What a disappointment to see our favorite vacation destination "Sweet
Sue's" has changed hands. It always made the meal to have the
owner buzzing around the dining room smiling and greeting everyone
and it felt good to watch her working, joking and laughing with her
employees. You knew it was a great place to work.The highlight would
be if Sweet Sue herself would serve us and graciously indulge my grandchildren
with her story of Battling the Bear. We really missed the "feeling"
that Sweet Sue's possessed. I guess you can sell a building and a
recipe, but you can't sell the "heart".
Sam and Matty Whitaker
In my line of work I have the privilige of working beside the Central
Hudson linemen. When most of the community is sleeping or huddled
up warm in their homes during a cold winter storm, the men at Central
Hudson are replacing broken poles, connecting wires, and restoring
power often for countless hours. Thousands of people are counting
on them. These men are also our neighbors. They have homes, pay taxes,
and raise their families in our community.
I find it disturbing that the Town of Olive has decided to purchase
its electricity from the reseller called Energy Plus. Has anyone ever
seen an Energy Plus line truck? Who is Energy Plus? Where are their
substations and power lines? Is it possible that they are just a paper
company that takes its profit from Central Hudson without having to
do any actual work? I would rather see our taxpayer's money going
to the company and men who are doing such a fine job keeping our electricity
on, and not to a parasite company.
Lineman for Verizon
I'd like to thank Mr. Langbert for his extensive reply to my letter.
Not my last letter, the one before that. If he has responded to my
last letter, I haven't seen it yet. I get the paper rather late.
Mr. Langbert makes some swell suggestions. The Wicks law idiocy, of
Accounting reform. Absolutely. I didn't know about the Governmental
Accounting Standards Board. Was it at least an improvement? Or a failed
attempt at an improvement that mucked things up more?
Also absolutely on procurement reform and sensible infrastructure
maintainence. Alas, politicians seem to prefer building something
new named after themselves rather than fixing something already named
for somebody else.
But Mr. Langbert lost me when he wrote about "Decades of Democratic
rule in this state." We had a recent eight year stretch with
a Republican Governor and Republicans running the State Senate. Was
the advent of the Governmental Accounting Standards Board Late Cuomo
or early Pataki?
In the letter after Mr. Langbert's, a Mr. Bob Surprise had some fine
points about FICA, one of our largest and most regressive taxes. I
warn Mr. Surprise that the reason to pay rich folks their due Social
Security money is so that the program cannot be called an entitlement.
Because Americans these days hates entitlements. 'Cept money and family
entitlements. Go figger.
Amazingly, a swell idea came from the guy who will probably be the
next Governor, Andrew Cuomo, who suggested eliminating State Agencies.
These are enormous sink-holes of tax money and corruption. And they're
opaque. We'll see if Mr. Cuomo remembers this idea. It would be purely
great if he did.
Now, I'm all for quirky views. I personally loathe cars. (They're
evil! Really!) But Mr. Langbert needs to walk me through his antipathy
for the Public School System.
Personally, I detested school, and was bad at it. But I nevertheless
am in awe of teachers. What a hell job! I know that i couldn't do
it, not nohow. I do not think teachers could be paid enough. If only
to reduce crime, educate the chill'uns.
I wonder what Mr. Langbert means by twelve years of brainwashing.
I've paid close attention to my daughter's Public Schooling, and the
brainwashing was mostly Don't Hit Other People, which is fine with
me, as my daughter is small and shy. (She's very good at Math and
Maybe it's different in West Shokan. Still, as I remember, indoctrination
produces cynics. I'd rather we produced skeptics.
Gus Murphy claims that the Wicks Law and similar kinds of governmental
failures are accidents and that government can work. But Murphy does
not illustrate his claim with facts. Murphy is right that some government
is essential, and he is also right that Henry David Thoreau wrote
in Civil Disobedience that the government is best which governs not
at all. When I assign that short and passionate essay to my senior
seminar students they are often surprised that the inventor of civil
disobedience, an abolitionist and opponent of the Mexican War, disagreed
with big government.
Mr. Murphy offers foreign affairs and road building as examples of
the essential services that government provides. But both of these
functions were with us long before the explosion in government spending
in the past fifty years. In 1950 government spending was 15% of the
economy and today it is 45%. But the US isn't any safer and doesn't
have better paved roads. Berndt Leifeld and Barack Obama have gotten
plenty of votes through handing out jobs, though, even if the roads
I agree with Murphy on his proposals to cut drug enforcement and military
spending. Prohibition didn't work and neither does criminalization
of drugs. Likewise, the use of large scale, second generation warfare
(see Thomas Hammes, the Sling and the Stone) has been incompetent
and wasteful, much like everything else in government.
But I respectfully disagree with Murphy that once it starts spending
government can avoid persistent failures like the Wicks Law and a
long list of government boondoggles. The Wicks Law has been with us
for nearly a century, yet it remains law. There are four reasons why
government does not work. First, the brokerage of special interests
arises from economic incentives that government creates. Mancur Olson
in Rise and Decline of Nations shows that lobbying and political manipulation
result from a straightforward cost-benefit calculus that that favors
wealthy special interests like Paul and Nancy Pelosi's Star Kist Tuna
at the expense of the average American. In the 2009 Bush-Obama bailout
of Wall Street, even the mass media was coopted. There was hardly
an opponent of the bailout permitted on any media outlet.
Second, in the 1920s to 1940s Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich von Hayek
showed the impossibility of socialist calculation. That is, the only
way to efficiently allocate resources is through markets. Government
interferes with markets and so makes us poorer.
Third, government lacks feedback about whether its tactics succeed
over time. Government budgets are for one year, so decisions that
dump costs into the future are encouraged. There is no stock price
to inform decision makers whether they are failing.
Fourth the complexity of government means that neither legislators
nor the public can monitor it. Few Americans are familiar with the
intricacies of the tax code or pollution law. Recently, we heard Nancy
Pelosi say that the health care law should be passed so that we can
find out what it says. Pension law (the Employee Retirement Income
Security Act) is a joke, yet few Americans question it.
Thus, government cannot work, has not worked and never will work.
As government has expanded from 15% of the economy in 1950 to nearly
half today, real wages have stagnated. In the nineteenth century and
into the 1960s real hourly wages increased two percent per year. Since
the 1960s explosion in government and the abolition of the gold standard
in 1971 the real hourly wage has not grown at all. The explosion led
to the freezing of standards of living at the 1970 level. The frauds
in the banker owned "liberal" media claim that the stagnant
real wages were due to Reagan, but the freezing of the real hourly
wage started in the 1970s. In turn Americans became two income families,
then three income and now we see both spouses working two or three
jobs just to make ends meet. In my day my dear mother could stay at
home while my father worked in a factory. Reason: there was less government.
But the public and Mr. Murphy have not figured out that if you pay
half your income in taxes and get little or nothing in return, you
will be forced to work like a slave in order to pay for government's
greedy incompetence. Henry David Thoreau would turn in his grave if
he saw how America has become a slave society.
West Shokan, NY
This is concerning a tower in the Town of Shandaken on Rt.42 that
you can see from our front yard. The tower has no reception, nobody
gets any cellphone service in the area. I recently received a cell
phone from Safelink, due to being on State Aid and it's totally useless
with a tower across the road. Why did they put up a tower that is
useless? Something should be done about this. Those of us that own
cellphones can't use them up this way because they put up a tower
that isn't complete. You don't get cell service until you are almost
in Boiceville. Those of us that rely on cellphones need to have something
done about this. I've heard people complain about no cellphone service
up here, we should be able to use our phones. So our question is why
did they put up a tower that was not completed? I think that those
of us that have cellphones should say and do something about this.
Also, who is responsible for the construction of this tower and why
did they not complete the job? Is there something that can be done
about this, so those of us that own cellphones from Phoenicia on up
to Pine Hill can use them?
Kathy & Jim Perka
As predicted, the student population in our school district has once
dipped to a new low of 1,621. Our kindergarten registration for this
2010-2011 school year is 80 students with 25 at Bennett, 21 at Phoenicia,
and 33 at Woodstock...14 students below the professional statistical
analysis for this school year.
The numbers don't surprise me. What amazes me is that the Phoenicia
Elementary School's administration and teaching staff are actually
campaigning directly to our Board of Trustees for two kindergarten
classes... that's right, two classrooms of 10 and 11 students.
The State Education Department has guidelines for the maximum amount
of students allowed to be in a classroom at each grade level. Onteora
always set their own guidelines which are considerably lower. The
guide line for kindergarten at Onteora is maximum of 23 students.
A higher registration necessitates more classrooms.
The Trustees have been actively considering lowering the Onteora guidelines
to 21 students per classroom, siting smaller classrooms bring better
education. Even if this new idea became a guideline, that still puts
Phoenicia in the position of reducing to one classroom. Phoenicia
would, then, have two grade levels of one classroom size. Bennett
right now has one grade level with a one classroom population.
Too few of us are voicing outrage at the irresponsibility of our elected
officials who continuously put their heads in the sand refusing to
acknowledge that declining student population is the wave of the future.
This board refuses to consider consolidation at an elementary level.
How long will this district sit back and watch our educational direction
fiscal solvency decline? Experts in our school district predict that
by continuing the same policies and budgeting factors, within 5 years
our school district will be "in the red" by about $27,000,000.
Consolidation is being sought on all levels of government and education.
It is not fair to "break the backs" of a population, whose
average income is $25,000 per working person. Let us not forget those
with a fixed income, as well.
Wake up, Onteora, before we become reactive instead of pro-active.
My fear is it may already be too late.
One of the terrible side effects of a bad economy is an increase in
It has been true since at least the days of the Great Depression when
increasing family strife and abuse was layered on top of unemployment,
homelessness and hunger.
Today, we at Ulster County's Domestic Violence Services /The Washbourne
House are seeing the same sad trend. The number of people looking
for services is drastically rising.
But along with the rise in need, the tough times also mean resources
to help fund the services are more scarce. In an unprecedented move,
Ulster County Department of Social Services has cut 100-percent of
domestic violence funding for The Washbourne House's children's program,
leaving us wondering how we are going to deal with the loss.
In the end, a lack of domestic violence funding, much of which goes
toward prevention and intervention, touches everyone. When a situation
escalates, police are called in and find themselves involved in manhunts
and dangerous standoffs. In some cases schools are closed or locked
down if law enforcement believes there is a volatile situation. Businesses
deal with absenteeism from employees who are victims.
And we all hear about one of the terrible increasing trends: murder
suicides. In our own community there have been far too many. The worst
element of domestic violence, of course, is when someone dies. Those
numbers continue to increase in Ulster County.
We need to move from reacting to escalating acts of abuse and violence
to working to prevent them. Part of getting a woman to be free and
become a survivor is to offer full services to her and her children
which include children's groups.
Now, of all times, the resources provided for victims of domestic
abuse are essential. Domestic abuse reporting is already down as a
result of the recessionary economy. More and more abuse victims are
choosing to remain in coercive relationships for the economic security
provided for them and their children. Funding cuts exacerbate the
problem as their options are cut off. And, all too often there are
children involved who will be subject to the same abuse, perhaps growing
up to be abusers or victims themselves.
To leave physically injured, and intimidated victims of domestic violence
under protected, under served and under funded is to our disgrace
whatever the budgetary excuses.
We won't be able to provide these services unless we can find other
funding. People in our community can help out. Please send a check
today to: The Washbourne House, PO Box 3817, Kingston, NY 12402 (Attention:
The Children's Program)
Family Domestic Violence Services
Let's lose the "spill/leak" misnomer and call it what it
is - THE GULF GUSH. It's like we intentionally pierced a giant artery
and didn't even have a suture nearby. Couple this most likely "worst
manmade environmental disaster" ever, with the impending depression,
and the aimless but very angry "Tea Party", and we have
some hard times ahead.
Now we watch our first black president, with his extraordinarily controlled
emotional personality, try to negotiate between the corporations,
in control of our country, and the disappointed people that elected
him. I personally don't agree with his way of dealing with BP, but
what do I know? Surely I don't have a clue as to what the "powers
that be" can do to him, us and all of life on earth. I didn't
even know that they had the rights to our oceans and shores before,
so I only have uneducated guesses to go on.
President Obama knows that the monumental cost of this disaster could
near the cost of the "bailout". When you faction in the
lawsuits for the death and sickness of people, on top of the loss
of businesses in the Gulf, with whatever else this loss of life in
the oceans will do, that statement is not so out of line. So, he's
apparently trying to stick some of this cost to BP, instead of having
to pick up the bill with our taxes, which means keeping them in charge.
So, he makes them put in two relief wells, instead of one. What a
novel idea - a back-up, in case something goes wrong. I wonder if
that ever happened before. In exchange, he keeps them in charge, and
responsible for those costs. But here's the big rub for me. BP is
still using a dispersant that the EPA has told them to stop using,
due to it's toxic effects. It may well have a bigger effect on life
in the waters than the oil does. Oh, BP and it's associates apparently
have financial connections to this brand of dispersant. But I won't
go there, because the connections might reveal more than I want to
know. All I care about is that they stop using it.
And so, I've decided to devote my time to this cause. If anyone wants
me, (especially video editors), please get in touch, or write a letter
to the Editor next week. Let's stop the Kill Baby Kill and replace
it with an understanding that we are just one species of many that
exist on this jewel of a planet. We are so fortunate to be here. Let's
start to show our appreciation to our magnificent Mother Earth and
do what we can to protect her.
BP's ruptured oil well is quickly becoming a watershed historical
event that will change our world. The recent acknowledgement by both
the United States government and BP officials that the release of
oil will continue unabated until at least August is the prelude to
our collective "fossil fuel moment." Furthermore, as if
the situation wasn't dire enough, we also learned this week that,
in order to prepare the ruptured well for the planned relief wells
(which are currently under construction), the ruptured well is expected
to spew an additional twenty percent for three days to a week before
the procedure is attempted. Who are they kidding? At this point, who
can say that the fifth attempt to cap the well will be anymore successful
than the previous four? What about the extremely active hurricane
forecast? What about the ineptitude, mismanagement, subterfuge, and
stasis that has plagued this operation for nearly 50 days? Are those
things just going to disappear? Let's face it. Nobody can definitively
predict how long this monster will spew its poison into the Gulf of
Needless to say, when this catastrophe does end, our way of life will
not be the same. For the first time in history, our uncontrollable
hunger for fossil fuels will have fundamentally damaged the ecology
of an entire region of the planet. Furthermore, even if we get the
oil well under control by the end of August and find a viable way
to deal with the petroleum damage, what about the dispersant? As The
New York Times pointed out on Monday, this toxic substance is unproven,
only made by one company, and has been used abundantly.
It is easy to blame BP, or Halliburton (which owned the rig), or Dick
Cheney, or the Bush Administration's deregulation and cronyism - particularly
in the Interior Department's Minerals Management Service - or the
Obama administration's lack of foresight or urgency. But history will
blame us all. For over 30 years we've known the deal. Unfortunately,
it took a moment this ugly to seriously address the problem.
Woodstock, NY and SUNY Albany
In the coming hot summer days, an air conditioner can be a welcome
relief! But there is an important impact that AC's have that may make
you think twice about using it when it's unnecessary.
Air conditioning uses huge amounts of electricity, causing spikes
in our mid-summer electric demand. Electricity usage is a top contributor
to climate change because the majority of our electricity comes from
oil or coal-burning power plants. As we all become more aware of the
dangers associated with our dependence on fossil fuels, we must acknowledge
that the United States is the world's biggest energy consumers per
capita. Having air conditioning is a luxury that not everyone can
enjoy; and turning it on for those not-so-hot days is a habit we should
stay mindful of. Keeping a room cool while saving energy can be done
by reducing heat gains by shading from the sun and keeping heat producing
appliances off such as lights. There will be many mild summer days
and nights that can be enjoyed with open windows and not the AC, so
this year let's minimize our energy usage with our AC and only turn
it on if it's really necessary.
Jens Verhaegh, on behalf of the
Climate Action Coalition
New Paltz, NY
I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed reading Rose-line
Simon's pro-life letter in your last issue. I am in complete agreement
and say bravo to Rose-line. We do need to be consistent in protecting
ALL life around and within us.
It is comforting to know that in this era of financial uncertainty,
when our country faces massive cuts to education, Medicaid, worker
pensions, and our public parks, one area or government spending remains
Let us take pride in the fact that not every program faces the chopping
block. That there is still some regard and respect for the values
that we collectively hold dear, the support of the apartheid state
Not that this monetary support has been easy. Israel's recent invasions
of Lebanon and Gaza have killed hundreds of children and left over
a million homeless. The use of high tech weapons on civilian targets
has created further revulsion in the rest of the world. What other
country would be sending Israel well over three billion a year in
foreign aid? The Israelis are completely dependent on us to continue
their war crimes and crimes against humanity.
The recent Israeli attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, a convoy of
international ships bringing humanitarian aid to 1.5 million Palestinians,
is a case in point. The cold blooded killing of aid workers in the
middle of the night provoked disgust and outrage in every other country
in the world. The fact that these boats were boarded in international
waters provoked cries of terrorism and piracy, not to mention kidnapping
when the aid workers were put in Israeli jails.
What other country in the world would possibly support such crimes
with billions in military aid? Only in America.
North Korea stands to gain nothing from provoking war with the South.
U.S. corporate interests do stand to benefit from removing Kim Jong-il
and creating a unified Korea, to hold a sphere of influence against
the economic dominance of China. The same motives and strategies got
us into Viet Nam. But Viet Nam couldn't ship over a nuke disguised
as a refrigerator.
Israel will never obtain security through fascist brutality and apartheid
suppression of Palestinians, policies that guarantee resistance and
endless conflict. Only by allowing Palestinians' equal rights and
opportunities in their own homeland can peace be secured. The U.S.
brutally suppressed the indigenous people here, an apt role model
for Israel. But the friends of the Native Americans didn't have a
nuke disguised as a refrigerator.
Western financial moguls have recently received an unverifiable amount
of taxpayer handouts, estimated to be at least five trillion dollars.
Upon receipt of the taxpayers' money, the first thing these "central
banks" insist on is cutting social programs to balance destitute
state budgets. If people were only aware of this titanic rip off,
these phony financial "institutions" would be replaced by
valid National Treasuries, and economic cycles could be managed with
less drastic consequences.
And why burn one more drop of oil, one more chunk of coal, or split
one more atom to provide energy for the comforts and prosperity we
seek? Isn't the permanent destruction of the Gulf enough of a wake
up call? All the harmless alternatives are available, if we simply
had the will to utilize them.
We need only identify the profiteers from every corner of the world
who are willing to drive us all to the brink of catastrophe. There
are now enough gaping cracks in the walls of the old structures to
expose this tyrannical plutocracy. Although judgment and condemnation
are part of the old ways - the endless cycle of suffering - these
offenders must still be constrained. A unified voice in a non-violent,
grass roots uprising could render the old structures obsolete and
make way for a peaceful and cooperative new way of sharing the Earth's
resources for the benefit of all.
As certain as dawn, the new way is coming. But we may, of necessity,
experience a crisis of awakening. As one elderly shrimp fisherman
from the Gulf of Mexico recently said, "If you drive a car, you
own a piece of this (disaster)."
Consider the connection between the $9 billion state budget deficit
and the $6.3 billion tax bill this year for treating smoking related
diseases in New York. If there was no tobacco use and none of those
diseases to treat, that would eliminate 70% of the deficit that is
wreaking so much havoc and cuts to many valuable services, programs,
May 31 was World No Tobacco Day and it is a goal, a hope each year.
Imagine if you will, John Lennon's song Imagine with the words "Imagine
there's no tobacco, I wonder if you can, no unnecessary deaths, around
us only fresh air; Imagine all the people still living today."
When we cut tobacco control last year, smoking rates increased. More
cuts to tobacco prevention efforts means more kids will start, the
tobacco industry will lick its chops, and more people will become
sick - costing all taxpayers billions. If we want to reduce taxes
and save lives, we must maintain a strong tobacco control program.
"You may say I'm a dreamer, But I'm not the only one, I hope
someday [we'll see, a world that's tobacco free]."
High Falls, NY
I own a tourism business that recently experienced the positive change
in attitude of Ulster County government under Mike Hein. First, I
was having trouble and becoming quite frustrated getting the listing
for my business updated appropriately on the state tourism website.
I called County Executive Hein's office and spoke to March Gallagher,
Deputy Director for Economic Development. She told me that she would
get to the bottom of the problem. The problem was solved by the next
day and my listing was updated. Then recently, the Ulster County Tourism
Department asked me if my business Rondout Inn would like to have
a special deal listed on www.UlsterCountyAlive.com. I immediately
posted a "Special Deal" package. Within two days, I received
a booking in response to my listing on www.UlsterCountyAlive.com.
I want to express my thanks for the turnaround in attitude toward
business in County Executive Mike Hein's administration, and also
appreciate his proactive support of the tourism industry.
Larry Zalinsky, Rondout Inn
Thank you for everyone who came out Friday night to support Woodstock
Day School's Soundout for Scholarships. It was an awesome concert
benefiting the school's scholarship fund. Special thanks to Gary Chekof
and WDST our radio partner (Go Mountain Jam!) And huge thanks to our
special guests Deborah Harry, Chris Stein, Matt Katz-Bohen, and Tommy
Kessler from Blondie, Tracy Bonham and her band, and Happy Traum.
Thanks also to the Woodstock Day School Whup @$$ Band, Alex Belmont,
Peter Dougan, Carl Matteo, Jerry Marotta and David Van Tieghem and
all the students of the Upper School Rock Ensemble. Thanks to the
Bearsville Theater, Peter Cantine, Robert Frazza and Grace for providing
a great venue and service. And thank you to our concert committee
of volunteers Cate Woodruff, Dennis and Desiree O'Clair, Bill Kollar,
Rose Noone, Adrian Hood, Adrienne Zabriskie, April Traum, Lys Kursh,
Jane Struzzieri, Jackie Kellachan, Allison Ober, Lisa Krause, Sneha
Pradip, Nancy Singer, Dave Cook, Michael and Tamara Lang, and of course
our Head of School and emcee, Jim Handlin.
And thank you to all who came out on Sunday for a great art auction.
Special thanks to Tom Fletcher and Heather Toboika of the Fletcher
Gallery for another great event. Thanks also to all the volunteers
for that as well, Cynthia Schoonmaker, Rachel Remler, Marie Kropp,
Andrea Moss, Adrienne Zabriskie, Desiree O'Clair, Sneha Pradip, April
Traum, Lys Kursh, Farah Polaski, Kelly Ryan, Toni Henderson, Suzanne
Wind, Liza Mones and Jackie Kellachan.
Thank you all. It truly takes a village.
Sarane O'Connor, Chair,
Woodstock Day School
In my last letter that you published you changed a word in the second
sentence of Richard Serra's interview. The word "with" was
changed to "without, " changing the meaning of Mr. Serra's
thought 180 degrees. Serra said "One thing American Educationdoes
not do is teach how to cultivate aesthetic sensibility. In that sense
public art is dismissed WITH reason; how are people going to understand..."
Serious error: not so serious when "producing" was changed
to "produces" in my last sentence.
From David Brooks, OP ED NY Times, June 8, "History for Dollars,"
(Brooks refers to that force deep within us that drives us creatively
and destructively as "The Big Shaggy").
"But over the centuries, there have been rare and strange people
who possessed the skill of taking the upheavals of thought that emanate
from The Big Shaggy and representing them in the form of story, music,
myth, painting, liturgy, architecture, sculpture, landscape, and speech.
These men and women developed languages that help us understand these
yearnings and also educate and mold them. They left rich veins of
emotional knowledge that are the subject of the humanities.
"It's probably dangerous to enter exclusively into this realm
and risk being caught in a cloister, removed from the market and its
accountability. But doesn't it make sense to spend some time in the
company of these languages - learning to feel different emotions,
rehearsing different passions, experiencing different sacred rituals
and learning to see in different ways?"
Few of us are hewers of wood. We navigate social environments. If
you're dumb about The Big Shaggy, you'll probably get eaten by it.
Thank you David Brooks!
Mt. Tremper, NY
Last week my husband and I saw Arthur Miller's "The Price"
performed by PAW at the Town Hall. We loved this show. Great acting!
The theme is prevalent today. You don't need to go to New York City
to see great Broadway plays. They're right here. Go and enjoy!
This is with regard to the death of our brother Heinz Kris Wood. On
behalf of our family, thank you for the personal approach by whomever
submitted the death notice. I would also like to express our heartfelt
thanks to Beth Krentz, Mike Ennis, Leon Taufield, and John and Lorena
Pomeroy for being the best friends and caretakers Kris could have
had. We will never forget you.
Grace McDermott & Family
Cape Canaveral, FL