unsecured. Our national debt and trade deficits are bankrupting our children’s futures, as well as the Social Security system and other safety nets for our elderly. And our politician’s fears of terrorists, heightened by our unsecured borders, are causing them to unduly intrude upon our personal lives, both in the form of taxation, as well as monitoring our actions, finances and comings and goings.
It is time voters who are fed up with Congress’ inept performance to band together by joining Vote Out Incumbents Democracy
(http://voidnow.org) or, similar anti-incumbent organizations, in order to grow the ranks of anti-incumbent messengers and voters. We must use our vote to hold politicians accountable for poor results. If we don’t, our children’s and our nation’s future will suffer the consequences of Congress’ mis-management of this great nation. And it will be our fault as much as theirs for not holding them accountable at the ballot box.
Without pressure from us at the ballot box, our Congress will continue to cater to the lobbyists, wealthy campaign donors and special interests ahead of what is good and healthy for the nation, we, its people and our children’s future. They have lost their way. We must bring them back to the democracy our founding fathers intended for us to exercise.
If we don’t, they won’t. It is up to us. They won’t make the tough decisions, so we are going to have to make the tough decisions at the ballot box. It is not easy to vote against a representative one knows and for a challenger one doesn’t know as well. But that is what it has come down to.
Trash heap of history
The state government should be put into a federal receivership. Our money is still pouring into the state in taxes and fees.
These billions are supporting an army of parasitical legislators and administrators who spend all their time cutting services and passing along their responsibilities -- like schools and medicaid -- to hard-pressed householders.
Every day our noses are rubbed in the fact that we buy nothing but a veritable army of Albany slackers for our hard-earned
dollars...all of whom are AWOL most of the time.
If I see one more self-satisfied legislator posing for the cameras boasting about the big deal of providing four-and-a-half new jobs in their area -- which will no doubt cost us millions in taxes -- I’ll forget I’m an effing lady...again.
But the latest, and one of the most shattering Albany pratfalls, is the threat to stop staffing or tending public parks.
That leaves millions of unprotected acres of land to lure tent cities, marijuana farms and illegal and rampant hunting -- to name just a few possible outcomes of Albany’s malfeasance.
Such flagrant abdication of government responsibility for public lands affords ample opportunity and endless space for criminal activity of all kinds. Okay, leave out the marijuana farms -- at least that acreage would be tended -- and with folks losing their homes because of ruinous property taxes, maybe tent cities would provide a refuge.
In addition, Albany blithely proposes to cut school aid -- which they are under a court order to increase -- and they don’t give a rat’s derriere that taxpayers are struggling to make up the difference in their school districts.
Such blatant thievery requires harsh corrective measures, the least of which is being thrown out of office.
“Yes, it’s all about us”, says Albany, like some autoerotic teenager hogging the family bathroom.
Albany “government” -- with its current sub-par group of politicians -- has this session to free property owners from the lethal oppression of the property tax. Failing that, the vast majority of the current crop of Albany’s “public servants” should be consigned to the trash heap of history.
New hope in George Phillips
At the Town Hall in Gardiner on March 6, I had the opportunity to listen to George Phillips, the man who will beat Maurice Hinchey in November 2010 to become the representative to the US Congress from the 22nd District. Mr. Phillips’ campaign theme, “Had enough?” speaks to all New Yorkers. Businesses are fleeing our state. Government believes it can “create jobs,” but the money grab by the powers-that-be does not create sustainable jobs, only more government bloat. Congressman Hinchey -- who believes that the only problem with the “stimulus” package was that it didn’t spend enough money, with insane schemes such as nationalizing the oil industry, who delights in the notion of civilian trials for 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed and his co-defendants -- is not a good legislator. Having entered office in January 1993, Hinchey is increasingly disconnected from the reality that his constituents face every day. The bigger government grows, the greater the burden on working people. Government is not the solution to the problem. Too much government is the problem. Mr. Phillips’ appeal to voters is not just that he isn’t Maurice Hinchey; Phillips has concrete, impressive ideas for governing that are like fresh air for New Yorkers tired of the smoky fog emanating from back-room deals in Congress that result in burdensome, debt-building, initiative-deadening policies. Those of us in the 22nd Congressional District have new hope in George Phillips.
Colleen Boland Toder
In 1993 I started working as Program Director at Family of New Paltz. In the 17 years at Family, I have never seen such a devastating effect the economy has had on families. Probably the first area of employment in our community to be affected by the economic crisis was the construction industry. People who had either lost their jobs in the construction field or had their work hours cut significantly, came to Family to apply for food stamps. Soon after, recently laid-off retail workers were coming in to also apply for food stamps.
Now, the economic downturn has hit all areas of employment. I am seeing people whose homes are about to be foreclosed on, others who have already lost their homes and are now in arrears in their rent. Health insurance, auto insurance, utilities, car payments, tuitions…everything people have worked so hard to achieve are all falling away.
People are experiencing long lines at the county’s Social Services offices; food pantries are exhausting their supplies and the requests for help continue to grow. I don’t know where the mass media gets its information from, but if anyone needs an update on our nation’s recovery, or lack of recovery, let them spend a day at Family of New Paltz and get a feel for where America is today. My heart goes out to all who have been touched by this economic crisis...it looks like a long road ahead.
Please know there are agencies in Ulster County that may be able to help you to avoid foreclosure or to help with arrears in rent and/or utilities. Please call Family of New Paltz at 255-8801 for information, or stop in at 51 North Chestnut Street on weekdays between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. All calls are confidential.
Family of New Paltz
I was really excited the other night when about 50 people from New Paltz got together at BOCES to hear about the proposed Mill Brook Preserve and to participate in a brainstorming and planning workshop about the potential for a series of properties in the town and village of New Paltz. I have observed very divisive and unproductive governmental relations over the last few years in New Paltz, and I have worked on the Town Planning Board for the last five years, engaged in what I would classify more as a reacting board than a planning board; it was nice to finally experience some visionary planning.
Thank you to all of you who have been working on this. I know that Seth and Michael, Rachel and Dave, and many more of you have worked to bring this idea this far. Thank you, it is refreshing. I hope you have more exciting progress and planning on a project that could really unite this community and bring us together to explore and ultimately produce a common place in respectful harmony with the nature there.
I hope that we all get more involved in this project, as well as the Town Comprehensive Plan public meetings coming up and the Village Comprehensive Plan process, which is also under way.
This is a very important transformative period for our community, for our region, our country and our planet. I hope that this community’s creative minds, our friends and neighbors can come out and help paint the vision of what we do want and not just have one plan or project after another that we come out to fight. We have an opportunity now to get together and talk about what community we do want.