Follow Up on the
Baby Steps First
The school board
later approved $600 to Pyramid Brokerage Company to assess
the fair market value of leasing or selling the West Hurley
Elementary School, which has been vacant in recent years.
In other business, the board cast a re-vote on the Boiceville
site water filtration system in order to remove a high level
of Manganese in the water. A previous vote taken on September
9 to approve a greensand system was considered moot since
a quorum of a school board majority must approve the measure.
The previous vote was three-to-two.
But at Tuesday night’s, September 23 school board
meeting at the Middle/high School, the board did not vote
in favor of any of the three systems, either greensand,
water softening or sequestrate. This left the district in
limbo with a State board of health warning to get it fixed.
A majority of school board members were undecided based
on lack of information. The only solid votes came from four
board members with opposite perspectives.
School board president Ralph Legnini and trustee Donna Flayhan
voted in favor of a greensand filtration system that would
remove all the Manganese. Trustee Rick Wolff and Michelle
Friedel voted in favor of a sequestrate system that would
not remove the manganese, but mask the discoloration and
foul taste. All other school board members still had questions.
Trustee Anne McGillicuddy, who initially voted for greensand,
voted against it second time around.
“I received some information about the Ion Exchange
(water softening), and I thought I should share it with
the board because at the last meeting I voted for the greensand
filtration system and since then I have this new information
and I am not feeling completely informed on all of our options,”
McGillicuddy said, explaining that she spoke with a water
expert in Vermont who believed that a water softener was
safer than greensand. She also asked to explore another
option made by Charlie Blumstein during public be heard,
that, “You could reduce the size of the system substantially
and run new piping through all of your potable water stations
thereby reducing the amount to be filtered considerably.
There is no sense to treat water if it runs through the
The school board discussed whether the Manganese was coming
from the well source or the pipes. The water was tested
as recommended by the State closest to the wellhead. Trustee
Maxanne Resnick does not believe that the district’s
copper pipes can corrode. Superintendent Leslie Ford noted
that Manganese started showing elevated levels around a
Resnick noted that she had discovered that the town of Ulster
provides three water filtration plants using greensand since
1956 and have not had problems. “So that makes me
feel better.” But she is concerned not only about
the high cost of greensand, $80,000, but also the high cost
associated with maintenance.
Wolff reminded the school board that they are treating water
that is still considered potable by the department of health.
He explained that if they put in something like greensand
filter at the Boiceville site, they are not following the
State’s recommendation, “That we could be opening
up another can of worms.” He suggested that this could
eventually result in requesting solutions to any elevated
test results of the other water systems in the district.
A heated argument arose when Flayhan said the agenda had
two specifically controversial issues that she believed
did not belong with routine approvals. One was the added
addendum for the school board to approve an Interim Assistant
Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction at a cost
of $500 a day. The other was an implicated transfer of a
teacher through a replacement. Flayhan said, “I would
like to see the assistant superintendent on the addendum,
which the first time I saw it was tonight and we are proposing
to pay this person…”
Legnini said, “We can’t talk about personnel
issues in public…”
Flayhan said, “I am not going to use anyone’s
name, I am talking about a certain amount of money we are
going to pay a substitute.”
Legnini said, “I am just cautioning you…”
Flayhan asked to wait on a decision to digest the cost and
validate the need for an assistant. She also noted the implications
of using a substitute, instead of a full time person, listing
problems within the athletic department because of an interim
filling the spot for nearly a year.
Flayhan continued on another matter. “The long term
substitute touches on the transfer of a teacher and I won’t
mention the teachers name.”
This hasdto do with parents and students who have protested
over the transfer of High School Physical Education teacher
and Cross Country coach Patrick Burkhardt to Phoenicia Elementary.
Legnini spoke over her, stating that she cannot mention
Flayhan listed parent and student concerns, noting that
it was all public information brought to the school board.
“To ignore 300 signatures, 30 letters and a teacher
with a record that’s stellar and nobody is giving
us any reason why,” she noted. “We can’t
talk about public information at a public meeting?”
Legnini banged his gavel and the school board took a break,
after which he suggested a commission to look into the athletics
After the break Flayhan made a motion to take the assistant
superintendent position off the table. The school board
would not second the motion and instead voted in favor of
the hire. Flayhan was the only no vote.
Clarification #1: In the September 11, 2008 Olive Press
and Phoenicia Times it was stated that after a board majority
vote against a sequestrate water filtration system that
Trustees Friedell and Wolff left the meeting. They voted
in favor of the system, but did not leave because of the
vote as some believed was insinuated. They left because
it was late. The meeting went until 1:30am. At this week’s
September 23 meeting, Flayhan made a motion that they end
at 10:30pm, but no one seconded the motion. The meeting
was over by 10:45pm.
Clarification #2: September 11 issue stated that the greensand
filtration system was the only choice to remove Manganese.
But a water softening system as one of the proposed solutions
also removes Manganese and Iron. Additionally it carries
other health and environment concerns since salt is added
to the water.
Trial Of Muddied Issues
Reese, who defended
himself with the aide of two “paralegals,” friends
in the local community, stated that he needed to work in the
stream to protect his property, which was periodically damaged
by rampaging flood waters that took out his bridges and side
buildings, and implied that no longer had the patience to
wait for DEC permits that would allow him to do what he felt
needed doing to improve his property. He tried to question
the very premise of a system of protections for streams such
as the Esopus which, he said, basically made it impossible
for homeowners such as he to survive against Mother Nature.
State biologists noted numerous conversations they’d
had with Reese since he bought his property in 1999, three
years after major floods damaged the area and six before he
was hit by major 2005 flooding along the Esopus. Noted Jack
Isaacs, a 28 year old DEC employee now the Habitat Manager
for the region, “You’re fighting a losing battle
Jury selection whittled down a choice of six jurors and two
alternatives from a roomful of approximately 30 citizens,
only one of whom said they had read published reports of the
case. Most seemed to take the day’s activities as seriously
as town justice Mike Miranda defined the process… as
“one of the most important things you can do for your
country besides serving in the military.”
Miranda noted, before the questioning of prospective jurors,
how agencies such as the state DEC and New York City Department
of Environmental Protection are “not the most beloved”
in the Catskills and asked that people describe any deep prejudices
they might have as early as possible.
Some left then while others noted having become too familiar
with local landuse legal issues through participation in last
year’s Woodland Valley water harvesting case to feel
they could be impartial.
A former state trooper was excused along with some who knew
Reese and his property and didn’t feel they could be
fair dealing with it or the man. When asked whether jury duty
was an imposition, one woman who answered “of course”
later disappeared from the pool of possible jurors.
The prosecution, by county Assistant District Attorney Dana
Blackmon, took testimony from DEC Police Officer Vernon Fonda,
who spoke about being tipped off that Reese was working in
the stream with an excavator on August 6, when the property
owner said what he was doing was permitted, and then again
on August 27, after he had determined that no permits actually
existed as Reese had ascertained, and again found evidence
that there had been work in the protected stream on Reese’s
Fonda backed up his assertions with 45 photos taken on August
27 and, when cross-examined by Reese, pinpointed where activities
had taken place on a map of the creek which, despite the defendant’s
assertions that the map was not official, indicated that the
channels running through the property were considered part
of the Esopus.
The officer also described Reese as having been combative
and uncooperative during his site visit, made legal through
use of a search warrant and backed up by the observations,
and documentation, of alleged pollution of a protected stream.
He also described how Reese had urged two other men on his
property not to answer any of Fonda’s questions and
later placed some paperwork in his car without asking permission.
Reese attempted to sow doubt about the source of the polluting
element of turbid (muddied) waters, noting the existence of
various streams coming down the sides of nearby Tremper Mountain.
He also questioned whether the “braids” of the
Esopus running through his property could be seen as channels
of the larger, protected body of water.
Fonda, at one point, described how turbidity, no matter its
source, can “choke out the life” in a body of
Later, Isaacs spoke not only about how any channel of a stream
such as the Esopus, no matter how dry it might seem absent
major flooding, is protected, but of how many times he’d
spoken with Reese over the years. He said there had been no
permits, or even permit applications, from the Mt. Tremper
man in the past two years.
Reese asked about emergency applications to work in streams,
and Isaacs noted how they were usually reserved for municipalities…
and only during actual emergencies, while floods were occurring.
“You’re wasting your time playing in that stream,”
Isaacs told Reese after the defendant asked what a homeowner
like he could do to protect his property from ever-changing
channels. “there is little you can do to protect yourself
in a flood channel”
“I’m a homeowner, a strong conservationist. I
own a humble home that occasionally floods.” Reese said
in his summary argument. “In order to protect myself
I have to take certain actions.”
Blackmon, for the prosecution, noted that Reese had basically
admitted to all he was charged with and what was at stake
was a matter of law, not of the judiciousness of such legislation.
“I sympathize with him and anyone who lives next to
the Esopus and gets flooding,” he said. “But you
shouldn’t give sympathy to someone who decides to work
without a permit. I’m not a tree hugger but there are
laws, and the properties of neighbors to consider.”
Before the jury came back with a decision, Reese spoke about
how he had bought his property from the son of the man, Howard
Harr, who used to manage what was once the Lutheran Camp where
the Monastery now is.
“I wanted to be close to them. It’s a beautiful
property,” he said. “It’s just subject to
After two hours of deliberations, the jury came back with
verdicts of guilty on all three charges. Sentencing was set
for Thursday, September 18, in Shandaken Court.
Reese, for his part, spoke afterwards of problems he had with
the case, including one juror he had tried to bar from sitting
with the others and the subpoena upon which Fonda’s
warrant was based. He spoke about the “overkill”
of having been sent to Ulster County Jail for six and a half
hours after his arrest and forced to pay a $5,000 bail, even
though he’s “an officer of the court” and
respectable local property owner.
Asked if he would be appealing, he said he didn’t know…
he wanted to wait until after sentencing to make up his mind.
“I have a feeling it’s probably time to drop this,”
As for potential fines and other elements of such sentencing,
Reese said he’d heard that the DEC was looking for a
$6,500 payment… and remediation work to put all that
had been done in the stream channel back to where it had been.
Reese noted that he’d have to do such work… with
the same equipment he was found guilty of using in the same
locations without a permit.
“I’d rather pay $100,” he noted.
On September 18, Judge Miranda postponed sentencing until
November 13. Soon afterwards, Reese reported what he termed,
“kind of a surprising development,” which he believed
could end up changing everything.
According to the defendant, found guilty of three charges,
he’d just been to another of his homes in Maine where
he found a copy of a permit granted him for stream work by
Did this mean he would, then, be filing an appeal?
“No, I think it would be considered newly discovered
evidence,” he said. “What a sad waste of time…”
View From Here
Gerald Celente, top futurist at the Trends Research Institute
he directs in Rhinebeck, can legitimately make that claim, as
can the many who subscribe to and heed his firm’s newsletter,
the Trends Journal. But, apparently, the congressional leaders
who were stunned to silence by descriptions of the situation
from Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve chairman
Ben Bernanke at an urgent Capitol Hill meeting last week cannot.
Media reaction cascaded across the political spectrum when the
gravity of the damage began to become apparent. “Staggering,”
wrote Nicholas von Hoffman in The Nation on the 19th, “(S)o
deep and sticky it may be necessary to sacrifice wildlife programs,
preschool education and scientific research. Even without knowing
the numbers, we can kiss health insurance goodbye.” Conservative
pundit Patrick J. Buchanan announced “the party’s
over,” predicting that the Crash of 2008, “which
is now wiping out trillions of dollars of our people’s
wealth” will usher in the era of a “more sober and
much diminished America.”
Celente, a financial Nostradamus whose record of accurate forecasts
stretches back into the 1980s, has been waving a red flag since
July of last year, warning of an inevitable collision with harsh
financial reality. He is emphatically not at all surprised at
how dire the situation has become.
“We’ve been saying this loudly and clearly,”
Celente declared Saturday afternoon as he prepared a Trends
Research bulletin for a Monday release. “It’s bigger
than the collapse of Wall Street. It’s the collapse of
the American empire. Wall Street is a just a symptom of the
collapse. It’s much bigger.”
As Wall Street does its imitation of the melting witch at the
end of The Wizard of Oz, Celente sees a larger scenario crumbling
in the nation’s infrastructure which he believes will
unavoidably alter the destiny of the entire world.
“It’s not like they’re pulling a rabbit out
of a hat,” he said. “They’re doing it in broad
daylight, with the cameras rolling. This isn’t a federal
bailout. It’s a bloodless coup by the ‘Wall Street
Gang’ taking over Washington. There’s no doubt about
it. Now they don’t have to worry about the ‘too-big-to-fail’
companies. They’re in control of the biggest. They’re
in charge of the government.”
Zbigniew Brzezinski, National Security Advisor in the Carter
administration who co-founded the global-interest Trilateral
Commission with David Rockefeller in 1973 to create a “New
International Economic Order” summed up the future of
the state in his book Between Two Ages: America’s Role
in the Technetronic Era , declaring that the “nation-state
as a fundamental unit of man’s organized life has ceased
to be the principal creative force: International banks and
multinational corporations are acting and planning in terms
that are far in advance of the political concepts of the nation-state.”
Brzezinski, currently an advisor to presidential aspirant Barack
Obama, outlined his ideas for the state’s replacement
at that time and elaborated a geopolitical redesign of the world
in subsequent books. Advisors to both McCain and Obama are cited
by numerous sources as contributing directly to the current
state of affairs. Celente endorses neither of them.
Quoted liberally in every major newspaper in the land and many
abroad, it’s difficult to name a news-oriented network
program to which Celente hasn’t contributed his analysis
. Sought-after keynote speaker for corporations like Metropolitan
Life, Bank of America, Dupont, American Express and many others,
his words bear substantial weight in the business community
whose fate he now discusses with tones of woe, forecasting a
devalued dollar, massive unemployment and the same kinds of
strife inflicted on the Third World nations which defaulted
to the World Bank and International Monetary Fund in decades
past. By now, Trends is no longer a voice in the wilderness
and many others have joined the alarm, some declaring that the
circumstances have been deliberately orchestrated.
Identifying Secretary Paulson, former CEO of Goldman Sachs,
as the player spearheading the “coup” with demands
for unrestricted authority to expedite a $700 billion “bailout”
from taxpayers that Celente views as a “heist,”
he offers a further prediction: “Having accurately forecast
the current financial debacle, we confidently now forecast that
taking swift sction will prove- as it did in Iraq- far more
catastrophic than allowing Wall Street to suffer the consequences
of its greed and mismanagement.”
Dean Starkman, writing in the current Columbia Journalism Review,
takes a similar view of the dark heart of the crisis, chiding
the business press for “ignoring the simplest, most basic
but most important” concern in “the breath-taking
corruption that overran the U.S. lending industry, including
and especially the brand names, and the extent to which Wall
Street drove that corruption.” Finding coverage, including
that of the Wall St. Journal, “treated the global credit
panic as a given, as though it were the result of some kind
of natural disaster or a particularly nasty turn in the business
cycle,”Starkman believes the media has misplayed “a
story that promises to surpass in scope, gravity, complexity
and social and economic consequences anything this generation
of business reporters and editors has ever experienced.”
A self-described “political atheist” disciplined
to view things as they are rather than as he would wish them
to be, Celente elaborated the corporate and political underpinnings
of the current ‘coup’ in fascinating detail (forbidden
by the space afforded here), noting he had begun seeing through
the charade of office-holding spokesmen (and women) for true
power when he spent an hour with Ronald Reagan in the 1970s
while hiring the future President for a firm he represented.
Although he had once been politically involved in New York and
Washington, including a stint as assistant to the Secretary
of the New York State Senate, Al Abrams, Celente stepped away
from that partisan world to fine-tune his BS meter during the
Jimmy Carter/Iran hostage crisis.
“Anybody that believes that Washington is going to bail
them out is delusional,” said Celente, also a martial
arts master, originally from the Bronx, whose timber of voice
brings to mind Michael Parenti, with shades of Lenny Bruce,
when transmitting irony. “So, the first thing to do on
a local level is to call every legislator in your area. Make
a nuisance of yourself. Tell them you don’t want to hear
why they’re in favor of the bailout- you’re not
interested. You know enough about the details. You’re
not up for bailing out Wall Street. Here’s the federal
government telling the State of New York, Vermont, wherever,
to pony up for these people. You’re going to start hearing
intelligent people say ‘hell, no.’ Until Congress
votes on the (Paulson) plan, it is not yet a fait accompli.
“This is a perfect Titanic sinking. The metaphor couldn’t
be more clear. This unsinkable great ship goes down and the
little people are too small to save. They were locked down in
steerage. The wealthy were given the lifeboats. They were too
‘big’ to sink. The same thing is happening now.”
Saying that he thought the consequences of the collapse will
trigger a new and viable third party initiative, Celente sketched
the next steps of the falling house of cards, citing commercial
real estate, seeing large-scale folding of industry in China
and numerous other items lurking in the near future. He offered
advice to those who may be concerned about the stability of
their own banking service.
There are over a hundred banks in our region. Some of them,
including the “too-big-to-fail” banks, will go under,
“Everybody’s threatened. Everybody,” he said.
“A small, sound bank could be in great shape. I don’t
know what their balance sheets look like, so I can’t comment
but they could be a good investment. If your money’s protected
and they didn’t overplay the real estate markets, great.
Commercial loans will be the next shoe to fall. People aren’t
talking about it. They call it ‘non-residential construction,’
ha! How about ‘commercial real estate’? All these
malls, developments, office buildings, condo complexes. What’s
going to happen when you don’t fill them up- when you
see more bankruptcies? It’s not the subprime problem.
Not the mortgage problem. That’s the smallest part of
it. How about these leveraged buyouts? All these multibillion
dollar companies bought on a future earnings base with virtually
no money down?
Banks used to loan money to build businesses. Now they loan
for speculations. The real estate markets are dying and they’re
not going to recuperate.”
Celente suggested those concerned to inquire into their bank’s
balance sheets, how many foreclosures they’re facing or
delinquencies on loan payments. Are people paying their mortgages
on time? Do they have enough in reserve, relative to exposure?
Are they on the FDIC “problem list”? What is their
exposure to credit default SWABS? Do they have anything with
collateralized debt obligations? If they had to sell their financial
instruments, mortgage-backed securities, could they be sold
on the market? Nobody wants to buy them.
There will be books written about this week in finance which
will be able to offer a measure of perspective unavailable to
us, today. Corporate structures, built upon bigness, distance
and endless growth are doomed. The final collapse will be horrendous.
Yet, in all of the shattering darkness of the fall, Celente
sees a glimmer of light.
“The good news is that something corrupt is dying,”
Celente said. “The culture of greed and fraud is being
exposed for what it is and when we learn how to survive in the
ruins and people move forward from there, we can create a much
better, more human system.”
The Highmount tower sends signal into parts of Pine Hill and
Fleischmanns, especially in the Red Kill area and along Brush
Ridge Road. There’s even some signal from that tower hitting
the Roxbury Run area.
The tower in Olive was built and is owned by Masterpage Communications
Inc., and Verizon is renting space on the tower and has placed
a cellular antenna at a height of 122 feet and a six foot wide
microwave dish at a height of 30 feet.
While this is good news for cell phone users - well, Verizon
users anyway - it has been a long time coming. It was July of
2007 when Verizon announced it would immediately begin setting
up and turning on at the South Mountain Tower.
A new tower has been set up in Shandaken at Glenbrook Park,
but to date has no communications equipment on it. Shandaken
Supervisor Peter DiSclafani said Tuesday that although he has
heard that Verizon expressed interest in occupying the Glenbrook
Tower, there are no firm plans that he is aware of.
Christopher Ciolli, the Chief Development Officer for Mariner
Tower, the firm that built and owns the Glenbrook facility,
said Tuesday that his company remains in negotiations with two
cellular service providers but at this time no deal has been
reached. He would not say which providers Mariner was talking
with, but did say that he was pleased to hear that the South
Mountain Tower was transmitting so strongly.
Ciolli said the South Mountain Towers performance is unusual
and that people should not expect all towers to do as well.
He explained that South Mountain Tower has the advantage of
being at a high elevation coupled with lots of flat acreage
that is the surface of the Ashokan Reservoir around it.
Service, at this point, runs down the Route 28 corridor to Shokan
down near the plazas, then blanks out until the vicinity of
Asked if a Verizon signal at the Glenbrook Park would close
the gap between Phoenicia and western Shandaken, he said he
did not think so.
“But intermittent coverage is better than no coverage,”
Meanwhile, availability of service brought out loads of students
at Onteora High School in recent days to make calls.
It appears that, because of the lack of service up to this point,
the school has yet to work out distinct policies regarding use
of cellular phones in school.
Jar Of Olives...
Can You Hear Me Now?
Still others headed for the roast beef or sliced pork sandwiches
of the Rotella family. Hot dogs sold out at the booth I was
manning (womaning?) at the grill with my husband Bruce, Mike
Pantliano, Kate McGloughlin, Sara Stitham, John Parete and Sue
Horner. Kids gathered like magnets to the Wayfinder Experience.
Former students Reed Mollins, Isaac Shaw, and Reuben Pacheco
created this Dramatic Adventure Experience with lots of action
and Styrofoam swords. They are the modern Pied Pipers leading
children to outdoor adventure and dramatic interpretation.
There will be another event coming up at Davis Park on Saturday,
October 4 to benefit Shannon Ryan and family. Shannon was badly
burned when a log splitter gas engine flared up. A $25.00 donation
will provide food, refreshments, and live music by Dorraine
Scofield, Plan B, and the Pontiacs. Raffles with donations from
local businesses and individuals will help out with the medical
It was a rough week on Wall Street. It seems as if the world
is coming apart at the seams as devastating storms, war, a depressed
economy, and campaigns filled with more lies than truth are
the news of the day. By the way, my idea for a “pin-the-lipstick
on the pig game” at Olive Day was shot down by a unanimous
vote of rational minds. All these events blare at us on our
42 inch flat screens with Breaking News headlines that scare
the stuffing out of us. While the global scene operates in chaos,
I am reminded that my home and my community are the relatively
safe havens of my world. Here in Olive, we still have things
to celebrate. Verizon can ask us, “Can you hear me now?”
and we can answer a resounding “YES!” We can celebrate
the fact that someone like Floyd Barringer made Dean’s
List at Wesleyan University in Marion, Indiana. We can congratulate
Lynn and Ed Swenson who celebrated their forty-seventh wedding
anniversary. We can be excited for Matt Leifield who just started
Even our sad events bring us closer together as neighbor helps
neighbor. Our hearts felt a collective sadness when we learned
that Derek Stroh, who was just at Olive Day, had died. What
I learned from Derek, because teachers often learn from students,
is that good manners and a smile are what we need to make the
world a better place. Derek brightened the world with his genuine
smile and polite greetings.
When the troubles of the world seem to be beyond our control,
remember that diplomacy and kindness might help heal the world’s