Thank you Geddy Sveikauskas and staff at the New Paltz Times. Whatever your motives were, thank you for informing us and bringing to light a subject that affects every taxpayer, employee and student of the New Paltz Central School District and everyone else that ventures out on the roadways.
Apparently, about half of this ‘high-functioning community’ believes that a plea bargain is equivalent to a not-guilty verdict. The most common motive for a defendant to accept a plea bargain is the probability of being convicted if brought to trial. The prosecutor’s motive for offering to accept a guilty plea to a lesser charge is the cost of a trial.
Another quite large minority of this community does not have a problem with smoking pot in the car. Was anyone surprised to learn this was not a first offense?
This ‘horrifying situation’ started with the actions of Mr. Kerr. Take ownership of your actions Mr. Role Model. Resign.
Questioning a fire district
At the recent love-in, aka as a public hearing, it was firmly established that every faction, party and shade of the good people of New Paltz love, admire and cherish our volunteer firemen. Why this self-evident truth should be the subject of a public hearing is a mystery to this citizen.
As something of a concession to improved public understanding of the issues surrounding establishment of a fire district, our firemen were invited to present their side of the story while a citizen who had distributed a single page of arguments opposed to the fire district was publicly scolded by the assembled village and town boards for his breach of decorum. In New Paltz, it seems, there is at least one side to every argument and you can count on our elected officials to ensure that the one side will be given every opportunity to be heard.
The law-givers, assembled above the public on the stage, perhaps embarrassed by their apparent ignorance of and disregard for the issues surrounding the proposed fire district, did, in a sop to the public, invite written questions to be submitted to them before Sept. 27. One hopes our written questions will be answered in kind -- that is, in writing.
Here are my questions:
1. We are told recruitment of new volunteers will improve if a fire district is established. Please explain why this would be so.
2. Please list, describe and document all volunteer recruitment efforts which have been made within the past year by the fire company, the village or the town.
3. We are told service provided by our fire company will improve when a fire district is established. Please explain how a fire district would provide better service than the existing fire company and fire department.
4. What assurance can you give us that the Plattekill Avenue fire house will not be abandoned if a fire district is formed?
5. Why is the new fire truck not housed in the Plattekill Avenue fire house?
6. Would one fire district commissioner stand for election on the second Tuesday in December each year, or would the Town Board appoint fire commissioners? If by appointment, would they serve five-year terms or serve at the pleasure of the Town Board?
7. Please state, based on your knowledge of the matter, just how much taxes for fire service would be charged to village and town outside village residents in comparison with what those persons pay under the existing system.
8. What assurance do we have that a fire district would not launch a building and spending spree, just as many fire districts have done with excessive and elaborate fire houses and excessive and elaborate equipment?
9. As you should be aware, fire district elections rarely attract more than 2% of eligible voters. What will you do to make these elections more democratic?
10. What have you, as an elected official, done to improve relations between the present village administration and the fire company?
11. Why would you, as an elected official, want to abandon an excellent over 100-year-old village-operated fire service in favor of an unknown and potentially very expensive fire district?
12. We are told the proposed fire district would provide improved service to such areas as Plutarch and west-of-the-Wallkill River. How could this be done without construction of new fire houses in those areas along with purchase of additional equipment to fill those new fire houses?
13. How will the proposed fire district pay the village taxpayers for the village-owned fire house and equipment?
14. A search of the internet reveals numerous fire districts with incompetent, uncommunicative and even corrupt commissions, yet I find no similar examples within a city or village operated fire department. Given these facts, why would you prefer to form a fire district?
15. Are you aware that any elected or appointed public official who has administrative responsibility for providing fire services is eligible to receive the same training that fire commissions are required to get? Why haven’t village trustees and town councilmen been sent to take such training?
16. Will you explain the reason for the unseemly rush to establish a fire district?
Half-truths about gas drilling in the Marecellus Shale and beyond The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been mandated by Congress to study the effects of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) on public health and the environment. The EPA has been collecting public comments (both written and oral) which they will use to design the study. Comments offered by the pro-frackers are often half-truths perpetuated by the oil and gas industry. Below are three examples of statements made by the pro-frackers followed by the missing half which completes a full and true picture. The terms fracking and fracturing (where tons of gallons of water, sand and undisclosed chemicals are forced against rock to release natural gas) are used interchangeably.
There already was an EPA study done in 2004 and it concluded that hydraulic fracturing posed no threat to underground water. The other half is better explained by ProPublica, an independent, non-profit newsroom that produces investigative journalism in the public interest. Documents “... show that the EPA negotiated directly with the gas industry before finalizing those conclusions, and then ignored evidence that fracking might cause exactly the kinds of water problems now being recorded in drilling states.” While the body of the study contained damaging information, the gas industry made sure this was not mentioned in the conclusion of the 2004 study. And because of this study Congress exempted hydraulic fracturing from the Safe Drinking Water Act of 2005 (known as the Halliburton Loophole).
Hydraulic fracking has been going on for 60 years without a problem. The other half is these fracking operations take place on gas wells, vertical in nature, with pumps capable of meeting the pressure and flow rate demands for this type of geological makeup. Thus the term vertical hydraulic fracking, a process which has been used to successfully extract natural gas for decades. Shale, on the other hand, has a much more intense ecological formation and requires both stronger machinery (especially pumps) and innovative fracturing techniques as this process adds another complicated dimension of exploration horizontally. Thus the term horizontal hydraulic fracturing, a relatively new procedure, allowing drillers to now extract gas that was inaccessible by conventional drilling. Extracting gas out of shale formations has not yet been perfected and may never be perfected. The potential risks (contaminating water, soil and air and possible human-factor uncertainties where procedures this complicated can’t be operated or maintained as intended) far outweigh any perceived revenue. Think Gulf oil spill.
Natural gas burns “cleaner” than coal or oil. The other part is best explained by Professor Robert Howarth of Cornell University. “Although natural gas, when burned, produces only about half of the carbon dioxide emissions of coal, that calculation omits greenhouse gas emissions from the well-drilling, water-trucking, pipeline-laying, and forest-felling that are part of the production of hydraulically fractured natural gas.... giving this fuel about the same greenhouse gas emissions as coal and about 30% more than diesel or gasoline.”
In conclusion, all the easy oil and gas has been extracted. What is left are the vast deposits of natural gas under shale formations and the current procedure for extracting this natural gas, horizontal hydraulic fracking, has too many risks. The first part of the solution to our future energy needs requires a more serious effort and commitment to develop renewable energy like solar and wind. (Think: Why is this NOT happening? What is left for the oil and gas industry and their lobbyists if renewables became big business?) And the other part is to reduce our current energy consumption. If every one of us would reduce our energy footprint the sum of all our efforts could stop our rush to use up all the current fossil fuel as we develop renewables. It is up to each of us to do what we can. To start, winterize your house to reduce heating bills and car pool and take public transportation when possible. What else can you start doing today?
Had enough? A recent New York Post article by Dick Morris and Eileen McCann cite the NY 22nd Congressional district as one of the seats in play in the upcoming November election. So, how is our incumbent representative (the fourth most liberal person in Congress) responding? His campaign uses a photo of him with Fidel Castro as a fundraiser. On top of that, Mr. Hinchey is out thumping his chest about how much pork he brings home to his constituency. Can there be anyone quite as out of touch with Americans and New Yorkers as he is? While NYS has the toughest environmental standards in the country, Hinchey wants to stop natural gas drilling and deprive his constituents of revenue and cheap energy. He is relentlessly pushing for millions of acres of land to be off limits to energy exploration in Utah and he wants to nationalize the entire energy industry. He voted for the Stimulus, Obamacare and wants to bring back the “fairness” Doctrine that would undermine free speech. Did I mention his scheme to make the entire Hudson Valley a unit of the National Park Service? That’s why George Phillips is asking “Had Enough”? I know I have. Right now, polling puts George Phillips within single digit striking distance of beating longtime (too long!) Pelosi/Obama lapdog Hinchey. You can see George Phillips message at www.electgeorgephillips.com and let him know you’ve had enough too!
With a little help from our Friends
The Gardiner Library Board wishes to thank the Friends of the Library for the memorial bricks that are now installed. Ten years ago the Friends began selling bricks with name plaques to help raise money for a new library building. They have since coordinated and paid for the landscaping, labor and materials to install both the bricks and the topiary lizard. Last fall, members of the New Paltz High School football team prepared the ground for placement of the bricks as community service. They were supervised by Gordon Pine. Pine designed the display to resemble train tracks, in keeping with the former train station feel of the new building.
We thank Gordon Pine of Gordon Pine Landscaping for all his generosity, as well as George Majestic, who moved the pallet of bricks when winter weather struck. Thanks are due as well to Colucci PE Excavating and Tantillo Landscaping Supplies and Excavating for donations of boulders, crushed stone and mulch.
We are indebted to the Friends of the Library for “Dewey”, the topiary lizard. Dewey was so named by Emily Stettner in honor of the Dewey decimal system and the dew that will befall him!
Bricks may still be purchased for $100 each, incised with a name of your choice. Applications are available at the library.
Doris Chorny, Corresponding Secretary
Gardiner Library Board of Trustees
A victory for New Paltz
The community of New Paltz has scored an enormous victory! In response to the petition circulated throughout New Paltz by the Bicycle and Pedestrian Committee, Ulster County Executive Mike Hein has offered an amendment to the Ulster County Transportation Plan that will see the long-awaited re-engineering of South Putt Corners Road.
At project completion, New Paltz High School students will have six-foot shoulders on both sides of the road to help get them safely to and from school on foot or by bike. The New Paltz Police Department will have a safer road for the speedy dispatch of its patrol vehicles. Our community as a whole will have an important local artery made safer for bicycle commuting.
We have lots of thank-you’s to offer. First, we thank the 877 Ulster County residents, mostly from New Paltz, some from Gardiner, and many from elsewhere in the county, who signed the petition. From our experience of circulating the petition, almost everyone “got it” immediately, upon reading the petition’s text: South Putt Corners Road is a dangerous road for everyone who uses it. The community has known this for decades, but in 2010, the reality of increased local development has brought the road to the breaking point.
Next we thank Mike Hein for listening and responding. He grew up in New Paltz, he knows the road and he knew what was required in this situation. We thank the New Paltz public officials and municipal entities who publicly endorsed the project. Schools Superintendent Maria Rice wrote an incredibly strong letter of support, which was echoed by a definitive resolution of the New Paltz Board of Education. Chief of Police Joe Snyder wrote a vitally important supportive letter. Village Mayor Terry Dungan spoke directly to the Ulster County Transportation Council, and the Village Board weighed in with a resolution backing the project. Town Supervisor Toni Hokanson, who had long supported the widening of South Putt, and Ulster County Legislator Hector Rodriguez, also put their shoulders to the (bicycle) wheel to make this important step forward happen. And we do not wish to overlook Dennis Doyle and Bill Tobin of the Ulster County Transportation Council, whose vital long-term shepherding of non-motorized transportation in Ulster County is of inestimable importance.
We thank the following New Paltz businesses for finding a place for the petition on their premises: The Bakery, Bicycle Depot, The Bicycle Rack, Bistro Mountain Store, Catskill Mountain Multisport, Eastern Mountain Sports, Inquiring Minds Bookstore, Jack’s Meats & Deli, Karma Road, Minnewaska Distance Swimmers Association, Moriello Pool, Mountain Brauhaus, Paul’s Kitchen, Performance Sports & Wellness, Pilates of New Paltz, Rock & Snow, Tom’s Auto Repair, Town Hall and Village Hall. Many people carried petitions personally or wrote individual letters of support. Thank you to all!
We thank YouTube for existing. If you haven’t viewed what a bike ride on South Putt Corners Road looks like, go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NDEyHp7waCc.
Last year, the Ulster County Legislature endorsed the Complete Streets concept, putting our county in the national vanguard of transportation planning. Complete Streets means access to the street for everyone. People on foot, people on bicycles, people with disabilities that hinder easy mobility, people who can’t afford to run their cars full time or who can’t even afford a car, all of our neighbors have an equal right to use the road, which is not currently true. Motorists also benefit from Complete Streets. The fast and reasonable response of government to our South Putt Corners petition says that Ulster County is willing to put its money where its Complete Streets mouth is.
We need a local embrace of Complete Streets, by the town and the village, so that all stakeholders in our roads have a place to safely co-exist. Why can’t our kids easily bike to school? Why can’t local businesses be served by non-motorized, as well as motorized traffic? Winning on South Putt Corners Road should not be the end of our efforts, but the beginning of a stronger effort to bring better streets and thoroughfares to New Paltz and all of Ulster County.
Jackie Andrews, Kevin Caskey, Justin Dates
Judy Mage, Clark Peaslee, Alan Stout
Brian Wallace, William Weinstein
New Paltz Bicycle and Pedestrian Committee
Making the headlines
I take a momentary pause from my self-imposed exile from your pages to inquire as to the combative stance that the New Paltz Times has taken recently, specifically in regards to press releases released by the New Paltz Central School District.
I am on the distribution list for such releases, and as it’s common practice to simply reprint their announcements word-for-word, I generally don’t read them in your paper. However, in the Sept. 23 issue I took notice of your decision to use your role as headline writer to change an announcement from the District that it’s seeking to follow a transparent process into a de facto attack on the process itself, to wit: you placed the headline “Window dressing?” on a school district attempt to reduce rancor and rhetoric in the papers by making the process completely open to all.
I do not know which school of journalism you received your degree from, Dear Editor, but the professional journalists I know would characterize such an abuse of editorial oversight as an attack. Perhaps you were thrown into a vicious frenzy when you were editing the article entitled, “Be wise, winterize!” This would be understandable, since it advises readers that experts will be on hand at the home energy fair to show us “ways to seal and insulate attack hatches.” I spent several minutes trying to find the attack hatches in my own home, not only to winterize them, but to ready them against any angry editors who may wish to invade my home upon reading this missive.
Terence P Ward
I cheerfully admit to having done what Terence Ward accuses me of. Thought it added a little life to the process. Enjoyed doing it, too.
In the financial world, window dressing is defined as a strategy used by mutual fund and portfolio managers near the year or quarter end to improve the appearance of the portfolio/fund performance before presenting it to clients or shareholders. To window dress, the fund manager will sell stocks with large losses and purchase high flying stocks near the end of the quarter. These securities are then reported as part of the fund’s holdings. In the retail world from which the phrase has come, window dressing means something done to make a better impression, and sometimes implies something dishonest or deceptive.
How each reader takes the meaning of the phrase is up to them. I happen to think there’s an element not only of wishful thinking but of attempting to mislead in the local schools’ process of shared decision-making. It’s a ceremonial function analogous to the annual senior play, if they still have such things, where people with little talent share that talent with a captive audience composed mostly of their relatives.
As for the reader’s concern about angry editors wanting to invade his home, he flatters himself. Geddy Sveikauskas, Publisher
New Paltz Times
A potentially taxable item
Things weren’t bad enough, but then Christine O’Donnell, the Tea Party candidate for U.S. Senate in Delaware, had to go and open her yap about -- of all things -- masturbation.
I don’t particularly care that she said it was a sin, as is all sex not for the purpose of procreation in some religions, all premarital sex in most religions and any kind of fun at all if you are a really serious holy person hoping to get to heaven where -- depending on your belief system -- you will encounter your creator and/or 72 virgins.
This, of course, is of no concern to those of us firmly ensconced in the 21st century where the concept of a creator is fast fading and the existence of nubile virgins is a clinical rarity.
Of course, if she wins and embarks on a legislative career of outlawing masturbation for the masses, then we must revisit the issue.
No, I am not concerned with dear old Christine legislating total abstinence. What concerns me deeply is that somewhere in Albany, in the recesses of the Legislative Office Building, a bean counter who has wrung every last penny out of every possible human activity will suddenly realize -- now that masturbation has hit the front pages with a BANG -- that Voila, here’s an untaxed item that would bring in billions.
And since -- except for some few exhibitionists -- most people are secretive about their autoeroticism, one is unlikely to catch a citizen in the act for the purpose of collecting a masturbation tax, as you would if it were, for example, like passing through a toll booth or buying license plates.
This won’t deter the grasping politicians who would be loathe to let a potentially taxable item slip through their fingers (rest assured, every double entendre is definitely intended).
Therefore -- and here’s the danger -- since one may assume bedrooms or baths as the ordinary venue (public rest rooms would be a freebie) you can expect any day now an addition to your assessment for property tax purposes -- a small masturbation surcharge per bedroom and bath.
Kind of like upping the assessment because you have a view of a mountain even if you chose never to look at the thing.
Just you wait and see. Damn you O’Donnell!
Who is that Mosqued Man? In the minutes of the Governmental Service Committee it shows that one, and only one Democrat voted in favor of bringing the heinous Anti-American, Anti-Mosque resolution to the floor of the Ulster County Legislature.
Who is that Mosqued Man?
New Paltz’s own Hector Rodriguez!
You might want to call him and ask why (255-6221).
I hear a lot of people who are unsure if investments in infrastructure across the country are effective. They must not drive around Ulster County -- bridges are being repaired, roads are being re-paved and upgrades in power generation are keeping unemployment in check in Ulster County. There are other reasons why things are starting to look up too -- solar panel manufacturing jobs are being created and parking lots at Tech City are looking full for the first time since the mid-90’s.
Stimulus is not meant to be the end all be all, but spending a dollar in the county generates more than two dollars in economic activity in the local economy. Some think a better solution is to stick “Had Enough?” political signs on the side of the road. Well, we have not “had enough” targeted investments in our national infrastructure, we have “not had enough” focus on the middle class and we have “not had enough” investment in our schools. However, the silent majority has “had enough” of so-called tea party patriots who vow to fight to add $700 billion to our nation’s debt in order to give the wealthy a tax cut and want to elect naysayers instead of roll up your sleeves and get to work.
Give us a brake
On walks and bikes to school I am captivated by my kids’ joy. Their shrieks ring out in the morning air. Sister hoots as she tries to catch big brother on the bike path. Trips are not a straight line as we trundle over a footbridge or examine artifacts. But as these magical journeys intersect with routes that also carry cars and trucks, it can be terrifying as a parent responsible for safe travel. I want to relate a recent trip through New Paltz with my two oldest (ages seven and ten).
I reinforce rules and manage the journey to minimize time in traffic. But we cannot avoid using local arterials. On this trip, we got off our bikes and stood in the edge of a Route 32 crosswalk. Ten cars and a school bus passed at full speed, none yielding. Imagine my anxiety in needing to communicate clearly “wait” as traffic stopped one way, that it must be clear both ways.
As I traveled to work after drop-off, I approached a bridge with no shoulder. My senses were already on alert when the car behind honked. My heart jumped out of my throat, but I stayed upright. Turns out it was a friend, happy to see me spinning along, unaware of the mistake.
Walkers and bikers have an equal right to the road. Children deserve roads that support active transportation. Many families value walking and biking for its physical, mental and emotional benefits. Besides, it can be just plain fun!
Sharing the road and yielding are common sense to some drivers. But to others, encapsulation within glass and steel numbs them to feelings of empathy towards people outside. How can we change this? Through education and respect for all forms of transportation.
Children must be taught proper biking and road safety, but so must drivers. These actions promote safety: 1) Slow down until there is enough room to pass with a wide berth (it is disturbing to have a mirror a few feet away, and studies show that with slower speeds, the probability of serious accidents is vastly reduced); 2) Stop for pedestrians and bikers at crosswalks; 3) Do not honk unnecessarily; and 4) Do a head check before opening doors.
I am convinced that non-motorized transport will increase in popularity. I look forward to achieving safety in numbers. Since walkers and bikers will become even more common, please follow these rules as you drive – and be prepared to share the road!