At that time, he first attended the town’s Democratic
caucus, which was settled by a roomful of candidates and their
families before he had a chance to get his name in for nomination.
Friedel recalled how, two years ago, he had wanted to seek the
Democratic nod for town justice but was rebuffed by longstanding
town supervisor Bert Leifeld, who told him the party didn’t
endorse anyone not registered as a Democrat. But then he found
out that the man they ran against him, Cox, was himself a registered
Continuing, Friedel – whose wife Michelle was elected
to the Onteora School Board earlier this year – noted
how he has recently started worrying about Olive politics. He
noted how Leifeld, who insists this will be his last term in
office, is in his early 70s. As is Bruce LaMonda, his likely
successor. All the board members, he noted, have been serving
for such a long time that most of their decisions are now made
without much discussion. Which amounts to little, if any, sense
of “transparency,” that vague political term for
feeling one’s representatives are caring about what you
“Everyone’s up there in age,” Friedel said.
“People have asked me why not wait until everyone’s
retired, but I want to be there while they still have the knowledge
I feel needs to be imparted to newer folk working for the town.”
He added, though, that the idea of harsh politicking is difficult,
given that he grew up with the kids of many of the people now
on the town board. Henry Rank, who he’ll be running against,
along with Linda Burckhardt, helped Friedel get his current
job 20 years ago.
He is a salesman for Standard Register; an Onteora graduate
and a graduate of SUNY-Cortland with a degree in managerial
economics. Friedel is 44 with two sons.
“I really wish we had young people involved in politics
here. I try to get others out because I really don’t want
to see outsiders coming in and telling us what to do,”
he added. “I tell people there’s no harm in running.
If I don’t get it this time I’ll run again. I’m
hoping I learn things… I love the nuances of politics”
As for issues, Friedel noted how the current board tends to
appoint people to positions without interviewing candidates
or seeing if they can find the best person for a job. He wants
town government to be more open.
Does he fear retribution for running, as occurred when Paula
Minew, another recent Republican candidate for the town board,
was not renewed for the town planning board because, as Leifeld
said, “it was political.”
“No,” Friedel replied. “They’re all
Continuing, he noted that his major problem would likely be
that he was a Republican in a Democratic town. But he urged
voters to look beyond a political identity he took when still
a boy because his dad was a Republican, his family friends were
Bert, Bruce, Henry, they all changed parties back when Pete
Tosi got them organized because they were unhappy with the way
the town was being run,” Friedel said of the early 1970s,
when the current crew of incumbents started coming into office.
“Henry became a Democrat so he could get business downstate.”
“My thing is I’m straight with people. I listen
but I don’t change my mind, I don’t flip flop, I
stick to my guns, unless the reasoning’s strong.”
He said he was going to be taking his campaign door to door,
meeting and re-meeting his fellow townspeople.
“I’ve been with the Olive Fire Department since
I was 16,” he said. “I was a cubmaster and am now
an assistant scout leader. I grew up here.”
In a campaign letter set for publication in the next issue of
this paper, he writes about his history in town, his parents,
his sense of community.
It’s what he’s basing his campaign on.
“I am someone who has spent my life here, who has watched
our town’s spirit, sense of community (as well as our
children) grow into something great—someone who wants
to encourage that growth and foster our values—someone
whose heart lives here and nowhere else,” Friedel writes.
“Not only do I have the experience, skill, and character
needed to provide you with exceptional service on the Town Board
I have something else too. I have a sense of devotion to this
community, and I am determined to serve you well.
“Thank you in advance for all of your suppor,” he
concludes. “If you have any questions or concerns, please
feel free to contact me at home: 657-9395.”
Probe To Grand Jury
The Special Committee Formed to Investigate the Preplanning,
Planning, and Construction of the Ulster County Jail released
its final report Monday, September 24, noting that while no
particular party was fully responsible for the $30 million cost
overrun and two-year delay in opening the jail, preplanning
for the project – much of it under Todd’s watch
– often proceeded against legal procedures.
The committee found that, in particular, Todd and Harvey Sleight
broke county procedure and state law by not issuing a request
for proposals when they decided to hire an architectural firm.
The report also implicates Murray and Gerentine of hiding the
services of later consultant Hill International as a means of
covering up the cost and time overruns of the jail project intentionally,
and keeping the news away from other legislators so as to save
embarrassment and possible political ramifications.
Ulster County District Attorney Donald Williams announced Tuesday
that he has convened a special grand jury to look into the circumstances
surrounding the jail project for a term of up to six months.
Its first session will be held on October 3.
“In conducting an investigation, the Grand Jury has the
power to compel by subpoena the appearance of witnesses and
the production of documents,” a press release from the
D.A.’s office has stated. “The New York State Criminal
Procedure Law provides the Grand Jury with the following options:
Vote criminal charges if reasonable cause exists to believe
that a crime has been committed; Prepare a report concerning
misconduct, nonfeasance or neglect in public office by a public
servant; Prepare a report finding no misconduct, nonfeasance
or neglect in public office by a public servant, if requested
by that public servant; Prepare a report proposing recommendations
for legislative, executive or administrative action in the public
interest based upon stated findings; Neither return charges
nor issue a report, if the Grand Jury
concludes that neither is warranted.”
“The Grand Jury is an independent body, free of political
bias and agendas, and insulated from media speculation. It will
conduct a full and unfettered review of the matters referred
by the Special Legislative Committee,” Williams, who leaves
office December 31, said. “Its decision will be based
only on legally admissible evidence, not conjecture, assumption
or surmise… It is my desire that the Grand Jury complete
its work by the end of my term but there will be no constraints
placed upon its review, other than as provided by law.”
The committee, in its report, noted that preliminary information
concerning the jail project was “intentionally manipulated”
to evade laws intended to “guard against favoritism, improvidence,
extravagance, fraud, and corruption” and that Todd and
Sleight appeared to have acted in concert to direct the award
toward certain parties without proper bidding.
Sleight has said that anything he did was as an employee of
Todd, a longstanding Shandaken resident who now serves as Director
of the County Chamber of Commerce and whose wife, Jane, is presently
running for supervisor in their home town. Todd’s lawyer,
David Lenefsky, has noted his belief that the committee had
already determined its position before the investigation began.
The committee said problems began when a report by National
Institute of Corrections consultant Alvin Cohn was censored
at the behest of Todd to reflect only opinions favorable to
construction of a new jail.
During the hearings, Gerentine, Murray, Sleight, and Todd all
claimed they had followed procedure accordingly, and that they
had not done anything illegal or unethical during the planning
of the jail.
issue arose earlier in September when the Ulster County Transportation
Council released a long-awaited Transportation Improvement Program
with $106 million in projects pegged directly for the county
and another $360 million in multi-county projects benefiting
local residents. Hidden within the proposal, which lists projects
for available federal funding, some of it need of state or county
matches of up to 20 percent, in further funding or in-kind contributions,
was the long rail trail… which took many by surprise despite
periodic public hearings on such a project in various locations
around the county in recent years.
Confusion, for most, resulted from the very short advance notice
regarding a countywide public hearing set for the SUNY-New Paltz
campus before any publications had a chance to publicize what
was going on, as well as the closing of public commentary on
the TIP by month’s end. The fact that the only other discussion
set for the matter – which some started saying had the
possibility of costing local taxpayers tens of millions –
was scheduled for a Transportation Council meeting in Kingston
this Thursday, September 27, just made people anxious.
Members of the UCTC include the head of the county legislature,
mayor of Kingston, Saugerties and Ulster town supervisors, state
DOT commissioner representative, state Thruway director, seven
town supervisors and one “rural voting member” representing
the towns of Denning, Gardiner, Hardenburgh, Marbletown, Olive,
Rochester and Shandaken.
Confusion, for CMRR volunteers and supporters, came because
the new TIP seemed to have completely overlooked a fully-commissioned
study on bringing the old rail line back as a working tourist
railroad from just five years ago. Did this new project, which
seemed far below the $19 million cost that had been touted for
a rail trail up the Route 28 corridor when it was first discussed
publicly a couple of years ago, mean to eschew the CMRR people’s
plans for a revived railride?
“We were part of the entire feasibility study,”
CMRR spokesperson Harry Jameson said of the recent matters this
past week. “As far as our position goes, we do not see
the plan as a problem. The multi-use use of the corridor meets
federal standards. The main crux of the two projects working
side by side is that neither one should intrude on any other
In other words, Jameson added, everything was hunky-dory given
that the county put its rail trail alongside the train tracks,
and elsewhere where setbacks couldn’t allow the two to
co-exist. As for any other compromises on CMRR’s part,
he just noted that the organization of 100 plus volunteers,
working on rebuilding the tracks for two decades now, was relying
on the legal status of its lease with the county.
On the county’s part, meanwhile, County Planner Dennis
Doyle was quick to note, first-off, how the local funding matches
necessitated by the federal dollars driving the new TIP were
not really a stumbling block.
“The council has a responsibility to program for the federal
dollars,” he said. “And much of this is tied to
the state’s request that we look at a 12-year plan.”
That, Doyle added, is where most of the rail trail project included
in the TIP comes in… as something now planned for “post-2112.”
“We’re a long way from implementation,” he
said. “Included now, it gets people to think about substantial
public involvement in a railroad, which many aren’t so
sure CMRR has the wherewithal to do… it’s a way
of looking at what they’ve been doing versus a trail system
that can be countywide.”
Doyle conceded that any future planning, at least for projects
in the coming term before 2016 comes around, would be complicated
by CMRR’s lease on the county lands… “an ownership
issue,” as he put it.
Jameson, meanwhile, said he and fellow members of the CMRR like
the idea that the new funding promises resources for work on
the railbed they’ve been getting out to replace ties on
every weekend they can.
“Given that the easiest way to get into much of the proposed
rail trail there is via the tracks and our railcars, we’d
be more than happy to contract with the county to help build
what they want,” he said. “We would also like to
be more involved in the creation of the Kingston transportation
hub they’ve been talking about.”
But then, asked how things got to this point, Jameson asked
how the county could shift so dramatically from fully backing
the idea of a tourist railroad 30, and to a lesser extent even
5 years ago, and now seem ready to push it all aside for a concept
he and the other rail enthusiasts felt was economically unfeasible,
as well as something that ran counter to the growing belief
that we’ll be needing more trains in the future than roads.
Furthermore, Jameson noted how he and his fellow volunteers
had felt sideswiped by Kingston politicians who told them they
could use pesticides to help clear brush along their tracks
in town only to later find themselves publicized as having acted
in bad faith for having done what they were allowed to do.
Jameson said he “called them on it in committee”
last week. Then he added how, should the current battles for
a rail trail and no rails increase, “we go to war.”
“We’re not going anywhere,” he said.
He added that when he asked UCTC recently why his group, as
the responsible party for the right-of-way in question, was
not contacted about the new TIP, an official with the county
group said he should have been contacted… by the group’s
rural towns rep. Which would have meant someone from the southern
Ulster town of Gardiner, currently facing its own slew of planning
“If you ask me, this is a real to-be-continued story still
in its early stages,” Doyle concluded. “But it least
puts CMRR’s feet to the fire to do something after all
Jameson, for his part, simply reiterated that he and the others
looking after what he called Ulster’s “diamond in
the rough,” “Haven’t been attending enough
In related news, a new set of meetings for another subsect of
the Transportation Council and its new TIP, the Ulster County
Non-Motorized Transportation Plan (NMTP), will be the focus
of a new set of public hearings around the counting starting
in the coming week.
“The purpose of the NMTP is to identify and prioritize
non-motorized transportation projects, such as bicycle and pedestrian
facility improvements, and rail trail improvements countywide,”
read a September 25 press release on the matter. “Using
survey data, feedback collected at previous public meetings,
and stakeholder group feedback, the UCTC has developed an initial
draft list of non-motorized transportation project priorities.”
Meetings will be held at the Ulster County Legislative Chambers,
6th Floor, on Fair Street in Kingston from 6 to 8 PM on Tuesday,
October 9; on the 4th Floor of the Ellenville Government Center,
2 Elting Circle, Ellenville from 6 to 8 PM on Tuesday, October
16; and at the BOCES Conference Center on Route 32 in New Paltz
from 6 to 8 pm on Thursday, October 18.
For further information visit www.co.ulster.ny.us/planning/bikeped.
Comments on their draft project priorities are due by October
26. We’ll keep keeping you informed as best we can…
A Jar Of Olives
Even Americans with health insurance are vulnerable. When life-saving
drugs like Interferon cost $4,000.00 a week and additional medicines
amount to $1,600.00 a month, insured people soon run out of
their maximum coverage. Then what?
Patty D’Errico of Shokan finds herself asking that question.
Luckily she has a supportive family and a good friend named
Carol Silverman. Hopefully she will have the support of a caring
community. You may have gotten a bright-colored flyer in the
mail announcing a fundraiser called “Help Save a Life
Benefit” that will be held at Davis Park on Saturday,
September 29, from 12:00 to 3:00 p.m. The donation of $30.00
per person provides music and food, and, more importantly, another
month or more of life-sustaining medicine for Patricia.
Patricia spent three and a half years fighting this mysterious
illness that turned out to be stage three of Hepatitis C with
many complications. Treatments with these expensive drugs are
the only hope she has. Patty’s daughter, Desiree, was
a former student of mine. Always the good writer, she moved
me to tears when she wrote of her mom, “I am fundraising
to try to help save my mother’s life, and I’m going
to do everything I can for her because she always did everything
If you cannot attend this fundraiser, there is a fund entitled
“Patty’s Fund”, and donations can be sent
to the Wilber National Bank, P.O. Box 368, Boiceville, New York
12412. Contact Carol Silverman at 657-2314 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
What else can you do? Find out what drug companies make the
drugs that Patty needs. Write them and call them. Ask them to
supply these medicines. Drug companies employ public relations
firms and lawyers. They sometimes will give drugs to some patients.
I spent two hours with one company who passed me from one representative
to another. “Yes, they did help out in cases like this.
What drug? Interferon? Oh, that’s not one we do in this
program. It’s too expensive!” DUH! That’s
the point! Maybe more calls and letters can help. Next Presidential
election, choose a candidate that puts health care for Americans
at the forefront. Instead we will hold “fundraisers”
for war and hope that no one shows up!
Bridgett Burkhardt married Michael Driscoll at the Twin Lakes
Resort. It was the “dancing-est” wedding ever. The
Giuditta’s and the Burkhardt’s and the Quick’s
taught the Boston guests the Bushkill Stomp as Patrick and Andrew
led the group in “Cotton Eye Joe.” As Vince Barringer
married the couple under a fall canopy by the lake, guests gushed
about how lucky we were to live in such a scenic area.
Wouldn’t it be nice to just extend this perfect weather
another month or two? Wherever you look, the scene could be
a picture on a postcard. I sometimes feel that Mother Nature
puts on her most outrageous autumn finery in the Catskills to
encourage us though a bleak Hudson Valley winter to come.
My husband and the Farmer’s Almanac predict a harsh winter.
There are lots of acorns; bees already making ground nests;
leaves are turning early, and the deer are turning dark already.
It’s time to plan ahead to the inevitable snowfall, but
do so by enjoying these warm days and cooler nights. Especially
enjoy those flowers that are hearty enough to transition into
winter. Beautiful mums can be bought at the Winchell’s
John Ingram reminded me to remind you all to make sure your
fire numbers are clearly displayed. If you do not have one,
call the Olive Fire Department to arrange for one to be put
Olive Day is but a happy memory, but lost items linger on. If
anyone lost a camera, call Jeanne Bachor at 657-8674.