Dems Have It!
On a county
level, the town’s best known innkeeper, Boiceville
Inn owner John Parete, led County Democrats, for whom he
is chairman, to an historic shift in the legislature’s
make-up that will see the longstanding underdogs take a
resounding 2- to 13 seat majority over Republicans.
Among the numerous Democratic wins across the county were
a major trouncing of GOP Majority Leader Michael Stock in
neighboring District Two (Shandaken/Woodstock/etc), as well
as full sweeps of such areas as the Route 209 corridor and
the town of Ulster.
Speaking from Backstage Productions large space on Wall
Street in Uptown Kingston Tuesday night, Parete spoke in
his upbeat manner about how the voters of Ulster County
had made a decision to shift their attentions to open government
and a responsible Democratic legislature.
Many voters said that their decisions Tuesday were driven
by the county GOP majority’s many fiscal problems
of late, from the major cost and time overruns on the new
jail to a hike in the county budget of over 40 percent.
Parete’s two sons, Robert and Richard, along with
Peter Kraft of Glenford, all Democratic incumbents, won
Specific vote counts saw incumbent supervisor Bert Leifeld
win a total of 1268 votes to Republican-Conservative Cindy
Johansen’s 463. In District One, Shokan, Leifeld received
315 Democratic votes while Johansen received 109 Republican
votes and 21 Conservative votes. In District Two, West Shokan,
Leifeld won 237 Democratic votes to Johansen’s 81
Republican votes and 14 Conservative votes. In District
Three, Samsonville, Leifeld won 225 Democratic votes to
Johansen’s 74 Republican votes and 10 Conservative
votes. In District Four, Olivebridge, Leifeld won 284 Democrat
votes to Johansen’s 70 Republican votes and 16 Conservative
votes. In District Five, Boiceville, Leifeld won 207 Democrat
votes to Johansen’s 64 Republican votes and 4 Conservative
Incumbent Democrats Bruce LaMonda and Carol Chase won re-election
with 1357 and 1103 votes, respectively. Republican-Conservative
challenger Sue Gunther received a total of 564 votes.
In the race for Highway Superintendent, incumbent Jimmy
Fugel won a second four year term with a total of 1231 votes
on the Democrat and Conservative lines to Chet Scofield’s
480 Republican line votes.
In the close race for town justice, Tim Cox won with a total
of 882 Democrat votes to Peter Friedel’s 827 votes
on the Republican and Conservatiove lines. In District One,
Cox received 235 democrat votes to Friedel’s 186 Republican
and 30 Conservative line votes. In District Two, Cox received
157 Democratic votes to Friedel’s 149 Republican and
23 Conservative votes. In District Three, Cox won 145 Democratic
votes to 143 Republican and 15 Conservative votes for Friedel.
In District Four, Cox received 199 Democratic votes to Friedel’s
128 Republican and 27 Conservative Party votes. In District
Five, Cox got 146 Democratic votes to 110 Republican and
16 Conservative votes for Friedel.
Unchallenged democratic incumbent Sylvia Rozzelle won a
total of 1416 votes on the Democratic and Conservative party
In the county legislative races, Richard Parete won 4165
votes, Richard Parete got 4070 votes, and Peter Kraft received
3942 votes. Also running were former democratic legislator
Linda Bertone, now a Republican, with 2208 votes, Chris
Johansen, a Conservative, with 1810 votes, and Arthur Bowen
with 1692 votes.
On a county level, Democrat Tony McGinty won a Family Court
seat 26,549 to 20,535 for Steve Nussbaum, republican. The
region’s three Supreme Court Justice seats went to
Democrats Edward Spain, John Egan and Michael Lynch.
All results are provisional given that absentee ballots
have yet to be counted.
Question Of Legality
"I don’t think censuring them accomplishes anything,"
opined Olive supervisor Brendt Leifeld, "because, quite
frankly, it’s still a question of whether it’s
legal or not legal. I guess until somebody sues the city,
we’re not going to know."
The question of legality Leifeld refers to is a core issue
in the controversy and the impetus of the actions taken
by Justices Ronald C. Wright and Vincent Barringer which
led to the censures. Is the 35 mph speed limit imposed by
New York City’s Department of Environmental Protection
on Route 28A in Olive and West Hurley a legal posting?
"Even though it’s their road, it’s not
within the boundaries of their city and that’s where
the argument comes in," Leifeld said. "They feel
they have a right to post it any way they want. The way
I understand it, that’s true within their boundaries,
the same as any other city. But, in this case, within our
boundaries, the way it was explained to me, the steps are
that they come to a town board and we vote on it. If we
agree with them, we give them our blessings and they go
out and post it. None of that ever took place."
Leifeld pointed out that the town itself had never posted
speed limits on the roads in question. Others have complained
that the limits were set by city officials who have never
even seen the roads.
"When it was a lousy road, it was 55 mph and nobody
cared," Leifeld said. "Then they go and spend
all that money and make it a halfway decent road and lower
it to 35! That got everybody upset. There’s no passing
zones and there’s areas where there <i>should</I>
be but they just put out double lines and 35 mph signs.
Of course, it’s probably a coincidence and one thing
doesn’t relate to the other but that was when DEP
presence became more insufferable and it all fell together
at once- just enough to aggravate everybody."
Some residents see the commission’s censure as a defeat
for Olive home rule and a "victory for New York City
colonialism- a ‘might makes right’ decision
in the style of the times," as one woman in Boiceville
said. A man at her side seemed half-serious when he pictured
a ‘speeder’ being interrogated in the "state-of-the-art
dungeon under that new command center they built (at the
reservoir) with Homeland Security funding."
Local objections to the increased DEP police presence in
the area heightened with the closing of Monument Road in
March of 2003. Vincent Barringer’s appearance at a
rally protesting the closure in September of that year was
cited in the commission’s censure in at least four
of the charges against him. Although Barringer, who was
among a dozen or so who spoke at the rally, neither wore
his robes nor identified himself as a judge, the commission
identified him as "master of ceremonies" for the
event, which was carefully videoed by the DEP, and as "an
outspoken critic of the DEP." He was also charged with
making "statements that could be interpreted as public
advocating blowing up barriers across the closed road, lying
down in front of paving machines scheduled to work on the
detour road and polluting the Ashokan Reservoir."
The 11 member Judicial Conduct Commission (which consists
of 3 members appointed to a 4 year term by the Chief Judge
of the State Court of Appeals, 4 members appointed by the
Governor and 1 member each appointed by the 4 leaders of
the State Legislature) stated that "(t)he ethical standards
require a judge to avoid extra-judicial conduct that casts
doubt on the judge’s impartiality, interferes with
the proper performance of judicial duties or detracts from
the dignity of judicial office."
They also charged that Barringer imposed trespassing fines
of $5 less than the minimum penalty for the violation of
reservoir properties and offered an April 1, 2002 letter
signed by both Barringer and Wright as Exhibit A. Sent to
the Town of Olive Police, the NYC DEP Police, the Ulster
County Sheriff’s Dept., and the NYS Department of
Environmental Conservation, it stated that the Olive Town
Court would "no longer enforce the 35 mph speed zone
along Route 28A and Reservoir Road" because "these
speed zones (were) illegally posted." Accordingly,
after that date, tickets for speeds under 55 mph were routinely
"Supposedly, the NYS Department of Transportation in
Albany has every (legal) speed limit in the state registered
up there," said Leifeld after the censure. "This
one is not...because they didn’t go through the procedures.
I’ve had lawyers from the City call me in the last
couple of years, ask questions and say ‘I’ll
get back to you’ and I never hear anything more. That’s
why (Wright and Barringer) got frustrated and kind of forced
it to a head but, instead of dealing with it, (the DEP)
complained and took them before a review board."
According to Leifeld, the dispute has a history that "surfaces
every few years" and, in a past instance, the town
researched the proper procedure.
"When we want to set a speed limit on a town road,
we have to go to DOT," Leifeld continued. "The
engineers come, do their thing and make recommendations.
If they say okay, it goes back to the state. Then you get
a letter from them stating that ‘yes, you can post
from here to there but then you have to do it legally by
code- ‘legally’ means the signs should be set
particular distances apart, whatever it is for the settings.
That’s all cut and dry and that also hasn’t
been followed (by the city.)" [None of the DOT officials
called for details of the code responded in time for this
report but a federal website quotes NYS DOT regulations
as setting a maximum distance between signs at 1100 feet
times the posted limit which, for 35 mph would be 3,650
feet. A DOT manual issued in 1983 notes that "signs
should be placed at intervals throughout restrictions longer
than 1100 feet" and that "(s)peed limits should
be established only when engineering study indicates they
are justified and reasonable. Unrealistic regulations are
ineffective and should be avoided."]
Both town judges declined to comment on the censures but
David Lenefsky, who defended Wright and Barringer before
the commission, said he would "characterize the disposition
as the commission deciding to put legal technicalities before
substance and common sense."
In the commission’s judgment, it is improper for a
judge to announce to law enforcement agencies "that
in future cases he will not enforce the speed limit on a
particular road because the speed limit signs were illegally
posted. In the absence of a definitive ruling on the issue,
such a pronouncement is inconsistent with the role of a
judge in our legal system, which is to apply the law in
each case in an impartial manner, regardless of the judge’s
personal views... (The judge’s) dismissal of charges
in several such cases, including one case in which the defendant
had pled guilty and another in which the defendant failed
to appear, indicate that his decisions were based on prejudgment,
consistent with his announced intent, not the individual
merits of the case."
Lenefsky claims the commission’s reasoning is flawed.
"What both judges did is what judges always do,"
the attorney stated. "They declare defective rules,
regulations and statutes unconstitutional. They did so for
good reason- namely, the signage, among other things, on
Route 28A is defective and improper and both judges were
protecting the citizens of the Town of Olive. They’re
both heroes. But the commission took the position that the
judges should have waited for a court case to come before
them before declaring the signage unconstitutional. I believe,
also, that the case was driven by the DEP, who didn’t
like local judges standing up to them."
Olive councilman Bruce LaMonda also believes the Olive town
justices are more deserving of a pat on the back than the
judicial equivalent of a swift kick. He doesn’t think
the town should wait for someone to sue the city over the
issue and says that he plans to bring the matter up during
the November 15th town board meeting.
"I think we should ask New York City to send us documentation
of the approval of this," LaMonda ventured. "Not
just some letter saying ‘We’re the City of New
York and it’s our road, so we can do it.’ I
want to see something from NYS DOT or some agency that has
the authority to approve it. In this town, if we even want
to put up a stop sign, we have to go through DOT. We can’t
just do things because we want to do them. There are channels
you have to go through. If we find out, in fact, that what
we think is correct and the road is not properly posted,
then I think we should ask how (the judges) could be reprimanded
for not enforcing what is not legal."
She says that every time she’s given an informational
meeting on the long-awaited plan, which has a seven-month
window for sign-ups before penalties set in, she’s
ended up speaking to crowds of 60 to 150 seniors.
That includes the large crowd of nearly 70 who showed up
at the Parish Hall in Phoenicia October 28, which Duffy
noted as also including a disturbing first for her activities…
immersed in the crowd of seniors asking questions were representatives
from several hard-hustling insurance companies, interrupting
her presentation to try and sell the crowd on their own
plans within the plan.
“A lot of people have been coming in for consultations.
This Thursday, I’ll be doing training for health administrators
and social workers who will have to also be answering the
growing number of questions coming up from our seniors,”
she said on November 8. “I expect at least 150 people.”
Locally, SHARP Committee Executive Director Jane Todd said
that although she’d done the training once herself,
she was going to be going a second time. It’s that
Info on Medicare Plan D started coming out last April, although
a final handbook on the giant new prescription drug program
wasn’t made available until the last week in October.
Duffy added that problems have been growing exponentially
of late due to the fact that the website for the federally-mandated
program, passed by Congress last year on recommendations
from the Bush administration, was still not completely online.
“I’ve worked within the federal government with
Medicare programs for over 26 years and I had difficulty
understanding it at first,” the county coordinator
added. “It took me several tries at it.”
“Bear with us while we try to put this in plain talk,”
noted one of the most frequently visited websites that come
up on the subject of Plan D, from the Coalition of Wisconsin
Aging Groups. “There’s a deductible amount you
must spend before coverage starts, then there’s a
range in which you pay something and the government pays
most, then there’s another range where you are all
on your own —no coverage— and finally there’s
a top range where the government pays for almost all your
“Before anybody signs up for anything, they have to
know that no matter what the ads may be telling you, November
15 is just a start-date,” said Duffy. “I can’t
tell you how many people don’t realize this. I had
one man tell me he hasn’t been sleeping for weeks
worrying what to do.”
Basically, notes the half-online website for the plan put
up by Medicare. There are two ways now by which one can
get Medicare drug coverage. By adding drug coverage to one’s
traditional Medicare plan through a “stand alone”
prescription drug plan, or via a Medicare Advantage plan,
which operates much like an HMO or PPO, typically providing
more benefits through a proscribed network of doctors and
hospitals. The key is to find a private plan (they’re
all private under this new governmental program) that covers
the drugs one needs… and anticipating those needs
when picking a plan.
The Medicare Prescription Drug Plan Finder was supposed
to be accessed at http://www.medicare.gov/, or through customer
service representatives at 1-800-MEDICARE. But as Duffy
pointed out, the first is not complete. Calls to the 800
number end up in a complicated phone web in several languages.
Financially, Medicare Part D is not based on income or assets,
with the only criteria being for low-income people who can
then get an “Extra Help” program that helps
defray the cost of the monthly premium, which has been federally
mandated at a minimum of $32.50. Once one then decides on
a plan, with its exact (yet changing) monthly premium, there
will also be a $250 deductible for each calendar year, which
will have to be paid before the program helps with any drug
needs. There will then be a co-pay for each drug. Then Medicare
will pay 75% of all drug costs… but only up to $2,250,
after which there is a gap nicely called “the donut
hole,” meaning that the next $2,850 will have to be
paid without any help until one’s reached a $3,600
threshold, after which Medicare will then pay 95% of all
remaining drug costs.
So why all the fuss about November 15, December 31, and
the May 15 scary deadline that’s got so many seniors
According to Duffy, next Tuesday is when the gun goes off.
People who then sign up by Dec. 31 get coverage for the
whole of 2006. But those who sign up after May 15 will be
charged a penalty – get this — of 1 percent
per month until you have signed up, due every month for
however long you then stay in the program!
Furthermore, Duffy says, the only changes one can make to
one’s plan – including requests for new drug
coverage — will be allowed only at the end of each
calendar year, between November 15 and December 31, unless
one moves out of one’s coverage area or goes into
a nursing home.
The only way out of the “one percent” penalties,
which can add up to quite a bit, if one’s Medicare
eligible and don’t “get with the plan”
right away (those ineligible have a similar window when
they become eligible, given the whole “plan”
lasts that long), is by proving one has “creditable
coverage.” This means that your current plan has to
let you know of this within the coming two months and, furthermore,
that should that “creditable coverage” ever
cease, you have to “get with the plan,” meaning
Medicare Plan D, within a quick 60 days or start facing
Generally, current Medicare Medigap plans are not considered
“To make you feel better about the possibilities,
you should know that most of the approved plans offer at
least 89 of the top 100 drugs currently used by seniors,”
notes the current Medicare website.
“Everybody who has some sort of drug coverage policy
now is supposed to receive a letter regarding ‘creditable
coverage’ by November 15,” Duffy said, “which
will then tell you whether your coverage is good or not.”
She added that everyone should keep those letters, or seek
them out if they haven’t received them… which
Asked what she thought of the new Plan D, Duffy said she
was worried by the amount of panic she’d seen amongst
Todd, speaking from her Phoenicia office, similarly noted
how she, “really feels for the seniors on this.”
So what does Duffy suggest?
First off, that no one should panic. Take the time top research
plans carefully. Call her office, attend one of the many
“Part D Coffee Klatches,” like last week’s
event in Phoenicia, designed to answer questions about what’s
More important, beware of the sales pitches, she said, noting
her displeasure with the new plan’s allowance for
insurance companies to “cold call” potential
clients about it all.
“Get call ID. Or better yet, sign up for the No Call
list,” she suggested. “They can’t solicit
door to door, so seniors are advised not to open the door
for people claiming to represent a Medicare prescription
drug plan. During cold calls, marketers can’t ask
for personal or financial information, nor can they enroll
a person in a plan. In ads, a company can say it’s
contracting with the federal government to offer coverage,
but it can’t say that ‘Medicare endorses’
or ‘wants you to join’ its plan. The other issue
is Internet sites and phone sellers who will charge for
processing sign-ups to the plan. Enrollment is absolutely
free, and charging to fill out enrollment forms is prohibited.”
Most important, she added, is to never give out financial
info over the phone.
“This is going to be difficult for the coming months,”
she said. “We’ll see how it works out.”
She suggests that any seniors or family members with questions
call the Ulster County Office of the Aging at 845-340-3456.
Jar Of Olives ...
Then it will
be time for the next season. That season varies depending
upon whether you are a male or female, married or single,
young or old. It is a time for football, stacking wood,
hunting, and hunkering in for the first snowfall. For me,
and many other women in Olive, the next season is one of
holiday preparation. The time between now and Thanksgiving
and then Christmas and Chanukah will be a blur of decorating
and shopping. Unfortunately, we sometimes get caught up
in the trappings and forget why we are celebrating. As Thanksgiving
looms ahead, I am thankful for those people who touch my
I am thankful for strong women like Sarah Carney of West
Shokan who has the softest, sweetest speaking voice and
the determination of an enlisted soldier. I admire her gumption
in leaving Brooklyn with her four young daughters to seek
a better life for her family. When she shares photos of
her grandchildren, I realize that she made this happen by
thinking of others before herself as she held down a job
while raising a family.
I am thankful for people who can rise above life’s
adversities and bring laughter to others. Larger-than- life
Tommy Petersen would decorate the town highway truck with
a tree and Christmas lights.
I am thankful for those who find joy in giving of themselves
without compensation. Bert Winne III’s grandmother
and grandfather, Bert the First and Vera, would dress up
as Mr. and Mrs. Claus and deliver presents to the neighborhood
children in Boiceville and Mt.Tremper.
I am thankful for those who serve others whether they are
thanked or not. Frank Carle, still hale and hearty in his
eighties, can be seen at every fire and accident call along
with Paul Bresciani, Paul Juliano, Lynn and Ed Swenson,
Terry Carle, Angelo Russo, and other faithful Fire Police.
I am thankful that there are men and women like Sandy Friedel,
Skip Weidner, Paula Minew, Rita Vanacore, Bobby Oakes, Everett
Cook, AnneMarie Johannson, Mary Jane Bernholz, Mike Pantliano,
Cindy O’Connor, Carol Roberts, Lev Flournoy and others
who give up their nights to attend meetings of boards, committees
and commissions while most of us are watching re-runs of
“Everybody Loves Raymond” on cable or satellite
I give thanks to those who look to the future of our youth.
Bill Melvin serves our youth by chairing the Recreation
Committee or by serving up spaghetti as Scout Leader of
Troop 63. I give thanks to the generations of coaches who
have “wolfed down their supper” to give direction
to the hundreds of would be athletes at Grant Avery Park,
Davis Park and Tongore Park.
Is it possible that Olive has more than its share of good
people? Did all these good people choose Olive, or is there
a contagion of kindness and service. My theory is that our
abundance of selfless service is the result of wanting to
make Olive the best place for our families, our friends
and our neighbors.
This season is one of thanksgiving. Let’s give thanks
to those givers who give freely of themselves for the good
of us all.
Of Our Glory...
answers what he can, but says that facts and details about
the lives of those who died in the late nineteenth century
are hard to come by. “I got one guy from Buffalo who
keeps calling me up asking me all kinds of things about
Phoenicia and if his great-great grandfather served in the
Civil War,” Boice explains. “But when you start
talking about anyone who died in Phoenicia in 1880, you’re
However, thanks to the efforts of Florence Giuliano, the
board’s Treasurer, and her daughter Gina Giuliano,
who serves as Secretary, it’s now a little easier
to identify the veterans buried in Mt. Pleasant. As a result
of their research, plaques bearing the name of the veterans,
and, whenever possible, their military branches and the
years and wars in which they served, are on permanent display
in a glass case that hangs in the little barn at the edge
of the cemetery.
“The Board of Trustees thought it would be a nice
way to honor the veterans, and Gina and I thoroughly enjoyed
doing the research” says Giuliano. “Maybe because
with what’s going on in Iraq and everyone is feeling
Getting the information for the plaques was not as easy
as the Giulianos expected it would be. “I thought
all we’d have to do to get this going, is to go to
the VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) and get a list of the
people we get flags for,” Giuliano explains, referring
to the tiny American flags that the American Legion puts
on the graves of all known veterans on Memorial Day. But
such a list was not available, so the Giulianos used the
existing flags as a starting point and then searched through
the entire cemetery, even sweeping away dirt to reveal more
than one stone that had information about the veteran buried
there. It turns out that five Civil War veterans, including
Florence’s grandfather, Henry Russell Eckert, are
buried at Mt. Pleasant.
Originally named the Van Kleeck Cemetery, the cemetery was
founded in 1909 by John Van Etten and John Van Kleeck as
one of several new resting places for the graves displaced
by the construction of the Ashokan Reservoir. There were
nearly 40 cemeteries ranging from backyard graves to public
burial grounds, and approximately 2,370 bodies had to be
exhumed and moved.
In 1921, the cemetery was sold and renamed the Mt. Pleasant
Rural Cemetery and kept afloat on a small budget until 1941.
For the next 8 years the cemetery remained in a state of
limbo without a Board of Trustees until a new board was
organized in 1949. Since then, the cemetery has been maintained
and operated by its trustees and officers who are volunteers
and do not get paid for their service.
The plaques were designed and constructed by Louis Mancuso
of Shokan and officially dedicated as a memorial on July
24, 2005. American Legion Post 1620 took part in the ceremony.