Despite rumors, Town councilman Bruce La Monda pointed out Tuesday
night that should bridges be closed for repairs over the 2005-2006
school year, an existing agreement between the town and New
York City, which still has rights to 28A, requires that one
lane always be kept open. That’s some good news, eh?
Irregularities of procedure seem to mark the path of the Large
Parcel Law in each stage of its history.
Peter Kraft, an Ulster County District 3 legislator representing
Hurley, Marbletown and Olive, sits on the seven-member General
Services Committee which oversees real property tax services
in the county. Last year, when the Large Parcel Law came up
for review by the GSC, Kraft notes, it was rejected by a 4 to
3 vote. Then some unusual things began to happen.
There's a back door through which a defeated bill can be revived
and presented for a vote by the Ways and Means Committee to
prepare its way to a vote by the full legislature. "That's
exactly what (Woodstock Legislator and Majority Leader) Mike
Stock did, along with (Woodstock Legislator) Brian Shapiro,"
Kraft said, indicating that the Woodstock-based legislators
from District 2 shuffled the law around the customary channels.
"The thing that upset me was that the committee process
was then circumvented because it did not allow us, then, to
have residents or even elected officials from Olive have the
opportunity to come and speak before the legislative committee."
Fellow District 3 Legislator Robert Parete verified Kraft's
account, adding that it was all on record. "Stock contacted
committee chair, Alice Tipp, and asked her to hold another meeting"
after the bill's defeat, observed Parete. "She decided
not to but then they had a phone poll, where the committee chair
calls up committee members and asks how they want to vote. That
was done. First of all, phone polls are illegal. There's no
minutes, no public record, no information from the meetings
kept. The interesting thing is that Stock and the Committee
chair decided to call only Republicans. No Democrats were called.
That's on record."
This kind of stealth treatment was also exampled in the minutes
of a meeting discovered by John Tisch of Shokan, who is a member
of the Olive Matters committee opposing the law. Tisch says
that methods to introduce the bill so that the involved communities
would not be informed of the pending legislation was actually
part of a discussion of the bill as it was being formulated.
Charles Blumstein of Olivebridge, who is filing a suit against
the law, charges that the voters in the state senate and assembly
were deliberately misinformed about key details of the bill's
purpose and projected impact. There are even claims that the
Onteora School Board vote to adopt the law locally did not follow
the laws established concerning such votes.
Blumstein, who is calling for a boycott of major advertisers
in the Daily Freeman because of what he calls a "gross
imbalance in coverage" of the issue, also claims the law
illegally "immunizes" New York City as a local taxpayer
in a way which denies Olive due process of law. He is racing
a statute of limitations date to file his suit.
Olive councilman Bruce LaMonda also has questions about the
legality of the law. He calls it "discriminatory,"
noting that no one seems concerned that Shandakan hasn't done
a reval in over 30 years.
"It's discriminatory against a small town," LaMonda
observes. "The State Office of Real Property Services told
us when (Supervisor) Brendt (Leifeld) and I met with them in
Albany two years ago that there would never be a time when the
apportionment (tax) rate and equalization rate would be within
5% of each other (to negate the Large Parcel effect) because
the residential market escalates so fast and the reservoir doesn't
increase. If the reservoir was in a metropolitan area, like
Buffalo, it wouldn't even be 5% of their total assessed value.
The smaller the town, the larger the impact one large entity
has on that town. In Olive, a small town with a small tax base,
the impact is huge. Why would a small town welcome a big industry
or a reservoir anymore?"
LaMonda noted that Olive has always paid its share of the school
budget in past decades. "If Olive is responsible for 35%
of the school budget, it should be none of the school district's
business where that 35% comes from as long as it's paid,"
A pair of Ulster County politicians recently suggested that
the sale of ammunition like that used in the Hudson Valley Mall
shooting should be restricted. Bill Reynolds, majority leader
of the Kingston Common Council noted that although he wouldn’t
advocate strict gun control, stemming the availability of ammunition
for semiautomatic assault rifles at Wal Mart, where authorities
say 25-year-old Robert Bonelli Jr. of Glasco purchased three
boxes before firing 50-60 shots inside the Hudson Valley Mall,
wounding two people, might not be a bad idea.
Ulster County Legislator Brian Shapiro, who represents Woodstock
and Shandaken, added that he may ask the county Legislature
to approve a resolution in support of reinstating the Brady
Bill, the federal ban on assault weapons that expired last September.
U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., also has called on Bush to
reinstate the ban on assault weapons.
Eric Howard, a spokesman for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun
Violence, praised local lawmakers for their efforts. “It’s
definitely a good place to start,” he said. “We
need comprehensive laws on this across the board, on the federal,
state and county level.”
Speaking at the Onteora School District board meeting of February
15, OCS President Marino D’Orazio went out of his way
to try correcting figures in this newspaper that have characterized
the percentage of tax hike landed on Olive residents as the
result of Onteora’s enactment of “Large Parcel”
legislation last year as being “55 percent and up”
instead of a “more factual 26 percent net effect.”
Asked to back up that statement in greater detail, D’Orazio
later pointed out that had Onteora NOT chosen to enact the Large
Parcel legislation last summer, which ostensibly removed the
huge Ashokan Reservoir tax property that had been paying taxes
only to Olive and spread its payments equally across the school
district’s four towns, Olive’s tax load would have
still risen by at least 29 percent. That, the Kingston attorney
and Olivebridge resident added, was due to the Olive Town Board’s
decision earlier last summer to fight for, and finally be granted,
a higher assessment for the New York City-owned reservoir.
Last August, the state Office of Real Property Services (ORPS)
raised the value of the Ashokan Reservoir from $119 million
to $340 million. Simultaneously, Olive town supervisor Berndt
Leifeld announced that the Town of Olive had approved the Connecticut-based
Cole Layer Trumble company to start conducting property reappraisals
throughout the town under a contract in the $200,000 neighborhood.
Leifeld said at the time that the combination of tax valuation
changes had been undertaken as a way of hopefully avoiding the
“Large Parcel” tax load redistribution, by removing
the Ashokan parcel from charges of being in “major”
dispute, one of the prerequisites for implementation of the
“Just by changing that valuation, Olive’s portion
of the pie went way up,” D’Orazio said, noting that
he was bringing up the point as a means of lessening the town’s
anger at the school district, and hopefully keeping it from
being instrumental in voting down another Onteora school budget.
“All I know is that what they’re angry about regarding
the school board’s actions is inaccurate.”
Leifeld, presented with D’Orazio’s comments, agreed
with the Onteora Board President’s assessment of the final
tax hike split, although he added that his final addition resulted
in a final tax hike figure of 61 percent for the town.
“That seems about what it should be,” the longstanding
Olive superintendent said, noting how a 29 percent tax hike
had resulted from his push to change the reservoir valuation,
part of his attempt to avoid any Large Parcel action on the
part of the school board. “But that doesn’t change
the fact that they voted for Large Parcel.”
Leifeld added, in further discussion, that revaluation of parcels,
be it the city’s giant reservoir or privately-owned homes
and land throughout Olive, always raises taxes.
“You get hit, no matter what,” he said of the process,
whose private re-val component is expected to start by the end
of March. “You end up at a higher rate no matter what.
But it’s a one-time sort of thing.”
The problem at Onteora, Leifeld added, came when the school
board didn’t drop the Large Parcel issue, and succumbed
to what he termed “political pressures” from Woodstock
and Shandaken, after all that Olive had already done to rectify
the tax load distribution situation.
“Now, from the sounds of it, they’re just trying
to ease the pain on themselves and show us all in Olive that
they do have consciences,” he said. “That did what
they did. That’s it.”
Would Olive’s taxes likely go up even further once the
new reval becomes reality? And could the combination of two
hikes at once, instead of just an Onteora/Large Parcel-fueled
26 percent hike, have been avoided?
Leifeld said that yes, taxes would go up again as a result of
bringing the town’s valuation to current levels. But he
added that he had no regrets about having fought “Large
Parcel” by trying to remove its raison d’etre. And,
he noted, the reason Olive hadn’t actually started a reval
project for so long was not his fault.
“We couldn’t do it, legally, for fifteen years,”
the supervisor said, pointing out how the dispute with New York
City over valuation of the Ashokan had resulted in a court order
against any further re-evaluations of its properties for one
and a half decades of litigation. “We didn’t feel
it would be fair to re-evaluate the town’s private properties
and not the city, too. Why evaluate one shoe and not the other?”
“It’s all gotten worse instead of better the longer
it’s been,” Leifeld said of his town’s current
attitude towards bringing down another Onteora budget. “A
lot of people here have taken the school board’s assumption
of the ‘Large Parcel’ legislation as a personal
threat. And even if I believe what the school board says about
wanting to stay out of such decisions, the fact is they didn’t.
And whether the school budget’s for the kids or not, it’s
still a political thing and people are now beating on other
people because of all this.”
“The sad thing is,” Leifeld concluded, “that
Shandaken hasn’t done any reval in 30 years now and is
awaiting its own big problems… We were all friends once,
town to town. Now, no one’s talking to each other. It’s
A number of anti-casino activists and New York tribes are complaining
that the State Senate is excluding them from ongoing hearings
on a massive expansion of gambling in the state. The groups
were denied to have speakers at Senate hearings that started
last month on Gov. George Pataki’s bill to settle Indian
land claims and allow five Native American casinos in the Catskills.
And they question whether they’ll get to have their say
at any follow-up hearings.
“This is a stacked hearing,” said Rev. Duane Motley,
a casino opponent who asked to be on the speaker’s list
but was turned down by Sen. John Bonacic, who is leading the
Senate sessions. “They don’t want to hear anything
that would make them wiser to the downside of gambling.”
“We’re disappointed the senator doesn’t want
to solicit the views of all parties concerned,” said Eric
Facer, a lawyer for the Oneida Nation of New York. He said the
Oneidas, who oppose Pataki’s plans to allow out-of-state
tribes to open casinos, sought to be invited but didn’t
make the list.
Langdon Chapman, a spokesman for Bonacic, said the speaker’s
list had to be narrowed to about 20 from a field of more then
100 who asked to make remarks during the three-hour hearing.
He said three major pro-casino labor groups are invited to discuss
job opportunities. Three other speakers are expected to be critical
of Pataki’s plan, he said. Others will testify on tribal
histories and the impacts of having up to five casinos in the
Assembly Democrats plan three hearings on March 11 in Syracuse,
March 30 in Albany, and April 7 at Monticello.
“There’s no one there whose going to be free to
attack the governor’s plan,” said Joel Rose, chairman
of the Coalition Against Gambling in New York, referring to
the recent Senate sessions.
“We feel that the so-called hearings are just another
example of the powers shoving through their agenda without any
sort of realistic consultation with their constituents,”
said Lee Karr, an opponent suing Pataki over his gambling expansion
The good news is that fewer people are dying on America’s
roads. The bad news is that mile-for-mile, you’re 2.73
times more likely to be killed driving a rural road than any
other kind. And that’s despite the fact that fatality
rates on rural roads went down 21% between 1990 and 2003. Those
are among the conclusions of a study released last week by The
Road Information Program (TRIP), a nonprofit group funded by
insurance companies, unions and businesses involved in road
construction and engineering. The report also found that 52%
of the country’s 42,000 annual traffic deaths happened
on rural roads, although travel on them only represented 28%
of the miles Americans drove.
Ulster County officials recently noted that the final sales-tax
figures for 2004 have revealed a $1.5-million shortfall from
what had been anticipated, a problem compounded by a possible
$1.5-million shortfall in the controversial restored hotel-motel
tax budgeted for 2005, which has started drawing ever-louder
complaints from local lodging industry owners, including many
in the Belleayre area. And worsening the situation is the growing
probability that the combined $3 million shortfall in anticipated
revenues will be augmented by yet another large reduction in
the county surplus likely to occur over the coming year. The
estimate is the county will have had a roughly $18-million surplus
for 2004, of which $14.9 million has already been pegged as
revenue in the 2005 budget to hold down a tax levy that, without
it, would have ballooned even larger than the double-digit increase
that occurred, resulting in 90 percent hikes in the Town of
The emerging problem is that, with only $3.1 million in reserve,
and revenues looming short, the county will be hard-pressed
to come up with another $14.9 million to apply to the 2006 budget
to hold down the tax levy. A surplus of some sort will likely
be accumulated, and measures such as personnel freezes or program
cuts can be taken during the year to hold down expenses, but
they won’t easily add up to $18 million at the end of
County Republicans currently hold a 17-16 advantage in the legislature
and the 2006 budget is due to be released only a few days before
all 33 county legislators face an election in November.
In the absence of new revenue streams, politicians have started
saying that the county must seek to cut programs. It has thus
far managed to navigate fiscal shoals without resorting to laying
off county workers. But that option may be ending.
Democrats are seeking a “revamping of the budget process,”
asking that the county’s tentative budget be delivered
to legislators in mid-October instead of mid-November, to allow
lawmakers more time to shape the spending plan.
The renewed hotel-motel tax, meanwhile — approved as a
relatively painless way to raise revenue from the wallets of
visitors instead of residents — called for a two-percent
flat tax on the price paid for a room in local lodgings to be
imposed from March 1 through June of this year before shifting,
as of July 1, to a flat fee of $5 per night per room. But the
tax plan appears in trouble. The county’s hotel industry
has argued that from its perspective the $5-per-night room fee
would be disastrous, particularly for smaller establishments
such as those in the Belleayre area.
A concerted effort by local lodgers is expected to be underway
over the coming weeks…
With the help of village, town, county, state and federal officials,
as well as the greater Ellenville community, the 51-bed Ellenville
Regional Hospital is nearing what could be the end of its bankruptcy,
depending on a ruling by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Albany
later this month. The hospital’s efforts were buoyed by
state Assemblyman Kevin Cahill’s recent announcement of
a $300,000 grant from the state Assembly’s Health Care
Reform Act fund, which the hospital will use to fund its employee
Hospital President and Chief Executive Officer Steven Kelley
said not having a pension plan had made the hospital “much
less competitive” as an employer and was something that
the Civil Service Employees Association, which represents about
88 employees there, had pushed for.
Cahill said the recovery of Ellenville Regional Hospital is
a testament to the strength of the community around it.
No Clean Up…
The Catskill Watershed Corporation will not coordinate a Watershed-wide
stream clean-up this year, but will support groups and individuals
who tackle litter on streambanks in their neighborhoods. Executive
Director Alan Rosa explained that the organization’s mandated
programs have become too cumbersome to coordinate volunteer
activities. Yet he suggested that outside volunteer efforts
might want to pitch in to clean up the banks of New York City’s
reservoirs. The CWC will provide trash bags, gloves and tokens
of appreciation for those who choose to serve their communities
in this way. The NYC DEP is coordinating clean-ups at the Ashokan
May 7 and 21; the Cannonsville June 11, the Rondout June 25;
the Pepacton July 9 and the Schoharie July 23 and August 6.
Call Amy Flavin at 845-340-7530, or email@example.com for
That Darn Jail
Ulster County’s new Law Enforcement Center, already a
year behind schedule and $21 million over budget, has had its
completion date pushed back again. The new target date for opening
the facility is Sept. 21, six weeks later than the recently
announced target date of Aug. 12 and 17 months later than the
originally anticipated opening last April. Democratic Ulster
County Legislator Richard Parete has said that the contractors
and county officials have “totally lost control”
of the Law Enforcement Center project. The jail was supposed
to cost $71.8 million, but current estimates suggest a final
price of around $93 million. Of the extra $21 million being
spent, $4.7 million is to complete construction and the remainder
is to settle claims related to the delays and pay consulting
During the last year, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
deported a record 157,281 immigrants, a reflection of the agency’s
emphasis on booting anyone with even a whisper of a criminal
record from the country. But while ICE agents have pursued criminals
who are in the USA illegally, they have also swept up record
numbers of illegal immigrants who have committed no crimes other
than violations of visa limits and other immigration laws. That
helped increase the total number of deportations by more than
45% from 2001 to 2004.
Most of those deported — more than 70% in 2004 —
have been returned to Mexico. Most of the rest have been sent
back to Central or South America or to the Dominican Republic.
ICE expects the number of deportations to increase again this
year. In his 2006 budget, President Bush has requested an additional
$170 million above the $1.4 billion that ICE’s Detention
and Removal program will get in 2005.
Meanwhile, another new survey shows international interest in
studying at American graduate schools declining for the second
straight year, a sign of the continued impact of visa delays
and growing competition from foreign universities… in
addition to our nation’s new aggressive deportation policies.
In a membership survey being released last month, the Council
of Graduate Schools estimates foreign applications to U.S. graduate
programs for the upcoming school year are down 5 percent. That
compares with a 28-percent decline in applications last year,
the CSG said. Following that drop, about 6 percent fewer international
students wound up entering U.S. graduate schools for the 2004-05
year, the CSG estimated.
The survey’s authors said a streamlined visa process has
helped stem the decline in applications. But the CGS said challenges
remain. Applications from the two largest source countries,
China and India, are down 13 percent and 9 percent, respectively.
Students from those countries are increasingly being lured by
stronger domestic programs or by programs in Europe and Australia
that are recruiting aggressively.
Universities have argued the trend is a threat not only to America’s
research standing but its public diplomacy.
The U.S. House of Representatives has approved legislation on
job training, despite Democratic objections, that would allow
faith-based programs to use religion as a hiring criterion.
The White House backs the bill and President Bush has spoken
in favor of its faith-based language, which would permit groups
to consider a potential employee’s religion. Most Democrats
opposed the bill because of that language but a bid by Virginia
Democrat Rep. Robert Scott to cut it out failed. Democrats said
the measure was a step backward to an era of discrimination
and was unnecessary as faith-based groups can receive federal
funds for job training as long as they do not discriminate in
“Employment discrimination is ugly,” said Scott.
“You can put lipstick on a pig but you can’t pass
it off as a beauty queen and you can’t dress up ‘We
don’t hire Catholics and Jews’ with poll-tested
semantics and euphemisms and pass it off as anything other than
Bad For Vets
Senators of both parties said recently that President Bush’s
budget for veterans’ health care would not provide enough
money to maintain services at current levels, much less care
for thousands of veterans streaming back to the United States
from Iraq and Afghanistan. Five veterans groups, including the
American Legion, denounced a proposal in Mr. Bush’s budget
that would double the co-payment charged to many veterans for
prescription drugs and require some to pay a new fee of $250
a year for the privilege of using government health care. Among
other items, The Administration is proposing to cut $293 million
in payments to “state-run homes that provide veterans
with long-term care.” They plan on saving another $100
million with a one-year moratorium in spending “for construction
and renovation of such homes.”
Nevada GOP congressman Jim Gibbons told a Lincoln’s Day
dinner audience of Elko area business leaders that anyone who
opposed the Bush administration’s policy on Iraq “ought
to be used as human body armor.” His remark was first
reported in the Elko Free Daily Press and later defended by
Elko County GOP Commissioner John Ellison on Fox News. According
to Ellison, Gibbons’ comment was not directed at all Americans
who have private concerns about the war, but rather at “outspoken
liberal celebrities trying to undermine the troops fighting
for this nation.” But according to John Summers, a spokesman
for Nevada’s Democratic Party, Gibbons’ comment
had been plagiarized from comments made by Alabama State Auditor
Beth Chapman. In recent months, Congressman Gibbons also received
national attention by calling those that opposed corporate donations
to the last presidential inaugural “communists.”
A letter opposing an adjudicatory hearing on the $300 million
Belleayre Resort project proposed for the town of Shandaken
by developer Dean Gitter’s Crossroads Ventures was presented
to the Ulster County Development Corporation last month, in
hopes that the UCDC would agree to sign on and forward the letter
to Governor Pataki as its official position. The draft argues
against a stringent environmental adjudication.
The letter was written by Ward Todd, president of the county
Chamber of Commerce and was presented by UCDC president Chester
Straub, acting in Todd’s stead. But after some discussion
the letter was set aside and a resolution passed to draft the
UCDC’s own letter on the subject, re-worked to not reflect
what Democrats on the committee have called Todd’s “strong
bias” in support of the controversial project.
County legislator Michael Berardi said he “spoke up and
said it’s not in the mission statement of the UCDC to
make a determination on how stringent an environmental review
should be. I thought it [the letter] was really beyond where
we should be going with this stuff.”
Todd said that he “respectfully disagrees” with
Democrats who say that the UCDC should not be intervening in
the matter… Whether it’s UCDC or the Chamber board,
both organizations are pro-business, pro growth, and favor improving
the economy of Ulster County so UCDC should be involved in all
this. All we seem to hear is, where are the jobs? How are we
growing our economy? And this is the way we have to improve
Todd added that he did not recall whether the board of directors
of the county Chamber of Commerce had authorized him to write
and promulgate the letter, but said that “general discussion”
of the issue convinced him he should proceed.
Berardi, however, said the UCDC should not simply adopt Todd’s
opinion on the matter. “We feel the UCDC board should
hear the other side of the coin on this, they should not just
take Ward’s point of view on this, they should make a
decision based on both perspectives,” said Berardi.
Todd countered that the value and benefits the project would
bring to the county have been under-reported.
But Tom Alworth, executive director of the Catskill Center for
Conservation and Development, disputed the range of benefits
outlined by Todd. He said the construction jobs would not be
filled by local workers, but by union members brought in from
around the state. Neither would materials for the buildings
be purchased locally. And he said the project sponsors have
said they would import management staff from outside the region,
because there is no local expertise in running large resorts.
Alworth said that opposition to the project is widespread and
well organized and observed, “I think to ask UCDC to take
a stand on this [adjudication] strikes me as desperation.”
Longer To Pay
Average life expectancy in the United States rose to a record
77.6 years in 2003 from 77.3 years in 2002, according to the
latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Although women on average still lived longer than men in 2003
— 80.1 years versus 74.8 years — the gender gap
in mortality narrowed, continuing a 25-year trend, the CDC said
in a report. The Atlanta-based agency, which is responsible
for monitoring and responding to health threats, attributed
the improvement in life expectancy to corresponding drops in
eight of the 15 leading causes of death. Chief among them were
significant declines in mortality from heart disease, cancer
and stroke, the three biggest killers. Death rates for these
conditions fell between 2.2 percent and 4.6 percent. Lower death
rates from HIV, drug and alcohol abuse and use of firearms also
helped boost life expectancy.
The CDC released its data amid rising concerns about a burgeoning
obesity epidemic in the nation. Health experts have warned of
an inevitable jump in heart disease, diabetes and other diseases
if millions of Americans don’t lose weight. And the United
States already is struggling with the challenge of caring for
an aging population. Death rates from Alzheimer’s and
Parkinson’s, two diseases often associated with old age,
rose in 2003, the CDC said.
The agency’s data also highlighted continuing racial disparities,
with black men on average living 6.2 years less than white men
and black women 4.4 years less than white women.
Meanwhile, the world’s population will increase by 40
percent to 9.1 billion in 2050, but virtually all the growth
will be in the developing world, especially in the 50 poorest
countries, the U.N. Population Division said. In a new report,
the division said the population in less developed countries
is expected to swell from 5.3 billion today to 7.8 billion in
2050. By contrast, the population of richer developed countries
will remain mostly unchanged, at 1.2 billion.
The report reconfirmed many trends, including an increasingly
aging population in developed countries. But it said immigration
would prevent the overall population in richer countries from
The United States is projected to be the major net recipient
of international migrants, 1.1 million annually, with its population
increasing from 298 million in 2005 to 394 million in 2050,
the report said.
Between 2005 and 2050, population growth in eight countries
- India, Pakistan, Nigeria, Congo, Bangladesh, Uganda, the United
States, Ethiopia and China - is likely to make up half the world’s
increase, the report said. India’s population will surpass
China’s in the coming decades because its fertility, currently
at 3 children per woman, is higher than China’s, estimated
at 1.7 children per woman.
In southern Africa, the region with the highest AIDS prevalence,
life expectancy has fallen from 62 years in 1995 to 48 years
in 2000-2005, and is projected to decrease further to 43 years
over the next decade before a slow recovery starts, it said.
Michigan state police officials say they will drop out of a
multistate data-collection system that came under fire as a
potential threat to people’s privacy. The department said
too few states are participating to make the project worthwhile.
The project began in December 2003 with 13 states. Now only
Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Connecticut remain.
State police also said they were concerned about future funding
and unrealistic expectations to expand the Multistate Anti-Terrorism
Information Exchange. The project collects data, including driver’s
license and criminal history information, and shares access
with participating states. Critics have argued the system gives
law enforcement unprecedented access to details about innocent
The American Civil Liberties Union, which sued last summer to
stop Michigan’s participation, complained the project
violates state law prohibiting police from participating in
interstate intelligence gathering without legislative approval
or outside oversight.
A third woman has filed a lawsuit claiming a caretaker for Koko,
the world-famous sign-language-speaking gorilla, pressured the
woman to expose her breasts as a way to bond with the animal.
Iris Rivera, 39 and an administrative assistant at the Gorilla
Foundation until she quit last month, claims both the gorilla
and its trainer told her last year that Koko was signing that
“she wants to see your nipples.”
Two other former employees of the foundation, Nancy Alperin
and Kendra Keller, filed similar claims in recent weeks. While
Alperin and Keller refused to expose themselves to Koko, Rivera
acquiesced, the lawsuit states.
An attorney for the foundation said the lawsuits had “no
The Gorilla Foundation was founded in 1976 to promote the preservation
and study of gorillas. It’s best known for Koko, a 136-kilo
(300-pound) simian who has mastered a vocabulary of more than
A quarter of Republicans said they preferred New York City Mayor
Rudolph Guiliani for the Republican nomination, with Sen. John
McCain second at 21 percent. Neither Clinton nor Guiliani has
indicated they will run in 2008.
At the state level, a separate poll found that New York’s
Republican Gov. George Pataki is slipping farther behind Democratic
state Attorney General Eliot Spitzer in a possible 2006 matchup
for governor. The Siena College Research Institute poll had
Spitzer leading Pataki 53 percent to 30 percent, up from a 51-to-35
percent Spitzer lead in a Siena poll last month.
Spitzer has said he will run for governor in 2006; Pataki has
not said if he will seek a fourth term.
Local high school student Kacie Giuliano of Olivebridge was
part of a delegation representing thousands of 4-H members in
New York State when she arrived in Albany on March 7th and 8th
for the 70th annual 4-H Capital Days event. As participants,
they met with leaders in state government, members of the court
system and officials from a variety of state agencies. Giuliano,
age 14, attends John A. Coleman Catholic High School where she
is a freshman. She started in 4-H as a Cloverbud at the age
of 6. Kacie is the daughter of Marylou and Michael Giuliano.
The 4-H Capital Days program is sponsored by the New York State
Association of Cornell Cooperative Extension 4-H Educators.
For more information regarding 4-H call Cornell Cooperative
Extension of Ulster County at 340-3990.