In New York State, the number of smoke-free zones has significantly increased over the past several years. Many employers, including hospitals, have worked with their employees and surrounding communities in developing an environment promoting good health. Many villages, towns and cities have adopted smoke free parks, thereby reducing the number of children exposed to secondhand smoke and cigarette litter. As a result of this work, our community is cleaner.
This is all wonderful, but we must keep in mind the struggle that the smoker has in making a quit attempt. In New York State we are fortunate enough to have the NYS Smokers’ Quitline to assist anyone willing to make a quit attempt. Their counselors are well-trained, compassionate, caring people that will work with you in developing a quit plan, as well as speaking to you about nicotine replacement therapy. Please call them today at 1-866-NY-QUITS begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 1-866-NY-QUITS end_of_the_skype_highlighting (1-866-697-8487) or visit the website at www.nysmokefree.com.
Theresa Miller, director
Tri-County Cessation Center
Swoon for Bruhn
I am excited to have the opportunity to cast my vote for Mike Bruhn Jr. for City Court judge. The City of Kingston needs someone who is qualified and is dedicated to serve our community as city judge. Kingston needs a judge who has the citizens’ best interest at heart. This person is Mike Bruhn Jr. Mike has been a public defender for 12 years and has been in private practice for 10 years. He worked in two highly-regarded law firms during the 1990s. Mike’s experience and qualifications speak volumes to his ability to do this job well. I can also speak personally about Mike’s character. He is honest, balanced and well-respected in this community. One of Mike’s greatest attributes is his ability to listen and observe. I have known Mike for many years and have the honor of calling him my friend. My vote in November will be for Mike Bruhn Jr., who I know will serve our city with pride and conviction.
Joseph and Marilyn Schrowang
Donaldson on RRA
I have attempted to stay out of the fray in regard to the Ulster County Resource Recovery Agency and the County Comptroller’s report.
Comptroller Auerbach claimed in his report that the Legislature has been lacking in their oversight with the UCRRA since its inception. Although there is validity to the report it certainly doesn’t tell the whole truth.
It doesn’t seem likely the UCRRA will ever be self-sufficient simply because there is no county facility that takes the trash; it is shipped to other counties and that cost (net service fee) is charged to the County. That fact, along with the reality that the agency lacks the power to control the flow of trash generated within the County, makes it impossible to turn a profit, hence higher net service fees. But, as the comptroller points out, the Legislature is charged to monitor the UCRRA’s budget closely to assure the taxpayers pay the lowest net service fees possible.
During the ’90s the Republican controlled Legislature had a laissez-faire oversight.
People like former Democrat Legislature Gary Bischoff from Saugerties constantly poured through the UCRRA budget with a fine-tooth comb and attempted to keep the agency on its toes. One such thing Gary pointed out was that the agency’s attorney fees were nothing short of staggering compared to other counties. Charlie Shaw, the head of the agency at that time, would repeatedly cry it was politics and that the Democrat minority was just attempting to discredit the agency. Rather than admitting there may be a problem, the Republican Legislature defended the UCRRA, ignored Gary’s call for better oversight, and kept handing over higher and higher net service fees.
In January 2006-December 2009 when the Democrats controlled the Legislature, I had the honor of serving as the Chairman. We worked with the Republicans as much as they were willing to work with us to make changes that would create what I called “Better Government at a Better Price.”
The UCRRA was one of the agencies and departments that were considered in need of better oversight. One of my first acts as Chairman was to appoint Democrat Brain Shapiro from Woodstock to chair the Environmental Committee. One of the committee’s charges was to oversee the UCRRA. Brian worked with Gary Bischoff, the Agency’s Director Mike Bemis, and the UCRRA board to assure all spending was needed while constantly looking for more efficient ways to deliver the service. That diligence brought about the lowest net service fees in the history of the agency, which in turn proves the Comptroller’s point that better oversight of the UCRRA can save money. The Comptroller could have drew attention in his report that the net service fees were the lowest under the Democrat controlled Legislature but instead he attempted to not have an appearance of politics and issued a blanket report to warn what a lack of oversight could do.
The response from the present chairman of the legislature, Republican Fred Wadnola of Ulster, along with various members of the new Republican-controlled Legislature, was nothing more than a resort to the same old tactics of screaming politics and claiming the comptroller is just attempting to discredit the legislature. This was the same argument used when the cost of the jail was being questioned, as it was when the UCRRA was running up staggering bills. It is amazing how things never seem to change.
David B. Donaldson
Provenzano on RRA
I read with incredible disbelief the statement by the chairman of the legislature, Fred Wadnola. The reason I am shocked by his comments are because I received a call from the chairman to discuss the comptroller’s report and have the leadership, both Republicans and Democrats, examine the criticism and jointly respond to the comptroller’s report.
It seems as though old habits are hard to break and Chairman Wadnola, rather than meet with the leadership and discuss the report, resorted to the blame game and cried politics aimed at the comptroller, the county executive/county administrator and all Democratic legislators that served in the majority from 2005 through 2009. By the way it was those years’ net service fees to the RRA that were the lowest they have ever been.
He takes no responsibility or places responsibility on his Republican colleagues who designed and implemented the contract with the RRA without support of one single Democrat in 1991. He takes no responsibility or places responsibility on his Republican colleagues who have been in the majority for 27 of the last 30 years of Ulster County government and currently are in control of the Ulster County Legislature.
Chairman Wadnola had an opportunity to show some leadership by calling on the Governmental Services, Environmental and Administrative Services Committee to review the report and determine what action, if any, the legislature should adopt and provide the report to the full legislature for consideration.
The comptroller requested legislators step up to the plate and provide the oversight called for in the agreement. Taxpayers want action not political rhetoric talk. It’s my understanding that the current committee that the RRA reports to has not met on a monthly basis. Monthly reports are a must and should be on file and available.
It’s ironic that after all his bellowing, calling upon the comptroller to “study the history of a situation before you speak and always do your homework so that you don’t look like a fool,” Mr. Wadnola did not take his own advice.
Ulster County Legislature
Take a stand, Schumer
As a member of the 98 percent of Americans who are not part of the corporate elite, I am deeply concerned and alarmed at what is happening, and what is about to happen to our democracy in the upcoming midterm elections. It is very clear that since the U.S. Supreme Court decision in “Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission,” corporations now have the power and resources to control the outcome of any election they choose. “One person, one vote” becomes a joke when the media is overwhelmed with corporate money. The only answer to this for the rest of us is a constitutional amendment reversing “Citizens United.” Moveon.org is sponsoring a “Fight Washington Corruption Pledge” that promises just that, and much more. It is a stand against corporate corruption, and for fair and honest elections. With over 5 million members nationwide, and many active local chapters in New York State, Moveon.org is working hard to ensure that the coming mid term elections reflect the true concerns and needs of the people of New York, the 98 percent not represented by corporate money.
Senator Gillibrand and Congressman Hinchey (and over 185 other candidates) have already signed on. We need Senator Schumer to do the same, and take a public stand against corporate corruption.