News Briefs 2/26/2009
Most of the major energy companies that provide Heating Oil
and Liquid Propane to Hudson Valley residents collude to hold
up prices for medium size and small amount users who can least
afford to be gouged. My battle with my own Liquid Propane
provider began back in late November, when I received a “fill-up”
of my 320 gallon tank. At the end of the 90 day period of
usage, I was charged a 10% increase for my fill-up while the
price of Heating Oil and Liquid Propane had dropped 55% on
the open market during the time in question. One of the major
owners of a local company came on WAMC to plead “poor
boy” as he bought his inventories at the peak in August.
What he failed to disclose was that he and the other major
providers actively engage in buying cheap insurance to protect
inventories from sharp price drops, which in itself can become
not only a profit center for the company, but offers lucrative
tax “postponements”, to boot.
Hudson Valley residents have been asked to sign into unregulated
contracts to “lock-in” prices for future energy
needs and are asked to come up with additional cash for such
a privilege. These companies never pass on any savings or
favorable market-price adjustments to people who can ill afford
to be the brunt of such unbridled greed.
The vehicles to prevent such consumer abuse are in place and
Rep. Cahill has refused to answer numerous e-mails (I have
his personal e-mail address) and his office refuses to return
3 phone calls I placed in late November. He is the Chairman
of the Energy Committee in our State Legislature.
New York State can set a precedent in this unregulated market
that has been a profit bonanza for the companies that sell
Propane and Heating Oil to the public. First, I propose that
the Public Service Commission regulate the practices of the
Heating Energy Providers. Second, the State Securities Commission
must regulate the trading of all “spot delivery”
(for immediate shipment) energy contracts that trade amongst
trading desks at SEC and non-SEC regulated firms. The State
Securities Commission must also standardize and regulate the
contracts energy providers enter into with an unsuspecting,
unwary pubic consumer. Furthermore, The Commodity Futures
Trading Commission must regulate the trading and delivery
of all “spot” energy contracts (which trade on
the floor of the NYMEX in NYC), whether they are listed, forward
contracts, or derivatives of “spot” energy contracts.
Their first priority is to prevent the hording of energy deliveries
that went on well into the previous summer, which was the
primary reason why crude oil traded up to $140/barrel.
As the energy markets work off supply overhangs and begin
to readjust for future tight market conditions, the need to
implement these regulations and procedures couldn’t
be more important and timely.
John P. Crowley
Lake Hill, NY
This is an open letter to Ralph Legnini (in response to his
letter and the three ladies who were elected to the Onteora
school board last year (wow, was that less than a year ago
already?) as well as the editors of the Woodstock Times and
the Olive Free Press and, most importantly, to all those voters
who turned out to 'overturn' the incumbent school board in
the last election.
First, just to get it off my chest, I tried to warn you! OK,
now I feel a bit better.
So, Ralph has resigned with charges of ill feelings and reports
of serious dissention on the board. And he has warned of serious
consequences if significant decisions are not made soon. He
speaks of a generally deteriorating situation with the district
and its facilities.
Let me say, that I hope, for all of us who value the schools
and who are concerned about how our taxes are used (and increased)
that Ralph is wrong in his assessment of the situation. However,
it is not hard to find knowledgeable people (not on the present
board) who verify much of what he has to say. That should
be of deep concern to us all.
But before we get too deeply into what to do now, I consider
it important to address how this happened. For those with
very short memories, think very hard about that last election.
Think about all the emotions that were flying so passionately
around the area. And if you can, think of what the incumbents
(those already on the board who were running for reelection)
of that time were offering as their 'platform'. I personally
wrote letters to the editor about the choice between passion
and reason that the two slates represented (I clearly came
down on the side of reasoned approaches and against the passion
driven side). I stated clearly that I had no problem with
passion, but also that it had to be 'in sync' with reason
and facts. The publisher of the Olive Free Press/Phoenicia
Times (who happens to be married to one of the board members,
I believe) took the opposite 'stance'. He stated clearly that
he would go for passion. The editor of the Woodstock Times,
still stuck on the rather stale (by then) large parcel conflict
also plumped for dumping the incumbents.
This could all just be 'politics as usual' - a kind of "he
said/she said," if it weren't for how clearly the distinctions
were laid out. The incumbents had spent three years methodically
and passionately, but rationally and with great courage, devising
a plan that fit within fiscal responsibility to tackle the
problems that Ralph speaks about in his letter. That plan
still exists. Unfortunately, the voters let their passions
distract them from the detailed and well thought out, and
most of all, realistic plan that was available. Now we have
wasted most of a year and still have no plan in place (neither
an 'emotional' one nor a rational one) and not even much progress
toward getting one.
I hope the voters of this school district can get it through
their heads that 'changing' school boards over issues such
as what mascot the school teams should have or whether my
child loves her present school and would be 'upset' if things
changed is not a rational way to run a school district. We
will have an election coming up soon. Use your heads folks.
Look for people with their feet on the ground. Be very wary
of people promising nirvana with great passion and waving
visions of crying children in your faces. My children have
had to face many difficult situations in their lives and this
has often tugged at my heart and I have made dumb decisions
just to not have to face those feelings. But I have also learned
that passionate tears do not a disaster cause and that my
children were far better served by learning early on that
they could be adaptable and would grow to be better people
by facing reality. I was a better parent by taking the hard
decisions even in the face of their tears and anger.
Again, as Ralph stated, I also hope that this will shock the
remaining school board members into doing a real adult job
of being stewards of our children (remember the idea of 'helicopter
parenting'), our taxes and our schools. Look very carefully
in the next couple of months to see if the present board members
have truly matured and are getting on with the hard business
of being good board members, and then vote at the next election
with a bit less passionate distortion and quite a bit more
thoughtfulness and intelligence.
We were glad to see former Onteora School Board member Rita
Vanacore's letter in last week's paper. The May School Board
elections will be here before you know it and it is high time
we engage in a conversation - preferably free of contempt
- over the direction that Onteora is heading.
Contrary to what Vanacore asserts in her letter, the Board
members who unseated Vanacore and her fellow incumbents are
not dedicated to keeping Phoenicia Elementary open "at
all costs." If anything was undertaken "at all costs"
it was the former Board's consolidation agenda, which they
were unable to sell to the majority of the voting public.
Because the voters took the long view. Both Phoenicia and
Woodstock Elementary were on the chopping block, and the voters
agreed it was too risky to close neighborhood elementary schools.
While Vanacore, et al continue to claim that the elimination
of teachers, staff and buildings would cut expenses for the
tax base, it is public knowledge that the closure of West
Hurley Elementary did nothing of the sort. Taxes did not go
down. Crowding at Woodstock Elementary, however, has gone
up, and continues. Anyone who has spent time in a classroom
as a teacher - as we both have - knows that more kids per
classroom equals lower quality education. Period. In addition,
the voters agreed that other collateral results of consolidation
were too costly: i.e., decreased property values and less
business for all but the immediate area surrounding Bennett
Elementary - where, incidentally, Vanacore, et al reside -
longer bus rides, and the busing of fifth graders with twelfth
Add to all of the above the fact that the previous Board did
not make public the details of their consolidation plan until
just before the election, plus the fact that Vanacore herself
gave erroneous and deflated enrollment figures to WAMC, and
you have a Board that looks less than candid.
Much is said about declining enrollment, but in fact Onteora
kindergarten classes are growing - 115 for '08-'09 compared
to 101 for '07-'08. Plus, kids are coming in from parochial
schools and private schools, and the recession is likely to
send more our way.
Finally, Vanacore is quick to judge the current Board, which
is barely seven months into its tenure. She says they don't
know what they're doing. Untrue - the newly elected trustees
are simply doing things differently than the last Board. That
is what they were elected in a landslide to do. For instance,
one of their first actions was to take on the deplorable brown
water situation in the middle school and high school - something
the previous Board had not seen fit to do. Currently being
discussed are issues regarding recycling and transportation,
all in full public view and all with a focus on fiscal responsibility.
And make no mistake: they accept the hard truth that budget
cuts must be made in a sober, responsible manner with consideration
for the greater good of taxpayers and students from every
Onteora neighborhood, and they are in the process of making
The current Board does not exist to prop up a "white
elephant," as Vanacore derisively calls Phoenicia Elementary.
They are representing a broader swath of interests than the
last Board and they are committed to making Onteora the best
it can be. We have faith that this Board -- with new president
Maxanne Resnick at the helm -- is equal to the task.
Robert Burke Warren
Holly George Warren
The RUPCO proposed housing project Woodstock Commons, in the
town of Woodstock, will not just affect Woodstock when it
comes to taxes. It will affect the entire district.
I read this recently and thought it worthwhile to publish
here. RUPCO¢s DEIS projects an additional 36 children
to the school system. In the worst case scenario, 36 school
age children @ $16,054 per pupil minus $29,338 (the amount
the project itself will contribute to Onteora taxes) = $548,622.
That is the amount to be added to the Onteora Central School
District budget per year, for as long as that $16,054 per
student ($21,148 is the total cost per student, but $16,054
is the tax impact) holds up.
In the 2008-09 school year, Woodstock paid 32.9 percent of
the Onteora district taxes. The other towns in the district
picked up the rest.
The shares of that $548,622 break down as follows:
Hurley - 15.27 percent or a share of $83,774
Marbletown - .669 percent for $3,866
Olive - 31.49 percent for $172,761
Shandaken 18.65 percent - for $102,318
Woodstock 32.9 percent - for $180,496
Lexington .94 percent - for $5,432
Do the citizens of the town of Olive know that it will cost
them, potentially, $172,761 per year, for perhaps 50 years?
Does New York City know that its share of that Olive pie for
the Ashokan Reservoir could be some $90,000 per year for those
50 years? Each town has a piece of that pie.
People in Wawarsing, Esopus, and Ellenville will also share
in this burden.
If you are concerned about this, the public comment period
on the Woodstock Commons project is open until Feb. 27th at
4 pm. Write to the Woodstock Planning Board at 45 Comeau Dr.,
Woodstock, NY 12498 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I live 3.5 miles outside of Phoenicia in Chichester and had
a Valentine's Day robbery I thought you might be interested
in. It's case number 152-09 with the Shandaken Police Department.
I have the right of way to a lovely railroad bridge that my
neighbor Dorothy Grubman Zaharatos owns. It's the only way
to get to my cabin.
It had solar lights that lit the way to the road that leads
to my little cabin. Some of the lights were missing prior
to my buying my cabin in 2005 and some didn't work. The little
bridge is on the right hand side of 214 driving towards Hunter
and many people comment on how enchanting it is.
Six weeks ago I paid my neighbor Paul Beyer to put all new
solar lights on the bridge. He bought the copper look lights
and put up 23 of them. I paid him $300.00 for lights and labor.
Imagine my horror to make the turn onto Grubman Road this
past Thursday evening and to see that every single light was
stolen. Whoever did it left a few of the rods they couldn't
pry loose and obviously stole my recycle basket from Waste
Management to pile them in and steal them.
Paul Beyer who lives next door and did the work was at my
house on Wednesday, February 11th and all was well. I drove
up on Thursday, February 12th in the evening and all the lights
were gone. My neighbor Randy Ostrander who patrols 214 on
a regular basis did not witness the theives in action.
I don't own the bridge but I figured I would beautify the
neighborhood and light my and my families way to the cabin.
After it had been completed, neighbors commented on how lovely
the bridge looked all lit up. Unfortunately, someone stole
I would be happy to offer a $100.00 reward to anyone who might
have seen who robbed the bridge lights and contacts the Shandaken
Police at 688-9902 when an arrest is made.
I love the area so much and just hate that someone would do
This is a letter of thanks and appreciation. On the 23rd of
January our five and a half year-old daughter who suffers
from Rett Syndrome was injured on her school bus returning
from Brookside School. Her wheelchair flipped over in the
bus, because it was not properly placed nor secured in the
bus so when the driver made a left turn, the wheelchair flipped
over with our daughter strapped in the chair. The reason for
this letter is to say thanks to people who helped our little
girl who was scared to death.
The Olive Fire Department and Olive Ambulance Service kept
our daughter calm and handled the situation in a professional
manner with her safety and health first, to include keeping
her father calm, which was a task itself! Seeing our little
girl hurt and crying and being helpless but lucky enough for
the help of the Olive Fire Department and the Olive First
Aid unit. It's nice knowing that there are people who care
enough to donate their time in learning how to help others
in need when emergencies happen. My wife and I cannot say
thanks enough to include the fact they have called our home
to see how our daughter is doing. I often wondered why these
men volunteered so much time, but now I'm grateful for them
and their dedication to help others. Again, we all appreciate
every one of you who helped our little girl, Bryanna, who
does not talk, but who was grateful for all your kindness
when she needed it so much.
Also, we would like to say thank you to Brookside School for
their thoughts, and for their get well cards and Valentine's
cards. Room #1, you're the best!
Alvah & Lori White
Greetings from that little house at 16 Rock City Road - Family
of Woodstock's 24-hour Hotline and Walk-In Center. One might
not suspect that inside is a hub of activity which has county-wide
ramifications. We answer nine telephone lines, provide after-hours
crisis and suicide intervention services, under contract with
Ulster County Mental Health (a decades-long affiliation).
Our domestic violence services encompass both residential
and non-residential; we interface with ongoing issues involving
emergency housing, legal, financial, employment, food, clothing,
substance abuse, loneliness, depression, adolescent services,
child care, etc. This, incredibly, is only a partial list!
After almost 25 years of working at Family in various capacities,
the scope and breadth of our helping services still amazes
me. The levels of creativity, spirit and caring which staff
members muster on a daily basis is poignant and vibrant. We
try to help people help themselves. I am continually inspired
and energized by the special work we do here, and I love our
name, and I love Family.
We are understaffed in this challenging yet exciting time.
There are more calls and requests for assistance than ever
before. Other hotlines have closed and we are getting those
calls, too. We need help. If you did a shift here 30 or three
years ago we would love to have you back. Please call to discuss
what kind of time you might have available, and what reinforcement
and/or retraining we might offer to get you current again.
We are beginning a new training cycle for telephone shift
volunteers on February 21. This is an opportunity to participate
in our vital work in the community, and to truly make a difference.
Call 679-2485 or 338-2370 as soon as possible to register.
There won't be another opportunity to take this training until
autumn. This is an opportunity to participate in Community,
more crucial now perhaps than ever before.
Family of Woodstock
It is interesting to note that the letter written by "The
Jewish Federation of Ulster County" quotes the U. S.
Constitution to support their arguments and defend Israel's
policies. It is interesting because Israel has no constitution
from which to quote. They were supposed to have written one
in 1948, but to this day never have. No wonder Israel feels
free to persecute its minorities with impunity.
Dee Dee Halleck, Willow;
Fanny Prizant, Woodstock;
Doris Soroko, Barrytown;
Bill Campion, Mt. Tremper
We are really hurting and will hurt a lot more if this financial
crisis erodes some of our country's most important assets.
The Red Cross is an agency which has taken the curse off of
many a serious blow from nature or fellow man. Now it is hurting
and at a time when natural disasters are on a rampage. Without
it we will have to endure more misery and suffering. Let us
not reduce our support for this vital program.
The paper today reported that the DMV in a nearby city had
upgraded their facilities for motor vehicle registration by
including seating arrangements, which has taken the stress
from registering. Now, may I ask, why in tunket don't the
shops which depend on our patronage have the kindness to provide
chairs or benches for their customers? It is really cruel
for us not to be able to sit down in any of the department
or grocery stores. There need not be many because people for
the most part don't sit, but there are times when just sitting
for a few minutes is needed. Elderly people or those with
some health problems would find shopping much less of a strain
if they could sit down. For someone with a sudden onset of
dizziness or other distressing condition must be able to sit
down. Wonder why some of the geniuses who know marketing or
who care about their customers wouldn't feel this to be important?
What do you suppose the shops would do if a few of us talked
to them about it?
So, they've stolen all of our money. Now, Obama comes forward
with a plan that's a hundred times more transparent than original
TARP, and they are calling his plan the worst in the world.
The Banksters, the Robbyists, the Repudiates and the media,
are once again ganging up on us. I can only hope that none
of us will listen to them. They are greedy, lying crooks and
I'll go for any plan that puts restrictions on them. Sure
they don't want Obama's plan, because it asks for transparency.
How could they possibly want it? They are hiding all of our
money in multi-billionare's palaces in other countries. I've
come to the conclusion that Obama is smarter than any President
we've had in a long time, so I'm going to save myself tons
of time, researching everything that comes out of D.C., and
I'm just going to back up anything he decides to do. Well,
almost anything. I only hope that the media doesn't manage
to convince the public 6 months down the line, that the economic
crisis was caused by Obama. So far, the public has bought
and accepted all of their lies. It's going to get a bit rough
out there, before it gets better, so let's be grateful that
we live in a thinking, caring community, and keep the music
Believe me sir, I'm not the voice of the people, but i feel
i've been raped enough to voice my opinion. Each and every
night I watch the news hoping to see and or hear something
that will help the middle class, lower middleclass (me), and
lower class improve their living conditions, but I have yet
to see anything near this wish. President Obama passed the
stimulus act of 2009, chalk one up for the President. I feel
this is a good move to push the greatest country in the world
back on the road to recovery. Now I think the next move is
to attack the CEO's, Vice Presidents and especially the financial
officers of the large Wall Sreet brokerage houses and find
out exactly why they went belly up, yet received a huge lucrative
bonus on top of their lucrative salaries and then asked the
government for additional monies to pull them out of debt.
We see thousands of people purchasing the all-American dream,
a home in the suburbs, only to find out their newly furnished
home is in foreclosure, why? Because the banks never really
explained how a variable rate could ruin their dreams; hey,
take a 5.99% loan out with us and the home is yours. No, no,
no, don't think about the variable rate, the way the country
is moving the chances of the rate going up is practically
very low. PLEASE LOOK AT THE FORECLOSURE RATE. Millions of
workers are being laid off from not only small companies but
very large companies. The question is how many CEO's and vice
presidents were laid off? I'll bet the percentage is very
low; did they even think of taking a cut in pay to save a
few workers? NOT! Ask a auto salemen what zero percent means,
then look at the very tiny print on the bottom which says...
$16.00 or $21.00 dollars on every $1,000 dollars financed;
that does not sound like zero percent to me. President Bush
said we should save a portion of our money, can anyone tell
me why when the interest rate you receive is about 1.25%?
In 2001 I had a decent 401k, by 2002 it was terrible, but
yet the broker said leave it ride, you'll make it up in the
next few years In 2007 after rolling it over into another
IRA I thought I was doing fairly good. Shall I tell you how
much I lost as of today, but yet my broker said let it ride,
you'll make it up as soon as the market takes off? Fellow
readers, I just turned 70 years of age, and I feel if I live
to 80 and President Obama does what Ex President Bush did
as he was leaving office, allow senior citizens to leave their
money in their IRA's not forcing them to take out a portion
of their savings at 65 and1/2, my broker will say leave it
ride. Mr. Editor, please forgive me for venting to you and
your readers but you get so damm mad at our politicians for
allowing this to happen that you must tell someone.
Peter G. Polis
There is a contrary way of looking at the unemployed, other
than as a burden.
If I were, as President Obama is, directly responsible for
turning our economy around, I would say to myself: Here is
a vast pool of labor the basic maintenance cost of which we
are already paying; it is labor willing and ready to be employed
on public works of merit. Let's get them busy! And, let's
set up a special way of honoring these workers; let's make
this an exciting National venture! Note the CCC of Roosevelt!
President Kennedy was also good at this sort of thing (as,
the Peace Corps).
First though, it is not helpful to underestimate the numbers
that are unemployed or will shortly be unemployed. I think
we should be planning for about 10,000,000. And I think we
should add another 2,000,000 (15 or 20%, say) to the program
to exert competitive pressure on wage levels at the bottom
of the employment scale.
I lived through the Great Depression as a teenager. Many of
the New Deal programs worked, some did not. The obvious intent
of the Roosevelt Administration was to help people, that itself
helped. But what really worked was putting the unemployed
busy on important public works --- bridges (this is what my
father's firm did, he was a partner in Modjeski, Masters and
Chase), roads (the "Pinchot Roads) in Pennsylvania are
an excellent example for today), public buildings, and other
jobs that improved the quality of living--- including importantly,
support of students, and the arts and sciences.
There is the matter of funding such a vast effort. I note
that the value of our money is based on trust, faith that
value given will be balanced or exceeded by value received.
We can do what my family's "uncle," Salmon Portland
Chase, did to finance the Civil War; that is, sell bonds and
print money. That worked for the Union. Printing money can
be done within the level of public appreciation that value
given equals (or is exceeded by) value received. Of course
we should tax and use tax funds. We should tax the wealthy
10% more heavily. (Another problem for us: The excessive difference
in wealth between top and bottom will lead to social instability
if not corrected very soon.)
Another thought of mine, from my experience: The Obama Administration,
fine as it is, seems to be deficient in its understanding
of agriculture, or, to be more precise, the importance of
food. We have been lucky here in the United States. Though
the long, worrisome, increase in world population may soon
have, and I think has already peaked, feeding our population
and helping feed the world's population presents some crucial
problems and opportunities, especially as we need to reduce
energy costs both direct and indirect. In putting the unemployed
to constructive work I suggest that the safeguarding, improvement,
and increase in areas of highly productive agricultural lands,
particularly those near population centers, should have a
very high priority.
Sherret Spaulding Chase
Am I the only person deeply sickened by the devastation and
mindless deforesting on Rte. 28A from Reservoir Rd. I thought
that this type of mindless and thoughtless act would magically
end now that Satan is no longer in the White House but I guess
I'm wrong. I would really look forward to my ride home through
this beautiful and scenic road. I might add that it is part
of the attraction for tourists to visit and hopefully spend
their hard earned cash in our businesses. Were we notified
in advance and given the opportunity to voice our disapproval?
Is this necessary? This idea that it's for the "emergency
vehicles" to use this road seems absurd to me. Are there
no other routes for emergency vehicles to use like gorgeous
Rte. 28? Are these not protected lands? It's so sad that it's
too late to do
SADD's mission is to provide students with the best prevention
tools possible to deal with the issues of underage drinking,
other drug use, impaired driving and other destructive decisions.
On February 28th and March 1st is the Onteora SADD (Students
Against Destructive Decisions) Barnes & Noble Fundraising
weekend to benefit the Belleayre Bash. The Belleayre Bash
is a drug-free/alcohol-free all night graduation event that
helps keep Onteora's graduates safe on one of the most dangerous
nights of the year - graduation night. If you purchase something
at a Barnes & Noble store during our fundraising weekend
and present the voucher attached, we will receive 10% of the
sale - it does not cost you any additional money - the 10%
comes from Barnes & Noble.
It takes approximately $10,000.00 to support the Belleayre
Bash and we are well on are way. SADD believes it is worth
every effort to keep our friends and classmates safe. Please
support the Bash and our Barnes and Noble Weekend. Hope to
see your there.
Tara O'Connor, President