Remember the time you heard the fire whistle and wondered what was happening? Remember the time you saw a fire truck go by and then another and another? Remember the time the New Paltz Fire Department responded to that accident, that alarm, or to pump out your basement?
Our volunteer firefighters work tirelessly to provide professional fire protection to our community. Now there is momentum for the creation of a fire district, rather than remain as a dependent department of the Village of New Paltz. One question that keeps being asked is, “What would the fire district allow our firefighters to do that they can’t do now?” Remember the time the Village Board froze the fire department’s budget despite them not overspending? Remember the time our firefighters were not allowed to purchase water to drink after responding to calls because it was not itemized in their budget? Remember the time when the Town of New Paltz went without a new fire protection contract for several months because an agreement could not be reached with the village?
With a fire district, fire commissioners elected by the residents of the town and the village of New Paltz would receive training to not only administer the fire district, but also to avoid these types of situations. So what would a fire district allow our firefighters to do that they can’t do now? Their job. It would allow them to operate and protect our community in the professional manner that they have strived for all these years. The effective operation of the New Paltz Fire Department is no longer compatible with the structure or atmosphere of village government. Please support your firefighters by coming to the public hearing on the creation of a fire district on Sept. 13 and by having your voice heard.
Under appreciated in Highland
I am writing in response to the article titled “Disgusted” in the Aug. 26 issue of the New Paltz Times.
I am a New Paltz resident and my husband is a Highland School District teacher. When I came home from work today, I found him in the kitchen, very upset, reading the article in which he and his colleagues were asked to return their raises. I was just recently let go from my job as a health educator and I am a full-time student. The prospect of him returning his very modest raise is just not an option.
We talked about the morale of the faculty and how difficult it is to work for a district that isn’t supported by its residents. There are some very good teachers in Highland and they deserve to be paid the same as the other neighboring districts. Even with their raises, they are still the lowest paid district in the county. I am not sure if Mr. Rizzi is aware of that. Even though there are excellent teachers in Highland, there are fewer and fewer services at the schools and there are no AP classes. There was even talk about making kindergarten a half-day program. This is due to the residents voting down the budget every year. Mr. Rizzi said that he drove up to a home with a For Sale sign and asked the seller why they were selling and they said that they had to leave due to the high taxes. This is something that we can all relate to in Ulster County, as we all have very high taxes.
I would like to tell you about a close friend of mine who is selling her home in Highland for a different reason. She has two children, one who has special needs. Her child with special needs will be starting kindergarten this fall. After visiting the school and finding out that the district didn’t meet her child’s needs, they opted to sell their home and move to New Jersey where the taxes are higher and the schools are better. I also know of faculty members in the Highland School District that send their children to different schools because they know that they can get better college preparatory classes elsewhere.
I am very lucky to live in a district where my children are supported and the quality of education is so good. It makes me so incredibly sad that the teachers in Highland have to go to work every day and teach these children knowing that these children’s parents don’t appreciate them and all of the hard work that they put in. And believe me, they work very hard. I see in my children the result of all the hard work that their dedicated teachers have put in and I support my district’s teachers in any way that I can. I love them all as if they were family.
I wish all you dog owners would get on all fours and let someone put a collar around your neck and then have someone walk you around pulling on the leash. It would give you an idea of what you do to your dogs. Try halters -- at least you are not constantly choking your dog and you would have much more control over your pet when you walk them.
When you walk your smaller dogs, think about the fact that their legs are only on average about six to eight inches long, compared to the average person’s leg of 28 to 32 inches long. Quite a difference in stride. Try to keep this in mind when you walk them. I see people on the street walking their smaller dogs and the poor dog is running just to keep up with its human. The human is just walking along, not looking at the dog and totally unaware of the poor little dog’s plight.
Bottom line -- try to put yourself in your pet’s shoes -- this shouldn’t be too hard to do, after all, they are your “PET.”
About that mosque... About that mosque...Oh c’mon, you know which one!
Let’s reframe this discussion -- which has gotten badly off track into side issues like the constitution and brotherhood and sensitivity and all that jazz -- and get to the heart of the problem. TAXES! Surprised?
The mosque is going to be tax exempt! All or most of the $100 million of it will be off the tax rolls.
Just like every other massive monument in which to worship whatever God is being worshipped, we the people are going to be tithed to service these luxurious quarters.
It is hard to imagine that the iconic founders of any religion -- all of whom preached and practiced simplicity and modesty -- would be thrilled by the cathedrals and synagogues and mosques and gated religious communities and the rich and ornate artifacts acquired in their names.
Okay, so the Vatican is a pretty place -- all those nude paintings by Michelangelo (the scamp); but that’s the Italians footing the bill. So far my Ulster property taxes aren’t kicking in.
Don’t get me wrong, I am perfectly willing to pay extra taxes so that simple, little places of worship, prayer rugs, yalmakas or bibles are not taxed out of existence by the political class even though I am an agnostic and a women. (Face it, historically, these big holy organizations are mostly not exactly female friendly.)
The power to tax is the power to destroy and that’s why religions were protected. But this precept has been stretched beyond belief (pun intended).
I certainly can’t imagine why acres and acres of “holy” communities and places of worship more lavish than palaces, luxurious fittings and expensive real estate should be squeezed into that protected religious class. And the middle class, which is the real endangered species, may be justifiably vexed at picking up the huge tab.
Look over here, politicians, at the taxpayers supporting the whole massive edifice. It is we who need protection from the power of taxes to destroy. How about it guys?
Time for Gardiner to match its rhetoric with its resources
It is a very good thing for the Kiernan family, for the Gardiner community and for every person and creature whose well being is connected to the existence of open space, that the Kiernan Farm will be preserved through the purchase of its development rights. “Up-front” funding has been provided by the federal Farm and Ranchland Protection Program and the Open Space Institute (OSI). Those two entities are obligating $440,000 each to this $880,000 acquisition, with the understanding that Gardiner will share in OSI’s generous donation with a relatively modest commitment of $50,000. As usual, the devil is in the details.
When the Town Board proceeded to address the specifics of this undertaking, Councilman Mele (a lawyer by trade) drafted a resolution with (as resolutions typically have) a preamble of multiple “whereas’s,” including reference to Gardiner’s $50,000 ‘commitment’, followed by text establishing a committee to raise private funding toward that goal. This passed unanimously. A few days later, careful reading of that resolution revealed that it only established a fundraising committee, but did not actually commit Gardiner to providing $50,000. One might have presumed this was an oversight on Mr. Mele’s part, but a subsequent vote to include language making the actual funding commitment passed with three yes votes by Katz, Lemmon and Wiegand. Messrs. Mele and Koenig voted no.
For the time being, the Town Board intends to raise Gardiner’s $50,000 through private donations and does not include any implementation of our Open Space Bond as part of the funding strategy. Refusal to do so, despite the requests of a majority of constituents present at the Town Board meeting, and despite half + one of Gardiner’s electorate having approved passage of the bond, is an affront to those Gardiner citizens and a shameful pandering to the tea-baggers whose volume far exceeds their substance. Although a rational compromise was suggested: implement $25,000 of the Open Space Bond -- half of Gardiner’s “commitment” representing the half plus one voters who approved the bond -- with the other $25,000 to be raised from private donors, that option was not considered.
Supervisor Katz asserted that “Not one dollar!” of taxpayer money would be obligated, although he did concede that some bond money would be used as a final resort to cover any shortfall in private fundraising. Councilman Wiegand stated his support for open space and the bond, but added that “economic circumstances have changed.” Language including “fiscally responsible,” “pragmatic” and “creative,” were also employed in justifying the Town Board’s intent to raise all Gardiner funding for Kiernan from private donors.
Other terminology might also apply: “hypocritical.” If legislative decisions are to be driven solely by difficult economic circumstances, how is it even remotely appropriate for the Town Board to declare the “Old Library/Firehouse” NOT FOR SALE and turn down $100,000-140,000 dollars for it??? Was there ever a public discussion, not to mention a vote, deciding this?
(As a former Town Councilperson, by the way, I was the only board member at the time who researched old library preservation options, met with individuals interested in pursuing them and was amenable to considering the possibility of historic preservation. That our volunteer firefighters are awesome, and whether the creation of a “fire museum’ is a worthwhile notion, is not the issue here.)
Supporters of open space in Gardiner are being asked to raise $50,000 privately. Shouldn’t fairness dictate that supporters of old library preservation therefore be required to raise at least $100,000 from private donors, to reimburse the taxpayers of Gardiner for the lost revenue the building’s sale would have generated? (Alternatively, the town could lease it to them for an annual fee that would return that amount within a reasonable period of time). And what about the loss of potential tax revenue on that property? If the Fire Department or District, by whatever mechanism, acquires the building for its use and proceeds to renovate it, will the taxpayers of Gardiner be guaranteed that these costs -- including insurance liability -- will not redound to them? Did the Town Board consider the option of requiring the Fire Department to move the building elsewhere, allowing for sale of the land parcel to a taxpaying entity?
The Town Board owes the taxpayers of Gardiner an explanation of their inconsistent fiduciary policies: refusal to invest even $25,000 toward a purpose that ultimately saves taxpayers money, but squander the opportunity to add at least $100,000 plus annual tax revenue to Gardiner’s coffers.
The Town Board’s refusal to implement even $25,000 of the voter-approved Open Space Bond (an increase to individual taxpayers estimated at $1.50/year) toward its Kiernan “commitment” reveals a failure of political will and an absence of strategic vision. Asking individual donors to underwrite open space is a hopeful and optimistic strategy, but it will only work once. The bond was always intended as an instrument which would leverage funding from institutional sources, many, many times over. It would be a shame if the Town Board’s refusal to include our bond as part of Gardiner’s first open space initiative jeopardizes the enthusiasm of those funding partners for our open space preservation efforts in the future.
Thanks are in order to the folks working to raise private donations. It’s just a shame their can-do efforts could not be done in conjunction with use of the bond. Individuals donating to Gardiner’s Open Space Fund might consider including a request for utilization of the bond along with their checks. It is time for the Town of Gardiner to match its rhetoric with its resources.
Vote for the Conservative
We have a Conservative primary on Sept. 14. Absentee ballots have already been sent. There is only one contest -- the Governor’s race pitting Rick Lazio against Ralph Lorigo.
For those of you who support Carl Paladino, who is not on the Conservative primary ballot, let me share a conversation I had with him at the Republican reception on Thursday, Aug. 26 at the Hillside. When I said “I might write in your name on my absentee ballot,” Paladino said, “No, vote for Ralph Lorigo.” Paladino said Lorigo is an ally.
Most of you know Lazio as a “liberal” Republican. For those of you who don’t know Ralph Lorigo -- he is a lifelong Conservative and has served as the Erie County Conservative Chairman since 1994. You can go to his website at http://www.lorigoforgovernor.com/ where he states he is “not a stand in or straw man for anyone.” However, he also says that he likes and admires Paladino.
I think a primary vote for Lorigo gives us the best chance of getting the required 50,000 votes in the general election if Lazio loses the GOP primary. If you are in doubt, my best advice, as always, is vote for the Conservative.
Tony Tantillo, Chairman
New Paltz Conservative Party
Did you lose a ring? My companion found a ring partially buried in the dirt on the shoulder of the road next to the New Paltz Middle School (on the side with houses), parallel to South Manheim. The ring is gold-colored and the stone is without color. Please e-mail size and shape of stone to firstname.lastname@example.org if you think this is your lost ring.
Andi Weiss Bartczak
How sad it is. Here we are in 21st-century America debating the correctness of naming some of our citizens as second class. Of course it isn’t called that. We simply draw an invisible line near the “hallowed” ground where stood the World Trade Center, a line that demarks where Muslims are no longer welcome to gather and worship.
Yes, most agree they have a constitutional right to be there, but not a moral right. It is deemed “insensitive” to the families of the lost and to the horror of that infamous day just nine years ago. It is deemed “unwise” to build a Muslim Community Center so close.
The problem with this line of reasoning is that it must begin with a decision to broad brush all Muslims, no matter their citizenship, their contributions, their ethics, their morality or their worth as children of God. We must first agree that “they”, all of “them”, are less than “we.” This is profoundly sad. It cannot be rationalized or justified on any level until one has crossed another invisible line onto the decidedly unhallowed ground of bigotry.
All the faces of fracking
This is Labor Day weekend and we welcome everyone to our beautiful and green corner of the world. It could also be the first time you have visited New Paltz or read our hometown paper.
Over the years people have associated New Paltz with our environmentalists preventing the Marriott hotel chain building at Lake Minnewaska, our community stopping Walmart planning a megamall in New Paltz and our mayor performing gay marriages. We are definitely a community that takes action.
New York State sits on enormous gas deposits in the Marcellus Shale and Utica Shale. The oil and gas industry claims there is enough gas to create independence from foreign fuel and yet we know there are efforts to market this gas internationally. This creates a new controversy that is not specific to New Paltz. We will feel the effects of it, as will many towns and villages in the Hudson Valley and beyond. Maybe you have heard the terms hydraulic fracturing or fracking. This is a technique to extract natural gas from shale deposits deep under the surface. Tons of gallons of water, sand and some 596 undisclosed chemicals are injected at great pressure to crack open the shale to release the gas.
Who makes up the pro-fracking faction? Who wants to start drilling now and not wait for more research to determine the effects of this form of drilling?
• The oil and gas industry and their many associations, such as American Petroleum Institute, Energy in Depth and International Association of Oil and Gas Producers (OGP).
• Lobbyists who have flooded Albany and lost the fight trying to convince the members of the New York State Senate to vote against a nine-month moratorium in support of researching first.
• Politicians who often do whatever is best for their campaign contributors and not their constituencies.
• State and local municipalities who see a possible increase in revenues.
• Landowners (who are financially challenged) who have signed contracts with companies to lease their mineral rights for a large initial amount and future residuals and who are momentarily blinded to the common good of preserving our natural resources.
Who makes up the anti-fracking faction? Who wants to wait for more research to review and analyze, in depth, the effects of deep drilling technology as used in the Gulf of Mexico?
• Environmentalists who understand that nature’s balance relies on bio-diversity and that nature does not fit computer models.
• Voices of the people who are tired of corporations and governmental agencies rushing head on into what could be disastrous for water and air quality, public health and environmental safety
• Politicians who act in the best interest of their constituencies rather than their campaign contributors.
• State and local municipalities who realize one disaster could deplete any realizations of revenue from drilling.
• Land owners who could be further financially challenged should their rights to clean water and a peaceful and safe environment be violated by gas exploration in their community.
• Federal and state agencies that have the responsibility to make sure all water resources are safe and in no way compromised. Go to http://www.dec.ny.gov/about/511.html to read about the Department of Environmental Conservation’s mission and issue priorities. New York City Water Authority should be on alert!
The New Paltz area as a community has had many successes in preserving our environmental integrity. We are among the strong combined voices to force the New York State Senate to pass a moratorium to research before issuing permits for drilling. To finish the job we must all contact 1) Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver at 212-312-1420, 2) Assemblyman and Chair of Environmental Conservation Robert Sweeney at 631-957-2087 and 3) your Assemblyman (for most Kevin Cahill at 845-338-9610). Tell them they must get Bill A.11443B on the Assembly floor for a YES vote for a moratorium. Some of the many websites out there to inform you include www.frackaction.com, www.earthworksaction.org and www.GaslandtheMovie.com.
In closing, it’s up to all of us impress the importance of environmental impact studies and at least a nine-month moratorium to hold off drilling on our State Assembly meeting in Albany early this month. It will take each of us, our family, our friends, our neighbors, our co-workers and everyone else to bring the “common good” back to “community.”
The truth will set us free
There is a humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Israel denies this, but the suffering has been documented by Amnesty International, the World Health Organization, UNICEF, UNRWA (UN Relief Works Agency), CARE, SAVE the CHILDREN (UK) and many others. Many Palestinians have no electricity, heat, medicine, food or water. The mass destruction, death and suffering being visited upon the captive population of Gaza would not be possible without US weaponry and US foreign aid (PAID FOR BY OUR TAX DOLLARS). Daily life in the occupied territories of Gaza and the West Bank is indeed “ugly” -- the military check points, the separation wall, illegal house demolitions and evictions, land theft and attacks by Israeli settlers and grinding poverty are an ugly reality for Palestinians.
A group called Middle East Crisis Response (MECR) presented a vignette on the public sidewalk adjacent to the Green in Woodstock. The scene was a theatrical portrayal of life in Israel’s occupied territories. Perhaps some felt the scene was “ugly”, but compared to the reality of the ugliness of daily life in Gaza it was trivial. MECR (mideastcrisis.org) and its affiliate hudsonvalleybds.org are dedicated to supporting human rights and to ending the oppression, suffering and exploitation of Palestinians living under Israeli military occupation.
As a Jew, I am ashamed and saddened by Israel’s ongoing brutality and lack of humanity. I am also deeply troubled by the abandonment and extraordinary perversion of such fundamental Jewish ideals as compassion and concern for the suffering of oppressed peoples in order to further Zionist aspirations. As an American taxpayer, I share in the guilt for Israel’s behavior since it would not be possible without US taxpayer dollars. I am grateful to groups like MECR who have the courage to speak out and educate Americans about the ugly, but true, realities of Israeli policies and actions. I am hopeful that the truth will set us all free (including Israelis, Palestinians, and us).
Shame on you, Mr. Hinchey
After Sept. 11, 2001, I will never be able to look at a piercing blue, cloudless sky without thinking of it as a “9/11 Sky.” On that day, passenger flights going overhead to land or takeoff at Stewart International Airport were replaced by the scream of fighter jets. On the wall of my office, I have a poster with the names of the over 3,000 victims who were murdered from AA Flights 11 & 77, United Flights 175 & 93, the Pentagon and the World Trade Center. The names are positioned to spell out the words “NEVER FORGET.” I and many other Americans, and especially the people who live in the 22nd NY Congressional District who personally had family and friends murdered on that day when our country was attacked, have not forgotten. However, it appears our so-called representative in Congress, Maurice Hinchey has, since he refuses to speak out against the proposed mosque at Ground Zero on behalf of his constituents. Shame on you, Mr. Hinchey. You’d better believe that I won’t forget you on election day this Nov. 2 when I chose to replace you with George Phillips.