As you know, I am running for Olive Supervisor. In the past
several days/weeks, it has come to my attention that several
Olive residents have mistaken me for another person in town
with the same-sounding last name.
Ann Marie Johansson is currently sitting on Olive's Planning
Board. She ran unsuccessfully for School Trustee last May after
having been appointed to the post to fill in for Tom Rosato,
who left the board before finishing his term.
Ann Marie and I both live in West Shokan - but that is where
any association ends.
I have been married to Chris Johansen for 36 years and we reside
together on Burgher Road in the home my father built from a
barn. It was part of the old Maple Dell Farm. My Grandfather
(and Mother) arrived in Olive in the mid-1920's and settled
on Bostock Mountain Road - almost across the street from what
is now the Town Meeting Hall. My grand-dad lived to the ripe
age of 99 in that home.
I was a Town Councilperson from 2000-2004, and I own the Log
Cabin business in Boiceville. Working for myself allows me to
schedule my time as I need to for whatever I am doing. It's
one of the percs of working for yourself.
I hope this helps to clear up any confusion that may be out
there about who I am and where you can find me. I hope that
if you have any questions, you will feel free to contact me
either at home: 657-8279, or at my office in Boiceville: 657-6445
- any time.
West Shokan, NY
Dear Editor, The latest rumor that is being pushed by the Ulster
County Townsman, Shandaken’s current Town Supervisor,
and other Belleayre Resort-friendly officials is that the DEC
Judge’s ruling to adjudicate 12 of the resort’s
unresolved issues will hinder the Belleayre Ski Center expansion.
Apparently they are trying to scare people into believing that
if the Belleayre Resort can’t meet environmental standards
at the size, scope and location for which it is proposed, then
all future development, including the expansion of the Belleayre
Ski Center, is in jeopardy. A reality check is in order. The
proposed Belleayre Resort is a highly complex project proposed
for a mountaintop site within the Catskill State Forest Preserve
and the NYC Watershed. It is the largest single development
ever proposed for the central Catskills and dwarfs the state-owned
Belleayre Ski Center, even with its proposed expansion. When
you look on a map at the east and west footprints of the proposed
resort (Belleayre Ridge and Belleayre Highlands on the east
and Wildacres on the west) and compare it with the footprint
of the Belleayre Ski Center, it is clear that the ski center
is a fraction of the size. (Use official state maps) According
to Tony Lanza, Superintendent of the Belleayre Ski Center, the
proposed expansion plan would most likely include a new lodge
near the BASE of the mountain, a new trail on the west side
of the ridge that divides the ski center from Pine Hill, upgraded
lifts to get skiers up the mountain faster, the widening of
at least one existing trail, the addition of extensions to one
or more existing trails, and new parking at the BASE of the
mountain. He said he wanted to work with the community and that
it was still open for discussion consistent with the Unit Management
Plan process. The State Constitution limits the size of the
ski center, consequently, this will be the final expansion since
it will bring the ski center to the maximum size allowed. This
is a far cry from a destination resort with 2 major mountaintop/mountainside
hotel complexes with hundreds of rooms, 2 18-hole golf courses,
351 time-share units in 98 additional buildings, a 21-lot housing
development, multiple restaurants and retail stores, recreational
amenities, conference facilities, clubhouses, activity centers,
maintenance buildings, offices and storage areas, sewage treatment
facilities, access roads, parking lots, and more. Larger size
and increased development density mean greater impacts on the
environment, the communities, roads, traffic, schools, services,
the limited labor pool, and so on. Most people understand this.
Environmentally, the impacts of smaller-scale developments are
much easier to mitigate as long as the development is proposed
for an appropriate site. The same principle holds true for community
character and socio-economic impacts. Smaller-scale development
is much easier to integrate in a way that is beneficial to the
community, whereas large developments tend to destabilize and
overwhelm. There are many examples of this potential to overwhelm.
For example, the Belleayre Resort claims it would bring over
850 jobs to our area, which has only a fraction of that number
in available workers. And the surrounding towns have extremely
low unemployment rates. That means that literally hundreds of
workers would need to be brought in to fill this void. Where
would they live? How many children would they put in area schools?
What would the cost be to taxpayers? How many would qualify
for social services? How much worse would the already-existing
affordable-housing crisis get? How much would taxpayers have
to pay out to subsidize this? These, and many others, are fundamental
questions that must be answered in relation to the Belleayre
Resort, or any development of that magnitude, in the course
of its review. Yet these would be non-issues for the Belleayre
Ski Center expansion or other smaller proposals that are in
scale with, and complementary to, the area. Larger size equals
greater impact. If someone wants a simpler, easier and quicker
review than the Belleayre Resort is undergoing, propose a smaller,
simpler project that compliments the area, and choose a site
that is conducive to development. Don‘t propose building
a new city on a mountain. Judith Wyman Chichester, NY Dear Editor,
I am Peter Friedel, a lifelong resident of the Town of Olive,
and I hope to gain the support of our community in my candidacy
for Town Justice. We have recently learned that Judge Vincent
Barringer will soon be retiring, thus ending his 30 years of
service to the Town of Olive. He is not only a great judge,
but also a wonderful man whose lifelong dedication to Olive’s
matters (both social and political) will be missed. While no
one can truly replace Judge Barringer, I can guarantee that
if I were elected, I would do my best to live up to the high
standard he has set. Many of you may remember me as the guy
driving the fire truck while wearing a suit and tie, or you
may remember as the guy with the Boy Scouts during the annual
spaghetti dinner and pancake breakfast. Many of you also know
my wife Michelle, a dedicated teacher, and my two boys, Joseph
and Andrew, who attend OCS. We reside in West Shokan. I grew
up here, in Olive, and attended Onteora Central Schools from
kindergarten through high school. In many ways Olive has afforded
me the social and moral foundation for future success. For instance,
participating in the wrestling and track teams, as well as playing
high school and college varsity football, helped teach me the
value of cooperation and community spirit. This sense of community
was also fostered by my parents, Joe and Sandy Friedel, both
of whom were teachers at Onteora high school. When I turned
fourteen, in attempt to encourage my ingenuity, my father helped
me start my own firewood business. Not only did I learn responsibility
and professionalism from this experience, but also I learned
about the importance of our local economy. Even at that young
age, I understood that I was participating in something very
important. My community involvement continued through school,
establishing the pattern of commitment and steadfastness to
which I still adhere. I became a Boy Scout when I was 8 years
old, and have been involved with the Scouts ever since. Now
both of my sons are members, and I am Pack 63’s Cub Master,
as well as Troop 63’s Assistant Scout Master. The legendary
Tom Finckus was my inspiration. I continue working with the
scouts to keep Mr. Finckus’ spirit alive. At the age of
16, I joined Olive’s fire department. Now, many years
later, I am still one of Olive’s volunteer firefighters.
I also bring commitment and loyalty to my professional life.
After graduating from SUNY Cortland with a degree in Managerial
Science and Economics, I began my career as a sales representative
for Standard Register. My office is in Boiceville, and I have
been with the company now for 18 years. While my education has
taught me how to hone my skills, guide my successes, and achieve
my goals, my sales career has helped me develop and refine my
ability to judge character and relate to people. These qualities,
along with the resourcefulness, diligence, and perseverance
my career demands, are only a few of those that I would bring
with me to the bench. It is important for me to stress, however,
that the qualities I have gained through my education and career
have been invaluably supplemented by my experience and roots
in this community. The foundation of my success was forged in
the character-building experiences of my childhood, experiences
provided for me by my family, friends, and neighbors—the
people of this community with whom I share memories and ties.
These roots have afforded me a spirit of commitment, loyalty,
and dedication that no amount of classroom learning could have
offered. Some may argue that our town would be better served
by a Justice with a law degree, someone with “job-specific”
education and experience. I don’t think so. I believe
(and I hope that the members of our community will agree) that
the best candidate for this important position is someone whose
interests align solely with those of Olive—someone who
has spent his 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. Not only do I have the experience, skill, and character
needed to provide you with exceptional service as Town Justice,
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 support. If you have any questions
or concerns, please feel free to contact me at home: 657-9395.
Your Neighbor, Peter Friedel West Shokan, NY Dear Editor, Archimedes,
the great Sicilian/Greek mathematician stated quite confidently
that "there is nothing so constant as change". That's
me! I like to respond in my bi-weekly Press "column"
to letters to you [the Editor] which I consider mundane, "characterized",
factless, irrelavant and without merit. (How charitable can
one get)? This time I wish to comment on the "NEWS IN BRIEF"
of the Sept. 29th issue of the Press. No need for a full "line
item" as there is sufficient "off the wall" reports.
The first that intrigues me is, who is the Athletic director
to fire the Head coach at OCS? In my day the Athletic Director
was the Coach with a teacher as the Asst. Coach. Are people
getting in each other's way there? Does the personnel roster
have the bloat? Number 2; who began the confrontation with the
head coach? To the father that plans on escorting his son through
life, I say, "get off". Chances are you will precede
him to that "Great Touchdown" and then who will give
him direction or argue on his behalf with his wife, boss, pastor
or neighbor? Can we not find some fair amount of responsibility
or blame to attach to the NYCDEP for the floods. I refer any
and all of that persuasion to read Genesis 6: 17. The ball was
in Noah's court and he took it and ran. He didn't tell the "Perpetrator"
He should fix it but built an ark [phew!]. Retiring County Clerk
Albert Spada must have been doing 51% of his job quite well;
congratulations, sir. Now, Onteora. I thought the "jousting"
was over, but as Yogi declares, "it ain't over 'till it's
over". Sour grapes does not even make fair wine so why
are folks still "sniping"? Woodstock and Shandaken
should have taken the election 2005 [for OCSB] to the "Bush"
Supreme Court. And from my vantage point in life, yes there
is a difference in schools within the same system. Students
are different; teachers are varied and unique, and parents are
the troublemakers. [I'll be happy to expand on that at another
time; if asked]. That's another point. Why doesn't some one
jump on my bones? Only one person has responded to one of my
letters re: VA benefits and I simply referred her to the VA
rules/regs by Atricle, Section and Paragraph. That was the end
of it. Gitter is not dead re: his resort development! "Reports
of [his] demise are premature". Launching an attack [by
whomever] on a judge of any jurisdiction is like sueing the
court for rendering a guilty verdict. I must try that next time
I have to appear for a traffic or parking summons. It's an interesting
concept with much anticipation. New election "contraptions"
with no tracking abilities is like burning the ballots following
the count [or before]. We have folks that are functionally illiterate
or are not proficient in English already and now the "money
wasters" want to saddle us with these electronic "weegie
boards"? "If it ain't broke, don't fix it". It's
quite satisfying to read of the economic boom in the Hudson
Valley. I knew the price of apples would cause a significant
jump. Maybe we can share in the benefits under the Large Parcel
Bill. Well.......any bug can cause a calamity. [Just a fertile
mind gone wild again]. Jail Delay? Rhymes with Tom, you know
who. Let's make a deal. Let the Native Americans set up a Casino
with the condition that they pay for the jail over 10 years.
By that time  we'll need a new and larger jail. County
politicians and contractors can run a replay. By the way, who
is the General Contractor that co-ordinates all the sub contractors
now that we know there was a mix-up in who, when or where certain
elements or units were to be installed. Are any of our [Republican]
legislative wizards aware of the "penalty" clause
in a capital project. Robert Parete observed that, "it's
a mess" and there isn't much he or our other Democrat legislators
can do about it. [That's why Ulster County's Legislature needs
a fumigation with political "Lysol" this November].
Rhetorical question; wouldn't it be a shame if we couldn't find
enough tenants for this new monument to inefficient ineptness?
Yes to more and intensive testing for our students in NY and
elsewhere. It is amusing and amazing to play Scrabble with high
school graduates. College Cats are worse(r). "Antidissestablish-mentarianism"
isn't a word, you say? OK. Continue on your own dumb path. Casino
Watch for whatever benefits brings to mind Biloxi, Mississipi
and the fact that the state, let alone Biloxi is dependant on
the "turn of the card' or the "roll of the dice".
It's a sad commentary on public management skills. I commend
our Olive Town Board for their rejecting "pie in the sky"
and all the other pitfalls that gambling brings. The first significant
thing about casinos is that they exist to make money and "card
counters" get beat up and/or thrown out. Minutemen? Good
public service and as far as I know it's a volunteer project.
I believe we may make an arrest if a law is being broken and
we are fit enough to facilitate that arrest. It's called a citizen's
arrest and those "fanatics" [my term in jest] have
nothing else to do. Who are these illegal immigrants to "jump
the line" ahead of legitamate applicants? This is not anti-immigrant
or racist. Every oath of allegiance ceremony consists of legal
immigrants, so that settles the anti phobea. There are also
a large number of faces that run the color spectrum. So much
for racism. Here's the "biggie"; Iraqi Plunder! KBR/Halliburton
has stolen, repented, repaid and is back in the game. Small
potatoes. Now we find out that our beneficiaries have stolen
over 1 billion [with a "B"] dollars which was to have
purchased modern military hardware and equipment. It wouldn't
be too bad if the Iraqi military and police had museum-piece
weapons but they have less than that. RPG's are being propelled
by inner tube strips and ammo is being reloaded with powder
from firecrackers. And we are there to bring these people up
to governing for and by themselves? The 1 billion could reach
2 billion according to reports. The plunder has surfaced in
the Katrina region in the image/person of old friends KBR/Halliburton;
again without a bidding process. What a shame that in this great
nation there is no one but Halliburton qualified to rebuild
or resupply. [just a footnote to the Gulf thing. The mayor of
New Orleans has terminated 3000 city employees just when they
[and others] need those paychecks. I am certain that the money
could be found [by the state?] to retain those of limited skills
as the government at any level is the "employer of last
resort". Why were they there to begin with if they had
nothing to do Mr. Mayor? Binghamton 4! These people are not
Catholic. War protesters? Yes! Trespassers? Yes! Vandals? Yes.
Those last two of the three charges disqualify these hoodlums/hooligans
as Catholics. It's as referring to Catholics for abortion. No
such thing. It's an oxymoron at best and we all defy Catholic
teachings many times every day. But a deliberate violation of
common law doesn't fit within the parameters of "Catholic".
The Berrigan brothers were two Jesuit Priests who are known
for their "updating" of methods of protest. I believe
they employed red paint as their symbol of blood and the comparison
of them along with the Binghamton 4 and Susan B. Anthony or
Martin Luther King is absurd. I don't see the Berrigans on a
$1.00 coin or being celebrated nationally each year. I would
add to the list of terrorist tactics against those with lifestyles
I disagree with. Killing or tormenting Gays is an abomination.
Destroying people or property that cater to abortions is "over
the top". And throwing vials of blood in a Recruiting Station
didn't stop recruiting. In fact it was counter productive. The
4 are defending themselves as "pro se litigants" and
are candidates for "dimwits" of the decade. Bad Credit?
is a controversial topic. If paying more than the minimum relieves
the consumer that's fine. If it causes an immediate hardship,
that's not so good. The law needs to be ammended to give the
consumer more time to get their financial house in order. I
personally subscribe to using " their" money [for
45 days] by buying during the whole month plus the grace period.
Works for me. Lions Attack is justice. That's all. I hope they
say grace. Ozone Growth jury is still out. Mount Penatuba did
more damage than we did. Oh yeh.....the blame game again. Un-Organic.
What's that? Our garden is always organic except when we throw
cow manure on it. Grow your own. Seen This Dog? generates interest
and empathy. A dog becomes a family member the moment it is
introduced to the family even as some object quite forcefully.
Katrina.... can be investigated "'till hell freezes over"
but I can save them a bunch of time and money; Michael Brown
was hired without investigation or information as to background,
education and time in the field. Remember, when you point your
index finger at someone, three other fingers are directed at
youself. Fire George Bush. Throw the big guy out and all the
little one's will follow. Endangered is always an interesting
label from either side. Who wants to prevent the extinction
of insects other than the pesticide purveyors. Now they have
entree to the halls of congress and lobbyists on "K"
street. Why isn't the dinosauer on the endangered list? There
are still a few around don't you know? I see some in button
down pin striped business suits. I still wonder what we're doing
in Iraq. Glenn T. Anderson Olivebridge, NY
In case you missed the New York Times article on Sunday, September
25, entitled Madison Avenue Wants You... Your children are now
being targeted in an advertisingcampaign, to sell military enlistment
as the new chic choice to make for your childs future. Just
like selling Pepsi or Coke, image is everything. You know how
effective the hucksters are in convincing kids of what they
must have to be cool. This is advertising designed not to look
or feel like advert ising at all said Edward Boches, chief creative
officer at Mullen, the agency created the recruitment ads for
the military. Get involved in your children s decision making.
Dont let them makedecisions alone with a military recruiter.
Find out the real deal of what is involvedshould your child
think about enlisting. It is not simply what it seems to be.
Remember, even in the event that your child does sign a contract
for the DelayedEntry Program, it is not legally binding until
he/she actually takes the military oath atinduction.For more
information, get in touch with, Community Concerned About the
Military in Our Schools @ 845-679-6938.
Hi Y'all--sorry for the impersonal mass email but there is no
I went into New Orleans for the 1st time yesterday and my home
did not flood!!! I feel like I have won the Katrina lottery---the
block by block crap shoot that has been a guessing game for
the last month. Being in Mid-City it was hard to know for sure
without seeing it for myself. I had reports that H2O on my block
had gotten up to the threshold of the homes but had not gotten
in. But that didnt take into consideration that the back of
my 100 yr old house is lower than the front and the right dips
more than the left and what if my lot is slighly lower than
the one next to me and so on and so on......
My zip is not one of the ones that is open and anyone who has
followed this closely knows that day to day the instructions,
projections and speculations from the feds, the state and the
city change. We are under mandatory evacuation but some people
were getting in and some were not. There were tales of checkpoints
to pass and how to fake creditials and various routes to try.
Some folks said go really early, the guards are half asleep,
some said go late, the guards wont be so vigilant and some folks
got in without seeing anyone official at all. So I had no idea
what my trip would be like. I just went straight down I-10,
late morning. When the sign said "All Exit at Causeway
Except Authorized Vehicles", I kept driving. Every exit
I thought I would get off at was blocked with barricades and
guards so I kept going. Finally the St. Charles exit was clear
so I drove down it and headed thru the CBD towards Mid-City.
Maybe it was the fact that my Mom's white Grand Marquis kind
of looks like an undercover cop car, maybe it was with my 67
yr old mom sitting in the passenger seat and me barely able
to see over the steering wheel we looked pretty harmless:) All
I know is once we were in, we were in.
Everything you have heard is true: its eerily quiet, no cars,
no people, no animals. I couldnt get over all the dead and downed
trees. I could barely watch the road I was so preoccupied with
the brown water lines on everything, everywhere. I was so nervous
opening my front door I could barely get the key in the lock.
I walked in and the living room was as messy as I had left it.
I took a deep breath and instead of grabbing for my mask and
my Vicks Vapo-Rub I exhaled a sigh of relief. Even my lower
back right corner was dry! No mold creeping up the walls, all
of my artwork safe, my clothes and upholstery spared--it was
a dream come true.
Now my laundry room, which is a wooden shed off the back of
the house, was a different story. It got hit from the top and
bottom, flood water about a foot and a half , shingles blew
off the roof and it rained in. No damage I cant live with--
some ruined xmas decorations, soaked luggage and a moldy washer
dryer that will need to be replaced. From the outside, looks
like I got some roof damage but there were no obvious leaks
and one of my Victorian brackets blew off. My yard, teeny as
it is, is a total mess but again, easily repaired all things
Thanks to all of you for cosmically holding my hand thru this
tentative month. For those of you who have had major damage
and for those yet to learn the extent of it, my heart goes out
to you, as does my vow to help you clean up and keep going.
That's how it will be, the dry will help the wet. I just want
everyone to come back home as soon as we have water and lights.
We can do this but its going to take all of us....
Take care and let me know how you are doing.
New Orleans, LA
An open letter to President Bush and Donald Rumsfeld,
Every year when the school year starts I am always confused
when our local Headstart Program is compelled to recruit enough
children to qualify for funding. I assumed when the "No
Child Left Behind Act" was passed, it would guarentee that
important programs, such as HeadStart, would be funded whether
there was 1 or 100 children wish to enroll in the program. Recently,
it has come to my attention that there is a little known provision
of the "No Child Left Behind Act", in which public
high schools must hand over personal information about students
-- including minors -- to local military recruiters. Now I understand
what "No Child Left Behind" really means. My bad.
Pine Hill, NY
Of course the media is once again downplaying the numbers, if
reporting the march at all! Very little evidence of media was
present. But this was the biggest anti-war rally ever. Estimates
were that there were upwards of 600,000 people there.
People were there from all over the country. It was not your
typical East coast lefty crowd.
All ages/all colors, rich and poor... were there.
Of all the speakers I heard, Congresswoman Maxine Waters was
most amazing. She really told it like it is with great courage.
She deserves our support.
My overriding reason for attending was to support the Military
Families and Gold Star Families. As you approached their sector
on the lawn, below the Washington Memorial, the first thing
to come to view was the Arlington replica where crosses/stars
of David have been placed to represent the deaths of individual
soldiers. Beyond that the Gold Star families had arranged the
boots of their fallen heroes with name tags. It is an image
I will recall with tears for a long time to come. The Gold Star
families were gathering behind a banner getting ready for the
march. They carried and wore photos of their kids. A group from
South Carolina wore shirts with collaged images of a couple
dozen young faces that read "All America is a Gold Star
Family." They spontaneously raised their beautiful voices
in gospel tunes.
One woman in particular caught my attention. She held a sign
with a photo of her smiling son with his fiance. The sign read
"No College Graduation, No Wedding, No Grandchildren, No
Smiles and Hugs"
She told us that her son was killed on the day George Bush said
"Bring 'em On!" She was trembling with anger and the
pain of her loss. Shaking her head she said "you can't
imagine what it is like." Hugging her and sharing her story...more
tearful images to hold in my heart.
Another man from Missouri stood alone along the march path with
a poster-size photo of a young woman who had died in Iraq in
his son's arms. He said his son joined the National Guard to
earn some extra money and to be able to help his neighbors.
His son's tour was up in 20 days. He said he just had to get
through the next five days before his son would be sent to Kuwait
and then home. Five more days in an unarmored Humvee...five
days that will seem like an eternity. This man stood quietly
alone. He had come a long way to share his story with whoever
cared to ask.
Later in the afternoon Joan Baez sang for us. Her voice is beautiful
and clear as ever. Those old protest songs still ring true.
I came away feeling hopeful that the tide has turned. All of
America took to the streets in DC yesterday. I was so happy
to be there among the six buses that came from Ulster County
alone. I love our activist community.
It is clear that there has been a sharp shift in American public
opinion concerning the Bush presidency and its failed policies
especially as regards the war in Iraq. This was evidenced by
the exuberant honking of horns and V-signs flashed by motorists
passing Academy Green Park in Kingston on Saurday September
24. The anti-war protest attended by over 100 local residents
in support of the largest Washington DC rally held in recent
times was buoyed by the public response. Many of them were not
able to take the arduous trip to the nation's capital and so
decided to make a local stand for peace.
Our signs said, "Support Our Troops - Bring them Home Now,"
"Peace Is Patriotic," "Money For Flood Relief
- Not For Halliburton," etc. The demand to end the U.S.
occupation before more American and Iraqi lives are lost unnecessarily,
plus a U.S. pledge to give the Iraqi oilfields back to the people,
must be conveyed to every one of our elected representatives.
This was the theme of the rally and the determination of all
present to continue protesting until it is done.
It was a beautiful fall day. Peace songs performed by Voices
for Peace, groups of guitar musicians and drummers were enthusiastically
sung by those present. This was a great success and only the
first in a series of events that are being planned.
Sponsors included: Kingston People For Peace, Peace Action Network
and Kingston Women In Black.
I agree with Judge Wissler's decision to adjudicate twelve issues
in the Belleayre Resort at Catskill Park. Here's why: I am opposed
to huge developments in rural areas. They always raise taxes,
displace longtime residents, jack up traffic and create an awful
burden on social services. They almost always harm the environment
and destroy the local way of life. Doubletalk about increasing
the "tax base" and adding "more jobs" is
designed to confuse people into backing the developers and their
cheerleading politicians. Sure there are "more jobs"
but 90 percent are minimum wage and way below the poverty line.
Yes the "tax base" goes up, but social costs go up
faster and taxes end up higher than before.
The biggest cost is to small town folks who must come up with
hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars to defend
themselves against the legal attack waged by the big time developers,
their wealthy backers and the politicians that live in their
pockets. Please visit www.CatskillHeritage.org to learn more.
The Delayed Entry Program is responsible for 90 percent of young
recruits entering the services. Some of them are recruited in
the cafeterias and gym classes of our Ulster County High Schools.
Every adult working with teenagers should know the following
information about the Delayed Entry program. Our school principals
should explain these facts to their teachers, guidance counselors,
and coaches. To do less is irresponsible because the recruiters
may not mention the key fact: The truth is that students' signatures
on the Delayed Entry contract are not legally binding. They
can change their minds.
Adolescents can be impulsive. A handsome, uniformed recruiter
tells a 17-year old, worried about admission to his or her first
choice college or lack of money for college, that he or she
can have an insurance plan for the future by signing up now.
The Navy presents a nice choice, and he or she will not have
to go for several months. Buy now; pay later. The recruiter
may remind the young person that while his or her friends will
have to worry about money, he or she can go to school while
getting pay, full health benefits, free housing and even tuition
money. No prob: you won't have to go for months. You can have
a great summer. There is even a bonus if you bring three friends
When the notice comes to report for induction, perhaps the student
has been accepted at the college. But the recruiters will pull
out the stops, remind him that he signed a contract. Contracts
are binding. There is a punishment. Kids have been threatened
with arrest at home, called traitors, sissies, and "unchristian"
to boot. One case of such threats made over a boy's cell phone
was recorded, played on NPR, and the recruiter punished for
lying. J.E. McNeil, Executive Director of the 50-year-old Center
on Conscience and War and a Washington lawyer who runs the GI
Rights Hot Line, knows a boy who got in the recruiter's car
and was taken from Richmond to Baltimore where he was inducted.
The truth is: The ony legal punishment for breaking that contract
is that you do not get to be in the military. Tell young people:
when the letter comes, do not go if you do not want to. It is
not binding until you actually take the military oath at induction.
And by the way, the recruiter might fail to mention that the
Navy is swamped by too many applications.
I was one of the many people who attended the Ulster County
Legislature’s meeting at which the Large Parcel Option
met defeat. I commend the many officials and citizens from Olive
who spoke against this unfair method of taxing Olive, Hurley
and Wawarsing. I was particularly impressed how the three legislators
from our district, Robert Parete, Peter Kraft and Richard Parete
networked with the other legislators explaining the facts and
stressing the Large Parcel’s violation of home rule.
Had they and Jeanette Provenzano not blocked the motion to postpone
voting on this issue, there might have been very different results.
Our legislators know and communicate so openly with the other
legislators that they knew that this session provided an opportunity
to defeat the measure. We owe them a public thank-you for the
behind the scenes work that they do in representing Olive and
communicating our needs to the County.
Sincerely, Martha Havisham
On Sunday, October 2nd, there was a tragic accident in Lake
George, New York. A boat with 47 elderly tourists on board capsized.
Twenty of them drowned. The coverage was excellent. We quickly
read or heard about the victims, the boat, the applicable laws,
the customary procedures, that the boat had bench seats rather
than bucket seats. The boat had passed its last inspection.
Reporters followed up on similar accidents around the country.
What was fascinating was how appropriate and thorough the stories
were. More than that, how easy and natural it seemed that the
story was reported that way.
Contrast that with what happened about a week earlier, when
it came out that Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist was being
investigated by the SEC and the Justice Department for insider
trading. If the story was covered at all – ABC World News
Tonight passed on it – it was given bare bones treatment.
AP reporters Jonathan M. Katz and Larry Margasak were an exception,
they followed up and revealed that Frist lied about having no
communications with the trustee about what was in the trust.
But beyond that, in the early reports, we entered into the land
of what I call fog facts.
Fog facts are things that have been reported, somewhere, sometime,
but have disappeared into the mist—like the pre-9/11 hints
that there were hijackers in our midst. The fog facts can still
be found by enterprising reporters, but with time and news space
increasingly crunched—and media priorities shifting to
the trivial—they usually remain obscure, at least to the
If, for example, the Frist/insider trading story had been covered
the way the Lake George story had been covered, here are some
of the things that might have quickly emerged out of the fog:
Bill Frist is a very rich man. At the time of his first Senate
race in 1994, he declared his personal holdings as $20 million,
and $13 million of that was in HCA stock. HCA is the largest
health care company in the country. It was founded by Frist’s
father, Thomas, and, later on, run by his brother, Thomas, Jr.
When Frist won, he became the health care industry’s own
senator. It’s not that they bought him, he was them. He
voted against the “Patient Bill of Rights.” He made
it harder for patients to sue their HMOs for not receiving care.
He sponsored the bill that protects pharmaceutical companies
from liability for their use of thimersol, a mercury-based ingredient
in vaccines. He pushed through the mega-bill that makes Medicare
pay top dollar to the pharmaceutical industry. He worked for
the tobacco interests and against USDA inspections of food suppliers.
Meantime, an investigation of HCA was going on. It turned into
the largest medical fraud case in history. HCA had defrauded
Medicare, Medicaid and Tricare, the military’s health
care program. They kept two sets of books. They paid kick backs.
They engaged in “upcoding,” billing for more expensive
procedures than what they actually performed. They charged their
advertising to the government as “community education.”
HCA consolidated and sold billions in property to pay for the
legal fight. But then they settled with the government just
two days before Trent Lott stepped down and Frist stepped up
to become Majority Leader.
Part of that settlement could be regarded as a sweetheart deal.
A plea of guilty to the criminal part of the charges would have
disqualified them from government contracts. They were allowed
to use subsidiaries to accept the criminal liability and then
let those companies go out of business.
Frist’s brother, Thomas, was charged with insider trading
in 1997, but survived the allegations.
This was not Bill Frist’s only peculiar financial transaction.
In 2000 he took a million dollars in campaign contributions
and invested them in the stock market. He lost $710,000 of it.
He stood by his decision, saying, "Over time, money that
is placed in markets will increase faster than placed in banks."
Surely, some of this, if not all of it, is as relevant and as
important as bench seats versus bucket seats at Lake George.
Yet in the Lake George stories, details, background and context
were as natural as using a headline and a lead paragraph, yet
the breaking Frist story was written as if the events occurred
in ghostly isolation, disconnected from others like them, from
society, and from humanity in general.
One story, Lake George, has a certain neutrality about it. It’s
real news (it’s not political scandal). So reporters and
editors fearlessly get it all for us. They do not just report
the events, they pull all the relevant facts (laws, history,
similar events, speculations, social impact) out of the thousands
of bits of information floating around-- out of the fog.
The other story is also news. In terms of what will or will
not happen to us in the future, it is significantly more important.
All the bits and pieces that I’ve tossed in here can be
found, without too much effort. Yet, they're not there. They're
still lost in the fog.
If I said that that it is because it involves a very powerful
man backed by a very powerful political party with lots of supporters
who attack the press when they feel their leaders are attacked,
most reporters and editors would say no, they would never make
a decision to report based on fear or favor. Yet virtually everyone
handled the story the same way.
Just as reporting all the details about the Lake George incident
seems natural, it seems just as natural that the intersection
between Frist's money and politics, the other insider trading
in the administration, the corrupt and criminal practices that
are the basis of Frist's fortune went unremarked. Under-reporting
in such circumstances has become institutionalized. That's why
the fog remains.
Benny was our favorite cat. A big, fat, fluffy, orange cat with
a soft white belly and a ton of personality. He was silly, for
sure. Stalking his first deer as a kitten, and just this summer,
chasing a huge, wild, squawking turkey up into a tree. Sitting
on a chair at the dinner table, his sweet furry face eyeballing
the plates of food, he peeked politefully, yet always hopefully,
out over the gray rim of great grandma's old porcelain top table.
In this world of tab top cat food cans, Benny instinctually
retained and recognized the sound of the faithful 'Swing-A-Way'
can opener, rolling open another savory can of tuna, which meant
"TREATS -- OH BOY!!!!" When he threw his heavy body
down onto your lap and went 'BOOM', he would "muffa - purr",
just like his ancestral lions. As he slipped into a state of
sheer bliss in one of his upside down, belly up yoga positions,
he would often forget where he was, and ever so slowly start
to slide off of laps, or chairs or his favorite footstool. He
would eventually hit the floor, startle himself awake and then
mosey off to reposition himself in another comfortable spot,
happy once again. You could cover Benny with blankets, towels
or throw rugs and he would nap for sometimes hours, a warm breathing
lump, toasty and secure under the dark cavern of covers. If
you sang him circus songs, he would dance up on his strong hind
legs, gently grabbing your outstretched hand, hugging you with
his massive, meticulous white paws, never ever extending his
claws. Benny was like our dog, going for long walks into the
deep woods, running along, happy to be outside, where he loved
to romp and play early every morning, mind you, if it wasn't
TOO cold out. He was the ringleader, the joyous instigator in
our clan of cats. At night, after a hard day of intense play,
he would fall onto our cold feet at the bottom of the bed, or
guard us from the full moon creatures, while perched, sleeping
with one eye open, in the high windowsills of the bedrooms.
A rubber of legs, a lover of earwax, our Benny was just SO nice,
SO silly, and SO much fun!
He must have been hanging out at the pond last Tuesday night,
mesmerized by bugs, getting a mouthful of frog, or encouraging
the ducks to head south with the arrival of this crisp autumn
air. We'll never know why he was out in the road. He always
ran away from cars;he hated them; was afraid of them! But somehow,
one of those dreaded machines snuffed out Benny's precious life
and crushed our dreams of spending so many more years of heartfelt
laughter and true happiness with him.
As his death sinks in, we wish for all the things we might have
done. But most of all, we wish that you had been driving a little
slower, or more carefully. We wish that you would have had the
time to stop, let Benny cross the road, and come home to us
in one piece.
Sitting here numb, in our own sorrow, we wonder if you will
ever let us know what happened and, if perhaps, you are sorry,