As I sit here this morning, I glance at the calendar...Septermber
3, 2008...one day before the Onteora School District begins a new
school year. I wonder and worry about our children and their education.
The student population is down almost 200 students since June of this
same year. Lower, even, than the predictions by the statisticians
that the previous school board relied upon to help them come to some
very difficult decisions.
As I continue to attend board meetings, your new school board, true
to their promises, voted to defeat the 5-8 configuaration that was
approved in 2007.
But, unfortunately, nothing has been under consideration to replace
Time is of the essence, as our marching band deteriorates and our
sports teams struggle to field new members. Onteora doesn't have time
to investigate new configurations for the next three years. By then,
our cost per student will be around a whopping $30,000 per student
with no relief in site. We will be supporting unnecessary and, mostly,
I am saddened by the wait and see game our district has chosen. Tough
decisions are hard to make but for the sake of exemplary, someone
has to make them.
Someone has to put emotions and fear of change aside and help our
children grow and prosper in the 21st century.
Several months ago I e-mailed Superintendent Ford requesting that
the Onteora School District set up a blog on the school’s Web
Page for the purpose of having open communication with district tax
payers. At that time Superintendent Ford said that they didn’t
have the personal to manage a blog.
At the August 19th School Board meeting the board asked for information
about starting a blog. As reported Superintendent Ford said there
were many legal obstacles of liability and risk. Ford received legal
council on the matter and said there could be issues of anonymous
or fake letters written on the blog. She went on to say that Onteora
does have some protection from liable third lawsuits, but it would
not shield us from suits by persons seeking anonymous commentators.
The purpose of a blog is to encourage the free flow of information.
In fact an anonymous posting could be a practical suggestion or point
the way to a cost effective idea. It doesn’t have to have a
name attached to it. Tax payers should be permitted to use the latest
in technology to communicate with the school district and the board
should move forward to set up a blog on the district’s Web Page.
Ford went on to say that there have been cases where districts have
One of the board members should have thought to ask what districts
were sued and what the outcome of the lawsuit was. It’s almost
silly to think that some one would bring a law suit against the school
because of a posting on the blog. Anyone posting an obnoxious posting
on the blog would be making a serious mistake if anyone wanted to
pursue a law suit. As we all know e-mails can be traced back to the
writer so any posting on a blog could be traced back to the person
that did the posting. There are thousands if not millions of blogs
on the Internet. CNN has blogs and I don’t think they would
maintain a blog if there was any real chance that it would do harm
to their image. The New Paltz School District has a blog on its district
Web Page so why not Onteora. The report didn’t mention any further
discussion on the subject so one could assume that the school board
was scared off and the idea of having a blog is gone.
Was the question regarding the blog for show or was the board sincere
about setting up a blog? If the board is afraid to have a blog they
should post their e mail address on the Districts Web Page. That’s
unless they are afraid to hear from the tax payers. They already have
their names posted on the Site in big red bold text. No way could
anyone miss their names. Most tax payers are not very interested in
names. They want to know how the board members are going to hold their
taxes in line especially in the economical state that this Country
is in. The law doesn’t require a public official to advertize
their e mail address, but the law doesn’t say that they can’t.
So, was the question regarding the blog for show? Was there no further
discussion because the board was fearful of hearing from tax payers
or were they really sincere about wanting a blog on the districts
Web Page? We’ll see.
I I am writing on behalf of Patrick Burkhardt physical education teacher
at Onteora High School and coach to the girl's track and field team
and cross country team. Mr. Burkhardt has been reassigned to work
with elementary school children at Phoenicia Elementary, and his new
schedule would not allow him to continue to coach the high school
student athletes. What a terrible loss that would be. I am writing
to you from the perspective of a parent whose own daughter worked
closely with Patrick Burkhardt, and as an educator. I have been teaching
at the college level for over twenty years, and know the difference
between educators who do their jobs, and those who make a difference.
Patrick Burkhardt has made a difference in the lives of hundreds of
school students, and he should be allowed to continue to do so. His
commitment and self sacrifice should be rewarded and encouraged. I
knew Mr. Burkhardt when he was getting his degree in SUNY Cortland.
He'd attend classes, do homework, then drive back down to Boiceville
to coach his athletes. He lived in his car practically. but he never
missed a meet or a workout. He has a gift with the female athletes,
a rare thing to find. He knew the delicate balance between pushing
and being supportive. He was a second father to my daughter, She has
a roving and involved father, but Mr. Burkhardt spent so much time
with the kids that he took on that paternal role as well. As a mother
I was confident that my daughter would be taken care of.
Mr. Burkhardt is a man of substance and values. He taught his athletes
discipline, perseverance and self respect. I personally know so many
student athletes who went through his program and have been molded
in a positive way through his tutelage. The kids who were
taunted in school who suddenly found some respect on the track, the
kids who were talented, but had no discipline and direction. the ones
who had no clue that they can be part of something bigger than themselves,
a team As the students matured, I have seen them incorporate the things
they learned into their lives. Some like my daughter Paloma Krakower
(‘05) were able to benefit greatly by being awarded athletic
scholarships to Division 1 schools.
Track and field is a passion, being successful in the sport requires
skill, training and a real understanding of the sport, not everyone
has these components. If you look at the trophy cases in the Onteora
halls you will see how successful and decorated this program has been
over the years. The sacrifice required to produce those results is
something that needs to be acknowledged. The running camps, the endless
meets, competing on the weekends, sometimes till the wee hours of
the morning; the injuries. Highly successful sports programs don't
replace their coaches. You have such a program at Onteora, be proud
of it, protect it.
In the end, it's about the students and serving them well. Track and
Cross Country teaches the students about character, self worth, selflessness
and sportsmanship. It keeps at risk kids involved in a healthy sport.
and breaks down the strict social strata that high school imposes
on students. The track and cross country teams were family to each
other. The parents were family to each other. It is indeed a rare
opportunity that you have to serve your students well. Our daughter
has graduated from Onteora and is on the next phase of her life, but
for the sake of the kids who will benefit from this program, award
them the best opportunity they can have to be really successful by
giving them someone who will lead them to themselves and the values
that matter. Expose them to Patrick Burkhardt.
I am writing on behalf of Patrick Burkhardt physical education teacher
at Onteora High School and coach to the gjrl's track and field team
and cross country team. I graduated from Onteora in 2005, and I can
honestly say that Patrick Burkhardt was the person that had the most
positive impact on my high school and middle school experiences. I
was a member of the cross-country and track team for all six years
that I was at Onteora. Those precious years I can undoubtedly say
have shaped me into the person that I am today; and for that I thank
Patrick Burkhardt. He was an irreplaceable figure in regards to both
my athletic and personal development. He taught me the values of hard
work, dedication, teamwork, sportsmanship, and self confidence. I
experienced great success in my running career at Onteora. I broke
multiple school records, and I still hold the MHAL league record in
the 400m. I was the reigning MHAL champion in the 4QOm for four years
and the 800m champion for three years. The girl'steam was MHAL champions
all six years that I ran, not to mention three years prior to my arrival.
I was named the league MVP my junior and senior years. I was a Sectional
champion, t qualified every year for the state championships in both
cross country and track, and I was a NY state champion my sophomore
year in the 400m. I also received numerous scholarathlete and sportsmanship
awards both at the league and state level. Throughout all of this
I had several people at my side; my parents, my teammates, and my
coach. However I consider Patrick Burkhardt to be more than a coach;
he is my mentor, my friend, and my family. The love and respect that
I have for this man cannot be contested.
Growing up I had a lot of issues with self confidence and was constantly
unaware or. unwilling to see my many strengths and accomplishments.
Mr. Burkhardt was always there to open my eyes and work with me to
see the true person that I am. He also opened my eyes to the broader
communities. There are so many people in the world that have not received
the blessings that I have and yet still appreciate everything that
they do have. Thanks to Mr. Burkhardt my teammates and I have become
more educated, and compassionate towards the Special Olympics community.
He has dedicated himself towards loving and caring for these athletes.
He is a man with a kind soul that has organized numerous runs and
contributed countless hours towards supporting both athletes and non-athletes
with special needs. He has great morals and has taught his athletes
the same. For that reason alone he is a great teacher, but I also
know that he is a great high school teacher.
For many kids, high school is a time of difficulty and self-doubt.
I know for a fact that gym class is not most kids' favorite; it alienates
people and makes them do things that they are not comfortable doing.
However, Patrick Burkhardt is a great physical education teacher.
I attended his class my senior year. He tries to instill in his students
the same values that he instills in his athletes, hard work, perseverance,
and effort. Not everyone has the same talents, but Mr. Burkhardt is
not one to leave anyone out. He makes a conscious effort to try and
include all his students no matter what their strengths or weaknesses
are. The same is true in regards to the cross country and track teams.
They are amongst the few sports in the school that do not turn students
away who want to participate. There are no try-outs, cuts; everyone
is welcome. Instead of making students doubt their abilities, they
become active members of the team. Their presence strengthens the
team as a whole. They are just as important as that of the number
one star. The track and cross country team is not just an athletic
team, it is a family. The friendships that I have made amongst my
teammates are irreplaceable. I expect some will last a lifetime. As
teammates we work together, we have fun together, we care for each
other, but most importantly we grow up together. My teammates were
like my brothers and sisters, while Patrick Burkhardt assumed the
role of a surrogate father.
Patrick Burkhardt created the environment under which so many of us
thrived. He encouraged us to always do our best, but to have fun doing
It. For this reason I think that removing Patrick Burkhardt as a coach
will be harmful to the student-athletes at Onteora. He has built that
team over the years and turned them into one of the most successful
athletic programs at Onteora. By removing him you are truly taking
away from these young athletes, and shouldn't they be the main focus?
Mr. Burkhardt will most likely be replaced by a teacher who has little
or no knowledge of the sport thus harming the future success of the
program and the potential athletic careers of these young men and
women. It was because of my success through the Onteora track and
cross country programs that I was able to receive an athletic scholarship
to the University of Richmond, a Division I school, to further my
running career. Several of my old teammates are also competing at
the collegiate level. This is the result of our positive and lucrative
experiences at Onteora. ! beg that you don't take away that opportunity
for future students. Patrick Burkhardt is a great man who has dedicated
himself to enhancing the high school experience of many students and
I implore you to do the same.
Julie McQuain, who has been listed as a public relations spokesperson
for Save the Mountain on their press releases, criticized Senator
Bonacic last week, alleging that he has been an unquestioning booster
of developers who doesn’t want to hear alternate views from
his constituents. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Senator Bonacic has worked long and hard to hear and respond to his
constituents and has remained neutral on the Belleayre Resort proposal
throughout its historically long environmental review process. Ms.
McQuain seeks to minimize the Senator’s efforts to meet the
needs of all his constituents and his efforts to seek balance between
environmental protection and economic development. Her charges are
unfair and her arguments are unfounded.
She speaks of “unprecedented high elevation commercial construction.”
But high elevation construction has been rampant in Hunter and Windham
during the last decade. There is not only precedent for such development,
but over there, it has gone on without a single complaint from any
Save the Mountain folks, despite the fact that those two areas are
also in the Catskill Park and also in the New York City Watershed.
The fact that no Save the Mountain person has complained about Greene
County development makes it appear their concern is less about the
environment than it is about NIMBYism.
Ms. McQuain says that constructing the Belleayre Resort outlined in
last year’s Agreement in Principle with the State will degrade
irreplaceable assets. In fact, 80% of the property in Shandaken is
already forever wild or undevelopable by virtue of the fact that the
State and the City of New York already own it. Those “assets”
will not be touched or degraded in any way and in fact, the holdings
will be expanded by another 1,200 plus acres when the State acquires
our Big Indian property.
The alternatives Ms. McQuain proposes include the Solar Energy Consortium
in Kingston. But the fact that she wants people from Shandaken and
Middletown to drive cars back and forth to Kingston each day to work
belies her concern for “sustainability.”
She also suggests building the Catskill Interpretive Center and expanding
the Belleayre Ski Center, both of which will bring day-trippers who
do absolutely nothing for the local hotel owners here.
Ms. McQuain says the public/private partnership between the State
and the Crossroads Developers would likely only benefit the investors.
But neither Ms. McQuain nor any of her Save the Mountain colleagues
have complained about an identical public/private partnership at Gore
Mountain Ski Center, or about the public/private partnerships in Sullivan
County that built the Bethel Performing Arts Center and will now restore
several major hotels and golf courses there. In fact, she lauds the
public/private partnerships at the Solar Energy Consortium without
pointing out that private sector investors will benefit from those
transactions. The fact is, public/private partnerships do in fact,
benefit taxpayers. Ms. McQuain and her colleagues know that because
some supporters of Save the Mountain are in fact, major real estate
developers. So again, this concern seems to be more about NIMBYism
than about real economic issues.
Finally, Ms. McQuain refers to a report issued by the former Comptroller
– a report dated August 2006, before the AIP was even considered.
It is no longer valid because it relates to a project that is no longer
under consideration. In fact, even Mr. Hevesi foreshadows the agreement
we now have when he says: “Opponents believe the entire project
represents a danger to Catskill Park and to the constitutionally protected
Catskill Forest Preserve, but they have offered to compromise if the
developer is willing to adhere to a more environmentally sensitive
plan using only the Wildacres site.”
Crossroads Ventures did compromise. We did agree to “adhere
to a more environmentally sensitive plan using only the Wildacres
site.” The State of New York, City of New York, Natural Resources
Defense Council, New York Public Interest Research Group, Catskill
Center for Conservation and Development, Riverkeeper, Theodore Gordon
Flyfishers, Trout Unlimited and Zen Environmental Studies Institute
all signed the compromise agreement that Hevesi urged.
We are now working through a 157 page scoping document for a Supplemental
Draft Environmental Impact Statement on the compromise plan. It is
this process of compromise and study that Senator Bonacic supports.
We think the vast majority of his constituents would agree that this
is a reasonable position for a Senator to take and that the radical
approach of Ms. McQuain and the Save the Mountain gang is not reasonable
at this time.
Crossroads Ventures, LLC
Mt. Tremper, NY
The members of the "Blow-Up The Mountain Gang" (BUTMG) a/k/a
Crossroads Ventures, a/k/a "Partners for Profit" continue
to litter our mailboxes with their totally deceptive, self-serving
propaganda about their goals and motives in pursuing their project
to destroy forests and mountaintops. I have no idea who the "second
homeowner from Long Island" is (that they refer to), nor do I
understand his/her alleged statement that "everyone here who
wants a job already has one" and that "people here are not
really looking to better themselves." That is such an absurdity
that I think that BUTMG's publicity people created a self-serving
fictitious character to try and distract people from the real issue
- their greed, perfidy, and wanton destruction of the forest. There
is no area of the world where people do not seek to better themselves
and where everybody has the job that they want. That person's statement,
whether real or fictitious, is as irrelevant to the issue as is the
litany of schools and programs they cite which have nothing to do
Contrary to BUTMG's assertions, the best way to enhance the local
economy, a goal and desire that we all share, is to create jobs and
business opportunities on the main streets of Pine Hill, Fleischmanns,
Phoenicia, etc. As my friend Barbara Claudy wisely pointed out, there
is a great need to revitalize these areas to what they were when we
were kids here and the hotels were flourishing. What specific "attractions"
other than tubing in Phoenicia, will the self-described altruistic
concierges of BUTMG's hotels be directing their guests to? I believe
that in my six decades of life I have been to as many resorts as has
the author of their propaganda. The people who leave resorts (and
forsake their attractions) are minimal and tend to go to see natural
attractions (ie. Carlsbad Caverns, Kaaterskill Falls, Niagara Falls),
amusement areas and cultural enclaves such as Woodstock. Resort goers
overwhelmingly stay on resorts. Period.
The business infrastructure that is necessary must be in the valleys
and not on isolated mountaintops, especially on blown-up mountaintops
which we should be preserving and protecting for future generations.
To imply that BUTMG's resorts are connected in any way with colleges'
culinary arts, hotel management or building trades, etc. is an outright
fabrication. These colleges and programs are completely independent
of BUTMG, derive no benefit from them, were there long before this
perfidious group existed and will be there long after they are gone.
They do not attest to job longevity.
BUTMG, why can't you just tell the truth? If you have nothing to hide,
hide nothing. Why obfuscate? We can handle the truth. Can you? Can
you guarantee that whatever jobs your resort may create will not go
to illegal aliens, who send their money to other countries for their
families? Can you insure that a very high percentage of the jobs will
go to local residents who tend to spend and invest in our local economy?
I suspect not.
Pine Hill, NY
Recently the Partners for Progress sent out insulting flyer showing
photographs that they said represented our neighborhoods with falling
down houses and dump-like property stating that we live like slobs;
I do not feel that that is an honest representation of me or my neighbors
or surrounding communities and I felt badly when I saw it.
The signs that read; “Belleayre; our economic engine”
is a slogan I happen to agree with, but if one looks past the sign
and the website, Partners for Progress are not about supporting the
State-run-family-ski-mountain-Belleayre, they are about supporting
the Crossroads-mega-development-Belleayre. The millions of dollars
proposed to be given by NY State to the Crossroads-mega-development-Belleayre,
will not help expand the State-run-family-ski-mountain-Belleayre,
our economic engine, but will be put into boring ski trails and expensive
chair lifts that lead to the Crossroads-mega-development-Belleayre;
I feel like that is not supporting our economic engine, but Crossroads
The last flyer takes the cake; it gives a budget list of job opportunities
as well as payroll numbers, just as if it was taken out of an actual
budget … In a meeting with Paul Rakov, the former Press Representative
for Crossroads, in Fall 2007 at the Woodstock Democratic Club, Mr.
Rakov went thru all these numbers and great job opportunities to then
finally state that none of their financial-job-reports mattered because
Crossroads was not even going to be managing the final resort, that
a chain would be running the resort, and the new management would
decide the pay-scale and jobs needed. Crossroads is hoping for a successful
hotel to take over the project; what are their pay scales and job
Mr. Rakov also said that all the construction jobs would be union
jobs and the workers would travel from Newburgh and Poughkeepsie and
would stay in local inns and motels during the week and we should
all be happy for the additional business of people driving in, buying
gas, drinking in bars and staying in local lodges.
So this last flyer is enticing and looks financially beneficial to
all of us, but in the end, remember that the Crossroads developers
will not be deciding what jobs or what salaries will be offered; the
actual owner-operator-corporation will make those financial decisions.
Is it worth our communities taking that chance? Let’s join forces
and push for NY State to put money into State-run-family-ski-mountain-Belleayre
so we can all enjoy the benefits by expanding and developing the Cathedral
Glen trail and further enhancing State-run-family-ski-mountain-Belleayre
and get the development off the top of the mountain to protect our
view-shed and storm water run-off.
It was inspiring to hear Senator Kennedy speak at the Democratic Convention
and hear him say resoundingly that Universal Health Care was his goal.
That is how important it has been to him and many millions but has
not been obtained because of the billions of dollars of our money
spent in false propaganda to the public and lavish gifts to lawmakers
to keep the private health care industry flourishing. Our gullibility
and their greed are the reasons for our broken, very costly and wasteful
health care system. If you believe that the following conditions should
be changed for the sake of the health and welfare of this country
call your Congressmen and ask that they support and advocate for bill
HR 676. This bill is called Improved Medicare For All. Congressman
Conyers presents it. Call toll free 1-866-338-1015.
Forty-seven million people are uniunsured. They are mostly working
people who cannot afford the cost which has risen 73 percent since
2000. The result is physically and economically catastrophic. Here
we spend twice as much as any other country on earth for health care
and some get none.
The health care insurance cost to the "for profit" insurers
includes 30 cents for every health care dollar going for paperwork,
marketing and profits. The profits include gargantuan sums to administrators,
such as the $122.7 million for The United Health Group's CEO in 2005.
The salary could insure 34,000 people. Medicare operated with 3 percent
overhead compared to 15 percent to 35 percent for private companies.
The World Health Organization ranks us 37th down the line for health
care system performance.
We lose more babies in the first year of life than are lost in 25
other countries. Prematurity is higher here and could be reduced if
prenatal care were available to all.
The many insurers (1,000 plus) can decide what doctors, what hospitals
and even what procedures we will get! Taxes are inflated because of
the health care benefits for employees.
Ours is system that needs fixing and can be fixed if we get together.
The HEALTH CARE NOW organization is spearheading a real push for change.
They are at 339 Lafayetter Street, NY, NY. Call Art Richter in Kingston
for more information: 338-9009.
I've just sent the following web-note to the senior producers of the
News Hour with Jim Lehrer. Will also contact Bill Moyers's producers.
We have a truly alarming situation showing its face in the streets
outside the RNC, and a national-media blackout on it. I hope you will
contact whatever media outlets you can and push this issue.
Fine and good - the New Hour is offering its usual "alternative"
and cable news. But where's the coverage of what the police are doing
outside the RNC? Would it have been ignored in Chicago in 1968 outside
the DNC? oops! It WASN'T ignored.
I remember Chicago '68 --I was a mere teenager then --and the front-page,
top-of-the-hour coverage given to protests that turned violent when
police arrested demonstrators. Do you?
As a sometime member of the press myself, I am shocked (though alas
not surprised) that mainstream media -- especially the News Hour as
less biased source -- is not covering the warrantless arrests and
brutal treatment of even fellow reporters and camerapersons, not to
mention peaceful demonstrators who are within bounds and within their
constitutional rights. People are being tased, twisted and then denied
medical treatment by police; police are seen on video smiling smugly
as they arrest Amy Goodman for covering the convention; a bus which
demonstrates COMPOSTING and other low-energy-consumption means of
living has been seized, with violent treatment of its occupants (including
the worms), despite its bearing registration and violating no laws.
It is not an overreaction to call this by its name, one we would apply
to such treatment by police or military in any other country in the
world: Fascism. It is YOUR DUTY to report it to the American public.
When will you break what appears to be a conspiracy of silence?
The Republican convention was postponed in order to "Protect
the People" of New Orleans from the hurricane, which you may
remember were protected only from looting while others died during
Katrina. Not this time. As the people of New Orleans were evacuated,
(in order to cover for the V.P. choice story and GW's speech), the
Republican convention was postponed, and during the New Orleans evacuation,
the police were getting ready for the bigger danger.... the citizens
of the U.S., protesting against the horrendous government of the past
The convention, held in Minnesota, was getting ready for the demonstrations.
Their police force was armed with rubber bullets, tazers and AR 15s,
in order to protect the Republicans from the press. Their orders were
to keep all demonstrations from being documented. The videographers
were kept far from any demonstrations, but worse than that.... they
were arrested. Amy Goodman displayed her full ID and they ripped it
off of her neck and then cuffed her.
A reporter from the Post shouted out in his defense, "Stop, stop...
I'm a Republican". Many of the media,as well as the demonstrators
that were arrested, were done so violently, some bloodied up. Since
this story has not been covered by the media, I have no idea how many
American citizens and how many press members were brutally arrested,
but what I do know is if we don't stop this take-over of our beloved
Constitution, we are sure to be living in a very different country,
and, a very different environment, which has already been severely
damaged. We simply can't sit still anymore. We MUST do more than vote.
Obama must win by a huge margin in order to override any voting machine
manipulations. We must do everything we can to make this happen, including
calling upon the press to cover this story, as well as exposing actual
information about the candidates positions.
Please remember, Democracy is NOT a spectator sport.
I haven’t participated in efforts to impeach Bush, because the
numbers aren’t there. For Democrats to start a fight they can’t
win, would be costly politically for the party and financially costly
Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi has said: “I ruled out impeachment
before the election in terms of priority for the new Congress. Impeachment
is always on the table, depending on the behavior of the President
of the United States. I said impeachment was off the table, for the
following reasons. Our country has serious problems, some of it springing
from this president’s backward-looking policies. Pursuing impeachment
would have further divided the country, which is not a good idea,
Pelosi believed that the country had significantly higher priorities
for Congress to address, which included the minimum wage, the cost
of college, and benefits for veterans from the wars in Iraq and
House Democrats have worked to challenge Republicans, but Senate Democrats
appear to have caved on issues like the war and FISA. However, the
rules of the Senate and the House are very different. In the House,
the power rests with Pelosi, who sets the agenda. Senate Majority
Leader Harry Reid needs 60 votes to get anything accomplished.
Those 60 votes are hard to achieve, because the Republicans in the
Senate are guarding the gate for their president. They have perpetuated
the war in Iraq on behalf of Bush. Republicans recognize that forcing
Bush to veto bills pertaining to Iraq or FISA would be very damaging
to their Party.
With Obama as president, the Senate Republicans will no longer need
to guard the gate and it’s anticipated that the Senate could
enjoy much more bipartisanship.
I am a person of 69 years of age who has never complained about the
way politics has been run, at least not the way I'm doing it now.
At home with my family or friends yes, but not in writing. But the
article I happened to read last week in the new double Summer Edition
of Newsweek caught my eye and I feel your readers should know about
this also. The article read "Mrs McCain, San Diego County Would
Like A Word." According to the article, Mrs McCain, a multi millionaire,
owns several pieces of property around the country. This one piece
of land in La Jolla, Calif. is a nice three or four story condo, which
her aunt lives in and which for the past four years (not months) but
years she has not paid taxes on. Now let’s imagine that were
you or I, lowly middle class people, do you think we could get away
with not paying our property taxes for that long without a penalty,
or far worse, default? I think not.The San Diego treasurer/
tax collector stated that a 1.5% penalty is usually assessed for each
month of unpaid taxes. So let’s see, Mrs McCain's trust came
forward and paid the entire four years, a total of $6,744.42. Now
if you didn't know, her taxes on this condo, in La Jolla, Calif. were
a mere $1742.00 a year, the total, times four years should come out
to $6,968.00. I must assume the penalties were taken away and she
got a discount for paying a lump sum. Wouldn't that be nice for all
those who had their home forclosed for non-payment?
Oh, one more thing, she also was in arrears for five or six months
of this year, but again the trust paid the $1742.00 in full. I cannot
end here in good faith without mentioning that one of the reasons
I left Long Island was because my taxes on a piece of land, where
I could hear my neighbors sneeze, a 60x100 lot were in excess of $10,000.00
a year and going up. How, I ask you, can property in the sunshine
state of America stay at $1742.00 dollars a year for five years in
a row, without some sort of increase, or is this what they call a
Peter G. Polis
The way the Republican Party displayed themselves at their convention
was appalling. The speakers that bashed their challenger in the way
that they did should hang their heads in disgrace. It would be hard
to believe that most Americans, Republicans or not, wanted to hear
speaker after speaker be so mean-spirited and unfair. Speakers stood
there with a big smile on their faces while ridiculing their challenger.
The convention was nothing but divisive politics at its best. Of course
everyone clapped and went crazy at the convention, but that was all
for show. If they didn’t they might have been escorted out of
the building because they didn’t show support for all those
insensitive speakers. They said nothing of substance, offered nothing
of how they were going to fix the financial problems that millions
face today. We didn’t hear anything about how they were going
to fix the healthcare crisis in our country, high unemployment or
the high cost of prescriptions.
I found it offensive when with the nation watching a speaker mocked,
and dismissed the real work that their opponent did helping real people
in south side Chicago. I found it offensive because what the speaker
said offended thousands of people that work so hard every day in this
country helping others that desperately need help.
Young adults getting near the voting age must have thought is this
what politics is all about? Is this the way that we compare one candidate
to another? After watching the Republican convention is it any wonder
that many don’t take advantage of their privilege to vote.
Alaska started as Seward's Folly. Now it is McCain's Folly.
Alaska has a population of some 670,000 people. Sarah Palin has served
as Governor for some 18 months and before that as a mayor of a small
town of Wasilla with a population of about 9,000. That is it for experience
- no foreign policy, no national issues, zip. It is as if Sarah is
saying I ran a corner street deli for about 18 months and this has
qualified me to be CEO of Wal-Mart International.
Sarah is a far right conservative. She is anti abortion, anti gay,
anti lesbian, anti civil union, pro creationist and would push for
the appointment to the Supreme Court of Justices who would repeal
Roe vs. Wade.
Are these issues and an agenda Hillary supporters can embrace?
If McCain is elected he would be 72 years old with a history of cancer.
Sarah would be a heart beat away.
Does America really need a person who appears to be a marijuana smoking,
gun totting Annie Oakley from one of the smallest states in the union
with no significant experience calling the shots with world leaders?
If you look at the issues that count, the answer is clear - Sorry
Sarah, no sale.
H Clark Bell
Former GOP Assemblyman
Recently at an election convention an individual that has lead our
communities in good and bad times has mocked the grassroots efforts
that many of us have made as community organizers.
Many of us have witnessed this direct disrespect to the millions of
people that spend so much of their time and energy giving back to
the community in order for us to have a better quality of life. The
countless individuals who want to make a difference, those who are
concerned about social inequities, and are interested in community
solutions and empowering people were made fun of and belittled by
this former Mayor who quit his presidential candidacy in shame.
Without community organizers there would not have been; The American
Civil Rights movement, the anti-war movements, the Chicano movement,
the feminist movement, and the gay rights movement. Community organizers
have leveraged billions of dollars in public- and private-sector investment;
expanded and improved city services; prevented industrial plant closings;
secured fair-share hiring agreements from public- and private-sector
employers; cleaned-up toxic waste dumps in low-income communities;
organized public and private housing tenants; improved the climate,
operation and performance of neighborhood schools; and built or rehabilitated
thousands of affordable housing units. I truly believe that this is
nothing to laugh at.
Conservatives, Liberals, Republicans and Democrats, I ask you to speak
to your friends and relatives about their decision of which team that
they are going to pick for our next cycle of leadership in the next
election. I will not tell you whom to vote for, but I am asking for
you to vote. The blood, sweat and tears that many of us community
organizers have given in the past are at risk. Understand that if
we do not make change, nothing will change.
Damon A. Finch
I am not a member of a political party, nor do I intend to become
one. I retired from The Community Corrections Program in 1999, and
since then have been acting as a citizen activist. Over the past nine
years I have attended hundreds of legislative meetings and have served
on a number of legislative committees. My sole objective has been
to change some of the more costly and ill advised practices to be
found in the Ulster County criminal justice system.
Prior to the decision to build the jail several State studies had
made recommendations that, if followed, would have limited the size
of the monstrosity we wound up building. Needless to say those suggestions
In addition to the suggestions regarding the jail, there were other
recommendations that would have reduced the operating costs for the
criminal justice system in general. These too were ignored.
Since taking over as administrator, Michael Hein has put some of these
initiatives into place. The most significant of which was the consolidation
of Alternative Sentencing and The Community Corrections Program under
the Probation Dept.
Prior to this consolidation the administrative costs for supervising
community service offenders had reached 16 dollars per offender, per
hour. That is an awful lot of tax dollars going for minimally motivated
criminals to perform low priority work. Similar to Alternative Sentencing,
the running costs for the Community Corrections Program reached a
point that it became cheaper to incarcerate the offender than provide
them with an alternative. What began as nominal costs for these programs
had grown to absurdity. For whatever reason (and none, I believe in
the interest of the taxpayer) the recommendation to consolidate these
programs were ignored until Hein became Administrator.
That is why I will be voting for Michael Hein this November, and why
I am urging you to do the same.
The first Executive will set the stage for governing the County for
the next 2 to 3 decades. We need an experienced executive that will
be able to contain, if not reduce spending. Someone who will foster
economic growth without forcing that particular growth on the citizenry
of a locality that might not want it. Someone who will be able to
muster the forces of Federal and State funding streams so that our
county doesn't fall even further behind our neighboring counties.
To date, the only thing that I've read about Bernardo is that he was
successful at business. However, being able to run a business is no
guarantee of being able to run a county. Suggesting that having an
expertise in business automatically translates into having an expertise
in government is like saying being successful as a General qualifies
you to be an Admiral. Government is not like business. Government
does not even resemble business.
We cannot afford to elect someone with the hope that he will pick
things up along the way. We need someone who knows the ropes already.
Someone with the conviction to cut costs and the experience to stick
with that conviction and not get conned by bureaucratic double talk.
In closing ,I would like to take this opportunity to make note of
my disappointment with the new Republican leadership. I cannot, for
the life of me, understand why they decided to go outside their party
and support a virtual novice for such an important position as Executive.
There are at least 6 veteran Republicans serving on the legislature
right now that are heads and shoulders above Bernardo in governmental
experience and would have made excellent candidates for Executive.
Thomas P Kadgen
The Phil and Babs Mansfield family and friends would like to gratefully
acknowledge the help from this community on behalf of their son, Killian,
who enjoyed a benefit gathering this past weekend at the residence
of Dusty and Bill Stack to help support this household in a time of
need. We profoundly thank the following for their time, effort and
resources. Here is a list in alphabetical order:
Local Businesses and Restaurants: Adams Fairacre Farms, Bank of America,
Best Party Rental, Blue Mountain Bistro (Bistro-to-Go), E & S
Discount Beverages (Route 28), Gallo's Nursery, Hannaford Supermarket
(Ulster Avenue), Hickory BBQ, La Bella Pasta, Maria's Bazaar, Millie
Delgado (Millie's Home Cooking), New World Home Cooking, Threads of
Time, Wal-Mart Corp., Woodstock Meats, Woodstock Times.
Musicians: Amy Fradon and John Barbaro, Dorranine Scofield, John Berenzy,
Jon Coghill (Los Chigones), John Wirtz, Katies Jeannotte (Car Travelers),
Katie and Ralph and Lucia Legnini (1/2 Ralph and Ralph), Robert B.
Warren (Uncle Rock), Scott Healy, T. G. Vanini, Wil Wright with Jonas
Finkel, and Kieran Prasch Ward and Elan.
A special thanks for friends who donated their time: Dinal Neals,
Jim Sofranko, John Wirtz, Katie Legnini, Millie Delgado, Shirley Wiley,
Tammy Alvarado and the crew of Mountain Gardens Landscaping.
Any continuing donations may be made to The New Hope Fund, Bank of
America, Route 28, Shokan, NY 12481: for the benefit of Killian Mansfield.
As I am sure many of you are aware that, the leadership of the County
is concerned for the well-being of our citizenry in this upcoming
winter and particularly how people are going to be able to keep their
homes heated and a roof over their head during these times of sharp
increases in gas costs, rents, heating fuel, and food. A work group,
Ulster County Winter Watch, has been established by the County Administrator,
and I have taken responsibility to chair the committee to address
Our primary goal will be to keep the shelves of each of the County's
30 food pantries as well stocked as possible. I believe that in order
to be successful, each community will have to make a commitment to
help its local pantries. If each of the major institutions in a town
will do a food drive on a rotating basis, we will have a continuous
flow of new donated food items throughout the winter for each pantry.
We are asking each business, each school, each local government, each
church group, and any civic organizations that are willing, to plan
to conduct a food drive during the months from October through March.
I am also reaching out to the County's growers to see if they would
be willing to donate a portion of their harvest to be shared with
the food pantries. We are studying the resources available to process
this food so that it can either be frozen, or kept in coolers, so
that the produce will be usable throughout the winter. If you have
any resources to help with this portion of the effort, freezer space,
coolers, produce, or are willing to help with processing, please contact
me by email at email@example.com or by phone at 845 331
7080 x 103..
They say that hard times bring out the best in us. This is going to
be a difficult winter. As a community we will only get through it,
neighbor helping neighbor.
Thank you for your help.
Chair, Winter Watch Food Committee
Director, Family of Woodstock